Spinning wheel, rings, bracelets and ceramics: jewelry and objects of Moscow establishment times

April 9

More than two dozen archaeology discoveries which age ranges from 600 to 900 years will be added to the Museum of Moscow collection. They will tell us about everyday life of people who inhabited the area in Moscow pre-establishment times and in the period of its formation.

"Among the artifacts there are temple rings of vyatiches, female lunula amulets, rings and glass bracelets, one of the most ancient currencies of mankind — cowrie shells and spindle whorls that could also replace coins, as well as fragments of pre-Mongolian ceramics. They were all discovered on Ilyinka Street (the territory of Kitay-Gorod) during archaeological research. Items and jewelry belong to the 12th–15th centuries. These artifacts were collected and carefully restored over the past three years. Now the collection of antiquities will be donated to the Museum of Moscow. City dwellers will learn more about how our ancestors lived", Head of Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage Alexey Yemelyanov said.

According to Moscow archaeologists those finds also indicate that before the city of Moscow appeared, a settlement surrounded by the fortress wall was economically and socially developed. Moscow communicated with other settlements and towns of Russia mainly along rivers. Proximity of the Moscow River created trading and transportation potential ties.

Useryaze rings and lunula amulets

Significant part of the early collection pieces consists of women's jewelry. These, for example, include the temple rings or useryazes, as they were called. Such rings were attached to temples in several ways: on a headdress, plaited into braid, worn in the ears or behind them, pinned to a ribbon. The presented specimens have a scientific name of seven-bladed temple rings. Until the 12th century, rings of this shape were a sign of the owner's belonging to the Slavic tribe of Vyatiches. This type is common and typical for Vyatka settlements of the 12th century. The specimens found in Moscow date back to the 12th-14th centuries.

Press service of Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage

Another type of jewelry found has magical and ceremonial nature. These are lunula amulets — women's amulets made of non-ferrous metal alloys. Lunula amulets were shaped as pendants, earrings, belt buckles and rings. They were interlaced with bracelets, and clothes and headdresses were decorated with them. Also, lunula amulet were often embroidered on fabric to give clothing and other textiles strong protective properties.

Press service of Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage

Lunula amulets were widely spread in the 10th–13th centuries across all the Slavic territory, alongside, a change in shape and decor was taking place: broad -horned lunula amulets are replaced by new types — sharp-horned, steep-horned, closed, cross-including and others. Spread of Christianity decreased perception of this symbol as an amulet. But its aesthetic value was still there. The presented items presumably belong to the 13th–15th centuries.

Also among the women's jewelry are glass bracelets. Such things discovered in Moscow usually date back to the 60s of the 12th century — first half of the 14th century.

Press service of Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage

Seashells and spindle whorls are ancient type of currency

The importance of trade with other settlements and cities is indicated by such finds as slate spindle whorls and cowrie shells.

Ovruch slate spindle whorls were carved from pink and red stone — the slate — that was mined at the territory of modern Ukraine (near the city of Ovruch) in the 10th-13th centuries. The oldest and simplest device for making yarn was manual spinning wheel. Before starting work, a craftswoman attached the combed wool, linen or hemp fiber to the spinning wheel. Then she pulled a few fibers out of the hemp tow with her left hand, twisted them into a thread and attached to the spindle on which she fixed the spindle whorl. Thereafter she gave a right hand rapid spin to the spindle with the end of the thread attached to it, and immediately released it. Hanging in the air the spindle continued to spin, gradually pulling and winding the thread. The spinning whorl was meant to strengthen and maintain the spinning, which otherwise would have shortly stopped. When the thread became long enough, the craftswoman wound it around the spindle and the spinning whorl prevented the growing clew from slipping off.

Press service of Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage

Ancient Russia did not have any coins in circulation in the 12th–14th centuries. And the slate spindle whorl could well play the role of a coin. It was impossible to falsify it since the pink slate deposit in Ovruch was the only one in the Eastern Europe. The spindle whorls were no longer made of stone in the 13thcentury, instead they were made of clay because the Mongol invaders ravaged the Ovruch workshops. The slate spindle whorls are usually found in Moscow’s archaeological cultural layers of the 12th-15th centuries.

And cowrie shells were known as jewelry since ancient times. They were used in ancient Egypt. It is believed that during the coinless period in Russia in the 12th–14th centuriescowries also served as money and were called uzhovka, millstone and snake head. However, it is known that cowries were imported in large quantities from Riga to Novgorod in the 16th century. In Siberia, they retained the functions of money until the early 20th century. The shells themselves come from the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

Press service of Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage

Rings of various types and pre-Mongolian ceramics

Among the archaeological finds there are four signet rings that are made in different techniques: one is lattice-type and three are open plated types. Such jewelry could be worn by both men and women.

The appearance of lattice signet rings is defined by researchers in different ways: 11th or 12th century. These signet rings are found in all areas once inhabited by Vyatiches. They are discovered in burials and on the territory of cities and settlements. The most widespread use of lattice signet rings reached in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Press service of Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage

The plated, octagon, open signet rings are dated even more widely. They are found both in the monuments of the second half of the 10th century, and in later ones — Kostroma and Novgorod burial mounds of the 12th-13th centuries. In Moscow similar objects can be dated by the same centuries.

Press service of Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage

Fragments of ceramic vessels of the pre-Mongol period evidence the development of handicraft at the territory of the future Moscow. Experts believe that they belong to the 12th-early 13th centuries. The fact is that they are made of clay with much impurities specific for Moscow. When fired in the oven such vessels acquired a red hue.

The first mention of Moscow was first mentioned in the Hypatian Codex — back in April 4, 1147 according to Julian calendar. It is the Codex that is the historical evidence of the city existence.

The Prince of Suzdal, Yuri Vladimirovich Dolgoruky, called his ally and friend, Svyatoslav Olgovich, the Prince of Novgorod — Seversky and Belgorod, to his patrimony of Moscow ("to Moscow", or "on Moscow"). Dolgoruky served a "strong dinner" in honor of Svyatoslav Olgovich. That was the start of Moscow’s written history to make an episode of the princely meal the significant event.

Preservation of finds is an important part of the Moscow’s archaeologists work. The process is divided into two stages. During the office processing, the 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 of past centuries were found in the capital.

Source: mos.ru

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