Araishi ezera apmetneAraishi ezera apmetne settlement as an archaeological site is known since 1876. Later (1959-1964), when such settlements were discovered on another 9 lakes in Vidzeme, it was Araishi who were chosen for large-scale archaeological excavations. Archaeological expedition of the Institute of Latvian History under the leadership of J. Apals for 10 field seasons (1965-1969, 1975-1979) studied three quarters of 2500 sq.m. the area of ​​the lake settlement, as well as the road that connected it to the shore of the lake.

The castle is built on a lake, and not on a hill, which in the vicinity of Araishi is enough, because of the conditions of the era. The matter is that латгалы in 9 в. were newcomers in this area, and for them it was fundamentally important to establish a fortified settlement as quickly as possible. Because the productivity of woodworking tools was much higher than that of wooden shovels, bark berms, etc., used for digging and moving the land, the lake lock could be built faster than the site of the settlement. The first Araishsky lake castle was built in just 4 years.

The lake castle was located in the middle of Lake Araishu (Latvia) from the 9th to the 10th centuries, and was abandoned by the inhabitants by the time the Crusaders arrived (which happened at the end of the 12th century). However, modern scientists have restored it from non-existence. At the end of the 20th century, in the same place, in real size, the first, the oldest and best preserved building of the Araish Lake Castle, created around 830, was reconstructed.

Excavations revealed that the Araish lakeside settlement was built and lived in it in the 9th and 10th centuries. community Latgalov – the most numerous of the ancient Latvian tribes. The settlement was located on a low-lying, water-filled island and was fortified like a fortress. In the humid cultural layer, the remains of wooden buildings are well preserved, which made it possible to restore the layout of the settlement as a whole, as well as to find out the design features of individual buildings. The cultural layer of the settlement contained 5 successive building horizons without chronological discontinuities.

The lakeside settlement of Araishi is the first such extensively studied and reconstructed archaeological monument of this type in the northeast of Europe. The moist cultural layer ensured the preservation of not only buildings, but also numerous items made of organic materials (wood, bast, birch bark), among which there are finds of important scientific and cultural-historical significance.

Taking this into account, a decision was made to recreate the lake settlement as the basis for an archaeological open-air museum-reserve. For the reconstruction was chosen the oldest, the most preserved building complex of the 9th century. Recreation of the settlement continues to this day. The lower parts of the buildings are restored as copies of the original preserved structures; the top of the buildings is reconstructed on the basis of the construction details found in the cultural layer, ethnographic parallels, and also based on the constructive logic of the structure. Thus, the reconstruction of the Araish Lake District is characterized by a high degree of historical certainty.

The authors of the project are the archaeologist J. Apals and the architect Dz.Drība
(Source – museum stand at the entrance to the settlement territory)
The authors of the project are the archaeologist J. Apals and the architect Dz.Drība
(Source – museum stand at the entrance to the settlement territory)