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Volodymyr Mezentsev (Toronto), Yurii Sytyi (Chernihiv), and Yurii Kovalenko (Hlukhiv)
REPORT ON THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH OF BATURYN IN 2017
In 1995, the expedition of the Chernihiv Collegium National University and the Institute of Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine led by late Candidate of History Volodymyr Kovalenko (1954-2016) of this university began the annual large-scale excavations in Baturyn. For eleven years, this prominent researcher of the antiquities of Chernihiv-Siversk land headed the Ukraine-Canada Archaeological Expedition which has conducted field investigations at Baturyn from 2001 to the present.
The Baturyn Archaeological Expedition is based at the Institute of History, Ethnology, and Law of Chernihiv University. We wish to acknowledge Prof. Oleksandr Kovalenko, Director of this institute and renowned historian of modern Left-Bank Ukraine, for his important assistance in the administration, organization, and logistics of the expedition and the publication of its materials in Ukraine. Since 2012, the expedition has been overseen by Candidate of History Viacheslav Skorohod and archaeologist Yurii Sytyi, both senior fellows at the Centre of Archaeology and Early History of Northern Left-Bank Ukraine at Chernihiv University. They are former students and research assistants of V. Kovalenko. Yu. Sytyi acts as the scholarly leader of the Baturyn expedition. The Chernihiv Oblast State Administration contributes annual subsidies for the excavations in this town.
Prof. Zenon Kohut, the former director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, and the eminent historian of the Hetman state, was the head of the project of archaeological and historical research of Baturyn of the Cossack period in 2001-2015. Presently he serves as academic adviser for this undertaking. Candidate of History (Ph. D.) Volodymyr Mezentsev, research associate of CIUS Toronto Office, is the executive director of the Baturyn project from the Canadian side. Prof. Martin Dimnik, ex-president of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (PIMS) at the University of Toronto and the leading Canadian historian of medieval Chernihiv principality has also participated in this research and the publication of its results in North America. CIUS, PIMS, and the Ucrainica Research Institute in Toronto sponsor the Baturyn project from Canada. The Wiacheslav K. Lypynsky East European Research Institute, Inc. in Philadelphia and the Ukrainian Studies Fund at Harvard University in Boston, the United States, also supported the historical and archaeological investigations of early modern Baturyn with grants in 2016-2017.
In August 2017, about 50 students and scholars from the Chernihiv University, Chernihiv Regional Historical Museum, Hlukhiv National Pedagogical University, and the Institute of Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine took part in the Baturyn archaeological expedition. Yurii Kovalenko, M.A., of Hlukhiv National Preserve, the instructor of archaeology of Ukraine at Hlukhiv University, engaged in these excavations and the examination of its findings.
Based on his archaeological research, V. Kovalenko maintained that Baturyn emerged in the late eleventh century as a fortress on the south eastern border of Chernihiv principality. He also asserted that after its ravaging by the Mongols in 1239, the Baturyn area remained depopulated until early seventeenth century. However, the 2017 excavations, for the first time, have revealed that this settlement recovered in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and the lacuna in its development was limited to the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Between 1625 and 1648, when the Chernihiv-Siversk land was under Polish domination, the royal administration constructed the castle and adjacent fortress of Baturyn to protect the eastern frontier of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
In 1669-1708, Baturyn was the capital of the Cossack state and benefited from its extensive economic and cultural ties with Western, Central, and Eastern Europe. The town prospered most under the reign of the distinguished Hetman Ivan Mazepa (1687-1709). In 1708, in the course of suppressing I. Mazepa’s anti-Moscow revolt, the tsarist army completely destroyed the hetman capital. Baturyn was rebuilt and repopulated and experienced its last upsurge under the rule of the progressively-minded Hetman Kyrylo Rozumovsky (1750-1764) prior to his death in 1803.
