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Detectives of history

Albazintsev will show what their ancestors looked like

Detectives of history

The Scientific Secretary of the Petropavlovsk Foundation Andrey Cherkasov - about the Albazin expedition, pride in its history and what is a real success for an archaeologist.

- Andrei Nikolayevich, recently information appeared in the media that a gold ingot was found in the Albazin prison as part of your expedition, dating back to the time of the first Amur settlement of the Cossacks in the XNUMXth century ...

- Found not an ingot, but a metal object with gold elements. Its discovery was a complete surprise for us, especially since it was made much later than the end of the field season. It happened like this. I gave the restorer, with whom we cooperate (he is from the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts), for cleaning, restoration and conservation a number of objects that, as we thought, were not of particular value, so - fragments of metal things, they decided to process to clear the conscience. A little later, the restorer reported that in the process of cleaning one of the items - an iron plate - gold foil was found on it. Now the artifact is still in work and we cannot accurately interpret it; most likely, it is an element of decoration or clothing of a prisoner.

- Albazinskaya expedition for three years has turned into a project aimed at the development of the region. How did you do it?

- It is better to start with the background. A couple of years ago we published the book "Orthodoxy in the Far East: From Pioneers to Our Days", which looked at the history of the Far East from an original perspective - from the point of view of the history of the Orthodox Church. When working with the book, we were faced with the fact that despite the interesting topic, the history of the Far East - the history of its discovery, development, cultural and economic development - is not well known in Central Russia. After all, everything that is beyond the Urals is very far and, therefore, almost does not exist. In addition, even in the Far East, people do not always have the correct knowledge of the history of their region, and hence the misunderstanding of their place in the general history of Russia. Many perceive themselves as living on the outskirts, divorced from the main processes of the country's development.

To change this situation, it is necessary to popularize the history of the Far East, to tell people (not only those who live here) about this region occupying a significant part of the country. The task is serious, ambitious - but "the road will be mastered by the going". We decided to start small - we organized an archaeological expedition to explore the Albazinsky prison. One of the most important archaeological sites of the Amur region is Albazinsky Ostrog, whose history is associated with the most important events in the Far East in the 17th century - the march of Yerofey Khabarov, the construction of the prison by Nikifor Chernigov, the foundation of the first Orthodox monastery on the Amur by Hieromonk Germogen, the military confrontation with the Manchu China, Which became an example of the military prowess of Russian soldiers.

Archaeological expedition is a very interesting format - it allows solving not only scientific and research tasks, but also by attracting young people to perform a pedagogical mission, to draw attention to this topic to the general public.

When work began with the expedition, new interesting components began to appear one after another. The result was a very serious project that covers several areas - from the development of tourism (the project of the Albazinsky prison has been included in the regional regional program for the development of tourism) to purely scientific (the opening of new archaeological sites).

REFERENCE: Albazinsky Ostrog is the largest settlement of Russian pioneers on the Amur River in the second half of the 17th century.

For the first time Albazin is mentioned in 1650 year, when the detachment of Erofey Khabarova occupied the town of Daursky prince Albazy on the upper Amur. In 1651, Khabarov, having left the prison, burned it.

In 1665-1666, a group of 84 Cossacks and peasants headed by Nikifor Chernigovsky settled on the territory of the prison. These people killed on Lena in the mouth of the Kirengi river of the Ilimsk governor L. A. Obukhov. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in absentia sentenced Chernigov to death. The fugitives placed a "thief prison" on the Albazinsky fort, which became the only Russian fortified point in Siberia built without royal permission. In 1672, Chernigovsky and his comrades were forgiven and turned up for service in the Albazinsky prison. So the only "thieves'" prison in the history of Siberia became state.

In addition, Albazin appears in history in connection with the events of the Manchu aggression in 1685-1689 years, which culminated in the signing of the Nerchinsk Peace Treaty.

- What are the objectives of the expedition?

- Initially, we had two tasks. The first is the study of Albazinsky prison. First we turned to the geophysicists of Petropavlovsk for help. With their help, we conducted geomagnetic scanning of the jail, which allowed us to determine where the most interesting objects are located on its territory, and choose the site of excavation.

