Kazan Kremlin

Ancient Kremlin

Stone age implements from excavation in Kazan Kremlin
Stone age implements from excavation in Kazan Kremlin
Stone age implements from excavation in Kazan Kremlin

Surrounded by white stone walls, the ancient Kremlin rises proudly on a "high hill in the north-east part of a wide cape located in the estuary of the Kazanka, on the left bank of the Volga. The traces of the original town were found by archaeologists on this very place. The extremely favourable natural and geographic conditions of the region had drawn attention of its primitive inhabitants long before the Boulgars. From the Kremlin hill one could see the vast scenery of flood- and above-flood valleys occupied by picturesque meadows with rich vegetation and full of oxbows and small lakes. The sand dunes on the Volga terraces and the high capes with steep slopes on the banks of the Kazanka were ideal for settlements of ancient people. A Kazan chronicler of the second half of the 16th century wrote: A Boulgar prince chose a wonderful place to found a town on this side of the Kama-River, adjacent with its one end to the Boulgar land and to Vyatka and Perm with its other end, rich in pastures for cattle and in bees, suitable for growing different cereals and abundant with fruit, full of animals, fish, and various everyday goods. It is impossible to find another such place on our entire Russian land to compare with it in beauty and richness, with the same holdings." According to a Russian chronicler this land is fertile and profuse and, so to say, is boiling with honey and milk.

Stone axe - 2nd millenium BC.
Stone axe - 2nd millenium BC.
From Kazan Kremlin.

The territory of the present-day Kazan has been inhabited from deep antiquity. The first traces of man dating to the Stone Age were found by archaeologists as early as in the 19th century near Savinovo settlement, on the right bank of the Kazanka. The remains of the most ancient settlement that appeared, most probably, at the time of the late Palaeolithic age (10th - 8th millennia BC), and were found by us in 2001 when we were performing the protective and salvaging excavations in the courtyard of the main building of Kazan State University. Here, practically in the centre of the present-day city, in the lowest horizon of the occupation layer, i.e. on the yellow continental clay, we have found the traces of the fireplace and the few finds in the form of silicone flakes, plates, scrapers and knives, as well as mammoth bones.

Today, the number of monuments of the Mesolithic (7th-5th millennia BC)and Neolithic ages (4th--3rd millennia BC) in the territory and in the suburbs of the present-day Kazan is approaching ten. Noteworthy is that some finds of the late Mesolithic type originate even from the excavations of Kazan Kremlin. Apparently, a temporary settlement of primitive hunters and fishers was located there. Those people marked the beginning of developing the Kremlin hill several thousands years before the origin of the Boulgar town.

Peaces of stone axe.Peaces of stone axe.
Peaces of stone axe.
2nd millenium BC.
From Kazan Kremlin.

At the early Metal Age (late 3rd - first half of the 2nd millennia BC), the land on the left-bank side of the Volga in the estuary of the Kazanka was occupied by Finnish-speaking Volosovo people and Indo-European Balanovo people. The fragments of drilled stone battle axes, highly polished, and fragments of typical Balanovo ceramics were found in the most ancient layers of Kazan Kremlin,

Several tens of settlements of the pre-Kazan culture dating back to Bronze Age (second half of the 2nd and early 1st millennia BC) were found near Kazan and within the boundaries of the present-day city. Their traces in the form of separate finds of clay dishware were found on the Kremlin hill as well.

When conducting archaeological digs in the Kremlin, the finds typical for settlements of the Ananjino culture of the early Iron Age were found (ceramics, bronze celt, etc.). Unlike their predecessors, the Ananjino tribes of the 8th - 5th centuries preferred to settle on high, naturally protected capes. One of such fortified settlements was obviously located in the north-east end of the Kremlin hiil.

At the end of the 1st millennia BC and the first half of the 1st millennia AD the suburbs of Kazan were inhabited by part of the Pyanobor and Azelino population who were the ancestors of the Volga Finns, The finds from the Kremlin and the Kazanka 1 ancient settlement located on the left bank of the Kazanka at the end of Novatorov Street include ornaments in the form of bronze high-boot-shaped pendants, iron bridle bits, a mould for production of epaulette-shaped buckles, pieces of clay dishware, etc. The Azelino burial ground with a rich set of burial implements was dug at the late 19th century near the Old Glassworks.