Last summer, the expedition resumed its excavations in the Baturyn suburb of Honcharivka. Before 1700, I. Mazepa constructed there his principal residence with three stories and a mansard (20 m by 14.5 m in size). This brick palace was plundered and burned by Russian troops in 1708.
Analysis of the excavated palace’s foundations, written sources, and a unique 1744 drawing of this structure’s ruins, preserved at the National Museum in Stockholm, has enabled researchers to recreate its ground plan, dimensions, architectural design, and decoration. V. Mezentsev and Serhii Dmytriienko (Chernihiv), the Baturyn archaeological expedition graphic artist, have prepared hypothetical computer reconstructions of this building. In their view, I. Mazepa’s main residence was constructed and adorned primarily in the Central European baroque style. But the embellishment of its faҫades with glazed ceramic rosettes represents a distinctive attribute of Hetmanate architecture.
While excavating the remnants of Honcharivka’s villa in 1995-2013, many fragments of such rosettes were found. These round plate-like ceramic details are ornamented with relief stylized flowers of various patterns and covered by white, yellow, green, turquoise, and light or dark blue enamel. In 2017, on the basis of a detailed examination of numerous rosette fragments and using computer graphic techniques, V. Mezentsev and S. Dmytriienko prepared hypothetical colour reconstructions of six types of intact rosettes. Each type has its own specific flower or geometric relief ornament and predominantly three or four subtypes with variations of colour glazing, up to 21 subtypes altogether. These tiles were nailed to the frieze of the entablature in a row alternating different types or subtypes. According to V. Mezentsev’s graphic reconstruction of the Honcharivka palace’s exterior, these friezes on each of its three stories were decorated with rosettes of various diameters, ranging from 30 cm to 40 cm.
Rosettes, heating stove tiles or kakhli, and slabs bearing I. Mazepa’s coat of arms from the Honcharivka palace have been recognized as valuable pieces of Ukrainian baroque architectural majolica. The rosettes represent one of the most numerous and typologically diverse categories of ceramic embellishments of this edifice. V. Mezentsev’s conclusions regarding the ornamentation of the Honcharivka palace by six types and 16-21 subtypes of rosettes with a palette of six colours of enamel complement the results of earlier research on the application there of seven to nine patterns of floor pavements or inlays with glazed and terracotta tiles, about 30 kinds of fine glazed multicoloured stove tiles, and two versions of terracotta and glazed heraldic plaques. These findings attest to the exceptionally costly, refined, and diversified ceramic adornments of I. Mazepa’s main residence in Baturyn.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in keeping with the Kyivan model, and possibly with the involvement of Kyivan craftsmen, several monastic churches in the Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Poltava regions were also embellished with ceramic rosettes. In fact, the Honcharivka palace is the only known residential building in Ukraine ornamented with ceramic rosettes (excluding later imitations on dwellings or kam’ianytsi of the Cossack era).
Thus, the exclusive application of this specific method of adorning churches of the leading Kyivan architectural school for finishing I. Mazepa’s palace in Baturyn shows the unique nature and national flavour of the structure. By its three-story design, artistic polychrome glazed ceramic revetments, and unusual combination of Western and Ukrainian baroque decorations, the principal hetman residence stood out among the secular buildings of the Cossack realm.DIGITAL CAMERA
Last summer, archaeologists partly excavated the foundation of a hitherto unknown destroyed brick structure at I. Mazepa’s estate in Honcharivka. Its investigation and identification will be continued next summer. Research on the design and polygonal layout of the ramparts with earthen flanking bastions protecting this manor by Candidate of History Oleksandr Bondar (Chernihiv Historical Museum) allows him to propose that they were modelled on advanced contemporaneous Dutch fortifications.
In 2017, the expedition continued excavating the site of the household of Judge General Vasyl Kochubei (after 1700) in Baturyn’s western end. Yu. Sytyi posits that after 1750 K. Rozumovsky owned this estate and commissioned three buildings for the hetman’s administration there. They were demolished in the nineteenth century.
