From buttons to glazed tiles: Over 15,000 artefacts discovered in Moscow this year

December 27, 2020

Archaeologists unearthed over 15,000 finds in Moscow in 2020. Head of the Moscow City Department of Cultural Heritage Alexei Yemelyanov reviewed the year.

“This year was a special one for archaeologists – the pandemic did make its adjustments to their plans; there were no excavations, but they did conduct archaeologic exploration and observations at 889 sites. Thanks to this, many interesting finds of historical and cultural value were found. All in all, more than 15,000 artefacts were discovered over the past year. This means that Moscow archaeologists made about 60,000 finds over the past decade,” he said.

Main sites

At Izmalkovo Estate they found remnants of buildings more than two hundred years old. Their finds included the foundations of garden paths, parts of pergolas and pavilions, components from old greenhouses and water conduits. These items will help researchers learn more about the original appearance of the estate park. Specialists also found tableware, clothes, coins and broken dishes.

During the Khamovniki Barracks renovation in Komsomolsky Prospect archaeologists came across some items related to the army, the cavalry, in particular. Among them were chevrons and uniform buttons, lead bullets and horse harness components: snaffle rings, headgear plates, a stirrup buckle and horseshoes.

And close to the Church of the Nativity of Our Lady in Kulishki they found fragments of smoking pipes made of red clay, copper coins, a thimble, a horseshoe and glass vials. Supposedly, these items were lost or thrown away by pedestrians on Solyanka Street.

Metal heel plates, a signet-ring, a knife with a carved wooden handle, cone-shaped ceramic stoppers and a black polished dish were discovered on Petrovka Street in the block between Petrovsky Pereulok and Stoleshnikov Pereulok. Of special interest is a token made in Nuremberg at the Krauwinckel workshop (late 16th-early 17th centuries). In addition, of certain value are glazed tiles, a pomade jar, glass vials, white stone finial and a glass bottle with the “Doctor Redlich Moscow” inscription.

During the Khudozhestvenny Cinema renovation project, archaeologists found ceramic fragments dating back to the 16th ̵ 17th centuries. Other ancient artefacts included well preserved glass items from the late 19th  ̵ early 20th centuries, as well as fragments of earthen- and chinaware bearing the manufacturers’ marks of factories owned by the family of Matvei Kuznetsov, a businessman and industrialist. The finds also included pomade jars, a crockery-ware figurine, and components from table sets with Gardner Porcelain Factory markings.

Searches were also conducted at the Novodevichy Convent and the former Goncharnaya Sloboda (Potters’ Settlement) grounds on the Yauza River bank.

Restoring the artefacts

Preserving the items that are found is special work for archeologists. This is performed in two stages. First, they remove dirt and soil in a laboratory. Actual restoration can take from one week to several years (depending on the artefact’s complexity and condition).

“Items that have been found are undergoing laboratory treatment; 166 items have been restored. In total, they found and processed over 15,000 items in 2020, similar to 2019, which is one and half times the number in 2018. More than 700 archaeologic items were given to the state-owned collection of the Russian Museum Fund in 2020,” Yemelyanov said.

Christmas selection

The Department of Cultural Heritage along with the archaeologists have prepared a Christmas selection of artefacts. It includes the finds made this year that were ornaments for festive tables:

- Fragments of earthenware and china dishes bearing the manufacturer markings (late 19th  ̵ early 20th centuries). Items that belonged to the Matvei Kuznetsov family. Kuznetsov established one of Russia’s largest earthenware and china factories.  Their products competed in terms of beauty and fineness with those produced by the Imperial Porcelain Factory.

- Components from tableware sets bearing the Gardner Porcelain Factory markings (late 19th ̵ early 20th centuries). This was the first private porcelain factory in Russia. It was established in the 18th century by Scotch merchant Francis Gardner.

- Jar with the inscription, “Trade and Industrial House Blandov Brothers Moscow,” and a jar with an “Mosc… otny Ryad” inscription (late 19th ̵ early 20th centuries). The Second Guild Merchants, the Blandovs, set up a partnership named V. & N. Blandov Brothers in Moscow in 1880. Their main business  ̵  a dairy factory  ̵  was located on Novoslobodskaya Street. It was distinguished by its technical efficiency and up-to-date approach to production and by its high quality products. This is where one of the first bacteriologic laboratories was established in Russia.

- 19th century liquor and wine glasses found near the Khudozhestvenny Cinema.

- Champagne bottle (late 19th ̵ early 20th centuries, found on the grounds of Khudozhestvenny Cinema). Remarkably, this form of champagne bottle has survived to this day.

- Bottle stopper cap in the form of a hen (late 19th ̵ early 20th centuries, found on the grounds of Khudozhestvenny Cinema).

- 19th century three-edged bottles for spices and a glass compartment plate for mustard and horseradish sauce (found on the grounds of Khudozhestvenny Cinema).

- Fragments from a round glass jar with the mark, A.I. Abrikosov & Sons Partnership, (late 19th ̵ early 20th centuries, found on the grounds of Khudozhestvenny Cinema).

The Christmas artefacts selection also includes some items that Moscow residents could present to each other, such as:

- Pomade jars (late 18th ̵ early 19th centuries).

- Powder boxes (19th century, found on the grounds of Khudozhestvenny Cinema).

- vials (late 19th ̵ early 20th centuries, found on the grounds of Khudozhestvenny Cinema).

-A. Siou vial ((late 19th ̵ early 20th centuries, found at 7, Zubovskaya Street). By the beginning of the 20th century the A. Siou & Co factory produced over 120 perfumes and about 40 eau de colognes.

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