Traces of noble luxury: archaeologists have discovered in Yuzhnoye Medvedkovo artefacts from the Prince Golitsyn's estate

May 31

Archaeologists discovered a part of the decor of the noble estate's front building facade, fragments of relief stove tiles, and fragments of clay and glassware during the landscaping works conducted in the area near Yauza River in Yuzhnoye (Southern) Medvedkovo. Experts date the findings back to the late 17th century. Before 1689, the estate was owned by Princess Sophia Alekseyevna's  favourite — Prince Vasily Golitsyn, and then by Peter the First's uncle Fyodor Naryshkin.

"Archaeological research was conducted at the intersection of Zapovednaya and Polyarnaya streets, on the site of the former Medvedkovo village. A wreath (upper edge) of a glassware, presumably a vase with a narrowed neck, has been the most significant finding so far. In pre-Petrine times, when there were no glass factories in Russia, such glassware was very expensive. Only wealthy people could afford it. Most likely, the vase was brought from Europe. Our experts try to establish its origin," said Head of the Moscow Cultural Heritage Department Alexei Yemelyanov.

According to him,  careful examination of the glass composition will make it easy. Other artefacts found speak for refined taste of Medvedkovo estate owners. For example, polychrome (multi-coloured) stove tiles decorated with exquisite floral ornaments, and white clay cooking utensils. The exteriors of the main building (boyar's mansion) were as luxurious as the interiors. Despite of being located far from Moscow, it was erected in a trendy classicism style. Archaeologists have also discovered a carved capital once crowning one of the columns of the building's facade.

In addition to the 17th century artefacts, some recent past objects have also been found on the site of archaeological research. For example, a fragment of a concrete sculpture of a cosmonaut and a painted porcelain non-spill inkwell dating back to the mid-20th century. After a detailed study, these artefacts will be displayed at Moscow museums.

"Archaeological support will be conducted during the entire period of improvement work. Archaeologists and builders have one goal — to carry out the improvement, which is to underline the character and at the same time preserve the historical spirit of a site. The major document the builders are guided by is the improvement design developed before the start of work. It includes all engineering, architectural and construction solutions, technologies and materials, as well as work stages," said the Press Service of the Moscow Department of Capital Improvements and Repairs.

According to the Moscow Cultural Heritage Department, Medvedkovo village was first mentioned in a scribe book of 1623. At that time, village was owned by Prince Dmitry Pozharsky (1578-1642). In that period, boyars' and servants' yard facilities, two mills on Yauza and Chermyanka rivers, a wooden Protection of the Holy Virgin Church, later rebuilt in stone and preserved to the present day, were constructed.

In 1687-1689, Medvedkovo belonged to Prince Vasily Golitsyn (1643-1714). Historical references have a detailed description of the main building of the estate: "Boyar's mansion stood on a high ground floor... Tiled stoves...  decorated rooms. Doors and walls were covered with red cloth... In the dining room ... there was a large organ... There was a roofed passageway between the building and the bath house''.

After Princess Sophia's overthrow, Prince Golitsyn fell into disgrace, and Medvedkovo went to the Treasury. Since 1689, the village belonged to Peter the First's uncle Fyodor Naryshkin. His family owned Medvedkovo for more than a century.

In the 1770s, Medvedkovo acquired a new estate house and a terraced park. Since the 1880's, the village with its surroundings was a favourite holiday destination of Moscow residents. Local residents leased houses out to visitors for summertime. At different times, the poet Valery Bryusov, artists Konstantin Korovin and Mikhail Vrubel recreated here.

Today the former village of Medvedkovo is part of the Yuzhnoye Medvedkovo district of Northeastern Administrative Area of Moscow. Work on the improvement of the area near Yauza River launched in April. The green area renovation project has been developed in coordination with local residents.

So, Pevcheskoye Pole open-air stage will be renovated at the citizens' request with its stage repaired and amphitheatre benches replaced. A recreation area will be arranged on the site of an unfinished ski resort.  There will also be playgrounds for children of various ages and viewing decks, convenient footpaths with street lamps and benches. This year, the green area of 34.5 ha is expected to be landscaped.

Valuable items from bygone days are regularly unearthed during construction and improvement projects and during the relocation of utility mains in Moscow. They help explain the city life of previous generations.  Archaeologists oversee these projects,  preventing workers from damaging any items of interest. Experts assess their state and value, and following a thorough inspection, decide on the best way to preserve and display them at a museum.

A 19th century revolver and a militia cap badge have been recently discovered by archaeologists in Dolgorukovskaya Street. Earlier, a treasure trove of silver and copper coins dating back to the reign of Nicholas II was discovered in this street.  The entire trove is worth 35 rubbles and 50.5 kopecks.

Over the past 8 years, Moscow archaeologists have found more than 30,000 artefacts. On Birzhevaya Square alone, experts collected 500 items, with the oldest ones dating back to the 12th century.


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