Libmonster ID: JP-462
Author(s) of the publication: A. Smirnov

The world record of protection of archeological monuments goes back over several centuries. Until the 19th century the problem was being dealt with, so to speak, on a selective basis only, and the full awareness of the need of protecting our historical legacy in general received recognition only gradually, assuming different forms in various countries.

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by Alexander SMIRNOV, Cand. Sc. (Hist.), Head of Department for Excavations Protection, RAS Institute of Archeology

Sweden, for example, passed a royal decree on the protection of ancient and megalithic* structures as early as in 1667. Denmark nationalized all of its archeological monuments in 1937 without paying any compensation to the owners of land. In Canada, new building projects have to receive the approval of the local authorities which is given only after a preliminary examination of the site. In the United States the Department of the Interior presents annual reports to the Congress on the state of the national archeological legacy and on the observance of laws on its protection. And in England there is a detailed system of legislation covering relations with the owners of such plots of land and historical sites, etc.

In 1995-1997 experts of the School of Scientific Conservation of the Bornemouth University in Britain conducted a national survey with the view of assessing the external impact on the preservation of the country's archeological legacy (MARS Project). Their findings proved once again that the decisive negative impact is produced by what we call the anthro-pogenic factor. In a country where the protection of historical relics and monuments is a national tradition, human activities still lead to the destruction of historical relics at the average rate of one per day. And the process has been considerably intensified over the past 50 years in particular, with partial damage being inflicted on 95 percent of the relics preserved. As for Russia, the picture is even more depressing. According to rough assessments for 1996 more than 1,130 historical monuments were destroyed by human activities in 55 members of the Russian Federation.

On the other hand, sporadic archeological works associated with new building projects have been conducted in this country from the end of the 19th century Thus in the laying of a sewage collector across Moscow's Red Square in 1898 experts unearthed the remains of old fortifications and numerous archeological artifacts and even "the skeleton of a warrior, clad in armour". But really purposeful studies began only back in the 1920s during the construction of the Lenin Mausoleum (1924-1929). At that time experts unearthed traces of an ancient defense structure known as the Alevizov Moat.

The first full-scale archeological expedition linked with new construction was launched in the Soviet Union in 1927. It studied ancient relics and monuments in the area assigned for an artificial lake of a new hydroelectric sta-

* Megalith - one of the huge undressed stones used in various prehistoric monuments, such as tombs and sacred sites found in Britain, Spain, France and other countries; in Russia they occur in Siberia and the Caucasus.

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tion on the Dnieper - DNEPROGES. And in the general atmosphere of political witch hunts of that period some of the organizers of the survey were charged in the 1930s with planning an explosion at the station.

During the first Soviet Five-Year Plan of national economic development the State Academy of History of Material Culture (GAIMK), the predecessor of the RAS Institute of Archeology, was trying to launch archeological rescue works on the sites of new industrial projects and drew up appropriate plans, which had to be abandoned due to the lack of the necessary funds. All they were able to do was to mount what was called the Volgo-Don expedition of Professor Alexander Miller in 1929.

The lack of state funds, which made it impossible to conduct archeological studies at all of the new industrial building sites in those years, prompted GAIMK in the autumn of 1932 to launch a new initiative which produced what was called "The Circular Directive of the USSR GOSPLAN (State Planning Committee) to All Building and R&D Organizations and Agencies Dealing with Water Management". The Directive called for "organizing special archeological surveys at such projects under the general direction of GAIMK, and with the appropriation of the necessary funds". This was the one and only such official document issued in the USSR, and inherited by Russia, which admitted that "as compared with the general scale of this or that hydrotechnical project, the expenses on such surveys are really negligible, but will certainly yield valuable cultural effect". From then and to this day the financing of protective archeological work has been the responsibility of the building contractors.

In the same year GAIMK set up a Committee in charge of such studies at new building sites. It was headed by Academician Nikolai Marr, Chairman of the GAIMK Presidium. His deputy was Academician Ivan Meshchaninov and Scientific Secretary - Boris Latynin. Members of the "team" included the prime of Russian archeological science - experts like Otto Bader, Vassily Gorodtsov and Boris Grakov Apart from the purely "new construction" functions concerning the "organization and management of work on the registration, protection and comprehensive studies of monuments of history of material culture", the Committee was charged with some specific scientific tasks exceeding the boundaries of archeological protective operations.

