A rare artefact: a cross featuring Sergius of Radonezh found in the centre of Moscow

A rare artefact: a cross featuring Sergius of Radonezh found in the centre of Moscow
The cross dates back to the late 17th — early 18th century. It was found during the excavations in the area of Kitaigorodsky Proyezd, near Zaryadye Park.

An unusual artefact was discovered by Moscow archaeologists. A wooden cross pendant featuring the saint patron of all students, St. Sergius of Radonezh, was found during excavations in the area of Kitaigorodsky Poyezd, near Zaryadye Park and Moskva River.

The cross dates back to the late 17th — early 18th century. It has a crucifix carved on the front and a figure of one of the most revered saints of the Russian Orthodox Church on the back. It was St. Sergius of Radonezh who blessed Prince Dmitry Donskoy of Moscow before the Battle of Kulikovo (1380). The victory in this battle marked the beginning of the liberation of Russia from the Mongol and Tatar Yoke.

"Wooden pendant crosses used to be very common in Moscow, but, unfortunately, they are rarely found during excavations, as wood is poorly preserved in soil. Usually, archaeologists find copper, silver, gold, even stone and mother-of-pearl crosses. The recently found artefact is pretty large, being nearly 9 cm long. It does not possess any significant artistic value, but it is very well-preserved," Head of the Moscow Cultural Heritage Department Alexei Yemelyanov said.

One of cross blades seems to be repaired once, as there is a piece of wire holding broken parts together. This suggests that the owner valued the cross a lot. The front, which was in contact with cloth, wore off. But the reverse side represents the carving in great detail — one may even discern the curls depicting clouds behind the figure of Sergius of Radonezh.

The artefact is currently being studied by experts at the archaeological laboratory, trying to identify the kind of wood the cross is made of. After the restoration, the ancient item will be transferred to the holdings of one of Moscow museums.

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.

In August, during the excavations near Gogolevsky Boulevard, archaeologists discovered about 500 stove tile fragments dating back to the 18th century. The ceramic tiles are painted in monochrome technique with manganese oxide on white enamel, which gives them a rare purple hue. They depict Old Testament stories and mythological creatures.

At the same time, experts found traces of a small foundry, which was located near Sretenka Street in the 17th — early 18th century. Archaeologists have found fragments of a water tank, a large wooden barrel, as well as craft tools. These are two ceramic crucibles, special pots that were used for primary smelting of metal from ore, as well as part of a stone mould.

In Yuzhnoye Medvedkovo, archaeologists have discovered an upper part fragment of a carved white-stone column and a part of a mammoth tusk figurine. 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 is dated to the same century.

In spring, experts discovered a 19th century revolver and a militia cap badge 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.

Over the past 8 years, Moscow archaeologists have found more than 35,000 artefacts.