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Институт истории им. Ш.Марджани АН РТ
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Golden Horde relics of the Middle and Lower Volga regions
Some results, problems and perspectives of study, preservation and use of the Golden Horde relics of the Middle and Lower Volga regions (Based on research of settlements of the XIII – XVI centuries in Tatarstan and Astrakhan region in 1995-2004).
Historical study of archaeological relics of the middle Ages in the Volga region has rich traditions. Nevertheless, the weakest point of this study is the relics at the epoch of Ulus Juichi and the late Golden Horde (Tatar) states of XV – XVIII centuries. It is connected either with objective and subjective reasons.1 At the same time excavations of relics of the Golden Horde and post Golden Horde states on a large scale are very important to understand problems of ethnic development and culture of native peoples in the Volga and Urals regions, Europe and Asia on the whole. The results of these excavations will provide a supplement to already well-known historical data.
The Golden Horde - Ulus Juichi is the least successful in this respect. Contemporaries and historians wrote much about political events, wars, Mongolian khans, struggle of conquered peoples against this state. They tried to evaluate its significance in the process of historical development. But the Golden Horde civilization itself has been in the shadow and it hasn't been historically enlightened.
The Golden Horde archaeology was in rudimentary state till 1950s (with the exception of some research carried by Tereshchenko A.V. in the 40-50s of the XIX century and Ballod F.V. in the 20s of the XX century).2
Any subject connected with the Golden Horde was prohibited on the basis of an enactment implemented on the 9th of August in 1944 by the Central Committee of the Communistic Party with the following content “Measures of improving political activity in Tatar political organizations”. Special session of the USSR Academy of Sciences at the department of history and philosophy was held in Kazan in 1946. It was dedicated to ethnic development of Tatars. The main stress of the discussion was laid on Bulgarian period of Tatar ethnic formation in the Middle Volga region. Tikhomirov M.N., when delivering his speech, was the only one to have the courage to say about significance of the Golden Horde for Tatar population.
The fifties of the 20th century were the turning point in the study of the Golden Horde. Safarghaliev M.G., a professor from Saransk, paid attention to significance of the Golden Horde period in the history of Tatar people. Smirnov A.P. and Fedorov-Davidov G.A. made a report for purposes to study the Golden Horde and its towns.3 Excavations of Ulus Juichi towns under the guidance of Fedorov-Davidov G.A. were systematically carried out starting from 1959.
Intensive excavations of capitals in the state of the Lower Volga during the period of 1960-1980 gave an impetus to the foundation of the Golden Horde archeology and all these gave a possibility to reconstruct the civilization of Ulus Juichi.4
Nowadays, the Golden Horde archeology comprises the names of many outstanding scientists and explorers. Fedorov-Davidov G.A., Bulatov N.M., Eghorov V.L., Vainer I.S., Mukhammadiev A.G., Noskov N.M., Guseva T.V., Poluboyarinova M.D., Busaytskaya N.N., Yablonskiy L.T., Kramarovskiy M.G., Birnya P.P., Fakhrutdinov R.G., Galkin L.L., Volkov I.V., Zilivinskaya E.V. and many others contributed to the study of the Golden Horde archeology.
The results based on the scientific research of the Golden Horde relics carried out in Tatarstan and the Lower Volga region during the period of 1995-2004 were of great significance. This scientific research was carried by a historical and archeological expedition of the Sh. Marjany Institute of History attached to Academy of sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan (Burkhanov A.A. as the head of this expedition).
The main aim of this expedition was bound with stationary and reconnoitering research works of relics at Ulus Juichi and the Kazan khanate period of time on the territory of Tatarstan.
Thus, in particular, excavations outside the nearest limits of Kazan were carried out in 1995-2001 years. The following places of Iski Kazan territory were excavated (Urmat settlement, Kamay, Arsk (Archa), Uternyas and Kaban sites of ancient settlement, Machkara, Kukmara-I, Saby, Stary (Iske) Tulyachy and Kuraish Sloboda settlements. Some Eastern parts of Tatarstan were explored in 2000. The sites of ancient settlement of Saklic and Tubolgotay were also excavated. In 2002 an entire exploration of the Front Volga region was started in 2002. Excavations in the sites of ancient settlement of Tavlino (Tau-ile), Churu-Barash, Yapanchya and places of Deush and Sviyazhsk were carried out. These research works introduced the new data on the culture of population in the Middle Volga (Idel) region at the epoch of the early and late middle Ages.
Archaeological scientific researches carried out by the Golden Horde historical and archaeological expedition, on the relics outside the nearest limits of Kazan are particularly significant. Alongside with Gornaya Storona (Tau yagy), it is one of the bulwarks of Ulus Juichi and the Kazan khanate. A state national park museum of Iski Kazan and Institute of History of Tatarstan Academy of Sciences were founded in 1992 and 1995 respectively. All this gave a real possibility to study, preserve and use the Golden Horde relics in the protected land within and outside the limits of Kazan.5 The first regional scientific conference, dedicated to the problem of cultural and historical study of the territory outside the limits of Kazan, became the turning-point in the study of regional relics.6
The main things of our research work were historical relics on the territory of Iski Kazan. Iski Kazan is a historical place located 40 kilometers to the north-east from Kazan in Visokogorsky district of the Republic of Tatarstan.7 The importance of this place lies in Urmatski settlement, Kamaev sites of ancient settlement, and Moslem cemeteries of the middle Ages.
