Historical Centre


The fortified settlements of Finnish and Baltic tribes

Bronze pole-top with a sculptured goatThe same section contains collections of finds from the fortified settlements of Finnish and Baltic tribes, which include pottery whose different techniques of ornamentation make it possible to define the areas of habitation of the ancient Finns and Baits. Prominent in these collections are also remains of later cultures of the peoples of Baltic stock (the Raginiansky and Ludza cemeteries) and those of the Finno-Ugrians (the Middle Volga area, Liadino and Novo-Tomnikovo cemeteries). These finds reveal the distinctive ethnic characteristics of the culture developed by the Finno-Ugrian population of the northern areas of Eastern Europe and the Baits inhabiting the Eastern Baltic coast in the latter part of the first millennium and the early second. Among these, the bronze and silver adornments deserve attention. The ceremonial attire of Lettish women, for instance, consisted of a complicated headdress of ribbons with metal tubes and bells, several massive twisted necklaces and moulded bracelets (occasionally as many as nine on each arm), chains and plaques, fibulae and buckles. Finnish women wore various kinds of zoomorphic "tinkling" or "jingling" pendants, mostly in the shape of horses or ducks. The collections representing the pre-Slavic and Slavic cultures include finds from sites belonging to the Pomor, Zarubintsy and Pshevor cultures (second century B.C.- fourth century A.D.), to early, and definitely Slavic, sixth- and seventh-century settlements along the South Bug and Dniester, as well as to settlements of the Romny-Borshevo culture. All of these sites throw light on the successive stages in the cultural evolution of the precursors of the Slavs and the Eastern Slavs themselves down to their unification in a single state in the ninth century. Finally, this section contains material unearthed during the excavation of Old Territory cities, notably Staraya Ladoga, the oldest city of the Territory Northwest, which rose on the banks of the Volkhov on the site of an ancient settlement of the eighth and ninth centuries. A clear picture of life in this thriving centre of trade and commerce in the various periods of its history can be obtained from the Staraya Ladoga collection which is noted for the excellent state of preservation of its exhibits, whether made of wood, leather or textiles. Other finds include kits of blacksmiths', bronzeworkers', shoemakers', and wood-and bonecarvers' tools, and specimens of their production. Objects from Scandinavia, the Baltic littoral, the Mediterranean, and the Orient bear witness to the extensive trade carried on by Staraya Ladoga, situated as it was at the crossroads of Eastern Europe's important waterways. At the same time Staraya Ladoga furnishes valuable material that facilitates the solution of a series of important problems arising from research into the Slav-Varangian relations, and the settling of the Slavs over the northern region of the Old Territory state. Among the remains of Territory culture of the tenth to thirteenth centuries, articles of the handicraft industry are particularly noteworthy. These are mainly temple rings, cast and chased in varied forms, characteristic of the areas settled by such Slavs as the Krivichi, Radimichi, Poliane, Severiane, and others. Most of these adornments come from barrows excavated in village cemeteries. The hoards buried by the urban nobility, many of which were interred during the Mongol invasion, contained gold and silver diadems, kolt pendants, bracelets, rings, chains and torques, and reliquary crosses, all decorated with niello, filigree work, enamels, and patterns of granulation. This is only a brief, by no means exhaustive description of the famous collection that continually draws the attention of experts in many countries of the world.

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