Libmonster ID: KZ-1583
Author(s) of the publication: Vadim PEREVOZCHIKOV

by Vadim PEREVOZCHIKOV, Cand. Sc. (Hist.), Director of the State Budgetary Institution of Culture of the Rostov Region Archeological Museum-Reserve "Tanais"

As an object of cultural heritage the Archeological Museum-Reserve "Tanais" is one of the first archeological museum-reserves established in Russia. It lies on the ruins of the ancient city Tanais, in the extreme north-east of the ancient world (first half of the 3rd cent. B.C.-mid-5th cent. A.D.).

Settlement of Tanais in the 1970s.

Aerial photograph. View from the north.

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The city of Tanais was mentioned in the records of ancient authors (Plinius, Strabo). In 1823, in the course of the riding round the estuary area of the Don River, the famous Russian archeologist Ivan Stempkovsky attributed the site near the Nedvigovka settlement to this ancient city. As early as 1853, Pavel Leontyev, a prominent philologist, Professor of Greek literature at the Moscow University, Corresponding Member of the St. Petersburg AS, arranged the first large-scale archeological excavations there. The subsequent studies of this territory were carried out mainly in the territory of the settlement: in 1867 the excavations were headed by Vladimir Tiesengausen, a historian-orientalist, numismatist, Corresponding Member of the Imperial St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (speciality-Oriental literature), in 1870-by Pyotr Khitsunov, one of the first regional scientists, the author of a series of exciting articles on archeology, history, and nature of the Stavropol Territory. In 1908-1909 the outstanding historian-orientalist, researcher of history and archeology of Central Asia, Professor of the St. Petersburg University Nikolai Veselovsky studied a vast area occupied by a local necropolis. In the 1920s the site was studied by employees of the then largest North Caucasian archeological expedition on the Don. Annual excavations at the site were initiated in 1955 by the Lower Don expedition of the USSR AS Institute of Archeology. From

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1955 till 1972 the excavations were led by the well-known researcher of the antiquity Dmitry Shelov, Dr. Sc. (Hist.), from 1973-by Tatyana Arsenyeva, Cand. Sc. (Hist.), senior research assistant of the RAS Institute of Archeology. Today the research works are carried out by the expedition under the Institution of Culture of the Rostov Region Archeological Museum-Reserve "Tanais" under the guidance of Sergei Ilyashenko, Cand. Sc. (Hist.), Deputy Director for Archeological Studies.

It was not accidental that the Regional Executive Committee of Rostov made a decision (dated July 15, 1958) to establish the archeological museum-reserve "Tanais". Right from the beginning scientists pointed out that the monument preserved in good state, compared with other similar objects of archeological heritage in Russia. The cultural and historical landscape of the monument, including the adjacent territory rich in archeological monuments of different epochs-from the late Paleolithic till the high Middle Ages-are also unique. Set up as a reserve in the territory of the site and necropolis of Tanais, the object of cultural heritage Archeological Museum-Reserve "Tanais", in the period of its existence, has become the main factor of preservation of archeological objects within the protected areas and adjacent territories. This makes it possible to consider the complex formed by them as an integral protected object of archeological heritage.

According to the survey data intended to determine boundaries of the reserve and protected areas, the total area of this federal object of cultural and archeological heritage makes up about 750 ha. The area of the land plot used by our institution free of charge is 22.3 ha. It accommodates the stronghold of Tanais ("basic quadrangle of the settlement"), the western district of the ancient city, and a small part of the necropolis. The Lower City (2/3 of the settlement southwards), part of the Western suburb, and almost the whole territory of the necropolis (northern, eastern, and western parts) are under the buildings of the Nedvigovka settlement and agricultural fields of the Shaumyan collective farm.


One of the priority scientific practical tasks is to regulate the problem of unauthorized construction of residential buildings with an increased number of storeys in the territory of the monument and within its protected areas. For example, towers of the private military-historical complex in the western part of the necropolis are an example of ugly interference with the surrounding landscape. They are well seen from every point of the monument and adjacent territories and close the historical view to the Gulf of Taganrog in the Sea of Azov. Since 1999 unauthorized development of the site has been going on.

