Berestie Archaeological Museum, Brest
In 1969, on the territory of the Volyn fortification of the Brest Fortress (Hospital Island), an archaeological expedition led by Pyotr Fyodorovich Lysenko discovered the remains of an ancient Slavic settlement of the 13th century. In 1972, a branch of the Brest Museum of Local Lore was established at the site.
In 1974, a pavilion was designed to cover the excavation area, but its construction was greatly delayed and the museum was opened to the public only on March 2, 1982.
The central part of the exhibition is a dig site with a depth of about 4 meters and an area of more than 1000 square meters, where 27 buildings of the city, called "Berestye", were discovered. The buildings date back to the 13th century.
The settlement was first mentioned in the chronicles in 1017. Times were turbulent, so the central part of Slavic cities, called "detinets" , was well fortified with log walls and towers. There was a church here, and the houses belonged to merchants and artisans. The peasants lived on the farms surrounding detinets, and in case of danger they found protection behind its walls. Inside the Brest detinets there was another center of defense - a stone tower about 30 meters high, built in the 80s of the 13th century. The tower is referred to in the chronicles as the "Pillar of Beresteya" and existed until 1831, when it was dismantled during the construction of the Brest Fortress.
The city was divided into blocks, inside which were placed three rows of residential and outbuildings. Pine, the most common tree in the local forests, is used as a building material.
All buildings are made in the form of square single-chamber log cabins. The width of the walls of residential buildings is from 3 to 5 meters, while outbuildings were 2.5-3 meters in size. The height of the log cabins reached 12 crowns. Households were separated by palisades.
Inside some log cabins, you can see stone hearths or the remains of adobe stoves.
The width of the streets in the medieval city ranged from 2.8 to 4 meters, and half-logs laid flat side up were used as the road surface.
Wooden structures were preserved due to the high humidity of the upper soil layer, which did not allow atmospheric oxygen to pass through, which practically excluded rotting wood. Now the buildings are preserved with special materials.
The museum has a reconstruction of the farmstead from a residential building and a cage (barn), created based on the results of excavations.
The residential building of the ancient Slavs is very small, its dimensions are 3.5 by 3 meters. There is a clay stove, a table, benches. Next to the stove, two-tiered sun beds were built, where up to 8 people could sleep. Household utensils consist of earthenware and wooden utensils.
The tiny yard between the house and the barn is paved with chipped boards, here we see the simplest agricultural tools.
The cultural layer of Birch bark goes to a depth of up to 7 meters. Archaeologists have discovered many artefacts from various eras dating back to the 11th century.
Предметы, использовавшиеся в торговле - грузики для рычажных весов.
Women's items - bracelets and hair combs, an amulet with a runic symbol.
Scissors, awls and other tools for sewing and furrier craft.
Pistons (postoles), rawhide shoes.
Clothing was made from home-made fabrics.
Traditional Belarusian rag dolls have an ancient history. Among the ancient Slavs, they were used as amulets. They were made from pieces of old clothes, it was believed that they convey the qualities of the person who wore it. Dolls do not have a face, so that evil spirits do not enter the doll through it.
From the household utensils, you can see shards of pottery decorated with geometric patterns.
Glassware came into use much later.
The Old Slavic alphabet-Cyrillic alphabet and metal sticks - "wrote". They were used to carve letters on birch bark.
Sample birch bark letter.
Wax tablets were also used for writing, and metal locks for books found in excavations belong to a later period.
A page in the chronicle of the famine of 1279.
Dice have been known for more than 5 thousand years, and it is not surprising that in the 12th century they were also among the ancient Slavs.
Important prey of archaeologists are objects of religious cults.
На территории Берестья найдно множество предметов христианской веры - оловянные крестики и медальоны с изображением святых.
Pagan amulets were used for a long time by Slavs even after baptism.
The main occupation and source of existence of the ancient Slavs was agriculture.
For the production of cereals by the method of splitting grains, such a wooden device was used.
For fine grinding, hand-turned stone millstones were used.
Deck for pressing linseed oil.
A corner dedicated to the work of archaeologists.
Dendrochronology is used to determine the age of wooden buildings. Having information about climate changes, you can determine the age of wood by annual rings.
Finally, do not forget to take a selfie with the cat Beresteyka, which is sure to bring you good luck and do not forget to throw a few coins in his mouth. From the very beginning of the excavations, several stray cats were chosen, after the construction of the pavilion, they began to live under its roof, and the museum staff made such an original piggy bank to raise funds for their food.
The museum is open from 10 to 18 from Wednesday to Sunday. The ticket price is about one euro. To get to the Berestie Museum from the Brest Fortress, you need to go through the Kholm Gate and cross the Mukhavets River on the Kholm Bridge, turn right, after fifty steps you will see the museum building.