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Baltic Culture

The arrival of the Indo-Europeans on the eastern shores of the Baltic sea marked the beginning of animal husbandry (especially that of horses) and the development of agriculture in that region. In Tacitus' day, the Balts were already ploughing their fields using wooden ploughs with iron ploughshares. As copper deposits did not exist in Baltic territory, its inhabitants were forced to trade for metal items and raw materials. The Balts developed their own methods of brass manufacture and created unique forms of jewelry. Later, they began smelting native iron ore found in their swamps and manufacturing weapons and tools.

Unquestionably, the Balts' main articles of trade were amber and forest products. In Roman territory, a small amber figure was considered more valuable than a slave. Amber made its way to Roman craftsmen via the "Amber Route" and pieces have been found as far as Greece, Egypt and Assyria. The Kurshes dominated the amber trade; thousands of Roman silver and copper coins have been discovered in their and other Baltic peoples' territories.

Over time, the Baltic tribes grew wealthy through agricultural and trading activity. They began building strongly fortified mounds on which it is thought local leaders lived. Ordinary farmers lived in villages near the foot of such mounds, and in wartime took refuge behind their wooden fortifications. This system of hill fort settlements remained in place up to the time of the formation of the first Lithuanian state. Over time, some of these villages grew into cities.

In the first centuries of this era, known as the Roman or Golden Age, the Balts' trade, craftsmanship and agriculture flourished. These years marked the peak of the Baltic tribes' prosperity and influence, which stretched from the Wisla river in the west, to the Oka in the east.



next previous contents
Next: Baltic Religion Previous: The Baltic Languages

"LITHUANIAN ROOTS", Edited by Rytis Ambrazevicius


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