Araishi Archeological Park offers a glimpse of Lavtvia's past in three distinct sites, representing three different eras:
Our tour proceeded from the Ariasu Lake to the Livionian Castle, and endied with the Stone and Bronze Age dwellings. Each are described in a separate section below

Araisu Lake Fortress:
This lake fortress is among the oldest direct connection of the Latvian culture to its past. Much of this site was under water, and the reconstruction following 10 seasons of archeological excavation was undertaken by Dr. Jani Apals, a pioneer in the field of experimental archeology. Below is a diagram of the settlement and numbered explanations of the dwellings.

1. Basic Wooden Platform: a platform  made on a low island in the lake, consisting of a lattice covered with a spread of horizontal logs.                                                                     
5. Household Extension:  located on the right side of the facade of a dwelling house. Some houses had additional extensions at the sides or at the back. Tools were stored in these annexes, only some show signs of the presence of small domestic animals such as sheep and goats.
2. Defence Construction Fragment: the settlement was surrounded by defence construction located along the margin of the platform--a passageway consisting of chamber-like defensive structures and a defence wall.
6. Roof: dwellings had gabled ridged roofs. The covering of the roof consisted of several layers: round logs or split planks were covered with sheets of birch or spruce bark that were weighted down with round or split timbers. The lower ends of the weights are supported by split timbers put in knees (trees with distinctly bended roots or branching) not to slide down.
3. Yoke Corner Joint: an archaic form of joining the corners--the lateral wall of the log structure are joined to the end wall by means of vertical retaining poles and horizontal tie-beams or "yoke beams".
7. Sod Roof: some of the dwelling houses may have used sod to weigh down the roof construction.
4. Dwelling House: the house used a rectangular structure of horizontal logs. It is a chimney-less single-room building with a porch in the end wall, an entrance on the right side of the porch, and a small annex also on the right side. At the center of the living room was a clay stove, but sleeping places and benches were arranged along the walls. Each house was occupied by one nuclear family. In each building phase there were about 16 houses with a population of about 70 to 90 people.
8. Jeweller's House: people of the lake fortress had various occupations. Accordning to the artifacts--crucibles, tools and the semi-finished products--a jeweller living and worked in one of the houses.

Araisu Lake Fortress Photos
(Click to Enlarge)

Aerial View of Araisu Lake Fortress
Entrance to Araisu Lake Fortress
Dwelling Houses with Porches
Dwelling House Interior
Gabled Ridged Roof

Video Overview of Araisu Lake Fortress

Livonian Order 14th-17th Century Castle Ruins:

Araisi stone wall castle was built in the time of the Livonian order and was inhabited from the 14th through the 17th century. The castle occupies the eastern part of the peninsula extending into Lake Araisi and is separated from the mainland by a dry ditch, which was spanned by a drawbridge at the castle gates. The photo to the left shows an aerial view of the remaining castle walls, while the photo to the right shows the entrance to the castle. The castle was built for the master of the Cesis Livonian order for military as well as domestic purposes. It was destroyed in the war in the Swedish-Polish war, a part of Thirty Years War in Europe. In later years the stones of the Middle Ages castle were used to build Araisi clergyman's house and Drabesi Manor House buildings. Below is a video overview of the castle ruins.

Araisi Livonian Castle Ruins

What fun is a trip without some aerial photography? Here is what we viewed, this time seen from the air.

Aerial Video of Ariasu Lake Fortress and Livonian Castle

Reconstruction of Stone and Bronze Age Dwellings:
The first inhabitants in the area of Araisi Lake date from the Stone Age. The houses on Meitu Island are built as ideal reconstructions, based on the archeological data about these types of Stone and Bronze Age houses, obtained in Latvia and neighboring countries. Below is a video tour of the site.

Video Tour of Stone and Bronze Age Dwellings

Araisi Windmill:

Before returning to Amatciems we made one more stop, to visit the Araisi windmill. This is a Dutch-style windmill, probably built in 1852, although windmills could be found in Latvia as early as the 14th century.The photo to the left shows the exterior of the windmill. Inside, the structure consists of four stories. The uppermost floor, shown in the photo to the right, was the spartan living space.

One floor below (on the third story) is where the grain was fed into a chute (photo to the left). It then passed through the millstones driven by the gears on the second story (photo to the right). The millstones have carved grooves and the intermeshing of the stones ground the grain into a fine flower. Changing of the millstones was a complicated task requiring special equipment. The worn millstones were used for house building and other purposes. 

Ultimately the finished product was poured into sacks on the first floor. The fineness of the flour could also be adjusted from this level. The photo to the left shows the chute where the flour dropped after exiting the millstones, and where it was bagged.

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