History Gnezdovo in the heyday in the 10th century.

The first chronicles mention Gnezdovo (old Smolensk) in the chronicles of ancient Russia:

В лето 6371-го. …И беста пришли с ним из Варях два человека, имя единому Оскольд, а другому Дир, но ни племяне княжска, ни болярска. И не дасть им Рюрик ни града, ни села. Аскольд и Дир испросиста у Рюрика ко Царюграду ити с родом своим. И поидоша из Новаграда на Днепр реку, и по Днепру внис мимо Смоленск, и не явиста в Смоленск, зане град велик и многа людьми. И приплыста под град Киев, и узреста на горе град мал, и воспрста ту сущих людеи: “Чии есть градок сеи?” (Устюжская летопись)

В лето 6389. Олгово княжения. Слыша, яко Оскольд и Дир княжиста в Полянех и поиде из Новаграда воевати, и налезоста Днепру реку, и придосте под Смоленск, и сташе выше града, и шатры иставиша многи различными цветы. Уведаше смоляне, изыдоша стареишины их к шатром и сспросиша единаго человека: “Кто сеи прииде, царь ли, или князе в велице славе?” И исшед Олег ис шетра, имы на руках у себя Игоря, и рече смольником “Сеи есть Игорь князь Рюрикович руски”. И нарекоша его смоляне государем, и вдася весь град за Игора, и посади в нем намесники, а сам поиде по Непру внис”. (Устюжская летопись)

В год 6390 (882). Выступил в поход Олег, взяв с собою много воинов: варягов, чудь, словен, мерю, весь, кривичей, и пришел к Смоленску с кривичами, и принял власть в городе, и посадил в нем своего мужа. (Повесть Временных лет)

The most famous part Gnёzdovskogo complex of archaeological monuments – this is mounds, forming several groups, most of which are located on the right bank of the Dnieper, some of them come close to the tight semicircle in the Central settlement. Kurgan group chain located along the right bank of the Dnieper almost 3 km. Several mounds preserved in the present and on the left bank, opposite the settlement. Mounds Gnezdovo constitute the largest surviving pagan burial grounds in Europe IX – the beginning of XI century. The vast majority of gnёzdovskih burial mounds contain the local population, Slavs and Scandinavians. In the pagan era burial customs of these peoples have much in common: the deceased was burned along with his personal belongings, over the remains of the pyre poured rounded in terms of the mound. A significant part of the burials – the remains of cremations, which were produced at the site for further construction of the mound. Remains burnings were collected in a clay urn (sometimes 2-3 urn). Burials in some cases accompanied by a variety of items, including costume items, jewelry, household items, weapons, pagan amulets, trading tools, coins, etc. several burial mounds stand out among the remains of a cremation, the commission of which the rite of “killing” were subjected swords or spears – the items were initially broken (swords), and then plunged into the burial fireplace (swords, spears). In several cases, the burning of the dead occurred in a boat that is installed on the site of the mound. And most of these mounds is distinguished by its impressive size, richness and variety of the funerary equipment and apparently contains paired burial (male warrior and female). They bronze cauldrons and Forged ritual of drinking horns were found, indicating a connection with a certain funeral rite temple ritual, characteristic of pagan Scandinavia. One of the most remarkable is a burial mound, where the remnants of a pair of burning in the boat, followed by a broken sword, iron hryvnia Scandinavian, Slavic temple rings (typical Slavic costume jewelery), Arab and Byzantine coins were found vessels: amphora and pitcher. On the broken shards at the time of the burial ceremony of the amphora was found scratched inscription “Gorun” – a Slavic male name (in the genitive case). Also ritual burning of residents Gnezdovo in some cases practiced ritual burials, but still poured over the burial mound. Such burials were made in the ordinary narrow pits and large chambers. The burial chamber is sometimes had the appearance of a wooden frame or wooden buildings columnar design with the boardwalk, floors and ceilings. Several times next to the dead soldier placed his remains fully Curb rideable horse. In the second half of X in. Both ritual burial coexisted.

