An ornamented bronze handle, a mouthpiece and ceramics: what else archaeologists found close to the monument to Minin and Pozharsky

July 28

The Moscow archaeologists discovered the cobblestone pavements of the 19th century’s first quarter, as well as about 30 artifacts of the 12th — early 19th century in the territory close the monument to Minin and Pozharsky. The excavations began this May. They precede the restoration of the monument that starts this fall.

"Moscow archaeologists completed archaeological studies of the cultural layer near the monument to Minin and Pozharsky on the Red Square. They found Muscovites’ household items of the 16th–early 19th century. Among them are an ornamented bronze handle (presumably of a spoon) and a lead-tin commodity seal. Besides, a fragment of a horseshoe and a mouthpiece of a Dutch smoking pipe were found. Ceramic fragments are of interest too, archaeologists attribute them to the 12th–13th centuries. Specialists will study all the finds, and then transfer them to the city’s museum fund," said Alexey Yemelyanov, head of Moscow's Department of Cultural Heritage.

Building materials of the 16th–17th centuries were also among the artifacts: forged iron nails, fragments of mica windows, as well as facade and stove polychrome (i. e. multicolored) tiles and fragments of glazed roof tiles.

In addition to household items and building materials, archaeologists discovered larger finds too. Two pieces of cobblestone pavement are meant. They are attributed to the first quarter of the 19th century. The pieces differ by the nature of masonry. This, as well as the fact that they were found at different levels of the cultural layer, suggests that the pavements were made in different decades.

It is known that the first cobblestone pavement on Red Square appeared in the 1800s. Other pieces of pavement were laid in 1814–1815 during the Red square’s large-scale reconstruction after the fire of 1812.

For example, one fragment of the ancient road is made of a boulder stone (round stone) of two sizes: small (7-12 centimeters in diameter) and large (25-30 centimeters). Herewith, the cobblestones are laid right on the ground and form a grid pattern. The second piece of the pavement has a different type of masonry. The material used here is not round stone, but crushed stone. It is tightly laid on a high sand cushion.

During the archaeological work, specialists studied the cultural layer next to the monument and its underground parts too. This June archaeologists carefully examined the base under the granite pedestal. It is made of rectangular white stone blocks and sandstone blocks with lime mortar to connect them. Experts found among them fragments of such architectural details as the column base, the chapiter (the column upper part) and the semi-column dating as far back as the 16th century. They were used as a building material together with white stone blocks. There is an explanation for such an unusual reuse of architectural elements.

The monument to Minin and Pozharsky was erected on Red Square in 1818. At the time the monument on the granite pedestal was located in front of the Upper Trading Rows (today it is GUM) and faced the Kremlin. However, 1931 saw the reconstruction of the Red Square and building of the Mausoleum of V. I. Lenin , and in this connection the sculptural monument was moved to the Pokrovsky Cathedral, where it is located to this day.

When moving to a new place, the underground foundation was made for the monument. White stone blocks as well as parts of the Moscow Kremlin buildings — Chudov and Voznesensky monasteries dismantled in 1929–1930s — were used in the foundation construction. It were those parts that were discovered by archaeologists in June.

The monument to Minin and Pozharsky is a sculptural monument designed by architect Ivan Martos. It is dedicated to the leaders of the people's militia of 1612 — the elder Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky, as well as to the end of the Time of Troubles and the expulsion of Polish interventionists. The ceremony of its opening took place in 1818 in presence of Emperor Alexander I.

The archaeological season began in Moscow in June. It will last until early October. This is the time when excavations, observations, and research are carried out. Field work is planned on more than 800 sites in the new season. Two-thirds of them are located on the territory of TiNAO (Troitsky and Novomoskovsky administrative districts).

Preservation of finds is an important part of the Moscow archaeologists work. The process is divided into two stages. During the laboratory investigation, soil is removed. The restoration itself can take from a week to several years (depending on the complexity of the artifact and its condition). Last year more than 15 thousand artifacts were found in Moscow.


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