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Vintage Moscow Volume 52 Number 1, January/February 1999
by Nicole Prevost-Logan

[image] Glass roof now covers seventeenth-century arcade. (Courtesy Nicole Prevost-Logan) [LARGER IMAGE]

Finds from an excavation in a merchant's arcade known as Old Gostiny Dvor, ranging in date from the thirteenth century to the present, will be displayed in a new subterranean museum at the site. Located in Moscow's oldest district, Kitai Gorod, the arcade is being transformed into a glass-roofed shopping center, its old walls to be incorporated into the new structure, which will be completed this year.

Excavations yielded evidence that the quarter was populated in the first half of the thirteenth century, more than 100 years earlier than previously believed. Excavators found artifacts such as glass bracelets predating the Mongol invasion of Batu Khan in 1237, remains of wooden pavements, wells, and utilitarian objects such as weights, padlocks, knives, shoes, and candleholders.

First built in the 1640s, Old Gostiny Dvor was enlarged and restored several times, most notably between 1790 and 1805 in a neoclassical style by the Italian architect Giacomo Quarenghi. Archaeologists have unearthed architectural fragments and decorative tiles indicating the presence of a well-to-do middle class living in ornate sixteenth- and seventeenth-century limestone houses.

A concentration of axes and pieces of chainmail and a military uniform suggest that an officer's residence was once located in the area. There has been speculation that the remnants of a timber house may have belonged to the family of Boris Godunov, tsar from 1598 to 1605.

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© 1999 by the Archaeological Institute of America
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