Archaeologists have uncovered portions of brick foundations that supported the wooden walls of two of K. Rozumovsky’s buildings of the second half of the eighteenth century. Yu Sytyi has determined that the larger structure had one story, approximately 20 m by 13 m in size, and at least two heating stoves. One of them was revetted with ornate Delft blue and white enamel ceramic tiles, which were probably imported from Holland. The other stove was faced with plain flat tiles glazed apple-green without images or ornaments. They presumably were produced in Baturyn in the second part of the eighteenth century. Fragments of both kinds of these tiles have been unearthed amidst the debris of the larger administrative premise last summer.
At the court of Judge General, Yu. Kovalenko has discovered a tiny seventeenth- or eighteenth-century silver neck cross. He conjectures that it belonged to a child from Kochubei’s family or some other Cossack elite family. The shape and relief decoration of this artefact resemble Cossack crosses of local manufacture. It features a three-bar Orthodox cross inscribed on the front and some ornamental engravings on its back.
According to V. Mezentsev’s interpretation, on the cross arms, the initials of Jesus Christ, the King, are inscribed in keeping with mixed Byzantine and modern Slavic iconographic traditions. The Greek letters ІС and Х represent the canonical abbreviations of Christ’s name, while the Cyrillic letter Ц seemingly refers to His title in Slavic: Tsar (Царь). Such a brief monogram for Christ’s name and title, with only four characters (ІС, Х, Ц), is very rare among modern Orthodox crosses with Cyrillic inscriptions. It could be due to the small size of this child’s cross.
A larger bronze neck cross was unearthed near the Resurrection Church (1803) within the former Baturyn fortress. Its lower arm was broken off. At the intersection of arms, it has a stylized wreath of thorns with radial rays between the arms. On the front, an inner three-barred Orthodox cross is inscribed with a miniature wreath of thorns hung around the central crossbar. Yu. Kovalenko states that this less expensive neck cross was apparently cast in Muscovy and exported to Baturyn in the 17th century.
During excavations near the Resurrection Church, this researcher discovered a remarkable bronze ring with a seal on the octagonal glass insert of the late seventeenth or early eighteenth centuries. S. Dmytriienko closely examined the seal and made a sample wax impression and a graphic outline of its miniature relief image. The seal depicts a stylized masonry fortress wall flanked by two towers with steep conical roofs. Above the towers is an image of an eagle fighting a serpent or a dragon in the sky.
Both V. Mezentsev and Yu. Kovalenko agree that the fortress symbolizes the fortifications of Constantinople. The seal presents the legendary combat of two creatures, flying above the city as described in the tale about the foundation and fall of the Byzantine capital to the Turks in 1453 by the Russian author Nestor Iskander in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth centuries.
Illustrations of this legend were popular in applied arts of seventeenth-century Muscovy. Gold and silver signet rings of this time with a similar composition were found in Tula Oblast and Mordovia in the Russian Federation. No early modern seals with this motif are known to us in Ukraine. It is also absent from the coat of arms of Ukrainian gentry and baroque engravings. This allows V. Mezentsev and Yu. Kovalenko to believe that the signet ring discovered in Baturyn was brought there from Muscovy during I. Mazepa’s reign. It could have belonged to an educated Cossack officer, state official, scribe, or cleric who was familiar with N. Iskander’s account about the origins of Constantinople.
In Baturyn’s northern suburb, the expedition uncovered a portion of brick foundation of the early eighteenth-century residence of Chancellor General Pylyp Orlyk, the celebrated author of the first Ukrainian constitution (1710). This structure was burned during the conflagration of Baturyn in 1708. It had timber walls and at least two heating stoves. The first was faced with multicoloured glazed ceramic tiles, while the second one had less costly terracotta tiles without enamel. Several shards of both types of these stove tiles of Ukrainian production were unearthed in 2016-2017.
