A memorable scene in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” is Indiana and his father, Henry (RIP Sean Connery), having their first encounter with the knight guarding the Holy Grail. Recently in Lithuania, divers inspecting an ancient sunken bridge encountered the remains of a medieval warrior with his well-preserved leather boots, sword and knives at his side. What was he guarding and does Harrison Ford know how to scuba?
“Archaeologists, together with professional divers G. Krakauskas and A. Matiukas, explored underwater and captured the remains of the old bridge, at a depth of 9 m, on the slope of the lake, discovered human remains, covered with a layer of mud and sand.”
As described in a press release by the BNS news agency, archeologists and divers were studying an old 16th century bridge when they uncovered the soldier’s remains. (Photos here.) Lake Asveja is the longest lake in Lithuania (stretching 29.7 km (18.4 miles) and reaching a depth of 50.2 m (165 feet) and has been a favorite location for professional archaeologists and divers since 1998. Previous searches have uncovered boats, ferries, the old bridge and other artifacts from the 16th and 17th centuries when Grand Duchy of Lithuania was one of the most powerful in Eastern Europe.
Who was this medieval warrior and is his story movie-worthy? While archeologists led by Elena Pranckenaite, a researcher with Klaipėda University in Lithuania, could not determine a cause of death, they believe he may have been stationed at Dubingiai Castle in the Molėtai district on a former island (now a peninsula) in Lake Asveja. Built in 1412 by Vytautas, Grand Duke of Lithuania, it was the first masonry castle and located there to protect the nearby capital Vilnius from attacks from Livonia. The castle and property later became a luxurious residential residence until it was pillaged during the Polish–Swedish wars (1600-1620) and abandoned later in the 17th century. Archeologists studying the remains and artifacts found with it think the soldier may have been a castle guard who was killed or drowned in combat, since there’s no indication he was buried. Pranckenaite says this discovery is unique and the first of its kind in Lithuania.
“(The artifacts) are really ‘fresh’ and still need to be carefully analyzed. We hope to ‘tell the story’ of this soldier at least in a year.”
Pranckenaite told Live Science the soldier’s skeleton was found with a pair of leather boots with spurs; a leather belt with a buckle; an iron sword; and two knives with wooden handles. The remains are under examination at the Faculty of Medicine at Vilnius University, while the artifacts are at the Lithuanian National Museum, where archaeologists, anthropologists and historians at the National Museum of Lithuania are working to preserve and interpret them.
Will they find anything movie-worthy? It’s a unique discovery Lithuania’s rich history hasn’t been the subject of very many movies. Indiana Jones and Lithuanian Loot? Raiders of the Waterlogged Ark? Atlantis Jones and the Last Lithuanian Warrior?
Sounds like it’s time to fire up the screenwriting software.