As is known, in 988/989, on the initiative of Prince Vladimir of Rus officially adopted Christianity. But archaeological material evidence of the penetration of a new religion on the territory of Russia belong to an earlier time. Around the 70th. X Gnezdovo century were committed a few burials, which were wax candles or suspension, crosses, cut from a sheet of silver. Among these tombs have the burial of a warrior with a full set of weapons and women in robes Scandinavian breed – a burial gnёzdovskoy representatives of the nobility. In general, the material excavated mounds allows to speak not only about the ethnic and social diversity gnёzdovskogo population, but also about its sex and age structure. Judging by the percentage in Gnezdovo community about equal shares were represented by men, women and children, ie this settlement was not a military camp, and is usually the early urban education. And within this entity there was no isolated populations, as reflected in the structure of the burial groups – their plan is not possible to separate the individual cemetery Slavs and Scandinavians.

Choosing a place for the settlement of the first inhabitants of Gnezdovo situation was due to the landscape – not wide flood flood flood plain of the right bank of the Dnieper with two small internal lakes and high enough and flat terrace, forming two capes on both banks of the river. Lead. Settlement in Gnezdovo arisen under certain aridity, when occupied by forest vegetation floodplain Dnieper River was dry enough to be placed on its buildings of various kinds. Studies have shown territory of the settlement of its heterogeneous structure and the presence of different areas: residential, industrial, as well as sites related to the functioning Gnezdova as a river port. One lakes may be used as the inner harbor, the second – as an additional source of water for the production zones associated with high temperature processes. Initially, the settlement consisted of only a few residential and farm buildings, nestled along both banks of a small creek Lead where it flows into the Dnieper. Randomly placed small residential log cabins or huts shallow heated furnaces, cobbled together out of clay or stone hearth. As it turned out, some of these structures at the same time could be housing, and in the workshop. Some of them lived craftsmen bronzoliteyschiki that made women’s jewelry. Pottery clung hand – the first inhabitants Gnezdovo did not know the potter’s wheel. Not far from the village, the first pagan burial (cremation) and piled mounds were first committed to free the forest from the high coastal slope of the Dnieper. With the growth of population and the size of the settlement grew and the cemetery, there were new groups of mounds.

From the very beginning of its history Gnezdovo different heterogeneous ethnic composition of the population, which appeared here no earlier than the turn of IX-X – the beginning of the X century. – These were the Slavs and Scandinavians. While the general district of the future trade and handicraft center was relatively little populated by the ancestors of the ancient chronicles Krivichy – the so-called culture of the tribes of Smolensk long barrows. We investigated a number of these burial grounds, but early settlement Krivichy virtually unknown. Judging by Gnezdovo, the population of this settlement could be some representatives Krivichy early, but they hardly lived here permanently. Throughout the X century, the population of the village is sporadically replenished by a new group of Slavs, originating from the territory of modern Ukraine (Left) and Slovakia, thanks to the appearance of aliens here from Northern Europe. Probably, in the second half of Xth in. in Gnezdovo lived from 800 to 1,000 people. Gradually the settlement was spreading along the right bank of the Dnieper, occupying territory not only sandy coastal terraces, but also a significant portion of the dry floodplain. settlement construction has not been regular, but we can talk about the existence of several estates, separated by vacant lots on the territory of which the economic life has been particularly active for a long time. Extensive settlement, probably originally had no fortifications. Around the middle of the X century it became necessary to design its fortified part. By this time, one of the earliest cultivated plots, situated on a promontory above the left bank of the Lead flood plain of the Dnieper, were trimmed slopes terraces, built shaft, and a stockade with floor side dug ditch. Thus it was designated Detinets kind of trade and crafts settlement – Central fort. The results of the excavations of recent years have shown that strengthening the fort rebuilt after several fires and renews.

Materials gnёzdovskogo complex archaeological sites show that here in the X – beginning of XI century. located high in those days old Russian early urban center, its history is closely associated with the path from the Vikings to the Greeks.