The research carried out in 1995 and 1997 showed that the territory of Urmatsky settlement, located on both the banks of the Urmatka River, was more than 200 hectares (earlier it was considered to be 85-130 hectares). The cultural layer stretched out up to the confluence of the Urmatka (Urmat-su) with the Kazanka (Kazan-su) River. Highly approximately Urmat settlement was a site of ancient settlement, not just a settlement as it had been traditionally considered. Excavations of five places gave traces of architectural remains. Many different things made of ceramics, metal, bone, stone and glass, also coins, jewelry and animal bones were found in these places. All these things confirm the high level of urban life at the epoch of the Golden Horde. Remains of Moslem burial places were also found in southern part of this site of ancient settlement. It confirmed the availability of an urban cemetery in this part.
In 1995-1996 and 1998-1999 a research work on the territory of Kamay sites of ancient settlement and Kamaev-2 settlement was carried out. Kamay and Kamay-2 were the settlements of an epoch of the early middle Ages. Kamay sites of ancient settlement of 6.12 hectares in total were located on top of the right cape in the shape of a triangle, dominating over the valley of the Kazanka River. Excavations made in 1996 (414 square meters) outlined the whole system of fortifications in northern part of this settlement (2 ramparts and a moat). This construction had the following structure: horizontal logs placed on one side, vertical stakes placed on the other side together with a protective wall built of stone kept this fortification from destruction. Northern part of this settlement according to the excavations made in 1999 consisted of a rampart and a moat. All the excavations determined 2 stages in the erection of this fortress. The foundation of this site of ancient settlement dates back to the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries. The development of this fortress dates back to the fifteenth century. This may be easily confirmed on the basis of remains of working and living places found inside the fortress. The fortress assumed the similitude of a protective construction at that time. The destruction of the fortress was bound with historical events which took place in 1552. At that time the troops of prince A.Gorbatiy were about to seize Arsk and on their way to it they “seized the stockade town on top of a high mountain”.8
The remains of Mesha-Tamak fortress refer to the final stage of the Kazan khanate. Excavations in 1998 in Uternyas site of ancient settlement in Saba district of the Republic of Tatarstan confirmed the availability of the fortress here. According to historical sources this fortress was destructed by a punitive detachment during the neutralization of public revolt in 1554. The fortress /200x140x150m/ was surrounded by a system of natural and man-made fortifications. The remains of 2 ramparts and a moat were found there. Many different remains of ceramics, armament, instruments of production and jewelry of the final stage of the Kazan khanate stage were found in the course of three excavations inside the fortress. Eight coins 6 of which belonging to the period of Ulus Juichi and 2 to the period of Ivan IV were found in the places of excavations.9
Kamay and Uternyas sites of ancient settlement are unique to study versatile history and culture of the Kazan khanate population, particularly its latest period. Since the existence of Kamay site of ancient settlement based on archaeological materials dates back to XV-XVI centuries, the excavations of Uternyask site of ancient settlement give us exhaustive information on the final period of the Kazan khanate existence (it dates back to 30-50s of XIV century). Many cultural and industrial remains are very significant and useful for the study of the relics found in the Kazan Kremlin, Arsk, Kaban and other sites of ancient settlement belonging to the period of the Kazan khanate, particularly in the places which were explored after the 16th century and which afterwards underwent much destruction and renovation.10
Excavations in the district center of Arsk were made in 1996. Many various remains were found in the course of these excavations belonging to the period of Ulus Juichi and the Kazan khanate. Two silver coins of the 15th century minted on behalf of Ulu-Mukhummed were of great importance. This archaeological data gives a possibility to speak about the foundation of Arsk by Turkic people not later than the first half of the 13th century. The basic lines of Arsk boundaries were outlined. Arsk was an advanced post in the Kazan khanate in the north. A fortified citadel of a stockaded town of Arsk, 9 hectares in total, was located on top of a high cape on the right bank of the Kazanka river. Nowadays there are the remains of an old church in this place now. The trading quarters of this medieval town stretched to the east from the citadel, along the river bank. Numerous excavations revealed places of conflagration in 1552 and different items of the 14th-16th centuries. The town methodically stretched both to the east and to the west towards the starch producing factory.11
Some traces of the golden Horde settlement were revealed in course of exploration in the outskirts of the district center of Bogaty Saby (Baylar Sabasi), on top of a high mountain (dubbed by local people as Mamed Babay Tay). Some items of ceramics belonging to the Golden Horde period were found among the remains of this town. All the remains date back to 14th-16th and 18th-19th centuries. On the basis of the above-mentioned the history of Bogaty Saby before the epoch of the Golden Horde may be enlarged. It is confirmed by the available data.