Yu. Sytyi highly praised the artistic and technical standards of the polychrome glazed kakhli found at P. Orlyk’s residence. He considers them equal in quality to the best stove tiles from Mazepa’s palace. And, they are original in design, not copies of the latter.
During the last excavations, Yu. Kovalenko discovered one terracotta tile fragment featuring the reliefs of a stylized banner on a wooden shaft, a flanged mace (the insignia of a Cossack colonel’s rank), and probably a decorative acanthus leaf in baroque style at the bottom. He surmises that these images form part of P. Orlyk’s ceramic armorial bearings. Several fragments of ceramic stove tiles with various elements of his noble heraldic emblem were found on this site in 2014 and 2016. Using these finds, S. Dmytriienko has graphically reconstructed in part the possible design of this rare ceramic coat of arms. Archaeological explorations of P. Orlyk’s household will be renewed next summer.
While excavating the fortress, town’s suburbs, and Kochubei’s estate, were also unearthed: two glazed ceramic children’s toys fashioned in a folk style (a tiny cup and a whistle shaped as a stylized bird), three fragments of ornamented terracotta Cossack tobacco pipes, two iron belt clasps, two copper buttons, three lead musket bullets, and various iron tools, all of local manufacture, nine silver Polish-Lithuanian and three copper Russian coins from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as well as two silver shillings of Queen Christina Vasa of Sweden (1632-1654) minted in Riga, Livonia, and one seventeenth-century silver solidus from Swedish Livonia. The identification of Polish and Livonian coins was provided by Yu. Kovalenko.
In Honcharivka, archaeologists have investigated the remnants of a wooden dwelling, which was burned together with the neighbouring I. Mazepa villa in 1708. Inside this structure, an iron cannon ball from the shelling of the town that year has been found.
To summarise, the brick foundations of three heretofore unknown buildings and the ceramic tile adornments of the I. Mazepa and K. Rozumovsky periods were discovered at Baturyn in 2017. The latest archaeological findings have reconfirmed the dynamics of masonry construction, local urban crafts, Ukrainian baroque applied arts, and the broad commercial and cultural relations of the hetman capital with the Netherlands, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Swedish empire, and Muscovy. For the first time, the imported artefact depicting the Byzantine motif has been found in I. Mazepa’s capital.
Thanks to the annual systematic excavations at Baturyn for two decades, this town has become the most extensively archaeologically studied settlement of the Cossack realm. Further field investigations in Baturyn are scheduled for August 2018.
7 FIGURES (14 photos and graphic illustrations)
Fig. 1. I. Mazepa’s palace in Honcharivka, the suburb of Baturyn, before 1708. Hypothetical reconstruction by V. Mezentsev, computer graphic by S. Dmytriienko, 2017.
Fig. 2a-e. Some of the glazed ceramic rosettes from the faҫade decoration of the Honcharivka palace prior to 1700. Hypothetical reconstructions by V. Mezentsev and S. Dmytriienko, computer graphics by S. Dmytriienko, 2017.
Fig. 3. Two 17th-18th-century patterned neck crosses unearthed at Baturyn in 2017. Bronze and silver (centre and right). Photos by Yu. Sytyi.
Fig. 4a-c. Bronze signet ring of the 17th– early 18th century, graphic outline of the images on the glass seal, and its wax impression. Photos by Yu. Sytyi and S. Dmytriienko, computer graphic by S. Dmytriienko, 2017.
Fig. 5a, b. Fragment of the early 18th-century terracotta stove tile and a graphic reconstruction of its reliefs of a Cossack flanged mace, banner, and acanthus leaf. Photo by Yu. Sytyi, computer graphic by S. Dmytriienko, 2017.
Fig. 6. The 17th-18th century glazed ceramic toys discovered in Baturyn in 2017. This and next photo by Yu. Sytyi.
Fig. 7. Silver coins from Swedish Livonia, 17th century. 2017 excavations at Baturyn.
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