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As a result, over 2,000 m2 of the Western necropolis of Ta-nais are lost forever.

In the territory of the Lower City (territory of Tanais adjacent to the port) mostly covered by private houses of the Nedvigovka settlement, local residents keep constructing household facilities and carry out land selection activities. To save the monument, it is necessary to purchase at least 14 private households located in the territory of the site. The museum-reserve has the preemptive right to purchase the land, but, unfortunately, it has no money. If these households are purchased by the museum, it will be possible to save the most well-preserved places of the ancient city and, after archeological studies and restoration and conservation works, make them available for tourists.

To overcome a number of problems related to preservation of the object of cultural heritage, it is required to ensure protection of its territory and establish a special department.

Currently, the museum incorporates only a section for restoration, conservation, and reconstruction of immovable monuments, which is in charge of cleaning up the sites of Tanais classified as museum objects from destructive action of weeds, urgent accident-prevention and conservation works, and keeping of scientific reconstructions of architectural monuments in good order.

It is worth saying that the area of museum objects is constantly increasing due to annual research works carried out by archeologists. Today it is about 16,000 m2. Due to the lack of resources to carry out all necessary works, the museum has been actively working to attract external financing applying to different bodies to get special purpose financial assistance.

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Tanais was constructed of stone-limestone on clay mortar. Weather conditions, including rapid changes of temperatures, exposure to the sun and rain, including the anthropogenic factor, destruct the stone works. To maintain them in good order, it is necessary to conduct annual preventive conservation and restoration works: liquidate consequences and threats of destruction of facade surfaces of stone works as a result of fracturing, stone falls, deformation of walls, etc.

The first large-scale conservation works were carried out in 1966 under the procedure applied at the ar-cheological museum-reserve "The Chersonese"*. The procedure used today had been developed by specialists of the All-Russia Scientific and Production Enterprise Rosrestavratsiya after detailed studies of the ruined stone walls of Tanais. They also developed a composition of the mortar to be used in restoration works.

Over the years of existence of the museum-reserve, different types of conservation and restoration works have been tested in its territory. At first, the restoration works were implemented by a group of local bricklayers. In the 1970s, they were replaced by students' teams from the Rostov State University. Starting from the second half of the 1980s, the museum engaged a shift of masters composed of researchers and 2-3 local bricklayers. But there

*The settlement of the Chersonese, a reserve of historical architecture, is located in the Gagarinsky District of Sevastopol. In 2013 it was registered in the UNESCO List of World Heritage.-Ed.

was one thing that never changed: the works were headed and supervised by experienced archeologists of the museum-reserve in strict compliance with the field documents and scientific reports made upon results of excavation works. The process was always recorded and accompanied by photos; after completion of works, detailed technical reports were compiled.

Practically, attraction of different construction companies, even of licensed ones, for Tanais, is not acceptable. It is a fact that no construction company has specialists able to apply ancient technologies lost in centuries. Thus, to implement special restoration works in Tanais, it is necessary to have special historical education and a vast experience and skills of ancient masters. The optimal solution for the museum-reserve would be to employ full-time restoration specialists, since it is the only way to guarantee preservation and safety of the excavated parts of the settlement of Tanais.

The museum-reserve Tanais has accumulated a unique experience of converting ancient objects into museum artifacts. It would hardly be too much to say that it is a pioneer of preservation of archeological monuments and a good model for other museums facing similar problems.


Our museum-reserve is a large-scale research proving ground. Annual excavations reveal new chapters in the history of the ancient city. Together with the national specialists, the site was being developed for many years by

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an expedition of the German Institute of Archeology. The Western part of Tanais has been long studied by the Polish specialists from the Warsaw University. Scientific reports on these works are kept in our archives. As for the discovered artifacts, they are registered and transferred to the depositories, thus enriching the State Museum Fund of the country. Results of their studies are published in numerous national and foreign magazines. It is a place where students of a number of Russian universities undergo field training. In the course of many years the museum-reserve has established and maintained scientific, creative, and business contacts with numerous institutions of culture, secondary and higher education establishments, profile organizations of neighboring and remote foreign countries.

