Medieval Russians hid priceless silver jewelry a century before the bloody Mongol invasion

A treasure trove of finely crafted silver rings, bracelets and pendants buried in the 12th century were recently discovered by archaeologists in southwestern Russia.

The rare treasure — which contains distinctive “seven-ray rings” believed to represent the sun’s rays — was found near ancient Ryazan, one of Russia’s oldest cities and the site of a bloodthirsty Mongol attack in 1237.

It was common for wealthy Russian citizens to hide their treasures from the invaders, researchers say, but this 32-piece treasure was put away more than 100 years before the Mongols attacked.

Archaeologists from the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Ryazan Historical and Architectural Museum-Reserve hope to discover why such valuable loot, dubbed the “Isad treasure,” was hidden without the imminent threat of attack.

“Further studies of the treasures, the technique of their manufacture, the composition of the metal will complement our knowledge of the early history of ancient Ryazan,” RAS researcher Alexander Morozov said, according to a translated statement. of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“It may reveal the historical context of hiding the treasure.”

Scroll down for video

A wealth of buried medieval treasures was discovered on the site of Old Ryazan, one of the oldest cities in Russia. It contains several ‘seven ray rings, believed to represent the rays of the sun’

The researchers say the items are well-made and typical of the traditional women’s costumes worn by Volga Finns, an ancient group of people living in Russia.

Seven-ray rings were thought to have been introduced from the Far East and became a distinctive feature of early medieval Russian jewelry.

Some bracelets have three silver braids with embossed crosses and palm fronds – their style and technique also point to a 10th or 11th century origin.

A disintegrated headdress was also uncovered, with the remains of spiral beads “and various appendages.”

The treasure, found in the Suzdal Oppolye region of Russia, includes a metal bowl with a looped handle (top) an item unusual for the region whose origin has not yet been established

The treasure, found in the Suzdal Oppolye region of Russia, includes a metal bowl with a looped handle (top) an item unusual for the region whose origin has not yet been established

The treasure, discovered in what is now the Suzdal Opye region of Russia, also included eight “grivnas,” hexagonal pendants made of precious metals that were worn around the neck.

Because of their uniform size – about 4.6 pounds – hryvnias could also be used as currency or a standard measurement of weight in medieval Russia. They give the modern Ukrainian currency its name.

Archaeologists also found a metal bowl with a looped handle – an unusual item for the region, the origin of which has not yet been definitively established.

“At this point, we can only assume it’s an import from the Middle East that ended up in Eastern Europe long before the complex was buried in the ground,” the press release said.

The bracelets and other items discovered as part of the Isad Treasure were typical of traditional women's costumes worn by Volga Finns in the 1100s

The bracelets and other items discovered as part of the Isad Treasure were typical of traditional women’s costumes worn by Volga Finns in the 1100s

Some bracelets have three silver braids with embossed crosses and palm leaves

The style and technique of the bracelets point to an origin from the 10th or 11th century

Some bracelets have three silver braids with embossed crosses and palm leaves. Their style and technique point to a 10th- or 11th-century origin, according to archaeologists from the Russian Academy of Sciences

Treasures hidden during and just before the siege of 1237 have been previously discovered in Old Ryazan: the famous Ryazan Barmy treasure – including the coronation necklace of a Russian prince now housed in the Kremlin – was discovered there by accident in 1822 .

Archaeologists say this treasure was buried in a wooded area on the bend of the Oka River, a major tributary of the Volga, about 100 years before that deadly attack.

While many citizens buried their prized possessions during the Mongol sack of Old Ryazan in 1237, this 32-piece collection appears to have been put away at least a century earlier

While many citizens buried their prized possessions during the Mongol sack of Old Ryazan in 1237, this 32-piece collection appears to have been put away at least a century earlier

The looting of Old Ryazan was as complete as it was brutal, with no survivors and nearly 100 severed heads discovered by archaeologists. Live Science reported.

About 140 miles from Moscow, Old Ryazan was further east than other Russian principalities and fell first to Genghis Khan’s grandson Batu Khan, after a week-long siege.

Khan’s forces subjugated much of the Rus and his successors, known as the Golden Horde, ruled central and southern Russia for decades.

More than a dozen hidden treasure troves dating back to the siege of Old Ryazan have been discovered since the 19th century.

The treasure in Suzdal Opye treasure in situ.  It was discovered in a wooded area at the bend of the Oka River, a major tributary of the Volga

The treasure in Suzdal Opye treasure in situ. It was discovered in a wooded area at the bend of the Oka River, a major tributary of the Volga

However, this treasure is an outlier. The RAS team dated it to the late 11th century or early 12th century, based on an analysis of the jewelry and nearby ceramics

“The appearance of the artifacts of the Isad treasure allows us to attribute the time of hiding to the early history of ancient Ryazan, in which there are still many blanks,” said Igor Strikalov of the RAS Institute of Archaeology. in the statement.

“The Isad treasure is clearly older than the ancient Ryazan treasure, it contains other types of ornaments made in a simpler technique and in a more archaic way.”

.