Archaeological Museum of Berestye
Belarus, Brest

The Berestye Archaeological Museum was opened on March 2, 1982 on the Hospital Island (Volyn Fortification) of the Brest Fortress on the site of the child of the ancient city of Berestye. Excavations were carried out here from 1969 to 1981 and in 1988, as a result of which more than 220 wooden buildings of the 11th - 13th centuries, three street pavements, palisades, and numerous objects of material culture of that time were revealed. An area of more than 1800 m2 was uncovered. On January 18, 1972, the Council of Ministers of the BSSR decided to create a museum and build a special pavilion. The pavilion, with an area of 2400 m2, is built of concrete, glass, anodized aluminum and is a gable ceiling with a light lamp in the center. Its shape resembles an ancient dwelling. In the center of the pavilion is an excavation site covering an area of 1118 m2. At a depth of 4 meters there is a part of the craft quarter - 28 wooden residential and farm buildings of the XIII century, two street pavements, a stockade, the remains of adobe furnaces. A cultural layer up to seven meters thick is of great value. He allowed to save many buildings with 5-9 crowns, and some even with 12 crowns, which is very rare. Excavations revealed the original layout of the ancient Birch Bark, where the main planning element was the streets. Dwellings adjoined the streets with blank walls, were placed in 3-4 rows between the streets at a distance of 0.4-0.6 meters from each other. These were ground, single-chamber, square constructions in plan, cut down into a simple corner from round coniferous logs. Doorways were cut from the 3-4th crown from the bottom to the height of 6-7 crowns, windows to the height of one or two crowns were located almost under the roof itself. The roofs were gable, covered with chipped boards. Lining at the corners of houses or the remains of previous buildings served as the foundation. During the creation of the museum, special attention was paid to the preservation of wooden buildings. For the first time, a group of researchers at the S. Kirov Belarusian Technological Institute carried out conservation of archaeological wood in the field by surface and deep impregnation of phenolic alcohols with an aqueous solution, followed by heat treatment. On both sides of the excavation are exhibition halls with a total area of 252 m2. The museum exhibits about 1,200 objects that cover the following topics: the origin and history of the ancient city of Berestye, the planning and development of the city, ironworking, non-ferrous metal processing, bone carving, leather crafts, spinning and weaving, pottery and woodworking, reconstruction of the dwelling of the city dweller (XIII centuries), agriculture, animal husbandry, hunting and fishing, trade, culture, as well as the history of the study of Berestye. The opened part of the detinets is certainly a craft quarter. The existence of various crafts on this earth is evidenced by the remains of all kinds of tools, raw materials, semi-finished products, finished products. The ironwork on display is: tools (blacksmith hammer and pincers), woodworking tools (axes, adzes, drills, chisels, staple plows, drawings), armaments, protective equipment and equipment for the rider and horse. In addition, a numerous category of finds is made up of various locking devices: locks, keys, spring arms from cylinder locks, guards, springs from internal locks. Razors are the rarest and most interesting finds made of ferrous metal, presented on display. On the territory of Belarus are the only ones. In Berestye there was a local jewelry craft. Beresteysk craftsmen produced women's jewelry, costume accessories, Christian worship and household items. The most numerous group of finds from non-ferrous metals is female jewelry - colts, temporal rings, beads, pendants, bracelets, rings, rings. Noteworthy is the billite colt with a symbolic pattern of germinating grain. Colt is one of the most valuable and expensive jewelry for a female headdress. Inside the colt was hollow. A fabric moistened with aromatic oils was embedded in it. The material for the bone carving craft in Berestye was the horns and bones of elk, deer, tur, roe deer, and domestic animals. Widespread in the Ancient Berestye received leatherwork. High-quality shoes were sewn from leather: shoes, boots, pistons. Shoes were decorated with multi-colored embroidery. We spun and weaved in every family. Fragments of woolen fabric, spindles, and details of a loom are exhibited in the halls. All utensils (pots, jugs, bowls, pans, ladles) are made in the early potter's wheel. Potters-craftsmen sometimes branded their products with special signs on the bottoms of vessels. Bottoms with stamps were found during the excavation of Birch Bark. A significant place in the economic life of the city was occupied by woodworking. Masters for woodworking used a variety of tools: ax, adze, chisel, staple, drill, knife, cutter. Some items were made on a lathe. Agriculture and cattle breeding played a large role in the economy of Berestye, supplying food, draft power, and raw materials for various crafts. Citizens grew rye, wheat, barley, millet, oats, flax, hemp, cabbage, turnips, cucumbers, beets, carrots, radishes, and onions. Evidence of this is the archaeological finds of crops (flax and hemp seeds) and agricultural implements. The land was cultivated by rallies and plows. In Berestye, in the 13th-century cultural layer, a unique find was discovered, the only one in Europe at that time - an oak rally. Metal tips were also found - the mouthpiece and the coulter. A very interesting find is butter pulp. Before excavations in Berestye, it was not found in archaeological materials. Butter pulp was used to obtain edible vegetable oil from flax and hemp seeds. The favorable geographical position favored the participation of Berestye in international trade. Berestye had trade relations with the Dnieper with the center in Kiev, with Volyn, the Black Sea, the Caucasus, the East, the Baltic states, and Western European lands. The existence of these relations is confirmed by the findings of counting tags, lead lead seals, hung on bales with goods and annals about the shipment of caravans from Berestye to Yatvyag lands, as well as glassware, boxwood, slate. The high level of development of the culture of Berestye is evidenced by the spread of writing. Berestians learned literacy in the Old Slavonic alphabet of the Cyrillic alphabet. One of the unique finds of Berestye is a boxwood crest with carved letters of the alphabet - Cyrillic letters on both sides. On one side there are 6 letters, on the other side 7. This comb is the oldest and only “textbook” on literacy in Belarus. Among the unique finds are chess pieces - the king and rook carved from bone and wood. The found iron crosses and amber crosses, fragments of two encolpion crosses, a spoon for communion, an insert icon depicting the Virgin Oranta speak of the existence of Christianity in Brest. The Berestye Museum is the only museum in Europe of the medieval East Slavic city, the most visited of the museum objects in Brest. Since its opening, it has been visited by about 3 million people from 37 countries of the world. The Berestye Archaeological Museum is a branch of the Brest Regional Museum of Local Lore.

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