Vikings in Russia
Archaeological treasures from Staraia Ladoga and NovgorodThe theme of the exhibition is the first Scandinavian settlement in Russia. It is based on archaeological finds, Scandinavian and Slavic, from four of the oldest and most important sites in Russia's history: Staraia Ladoga, Gorodishche, Novgorod and Gnezdovo.
This is the first time discoveries of this significance have been shown outside Russia. The exhibition of 900 remarkable finds, lent by the Museums of Staraia Ladoga and Novgorod and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, has visited Denmark and Sweden.
In Sweden the exhibition is arranged in conjunction with The National Museum of History in Stockholm, where a part of the exhibition the Gnezdovo treasure, Russia's largest and most valuable Viking Age treasure - is on display.
Viking expeditions east and west over the following 3OO years followed the same pattern: plunder, trade and settlement. The Russian connection is evident from a large number of archaeological finds from the east, especially in Birka and Sigtuna, and numerous descriptions on runic stones.
One of the most noteworthy finds from Staraia Ladoga is a complete set of tools from a blacksmith's forge.
Most of the objects come from Novgorod and illuminate Russian early Christian culture: jewellery, weapons, tools, household articles, musical instruments and toys. From simple wooden utensils to a child's treasured toy horse on wheels. Organic materials such as leather and wood were unusually well preserved because of a compact layer of clay top soil, in places up to 7 metres thick
Quite an outstanding find is the work-shop of icon painter Olisei Grechin (the Greek) dating from the 12th century. Other outstanding finds from Novgorod are letters written on birch bark; private letters and official documents, providing a deep insight into the routines, and spirituality of daily life and reflecting the history and development of the Russian language.
It is of special interest that this outstanding collection of finds should be displayed in Sigtuna Museum's new exhibit hall. It was on this site in the comprehensive Archaeological dig 1988-90 that many Slavonic finds were unearthed proving close ties between Russia and Sweden in the 11th and 12th centuries and showing Slavonic influences in daily life and in the workings of the church.
The exhibition "Vikings in Russia" is a happy reflection of the renewed connections between the museums and scientific institutions of the two countries.
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