Over 4,000 archaeological findings are presented at the Lithuanian archaeology exhibition titled “Prehistory of Lithuania”. These are unique examples of Baltic culture representing Lithuanian culture from the first appearance of the inhabitants on the territory of the country in the 11th millennium BC until the formation of the Lithuanian state in the 13th century.
In the first exhibition hall, “Lithuania Before Christ”, the earliest finds from the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Ages introduce work tools and weapons of the first inhabitants of Lithuania.
Impressive ceramics of the Baltic coastal culture from the Nida settlement represent the Late Neolithic period. The first imported metal artifacts of the Bronze Age and urns from funerary monuments of the Early Iron Age are exhibited.
The second exhibition hall, “Lithuania Before the Formation of the State”, addresses the history of the period after Christ that lasted more than a thousand years. The ethnic history of the Lithuanian nation is told through archaeological finds and the change of funerary customs of separate Baltic tribes: Lithuanians, Yotvingians-Sudovians, Aukštaitians, Selonians, Semigallians, Samogitians, Scalvians, Lamatians, and Curonians.
According to archaeological research, it is believed that the castle arsenal stood in this place during the 15th century, during the time of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania Vytautas and Kazimieras. Later, the arsenal collapsed and was rebuilt in 1507, when Sigismund the Old became Grand Duke of Lithuania.
The Old Arsenal was rebuilt in the early twentieth century, however, much of it was destroyed during World War II.
The eastern building of the Old Arsenal, restored in 1987, was adapted for the needs of the Museum of Fine Arts, and in 1997 the northern and western buildings of the Old Arsenal were restored and adapted for the needs of the National Museum of Lithuania.
In 2000, in the northern building of the Old Arsenal of Vilnius Lower Castle, two halls housed an archaeological exposition “Prehistory of Lithuania”.
The appearance of the Arsenal buildings remained unchanged until 1834, when they were inventoried and rebuilt by Russian military staff engineers. The eastern building of the Old Arsenal was adapted for the Tsarist Army artillery warehouse, the northern one - for barracks and warehouse, and the western one - for military officers’ flats.
The chronological limits of the exposition - from the appearance of the first inhabitants on the territory of Lithuania in the 11th millennium BC to the formation of the Lithuanian state in the thirteenth century. More than 4,000 archaeological findings are on display.