The rapid development of archeology as a science in pre-revolutionary Russia was marked by many discoveries, including those included in the golden fund of world archeology. However, this process was interrupted by the start of the First World War and the Civil War that followed. For a decade and a half, organized archaeological work in Russia has virtually ceased, and those few enthusiasts who continued to “dig” did not make any serious discoveries.
The situation changed with the start of the New Economic Policy (NEP) - a new economic policy that enabled many scholars and archeology lovers to do their favorite work. This is how the well-known archeologist, Professor Mikhail Miller describes this process in his monograph “Archeology in the USSR” (Munich, 1954 year): “The local lore movement began as early as 1922 and covered the whole country. There was not a single regional and district city in which there were no organizations “to study the local region”. Usually these organizations were more or less closely associated with local museums and relied on them as the basis of their activities. Organizations usually consisted of local intelligentsia — secondary school teachers, office workers, museum workers, local amateur collectors, etc. In the university towns, the local history organizations included professors. The actual organizer and soul of each such organization was some local enthusiast, a lover of antiquities and archeology of the old, pre-revolutionary formation. Most often, this "soul of society" appeared as the secretary of the organization. Local lore groups were also formed in schools from among the pupils of the older groups; Corresponding members and sympathizers were advanced from among the workers in the factories and from the peasants in the villages. ”
History pre-war Soviet archaeological discoveries confirm this conclusion. Indeed, many of them were made by chance, often not even by professional archaeologists. At the same time, further study of these findings was undertaken by the experts, thanks to which these discoveries have survived to the present time. Today, the "Historian" tells about five major archaeological discoveries made in the pre-war Soviet Union.
Modlonskoe pile settlement
Epoch: Neolithic, III millennium BC
Opening date: 1919 year
Location: Kirillov district of the Vologda region
Discoverer: hydrograph K.V. Markov
First Researcher: Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor Alexander Bryusov
Modlonskoye pile settlement is a classic example of the most accidental discovery made not by a professional, but by a man who knows how to attach importance to small things and fix them. And besides, also very lucky! Indeed, in the summer of 1919 of the year, when Markov’s hydrograph carried out a hydrographic survey of the shores of Lake Vozhe and its basin, the water dropped to an all-time low due to dry weather. This is exactly what allowed the hydrograph, who was also an amateur archaeologist, to collect a large collection of “lifting material”, that is, objects that did not need to be excavated (the collection was later scattered in various museums) in the newly opened shallows. museum). However, the Civil War prevented serious research, and even after that, it was not immediately remembered about the discovery on the banks of the River Modlon. Only in 1937, the well-known by that time archaeologist Alexander Bryusov began a systematic excavation, during which Modlonsky pile settlement was discovered. It was a tiny settlement of four square houses, put on piles and connected by pile bridges at a height of 35 – 40. Similar bridges led to rafts situated on the coast, which allowed to approach the water. In each house, which had an area of no more than 12 square. m, was a loose earthen floor, made of intertwined rods of the wall and the roof, most likely, gable, covered with birch. It was possible to find the remains of the inhabitants: a young man was lying in a grave not far from the houses, and the skull of a young woman was near a burned-out house. In addition, stone and bone lances of spears and arrows, ceramic and wooden utensils decorated with carvings and sculptures, amber, slate and bone pendants were found. Although the most interesting thing is that such kind of pile parking in the Vologda region was not found earlier or later! They were found to the south, and, apparently, the inhabitants of Modlonsky pile settlement were strangers who came to this land from afar.
White Sea Petroglyphs
Epoch: Neolithic, VI – V millennium BC
Opening date: 1926 year
Location: Belomorsky district of Karelia
Discoverer: Candidate of Historical Sciences Alexander Linevsky
First Researcher: Alexander Linevsky
The ethnographer and archaeologist Alexander Linevsky was lucky to stumble upon the first of many rocks covered with petroglyphs - Besovy Sledki, as he called it. This scientist discovered the rock not far from the town of Belomorsk on the island of Shoyrukshin, and gave the name to it a characteristic drawing: eight imprints of bare human legs leading to the “devil” figure surrounded by several other figures. According to Alexander Linevsky, this figure depicted a kind of deity or master of the area, and the rock itself was a place of sacrifice.
