The Moscow street refurbishment programme, My Street, has helped to reveal more than one thousand artefacts and remnants of historical buildings. More often than not specialists know for certain where objects of historical value can be found, for which reason fragments of fencing or foundations of old buildings are nothing new for them. But buried hoards and other finds may be a pleasant surprise. Mos.ru and Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage will publish the Top 20 artefacts.
A portion of clinker pavement was found on Pushechnaya Street during last year’s maintenance. Clinkers are heavily baked, durable bricks set on their edge and arranged in a fishbone pattern. In Moscow, this Dutch paving technique was used for the first time in the latter half of the 19th century and was not very frequent. In the 20th century, when first automobiles came into use, the pavement began to crumble and had to be paved over with stone and later asphalt.
Cast-iron grills with light prisms were found at 24/7Myasnitskaya Street, Bldg.1 (a cultural heritage site: a commercial apartment building owned by the Stroganov School). Specialists believe they were manufactured in the late 19th or early 20th century. Last year, the find was sent over to the restoration workshops of Polytechnic College No.2 for an overhaul. Currently both restored grills are in their original place on Myasnitskaya Street. Other architectural elements are being restored.
A short stretch of a white-stone foundation was found on Turgenevskaya Square. It appears that it belonged to the legendary Bely Gorod (White City) (1586-1593), a fortress located where the modern-day boulevards lay.
At 16 Tverskaya Street, a 50-metre- long stretch of a wooden pavement dating back to the 17th or early 18th century was found, including fragments of four tiers consisting of planking (half-logs) and longitudinal beams (logs). The upper tier is charred by an 18th-century fire. Fragments of white-clay crockery, copper buttons, a baptismal cross, and bits of leather were found between tiers, as was a unique tool used for counterfeiting money.
The latter is an iron cube with reliefs of the head side and the tail side of the kopeck that was in circulation during the reign of Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich (1645 – 1676), father of Peter I the Great. The tool is a matrix (matochnik) for minting counterfeit coins.
A ditch on Pushkinskaya Square revealed foundations of a wall and some buildings of the Holy Passions Convent (1654 – 1937). Workers have cleared a pedestal of white-stone blocks and the top of a white-stone-and-brick wall. There is also a portion of brickwork from the refectory adjacent to the Church of St. Antony and St. Theodosius of the Cave. Other finds include stove tiles, coins, buckles, and small crosses worn under clothing dating back to the period,when the convent was still in existence.
At 4 Tverskaya Street, a clay bottle with its label reading “Riga Balsam. The Genuine Julius Cesar” was found. Surprisingly, the vessel is almost undamaged. According to experts, the find dates back to the latter half of the 19th century or the early 20th century.
A fragment of a 17th- or 18th-century sculptured stove tile was found on Bolshaya Yakimanka Street, with its face side covered by a floral ornament.
The rest of the finds are everyday objects (fragments of clay ceramics, candlesticks, knives, porcelain or glass crockery), elements of clothing (buckles, buttons, leather footwear, boot protectors, etc.), and other things. All of these mostly date back to the period from the 16th to the first half of the 20th century. The most interesting of them can be seen here.
The maintenance efforts continue, which bring new archaeological finds. A hoard – several dozen 18th-century copper coins – was found near 22 Voznesensky Pereulok. The money has been sent over for expert analysis. The coins were found in a clod of earth, but presumably they were in a purse or a moneybag, which has since rotted away.
All finds will be handed over to the Museum of Moscow before 2019 (some time will be needed for expert analysis). Whereas fragments of fences, pavements and foundations will remain in their original place and will be mothballed.
But certain sites will be placed on display. For example, a part of the clinker pavement on Pushechnaya Street has been left on the surface. A stretch of the pavement on Tverskaya Street will be covered with glass and provided with lighting and heating. Several other objects on Tverskaya Street are likely to be eternalised as a pattern or a floral ornament on the pavement. The plans are to use the signage method to show outlines of historical objects. “This can be paving of a different colour or lawn bushes planted along the outline of an underground object,” Moscow’s chief archaeologist Leonid Kondrashev explained. Plates with data on a historical object will be placed nearby. This method is planned to be used for the Church of St Demetrius of Solun and White City wall towers.
“More than one hundred specialists – archaeologists, surveyors, and others – have been following the My Street effort,” Mr Kondrashev said.
All artefacts and historical objects are carefully preserved. Soviet-era building litter is often found in ditches as new pipes for cables are laid. For this reason, specialists carefully study all discovered objects and examine them closely in case they are of historical significance. Occasionally, true archaeological sensations are discovered among remnants of boards and other litter. It is planned to compile and publish a map of all archaeological finds.