The scientists had long ago been looking for the remains of a fortress town of Zury direction. It once used to be an important settlement in the Kazan khanate. It is well-known that the territory where mainly Tatar population lived in the Kazan khanate fell under a certain administrative division. It was divided into different directions. For this purpose a special word “darug” was used to mean a direction. There were different directions at that time leading from Kazan to Galich, Alat, Arsk, Zury and to the Nogai khanate. Alat, Arsk and Zury were the centers of these directions.12 Alat is now located in Visokogorsky (Biek tau) district of the Republic of Tatarstan nearby Stary (Iske) Alat and Kazaklar villages (in the summer of 2005 we are planning to carry out a research work in the zone of Alat).
Arsk is the center of Arsk direction which is located on the territory of the nowadays Arsk. We carried out scientific excavations on this territory in 1996 and we succeeded to get enough confirmation in favor of this fact.13
As far back as 1877 Shpilevsky S.M. in his well-known book “Ancient towns and other Bulgar-Tatar archaeological relics in the region of Kazan mentioned that: “There are the remains of a moat, nearby Stary Zury village, which ends abut the Mesha river. There is a knoll with a stone on its top with ostensibly Arabic letters. On this very basis it is supposed to be a capital city of some khan.14
Our observations and scientific research works carried out in 2001 let us determine the place of location of one-time capital of Zury direction. It is now located on the territory of Tulyachiy district nearby Stary Zury. Here is the following confirmation of this fact:
1. There is an ancient cemetery in the outskirts of Stary Zury, not far from the left bank of the Mesha River. A Moslem gravestone of the 16th century was found on the territory of the cemetery.
2. The present day village is comfortably well located on the left bank of the Mesha River, particularly, taking into consideration its geographical, natural and landscape position. There are meadows, rich of grass, here which are good for pasturing cattle. The land here is very fertile for farming.
3. This area is rife with different legends which are told by local people and old residents.
4. Archaeological excavations showed cultural layers of up to 110 centimeters. Many historically worth items (made of ceramics and metal) of 14th-16th and 17th-19th centuries were found there.
Besides, Gazimzyanov I.R. found some part of a grave mound of the Golden horde period at a distance of 2.5 km from Tulyajy. We also found lots of articles made of ceramics and metal of 14th-16th centuries on the right bank of the Mesha River in the place of the cattle grave. Sakhib Girey's item of his clothes belonging to the period of 1523 was found not far from Mamalaevo (Mamalay) village at a distance of 3 km.
Some officials and historians of Tulyachy district center suppose that the foundation of their district center dates back to 1560. There is a stone in the center of the village with the date of foundation on it. Excavations carried out on the territory of this village showed that the cultural layer reached the level of 60 cm. The finds on this territory belonging to the period of XIV-XVI and XVIII-XIX centuries let us consider that it was founded before the epoch of the late Golden Horde or the beginning of the Kazan khanate. There was a small Tatar settlement before the Russian colonization on this territory. Soon afterwards Tulyachy became one of the most important centers of the Russian colonization after Kazan had been seized by the troops of Ivan IV.
Gravestones belonging to the period of the 14th century were found in the cemetery nearby Stary (Iske) Nirsy village in the district of Tulyachy. The traces of a Golden Horde settlement were revealed to the south from the village and to the east from the cemetery. Ceramics and silver coins belonging to the epoch of the Golden Horde were found there, as well as the Golden Horde gravestones which were found on the territory of Bolshie (Oly) Nirsy (XIV-XV), Tyamty (XVI) and Stary Zury (XVI).15
In 2001 we witnessed Moslem gravestones of the middle Ages in the district of Saby. We studied inscriptions written on the gravestones, took prints and managed to read the inscription in Tatar and Arabic. We managed to identify the date of death – 1088 (1678). The name of a dead person was Kulmukhammed the son of Chiruche. The doer of the epitaph is Kulmukhammen, the son of Ishman (inscription was identified by Akhmetzyanov M.I). The epitaph was written in the style characteristic to the epoch of the Kazan khanate.
In the summer of 1999 the Golden Horde historical and archaeological expedition did reconnoitering in the district of Kukmor and carried out excavations on the territory of Kukmara-1 and Machkara settlements.16 The district of Kukmor has never been archaeologically studied before.
The traces of the medieval settlement were revealed at the foot of the mountain not far from the district center of Kukmor nearby Kilo region. These excavations revealed the traces of different constructions made of brick and stone, a blacksmith's shop, lots of finds belonging to the Golden Horde and Kazan khanate periods. The boundaries of the medieval settlement Kukmara-1 were outlined in course of excavations.
The results of researches carried out in Machkara are quite significant. Many interesting fragments were found in the gardens of Machkara village, among them: glazed and non decorated ceramics, ceramic sewerage pipes, jewelry, objects made of metal, 3 coins belonging to the period of Ulus Juchi dating back to XIII-XVI centuries.
The traces of the medieval settlement were revealed nearby Nirya village. An axe belonging to the Golden Horde period was found there. Different fragments of Chinese crockery belonging to the period of the Golden Horde period were found there too. Some remains of a settlement of the Kazan khanate period nearby Tuembash village were revealed.
