Ceremonial tableware and a copper folding icon: archaeologists found artifacts of 16th-19th centuries

September 16

In the course of excavations on Goncharnaya Street experts found 536 artifacts of the 16th-19th centuries. The work was carried out by experts of the Institute of Archeology, Russian Academy of Sciences.

"Excavations on Goncharnaya Street presented a large archaeological collection to the city. It consists of household items used by Muscovites in the 16th-19th centuries. They are ceramic tableware and tiles, painted glass items made in the hot-glass blowing technique manually, without the use of molds. Besides, the collection includes coins, porcelain toys, as well as church items. The latter are represented by parts from book bindings, a folding icon and vessels for anointing oil. One of the most interesting artifacts is a stone for making lithographic prints of trade labels. It is dated back to the second half of the 19th century," Alexey Yemelyanov, head Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage, commented on the finds. 

Now specialists are carefully studying them to begin their restoration in a short while. The finds will be transferred to the museum fund of Moscow thereafter.

The list of finds comprises unique items as well. For example, a bottle made of high-strength ceramics, dated late 19th century. It was made in the German Duchy of Nassau. Such vessels were used for bottling mineral water from the Niederselters spring, as well as vinegar and tinctures. The value of the vessel found is that it is marked by a printed factory label, eventually decayed. The label has an inscription in two languages — Russian and German. It reads that the bottle contained herbal balm.

Another archaeological success is a very rare example of the 18th century ceremonial tableware. These are fragments of a light green glass tumbler. Its decor is made using sophisticated technology. Thin lines of red and yellow glass are applied to the tumbler surface. They depict the Russian Empire coat of arms — a double-headed eagle, and also make up the inscription "“Vivat to her Imperial Majesty". This tableware, called coronation glassware, were produced for exceptional events and used in official celebrations. For example, in honor of accession to the throne of the ruling person. In the case of the artifact found, it belongs to an 18th century empresses, most probably to Catherine II.

Fragments of the 17th century wealthy citizen clothing are of particular interest too. These are the remains of two shirts with metallized thread embroidery, elements of outer garment galun trimming (galun is a dense 5-60 mm wide ribbon or braid made of cotton yarn), a braided belt also made of metallized threads, and scraps of lace decorative trim.

Finding fragments of clothing is a great success for archaeologists, because the fabric is easily disintegrated in the earth. Experts suggest that the clothes were kept in a wooden chest and therefore survived in a good condition.

A rather large metal cross (over five centimeters long) is worth mentioning in the collection of personal piety items. Its lower part depicts the image of the Great Martyr Nikita Besogon — it was often used in the design of objects of personal piety. Similar large crosses were often worn by residents of Moscow and its outskirts in the 16th-17th centuries.

A three-fold folding icon with the image of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker dated the middle of the 18th century is also of value. This 10 x 7 centimeters cast icon is made of a copper alloy. It is noteworthy that the icon survived intact to this day — this is a great rarity. This item was valuable for its time. Such items were used as personal images and worn folded on the body. They could also be a kind of portable iconostasis convenient in a travel, on a pilgrimage or military campaign. This is the reason why they often depicted St. Nicholas — the patron saint of sailors and travelers.

A set of six pulos merits particular attention too. The pulo is a small change in the late 14th-16th centuries. The pulos found on Goncharnaya street belong to the 1530s. The obverse (front side) bears the inscription "Poulo Moskovskoe" (Moscow’s pulo), and a crowned human-headed bird is minted on the reverse (probably a sirin — Russian mythological creature). Such coins were minted in the Grand Duchy of Moscow during the reign of Ivan IV's mother Elena Glinskaya.

The pulo had the smallest denomination in the Russian coin system. One silver kopeck accounted for from 16 to 64 pulos at different times. Such coins were mainly minted in the Grand Duchies of Moscow and Tver, as well as in Novgorod.

Preservation of finds is an important part of archaeological work. At the first stage of works experts remove soil, and then proceed to restoration. It can take from a week to several years depending on the complexity of the artifact and its condition.

Over the last 10 years Moscow archaeologists found about 60 thousand artifacts. Last year alone, over 15 thousand items were discovered, over 700 were transferred to the state part of the Museum Fund of the Russian Federation.

Photos are provided by the press service of Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage

Source: mos.ru

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