The Pyanobor-Azelino settlement became a significant element of the forming ancient Mari ethnos. in the 9th and 10th centuries, this population lived in the area of future Kazan. The pagan burial ground with things typical for culture of the ancient Mari people who lived at the turn of the 1st and 2nd millennia AD were found as early as in 1890 on the west bank of the Dalny (Remote) Kaban lake. There is no doubt that it were these Finnish-speaking aborigines that the Boulgars met with in the course of peaceful colonisation of the pre-Kama lands. Having come to the estuary of the Kazanka, the Boulgars appreciated the advantageous topographic location of the cape or the hill, which later was named the Kremlin hill.

Age of the city

General view of the dig in the territory of the Cannon Foundry. 2003.
General view of the dig in the territory of the Cannon Foundry. 2003.

The centuries-old history of Kazan raised many questions for researchers. The most interesting, but also the most difficult among them, since the sources were very few, was the question about the age of the city,

Of course, many scientists wrote that our capital, Kazan, has a centuries-old history that takes its roots in the Boulgar times, starting, at least, from the 17th century. They offered different theories of its emergence. But none of them were accepted by science, since they were not backed by facts.

As is known, until recently the date of foundation for towns was necessarily connected with the date on which it was first mentioned in written sources. But researchers often found the reliable archaeological data testifying to their existence at earlier periods. Which date should be given preference: the written or archaeological one?

Having no original Boulgar-Tatar written monuments, scientists had long studied the medieval history of Kazan on the basis of sources written mainly in foreign languages, originating predominantly in Russian principalities. The Russian chronicles, as is known, don't contain exact data on the foundation of the town. The reliable facts on the existing settlement, already as a town, date back to the late 14th century only.

Some scientists tried to solve the issue of the town's foundation on the basis of information contained in the Boulgar-Tatar folklore represented by legends and stories. Their main and continuous plot is the legend about the foundation of Kazan that starts with a story of killing Zilant-snake. It also entered the anonymous Kazan History:

This place, which fact is well known to all inhabitants of that land, was the snakes' nest from ancient times. This nest was inhabited by different snakes, but among them was one snake, huge and terrible, with two heads: one head was a snake's head, and the other one was the oxen head. With its one head the snake ate up people, animals and cattle and with the other one it ate grass. Some snakes of different species laid by it and lived together with it. People could not live close to that place because of the snake's whistling and stench.

Dig of the Khan's palace.
Dig of the Khan's palace.

Tsar Sain studied that place many days, and walked around it in admiration, but could not find a way to oust the snake from its nest to found there a town, large, strong and glorious. And then a wizard came. I, he said, will kill the snake and clean the place. The tsar was glad and promised to reward him richly if he did it. The wizard used his magic and witchery to gather all snakes, from little to big ones, around the big snake into one huge pile and drew a line around them, so that not a snake could sneak across it. And he killed them all with demonic action. And then he covered them all from ail sides with hay, reed grass and wood, dry wattle, pouring sulphur and tar on them, and then set a fire and burned them in fire.

Having cleaned the place like that, tsar Sain established the town of Kazan, The town of Kazan still stands there, seen and known by all people."

The other versions of the legend figure a Boulgar khan or prince instead of tsar Sain (Batu ;or his son, Sartak). By the way, they state that the double-headed snake had wings, like a dragon, and managed to escape from fire and flew to the neighbouring hill, it settled in some cave and used to fiy to Lake Kaban every day to drink water, making blood of the people run cold. In the end, Zilant was killed. To commemorate that, the Kazan khan included it onto the official coat of arms of Kazan.

In the Kirovsky district of Kazan, there is a place connected with that legend. It is called Zilant-tau, i.e. the Zilant (Snake) Mountain, and is located on the right bank of the Kazanka. Archaeologist Nikolay Kalinin, a recognised expert in the history of medieval Kazan, studied the Zilant settlement in the 1950s trying to find there the traces of the original Kazan, which, in his opinion, could have existed until it was finally moved to the present-day Kremlin hill. His search brought no positive results: just several fragments of late-Boulgar (?) ceramics were found. It was established that the Zilant Mountain was reclaimed later, at the Russian period.

