Latviski English По-русски
Sunday 18.03.2018 | Name days: Ilona, Adelīna

Lithuanian scientists hopeful for historic discovery in Gediminas Hill remains

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

One of Lithuanian history’s big mysteries may be resolved by the summer with the historians and anthropologists closely examining the human remains recently found on the top of the Gediminas Hill in the heart of Vilnius.

The findings have set a scientific buzz, with some of the historians pondering that the fragile bones excavated on the hill while executing maintenance works could belong to the participants of the 1863-1864 uprising against tsarist Russia. Furthermore, some scholars believe the remains could be of its leaders, including Zigmantas Sierakauskas (Zygmunt Sierakowski) and Konstantinas Kalinauskas (Konstanty Kalinowski).

«I think we will have some news to tell the public by the summer by when the findings will have been examined,» professor Rimantas Jankauskas of the Faculty of Medicine at Vilnius University, who coordinates research of the remains, told Lithuanian media.

In the professor’swords, the success of the research will largely depend on what photographs and other information is provided by historians.

«For individual identification, we will examine the skull portraits. The result should be quite reliable,» he said.

Archaeologists from the National Museum of Lithuania (NML) last month unearthed the remains of four people on the hill. Some of the bodies were buried without coffins, covered in lime. The remains have been recently transferred to anthropologists at the Faculty of Medicine.

The NML says that it has photographs of some insurgents, which could be helpful in identifying the remains, and it also plans to seek help from other institutions.

«We will invite the Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania and other archivists to cooperate, because the photographs and other historical data on specific individuals that are available to us might be insufficient for more accurate research. It will require lengthy and painstaking search work,» Arminas Šileikis, the museum’s spokesman, said.

According to him, the Restoration Centre of the NML is currently engaged in the conservation of various objects found next to the remains.

Participants on the 1863–1864 uprising sought to revive the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was annexed by Russia in 1795.

For the past century and a half, Lithuania has been attempting to discover the graves of the uprising leaders and participants but with no luck so far.

The sources available to historians suggest that the insurgents were slain in the Lukiškių Square in central Vilnius in 1863.

Over the years, Lithuanian archaeologists have carried our excavations in several Vilnius locations, including the Gediminas Hill and Lukiškių Square, but none has produced a breakthrough.

It was Wladyslaw Zahorski, an amateur Polish historian, who, in 1904, brought up the idea that the bodies of the rebels could have been put to rest on the Gediminas Hill.

Ostensibly, the historian had obtained a document revealing that most of the bodies were dumped in an undisclosed ditch, while the bodies of the uprising leaders, Zigmantas Sierakauskas and Konstantinas Kalinauskas, were hauled to a burial on the Gediminas Hill, controlled by the Russian Tsar’s Army.

However, the emergency maintenance works on the hill, following a precarious landslide in the beginning of the year, have given the research a new push.

The landslide exposed a slew of larger bones and their fragments on the hill. And moreover: the archaeologists who rushed to the site unearthed more tell-tale signs of the burials of the historic uprising’s victims.

«In one of two graves, there was a single body in the coffin and, in the other, there were three male bodies, who were thrown one on another. Judging about the position of the hand bones in the first burial, it seems that the deceased man was laid with his hands tied; whereas in the second grave, only one of the bodies was buried that way. Notably, the bodies in the grave were covered with lime,» Arūnas Kalėjus, archaeologist and a senior official at Lithuania’s National Museum, told Lithuanian media.

Other strong evidence purporting the possible connection of the remains to the uprising participants are the pieces of clothing found in the graves.

«Some of the details, like the calks of the shoes and the shirt and trousers buttons strongly suggest that the men were buried in the 19th century. Interestingly, in the first burial, we also found a silver medallion with the picture of St Mary of the Gates of Dawn, a shrine in the old city of Vilnius, on one of its side. And there is a drawing of Šnipiškės chapel on the other (side). Such medallions were not available before the middle of the 19th century. We believe that the bodies were thrown in there in the second half of the century,» the archaeologist said.

In his words, the fact that the men were buried in a group burial, thus showing disrespect to them, also is significant.

Unlike now, back in 1863, the Gediminas Hill and the surrounding territory belonged to the Russian empire and was turned into a military fortress accessible only to the Russian tsar’s troops.

«With the execution carried out in the Lukiškių Square, they could hardly find a better place to hide the bodies than the Gediminas Hill. If the burial site had been known to the-then Vilnius residents, it could have been eventually turned into a shrine of worship. The Russian troops did not want that, no doubt about it,» Kalėjus reasoned.

It is believed that 21 insurgents were executed in the Lukiškių Square.

Meanwhile, Valdas Rakutis, a war historian, believes that if the research links the remains to the uprising victims, it will mark a major historic discovery.

«It would send an important message to all of us, as the uprising is viewed ambiguously today. We shouldn’t forget that the participants were real patriots and heroes of their time, although they fought for the restoration of a joint Lithuanian-Polish Commonwealth and some of the uprising leaders were Poles and Belarusians,» he underscored.

The National Museum informs that the access to the territory of the Gediminas Hill and Gediminas Castle Tower is temporarily closed due to repair works until April 2017.

Ref: 020/

Leave a reply

Week in Lithuania. Some 5,000 gather in protest rally outside Lithuania's Parliament

Some 5,000 people gathered outside the Lithuanian parliament in Vilnius on Thursday, March 15, to express discontent with the failed parliamentary vote to impeach MP Mindaugas Bastys and the performance of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union.

BNN summary of the week: oligarch talks’ ownership; scandals in Lithuania; Estonia wants direct democracy

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Progress; Scandals; Invitation; Fight; Opinion; Decline.

