Archaeologists discover a white-stone tombstone of the early 18th century in Ostozhenka Street

Archaeologists discover a white-stone tombstone of the early 18th century in Ostozhenka Street
Photo: Press service of the Department of Cultural Heritage
The tombstone belonged to the scrivener Dmitry Spiridonov, who apparently lived in Ostozhenka.

Archaeologists have found an ancient tombstone in Ostozhenka Street, in the small park near the Conception Convent.  Supposedly, it was built into the wall of the Church of the Resurrection of the Word, dismantled in 1935.

The white-stone tombstone dates back to 1720. It belonged to the lowest rank official, a scrivener Dmitry Spiridonov. In the 16th — early 17th centuries, clerical employees, scribes and clerks in regiments and local government agencies were called scriveners. Most likely, Dmitry Spiridonov lived in Ostozhenka Street and was a parishioner of the Church. In the 18th century, there were both noble mansions, and houses of venders, handicraftsmen, low rank officials and employees located in Ostozhenka.

The slab is 39 cm wide, 68 cm high, and 20 cm thick. It is a so-called in-built tombstone. Such slabs used to be set in the church wall above the burial place or next to it.

"The Church of the Resurrection of the Word in Ostozhenka was built presumably in the 17th century. It was an attached Church, that is built beyond the monastery’s fence to perform baptism and marriage ceremonies. It was dismantled in 1935 during the construction of the first line of the Moscow metro," said Head of the Moscow Cultural Heritage Department Alexei Yemelyanov.

The tombstone has almost perfectly survived. The inscription is embossed in ligatured script, an ancient technique of writing with letters linked in a continuous ornament. It reads: ‘In 1720, on 28 March, the servant of God of the town hall scribe department Dmitry, Ivan Spiridonov’s son, died aged 41 and was buried under this sign on 30 March’.

This find was transferred to the Conception Convent. It is to be exhibited in the monastery's museum.

More archaeological findings in the centre of Moscow 

There are quite a few white-stone tombstones found in Moscow. In 2017, a tombstone of the 17th century was discovered in Bolshaya Lubyanka Street. It belongs to Anna Rtishcheva, the wife of Pyotr Prozorovsky, an associate of Tsar Peter the Great. A year later, on the site of an ancient temple in Small Zlatoustinsky Pereulok, 23 tombstones of the 16th century were discovered. This speaks for the fact that representatives of almost all classes, from princes and nobles to ordinary citizens, could afford them.

Apart from the white-stone tombstone, fragments of ceramic vessels dating back to the 17th-19th centuries and a variety of coins of 15th–19th centuries were unearthed during the excavations in the small park in Ostozhenka. Now, the artefacts are being studied in the archaeological laboratory. After the finds are restored, they will be transferred to one of the Moscow archaeological museums.

In early September, a bone chess piece apparently belonging to someone from locals was found in the same park in Ostozhenka Street. Experts believe it to be a bishop. The artefact dating presumably to the 17th-18th centuries is 3 cm high. Chess was a widespread game among educated Muscovites.