Nikolay Kalinin also conducted archaeological research at the Kaban settlement, which is known in the Tatar legends as the residence of Kazan khans. Besides, the Tatar cemetery was also located there with grave-stones of the Boulgar princess Altyn-Bertek who died in 1297, and a Boulgar emir, Khasan-bek, son of Mir-Mahmoud, who ruled in the second half of the 14th century. The finds were few. Nevertheless, the scientist considered that settlement as the remains of a fortified feudal castle of the Golden Horde period, which was the residence of a prince, to whom the Kaban principality with adjacent villages belonged. The special interest in that small Boulgar town was explained by the fact that, in opinion of Kalinin, it was one of the embryos of future Kazan. However, that hypothesis did not convince scientists, since it was not backed by convincing facts.

Searching for an answer to the question concerning the roots of the early Kazan, researchers had to and did rely mostly on the Kazan History, which contains numerous fables and fairy tales (Vladimir Velyarninov-Zernov), but also describes the real events. Some of its copies contain a story about the foundation of the town: There is an old town on the Kama River named Bryagov, from which a tsar has come, named Sain of Bolgars. Looking for a proper place in the year of 6685 [1177] he found a place on the Volga, on the very border of the Russian land, on this side of the Kama River… And Kazan was the capital town instead of Bryagov… Having believed the indicated date of Kazan foundation, Alfred Khalikov attempted, in the 1970s, to substantiate it archaeologically.

The first three years of digs brought no expected results. In 1974, he managed to start a dig in the northern part of the Kremlin, in the garden situated in front of the Governor's (currently the Presidential) Palace. It proved to be extremely important for understanding the ancient history of Kazan. It was at that time when the Boulgar layer of the 12th and 13th centuries was distinguished for the first time in the Kremlin's occupation layers. Though poorly preserved, it contained a very valuable dating material: fragments of potter's dishware of the pre-Mongol period.

The large-scale research was carried out by Alfred Khalikov in 1976-1978. The traces of the oldest fortification wall of the town were found in the area of the famous Syuyumbike tower and the so-called Tezitsky ditch. These traces were in the form the remains of the earth rampart, which was additionally fortified on its top by some wooden structures. Another significant achievement of the archaeologists was the finding of white stone fortifications of the pre-Mongol Kazan, built in the second half of the 12th century at the period of tense relations between the Volga Boulgaria and the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality.

The digs helped collect certain material consisting, apart from ceramics, of quite easily datable articles of the 12th and 13th centuries; slate whorls, iron arrow heads, keys for cylinder locks, cornelian beads, glass bracelets, etc. Unfortunately, their number was insufficient to make broad conclusions. After a hot discussion about the date of Kazan's origination, the excavations in the Kremlin were stopped. Archaeologists failed to convince the scientific community of the pre-Mongol age of our capital.

Meantime, the Kazan History containing the exact date of the town's foundation had once again become the focus of attention of researchers. The well-known Moscow scientists, Vladimir Kuchkin and Igor Dobrodomov have proved demonstratively that the date of 1177 (1172, in certain copies) is an incidental and later insertion of the editor or penman to the Kazan History. Hence, they stated, this date should not be trusted. As a result, we had to reject this source. Researchers faced a new task - to develop new approaches to establishing the age of Kazan. Having rejected the oid. traditional technique for dating the early town on the basis of its first mentioning in written documents, scientists focused their attention on a thorough study of archaeological materials. Other ways were not available.

In 1994, the research activities resumed in connection with the forthcoming work on the restoration of the Kremlin's historic monuments.

The first excavations were rather of protection and rescue nature than simply for research purposes. One of the digs located in the Cannon Foundry brought materials from the oldest layer so surprising that we had no problems in obtaining permission to expand it. These materials, though few so far. but quite expressive (clay dish-ware of the early shapes, several beads, a slate whorl and an arrow-head], have eliminated the existing doubts about the pre-Mongol age of Kazan. What is more, the new finds also contained such that pointed to the llth century, which did not correspond to views of even Alfred Khalikov, according to whom Kazan could not emerge before 1177, the date from the notorious Kazan History.

