Stage III


The aim of Stage III of Project Ostbalticum is publication and scientific analysis of an inventory of archaeological sites in the Kovno Province (Russian: guberniya) drawn up in 1907 at Telsze (now Telšiai in Lithuania) by Michał Eustachy Brensztejn. In 1926 the manuscript was sold by its author to the State Prehistoric Monuments Conservation Agency (Państwowe Grono Konserwatorów Zabytków Przedhistorycznych) and passed to the State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw (founded in 1928), where it remains in its archives today.

The Inventory, written in Polish, contains information on more than 900 archaeological sites (hill-forts, cemeteries, settlements, stray finds) identified in seven administrative districts of the Kovno Province (now, in Lithuania and northern Belarus): Jeziorosy (Zarasai), Rosienie (Raseiniai), Wiłkomierz (Ukmergė), Telsze (Telšiai), Poniewież (Panėvežys), Kowno (Kaunas) and Szawle (Šiauliai). Brensztejn assembled his data from published works, collections (public and private), handwritten notes, and from his own research and collections. He also included a list of references, information on the place where the pieces were being stored and the names of the finders and investigators of the archaeological sites and objects. To make it easier to use his Inventory, next to the name of each locality Brensztejn added international mnemonic symbols, adopted at the International Congress of Anthropology and Archaeology in Stockholm in 1874.

Brensztejn’s work was never published and remains in manuscript. It is a unique source on the history of archaeology during the latter half of the 19th and on the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. A great deal of source data contained in the Inventory never entered scientific circulation. The publication of the manuscript – with cooperation from Lithuanian and Belarusian archaeologists – will help salvage the forgotten Polish-Lithuanian-Belarusian culture heritage of the outlying region of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The manuscript consists of 192 non-standard 36 x 23 cm bound sheets and of 11 unbound sheets with e.g., an Introduction by Wandalin Szukiewicz, respected archaeologist active in Lithuania. The corrections, deletions and additions made to the text of the Inventory are also by Szukiewicz.

Michał Eustachy Brensztejn (1874–1938) was a man of extensive interests – amateur archaeologist and ethnographer, collector of archaeological and ethnographic objects, coins and medals, old manuscripts, prints and rare books, an archivist historian, librarian of the University Library, keeper of the Museum of the Society of Friends of Science, both in Vilnius, to which he offered his collections. He took interest in archaeology not only as a collector but also carried out excavations at several sites in Telsze district. Brensztejn was member of numismatic societies in Poznań and Kraków, of the District Conservation Committee in Vilnius, the Academy of Learning, and the Tatra Mts. Society. He was elected to the board of the Polish Biographical Dictionary in Kraków (to which he contributed some 50 entries).

  • Michał Eustachy Brensztejn (1874–1938). (Birutė Kulnytė [introduction, untitled], [in:] Lietuvos istorijos paminklai, Vilnius 1990, Fig. IX).
  • The title page of M. Brensztejn’s manuscript. State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw Archive.
  • Telsze district. A sheet from the manuscript of M. Brensztejn. State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw Archive.
  • The grave of M. Brensztejn in the Bernardine Cemetery in Vilnius. Photo W. Wróblewski.
  • Michał Eustachy Brensztejn’s gravestone in the Bernardine Cemetery in Vilnius. Photo W. Wróblewski.

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