A trade seal and a cross pendant: Restored medieval artefacts from Zaryadye to be moved to museums

A trade seal and a cross pendant: Restored medieval artefacts from Zaryadye to be moved to museums
A signet ring with a lucky knot. Metal alloy. 14th-15th century
Everyday items from the 14th-16th centuries were discovered in the park in 2015. They were found near a medieval customs point.

Archaeologists from the Russian Academy of Sciences have restored some Russian medieval artefacts. Among them are fragments of a copper bracelet and a bronze mirror with an inscription in Arabic, as well as a bronze cloth accessory shaped like two wolves facing each other.

Everyday items from the 14th-16th centuries were found in 2015 at Zaryadye Park territory under three layers of wood pavement. Researchers believe this was part of Velikaya Street that connected the Kremlin and the trade quay on the Moskva River in the 12th-16th centuries. Interestingly, the artifacts were found near the former customs point.

The upper layer of the log pavement on Velikaya Street

Archaeologists restored dozens of items from the 14th-16th centuries. They are dated back to the golden age of the Grand Duchy of Moscow. During that time, it was still under the rule of the Golden Horde, though the latter was getting weaker. In 1480, Russian lands gained total independence from the -Mongol-Tartar state.

“The area of the current Zaryadye Park used to be a lively trade centre in medieval Moscow, and the artefacts we found confirm that. These are small everyday items that could have been lost by merchants or visitors. Especially interesting is the lead seal of a fabric roll manufactured in Flanders. This medieval state was located in today’s France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Such seals were proof of the quality of European goods and payment of customs duties,” said Head of Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage Alexei Yemelyanov.

Moskvoretsky Bridge, fragment. Konstantin Yuon. 1911

Experts also restored a copper icon pendant featuring St Nicholas. It is quite small, 2x3 centimetres. Another religious artefact, a bronze cross pendant, was also restored. A fragment of a ceramic vessel with an embossed pattern from Golden Horde times is also interesting. Moscow did not manufacture such vessels, and it probably belonged to a person who visited the Volga River area where Mongol-Tartar cities were located, or maybe the owner was from the Golden Horde.

“In 2015, Zaryadye artefacts became a true archaeological sensation. Under the wooden pavement, experts found some 350 household items from the 13th-15th centuries. The most important finding was a 15th-century birch bark manuscript. Experts studied it and then it was moved for preservation. The rest of the artefacts are being restored and studied, which is a meticulous and time-consuming process,” Alexei Yemelyanov said.

The scientific restoration of 14th-16th century artifacts takes several months. Experts clean rust and dirt off using special solutions. The items will be given to the Museum of Moscow or the Kremlin museums and will be part of their exhibits.

Archaeologists regularly find items that illustrate life in Moscow. Experts study and evaluate them, and then make a decision on how to preserve them.

This summer, experts found over a thousand artefacts from the 14th-19th centuries in the Troitsky and Novomoskovsky administrative areas. Everyday items, including cross pendants, pieces of jewellery and horse harness, and Golden Horde coins were found on the banks of the Malaya Sosenka River in the southwest of Kommunarka village.

In late 2019, over 900 ancient artefacts were found at the site of the former orphanage on Moskvoretskaya Embankment.

These include copper cross pendants, signet rings, coins, smoking pipes, buttons, belt buckles, horse harness elements, a glass bead, iron knives, as well as nails, lead bullets and other artifacts from the 12th-19th centuries. A unique collection of fragments of embossed ceramic vessels with pit-comb ornamentation was also found. They date back to the late Lyalovo period (4th-3rd centuries BC). These items are evidence that there was an ancient fishing settlement on the banks of the Moskva River.