by Gleb LEBEDEV, Dr. Sc. (Hist.), St. Petersburg State University
Since the early years of its existence St. Petersburg became a symbol of momentous changes in Russian culture. The reforms of Peter the Great were crowned among other things with the establishment of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and pride of place on its agenda was given to archeology. The "Siberian Gold" from ancient mounds dug out by treasure hunters of the time attracted the attention of the Emperor in 1715 and provided the foundation of the Kunstkamera collection-Russia's first academic museum. Today the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg offers its visitors golden objects from the Scythian-Siberian "royal tomb" found by St. Petersburg archeologists in the burial mounds of Tuva north of Outer Mongolia - a find hailed as one of the sensations of the 21st century.
The pioneer of archeological studies in the surroundings of the "Northern Palmyra" (St. Petersburg) was the Rev. Wilhelm Tolle - Evangelical Father Superior of the urban community and of the Russian Navy (1674-1710). He came there 1704 with a "mass recruitment" of foreign sailors (more than 500 of them) who were hired for service in the Russian Navy by Admiral Komelius Kruis at the request of Peter the Great. To the end of his life the Reverend kept studying the topography of the new Russian capital, its ethnography and local dialects. And he took special interest in historical monuments on the territory of what was called Ingermanland - a traditional Russian region which was contested in the long and dramatic Northern War (1700-1721) with Sweden.
It was Tolle who conducted the first excavations of the burial mounds of Staraya Ladoga (early Middle Ages) - a city which played the role of the predecessor of St. Petersburg on the waterway to the Baltic from the middle of the 8th to the end of the 17th centuries. The finds obtained during these excavations offered tangible proofs of the manifold links of the Early Rus with the Sca ... Читать далее