Archaeologists uncover ancient Altay mercenaries stash, barrack remains in Zolotarevka
Penza, 28 July 2016. PenzaNews. An archaeological expedition in the Zolotarevka dig site in the Penza region unearthed remains of an Altai mercenary barracks and a stash of artifacts in a basement of a house, Gennady Belorybkin, Doctor of Historical Sciences, professor and director of the PSU Constant Education Institute, told PenzaNews.
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“This was a PSU student expedition, mostly History majors, as well as school and university enthusiasts. We worked at the Zolotarevka dig site for about a month. We unearthed a very interesting complex, which, as it turned out, was a set of two military barracks – rectangular houses with a lot of army-related artifacts inside – as well as a residential house and a kitchen. Quite an interesting setup of housings and other buildings,” he said.
As Gennady Belorybkin clarified, the buildings had been connected to each other by a sand-covered pathway; the kitchen was littered with fragments of decorative and regular pottery and bones of animals used for food. He also suggested a theory that the residents of the unearthed complex had almost never eaten pork due to religious reasons.
“The barracks contained artifacts of the so-called Askiz culture that existed in the Altai in the Middle Ages. They had been discovered in many places before, but here we had them all in this complex. We may conclude that the barracks were for the mercenaries from Altai who came from this culture: they were acting as police and military men, a company of hired warriors working for money. And they lived quite luxuriously, by the way, judging by the silver and gold covered items we’ve found here,” he explained.
He also added that the archaeologists unearthed a housing next to the barracks, which, in turn, hid a stash – a chest of now-decayed wood in the basement of the unearthed building.
“Inside it, wrapped in cloth, was […] silver jewelry and […] an amber necklace, as well as an almost full saber that preserved itself well. Judging by the fact that the houses at the dig site were destroyed by Tatar-Mongols in 1237, we date the chest the same year, as ostensibly there was nobody around to dig it up,” Gennady Belorybkin noted.
According to him, the discovered artifacts will be analyzed, cleaned and restored to later appear in the Museum of Local Lore. Also, he added that the artifacts will be displayed in the Zolotarevka village house of culture.
“We are still digging out the complex, so I expect us to have more interesting discoveries here. We will be working here in the next year, too, in terms of analyzing the regional buildings that will be used for construction,” Gennady Belorybkin concluded.