The second task is the search for the Spassky Monastery. Hieromonk Hermogen, who came to Albazin together with the Cossacks Nikifor of Chernigov, founded the Spassky Monastery in 1671, the first Orthodox monastery on the Amur River. It was burned in 1685 during the Manchu attack, and we set ourselves the task of trying to find its remnants. While this task is not completed, but we have found a lot of other things. The region is practically unexplored. And only we stuck a shovel - "climbed" new archaeological sites - ancient settlements, starting with the Neolithic, dating back to 3 thousand BC. era, before the Middle Ages. And this direction of history also requires additional research, which has become the third task for us.


The Albazinskaya Expedition project was initiated and organized by the Petropavlovsk Foundation together with the Center for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Heritage of the Amur Region in 2011. The main tasks of the Albazin Expedition:

- explore the history of the Russian Amur and the Far East;

- draw the attention of the general public to the history of the Amur and the Russian Far East;

- to promote cultural and historical education of the region's inhabitants;

- to increase the interest of the young generation of the Far East to the history of the small homeland - the Amur Region;

- to involve modern technologies in the study of the historical and cultural heritage of the Amur Region;

- to modernize museum sites in the region;

- to promote the development of tourism in the region.

- What is the unique nature of Albazin for the Amur region? Why there was founded a prison?

- I think the convenience of location and favorable local conditions. On the Upper Amur the territory of the Albazinskaya land is quite convenient for farming, it is a fairly even fertile plot of land among hills and ridges. And since ancient times it was a convenient place for life, that's why there is such a saturation with monuments of ancient epochs.

- Please tell us about the most striking findings ...

- Find a lot. These are mostly household items - ceramics, metal objects, elements of clothing and shoes, birchbark tuyec. A lot of military equipment - bullets, cores, arrows, knives, found two powder flasks from the horn. There are decorations - beads made of pastel glass, silver and bronze buttons, pendants. We found several silver coins of the XVII century.

Unexpectedly for us, we have formed an interesting collection of fragments of Chinese porcelain and silodon ceramics found on the prison and its environs. Perhaps this will make it possible to clarify much of the history of Russian-Chinese relations. You can also recall the object with a gold foil, which we talked about at the beginning of the conversation.

However, what is an interesting find for an archaeologist? Archeology does not study individual objects, but the cultural layer — the entire complex of objects found in a particular context. An analysis of the overall situation helps us reconstruct the past. Just to find an unusually beautiful vessel or a sword is not enough. It is important to us what is near, what was under it, and what is above it. This allows us to reconstruct the overall context and, therefore, more fully understand the past. Where this thing lay, as lay, dropped it, broke or buried with someone. This is the crime of "black archeology." “Black archeologists” try to find the most valuable thing on the archeological monument, tearing the cultural layer, tearing things out of the archaeological context - they are not interested in history in its integrity. It's like finding the legendary library of Ivan the Terrible, pulling pages out of books, and then selling them on the black market, saying, look at what interesting pictures. What book is not the main thing, but the drawing is beautiful.

"Last year you were so lucky ..."

- When we broke and began to dig the excavation using geophysical data - we immediately discovered a wooden structure. We were puzzled - not quite clear what it is. We clean, go vertically dug logs - paling. What kind of fence did the Russian people put in the center of the prison? Ostrog - fortress, shaft - everything, as it should be, only for some reason logs are far from each other. No, it does not look like a palisade. Began to think. Then they understood - this is not a palisade, but the foundation of the building - piles. Next, we saw that we hooked only the outer part, and the structure is actually more. We assume that we have found the foundation of the burnt church. Above was a powerful layer of fire - burnt logs, coal, wood. And these piles are not just dug into the ground, as we thought, but even lower - a system of horizontal beams, so that the structure itself does not float due to the permafrost processes. Very interesting from an engineering point of view design. I know that no one has yet found such things in the Far East. The only problem arises with the dating. Of course, I would like it to be the XVII century - that it refers to the moment of the appearance of the Albazinsky fortress. But most likely it is the 19th century, when the Cossacks came and in memory of the defenders of Albazin built a church, which later burned down. This is evidenced by the written evidence of one of the inhabitants of the Amur region. This year we plan to dig the foundation.

