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The Ukek

Ukek - one of the large cities of the Golden Horde. It was situated on a right bank of Volga, on the southern outskirts of modern Saratov, at present settlements Uvek and Neftyanoy. Ukek, certainly, was one of the oldest purely Golden Horde cities. Obviously, it was found in 1240th-1250th. Ukek is mentioned in "Book" of the famous Marko Polo under 1262 as a city "Ukaka".

Many authors of the Middle Ages wrote about Ukek: Abu-l-Fida, Ibn Batuta, al-Omari, Nizam-ad-din Shami, Sheref-ad-din Iezdi, al-Kalkashandi, Gaffari etc. In the last third of XIIIth - beginning of XIVth century the mint functioned in the Ukek, This fact tells us about the large political significance of the city.

The period of the most active life of Ukek, by data of numismatics, occupies a period from 1270th to 1360th; in the last third of the XIVth century the city, as well as many other Golden Horde centers, came to decline caused by decades of the internecine wars and weakness of the khans authority. Destruction of Ukek connected with it ruin by Tamerlan in 1395.

The large contribution to study of this Golden Horde city was made Ch..Fraehn, G.S.Sablukov, P.A.Ponomaryov, ..Krotkov, B.V.Zaikovsky and F.V.Ballod.

Archaeological excavations of Uvek site - archaeological rests of Ukek (now almost completely built up) - were carried out in 1890-s - 1923. Materials of excavations of 1913 and 1919 are known in details. The rests of the brick mausoleum with nine aristocratic burials in it were discovered during the excavations of 1913. Two kilns for firing of tiles, used during the construction of mausoleum together with another buildings and crypts were investigated in 1919.

Ukek has given rich collections of material culture subjects, some of which are genuine works of art. Besides huge number of purely Golden Horde materials from Uvek site Old Russian and Mordovian finds occurred, the influence of Far East is traced also. The materials from Ukek are kept nowadays in the collections of a Saratov regional museum of regional ethnography, State united museum of Republic Tatarstan (Kazan), State Hermitage (St.-Petersburg), State historical museum (Moscow), British Museum (London) etc.

The sizes of the Uvek site is more than 3.3 kilometres from the north to the south and almost 1.4 kilometres from the west to the east; square of the site is more than 205 hectares. The most rational full prohibition of any construction on the Uvek site nowadays is represented, and with possibility, the beginning of systematic study of it by excavations. In 1995 proposal was prepared and sent to the Russian ministry of culture about declaim the Uvek site, as archaeological monument of the especial cultural and historical value, as a monument of All-Russia value. Since 1993 the regions of Ukek annually is studied by group of archaeological expedition of the Kazan State University.

Leonard F. Nedashkovsky
Chief curator of the Archaeological museum of KSU

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