Taimyr archaeological excavations’ results summed up

Taimyr archaeological excavations’ results summed up

November 21, 2023

The research revealed new details in the history of the peninsula shores exploration by Russian sailors.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Specialists from the Siberia Archaeological Research organization summed up the results of the two-years work on the project The First Russian Polar Sailors off the Taimyr Coast, dedicated to the history of the Taimyr peninsula coast development in the 17th–18th centuries.

During the 2022 field season, the specialists conducted research on the peninsula. This was preceded by archaeological research in 2016 and work in the Russian Navy archives in St. Petersburg and the RSAAA in Moscow (The Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts is the largest Russian repository of Russian manuscripts, documents and printed books of the 16th – early 19th centuries), during which historians studied documents and letters from the first explorers of the North.

As archaeologist Danil Lysenko noted, the Arctic zone regions remain one of the least studied territories in the country.

“Archaeological objects are probably the only evidence of human exploration of these complex and difficult conditions. They have to be preserved to study how the processes of development of these territories took place. Routes were investigated in the western part of the peninsula, in the eastern part, but the most interesting, dedicated specifically to Russian development, were objects recorded in the lower reaches of the Yenisey – in the Pyasinsky bay of the Kara sea and on the rest of the peninsula western coast”, he noted.

These places were first put on the map of the Russian Empire in the 18th century during the second Kamchatka expedition – there were 42 winter quarters in the lower reaches of the Yenisey.

“At that time, these were the northernmost buildings of Eurasia of European culture, in which lived industrialists who came there at the end of the 17th century to primarily hunt for arctic fox”, noted Lysenko.

These monuments were described by the Krasnoyarsk Museum of Local Lore expedition members in 1920. A century later, specialists from the Siberia Archaeological Research were able to study them. During the excavations, experts discovered many authentic items of Russian pioneers – a 17th-century chessboard, various fishing and hunting tools, even antique shoes.

The second stage of the project The First Russian Polar Sailors off the Taimyr Coast was extensive educational work based on the data obtained and archaeological excavations. The items found by the expedition were presented at exhibitions in the local history museums of Krasnoyarsk, Dudinka and Minusinsk, which were visited by more than 23 thousand people. This summer, in the Krasnoyarsk flora and fauna park Royev Roochey they showed a reconstruction of the winter quarters of Russian polar sailors – about 300 thousand visitors watched it.

“The implementation of the project provided an opportunity for a wide audience to learn about previously unknown pages in the Arctic exploration history. The exhibition aroused keen interest of our visitors. It was interesting even for preschoolers, for whom special classes were developed based on this exhibition”, shared the Taimyr Museum of Local Lore director Emilia Stambrovskaya.

The archaeological collection of the Taimyr Museum includes more than 8.5 thousand items, most of which are finds made during the period of intensive archaeological excavations on the Taimyr territory from 1967 to 1974. During excavations in Taimyr, about 300 ancient human sites were discovered, said the Taimyr Museum director.

The most interesting result of the project is the book Russian People on Taimyr in the 17th–18th Centuries (P. Barahovich, D. Lysenko, N. Stepanov, M. Mikhailova), published in the summer of 2023 in Krasnoyarsk. The book’s online version is freely available.

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Text: Victor Borodin, Photo: Archaeological Research of Siberia ANO

November 21, 2023

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