The excavations of 1995 proved to be not less interesting. The early finds, though few, were still being found. Archaeologists were digging already in the mini-park in front of the Annunciation Cathedral, where they expected to find the remains of the Kul Sharif Mosque. The university expeditionary unit headed by Professor Azgar Moukharnadiev began digging the stone wall on the eastern slope of the Kremlin hill, known yet from the 17th century plans. They have revealed a perfectly preserved wall, whose foundation was dated by pre-Mongol period. In the mini-park they have found the remains of a large brick building, whose white stone foundation was built at the khanate period. Under that foundation were the Boulgar layers with the interesting finds. Among them was a coin of Nasir ad-Din (1180-1225), which got into the layer in the second half of the 13th century.

In 1996, the work of the Kazan expedition was expanded. This became possible owing to new finds: traces of the oldest earth rampart, two perfectly preserved treasures with two thousand silver Old Russian coins dating from the second half of the 15th or early 16th centuries, numerous articles of the Golden Horde and khanate periods and, of course, pre-Mongol finds, a part of which insistently claimed to be dated by the 10th and llth centuries.

Arabic dirham of the 10th century.
Arabic dirham of the
10th century.
From Kazan Kremlin.

The year of 1997 was marked by a sensational find. A coin was found in the dig near the Annunciation Cathedral, which, as it was established later, was minted in Prague at the period of Prince Vaclav, in 929/930. The collection of the early articles was also enriched by an Arabic dirham of the first half of the 10th century and other finds.

Kazan Kremlin proved to be in the focus of attention of scientific community. For the first time, a theory based on facts was aired that Kazan had a thousand-year-old history. At last, the targeted work has been started to define more exactly the time of the town's origin.

The Russian and foreign specialists, and independent experts were invited to the excavations. The systematic search of written sources and cartographic materials on the history of the Volga Boulgaria, the Golden Horde and Kazan Khanate was carried out at the largest archives of the world (Istanbul, Cairo, Vatican, etc.). The annual international conferences were being organised to discuss issues related to the history and archaeology of the medieval Kazan. All these events were initiated by President of the Academy of Sciences of Tatarstan Mansour Khasanov, a well-known Orientalist Academician Mirkasym Usmanov, professors of the St.-Petersburg Branch of the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Anas Khalidov and Sergey Klyashtorny, as well as by well-known Russian archaeologists: Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Valentin Sedov, correspondent member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Rauf Munchayev, professor of St.-Petersburg University Anatoly Kirpichnikov, etc. Owing to them, the Kazan researchers reached a higher level of communication with their Russian and international colleagues, who supported the suggested date of Kazan's origin in view of unquestionable facts.

The reliability of the archaeological date of finds from the oldest layer of Kazan Kremlin was additionally confirmed by methods of natural sciences. The thermoluminescent analysis of moulded and potter's ceramics done at the X-ray laboratory of the Berlin State Museum, the radio-carbon analysis of coai from the early structures done at laboratories of Vienna and St.-Petersburg showed the undisputed dates, which make it possible to state that the occupation layer on the Kremlin hill began to form by the end of the 10th or early llth century. The interesting results of research were also provided by botanists-palynol-ogists of Kazan State University. They conducted the spores and pollen analysis of soil samples from the Kremlin layers of different periods. Their chronological indices fully coincided with archaeological ones.

Thus, scientists obtained a considerable archaeological material, which enabled them to study, on a substantial and concrete source basis, the early stages of the Kazan's medieval history. The collections contain well datable, sometimes unique, articles, for the absence of which the scientists, who advanced too bold hypotheses on the age of the city, were reproached in the past. So, what were the data that provided the ground for making the conclusion on the 1000-year-old age of Kazan?

Among the abundant finds from the oldest layer, noteworthy are the red clay potter's dish-ware (pots, jugs, bowls, cups, and plates) decorated by broad glazing and linear-wavy ornaments. These articles were produced by the Boulgars in the 10th - early 13th centuries. Such ceramics were found by archaeologists also outside the Kremlin walls, in particular, in the yard of the main building of Kazan State University, in the territory of the Bogoroditsky monastery, and in the area of the Pyramid and Mirage Hotel.