The traces of sites of ancient settlement were revealed on top of a high cape 0.8 to the north from Bolshoy Kukmor (Zur Kukmara) village. The territory in the shape of a triangle is 0.4 hectares. The excavations also revealed some remains of a rampart. This side of ancient settlement belonging to the medieval period was a temporary shelter. The traces of a settlement were revealed on the bank of the river Nurminka (Norma), which population in case of emergency hid in the site of ancient settlement.
All these remains of the past confirm the availability of many settlements at the epoch of the Golden Horde and the Kazan khanate in northern parts of Tatarstan. Even nowadays the archaeological map of Bulgar and Ulus Juichi territories can be expanded on the basis of numerous finds. All this acknowledges the fact of cultural development of Turkic-Moslem population in the Middle Ages on this territory. It is safe to say that large handicraft and trade centers of the XIII-XVI centuries were available here. Moreover there was also a land trade way to the north and south to the Nukrat River, which was a navigable way for the development of trade relations.
In course of study of the medieval history of Kazan a special research work was carried out in 1997-1999 by the Golden Horde historical and archaeological expedition. The study of several less-known historical relics in Kazan was held. In 1997 a large scale work on the territory of Kaban settlement (former Arhireiskaya Dacha) which was on top of a high shore of Kaban lake in Privolzhsky (Idel bye) district of Kazan took place.17 Among researches this historical place known as a former residence of Bulgar-Tatar rulers and the location of the medieval Moslem cemetery. This is confirmed by three gravestones of the XIII-XIV centuries which have been widely known since the XIX century and also by some parts of gravestones found by us near the Church of Resurrection.
A lot of material was found in 4 places (11 places were studied in total) and 2 of them preserved the layer dated back to the second half of the XIII – the first part of the XVI centuries. There were fragments of ceramics in Bulgar-Tatar style, red square bricks (23x23x6cm) and a coin (presumably it belonged to the 20s of the XV century) which had been minted during Khan Barak's reign.
A particular interest has place XI, where a crypt constructed of bricks was found. A dead person of nearly 40-50 was buried in accordance with Moslem funeral rites. On the basis of the available material and by wide analogy we can conclude that the man buried in the vicinity of Kaban settlement was from the South of Ulus Juichi territory. In spite of strict Moslem funeral rites there was a survival of some heathen beliefs like: a funeral mask and a fire in a grave pit. The crypt dates back to the second half of the XIII-XIV centuries and highly approximately used to be a burial place for the Golden Horde nobility. There might have been a mausoleum over the grave that was demolished during the building of a convent in the second half of the XVII century.
It is important to note that the cellars of the Church of Resurrection were constructed from Moslem gravestones. Analogous occasions are unfortunately not rare. For example, that was observed in Assumption Church in Bolgar in Blagoveshchensky Cathedral in the Kazan Kremlin (our observations of 1998) where fragments of gravestones and a Moslem epitaph of the 20-30s of the XVI century with an Arabic text of philosophical-poetical context came to light.
Ceramics and other materials of the XIV-XVI centuries were found during land works and excavations in the vicinity of “Usmania” religious school in Tukay Street of Kazan. On the basis of some sources Kuraish Sloboda was located on this territory at the epoch of the Kazan khanate. A Moslem cemetery with gravestones was located in this place in the middle of the XIX century.
In the summer and autumn of 2000 we carried out reconnoitering and stationary researches in the district of eastern Tatarstan. The remains of the medieval site of ancient settlement of Tubilgutay in the district of Novosheshminsk (Yana Chishms) were the major aim of our research.18 Archaeological excavations have never been carried out on this territory before.
The site of ancient settlement is located on the steep bank of the Sheshma River. The form of this location is square with semicircular corners (140x150m). The remains of two moats and three ramparts remained clearly.
An ancient cemetery abuts on the site of ancient settlement from the west, where several gravestones remained. One of them dates back to 1349/50. We traced the remains of a mausoleum in the vicinity of a medieval cemetery.
We excavated a ditch 38m long and 2m wide to outline the fortification line of this construction. The ditch went across 3 moats and 2 ramparts (4x6m) which were located in northern part of this place.
The foundation of the fortress dates back to the XIV century. In course of development the fortifications of the town as well as the town itself were many times reconstructed. The annihilation of the fortified settlement was caused by a large conflagration during the seizure of the town. The traces of the large conflagration were revealed. Many different fragments of ceramic crockery in Bulgar and the Golden Horde style were found as well as cattle bones in course of numerous excavations. The majority of different finds were revealed inside the rampart and nearby the city square. Among the most interesting finds are fragments of a cauldron, some part of a pot, a metal ring and a spearhead and numerous fragments of bronze. Fragments of red ceramics and eled crockery in Bulgar and the Kama river side style were found as well as pottery of the Golden Horde epoch.
Besides, the reconnoitering excavations were carried out in the medieval place of Saklik on the right bank of the Sheshma River in Almetevsk district. The traces of a settlement nearby Stary (Iske) Elan village in Zainsk district were revealed, where we found basically ceramic finds belonging to the period of the XV-XVI and XVII-XIX centuries.
The right bank Volga district of the Republic of Tatarstan and the adjoining regions of the Middle Volga are of particular significance in the history of archaeology. This geographical region is widely known under the name of the Volga River side or Mountain side (Tay yagy).
