Excavations in Tara, Omsk Oblast, Central Russia, revealed numerous intriguing finds, including charred turnip dinner being 400 years old. These finds are said to shed light on the conquest of Siberia.
Tara was a significant town due to it being one of the earliest settlements by Russians as they went eastward, founded in 1594 by Prince Andrey Eletsky. Among the early pioneers were political and also criminal exiles, who began the modern development of Siberia. Tara was a military town, and for a long time it was standing on the border with steppe, protecting the territories occupied by Russians. The largest part of the population of the city was military people. Of course they also had households, were involved in agriculture, crafts, hunting and trading. The development of Tara took place earlier than any modern Siberian city.
The excavations are being conducted on a broad scale, revealing the 3-4 metre thick cultural layer which contains remains dating from the 16th to 18th century. Archaeologists excavated among others a a big log house (izba), which burned down in the past and was left exactly as it was. Inside they found a large clay pot left when the log house caught fire and was quickly destroyed in flames. Inside the pot remains of a charred turnip, ready for cooking, was discovered.
According to the researchers the fire had to be quite big. The turnip was found in a korchaga clay pot used for storing food. When the fire began, the temperature was so high that the turnip baked inside this pot. Analysis of the find revealed that the turnip had been kept from autumn, for several months, so it was part of the winter stocks. This means the house burned down in winter or spring.
Among other finds were pieces of Venetian glassware, along with the remains of women’s knitted stockings and footwear. The glassware was made by Venetian technology somewhere in Germany or the modern Czech Republic, and then exported to Russia. According to the scientists, this shows that Tara was not some remote province.
Archaeologists also discovered a log construction, which is believed to be part of the fortifications – a wall and tower. The precise identification of the structure should be possible as the excavations continue.
(after The Siberian Times, Maria Chernaya & Sergey Tataurov)