Ancient crafts of Moscow: traces of foundry dating back to 17th-18th centuries found in the city centre

Ancient crafts of Moscow: traces of foundry dating back to 17th-18th centuries found in the city centre
The artefacts discovered during excavation works near Sretenka Street.

During the excavations near Sretenka Street, archaeologists found traces of a small foundry dating back to 17th — early 18th century. Experts found fragments of a water tank, a large wooden barrel, as well as craft tools, two ceramic crucibles — special pots that were used for primary smelting of metal from ore, as well as part of a stone-made mold.

"Moscow of 17th–18th centuries was a large craft centre, with copper casting being one of the most common types of crafts, as evidenced by these findings. The crucibles made of refractory ceramics able to withstand metal melting point of over 1000 degrees are very well-preserved. Containers have a cone-shaped form for melting, with a rounded bottom and a small draining spout. The outer surfaces of crucibles are hard-burnt, with the inner ones having traces of copper-based alloys," said Alexei Yemelyanov, Head of the Moscow Cultural Heritage Department.

Another finding, the lower part of the composite mold made of shale plate, speak for the range of workshop products, as polished surface has a cross pendant and two plummet-shaped buttons cut out. It also has molding channels for metal pouring, and holes for fasteners (pins). Using this form, craftsmen could make three items at a time.

Now the artefacts are studied by experts at the archaeological workshop. After they are restored, they will be transferred to Moscow museum holdings.

History of Sretenka Street

Future Sretenka Street appeared on the way from Moscow to the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius (now the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius) in the 12th century. It was also part of the road leading to Vladimir, Rostov and other cities of North-East Russia. First, the street was called Ustretenskaya and Stretenskaya in honour of Sretensky Monastery founded here in the late 15th century. In the 17th century, it had its modern name.

In the 16th–17th centuries, the street housed traders and artisans' homesteads with ragmen, carpenters, foundry men, tinsel-makers and other masters. Since the 17th century, Sretenka and its adjacent alleys have been inhabited by merchants.

Until the 18th century, Sretenka was the main Moscow street, with Tverskaya Street later assuming this title. Until mid-19th century, the present Bolshaya Lubyanka Street, still housing Sretensky Monastery, was also part of Sretenka.

Valuable items from bygone days are often unearthed in Moscow. They help explain the city life of previous generations.  Experts assess their state and value, and following a thorough inspection, decide on the best way to preserve them.

A fragment of a white-stone column and a part of a mammoth tusk figurine were found recently in Yuzhnoye Medvedkovo. Experts date these finds back to the 18th century. Most likely, it was the time the column was carved from stone to decorate the façade of one of the estate buildings. The mammoth tusk figurine dates back to the same century.

Earlier, during the excavation on the banks of the Yauza River, in the area of Serebryanicheskaya Embankment, a metal street cleaner's badge of the late 19th century and a unique old tableware have been found:  a glass and a tin plate made in Europe. In those days, it was a luxury to have tableware made in Europe at home. Foreign goods were very expensive, since they were difficult to buy in Russia.

And in spring, a 19th century revolver and a militia cap badge were discovered by archaeologists in Dolgorukovskaya Street. Earlier, a treasure trove of 97 silver and copper coins dating back to the reign of Nicholas II had been discovered in this street.  The entire trove is worth 35 roubles and 50.5 kopecks.

Over the past 8 years, Moscow archaeologists have found more than 35,000 artefacts. Only on Birzhevaya Square, experts collected 500 items, with the oldest ones dating back to the 12th century.