Of special interest is the archaic dishware, which is hand-made, but, as a rule, was finished on the potter's wheel. Very interesting among the available articles is a group of pots made of rough chamotte paste and decorated by many-rowed wavy ornament along the shoulder, fluting on the body and notches on the edge of the rim. These pots have direct analogues among kitchen dish-ware of the Alan-Bolgar population of the Khazar Kaganate and date back mostly to the 9th and 10th centuries. Such dishware practically went out of use in the early llth century. Its presence in the layers of the Kremlin undoubtedly testifies that a Boulgar settlement existed here from, at least, early llth century.

copper bracelets

Over two tens of glass and stone beads were found in the ancient layers of the Kremlin, the earliest of which, according to experts (Svetlana Valioullina from Kazan State University and Josef Kalrner from Humboldt University, Berlin), prevailed in the 8th-10th centuries, but, again, not later than in the early or first half of the llth century. These are the ball-shaped beads made of black glass with blue eyes in white circlets, lemon-shaped beads made of yellow glass, many-parted hollow beads, and cornelian ball-and prism-shaped six-sided beads.

In the collection of women's ornaments of interest are the copper bracelets. Two of them are made of glass tubes with thickened four-and six-sided ends. The surface is decorated by circular ornament. Archaeologists find such bracelets mainly in pagan burials of the ancient Maris, Udmurts and other Finnish tribes of the 9th and 10th centuries. We cannot exclude that they were produced in jeweller's workshops of Boulgar towns specially for selling them to their Finnish-Ugric neighbours. In the early 11th century, the bracelets with thickened ends completely went out of fashion.

bronze plate for the horse harness belt

Of utmost interest is a bronze plate for the horse harness belt. The plate was found in the re-deposited position in the area of the tanner's workshop of the khanate period, but there is no doubt that it is connected with the oldest layer. The plate is cast, gilded, has a round shape with diameter of 3 cm. In the centre of the face side there is a semi-ball projection, and along the rim there is a trimming with symmetrically arranged bulges in the form of chainlets. These two elements are connected by four petals.

It is a unique find for archaeology of Kazan. Two similar plates were found earlier in the burials of the Tankeyevo burial ground of the early Boulgars. We owe the identification of the Kazan find to Professor Istvan Fodor from the Hungarian National Museum (Budapest). Such articles, according to his conclusion, are found in dozens and hundreds in burials of rich Hungarian women, but they could only be found until mid-10th century. He believes that the plate found its way to Kazan in the late 10th century at the latest and was used here as a woman's pendant, which is evidenced by an orifice by the rim of the edge.

Numismatic finds in the archaeological collections are represented only by two articles.

A fragment of a dirham was found outside the oldest walls, in the lower part of the Kremlin hill slope when clearing a residential site at the depth of some 3 m. The Arab dirhams cannot be considered as rare finds in the Boulgar monuments. They can also be found in the occupation layer of settlements and, most often, as part of numerous treasures. However, the significance of this find is huge for Kazan. Half of the coin with inscription containing information on the place of its minting and the name of the ruler is cut off. Experts in numismatics, Professors German Fedorov-Davydov (Moscow State University), Igor Dobrovolsky (State Hermitage) and Jalil Moukhametshin (Bolgar Museum-Reserve) have preliminary identified the period of its production as the first half of the 10th century. The Egyptian scientist Adel Sowelam (Ein Shams University, Cairo) made important clarifications to this identification. He established that the coin was produced in Sas (present-day Tashkent) on behalf of Ismail Ahmad who ruled in 892-907 AD. When could it get to the occupation layer of Kazan? We reckon that not later than at the turn of the 10th and llth centuries, or may be even earlier.

Czech denarius of the 10th century from excavation in Kazan Kremlin
Czech denarius of the 10th century from excavation in Kazan Kremlin

