Meshchovskoye Opolye: main development stages in the 9th-13th centuries based on archaeological data

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Meshchovskoye Opolye is located at the northwest end of the CentralRussian Upland. Six types of complex landscape have been singled out. The predominanttypes of soils are gray and light gray forest soils and sod-podzolic meadow soils. The 9th-13th cc. period is divided into two chronological stages: the Slavic stage (the 9th - firsthalf of the 11th cc., 30 sites, 4 hoards, Fig. 1); and the Medieval Russia stage (second halfof the 11th - 13th cc., 82 sites, 2 hoards, Fig. 4). The stages identified are characterizedby a specific set of artifacts. Dating materials at the sites of the 9th - first half of the 11th cc.include hand-made pottery, early wheel-made ceramics, jewelry, belt-set details, costumedetails, and household items (Figs 2; 3). The planning outline of these settlements hasnot been studied. The funeral rite of the earlier period is represented by cremationcarried out outside the grave and placed under kurgan mounds. Finds of the so-called'common Medieval Russia types' are used as a basis for dating. Spread of wheel-made ceramics began in the 11th c. The finds include jewelry, belt and costume details,weapons and horse trapping items, household goods and implements, and importeditems (Fig. 5). The excavations at the Serensk and Spas-Gorodok hillforts revealedconstructions of various function and examined defense structures. The Serensk hillforthas a topographical structure typical for Medieval Russian cities such as a fortified citadelwith mansions and courtyard buildings and a roundabout suburbs as well as tradingand residential quarters abutting to them. Mansions and courtyard structures weredocumented at the Spas-Gorodok as well. The burial rite of the Medieval Russia periodis represented by inhumations placed beneath the kurgans. The construction of newsettlements in Meshchovskoye Opolye during the period in question was mainly drivenby the environmental and economic factors.


Meshchovskoye opolye, hillfort, kurgan cemetery, landscape, slavic stage, unfortified settlement, hoard, medieval Russia stage

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