As we are thinking about heritage, we have to protect and save for the next generations, there is always a thaught about people behind it. In 2017 European Heritage day in Āraiši was dedicated to the man, who has expanded understanding about the past, people and landscape, that once existed and now is recreated for everyone to see. Unique object in Latvia – Āraiši Lake Fortress – is the case, where we can admire people, who created this object and the man, who discovered it.
Our heritage. Places, objects and traditions, that reminds us something about who we are. They make us think, learn and quite often admire. And human beings are behind them. Those human are the ones, who we are admiring. They have taught us something.
Unique and extraordinary object in Latvia – Āraiši Lake Fortress – is the case, where we can admire people, who created this object and the man, who discovered it.
Building and living on the lake fortress was possible for a short amount of time in Late Iron Age Latvia(800-1200). Many condicions came together – migration of ancient Latgallians, natural landscape with lakes with small islands and people, who saw the options. Those islands were easy to prepare for being safe. They needed some understanding, how to live there. Foundation lattice was needed to protect buildings from lake fluctations, somebody organised placement of the houses, built defence constructions, thaught about drainage and expanding the platform. As we know today, latgallians lived there for 5 generations, each of those made some improvements in their home on the island.
But we would not know anything about them if there was not a passionate archaeologist Jānis Apals (1930-2011). Without specific intention he happened to be the first many times in Latvian history. He was the one, who discovered the truth about who and when lived on the island of Lake Āraiši. He was the first, who succesessfuly used multidisciplinary aproach to research history, that was hidden in lakes. He used folklore as a guide and underwater equipment to examine the lakes. As the first hydroachaeologist he had discovered a new category of archaeological object in Latvia – 10 lake fortresses. Excavation on Āraiši lake fortress revealed, that buildings, tools other materials are presserved extremely well. During excavation he had an idea that it must be shown to as many people as possible, which turded out to be the first reconstruction of Iron Age settlement in Baltic states, which is scientifically based.
In 2017 European Heritage day in Āraiši was dedicated to the man, who has expanded our understanding about the past, people and landscape, that once existed and now is recreated for everyone to see. In the end of 2019 there will be important achievement for the place. New building for visitors will be built, where the original items from the excavation will return to their discovery place more than 50 years after they were excavated. In new exhibition they will tell story about our heritage and people behind it even more detailed.
Our story shows the common history of Northen Europe in Iron Age.
Story about dicoverer of lake fortress is inspiration to every person in Europe. He was the man who achieved his dream even if the start was in totalitarism. He was democratic comunicating whith people and could tell about his discoverys to differend auditories and realisation of his idea - reconstructed lake fortress - is avaiable for everyone now. He was the of the founders of EXARC - international network of Archaeological Open-Air Museums, Experimental Archaeology, Ancient Technology and Interpretation, that still cooporates, comunicates about common isues in similar heritage sites.