Surprisingly, at that time the scientist was lucky to stumble upon only one rock, although quite near it, four hundred meters away, was located another, with the same petroglyphs - on the island of Yerpin Pudas, but her turn came much later. Before it, in the 1936 year, during the construction of the White Sea-Baltic Canal and the construction of the Vygsky power plant cascade, the famous archaeologist Vladislav Ravdonikas opened a group of images called Zalavruga. It was Zalavruga that brought real glory to the White Sea petroglyphs and convinced scientists that the finding of Alexander Linevsky was not at all accidental. This was confirmed already by post-war research, when Yerpin Pudas was discovered and investigated in 1960-x, where not only cave paintings were found, but also traces of sites, and New Zalavruga, and other groups of petroglyphs. It is noteworthy that this is one of the most ancient cultural monuments known to historians. They are two thousand years older than the first Egyptian pyramids, by four thousand by the Roman Coliseum and by almost five by the Great Wall of China.
White Sea petroglyphs are often called the “Encyclopedia of the Ancient World”, because they reflect all aspects of the life of an ancient person - from hunting for various animals, land and sea, to everyday scenes. Among them even the most probably ancient erotic drawings are found: they were found among the images on the island of Yerpin Pudas. And today everyone can get acquainted with this encyclopedia, since almost all petroglyphs are available for inspection, organized or independent.
Epoch: Upper Paleolithic, XXIV – XV millennium BC
Opening date: 1928 year
Location: Malta, Usolsky District, Irkutsk Region
Discoverer: Farmer Saveliev
First Researcher: Doctor of Historical Sciences Mikhail Gerasimov
The discovery of the Maltese site, or the one of Malta, one of the most famous late Paleolithic (or Upper Paleolithic) sites of Siberia, is a classic example of an accidental discovery. Do not even think of the peasant Savelyev from the village of Malta to deepen his basement - he would not have come across a hefty yellow bone that he threw out of the fence without any reverence. If there were no bone behind the fence, the Malta children would not have adapted it to the sleigh, and it would not have caught the eye of the head of the village reading room by the name of Bertram. If Bertram had not had enough education to understand that there were remains of some ancient animal in front of him - he would not have written about the find in the Irkutsk Museum of Local Lore. And as soon as the news reached there, the museum worker Mikhail Gerasimov, who was raving about the restoration of the appearance of the ancient animals on their remains, immediately went to Malta. He arrived there on February 7 of the year 1928, asked the farmer Savelyev for permission to go down and dig in the cellar and barely cleaned off the first layers of earth on the walls with a shovel as he stumbled upon many new remains of prehistoric animals.
The expedition was appointed for the summer, and it brought tremendous success. First, for the first time in Siberia, far from the recognized centers of human settlement, an ancient site was discovered. Secondly, it turned out that the ancient man used the bones of killed and eaten animals not only as building materials, but also as material for handicrafts. During the excavations in Malta, it was possible to establish that it was a large prehistoric village - 15 houses. Each of them was partly dug in the ground (on 50 – 70 cm), although it was mainly above it. The walls are made of large mammoth bones, the foundation is made of smaller bones, the roof is covered with skins pinned by massive skulls or tusks of a mammoth. And one of the dwellings was purely ground: the base of the walls was made of deer horns, the base was a ring of massive limestone slabs set on the edge.
Later, it was in Malta that the famous Maltese Venus was found, whose age exceeds 20 for thousands of years, and the only burial of a child in the Irkutsk region with a rich inventory: beads and pendants from a mammoth tusk, fragments of a flying bird, flint items and a bracelet. And in the 2014 year, they found the remains of a mammoth in a crack and eaten by the ancient inhabitants of Siberian Malta.