Remembrance day of Latvian Legionnaires passes with shouts and two arrests

The Legionnaires’ remembrance procession in Riga on Friday, 16 March, passed peacefully. Nevertheless, several conflicts did take place among differently-minded people near the Freedom Monument. Two individuals were arrested by police.

Influenza intensity in Latvia – moderate when compared to other European nations

A comparison of influenza activity in Europe shows that it is high or very high in several countries. Latvia’s influenza intensity is considered moderate, as noted by epidemiologist Raina Nikiforova.

Hourly labour costs in Latvia grew 7.3% in 2017

Compared to Q4 2016, in Q4 2017 hourly labour costs rose by 54 cents or 7.3 %, reaching EUR 8.02. Seasonally adjusted data show identical changes – rise of 7.3 %.

Rietumu Banka claims it has not worked with high-risk clients for years

Rietumu Banka has been steadily rejecting high-risk clients for years and has significantly reduced the volume of transactions, as mentioned by the bank’s representatives.

Lithuanian and Estonian businessmen are ahead of Latvia in terms of investments

In Latvia, 36% of small and medium-sized companies have plans to invest in the development of their business this year. In Estonia and Lithuania, on the other hand, the proportion of businesses with development plans is 42% and 46%, respectively, according to results of a recent study performed by SEB Bank.

Russia pledges maximum pressure on UK amid ex-spy poisoning row

Russian top diplomat in the UK has envisaged on Friday, March 16, that the Kremlin would use maximum pressure on London as Moscow insists it has not been involved in the poisoning of a former Russian-British double agent with a Russian-made chemical weapon, as has been found by British investigators.

Latvia’s ministry: Crimea’s annexation is illegal

18 March 2018 will mark four years since the Russian Federation violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by annexing the Crimean Peninsula and causing military aggression in the country’s eastern region. With its actions the Russian Federation has violated international law and basic principles of international relation, says Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Building gas pipe to Finland, Estonia to organise works for EUR 135 million

Continuing the works on the Balticconnector gas pipeline between Estonia and Finland, the Estonian natural gas network company Elering has stated that around 135 million euros, including a 98-million-euro funding from the European Union, will be invested in the project.

Replacement of cash registers rejected by SRS would cost half a million euros

The State Revenue Service has declined 18,000 cash registers as unfitting for requirements established by the Cabinet of Ministers. Fixing the problems found in them would cost half a million euros, as reported by LNT News.

Latvian Anti-Nazi Committee presented with protest restrictions on 16 March

Administrative District Court has compiled a shortened ruling, in which it rejected Latvian Anti-Nazi Committee’s application and preserved the decision imposed by Riga City acting CEO on 13 March 2018 on establishing restrictions on the planned gathering and protest act for 16 March unchanged.

U.S. introduces Russian sanctions for election meddling and cyber-attacks

Washington has introduced sanctions against 19 Russian individuals and five entities blaming them for attempts to sway the 2016 U.S. election and perceived cyber-attacks.

Slovakian PM Fico replaced with fellow party member

Slovakian head of government Robert Fico has stepped down after the murder of a journalist shed light on corruption in Slovakia, prompting nationwide protests. The long-standing Prime Minister had offered to resign earlier this week if the ruling coalition was allowed to finish its term.

Weekends will be cold and sunny in Latvia; next week will have volatile weather

Starting with Sunday, 18 March, air temperature in Latvia will rise above zero in most of the country, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Lithuania’s ruling LFGU party remains unscathed by scandals

It seems that, for now, Lithuania‘s ruling Farmers and Green Union has been nearly damage-proof despite the lambasting.

Latvian Civic Alliance: non-government sector should aim towards cooperation

Latvian Civic Alliance has invited the management of Latvia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry to meet to discuss ongoing cooperation between organizations representing the business sector and the NGO sector.

Saeima rejects National Alliance’s proposal to make 16 March an official remembrance day

Latvia’s Saeima has decided to reject the proposal submitted by the National Alliance on making 16 March an official remembrance day.

43.6% of Latvian households have difficulties with making ends meet

In 2017 the share of households admitting that pay for usual necessary expenses with difficulty or great difficulty constituted 43.6 %, which is 1.5 percentage points more than in 2016.

Saeima voices support for Rail Baltica project’s progression

On Thursday, 15 March, the Saeima made a decision to support Rail Baltica project’s progression. In its decision, the parliament invited Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers to provide all the necessary support for the project’s successful realization to ensure the project is realized in accordance with established terms and does not lose funding or support from the European Union, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Fast snow shovelling linked to cardiac fatalities, Finnish study finds

In Finish doctoral study, it has been concluded that snow should be shovelled calmly, not provoking stress and increased adrenaline in human blood that could lead to cardiac arrest.

Riga’s mayor spent at least eight million euros of residents’ money to promote himself

Over the course of the past three years, at least EUR 8 million of residents’ money has been used to promote the image of the Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs. This money was used to buy media, employ young members of Harmony, and finance ‘in-house protestors’ and using social networks, as estimated by Re:Baltica research journalism center.

Slovenia's head of government resigns amid protests and struggling railway investment

The Slovenian head of government Miro Cerar has stepped down from office in reaction to troubles with an expensive railway project and mounting opposition by trade unions.

NAF Commander: Latvia and Estonia have joint military procurements planned

Latvia and Estonia have joint military procurements planned, Commander of Latvia’s National Armed Forces Leonīds Kalniņš told journalists after his meeting with Commander of Estonia’s Defence Forces Riho Terras.

Estonia's switch to free higher education proved right choice, says Ratas

The switch to free higher education made by Estonia in 2013 has proved to be the right choice for a small country, even though critics have pointed to potentially less motivated students, has stated the Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

Newest comments