In the early 1930s the most significant studies of this kind accompanied the construction of the Moscow subway. Its management and GAIMK signed a special cooperation agreement for a one-year period at the cost of 17,000 rubles. Under this agreement archeologists took upon themselves the organization of surveys, excavations and the processing of archeological finds. The general management of the project was the responsibility of the future RAS Corresponding Member, Artemiy Artsikhovsky; the METROSTROY (subway construction agency) was obliged to report all findings of this kind and notify experts without delay The most archeologically fruitful, so to say, was the construction of the first subway line which involved studies of Moscow's ancient fortifications such as the aforesaid Alevizov Moat near the Kremlin, the walls and towers of the Kitai-Gorod, ramparts of the Bely Gorod (White Town) and the moat of the Zemlyanoi Gorod (Ground Town).

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Experts were able to pinpoint the site of the Oprichny Dvor (palace guards barracks) of Ivan the Terrible located opposite the Troitsky (Trinity) Gate of the Kremlin. The archeological "returns" brought by the construction of the second, third and then fourth subway lines were much fewer and less impressive.

In the digging of the Moscow subway special attention was given to ancient wells which often contained some exciting "lost property". Specialists were even able to amass whole collections of old clay jars and pots and also axes for both domestic and combat use. In the latter case even the handles, which usually rot away, were surprisingly well preserved.

The year 1933 saw archeological expeditions working on the sites of the Moskva-Vfolga and the Belomor-Baltiysky Canals, of the Yaroslavl, Perm, South-Urals and Fergana hydropower projects, the Manychsky Canal and also in the Crimea and Kazakhstan and along the route of the Baikal-Amur Trans-Siberian railway project.

The above sites had never been the objects of proper archeological studies and surveys, especially on such an impressive scale. Their findings made it possible for the experts to draw conclusions on the scale of the local historical legacy and the main types of the ancient monuments and local cultures. Along the route of the Moskva-Volga Canal, for example, experts examined 113 ancient settlements and burial grounds. Excavations were also conducted and some interesting finds were made at Dmitrov located on the route of the canal where 300 m 2 of the cultural layer were opened up, yielding finds from the 9th to the 18th centuries. Experts studied medieval fortifications, such as the moat and the rampart, and also residential structures of different periods, finding ruins of a smithy and a market place. And it is interesting to observe that the RAS Institute of Archeology resumed excavations in the Dmitrov Kremlin in 2001.

In 1934 the All-Union Central Executive Committee and the USSR Council of People's Commissars (top government agencies) issued a decree under which funds for studies of the threatened archeological monuments had to be allocated at the launching of new construction projects. This formulated for the first time the rules and principles of protection of old monuments which are incorporated in the Russian legal norms up to this day.

From the latter half of the 1930s and up to the beginning of the 1970s our archeological experts focused their attention on new hydrotechnical projects like canals and artificial lakes near hydroelectric stations (such as Permskaya in the valleys of the Kama and the Chusovaya, and the Kuybyshevskaya Station in the Povolzhye Region). Scientists conducted large-scale excavations of monuments dating back to the New Stone Age (V-IV millennia B.C.) and the late Middle Ages.

Large-scale studies were conducted in Siberia on the sites of the Bratskaya, Novosibirskaya and Krasnoyarskaya hydropower stations. Experts dug up tens and even hundreds of ancient settlements, burial sites and mounds. But most of such monuments were later lost during the filling up or flooding of artificial water reservoirs of such stations. Large-scale land- improvement projects for farm use launched on the verge of 1960s-1970s made scientists focus their efforts on the southern regions-the Astrakhan and Rostov provinces and the Krasnodar and Stavropol territories.

Following the passage of the Law on the Protection and Uses of Historical

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and Cultural Monuments work on the preservation of archeological sites assumed massive scale. The Department for the Protection of Excavations was set up in 1972 at the RAS Institute of Archeology and it became the leading authority in this field. At a request of the Ministry of Culture in the mid-1990s its experts worked out a national program on the "Preservation of the Archeological Heritage of Peoples of the Russian Federation".

At the present time the intensity of such studies has considerably increased, making it necessary to conduct some year-round expeditions. Over the past decade the Department carried out field studies in 26 members of the Russian Federation-from the Murmansk province to the North Caucasus and from the Kaliningrad Region to the Trans-Urals and also in Kazakhstan. Our specialists studied monuments ranging from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages, excavating more than 150 settlements on an area of more than 30,000 m 2 ; more than 700 new monuments have been found. Archeological surveys have covered more than 3,000 km of routes and areas of 100,000 hectares. All this attests to the importance attached by the Department to what we call archeological protection measures at the stage of new projects planning.

In the past archeologists focused their studies mainly on river banks and terraces as the traditional locations of ancient settlements, which are now the sites of new hydropower projects. Today such studies have been extended to the areas of new motorways, bridges, pipelines and lines of communication in urban areas. This shift has been rewarded with some interesting finds in what were formerly regarded as unpromising locations. Traditional views on the probable positions of ancient settlements have been revised.

