The field stage of the project "Cultural Heritage of the Galich Land: Historical Reconstruction and Archeology. Interregional Complex Expedition", funded by a Russian Geographical Society grant, was completed in early August. Now scientists will have to process the obtained material in the laboratory. What interesting things were found this year?
Unorozh is a unique object of archaeological heritage that occupies a hill (butte) on the right bank of the Veksa River. The hill is steep and high – the slopes rise 9–11 m above the river. From the north and east, its foot is washed by the Toiga, from the west it is "covered" by a swampy plain. The area of the archaeological monument is about one and a half hectares: 160–180 m from north to south, and 70–145 m from east to west.
Interesting materials were provided by the settlement Voznesenskoye IV – a new archaeological monument discovered on the right bank of the Veksa Galichskaya River. This is a nice flat area near the water. Pine trees grow here, and the conditions are clearly conducive to deep and fruitful field research. And now the turf has been removed, and already the first deposits of the cultural layer bring first surprises. The finds are not the main, but a very significant part of the archaeological work.
How to understand what historical and cultural context a particular archaeological site is associated with? The findings help a researcher formulate the right questions that need to be answered appropriately, or at least try to get a little closer to understanding them. In this line of work, no detail is too small. In addition to correctly determining the purpose, time of existence, and cultural and historical period of an item, it is important to know with which deposits of the cultural layer or object it is associated. Whether it lies in an undisturbed state or was once moved as a result of some actions. And there are a lot of other important details that are determined during field research and desk research with found objects.
Despite the shallow depth of the layer, the objects found in it amaze with the breadth of the chronological range and diversity. Here flint scrapers and flakes, together with fragments of Bronze age stucco pottery, coexist with ceramics and items of the early Iron Age, as well as the early Middle Ages: an iron buckle, a tube for storing tinder, which was used to start a fire, a copper alloy pendant imitating a beaver talus bone. The time difference is several millennia.
It turns out that this small site served for many centuries as a place of temporary or permanent residence for the people from the area of Galich Lake. Here is a silver Arabic dirham with a hole specially punched in order to use it as a pendant or to be worn as part of a whole necklace of such items. Reading the inscriptions on both sides of the coin will help determine the time of existence. This way you can find out where and when it was minted, on behalf of which eastern ruler.
Why the coin ended up in such remote forest lands, one can guess even right now. At first, it was brought here to be exchanged for valuable fur or castoreum, wax or honey, or maybe salt. And it happened no later than the 11th century, when caravans still traveled along the Volga and its tributaries along the Great Trade Route. They carried jingling silver coins from the south, and returned full of furs or other riches of the North. Then, when the coin was already pretty worn out, since it had been in many hands, it was made into an ornament. And some peasant woman proudly wore it as a sign of her social and financial status.
The route from "the Varangians to the Arabs" was practically "littered" with silver dirhams. These coins and their imitations accompanied the life of local residents for a long time, getting from time to time into funeral complexes. On the territory of the region, Arab coins were found in the burials of the burial ground "Kuzinskie Khutors" of the 9th –early 12th century, located in the Sharyinsky District. Scientists consider it to be the northernmost burial ground of the early Medieval Mari culture known to date.
Based on the materials of the Kostroma archaeological expedition