For over fifty years of its existence, our museum-reserve has carried out a range of scientific and educational activities to promote our museum as an object of cultural heritage and make it more popular. The most conventional form of promotion is excursions for tourists to show ruins of the ancient city, artifacts (archeological findings discovered during excavation works in the site and necropolis), scientific reconstructions of architectural facilities, ancient combat vehicles, machine tools, and other unique items.

We offer a variety of excursions with different points of interest: Museum of Tanais History, Tour of the Settlement of Tanais open-air expositions, Museum of Historical Costume, and a journey to the highest point of Tanais necropolis-the Tsar's burial mound, from top of which you can enjoy steppe views, the Don estuary, and a sea gulf. In addition, the museum-reserve has an exhibition facility of 5 rooms accommodating standing (History of Archeological Studies in Tanais, Neighborhood of Tanais in the Stone and Bronze Ages, Tanais and Lower Don in Art) and temporary expositions dedicated to Tanais (in particular, the traditional exhibition dedicated to new archeological discoveries made in Tanais).

We have gained a vast experience of cooperation with the mass audience: the museum has been using and constantly improving interactive programs to make it more attractive for visitors. We are especially focused on children who make almost a half of the total number of the tourist stream. There are two museum-pedagogical centers in the territory of the museum: the Museum of Childhood, and the Studio of Live History. Employees of the museum working with children prefer "immersion into antiquity" so that any child could take part in a theatrical performance or a creative game aimed to reconstruct an episode of ancient life, be it an everyday, working, or holiday occasion. This practice produces a bright emotional and educational effect. Children of different ages develop their mental, spiritual, and creative potential, get into the history of Tanais and realize its value as a part of national historical heritage in the complex of Russian and world culture, and develop careful and respectful attitude to the museum.

The Studio of Live History offers classes to local children of all ages free of charge; this type of work is aimed to engage local residents in cooperation programs developed to preserve the object of cultural heritage, foster their love for a "smaller motherland", promote applied regional studies, and train museum specialists of all professions.

Speaking of the events held by the museum for all categories of visitors irrespective of their age, nationality, and social status, it is worth mentioning two costume holidays of regional significance: Pushkin and the Antiquities (first

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held in July of 1980) and the Tanais Day (held from 2008 in mid-September; reconstructed according to the motifs of the ancient local holiday of the Tanais River and the town of Tanais; this is inscribed on the marble plate of the 2nd cent. A.D., discovered during excavation works). The program of our main holiday includes a nonstop performance on the square near the Tower of Poets, ritual events, theatrical performances, concerts, Tanais Olympic Games, animation, contests, quizzes, and sports contests for visitors. At the same time, employees of the museum-reserve hold master classes in ancient crafts and historical practical works; museum expositions and shows are on the whole day, "Ancient Shooting Range", Historical Costume Photostudio, playground for children, interactive crafts fair-minting coins using ancient technologies, making of memorial certificates with wax seals, etc. And all this in anticient style!

Besides, the museum is actively popularizing objects of cultural heritage located in its territory: it releases advertising and information prospects, travel guides, postcard sets, scientific-methodological collections, all kinds of popular science literature. The official web site of the a lot to making it more popular. There you can read about history of the ancient city and scientific studies, new archeological discoveries, and take a virtual tour around the expositions. A series of partner web sites dedicated to archeology, museums, cultural heritage, cultural-educational tourism in Russia, etc. also provide much information on our museum-reserve.

Experts employed at the museum support special electronic media programs dedicated to the problems of preservation of cultural heritage and museum affairs, prepare information reports on archeological findings, hold promo actions organized by the museum, arrange interviews and actively participate in the museum life.

