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With Andra, you will explore Riga with a local guide who speaks French.



The glacial period in what is now Latvia came to an end around 14,000 to 12,000 years ago. The first human settlers appeared during the Paleolithic period, approximately 11,000 to 12,000 years ago. These early inhabitants were hunters who, following the migrations of reindeer, established their camps along rivers and the shores of the Baltic Sea. At that time, the coastline extended further inland, as evidenced by the geology of the Baltic Sea. The earliest tools discovered near Salaspils date back to the late Paleolithic, around 12,000 years BCE, and are attributed to the Swiderian culture.

The Mesolithic period (9000-5400 BCE)

During the Mesolithic period (9000-5400 BCE), permanent communities of hunter-gatherers were established. These populations engaged in hunting and fishing, setting up their camps near rivers and lakes. Around Lake Lubāns, the discovery of 25 settlements has been documented. These sites may include areas where dwellings, tools, artifacts, or other elements related to human activity have been uncovered through archaeological excavations. Members of the Kunda culture, during this time, crafted weapons and tools from flint, bone, wood, and deer antlers.

The Neolithic period (5400-1800 BCE)

The beginning of the Neolithic period was marked by the introduction of pottery. During this time, amber was also extensively worked. The Neolithic era also witnessed the onset of animal husbandry and agriculture.

In the early Neolithic, the Narva culture developed locally, and in the Middle Neolithic (4100 – 2900 BCE), the Comb Ceramic people arrived in the territory of Latvia from the northeast, considered the ancestors of the Finno-Ugric peoples.

During the early Late Neolithic (2900 – 1800 BCE), the Corded Ware people, considered the ancestors of the Baltic peoples, arrived in the region of present-day Latvia. They practiced flint polishing and stone-drilling techniques. The earliest examples of Stone Age art in the Eastern Baltic include decorated bone and wood objects. In the Neolithic, animal and human figurines were also created, along with amber beads and pendants.

The Neolithic period in Latvia

The Bronze Age (1800–500 BCE)

The Bronze Age (1800–500 BCE) marked the transition from an economy based on food procurement to one based on food production. Animal husbandry and agriculture became increasingly important, and the first oppida* were constructed.

An oppidum is a Latin term used to describe a type of fortified site, often associated with urban centers or fortified settlements from the Iron Age and antiquity. These establishments were characterized by defensive ramparts, often built with earth and wood, sometimes reinforced with stones. Oppida typically served as political, economic, and religious centers in ancient European societies.

The Iron Age period in Latvia

The Iron Age (500 BCE - 1200 CE)

During the very early Iron Age (500 BCE - 1st century BCE), the first iron objects were used. With the improvement of tools, agriculture gradually emerged as the dominant economic activity.

A significant development in the early Iron Age (1st century BCE - 4th century CE) was the spread of knowledge about iron casting and working. Bronze, obtained through trade contacts, was used to make a wide variety of ornaments.

In the middle Iron Age (4th – 8th century) and the first half of the late Iron Age (8th – 10th century), the archaeological cultures from the early Iron Age underwent complex processes of ethnocultural changes, evolving into Baltic peoples (Curonians, Semigallians, Latgalians, and Selonians) and Finno-Ugric peoples (Livonians, Estonians, and Vendians), known to us through written sources. At this stage of development, society was organized into chiefdoms.

Between the 5th and 10th centuries, people primarily lived in open and unprotected settlement sites. District centers were equipped with fortified oppida, serving as refuges in times of danger. Only some oppida were permanently inhabited.

In the second half of the late Iron Age (1000–1200 CE), the distinctive culture of the indigenous peoples of Latvia reached its peak. The economy was mainly based on agriculture and animal husbandry. The three-field system was gradually introduced, and grain was ground using the rotary quern, which replaced the use of grinding stones around the 11th century.

Craft production was increasingly concentrated in the hands of specialists such as blacksmiths, jewelers, etc.

Written sources indicate that by the end of the 12th century, indigenous peoples had developed their own states, or at least the state formation process was nearing completion. The social structure was complex: at the top of the hierarchy were leaders, below whom were district and village elders. The majority of the population consisted of free men, with slaves at the bottom of the social ladder. The upper stratum of society lived in castles.

International trade played a significant role during this time. The region of present-day Latvia was part of a network of trade routes connecting Northern Europe to the southeastern regions.



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