Fragments of Kernavė Archaeological Site Museum's Exposition
Kernavė is a unique site. Thanks to the archaeological research it is known that the first inhabitants settled within this territory already by the 10th-9th millennia B.C. The remaining cultural layers of settlements and burial monuments from various periods are attributed to all the epochs from late Palaeolithic to early Middle Ages.
Kernavė particularly contributes to the understanding of pre-history inthe whole Baltic region. In the 13th -14th centuries the town was flourishing and was one of the most important economical and political centers of the shaping Lithuanian state, often named as the location of the old capital of Lithuania. The heritage of the medieval Kernavė is important as an example of the last Europe’s pagan state urban culture as well. Here the existence of the pagan civilization is very clearly seen; still it had already been influenced by the traditions of Christian Europe.
In 1390, during a raid to Vilnius, Kernavė was attacked and completely anihilated. The residents of Kernavė burned the castles upon retreating. The old town was not restored any more after these events. Eventually the silts of the Neris River covered the town remains and the old capital of Lithuania sank into oblivion. Nearly 600 years had to pass, until the archaeologists found the old Kernavė.
Kernavė Archaeological Site Museum is the only specialized archaeological museum in Lithuania. It was established in 1930 thanks to the exertions of the School Head of that time Juozas Šiaučiūnas. In 1989, several years after great archaeological discoveries, Kernavė Museum-Reserve was established, and in 2002 the Kernavė Museum-Reserve was set with the status of State Cultural Reserve of Kernavė. In 2004 the Kernavė Archaeological Site was included into UNESCO World Heritage List. The principal aim of the cultural reserve has been to preserve the complex of territorial cultural heritage objects in Kernavė, the immovable and movable cultural valuables existing within its territory, and organize their scientific research. In 2012 the door of reconstructed modern Kernavė Museum was opened, and new exposition reveals to visitors the most impressive archaeological artefacts found in Kernavė.