The southern-most expedition of the Department conducted studies at the construction site of the city of Magas - a new capital of the Republic of Ingushetia in the upper reaches of the Sunzha River. Experts dug out there burial sites dating back to the Bronze and Early Iron Age (III-II millennia B.C.) One unique find has been a burial site of the middle of the II millennium B.C. located at the depth of 3 m under a circular stone platform of 120 m 2 . It includes 7 tombs with male, female and children's remains and with clay jars, bronze and glass decorations. Also studied was a settlement of the late II millennium B.C. with its most interesting residential area (more than 100 m 2 ). It contains a fireplace of an intricate design and a ceramic sacrificial table, decorated with moulded solar symbols. Also found there were numerous pieces of pottery with moulded spiral and winding ornaments. Located along one of the walls were jars for the storage of foodstuff's.

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Dating back to a more recent period are early Alanean burials of the 3rd-4th centuries A.D. The most interesting of them is an undisturbed tomb of a young warrior with an iron sword decorated with silver plates on the sheath, equestrian harness and several ceramic vessels.

In 1999 scientists were able to conduct studies for the first time in the central part of the Baltic city of Kaliningrad - former Konigsberg - ancient Lobenicht. Excavations in the area of new urban construction opened up 320 m 2 of cultural layer 6.5 m thick. Experts identified what they call 9 building horizons, beginning from the year of 1300 and found many articles of gold, silver and glass, arms and household items. They found traces of old fires and demolitions associated with the historical events of the 14th-15th centuries and of the Thirty-Year War (war of the cities). Last year we also studied the hull of an 18th-century vessel found near Kaliningrad.

What we call the Desninskaya expedition of our Department has investigated hundreds and dug up tens of archeological monuments in Central Russia which were facing the threat of destruction in the historical city of Kozelsk (Kaluga Region) and especially in Smolensk. But the main efforts of specialists over the past few years have been focused on the rescue of monuments along the route of the new Yamal-Europe gas pipeline running from the Trans-Urals into Central Europe. In 1999 scientists completed years of excavations of tens of ancient and medieval settlements along the route of the pipeline-from Russia's western borders in the Smolensk Region to the town of Torzhok in the Tver Region. Started in 2000 were studies along the route of the gas pipeline from the central regions of European Russia to the north of the Tyumen Region. The studies included the excavations of a large number of late medieval rural settlements whose eventful life, until recently, remained hidden from the eyes of our specialists. And now we have large collections of daily household items and tools. Studies of glassware, including beads and other decorations, have led experts to the conclusion that Smolensk craftsmen were able to produce glass items locally.

Working jointly on this site have been archeologists of three countries, including Poland and Byelorussia, who have been given a rare opportunity to investigate a giant chronological "cross section" from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages on an area from Central Europe to the West Siberian tundra.

On the territory of the Zabolotskoye paleo lake (north of the Moscow Region) the Oksk expedition has been

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studying some unique stratified peatbog dwellings of the epoch of Mesolithic-Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (IX-II millennia В. С.) along the artificial bed of the Dubna river. The thickness of the sediments containing up to 20 lithological horizons, approaches 3 m in a number of sites. The age of the most ancient of these finds exceeds 9,400 years; most probably they date back to the end of the Palaeolithic (IV millennium В. С.). Thanks to the unique local soils numerous artifacts and tools have been preserved which are made of organic materials such as bone, horns, wood, etc.

Discovered at one of the sites is the world's most ancient timber platform built more than 7,500 years ago. In 1997 experts found a burial site of the Mesolithic period, and two such sites have been studied in detail. One contained the remains of a girl aged 13-15 years with traces of a mortal injury on the forehead. Other burial pits contained stone and bone artifacts such as arrowheads, scrapes, pendants made of bear and beaver tusks and also ritual burial food with plenty offish bones.

The abundance of stone and ceramic household items on the sites of Zabolotskoye paleo lake, combined with organic traces preserved in the cultural layer, and good natural stratification makes it possible to draw up what we call an absolute chronological scale for the dwelling sites of the Meso-Neolithic period of European Russia.

In 1999-2000 our expedition studied the Nastasyino ancient settlement located along the route of a new (Ural) highway This territory was populated twice: in the early Iron Age (IV-II centuries B.C.) and in the Middle Ages (13th-15th centuries). The original settlements belonged to what we call the Dyakovsky culture characterized by cattle breeding, land cultivation, hunting and fishing. People lived in dwellings 15-25 m long and 3-4 m wide. Today Nastasyino is the best studied monument of the Dyakovsky culture.

