Yaroslav V. Prasolov
Institute of Archaeology Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow (Nordsternlicht@hotmail.com)
Keywords: Kaliningrad Oblast, Sambian-Natangian culture, western Balts, Migration Period, museum “Prussia”, knives-daggers, baldrics of type balteus Vidgiriai.
Knives-daggers represent one of the most spectacular and highly specialised Migration Period weapon forms in the south-eastern region of the Baltic Sea Basin: in the territory of modern West Lithuania and in the Kaliningrad region of Russia (former territory of the Sambian-Natangian culture). Current research project results show that the old hypotheses about knives-daggers and shoulder straps (baltei Vidgiriai), which until now were believed to form a functional complex, as well as about the former owners of these artefacts should be drastically revised (at least in case of the former Sambian-Natangian culture area). It has become possible to develop a classification of knives-daggers with several major types and their variants; it has been also shown, that baltei Vidgiriai were used already at the end of the Late Roman Period and thus appear to be older than the “classical” knives-daggers. Traditional views of the graves with knives-daggers, as per definitionem rich burials of professional warriors with a high social status, found no evidence in the examined archaeological material. The results testify that knives-daggers were a common weapon of free members of the communities of the Sambian-Natangian culture.