Epoch: Upper Paleolithic-Neolithic, XXXV – VIII millennium BC
Opening date: 1928 year
Location: in the center of Irkutsk
Discoverer: Workers Guys
First Researcher: Doctor of Historical Sciences Mikhail Gerasimov
The Irkutsk region was generally lucky on sudden finds. In the same year as Malta, the one-of-a-kind large prehistoric necropolis was opened - the only one because no other is located in the center of a large industrial city. And Glazkovsky was found precisely in the center of Irkutsk, and also quite by accident. In the autumn of 1927, the Guys' boyfriend was digging a hole in the swing on the newly created playgrounds in the territory of the Cycle-Riding Cyclodrome Garden created in 1893. Having plunged one and a half bayonets, Parnyakov stumbled upon a strange red colored primer, and beneath it human bones. Since talks about prehistoric graves have been going around Irkutsk for more than a decade (the first such cases were recorded as early as 1887), the worker immediately reported his discovery to the local history museum, and the most active museum worker left the park “Cyclodrom” - all the same Mikhail Gerasimov.
It was the work in the center of Irkutsk that prevented him from conducting excavations in the village of Malta at the same time. However, the decision turned out to be justified: on the site of the playground and next to him Gerasimov and his assistants opened five graves, three of which were paired burial places (it is noteworthy that they buried their heads in different directions in the twin graves) and two single burials - a boy 15 years and a woman no younger than 55 years. In total for half a century of research, scientists managed to find in this place 84 ancient tombs of the Upper Neolithic era. In other places, archaeologists found burials from the times of the lower Neolithic and early Bronze Age, at the same time finding out how the burial traditions changed from era to era. In some graves, the dead were placed in a sitting or crouched position, in others - lying on their backs and heads along the Angara River, with some of them having their feet sticking with stones.
In addition to the remains of the buried, the scientists managed to collect and an impressive collection of things that accompanied the dead on their last journey. There were horn and bone products, white and green jade rings, jade axes, bronze leaf-shaped knives, composite fishing hooks, and other artifacts. A total of thousands of finds go to the finds, because in some graves, archaeologists have found up to 600 items!
Epoch: Gunno-Sarmatian, I century BC
Opening date: 1940 year
Location: between the rivers Abakan and Tasheba, south-west of Abakan
Discoverer: road workers
First Researcher: Lidiya Evtyukhova and Varvara Levasheva
This palace, named after one of the rivers on which it stood, was considered by the researchers for a long time to be the residence of General Li Lin, or Shaocin, the commander of the Han dynasty, who served the emperor Wu di, but was captured and turned to the side of the Hunn people after defeat in a campaign 99 year BC It was discovered by chance: during the construction of the road from Abakan, workers began to tear down the southern slope of a low hill between the rivers Abakan and Tasheba and came across ancient shingles. Since by that time there already existed a regulation, according to which, when carrying out construction work in such cases, archeologists should have been called, they were immediately informed about the find. The archaeologist of the Minusinsk Museum, Varvara Levasheva, was the first to visit the site of the discovery, made a reconnaissance excavation site, and found that the ruins of the building are hidden in the hill. And in the 1941 year, a few days before the start of the war, an archaeological expedition led by Lydia Yevtyukhova, organized by the State Historical Museum and the Krasnoyarsk Regional Museum, arrived at the ruins.
During the first expedition, not much was done (in particular, the ruins of the palace were opened by no more than a quarter), but it became clear that the excavations here need to be continued until they manage to pick up everything they can. Therefore, in the 1944, the second expedition arrives at the site, and two years later - the third one. During this time, the palace was able to explore almost completely, collecting an essential collection of artifacts and getting a good idea of how buildings were built in the Chinese style in that era. For example, it became clear that the builders had an excellent idea of how to lay the central heating system: it covered the entire palace, clearly providing warmth to all its premises during the harsh Siberian winters! It was possible to get an idea about the roofing technologies of the time: archaeologists found many elements of a tiled roof with hieroglyphic inscriptions on them.
The only mystery left is the question of why the palace was destroyed. Flooding is considered the most likely reason: in the place where the building was built, during heavy floods at Abakan and Tashebe, water floods the whole interfluve and is quite high. The builders seemed to know about this: in any case, no remnants of window openings could be found in the remains of the walls, which apparently was done so that the water did not flood the insides of the palace. Although, most likely, once the flood turned out to be so strong that it managed to wash away the palace, built without a foundation, and people decided not to return to this place. This version is supported by the fact that, apart from the fragments of tiles and decorations of the building, almost no household items were found at the site: they were either carried away by water, or the inhabitants of the palace who had time to evacuate took them with them.