Our studies included taking samples of spores and pollen which made it possible to reconstruct the picture of the then environment, and the list of crops cultivated by the local populace. Numerous data obtained by means of radiocarbon tests of wooden structures made it possible to reconstruct the sequence of housing construction in the settlement and improvements in town planning. Osteological studies were also carried out to determine the composition of the local herds and

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hunting prey in addition to anthropological studies of burials.

Members of our staff are engaged in active studies in and around Moscow. Excavations were completed in 1999 along the Moscow Ring Highway including the former royal country estate of Taininskoye, the Brattsevo estate, the ruins of the Mytishchinsky waterduct and a number of ancient settlements and burial mounds. Apart from the numerous traditional archeo-logical finds, such as pots and jars and other household items, scientists found copper and silver coins of the reign of Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich (first half of the 17th century), rifle bullets and also such rare things as book bindings-a fair measure of the cultural level of the residents. Studies are in progress on the Third Transport Ring located within the city limits. A unique natural-archeological monument has been discovered in the Neskuchny Sad ("Garden of Amusements") on the bank of the Moskva River in the zone of construction of the Andreyevsky Bridge.

Found for the first time within the limits of our Belokamennaya-the adjective literally meaning "built of white stone", which is traditionally associated with our national capital, are some objects dated by the late Pleistocene-early Holocene located in the cultural layer. The finds include some flint items, such as a cutter and a spearhead, and numerous bits and pieces of stone objects. Also found there were complexes of the Bronze Age and the Middle Ages (12th-15th centuries). The most recent layers belong to the end of the 17th and first half of the 18th centuries, the latter being connected with the establishment of the Neskuchny Sad royal estate. Studies of this monument included the formation of the ancient and medieval landscapes, involving, besides archeologists, paleographers, geomorphologists and soil scientists.

Over the past few years the Department has been paying considerable attention to new methods of studies of territories and monuments, with the priority being given to what we call non- destructive and remote study techniques. Geophysical surveys have been conducted, for example, with the participation of our British counterparts in the grounds of the Nastasyino settlement which made it possible to detail its original planning and structure. Over the past three years the same techniques have been used for studies of peatbog settlements in the region of Sergiev Posad, and attempts have been made to reconstruct its ancient landscape.

Analysis of aerial photos with the computer processing of images is one of the most promising avenues in the field of protective archeological studies. Using such methods new data have been obtained in the Mayatsky archeological complex (Voronezh Region) on the historical evolution of this seemingly well studied settlement. And similar methods have also been used in the studies of Vshchizh*, complex of monuments on the Desna (Bryansk Region). Using these methods researchers have been able to trace the remains of old structures and a burial mound, ploughed over long ago, which they had been searching for over many years.

Computer analysis of aerial photos was also used for the reconstruction of the ancient landscape of the aforesaid Zabolotskoye paleo lake. Members of our staff attended a special course at the CINECA Computer Center in Bologne, Italy, and in the Aerial Archeology School in Poland and Reddington University in England.

Problems of mapping archeological monuments are of considerable scientific and applied importance now. In both cases the most productive trend is the preparation of what we call electronic maps-geographical data systems. One such program (using systems of satellite positioning) has been tested by our staff in studies of the Kislovodsk basin where an area of more than 300 km 2 was investigated and some 500 archeological objects were pinpointed with data on their longitude, latitude and height over sea level.

Computer methods (provision of data banks, statistical data processing, computer graphics, etc.) have become part and parcel of our current studies. The results thus obtained have been reported at specialized international conferences (in Spain, Great Britain, Hungary, etc.) where we have been convinced that we are not lagging behind our colleagues in Western countries in many fields of such studies.

The Department for Excavations Protection of the RAS Institute of Archeology is maintaining broad international ties. An agreement was signed, for example, on cooperation with the School of Scientific Conservation of Bornemouth University (Great Britain), and British specialists are being actively involved in many of our expeditions, while Russian specialists take part in studies on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. We have participated together with scientists of the Institute of Archeology of London University and the Museum of National Antiques of the Regional Archeological Service of Upper Normandy in the project on perfecting methods of what we call international rescue excavations at burial sites of the early Middle Ages. And we took part in studies of the Merovingian necropolis at Longrois in Northern France. Contacts are maintained with the Institute of Archeology of the Polish Academy of Sciences with which we are doing some studies at the Yamal- Europe gas pipeline.

Summing up, the international experience of preservation of our archeological legacy proves that the main burden of this work rests with our research organizations. It is scientists who trace historical objects in the zones of new building projects, suggest measures for their preservation and conduct necessary excavations if need be. They are also dealing with problems of methodology of monuments protection. The respective agencies are working out the necessary legal norms and provisions and maintain control over their implementation.

* Vshchizh was first mentioned in the chronicles of 1142; destroyed by Khan Batu's hordes. - Ed.


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