A Czech coin found near the Annunciation Cathedral in the Kremlin became a true sensation. It lay between the structures of the Golden Horde period, but almost at the level of the ancient earth surface, where the pre-Mongol layer, just 15 cm thick, rested in undisturbed state. The coin preserved poorly. The inscription on its head, around the cross, runs VACLAV CNIZ, and the inscription on its reverse - PRAGA CIVITA, i.e. Prince Vaclav and the town of Prague. The preliminary study of this unique find was carried out by Alexandr Belyakov (Russian Historical Museum, Moscow), Professor Vsevolod Potin (State Hermitage), and several experts from Germany. They all unanimously attributed this coin to Czech coins and identified the time of its production between the llth and 13th centuries. Vsevolod Potin, though, tends to consider this find not as a coin but as a merchant's seal or a coin-like article, since it is made mainly of lead with insignificant admixture of silver. The coin was thoroughly studied by Czech numismatist Doctor Jarmila Haskova, head of the numismatics department of the Czech National Museum (Prague). She came to conclusion that this coin, minted in Prague in 929/930 on behalf of prince Vaclav (9077-935?) should be considered as the oldest imitation of the early Bavarian coins of the time of Konrad I (911-918). The sensational nature of the find, in opinion of Jarmiia Haskova, is manifested in the fact that it is so far the world's only earliest Czech coin. Interestingly, it was used for some time as a woman's ornament, to which testifies an orifice at its edge. Most probably the coin got to the layer of the ancient Kazan at the turn of the 10th and llth centuries.

The other finds from the oldest layer of the Kremlin (over 30 pieces), including a loop of the quiver, spring-loaded buckles and a bronze connecting ring of the horse harness belt, a cylinder lock with keys, fragments of lustre dishware from the Middle East, whorls, i.e. spindle weights made of Ovruch slate, a fragment of a glass bracelet made in Kiev, prevailed in the 10th - early 13th centuries. They all confirm the pre-Mongol age of the early Kazan settlement and make it possible to date the early formation of the layer by the late 10th or early llth century. These finds are of interest not only for establishing the date of the occupation layer, where they laid. A large number of iron arrow heads, a quiver loop, i.e. articles of armament, and parts of horse harness testify that light-armed archers lived in the ancient Kazan fortress, and the imported articles represented by expensive dishware, ornaments and slate whorls testify to extensive trade contacts of the citizens.

Thus, a large scientifically documented material was collected over many years of archaeological excavations, which makes it possible to clarify the date of the town's emergence and significantly replenishes our slender knowledge about the original town.

The emergence of Kazan in the late 10th or early llth century was quite natural. It was historically substantiated by a number of radical changes that took place in socio-economic and socio-political life of peoples in the West- and East Europe in general. These changes lead to the formation of medieval states and the establishment of a new, feudal mode of production. All this was accompanied by emergence and rapid growth of towns, which became trade, craft, and administrative, political, military, defensive, cultural, and ideological centres.

The Volga Bouigaria appeared on the medieval map at the turn of the 9th and 10th centuries, almost simultaneously with the Ancient Rus and states of Central Europe. Beyond its borders it was described as the great and powerful state with rich towns (Julian). At the end of the 9th century, according to sources, the Boulgars, nomads until recently, already had real settlements with mosques and primary schools under them. In the early 10th century princes-emirs minted their own coins, established trade and diplomatic relations with neighbouring and remote countries. The archaeologically established dates of the first historically known towns of Bouigaria, Bilyar, Suvar, Bulgar-upon-Volga, date back to this very period. These and many other towns were located in the west trans-Kama region, on the central lands of the state.

Starting from the 10th century the Boulgars began developing the territory of the pre-Kama region (the land on the left bank of the Volga, to the north of the Kama). Such well-known towns as Kashan, Chaily, Kirmen, Alabuga, and rural settlements were founded on these lands. The northern frontiers of the state reached the Kazanka, where the Kazan fortress was built as a frontier outpost. From here, as well as moving along the Kama and Vyatka, the Boulgars penetrated to more northern regions inhabited by Finnish-Ugric peoples. They established trading posts on the lands that belonged to ancestors of the Udmurts and Komi. In opinion of Professor Andrey Beiavin, archaeologist from Perm, almost the whole pre-Kama region became part of the Volga Boulgaria, a kind of its Finnish-Ugric rimland as early as already in the beginning of the llth century. Here, there are some 200 monuments, which include numerous Boulgar things, including coins. A part of these monuments represent trading posts, even real towns, which acted as outposts for collecting the tribute from the local population and controlling the merchants on the Northern Fur Road. Hence an important conclusion: the ancient Kazan and its emergence should be considered in its connection with the Boulgar colonisation of the pre-Kama lands, which took place in the 10th and llth centuries.

