Early history of Moscow: new finds

In March, the international conference "Archaeology in the modern world" took place in Moscow. An interesting report was prepared by Leonid Belyayev and Nikolay Krenke of the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. During the diggings in the Danilov monastery, near Moscow, they made some interesting discoveries. The monastery was located on a river bank, where the confluence of river Moscow and a brook formed a promontory. In 1980s, the first artefacts were found and dated by X-XII centuries, which coincides with the first mentionings of Moscow in chronicles (1147). The area of the settlement was around 200 sq.m. Now archaeologists have re-evaluated the evidences and concluded that they should be dated by IX century, or even earlier. This proves that the area was already populated by the time when Moscow appeared in the chronicles. In late 1980s, the monastery was transferred to the church and the explorations were cancelled. At last, in 2006, the church officials asked the scientists to find the burial of the archbishop Nikephoros Theotokis (1731-1800). The archaeologists took the opportunity to explore the settlement and found ceramic ware of the early Iron Age (III-IV BCE), very similar to that of the Dyakovo culture (Finno-Ugrians). Since these early days, the location was continiously inhabited. A large number of the Arab dirham coins were found around the settlement.

Among other things, a very interesting type of ceramic manufacture was found, identical to the ware found in Staraya Ladoga (Aldeigjuborg) and usually associated with the Scandinavians. This was the simplest ware, like pots, and it seems unlikely that it was brought here from far away. It may mean that some Scandinavians inhabited this settlement. Some years ago, not far from Moscow, a number of typically Scandinavian fibulae of X century was found. In 1988, a treasure was found in the Moscow Kremlin, containing Scandinavian ornamentations of XI century. Later ornamentations do not have any Scandinavian features.

Traditionally, the age of Moscow is counted from 1147, when Yuri Dolgoruki invited his ally, knyaz Svyatoslav of Chernigov, to Moscow. The chronicle does not call Moscow "a town" and it is possible that the place was simply the knyaz's patrimony. The recent finds shift the birthdate to at least two centuries back.

No comments: