The Culture of Old Russia: 6th-15th centuries
The exhibition consists basically of material obtained in recent years
by Soviet scholars during archaeological research on ancient Slavonic
settlements and burial-grounds, and on old Russian towns.
Room 143. An important place is occupied in the exhibition by items
found during excavations on the sites of eighth to tenth century Slavonic
settlements-Novotroitsky (Sumy province), Borshevsky (Voronezh
province), and the Monastyrishche site near the town of Romny. The
collections of agricultural implements and household utensils testify to
the fact that the inhabitants of these settlements were engaged in agri-
culture, cattle-breeding, hunting and fishing. The existence of crafts is
confirmed by an iron-smelting furnace of the ninth and tenth centuries
discovered in the province of Vinnitsa near the village of Grigorovka.
Interesting material has come from the Old Ladoga excavations, includ-
ing some well preserved wooden objects-parts of a weaving-loom, a
spindle, a comb for carding flax, oars and parts of a boat.
Exhibited in room 144 are groups of objects which illustrate the way
of life and the culture of rural communities in old Russia. The material
in room 145 is devoted to a display of urban culture, based upon the
example of Old Ladoga and Belaya Vezha, important centres of trade and
crafts from the tenth to twelfth century. Archaeological research on the
latter was carried out between 1949 and 1951 in connection with the
construction of the Volga-Don Canal.
Room 146. Weapons and armaments used by the Russian warrior
- chain mail, the sword and the spear-heads found on the site of the
Raikovetsky settlement near the town of Berdichev-are evidence of the
heroic defence and the destruction of this small fortress-town during the
invasion of Russian lands by the Tartar-Mongol hordes of Batu-Khan.
The exhibitions in rooms 147-149 provide an introduction to the
architecture, art and relics of writing of the tenth to thirteenth century.
Of particular value are some frescoes and a mosaic floor from the church
of the Mikhailovsko-Zlatoverkhy monastery in Kiev (early twelfth cen-
tury). Examples of stone carving, used to embellish the fa?ades of shrines
and palaces, reflect the great mastery of the Russian builders and crafts-
men, among whom the stone carvers of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality
were particularly renowned. There is also some splendid jewellery,
adorned with the most exquisite cloisonne enamel, granulation, filigree and
niello. The "Tmutorokan Stone" is an ancient relic indicating the early
development of writing in Russia. It is a large marble slab bearing the
inscription of the Russian prince, Gleb, which speaks of the work, carried
out in 1068, of measuring the distance between Korchev (Kerch) and
Tmutorokan (Taman). A letter written on the bark of a birch-tree found
during excavations at Pskov, denotes the growth of literacy during the
twelfth century among the middle strata of urban society (room 148 ).
The culture of Pskov and Novgorod is represented in the exhibits of
room 150, which contains fragments of architectural ornamentation, a
collection of icons, examples of craft work and various implements and
articles of domestic life.