Until recently it was believed that the early Boulgar settlement on a high cape between the Bulak and the Kazanka predominantly played a role of a military-defensive outpost fortress on the northern frontier of the Volga Boulgaria. Indeed, it is true, and the important strategic value of the original Kazan cannot be denied. It was not occasional that, say, the Vikings or Varangians, who marched through half of Europe and came to rule first in Ladoga and then in Novgorod and Kiev, failed to cross the northern frontiers of Bouigaria and stopped, if we can put it like this, by the walls of Kazan. However, the latest studies gave us undisputed materials, which describe this settlement first of all as an important trading post.

Attention to the trading status of the original town, which had quite a favourable geopolitical position in the middle of the Great Volga Route, was drawn by scientists from St.-Petersburg already during the first discussion of issues related to medieval Kazan at international scientific workshop held in 1998. The idea of Kazan's emergence as one of the largest trading centres on the Volga proved to be so topical (but poorly studied) that the next conference discussed this subject already in the context of international relations of the Boulgar State with countries of the East and the West. What is more, in 2001 the first international conference dedicated to the Great Volga Route was held with participation not only of archaeologists and historians, but also of economists, ecologists, political analysts, and other experts.

Well-known is the fact that the Volga Bouigaria has turned into a large centre of international trade as early as already in the 9th century. Boulgar merchants controlled and, to some extent, regulated trade ties between the North Rus, Baltic region, and Scandinavia and countries of Central Asia, the Arab East, Iran, India, and China. This was, of course, explained by the geographic location of the country on the junction of the Volga and Kama. Moving up the Volga and further on by river systems of basins of the Ladoga and llmen it was possible to get to the Baltic Sea. Moving down the Volga merchant vessels went to Khazaria. Trade with tribes of the North, which specialised in fur hunting, was effected by the Kama.

People studying the medieval period, domestic and foreign one, are unanimous in estimation of the important role of the Great Volga, or the Baltic-Volga, Route in the history of peoples of Eastern Europe, the Baltic region and Scandinavia. They rightly consider the Volga Route as a trans-European trunk-line that worked uninterruptedly for centuries (especially active it was from the late 8th to the early llth centuries) and was used to transport from the East silver, silk and spices in large quantities. To this testify a large number of trading settlements and fairgrounds that emerged along this route.

The early trade and craft settlements emerged not only on the northern section of the Baltic-Volga Route (the famous Timerovo, Ladoga, Grobini, etc.). They also emerged down south, on the Middle Volga. One of such large outposts, as is known, was located in the vicinity of Buigar. As Academician Valentin Yanin justly mentioned, Buigar was actually the only gate through which the trade between Rus and the East was effected from the late 8th to the early 9th century. It had direct contacts with Central Asia and the Arab world. The overland, caravan routes forming the northern branch of the Great Silk Road led to Buigar not only from Central Asia, but also from southern Russian lands (road from Buigar to Kiev). Actually, the route of Scandinavian and North-Russian merchants coming for Oriental goods terminated in Buigar, though some of them, as can be seen from written sources, reached the Caspian Sea and even Baghdad. Noteworthy is that Peter Sawyer, an English researcher and one of the classics of contemporary foreign Scandinavistics, attributed the decline and disappearance of one of the largest trading towns of the Vikings, the famous Birka in Sweden, to termination of supplies of Oriental goods, first of all of silver, from Buigar and other Boulgar markets.

Apart from Buigar, there were other market places on the Middle Volga and Kama. Among them we can name such well-studied by archaeologists settlements as Semenovskoye and Izmerskoye on the Kama. Interestingly, they were located not in the main bed of the river, where there was a risk of assaults by robbers, but at a certain distance from it, on the tributaries, deep in the river valley. Hundreds of coins dating back to the 10th century were found in these settlements, mainly silver dirhams and their imitations, and the West-European coins of the llth century. Also quite often found are the lightweight folding balances and bronze scale weights.

Trading settlements were also located beyond the borders of Tatarstan, for example, in the Mari Volga region, the medieval monuments of which are abundant with coins and articles of Boulgar production, as well as in the estuary of the Oka, near Nizhny Novgorod, which was founded in 1221 on the place of an earlier Boulgar settlement.