The river basins of the right tributaries of the Sviyaga river – Ulem and Sukhoy (Kori) Ulem, the Lower Sviyaga (Zoya) itself and the right bank of the Volga River are being explored very actively owing to population shifts from the south to the north of the Volga River side. Seventy five relics of the past belonging to the Golden Horde period were revealed here. All these relics concentrated around large settlements are divided into 3 parts. Thus, Malo-Kaibitsk (Keche Kaibych), Sham-Balikhchinsk (Shambalikchi), Kulgany (Kolgan) cemeteries with Moslem gravestones of the XIII-XIV centuries and a number of sites of ancient settlements of Churu-Barash, Shongut, Tanay-Turay were related to densely populated Deush site of ancient settlement.
Bolshoy-Klyarin, Sukeev, Saltigan, Staro-Kazeev settlements with medieval cemeteries and Urazli, Devichya Gora (Kiz tau) sites of ancient settlement, highly approximately were related to Bolshoy-Klyarin site of ancient settlement. A legendary town of “Tisyachadomny Shungat” associated with the settlement of Bolshoy-Atryass (Oli Atryach) II and a large cache of coins is related to a well-preserved cemetery of Bolshoy-Atryass. Most likely they were related to a legendary town of Tyatesh, as well as cemeteries of Urum, Bolshoy-Shemyak, Bolshoy-Tarkhan with gravestones and a site of ancient settlement of Tyatesh.19
For a detailed characterization of urban development of settlements at the epoch of the Golden Horde in the Volga River side the results of our historical-archaeological survey in Churu-Barashe and Yapancha are very significant.20
Yapancha settlement occupying the territory of 2.3 hectares with irregularly lengthened outlines is situated near a steep curve of the right bank of the Kubnya (Gobenya) River (the left tributary of the Sviyaga River).
In course of excavations held in 2002-2003 we studied the remains of protective fortifications and handicraft goods of the settlement, which had been the biggest centre of handicraft and foundry production. The remains of handicraft fragments, numerous iron blooms and slag revealed in the rich layer of this place are another striking demonstration of the above-mentioned statement. Such things as polished and ornamented ceramics designed in Bulgar and the Golden traditions, iron items as knives, arrow-heads, cylindrical locks, fishhooks, nails, pivots and rings are of special interest. Among finds are ceramics, articles made of bone and stone, jewellery and two Juchian coins of the first half of the 14th century.
The remains of a site of ancient settlement referring to the Golden Horde period found near Churu-Barishevo village were our next subject of study in 2002. The village is situated on a high cape of the right bank of the Ulema River (the right tributary of the Sviyaga River). The cape is made up of a steep curve in the East and a big ravine in the West. There are 3 ramparts of a settlement are available nowadays. The settlement round in shape was girdled with a circuit 25 meters wide. In many parts ramparts and moats had been destroyed. The area of a settlement occupies 3.7 hectares. A village occupying 80 hectares is near the northern side of the settlement. The section of a rampart in the south is 2 x 24 meters and its depth is nearly 1-2.2 meters. It was determined that the system of protective edifices dates back to the epoch of the Golden Horde. All the finds of the third expedition date back to the second half of the XII-XIV century.
This relic of the past gives us an interesting idea of cast-iron production in the northwest province of Ulus-Bolgar of the Golden Horde. This province was remote from the political centre. The pit found on this territory highly approximately belonged to an iron foundry furnace which was situated nearby. Taking into consideration the location of hardened cast-iron we can say that the iron foundry furnace was situated near the southeastern edge of a right-angled pit, where we found traces of scorched sand.
Cast iron production well used in the XIII-XIV centuries in the capital and other big cities of Ulus-Bolgar was also used in the provincial town of Churu-Barash.
The traces of cast iron production in Churu-Barash and Yapancha are contributory to the study of handicraft industry in this region during the Golden Horde period.21
To study ethnographic processes and anthropological changes of the population in the Volga river side during the first period of the Golden Horde epoch it is important to research materials from burial grounds found by us in 2003 on the territory of Tetushy - 1 settlement.
According to the existed funeral rites and the absence of items all 5 burials were Moslem and dated back to the second half of the XIII and the first half of the XIV centuries.22
Three cultural layers were revealed presumably in the XVII – XX centuries on the territory of Tetushy town. They referred to the Golden Horde and Imenkovsky periods. The Golden Horde finds were represented by a bronze coin (1330 - 1340), by fragments of fire-tubes made of clay, by iron items (hooks, hoes), by fish bones and bones of domestic animals.
In the yards of Uritsky Street a lower part of a gravestone was found. A Moslem epitaph on a piece of stone referring to the first half of the XIV century was found in the center of Tetushy town and then transported to the museum of local for constant keeping. The local inhabitants gave us 2 coins (silver and bronze) belonging to the XIV century of Ulus Juchi epoch.