In Gnezdovo along with the familiar old Russian objects found are small but quite expressive series of Scandinavian fasteners, brooches and pendants with characteristic ornament, pagan Scandinavian charms, the Slavic temple rings, eastern belt kits, individual items of weapons Nordic, Western Slavonic and Eastern origin – many of these objects were made by local craftsmen. The shops of jewelers metal comes in the form of ingots, wire, coins or scrap. However, the findings of raw materials in the form of pure metals – copper, lead and silver – suggest that gnёzdovskie jewelers independently prepared some of the material required for the operation, adding to the molten scrap or ingots of certain portions of the pure metal. To do this, use a small scale like the modern pharmaceutical and sets of weights of varying shape and weight made of iron, bronze or lead. Among the tools found there are small jewelry hammers, pliers and tweezers, massive and tiny chisels, drifts, luchkovye drills, files, grinding stones, various types of punches – chaser tools. Thanks to stitch and engraved ornament on jewelery it can be assumed that in the arsenal gnёzdovskih jewelers have the gear and scribing. The main methods of manufacturing products made of non-ferrous metals were casting and forging. Found crucibles for melting metal and fragments thereof are known in the entire village square.

Especially expressive concentration of finds, evidence of local crafts in the form of raw materials, pieces of jewelry, waste foundry and forging works outlines four separate industrial area in the village. Those who lived in the south-eastern part of the settlement masters worked with silver and copper alloys. With casting in clay and stone shapes they made ornaments that are typical for the female attire of different ethnic groups: the Scandinavian oval and round trilistnye fibula and temple rings Western Slavonic appearance. It is noteworthy that in the same area there are findings, speaking here about manufacturing products from horn and bone, for example – combs adorned with geometric patterns, sticks knives, playing checkers, and more.

This is a major industrial and economic zone for the processing and production of ferrous, non-ferrous and precious metals has recently been studied in the floodplain of the settlement. In particular, in one of the workshops is to cast plaque belt sets, imitated oriental models, and with the help embossing produced light volume so-called temple rings Volyn type (Slavic). Specialty another blacksmith shop, located in the coastal area, – seasonal service riverboats. Perhaps blacksmith’s shop for a long time been associated not only with repairing vessels, but also their construction. This is supported by not only the location of the forge near the river, but a large number found on the adjacent portion of the rivets and fragments thereof. In addition, of course, they were made by local craftsmen funeral boat found in gnёzdovskih mounds. Numerous traces of flooding coastal area suggest that the workshop could not operate year-round and operated only during the summer season.

Another impressive set of findings related to blacksmithing craft and jewelry, is found on the right bank of lead on the territory of the western part of the Villages. A characteristic feature of this area of craft – making jewelry, common in the population Smolensk-Polotsk long barrows: here are found faulty or incomplete suspension trapezius and rhomboid shape, as well as suspension-trehkolchatye tsepederzhateli.

he fourth workshop was located in the eastern part of the manor in the Villages on the left bank of the lead. She worked in her artisan specialized in the production of Scandinavian charms of sheet metal. Reconstruction of manufacturing many kinds of technology products has shown that the production process takes a considerable amount of time and required a special device workspace in the yard of the estate complexes. Season suitable for jewelers was limited, probably, the warm summer months. However, the high level of craftsmanship of artisans gnёzdovskih allows you to confidently talk about the nature of the production of stationary. Conclusive proof of the local metalworking are numerous finds of slag and pieces of forging Critz. These findings are especially richly represented in the Western and some parts of the floodplain of the Villages. The raw material for gnёzdovskih blacksmiths working with black metal, could be the so-called bog iron. Documents XVII century reported deposits of this ore and its production in a few kilometers from Gnezdovo Olsha on the river. As it turned out, gnёzdovskie blacksmiths X century. knew and skillfully used all the major technological schemes, known at that time: the so-called three-layer bag, cooking and welding steel blades otkovku products entirely of raw iron or steel, etc. In the manufacture of arrowheads mainly it went iron or mild steel. Locks and keys were usually made of iron, sewing needles – steel. But the manufacture of knives blacksmiths could use different techniques: forging iron or steel, as well as the welding of steel and a number of iron bars. The vast majority found in Gnezdovo knives not only manufactured with a complex layering welding technology, but also has a characteristic shape, which rarely occurs in other monuments of Smolensk. As manufacturing technology, and the very form of these universal household objects is associated with the origin of Northern Europe.

