Parts of a horse harness and cavalry bullets: What else was discovered while restoring the Khamovniki barracks

October 19

Archaeologists have found parts of uniforms and ammunition of cavalrymen during restoration works at the historical army barracks and riding hall in Khamovniki. The structures at 17a Komsomolsky Prospekt – the complex of the early 19th-century Khamovniki barracks and 19th-century riding hall – are cultural heritage of federal significance. Restoration has been underway on the site since 2019; specialists are recreating the historical look of the buildings’ facades and interior decoration. Archaeologists are also digging on the site at the same time.

Experts date the discovered artefacts to the 19th and 20th centuries. The finds include dozens of items such as stripes and buttons from uniforms, lead bullets, and parts of a horse harness – bit rings, bridle headbands, stirrup buckles and horseshoes. Looking at them, one can imagine how soldiers and officers were carrying out their service, riding horses and shooting.

“The Khamovniki barracks were built at the beginning of the 19th century, replacing a former Tames linen manufactory established under Peter the Great. For example, the Chef's House – one of the buildings on the site – was the house of the director of the manufactory. The finds made on the site of the riding hall illustrate the period of time when the place was actually used for its intended purpose,” said Alexei Yemelyanov, head of Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage.

The finds are now being studied, described and restored. In the future, they will be added to the collections of Moscow museums.

The riding hall was built in 1876 and was part of the Khamovniki barracks complex even though it was located on the opposite side of the Khamovniki parade ground. The barracks were built in 1807-1809. In the 1920s, the building housed the Higher Riding School, and the riding hall was used to train cavalry commanders for military parades. The main facade of the complex was redecorated to have a more solemn architectural and decorative look in late classicism, and classicist plaster decor was added. A Tuscan colonnade and a balcony for a military band were added to the central part.

In the 1950s–1970s, the riding hall got several new additions. The building was turned into a complex of gyms. In 1963, it was again altered and re-equipped to accommodate the CSKA shooting range. The current restoration project envisages recreating the volumetric-spatial structure of the complex from the first half of the 20th century, including elements from the first half of the 19th century.

Archaeologists occasionally find items that keep the memory of the life in Moscow and its townspeople. Specialists study the condition of the items and determine their value to decide how best to preserve them. Often the transfer of artefacts to museums is preceded by a long period of restoration.

At the beginning of September, specialists completed the restoration of ceramic kitchen and tableware found in fragments during excavations in the former Kadashevskaya Sloboda area – items from the 16th–19th centuries. It took painstaking work to recreate 20 items out of 20,000 fragments. Among them are white clay pots, watering bowls and a black-glazed jug.

Along with the utensils, excavations in the centre of Moscow earlier revealed many copper crosses and arrowheads. The finds were dated to the 14th-16th centuries. The artefacts were restored and prepared for transfer to Moscow museums. Over 200 unique finds have been improved during these restoration works.


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