On the territory of Bolshoy-Atryask we made a detailed examination of gravestones and copied out different prints from them. This territory had been known in scientific literature since the second half of the XIX century.23
This territory comprised a cemetery, a place of settlement and a cache of coins. The territory of Bolshoy-Atryask is situated near Bolshoy-Atryasky village in Tetushy district in Tatarstan. The local name of a settlement is “Meng ille Shongut” (Shongut consisting of one thousand houses). The village is associated with the cache of coins. The small cache of coins was found in 1882, but in 1954 a larger cache of coins was revealed (Maloatryasky (Keche Atryach)). It consisted of 463 coins belonging to the XIV century and the beginning of the XV century. Later 13 of them became the property of science. In 1981 a cache of copper coins came to light. Local inhabitants used to find different things something like a golden ring with precious stones and inscription “Sultan Makhmud Khan” and a silver ring. Moreover local Tatar people from this village know the place where coins were presumably minted.
The cemetery of Bolshoy-Atryask is situated 0.5 kilometer far from the village to the east. Its area occupies 7600 square kilometers and it is outlined by a small ditch and palisades from all sides. According to the available legends the cemetery belonged to the town of “Shungat consisting of one thousand houses”. By 1961 a number of gravestones belonging to the period of the Golden Horde had been preserved (in 1949 – 22 gravestones, in the XIX century – 41). Many epitaphs had embossed and engraved “Khufian” inscriptions on. The earliest date of the gravestones is 1302, the latest dates back to 1343. The local name of the cemetery is “Izgeler Ziraty” (the cemetery of the sacred).
Much interesting information was left by Marjany Sh. He wrote particularly that a Russian landlord from Yambukhtino village took 20 - 30 gravestones from the cemetery for the basis of a church. The church in Yambukhtino is still in ruins.
In course of epigraphic study in the summer of 2003 we researched 5 prints. It is important to note that the earliest gravestone referring to the period of Bulgar well-known in historical literature dates back to 1224 (the Gregorian calendar) or 642 (the Hegira calendar). The abovementioned gravestone belongs to the territory of Bolshoy-Atryask. Akhmarov G. studied the gravestone in the same Yambukhtino village on a threshold of a countryside church. It had a beautiful inscription on and the language of this inscription was close to the present day Kazan Tatar language. This historical relic of the past is the most ancient among dated epitaphs. As the cemetery of Bolshoy-Atryask was the only place examined by us so the gravestone mentioned in historical literature and dated back to 1244 was not found.
We found Moslem gravestones in the basis of a church while visiting the old church in Yambukhtino.
14 gravestones were found in the place where Bolshoy-Atryask cemetery was located. Unfortunately 2 of them disappeared for good within the period of 40 years. But even the rest of the epitaphs are in bad condition. 5 – 6 epitaphs are placed vertically, the others are placed horizontally. They are being destroyed by the nature. Some of them went under the surface of the earth due to their weight. Apart from the abovementioned they also undergo public pillaging causing destruction. At the front and back sides of the 4 gravestones ern inscriptions, names of people, paintings and dates are engraved.
The territory of the Volga River side was being inhabited both at the epoch of the Golden Horde and the Kazan khanate. At the same time the tendency of further developing new lands towards the north in the Volga River side was in progress. At this very time mass settling of the left Sviyaga side came to an end. All this confirms the appearance of new epigraphy of Tatars from Kazan belonging to the period of the XVI century, revealed in this district. Our researches in 2002 only in the district of Zelenodolsk (Yuashel Uzen) showed the availability of 5-10 epigraphic relics in each cemetery, particularly, in Tatar Tanay, Tatar Azeleevo (Azhal), Bolshoy Shirdan, Molvino (Mulla ile) .
The remains of Tavlino site of ancient settlement located 300 meters to the north from Tay-ile (Tavlino) village refer to the same period of time.
In course of excavations in 2002 we started excavating 4 places occupying 100 square meters in total and 5 bore pits. We studied the protective structure of excavation 1 and determined the cultural layer which reached 140 centimeters.
In course of excavations the traces of handicraft industry were revealed. The fragments of red clay ceramics belonging to the period of the Golden Horde, and goods made of metal, stone, bronze and the Golden Horde coin of the XIV century were revealed.
Tavlin site of ancient settlement was one of the most important observation posts and an advanced post in the west of the Kazan khanate.
The number of settlements belonging to the epoch of the Kazan khanate, compared to the epoch of the Golden Horde is far less in the north of the Volga river side. It is explained by the fact that the majority of settlements once existed in the Kazan khanate still exist at present. The names of the current villages are the same as they were at the epoch of the Kazan khanate according to the data of the XVI-XVII centuries.24
It is of no small importance that the Volga River side, particularly its northern part was one of the most significant hotbeds of resistance and fight for independence in the middle of the XVI century. It was that part of the khanate which joined the State of Moscow. It is confirmed by the availability of baptizing and colonization centers and by the unique archaeological and historical relics of the middle Ages – Sviyazhsk fortress.
All these relics of the past place the Volga river side far beyond the limits of Tatarstan by its significance. They show that this region was of key importance not only for the development of the middle Volga region but also for all Eastern Europe.