Also metalworking crafts played an important role pottery. The most common finding during the excavation of the settlement – is shards of broken vessels. Vessels (which is the vast majority of cooking pots, although sometimes there are small clay pans and bowls), dating from about the middle of the X century, made longer on a potter’s wheel, which is driven by hand. The surface of the decorated pots often patterned as parallel lines or wavy, occasionally forming various combinations. Occasionally vessels decorated with impressions delivered obliquely comb or stamp in the form of a lattice. The shape and decoration gnёzdovskih vessels typical of the Slavic pottery of this time. The bottoms of many vessels marked stamps – convex image circle, wheels, rhombus, cross, etc. Such stigma is considered to be signs of masters. If so, then we can safely assume that at the same time Gnezdovo lived and worked 4 – 5 potters whose products are used in everyday life, and in the commission of the funeral rites. Products gnёzdovskih potters found sales among the rare population counties – exactly the same pots were found during excavations of several points spaced from Gnezdovo at a distance of 5 to 20 km.

On the trade value of say finds Byzantine and Arab coins and scraps. Most of them are found on the territory of the settlement, but the burials these coins are often found themselves in the transformation of jewelry pendant. Silver coins at this time is not taken into account, but the weight and, moreover, local masters used as a raw material for ornaments. Gnezdovo – the second after the Kiev center of concentration of silver coin finds in Russia this time. In addition, as shown by recent studies, there is the highest concentration of the eastern Byzantine and “imports” in the form of expensive glazed pottery, silk fabrics, glass products and rare items of ivory. All of these things should be called only conditionally imports as they could get in and Gnezdovo fell not so much in the quality of goods, but as gifts, unique souvenirs or trophies. Expressive evidence of the value of trade and prosperity of the inhabitants of Gnezdovo are several treasures buried in the middle – the third quarter of X century and found during excavations and accidentally on the territory of the settlement. As part of the treasures more than 1,400 silver coins of the eastern (whole, in pieces, with punched or riveted ears) and two Byzantine gold coins, converted into suspension, as well as various objects of Scandinavian and Slavic origin, is predominantly a part of the front of the female attire.

Gnezdovo, one of the largest early urban centers of the pre-Mongol Rus, which is, in many ways, and not least, chronologically, is the predecessor of the historic Smolensk – the capital of ancient principality of XII-XIII centuries. Although Smolensk mentioned in chronicles in early enough, the cultural layer before the second half of XI century. in the city is not found. At the same time, the lower limit of Gnёzdovskogo complex archaeological sites – a line IX-Xth centuries, the top -. The first half of XI century. The famous Russian archaeologist AA Spitcin, publishing the results of the excavations made there, wrote at the beginning of the XXth century .: “Gnezdovo – the place of the old Smolensk.” This conclusion Spitsyna throughout the XXth century had both supporters and opponents, will serve as a stimulus for a discussion “about the transfer of the cities.” Given the accumulated material to date, we believe that Gnezdovo scale, known to us for the X century, allow us to see in it the very “Milinisk” wrote about the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. The name “Smolensk”, the well-known early written sources, rather refers to the early urban trade and craft center, near the modern village flourished Gnezdovo. After early urban settlement gradually lost its economic and military-administrative role, the name was transferred to seamlessly pre-existing settlement, located upstream of the Dnieper on its left bank.

In the XIth century Gnezdovo gradually losing its importance to trade and craft, and the administrative center of Upper Dnieper and the inferior role of developing Smolensk. By the XIIth century. Gnezdovo transformed into small feudal estate.