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The work discusses the basic features of settling structure, density of the population and its dynamics during pre-Mongol and the Golden Horde periods. The information on 23 ancient Russian sites is presented. They are concentrated within three regions different in span and landscape and form clusters that may be preliminary identified with the territories of rural communities.
Dwelling site Kulikovka-4 covered an area ca. 13 ha; long-term land surveys with application of metal detector resulted in revealing its layout, living and producing zones, accumulation of representative collection of finds that have enable us to improve the site’s chronology. It may be preliminary supposed that the site was included into the system of the Don trade route functioning.
Archaeological and geophysical investigations at the settlement of Tatinki-4A dated back to the second-third quar-
ters of the 14th c. seem to be of special interest. Spatial structure of the site was established, and the interpretation of sunken structures was suggested in advance of the excavations.
It is important to underline that the major part of the sites located in river valleys exhibit their connection with the first flood terraces, or to the heights within the flood-plains. The rural sites situated in the interfluves occupied gentle slopes in the ravines’ upper reaches.
Dwelling sites of small area prevail in number; they represent the type of single-household site or small farmstead consisting of few households, depending on major settlements.
Judging from the results of our investigations, the process of settling and economic development of the Kulikovo field region had started in the late 12th - early 13th cc. The territory was most densely populated in the first half of the 13th c. In the second half of the same century Russian population migrated from the forest-steppe region on the Upper Don to more safe territories. In the late 13th-the 14* cc. the Kulikovo field was included into jurisdiction of the Tula province governor (baskak), this fact resulting in certain stabilisation in the relations between Rus’ and the Golden Horde and secondary settling of The Field.
In the second half of the 14th c. the territory under discussion appeared to be abandoned again, as it is evidenced by the text describing the pilgrimage of Metropolitan Pimen to Constantinople.
Investigations of minor rural settlements (the excavations of 13th century dwelling site at Oznobishino village, Moscow region)
In the paper the results of excavations are presented carried out at single-household site dated from the 13th c. at Oznobishino village (Podolsk district, Moscow region). The rural dwelling site was investigated in the seasons of
1995-1997. An area of 1304 sq. m was cleared, which practically covers the whole territory occupied by the medieval settlement. One dwelling and 18 domestic structures were unearthed, besides some post constructions.
The large area investigated has permitted to shape an idea on the site layout. It consisted of household yard 350-400 sq. m large; within it the single dwelling was situated alongside with domestic outbuildings of different purpose. A number of post-holes are interpreted as the remains of the yard roofing. Undeveloped space separated domestic and producing areas of the site from the dwelling.
The finds recovered at the site evidence the period when so-called “Vyatichian antiquities” still functioned in everyday life, but gradually were excluded from the sets of mortuary gifts. It is still a debatable question as for the date when some artefacts of Vyatichian types (finger-rings, for instance) ceased to be used any longer in everyday life. In the 13th c. the practice of constructing burial mounds was gradually abandoned, this process reflecting the final stage of village adaptation to Christianity. Still, the complicated character of the process can be seen in the details most clearly expressed by the material yielded by small rural settlements and not mirrored in the collections from burial sites and major towns.
The results of excavations at the site of Oznobishino-5 have clearly shown the features in material culture typical of the rural dwelling sites of the 13th c. in the Moskva river basin. They were marked with some finds characteristic of
burial mounds epoch and had not undergone the changes caused by the Mongol invasion, which are abundant in the material of the later period from the same region. Small number of the finds dated from the second half of the 13th с. permits to suggest precise chronology of the site, and evidence that the artefacts traditionally interpreted as the remains of kurgan burial tradition functioned as everyday articles until late enough.
Numerous outbuildings of domestic purpose located within the household area, its well-organised structure demonstrate quite developed a type of dwelling site that is considered the basic economic unit of medieval agricultural community. The investigations of Oznobishino rural dwelling site and similar farmsteads consisting of few households are of significance for forming a congruent idea on peasantry everyday life in medieval Russia.