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The fortress-site Staraya Ryazan
May 18, 2009 00:24

The site of the ancient town Staraya Ryazan is situated 65 km to the south-east of modern Ryazan (originally Pereyaslavl Ryazansky), on the high right bank of the Oka River. The town was ruined in an instant during the Tatar invasion headed by Batu Khan in 1237 and never came alive again. The latest layer of archaeological sites on the territory of the ancient town dates back to the 13th century.

The ancient Russian fortress appeared on the right Oka's bank in the first half of the 11th century on the place of a Finno Ugric settlement left by its inhabitants . During the 12th-13th centuries the town was a prosperous political, economical and cultural centre of South-East Russian lands. In the middle of the 12th century Ryazan became the capital of Muromo-Ryasanskaya land and consequently a considerable trading centre. The town changed greatly: its square increased ninefold and the population grew up considerably as well. The great fortifications and bastions were erected around the town. The rests of earthworks are still visible.

Buildings in Ryazan were mainly wooden, except for three churches, made of yellow and rose-colored bricks combined with white-stone work. The churches were devoted to Sts. Boris and Gleb, Dormition of the Mother of God and to Christ (maybe to the holiday of the Transfiguration Christi).

All of them were ruined during the 13th -19th centuries by the time and climatic effects (as a rule, the Tatars didn’t demolish churches but only wasted them). Nowadays the fundaments and remains of walls of all the three buildings are closely studied by archaeologists.

Some of the archaeological findings made on the territory of Staraya Ryazan witness the literacy of citizens. They left inscriptions, such as pleads on the walls of the churches, data on a wine jug, etc. Moreover, in 1997 a birchbark manuscript was found during archaeological excavations. It is an evidence of the fact that literacy was widespread at that time not only in Novgorod the Great (it was in Novgorod, where the overwhelming majority of birchbark manuscripts were found).

Trade in Staraya Ryazan had an international character. There are many imported things found there, among them amber, beads made of glass, amethyst, carnelian and rock crystals, amphorae for wine and olive oil, such inessentials as expensive cloths, dishes made in different regions of the East and West. But the most famous finds are undoubtedly the famous treasures of Ryazan. There are fifteen treasures found from the 19th century till nowadays. The citizens hid them several days before carrying?? leaving? the fortress hoping to return and take them.


The treasures include home-made jewels and rich details of women’s holiday clothes.

. They include clasped arm-rings, temple rings with three beads, which were fixed on the headdress, chaplets consisting of beads and medallions. Most of them were created with use of granulation and filigree methods. The most elegant artifact is a round kolt (kolts are ornamental details of head-wear; large pendants having various form, worn by noble women in the Ancient Russia) made in the Byzantine technique of cloisonné enamel but by a Russian craftsman. Outstanding skillfulness distinguishes these things belonging to the pre-Mongol period medieval Russian history and culture. The things from the Ryazan treasures are to be seen in the Armoury Chamber Museum of the Moscow Kremlin and in the Historical and Architectural Museum of Ryazan.

Yulia Buzykina


Tags: Ryazan     

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