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State Cultural Reserve of Kernave (LT)
The area around Kernavė, in the district of Širvintos, has been of major inportance for the nascence of the state of Lithuania. It was here that the medieval capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was situated. After the 14th century, most archaeological remains were covered with peat, leading to a great treasure trove for archaeologists due to the wonderful conservation circumstances.
Even though archaeological excavations started by the mid of the 19th century and have been carried out systematically since 1979, first in 1989, the State Cultural Reserve of Kernavė was created. It covers almost 200 hectares along the river Neris, with the Pajauta valley in the centre. The predecessor of the present Kernavė Archaeological Sitewas one of the first Lithuania’s regional museums created in 1930. Collections of the Museum are comprised of nearly 22 000 artefacts mainly from Kernavė archaeological site, the modern was opened in 2012.The Museum has a restoration workshop and an archaeological research centre which also devotes time to .
It is from 2004 onwards on the UNESCO World Heritage List. According to UNESCO, “The archaeological site of Kernavė presents an exceptional testimony to the evolution of human settlements in the Baltic region over the period of some 10 millennia. The property has exceptional evidence of pantheistic and Christian funeral traditions” and “thepatterns and the impressive hill-forts represent outstanding examples of the development of such types of structures and the history of their use in the pre-Christian era.”
Since the 1960s, Kernavė has been scene of Summer festivals (The Rasos or Midsummer Festival) with a folk and mild patriotic character. Demonstrations of ancient handcraft techniques are as well performed for the public in the context of Days of Live Archaeology in Kernavė, a festival that brings together numerous experimenters and re-enactors. On one of the hills, Medieval dwellings have been reconstructed on the basis of data from the excavations.
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