"Unorozh-2023" Reveals Mysteries of the Past

Работы на раскопе. Фото: Костромская археологическая экспедиция
Работы на раскопе. Фото: Костромская археологическая экспедиция

The summer of 2023 turned out to be variously rainy, sometimes hot, sometimes cool, but as usual rich in promises and hopes. It's time to pack a backpack, a tent and hit the road. At the beginning of July, the Kostroma Archaeological Expedition also set off on its annual, now familiar, journey to the distant past of the Kostroma Region. Here, on the high north-western shore of Lake Galich, where the Veksa Galichskaya River flowing from it meets its tributary the Toiga, for the tenth consecutive season, an archaeological team continues its work studying the ancient settlement of Unorozh and archaeological sites located in its area.

Time clings tenaciously to its secrets, that’s why on the high Unorozh Hill – the butte of the first fluvial terrace of the Veksa – the excavation site was marked again, and a tent camp bloomed in bright multicolored patches against the background of bushes and trees. Another excavation site is located at a monument of the primitive era – the Voznesenskoye IV settlement, discovered recently as a result of research by the Russian Geographical Society and the Kostroma Archaeological Expedition.


Участники экспедиции. Фото: Костромская археологическая экспедиция

Inside, the usual expedition life is in full swing: in the morning – work at the excavation site, then various interesting things: lectures, master classes, games, competitions, watching RGS films, even a field seminar.


Работа на раскопе. Фото: Костромская археологическая экспедиция

The population of the camp is busy, but cheerful, although a little tired. Here you can see volunteers from Moscow and schoolchildren from the city of Rodniki, Ivanovo Region, a Nizhny Novgorod restorer, and a Kostroma journalist. Unorozh, like a historical magnet of a strange unknown nature, attracts more and more people every year: archaeologists and geographers concerned with academic degrees, local historians who always have answers to all questions, curious students, and even some local officials.

In the 2023 season, the site next to the hill, which is traditionally called the Zhuravets kurgan, is being explored. And the settlement again is rich in the artifacts found: as always, there are numerous fragments of ceramic dishes, molded and made on a potter's wheel, glass beads, a fragment of a twisted glass bracelet, coins, a horn-shaped pendant in the form of a cockerel, an iron fire striker, and an arrowhead, a bronze fibula clasp.


Подвеска. Фото: Костромская археологическая экспедиция

The items complement our information about living on the Unorozh Hill in the era of the early and developed Middle Ages, in the monastic period, and later in the 18th – early 20th century. The locations identified at the level of the mainland are shallow rounded pits of unknown purpose, that probably indicate the settlement of this place in the early Iron Age. And now we are already inside the "labyrinth", it twists and enchants us with its unknown ways and mysterious paths. Will Ariadne's thread be able to help, or will we hear the roar of the Minotaur instead of the solution?


Бронзовая фибула. Фото: Костромская археологическая экспедиция

As a rule, the works in the settlement and in its area are complex in nature. This means that in addition to archaeologists, scientists of other related specialties are involved in research: zooarchaeoligists study animal bones, anthropologists study human remains, numismatists study ancient coins. Geoarchaeological research at the settlement of Unorozh and the settlement of Voznesenskoye IV is carried out by Doctor of Geographical Sciences, specialist in the field of archaeological soil science, geoarchaeology, historical geography, anthropochemistry, paleopedology Alexander Alexandrovsky.

In the year of the 10th anniversary of the expedition, the number of seminars, lectures, master classes turned out to be simply phenomenal. The members of the expedition listened to 10 reports of the visiting seminar from the Interregional Youth Archaeological Conference, realized that mushrooms are not plants or animals, learned to write on birch bark like our distant ancestors, got acquainted with the basics of linen weaving on a replica of a loom of the 10th century, and learned that the roots of the settlement of Unorozh go as far back as the Bronze Age, and also who Vladimir Nilovich Glazov was. And for a couple of hours they visited the "engineers of the Stone Age", got acquainted with the inventions of the Neolithic era – drilling and fire-making technologies, and then tried to comprehend the real miracle of turning ordinary clay into ceramics.


Команда экспедиции. Фото: Костромская археологическая экспедиция

The grand finale of the season was the IV Unorozh Archaeological Games, which determined not only who won, but also who did not lose. A classical ellipsis was put at the end of these July expedition days – a sign that was previously called the "sign of omission" and was put, among other things, to indicate the incompleteness of the phrase, always leaving hope for continuation.

Olga Novikova