Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

Special Introductory Offer!
Moscow Reclaims its Past Volume 50 Number 4, July/August 1997
by Nicole Prevost-Logan

[image]An Earthwatch team excavates a seventeenth-century wooden structure near the pedestrian street known as the Old Arabat. (Nicole Prevost-Logan) [LARGER IMAGE]

Casting off seven decades of economic and political stagnation, Moscow is plunging headlong toward an uncertain capitalist future, its skyline cluttered with the cranes and derricks of unrestrained development. Meanwhile, in an unprecedented burst of archaeological activity, it is also unearthing its past, excavating layers that date back to the city's medieval beginnings 850 years ago. One of the most powerful symbols of the new Moscow is an $885,000 brick-and-mortar replica of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan on Red Square. Built by Tsar Mikhail Romanov between 1625 and 1636 to commemorate the liberation of Moscow from Polish and Lithuanian nobles who had overrun the country in the early seventeenth century, the original cathedral was destroyed by Stalin in 1936. At consecration ceremonies in November 1993, attended by President Boris Yeltsin and Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II, the chief architect of the restoration Oleg I. Zhurin noted, "Red Square needs to regain its historical significance as a center of trade; it has been a political graveyard far too long."

* Abstract of companion article: "The Manege Dig," by Alexander G. Veksler
* Abstract of companion article: "Mystery Monasteries," by Leonid A. Beliaev

© 1997 by the Archaeological Institute of America