Annotated Bibliography: Pre-State Baltic Studies

I have listed on this bibliography only books and papers I have actually read and would recommend. (I speak a little Lithuanian and read a little more, but I’m by no means fluent, so it’s slow, slow slogging through the materials written in that language.) For a more comprehensive list of the books, journals, and articles that I suspect may be useful and am in the process of trying to track down, see my list.

Print Only

Archaeologia Baltica. Vilnius: Zara, 1995. Abstracts (in Lithuanian) of the first five volumes available here: [V.1] [V. 2] [V. 3] [V. 4] [V. 5]

A journal of Baltic archaeology with six issues published since 1995, article topics range from the Mesolithic to the early historical period. Every issue has at least one or two excellent, lavishly illustrated articles on SCA period personal ornamentation.

Rimantienė, R, and A Butrimas. Prehistoric Art in the Baltic Region. Vilnius: Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts, 2000.

The proceeds of a conference held in Lithuania celebrating the life and work of eminent Lithuanian archaeologist and professor Rimutė Rimantienė. The book is organized chronologically, and only the last few articles are relevant to the SCA period, but the entire book is fascinating. Of special note are gorgeous 8×10 color plates of iconic pieces of Late Iron Age jewelry.

Zvelebil, Marek, Lucyna Domańska, and Robin Dennell. Harvesting the Sea, Farming the Forest: The Emergence of Neolithic Societies in the Baltic Region. Sheffield archaeological monographs, 10. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998.

Totally out of period and totally fascinating. The cultural foundations of the people who would become the Baltic Tribes were laid down in the Neolithic, and SCA-period dominant forms of everything from cosmology to land use to artistic abstraction appear in these essays.

Available as E-books:

Gimbutas, Marija A. The Balts. New York: Praeger, 1963. Available here (fully illustrated web publication) and here (unillustrated .pdf).

One of the first English-language books about the prehistoric Balts. Much of the information in the text has been supplanted by more recent research, and the best material in the book is pre-period, but it’s still a comprehensive introduction to the subject.

Lehtosalo-Hilander, P. Ancient Finnish Costumes. Helsinki : Suomen arkeologinen seura (The Finnish Archaeological Society), 1984. Available here.

This deals with Finno-Estonian rather than Baltic tribal dress, but there are some close parallels and some interesting conclusions to be drawn about evolution of dress in the region. Also archaeological reconstructions of UNDERGARMENTS. Yes, undergarments!

Vilniaus Universiteto Leidykla (Vilnius University Press)Archaeologija Lituana. Vilnius: Vilniaus Universiteto Leidykla, 2000-. Available here.

Volumes 3-11 are now available entirely online, and volumes 1-2 are in progress (most of 2 is up as well). All the articles that are not in English appear to have English-language abstracts. A goldmine.

Volkaitė-Kulikauskienė, R. Senovės Lietuvių Drabužiai Ir Jų Papuošalai: (i-xvi A.).Vilnius: Lietuvos Istorijos Institutas, 1997. Available here and here.

The definitive text on the history of Baltic dress. It’s in Lithuanian and the two websites where it’s accessible are in Russian, but there are lots of excellent pictures. Eventually, in my spare time, if someone else doesn’t get to it first, I shall translate this book!

Articles and Short Works

Virginija, R. “The archaeological tabletwoven bands in the National Museum of Lithuania.” Vilnius Academy of Arts, Lithuania.

Unfortunately this article, a poster session from NESAT X, is no longer available online; but I have a .pdf and would be happy to share. It is a richly illustrated and comprehensive survey of extant pre-15th c. Baltic tablet weaving.

Bliujiene, A. “Curonian bead sets with bronze spacer plates and their Scandinavian parallels.” Fornvännen 2001, vol. 96, no. 4, pp. 235-242.

ibid. “Some Notes on Curonian Women’s Bead Sets with Bronze Spacer Plates in the Headbands, Headdresses Made of Cloth and Unaccountable Ware during the Viking Age and Early Medieval Times.” Archaeologia Baltica No. 6, 2006.

Two articles on 10th-13th c. Curonian women’s ornamentation. A lovely example of developing costume theory, and one of the very few such on Baltic topics.

Pèliûnaitë-Bazienë, E. “Archaeological Textiles of 2/2 Diagonal Twill Found in the Coastal Cemeteries of the 1st–12th Centuries in Lithuania.” Archaeologia Lituana Bd. 5 (2004) S. 66-77.

Žemaityte, R. et al. “Analysis and Identification of Fibre Constitution of Archaeological Textiles.” Vilnius: Medziagotyra (Materials Science) Vol. 12, No. 3. 2006.

Two very technical papers,  on the weaving construction and microstructure of Baltic textile finds.


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