- One of your projects is the anthropological reconstruction of a resident of Albazino. Is this also your discovery?

- We have several relatively well-preserved skulls from the burials of the inhabitants of the prison. We did not dig them out. In 70-s of the last century, our colleagues from Novosibirsk and Blagoveshchensk digged the prison for several years and made unique finds. For example, they found a well in which the Cossacks, when they left in 1685 year, left all unnecessary things. The well was flooded with water, the water froze - a lens of permafrost was obtained, and things in the ice were preserved. For archeology, the big problem is finding items from organic materials: wood, bone, leather, fabrics are destroyed, and more often than not, what we find is either metal or ceramics. At the same time, archaeologists managed to find many things in very good condition - mittens, shoes, clothes, crafts made of wood.

There were also unique things - for example, a bronze ring. Our restorer has brushed it. It showed an inarticulate picture, where the picture of a bird is guessed. Perhaps an eagle. If the eagle is two-headed, then we can assume that this is the ring of some official person who uses it as a signet. Obviously, the buried was a very important person.

This collection, we last year, together with the Center for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Heritage, were transferred to the Amur Regional Museum of Local History in Blagoveshchensk. In addition to things, we had skeletal remains of the buried albazinians. We decided to make an anthropological reconstruction of them according to Gerasimov's method. We have already done a graphic reconstruction of one of the faces. 3D scanning of skulls was done, now an anthropologist will make a sculptural reconstruction on a printed 3D-copy. Soon we will have a bust of Albazinets. I managed to find a female skull - there is an opportunity to recreate the faces of a man and a woman in composition.

Anthropological project allows us to turn history to our contemporaries in the literal sense of the word a human face. That they saw that this is not just a remote story, but the people who lived here, plowed the land, fought for it. In general, the thought is far-reaching. We want the Priamurye to be associated not only with rich resources and beautiful nature, but also with people who live here. And our anthropological project is one of the steps in this direction. This project has a scientific dimension - there is a problem of the formation of the Russian ethnos, and it is important for us to show how the Russian population was formed, especially in the Far East.

- All the findings you send to the Amur regional museum of local lore. G.S. Novikov-Daursky?

- We are obliged by law to hand over the finds to the museum, but so far they have not passed this, since we are processing the collection. From the very beginning we cooperate with the Blagoveshchensk museum. They gave him money for the restoration of the icon of the XVIII century. Recently, the museum allocated money from the federal budget for the development of a museum renovation project, in which we also took part.

- The traditional museum is already obsolete concept. What will be the new exposure?

- A new museum project was developed using the latest media technologies. If the project comes to life, then, I do not exclude, it will be the most interesting museum in the Far East, and perhaps in Russia.

The main center of the exposition is the Albazinsky Hall, the whole history of the Far East is centered around it - from the Neolithic period to the Soviet period. In our time the museum should be interactive, otherwise the youth will not go to it. It is important to create an effect of presence - not just some things lay - a showcase, ancient tools, but it is necessary for a person to see how they were used in the context, so that there was the possibility of a certain game. You go in and find yourself on the walls of the prison. You go, look in the window, turn on the equipment - and watch the life around the prison: the peasant plows the field, the local aborigines fish, the trade with the Chinese arrived.

Here we will have an anthropological reconstruction. The sculpture of the albazin, of whom I spoke, is the face of a real person who died, and we brought him back to life, and everyone can look into his eyes. He will be dressed like an Albanian - we still have shoes, clothes, tools, weapons - we have all reconstructed it. Already now in Blagoveshchensk there is an interactive book. Click on the artifact - there is a story about its history.

- It turns out, the expedition contributes to the cultural education of the inhabitants of the region?

- Of course. However, the inhabitants of the Amur region and so are self-sufficient. They have their own culture, their own entertainment, they are developing - and all is well. But there is another tendency - they say, we live by the residual principle, Moscow cannot be reached - far and expensive. It is important for us to make it clear that people are not divorced from Moscow, the Kuban, the Urals and other regions, that the Amur Region is a very important part of a huge country, in the 17th century significant events took place here. That its history began not in the 19th century, when Muraviev-Amursky came here, but much earlier. We want to tell about this to the people of Amur, so that they are proud of their history. 

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