Another type of museum activity intended to promote Tanais as the unique object of cultural heritage is visiting programs and advertising events held at interregional and international forums, festivals, and fairs, for instance, the international tourist exhibition "Intourmarket" (Moscow), interregional tourist fair "World Without Borders" (Rostov-on-Don), international museum festival "Inter-museum" (Moscow), "Science Festival of the South of Russia" (Rostov-on-Don), holiday festivals "Sholokhov's Spring" (village of Veshenskaya), and "Easter Chimes" (Rostov-on-Don). Each of these events comprises thematic exhibitions, master classes, interactive workshops, and theatrical performances.


The museum-reserve Tanais has great plans for the future. At present, we have almost completed development of a new museum complex located in the territory of the reserve: we plan to demolish old museum facilities and construct new ones. For lack of money in the first years of existence of the museum, some brick facilities, now distorting the landscape of the reserve, were built without basement. It is planned to replace them by modern museum facilities to meet requirements of the monument famous worldwide.

In the northern, today deserted, area of the reserve territory, it is proposed to build a new two-storeyed building of the museum after completion of necropolis studies. The first floor will be occupied by the museum educational center (Museum of Live History)-special themat-

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ic classrooms to hold historical workshops and ancient crafts lessons. Nothing of the kind can be found in any other museum of our country! The second floor will accommodate a contemporary exposition dedicated to the history of the ancient city and adjacent territories-from the Stone Age to the late Middle Ages. It is interesting to note that for many years not far from the museum-reserve, in the eastern part of Nedvigovka settlement, specialists from the Moscow State University have been conducting excavations of a complex of early man's sites of the Upper Paleolithic. To the south-east of Tanais, on the opposite bank of the Mertvy Donets river, there was the Turkish fortress Lyutik (in the 17th century). We are now trying to include all this into our projects. But, beyond any doubt, the basic part of our future exposition will mostly cover the seven-century history of Tanais-the first town in the endless Great Steppe.

In compliance with modem requirements to museum facilities, it is planned to build spacious museum depositories. Thanks to systematic research works of our arche-ologists, the museum reserves acquire over 1,000 artifacts annually, which means we need new premises for their storage. According to the design, it is planned to arrange a big sighting platform opening wonderful views of the ruins of ancient Tanais, estuary of the Don, and the Gulf of Taganrog.

A visit-center will be built at the northern entrance to the main (southern) section of the museum-reserve, where the ancient urban quarters now making part of the museum exposition are located. Specialists are considering an idea of creation of a Park of Scientific Reconstruction of Ancient Architectural Facilities in this territory. Its foundations have already been laid-there are educational exposition objects in the open air, for example, the Meotes' Hut (residents of the rural neighborhood near Tanais), a fortress tower (today it is conventionally called the Tower of Poets), a scale model (1:10) of a fragment of the Tanais fortress made of natural stone, and the Polovets sanctuary. We have also planned large-scale reconstructions: a country estate of a rich Tanais resident of the first centuries A.D., a house of a local resident of the second half of the 4th century A.D., a hut of a poor resident of the first half of the 5th century A.D., and a life-size fortress tower with an observation platform.

Another facility of high importance planned for construction is a children's educational and entertainment center Small Tanais. From outside it will look like a reduced copy (1:3) of the citadel of Tanais with stone walls and towers. This "fortress" will accommodate various amusement and recreation facilities in the ancient style: a life-size Roman battle-ship, a small lily pond, a labyrinth, arts and crafts center, ancient shooting-range, etc.

The southern part of the territory will house a summer theater in the Greek style (an odeum) and an ancient stadium. Special glazed pavilions are focal points of the design. They are necessary to preserve ruins of houses and ceremonial facilities in the condition, in which they were discovered, and let tourists enjoy them. It is also planned to build a special guest house for archeologists in the eastern section of the southern part of the territory.

If we succeed in all our designs, the museum-reserve Tanais will become a source of pride not only for the Rostov Region, but for Russia as well.


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