In 1999 within the project undertaken by Russian State National Fund and with the support of a commercial bank “Kara Altin” a Tatar-Astrakhan expedition attached to Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan started excavations in Selitrenny site of ancient settlement (Saray al-Makhrusa) in Kharabalinsk district of Astrakhan region, on the territory of the quondam capital of Ulus Juichi.25 It was the first expedition which studied the Golden Horde towns of the Lower Volga side (Burkhanov A.A. – as the head of this expedition, Fedorov-Davidov G.A. – as the scientific advisor). Students and graduate students from Tatarstan, Moscow, Astrakhan and Saransk participated in the expedition.
Selitrenny site of ancient settlement is 120 kilometers far from astrakhan on the left bank of the Akhtuba River. It was studied and visited by travelers and archaeologists in the XVIII-XIX centuries. Professor Ballod F.B. carried out an interesting research work there in 1920. He excavated a well, a forging furnace for ceramics, the remains of a mausoleum and a number of houses. In 1928-1932 an expedition under the guidance of Rikov P.S. carried out a research on the same territory. They excavated part of a hall (presumably, a hall of a mosque), a number of crypts and houses. Selitrenny site of ancient settlement was being systematically studied by the Volga archaeological expedition attached to Moscow State University named after Lomonosov M.B. and Academy of Sciences of the USSR. This expedition under the guidance of an outstanding historian, archaeologist and numismatist Fedorov-Davidov G.A. with the participation of Egorov B.L., Dvornichenko B.B., Bulatov N.M., Poluboyarinova M.D., Mukhammadiev A.G. managed to explore lime-kilns, brick-kilns, and glass producing shops, country estates and public buildings.
Excavations in 1999-2000 were protective and they were carried out in the middle of this site of ancient settlement, at the foot of Bolnichny Bugor (hillock). This area is in the most ancient part of the town and it is now being demolished by Selitrenny village and by the river. The current posture of many country estates and districts of the former town is getting worse.
The area of excavation XXIII nearly 150 square meters in total revealed the remains of constructions referring to the XIV century. These constructions had 2 stages of erection. The remains of a one-roomed flat (6.6 x 6.8m) which corners faced the parts of the world were examined as well as the remains of adjacent constructions, mainly, made of burned bricks and adobe. The size of bricks was 19 x 19 x 5 and 22 x 2 x 6 centimeters. Wood was also one of the building materials. The remains of an oriental “sufa” (sofa) made of raw-silk which was customary in the East were found inside the house. A special thermal system made of burned bricks was constructed inside this “sufa”. The warmth from the furnace (kan) went through this system. It was revealed that the sofa was covered by a carpet. The thermal system was initially constructed in the form of the letter “G” from the Cyrillic alphabet. The system underwent some reconstruction afterwards and became straight. Some farmstead and household constructions were both inside the house and in the yard (pits, badrab, tashnay). However, one part the house was demolished by buildings of the XVIII century.
In course of excavations some details of architectural remains and numerous fragments of material evidence were found. There were majolica tiles, eled and glazed ceramics, and Chinese or Korean celadon among them. There were special hygienic vessels, some fragments of a flask in the form of a turtle (khorezmian style) with some stamped ornament, fragments of ornamented and unfixed patterns of ceramic crockery in the site of excavations. There were two receptacles for mercury and perfume transportation from the Middle Asia, Egypt and Iran. There were some receptacles of domestic production as well, found in the site of excavations. A terracotta chessman of bishop was also of great importance. A lot of military equipment, metal tools and household goods were found in course of excavations. Plenty of bronze adornments like a padlock in the form of a bishop, different beads, and adornments made of silver, copper, glass and stone were found there.
Two silver signet-rings are of particular interest. The first one is with an inset made of cornelian and a peacock tracery; the second one is with an inscription in the Arabic script. Fifty copper coins and several silver Juchian coins referring to the first half of the XIV century were found. There were many bone items such as polished pipes, toys, household goods and adornments. There were also many contrivances made of bone which were presumably used to fix loads on horsebacks and camelbacks. They might have been also used for different household needs.
The archaeological expedition consisting of students from Kazan State University and Tatar State University of Humanities under the direct guidance of Nedashkovsky L.F. carried out a research in Saratov region. In Khmeleevsky – I an excavation measuring 6 x 8 meters was started. In this place of excavation the remains of household edifices and different goods performing material evidence were found.
Summing up the results of our scientific survey in the 90s of the XX century and the first years of the XXI century we would like to draw attention to the problems and perspectives of archaeological study and preservation of relics belonging to the epoch of Ulus Juchi.
The situation in the Middle Volga particularly in Tatarstan is much more definite although even here there are problems concerning the study of relics and their preservation. Certainly the availability of scientific centers and archaeologists in Kazan and in the cities of Tatarstan such as Elabuga (Alabuga) and Almetevsk gives hope to view the future with optimism. We suppose that in the nearest future we need to do the following:
1. The first thing to do is to continue the large scale excavations both beyond the limits of Kazan (excavations are being held here since 1995) and in the Volga River side (excavations are being held here since 2002). We should also continue excavations in the east of the Republic of Tatarstan and beyond its borders (in Chuvashia, Uliyanovsk and Kirov regions).
