Archive for the ‘Ancient Russia’ Category

Camping for Mammoths in the Ice Age (ca. 13,000 BC)

By: The Scribe on November, 2007

This place in Russia was an Ice Age camp site 15,000 years ago, where hunters spent their time on excursions to hunt mammoth.Near Lake Evoron in the Far East of Russia, an ancient camping site has been discovered which was the temporary home of hunters during the Ice Age for their hunting excursions.

The camp dates to approximately 13,000 BC, which is an incredible find – primarily because so little is known about the Ice Age which occurred in that time period. It is a point in history that is poorly studied, primarily because of how little archaeological evidence remains from that era.

The site was found in 2007 while researchers were on an archaeological expedition to Lake Evoron, and it is situated next to the Amur River. It appears to be the largest of four Stone Age sites from the area, and it was the discovery of several artifacts that pointed toward the site’s use as a mammoth hunting camp.

Several stone arrowheads, flint pikes, and a stone scraper were found here, and if the site is excavated, those few pieces could multiply into hundreds of stone tools, likely buried at a moderate depth below the surface.

The discovery of ancient sites in this area of Russia isn’t unusual – in 2006, an Iron Age burial mound was found with a piece of iron dagger, though it dated only to around 500 BC. This Paleolithic campsite is obviously much, much older, and may point toward a better understanding of this little-known time when the world was covered in ice.

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Tomorrow: Ancient Salad Dressing

Sunstroke Really IS Fatal… (ca. 10th-12th C AD)

By: The Scribe on September, 2007

Don't wander out around noon, you might get struck with madness!Whether you call her Pscipolnitsa, Poluudnica, Psezpolnica, Polednice, Polednica, Poludnitsa or – mercifully – Lady Midday, ancient Slavic mythology suggests that you really don’t want to meet this woman on a hot day. In fact, Lady Midday is a noon demon, which is just one more reason why staying indoors at the hottest part of the day is always a good idea…

According to Slavic mythology, Lady Midday (or Pscipolnitsa, ad infinitum…) had a tendency of appearing to people in the middle of hot, summer days, showing herself as either an old hag, a 12-year-old girl, or a stunningly beautiful young woman. The lady would stop people as they walked through the countryside’s fields or while they were working, and would ask them difficult questions or perhaps simply engage them in conversation… and as harmless as it sounds, she apparently had a bit of a temper. If a person failed to answer her question, or if they attempted to change the subject, well… Lady Midday would cut off their head, or alternately, strike them with madness.

Theoretically, workers could see Lady Midday as she approached, since she tended to take the form of a dust cloud before becoming corporeal – and she would often carry a scythe or a pair of large shears in her hands. According to mythology, she was also quite efficient at scaring away small children who might be up to trouble around valuable crops.

Slavic artists often pictured Lady Midday as a young woman dressed in white, roaming around the edges of crop fields – however, it is useful to keep in mind that she was only seen during the hottest part of the day… namely, she was a personification of sunstroke, and was a useful tool in teaching workers about the dangers of working through the noon heat. What better reason to take a lunch break?

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Tomorrow: Red Hot Ancient Chili Peppers

Feodor I “the Bellringer” of Russia (1557-1598)

By: The Scribe on April, 2007

Fedor I of RussiaIn 1584, at the age of 27, Feodor I was crowned Tsar of Russia. Son of Ivan IV “the Terrible”, Feodor looked nothing like his physically imposing father – in fact, he was small, with short arms and a squat neck. Quiet and passive, Feodor was believed to have been mentally retarded at birth, with little intelligence and a dispassion for ruling the country.

His vapid eyes and naïve gaze certainly contributed to this perception, and even his own father did not believe his son capable of ruling. Instead, he organized a small advisory council to assist Feodor I, which included his wife and brother-in law. By the end of the year 1587, his brother-in-law Boris Godunov was the only member of the council that remained due to internal struggles for power; because of this, he took over the position of acting Tsar in place of the disinterested Feodor.

Many Russians believed that “feeble-mindedness” was indicative of religious wisdom, and ascribed Feodor’s mental incapacitation to spiritual superiority. Oddly enough, because of this, the people he refused to rule still loved and respected him greatly.
Feodor spent much of his time in solitary prayer, though he took special interest in traveling across the country to visit churches and ring their bells. This resulted in the nickname “Bellringer”, and was originally intended to be a term of endearment.

The only child of Feodor and his wife died in infancy, and it was this failure to procreate that would bring an end to his family’s dynasty. Feodor did have a half-brother named Dmitri, however this child was considered illegitimate and therefore unfit to rule – the Russian Orthodox Church recognized only a man’s first three marriages, and Dmitri had been the offspring of Ivan IV the Terrible’s eighth wife. Feodor genuinely cared for his half-brother, however he did not make any attempt to change the established laws of the church.

In 1591, Dmitri was found dead at the age of ten. The official verdict was that the child had cut his own throat while having an epileptic seizure, and no one questioned the remarkable nature of such an accusation – except for the child’s mother, who claimed her son was murdered by members of Godunov’s court as an insurance policy against any possible competitors for the throne, even though illegitimate children had no real claim to it. Evidently, Feodor never questioned whether his brother-in-law had any involvement with Dmitri’s death… and in 1598, after a bout of illness, he passed away in his bed.

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Tomorrow: Pottery Porno!