Project news

The closing conference of the project “Archaeology, Authority and Community: cooperation to protect archaeological heritage”

The closing conference “The results of the project: “Archaeology, Authority and Community: cooperation to protect archaeological heritage” and prospects for the development of this cooperation” will be held in Pskov on December 1-3, 2014. г.

The sessions of the project’s conference will be held on December 1, 2014 in the conference hall of “Dvor Podznoyeva” hotel, located in Nekrasova Street 3В and on December 2-3, 2014 in the conference room of the Archaeological Center of the Pskov Region, in Gertsena Street 1/1.

The closing conference is dedicated to the results of the implementation of the project, which was started on May 1, 2012 and will be completed on December 31, 2014. The project focuses on the preservation of archaeological heritage in the cross-border region, on developing cross-border cooperation in this field and on raising awareness of people about archaeological heritage. Continue reading

Joint fieldwork in Krasnogorodsk and Sebezh district

On October 17-19, international joint fieldworks, participated by the University of Tartu (Partner 1), NGO Archaeological Centre (Partner 3) and Pskov Archaeological Centre (Partner 8) took place in Pskov oblast. The aim of the trip was to visit archaeological monuments in Krasnogordosk district, i.e. area that was formerly inhabited by Kraasna maarahvas – a Finnic group of southern Estonian origin. This small ethnic group was visited by Oskar Kallas in 1901 and two years later by him the book Kraasna maarahvas that reflected his fieldwork data was published. Linguistic analyses of the texts collected by Kallas has enabled to identify the language as of Seto origin.

The aim of the trip was to get a survey about the character of archaeological monuments in the area populated by the people originating from Setomaa, as well as to get information about their fate. Already during the trip of Kallas the Finnic population had greatly lost their identity, being melt among the Russians.

1. Visiting Vel'e medieval stronghold

1. Visiting Vel’e medieval stronghold

2. Grave stones of Old Believers on Lukino villag cemetery

2. Grave stones of Old Believers on Lukino villag cemetery

After crossing the border, monuments of Izborsk were visited first. On the way to the southern part of Pskov oblast we also visited Vel’e medieval stronghold. In Krasnogorodsk area, first, cemetery with possible medieval grave stones was studied in Platishino village. Next we attended the villages of Mehovo and Lukino. New information was gained about the cemeteries and grave stones of the Old Believers of the region. It appears that simple grave stones with engraved cross marks which can be found on local cemeteries are not of medieval origin, as suggested before, but that they represent the local Old Believers’ tradition. Simple gravestones were home-made by the Old Believers up to the 1930s. Close to Lukino a hill fort that was considered to be perished by gravel digging, turned out to be still existing.

3. Boris Harlashov studies a grave stone

3. Boris Harlashov studies a grave stone

4. Rampart of Krasnogorodsk stronghold

4. Rampart of Krasnogorodsk stronghold

5. Old farm at Shutovo  (Sülätüvä) village

5. Old farm at Shutovo (Sülätüvä) village

In Krasnogorodsk area, in addition to the district centre, the villages of Ivantsevo/Ivatsova, Shutovo /Süllätüvä, Gorbunovo, Podsadnitsa and Poddubnaja, once inhabited by the “Chuhny” (or relatives of the Seto) were visited. It appeared that during earlier fieldwork no data about prehistoric or medieval cemeteries had been collected from the area. Also during the field trip no additional information about cemeteries at the villages of the Kraasna maarahvas (or “Seto”) population was gained. This enables to suggest that the south Estonian population of Krasnogorodsk area were rather late immigrants, and not descendants of the native Finno-Ugric substrate population. Most unexpectedly, however, information about a hill where the „Chuhny“, i.e. non-Russians used to gather and pray was gained from a local inhabitant at Rumuli. During the visit no descendants of Kraasna maarahvas were found in the formerly big villages that had become greatly or fully empty now. The household where the last descendants of the “Chuhny” had lived in Ivantsevo village had perished in fire this spring.

6. The sacred hill at Rumuli village

6. The sacred hill at Rumuli village

7. Poddubnaya - empty village

7. Poddubnaya – empty village

8. On Sebesh hill fort

8. On Sebesh hill fort

The third day was dedicated to the Sebezh region where the medieval stronghold, two hill forts and three groups of barrows, representing their so-called Smolensk group were visited. The famous barrows of Prihaby were heavily plundered by local grave looters. On the way back we visited the excavation site of this year where grave of a Viking Age woman was still open. The shallow grave of an 11th-century woman with a Latgallian type headband was cut into the limestone bedrock.

9. Plundered barrow at Prihaby

9. Plundered barrow at Prihaby

10.Viking Age grave pit at Izborsk

10.Viking Age grave pit at Izborsk

Thanks to a lucky chance, also the caves of the Pechory Monastery could be visited on the way back to Tartu.

Excavations on Aakre tarand grave

The University of Tartu with help from the National Heritage Board organised archaeological excavations on the Aakre Kivivare tarand-grave site (National Heritage registry no 13123). The excavations took place in July and August and for a few days in September, altogether almost three weeks.

The excavated tarand in September 2014, view from the North. On the right you can guess the stone row of the next tarand and see the heap of removed stones.

Tarand-graves are communal burial places with rectangular above-ground stone wall enclosures which are called tarands. When these graves first appeared on the landscape in the Pre-Roman Iron Age (500 BC – AD 50), they contained only inhumation burials and one rectangular enclosure was assigned for one body. Over time, cremation became a more frequently recorded way of disposing the dead and cremated bones and most of the artefacts were scattered in the tarand-area, mostly inside but also outside of the walls.

The last few days excavating this year: the volounteers.

This year, most of the 3×8 meters large tarand area was emptied by a professional and international team of archaeology students and their friends. The finds were documented with the help of a total station and the different stone layers were documented solely with the help of photography. The photos were conjoined with the methods and programmes of photogrammetry to create orthophotos and 3D-models of each stage of the excavation.

The work with the excavated material is ongoing. We do know that there were specific areas where there were more finds than averagely. Most of the items were found from the central part of the tarand or around larger stones. The artefacts as well as bones were scattered in between the stones.

The silver plated head-shield fibula.

At the moment, most of the finds are being washed, only the finds which were chosen for the analyses will be left unwashed. The items chosen for analyses will be sent for radiocarbon dating to determine a more exact usage period of the grave.

Kärbissõlg aka cross ribbed fibula.

All in all, the excavations were successful as several special and datable items such as a silver-plated head-shield fibula, an enamelled disc fibula and almost a quarter of a pot were found. The amount of bones was not as large as the quantity of pot sherds, but the number of cremated and inhumed bones was more than enough to be able to reach at least some conclusions about the individuals. But as it was said before, the finds are still being washed and everything is very preliminary.

Almost quarter of a pot.

In addition to the information day for the locals held in July, an excavation blog was being written during the dig. Even now, news about how the work is proceeding and about the results are being published in the blog or on the facebook page.

Cremated bones.


Enamelled disc fibula.

Anu Kivirüüt

National Heritage Board, PP2