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Unlike most of Russian medieval towns, Rostov had not got its natural defensive borders. Marshy terrain gave no opportunity to erect traditional fortifications like earthen rampart and ditch. The only kind of town’s defences in these conditions could be log walls. During excavations of 1955 season some indirect information on the possible existence of the constructions of this type was obtained while investigating the course of preserved earthen fortress dated back to the 17th c. Still, the idea on the earliest fortifications in Rostov is only a surmise so far.
One more defensive border - town’s ditch - is evidenced by the documents of the 17th—18th cc. (Fig. 3), modem
place-names and some features of the urban relief. An area
1,3 to 0,9 km in dimension and ca. 117 ha in size was enclosed within the ditch, this territory corresponding to the spot of the cultural deposit dated to the 12th—13th cc., the shore stripe not taken into account. It seems that rampart combined with the ditch had never been constructed: it was impossible to build it on marshy land. There is no information as for the date of the ditch construction.
Archaeological investigations have provided us with more detailed data on the town’s early layout. Thus, it was established that a square paved with white limestone had existed close to the earliest stone temple built in 1162. After the fire of 1211 the square was never rebuilt. The excavations of Sts. Boris and Gleb church within the prince’s town residence confirmed that buildings of the 13th c. connected with the latter might be discovered there. Judging from the cultural deposits’ characteristics and ancient topography of the spot, the princely residence of the earlier period most likely was located in another place.
In the 14th century the town of Rostov sank into stagnation: its area stopped to grow. The cultural deposit of the 14th-15th cc. practically did not exceed the borderlines established in the earlier period. Some areas of the town were abandoned. Similar processes were observed in other major towns of Medieval Russia in the earlier epoch.
The data available enable us to state that the period of Rostov “the Great” ended in the 13th c. The subsequent existence of this centre displays the history of an appanage, district, provincial Russian town.
Archaeological investigations in Vladimir and “the problem of 1238”
Devastation of Vladimir-on-Klyazma by “the godless Tatars”, as they were called by the annalist, after short siege and fierce assault, were, together with the defeat of the Russians on the Sit’ river, undoubtedly the basic events of Batyj’s campaign of 1237-1238. It was also a critical point in the history of the town - the capital city of Vladimir and Suzdal land. The defeat was the first one in 75-year-long period since the reign of prince Adrew Bogolyubsky marked with the town’s growing political and economic significance. The devastation was followed by emergence of new principal political centres - Saray, the capital of the Golden Horde, and Karakorum in the Mongol steppes. This meant the final destruction of the political system built once by prince Vsevolod III and doomed Vladimir to further decline.
The process of political degrading of the town after 1238 in rather clearly reflected in written sources, nevertheless, its disastrous social and economic consequences are not that evident. Constructing stone buildings had ceased, and the territory of the town stopped growing: the urban territory remained the same within the limits of the ramparts that had been erected by prince Andrew Bogolyubsky. This had been true of the town until the 16th—17th cc. The present sit-
uation in studies of the social and economic consequences brought about by the events of 1238 is limited by unsufficient information of written sources on the town’s economy during the 12th—14th cc., and also by small scale of archaeological investigations. These facts will certainly influence in the near future the volume of knowledge on the material culture of the Vladimir population in the pre-Mongol period and after Batyj’s raid. This concerns in particular the archaeological studies of “the problem of 1238”.
At present the best prospects for archaeologial researches are connected with the eastern part of the historical Vladimir, or so-called “Vetchany gorod” (“dilapidated town”) (Fig. 1, 2). The situation here is characterised by large portions of ground occupied by gardens, numerous areas free from construction within the blocks, and new construction taking place. Cultural deposits in this territory were actively investigated during the 1990-s, and some conclusions were suggested concerning local historical topography, and also the role of the Mongol and Tatar incursion for the town's historical destiny.
Excavations headed by the author were carried out in the north-western portion of Vetchany gorod (excavation trench of 1993-1998 in the 22nd quarter covering an area of