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10 Sensational Archeological Finds of Russia (Part 1)
March 4, 2014 13:18

1) Birchbark Manuscripts

As is well-known, birchbark manuscripts are both material and manuscript historical source at the same time. After all it is not only the place where they were found, but also their contents that matters for the history. Thus, birchbark manuscripts have helped archeologists to learn about ancient human relationships, economic links, people’s conflicts, and their food customs, for example.
Birchbark manuscripts of medieval Russia were for the first time found in Veliky Novgorod, with the very first of them unearthed on July 26, 1951. By the way, this date now marks the Birchbark Manuscript Day celebrated in Veliky Novgorod.
Most of the birchbark manuscripts - about 1050 of them (as of 2012) - were found in Veliky Novgorod. 
These archeological finds are generally fragments of birchbark manuscripts, since the authors seemed to care about protecting the information from being read by strangers. (More on Birchbark Manuscripts)
2) Treasures of Gnezdov
This considerable archaeological monument is located on the bank of River Dnepr in the Smolensk Region. Archeological excavations revealed that in the centre of Gnezdov there had been an ancient site – a fortified town with trading quarters and burial mounds nearby. Scandinavian spearheads and expensive swords (17 altogether) characteristic of early medieval Europe, as well as numerous jewelry of Scandinavian women were found in these barrows. By the way, about one third of all Scandinavian pagan amulets unearthed in the area of Eastern Europe were found in Gnezdov.
Such a great number of Scandinavian items of the 9th and 10th centuries found in the Gnezdov barrows testify to the historical fact that during that era Varangians did not only get into the Dnepr area, but also settled there. 
3) Unknown Human Species from Denisova Cave
This cave named after an Old Believer spiritual advisor Dionysius is located in the Solonesh District of the Altai Territory. It is considered that the eremite found shelter there in the 18th century.  However, the finds unearthed in the cave prompt that before him it housed the Scythians, Huns and Turks, and much earlier it was a home for people of the Stone and Bronze ages. 
However, even a more interesting fact was discovered not long ago. Thus, in July, 2008 the archeologist Alexander Tsybankov found a fragment of a primate’s little finger phalanx in 30 to 50 thousand year-old sediments. Since it was known that 30-50 thousand years ago Siberia was inhabited by no other primates than people, scientists assumed that it was a human’s bone. Later it became clear that the phalanx was a remnant of a child who had died at the age of eight. 
However, after a DNA test of the bone the researchers came to a conclusion that it belonged to an extinct human species - the Denisov unknown human - different from the Neanderthal man and modern people.  
4) Staraya Ryazan Treasures
Staraya Ryazan is one of the largest of the Old Russian towns of the 12th -13th centuries and, besides, the biggest archaeological site in Russia today. Its town fortifications alone take the area of 60 hectares. The town was destroyed during the Mongolian invasion of Batu-Khan in winter of 1237.
Throughout centuries peasants plowing up the lands of Staraya Ryazan ancient site came across various finds there. Thus, for example, lots of treasures were found.  Those of them found before the 19th century have not come down to us.  However, in 1822 a peasant found the Staraya Ryazan treasure, which can be seen today in the Armory Chamber of the Moscow Kremlin. 
Byzantine medallions with Our Lady Orant images are the gems of this treasure. 
5) Mangazeya

 The year 1607 saw the first Russian polar town appear in Siberia: it was Mangazeya on the Taz River in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. However this town lasted for only one century: its dwellers left Mangazeya in 1672. 
Nevertheless, the history of the polar town attracted researchers. Archeologists investigated the monument’s area of about 15 thousand m² large, discovered remains of defensive fortifications and constructions of different functions. Archeological excavations also made it clear that the polar town had a planning typical for Old Russian towns, comprised of the town itself (i.e. fortified Kremlin) and a trading quarter (suburb).


Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Archeology History of Russia    

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