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The Golden Horde


The Golden Horde, one of the Chinghizid states, constituted a symbiosis of two worlds - a town culture and the native steppe element of nomads, with their special culture and special system of social organization. Highly developed, classical variant of the Golden Horde culture existed in the Volga region.

Ulus Jochi, as contemporaries called the Golden Horde, comprised within its boundaries the steppe expanses of eastern Europe as far as the Danube, and also a great part of the western Siberian steppe and Kazakstan. These areas were called the Desht-i-Kipchak or Kipchak steppe. In addition the Ulus Jochi included a range of settled districts with old centres of trade and industry: the nothern Caucasus, the Crimea, Moldavia, Volga Bolgaria, the Mordvin lands and Khorezm. Rus stood in a position of dependence upon the Horde.

Later on, in the XVIth-XVIIth centuries, the Russian sources came to call the Ulus Jochi the Golden Horde. This name became rooted in the historical literature.

Main urban centers of the Golden Horde in the XIIIth centuries was Volga Bolgaria, Khorezm and Crimea. However in the 1280th the superiority gradually passes to the Saray in the delta of Volga.

After having become fully competent rulers in their own lands and after having separated themselves from Karakorum and its administration in the 1260's, the khans of the Golden Horde speedily built their own cities in the Lower Volga where before the Mongols practically was no settled population and nomadic was extremely sparse.

Before the second half of XIVth century khans continued seasonal migrations on the Left bank of Volga, rising summer to north, and winter being lowered in Low Volga.

The greatest flourishing of the Golden Horde and its cities falls to the time of the reign of the khans Uzbek (1312-1342) and Janibek (1342-1357). In 1312 Islam was accepted in the Golden Horde as state religion. In the first half of the XIVth century cities, which were built in Lower Volga region by the Golden Horde khans, achieved a heyday. The largest of cities were Saray al-Dzedid, Hadji-Tarkhan, Beldzamen and Ukek.

In the second half of the XIVth century, during continuous internecine and external wars, the Golden Horde cities came in deep decline. The final blow to the cities of the lower Volga was delivered by the invasion of Timur and his forces in 1395 and 1396. But the Golden Horde and some its cities existed till 1420's, when state started to decay on Kazan, Astrakhan, Krimea, Siberia khanates, Nogai and Big hordes.

Middle Volga region in the Golden Horde period, as well as in the previous period, was occupied mainly by Volga bolgars (conquered by Mongols during campaigns of 1223-1236). Mostly known archaeological sites of the Volga Bolgaria of the Golden Horde period are Bolgar and Djuketau sites of ancient cities, Kazan Kremlin, Urmat, Sukhorechenka and III Biliarsk settlements. All architectural monuments of Bolgar site of ancient city saved to the present time, concern to period of existence of the Golden Horde. In the second half of XIIIth century in the Volga Bolgaria appeared the tradition of mounting above some burials stone grave monuments with inscriptions on Arabian graphics.

The Archeological Museum of KSU possesses a significant collection of articles of the Golden Horde period (the second half of the XIIIth - beginning of the XVth c). Among them we should note a vast collection of the Society for Archeology, History and Ethnography (AK-2, 85, 87, 94), coming from the Volga-Kama region, where nearly all categories of finds from the Golden Horde settlements are represented: fragments of belts, finger-rings and bracelets, mirrors, bronze vessels and other objects of precious metals, articles of weapons and husbandry, tools of iron, bone, lead, various ceramics, ornaments of glass and stones. Similar material was gathered on the Bulgarskoe site of ancient town (excavations of 1920s, 1969; AK-128, 229), on the Urmatskoe settlement and the Kamaevskoe site of ancient town (excavations by N.F.Kalinin in 1956; AK - 120-130), on the settlements in the regions of Lower Kama (investigations by E.A.Begovatov and K.A.Rudenko in 1991-1997; AK-278-279). A rich and miscellaneous collection was gathered on the III Bilyarskoe settlement (excavations by S.I.Valiullina in 1994) - the remnants of the city Bilyar of the Golden Horde period.

Collections from the excavations of the Tsarevskoe site of ancient town (investigations by G.A.Fedorov-Davyidov in 1961-1962, 1964 and 1966-1967; A - 193-194, 196, 198-199, -64) - the Golden Horde capital in the XIVth c - are kept in the Museum funds. They are represented by numerous articles of non-glazed and glazed ceramics, various individual finds. There is a small collection from the Vodyanskoe site of ancient town (excavations by A.G.Mukhamadieva in 1988; AK-263).

There are also materials of the XIIIth - XIVth cc, coming from the territories neighboring the Golden Horde. Thus in the collection from the Minusinskaya hollow (Adler, Teploukhov, 1913, AK-81) there are numerous arrow heads, details of cast iron cauldrons, etc.

In the Museum there are also collections showing the medieval archeology of Kazan. They are the materials of protection works of 1949 and 1990 (AK-222), excavations by A.Kh.Khalikov in 1977 and 1982 (AK- 230, 252): ceramics and individual finds.

L.F.Nedashkovsky
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