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In mid 13th c. import of amphorae to Rus’ practically ceased; very few items of the second half of the 13th c. are accounted for. There were a whole number of reasons why the import had stopped, among them downfall of Constantinople in 1204 and the break in relations that followed; the Mongol invasion of 1237-1240 and devastation of Rus’; passing control over Pontic trade to Genoa since 1261; maintenance of Russian connections with the West.
Amphorae were brought to Rus’ from several centres. Ten types of the imported vessels may be singled out at present. Around 70% of the amphorae supplied to Russian territories in the 10th—13th cc. are attested to Trabzon type (after I.V. Volkov), consequently, the bulk of wine was transported to Rus’ from south-eastern Pontic regions. Another 20% of the import consisted of Trillia type manufactured in the region of Nikea (after I.V. Volkov). The remainder came to Rus’ from the Aegean, Palestine, Chersonese and some other yet unidentified centres. The traditional opinion on the exclusive role of Chersonese (and the Crimea as a whole) for Byzantine-Russian trade should be considered insufficiently grounded. The most significant agent undoubtedly was Constantinople, in its market all great deals were done to purchase goods, among them those transported in amphorae.
Oriental pottery in Rus’ in the 13th century
In the 13th c. pottery imports penetrated to Medieval Rus’ from the countries of Arab Orient (Egypt, Syria), Byzantine, and the lands with strong traditions of provincial Byzantine culture (Asia Minor, North and West Pontic regions, Transcaucasus). Genghis Khan’s Turkic-Mongol empire that subjected Rus’, China, Iran, and Central Asia was also the source of the discussed pottery.
While studying the shifts in Oriental pottery supply to 13th-century Rus’ the most complicated problem concerns precise dating of imported goods. There are few accurately dated finds of Oriental vessels originating from closed associations with narrow chronological limits. At the same time, the dates of different types of Oriental pottery are very vague.
In the 12th - first third of the 13th cc. pottery was imported to Rus’ from Byzantium (amphorae-containers and small amounts of glazed pottery), Egypt, Syria, the Volga Bulgaria. In the last third of the 13th c. the supply of luster faience got started, that kind of production was developing in Iran. The vessels in question were brought by the Volga trade riverway via the Volga Bulgaria, they occur mainly in the sites of North-eastern and North-western Rus’. The earlier hypotheses supposing the discussed pottery to be delivered by the Dnieper water-route via Kiev were not well grounded: no Iranian luster vessels were discovered in Kiev or another South-Russian town.
In mid 13th c. import of vine wine to Rus’ in amphorae-containers from Byzantium and other countries of the
Pontic regions and the Mediterranean practically ceased. At the same time import of glazed pottery produced in the Pontic lands and in Byzantium proper did not decrease, but, on the contrary, even grew. Glazed pottery from Syria and Iran (such as Ilkhan lusters) was also brought to Russian territory in this period.
The 13th-century pottery import to Rus’ was marked by sharp and essential changes. They consisted in halting in mid 13th с. functions of trade contacts of Russian lands with Byzantium, Pontic regions, and Orient for some (not too long) period. A new direction of Rus’-Orient connections had occurred, in which Byzantium was withdrawn to the background, while Orient was playing a leading role. The connections were carried out not directly, as they were before, but via the Horde, with its high-rank representatives who visited Rus as envoys and administrators as mediators. Glazed pottery was an essential good in their life-style, it was accompanied by home utensils, cloths, weapons, insignia and so forth.
The changes in supply of Oriental pottery to Rus’ that took place in the 13th с. had formed the basis for unprecedented increase of glazed pottery import in the second half of the 14th c. During this period the total amount of glazed pottery pieces brought to Rus’ was as large as in the preceding four centuries as a whole. It was the 13th c. when Russian elite became able to perceive Oriental luxury in different aspects, and respectable vessels were not the least.
Ancient Russian pottery of the 13th c. in Staraya Ryazan and its vicinity
In early 13th c. at Staraya Ryazan and surrounding dwelling sites manufacturing of pottery followed generally ancient all-Russian traditions, though the most characteristic features of the craft implied the links with South Russia. One of the features in question was the emergence of a new pottery type in Staraya Ryazan termed as type 9 of the local classification. It comprises vessels with indifferent profile and peculiar rim forming flattened relief on the outer surface. The type is connected by its origin with the development of late strongly profiled shapes of all-Russian pottery types; its further derivatives represented some new types of vessels attributed to one of two traditions singled out in the Ryazan pottery-making during the 14th-15th cc.