Archaeologists Ascertained the Wealth of the Nobility of Suzdal in the 12th Century

Scientists of the Russian Academy of Sciences showed the first findings of excavations in 2021 in Suzdal Opolye

The Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences told about the findings from the excavations of the Suzdal Opolye last year. In total, scientists of the Russian Academy of Sciences work on this territory for 20 years. During this time they have discovered more than 400 settlements, 30 of which – for the first month of work in 2021. According to the scientists’ estimations the already found ancient settlements make less than a half of all the settlements existing here in XII century.

A dense network of settlements of Opole was formed in the X-XII centuries. Unlike later settlements, these settlements were of large size and were located far from waterways. A considerable part of them not only survived the Mongol invasion but also continues to exist today. Archaeologists hope to have time to study the settlements before the Suzdal land is finally built up with cottages. Therefore, in 2020 and 2021, scientists focused on settlements near Suzdal, located within 10 kilometers of the city.

Among the finds of the last year are three pendants in the form of figures of the Archangel with outspread wings and arms folded on the chest (XII – first half of XIII century), a round icon with the image of Our Lady Orant in folded clothes (XII century – first half of XIII century) and an icon with a semicircular end, bearing the image of the Archangel with a rod and orb (second half of XIII – XIV century).

Earlier in Suzdal excavations no images of the Archangel and Oranta were found, but they are known in the Byzantine tradition. This discovery allowed us to refine the distribution map of metallic icons in Russia.

Finds from Suzdal settlements indicate a high social status of the local nobility. Military equipment of a horseman, prestigious jewelry and objects of piety were found in the excavations. Such finds testify to the presence of “noblemen’s estates” here. Earlier it was believed that such estates appeared in Opole at the end of the 11th century. Now it turns out that they were earlier.

Part of the early nobility of Suzdal Opolye preserved elements of Scandinavian culture. This is evidenced by the discovery of a crucifix pendant. Four dozen such artifacts were found in Novgorod, Stara Ladoga and Pskov. Three such finds are now known in northeastern Russia.

Most of the items testifying to the wealth of their owners date back to the XII-XIII centuries. One of the most recent was a seal bearing the inscription “Elijah, bishop of Novgorod”. A seal sealed a document of Bishop Ilia of Novgorod (1163-1164). Perhaps the letter referred to the conflict over the Rostov episcopal cathedra.

The famous Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky wanted to put his own person at the head of the Rostov cathedra and then separate the Vladimir cathedra from it. At that time Bogolyubsky did not get his way, and the division of the Vladimir and Suzdal dioceses occurred exactly one hundred years after the conflict.

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