Kazan, undoubtedly, was among the early trading settlements of the Boulgars on the Volga. Its oldest layer contained articles brought from Russian lands (slate whorls, glass beads and bracelets), the Baltic region (amber ornaments and natural amber), and from more distant countries of the West (Czech coin, bronze gilded plate of Hungarian type) and the East (an Arab dirham, artistic slip glaze from Iran).

Today, owing to archaeological discoveries of the recent years, we can raise, to some extent, the curtain of mystery over the oldest past of Kazan and see what it was like thousand years ago.

The Boulgars who came here at the late 10th century began developing the Kremlin hill from the northern end of the cape. On this very place they built a fortress, which originally occupied an area not exceeding 5-6 hectares.

The earliest urban settlements found in the course of excavations in the mini-park in front of the Annunciation Cathedral opposite the building of the former Consistory appeared at the turn of the 10th and llth centuries. They crossed the Kremlin hill from east to west on the side that faced the field. Fortification structures were represented by a broad and deep ditch, later named the Tezitsky ditch, behind which was a high rampart with the passage gate. The wall made of oak-logs ran along the back of the rampart. Its remains preserved but very poorly in the form of rotten wood.

The traces of the oldest fortifications along the eastern and northern slopes of the hill were revealed as a line of pole holes of the stockade-paling.

The radiocarbon analysis of coal from the layer of the scorched ruins showed that these fortifications existed, after several repairs and reconstructions, until the second half of the 12th century. It cannot be excluded that the wooden wails were burned down during one of the campaigns of Vladimir-Suzdal princes to Bouigar towns. From chronicles we know that the years between 1160 and 1180 were marked by intensification of military collisions between North-East Russian principalities and the Volga Boulgaria on the Great Volga Route.

The destroyed wooden fortifications were replaced by stone walls made of white limestone. Stones in the wall are piled up dry or on a thin clay-lime mortar. The largest stones are laid on two sides, forming an armature, inside which unfinished small and medium stones lie disorderly. The ruins of these walls were found along the eastern and northern slopes of the Kremlin hill. The width of the wall does not exceed two metres, and in many places it was quite difficult to establish it, because after its destruction the wall fell down the slope of the hill and the border between it and the heap of stones that cover the entire surface of the hill is almost elusive.

The structures of the passage gate with bridgeheads, whose remains were found on the western side of the same mini-park in front of the Annunciation Cathedral, were also made of stone. From here began the street leading to the present-day Syuyumbike tower. It should be noted that the earliest stone causeway of Kazan was found in the course of studying this very street in the area of the passage gate.

These discoveries testify that Kazan turned into one of the best Bouigar fortresses and could stand the sudden attacks from the north as Moslem burials, found in the oldest layer of the town, were studied here. These cemeteries kept functioning in later periods as well, until the town expanded beyond the borders of ancient fortifications in the 15th century.

In the pre-Mongoi period, i.e. in the first half of the 13th century, the town mainly preserved its original function. A significant portion of finds are the imported articles and weapons. But the town was already expanding broadwise. Beyond the Kremlin hill, eastward of it, the traces of the metallurgic production were found in the course of excavations in Baturin Street in the form of iron slag accumulations. The excavations in the territory of the former Bogoroditsky monastery have also revealed the traces of an unfortified trading quarter. The expressive finds of the pre-Mongol period (potter's ceramics, iron arrowhead, slate whorl, a cornelian bead, etc.) were found in the dig to the west of the Kremlin opposite the building of the circus. Trading places were located most probably somewhere in this area, closer to the Kazanka,

in the suburbs of Kazan there were settlements which were closely connected with the town, but were not its parts topographically. One of such settlements was located in the southern end of the Kremlin hill. Its traces were found by excavations in the yard of the main building of ;Kazan State University.

The period between the late 10th and 13th centuries adumbrates the formation of the pre-Mongol Kazan as an urban type settlement. It was the period when its borders were being shaped, its fortified territory was being developed, and the prerequisites for internal planning with a vast trading quarter beyond the walls were being created. The ancient Kazan became a stronghold on the north-west border of the Volga Boulgaria, which ensured its security and stability of trade along the Volga. The consolidation of the town's role on the important trad ing route determined its future destiny.