2. The second thing to do is to hold stationary excavations on the territory of the largest and never touched historical places such as the territory of Iski-Kazan, sites of ancient settlement of Yapancha, Churu-Barash, Tubilgitay, Saklik and Kaban (situated in Kazan).
3. The third thing to do is to establish a historical-archaeological museum and a national park in the Almetevsk (Almyat) area in the south-east of Tatarstan. Even today there are real prerequisites to solve this task. The archaeologists from Kazan and Almetevsk have been carrying scientific researches base on multiple excavations for a few years already within the “Almetevsk encyclopedia” fund. To force the salvation of this task it is necessary to enlarge the scale of study by attracting extra means and new scientific forces.
The same task was set to study and preserve the relics of ancient times in the west of Tatarstan. Fortunately, archaeologists and experts who are in charge of keeping relics of the past in a proper way together with the authorities of the regions take active part in the matter.
Moreover Tatarstan is a region where museums and national parks are still developing. Security of national parks and museums is the only real way for the development and preservation of historical and cultural heritage of the nation. There was only one Bulgar State national park before “Perestroika” (rebuilding) in Tatarstan. At present their number has even increased to 13. Among them are the Kazan Kremlin, Suvar, Bilyar, Elabuga, Jukitay and other national parks. The chain of Republican and countryside museums is developing.26
The present posture of archaeological relics of the past is not satisfactory. One of the largest Selitrensky sites of ancient settlement in the Astrakhan area, Tzarevsky and Vodyansky settlements in the Volgograd area are derelict. Khaji Tarhan and Ukek settlements are on the edge of extinction. All this happens notwithstanding the best archaeologists from Moscow, Volgograd, Kazan, Saransk and Novgorod have been carrying out large scale excavations in Selitrensky, Tzarevsky and Vodyansky settlements since 1959. In course of these multiple researches the unique scientific data was revealed and on its basis much from the history and culture of Ulus Juchi was changed.27
Today the above mentioned relics of the past referring to the Golden Horde epoch lack proper attitude and thus the territory of their location is being built and pelted with trash. On the territory of settlements poachers destroy the cultural layer and export valuable items abroad.
That's why we should continue large scale excavations in the major Golden Horde centers and also in Khajitarkhan which had been the capital of the Astrakhan khanate. To make this purpose come true we should enlist scientists from Astrakhan, Volgograd, Moscow, Kazan, Saransk, Saratov and many other cities of Russia in a cause. Moreover it is necessary to solve the problem of preserving relics of ancient times in a proper way at government level by establishing the Lower Volga national park of Federal importance with its subsidiaries in Ukek (Saratov) and Vodyansky (Dubovka). This concerns particularly the settlement of Selitrensky. Officially it is the relic of federal importance but its real condition doesn't meet all requirements.
In 2000-2001 the head of the Astrakhan area Guzhvin A.N., the department of cinema, culture and art, the authority of the national park and the society took measures and official acts to continue the study and preservation of historical and cultural heritage of the nation. It will give us a chance to see the prospective future of the archaeological relics in the Astrakhan area.
We would like to draw public attention to the problems of study, preservation and further usage of the remains of the medieval Ukek settlement which is situated on the territory of ern Saratov. The first thing to do is to preserve the remains but at the same time we should continue our historical and archaeological research. To achieve this purpose we must make all agricultural and house building processes come to an end on this territory. To open a national park in this place we should outline the borders of the protected land. It is necessary to appeal to highly placed officials of Saratov region and the Russian federation with a request to announce the territory of the medieval Ukek settlement as a national park of federal importance with further financial and logistic support for preserving historical and cultural relics of the past.
It is urgent to install hoardings with instructions and a monument telling about the history of Ukek. Since the beginning of the current year we should start stationary historical and topographical researches on the territory of Ukek. These researches should be regular at least for the duration of 3 – 5 years. It is necessary to hold international scientific conferences to discuss the history and culture of Ukek-Saratov. It is also important to inform the population and the government about the historical-cultural with the help of the mass media and lectures. And the most important thing to do is to obtain recognition of Ukek-Saratov as one of the largest urban centers of Ulus Juchi – Russia among the officials of Saratov region to raise the question about the celebration of the 750th anniversary of this city.
1 Eho vekov / Gasyrlar avazy. – Kazan, 1996, №3-4, s. 103-104.
2 Tereschenko A.V. Arheologicheskie poiski v razvalinah Saraja // Zapiski Sankt-Peterburgskogo arheologo-numizmaticheskogo obschestva. T.II, SPb, 1850; Ballod F.V. Staryj i Novyj Saraj – stolicy Zolotoj Ordy. – Kazan, 1923; Ego zhe. Privolzhskie Pompei. – M. – SPb., 1923.
3 Safargaliev M.G. Odin iz spornyh voprosov istorii // Voprosy istorii, 1951, №7; Smirnov A.P., Fedorov-Davydov G.A. Zadachi arheologicheskogo izuchenija Zolotoj Ordy // Sovetskaja arheologija, 1959, №4.
4 Egorov V.L. Istoricheskaja geografija Zolotoj Ordy v XIII-XIV vv. – M., 1985; Fedorov-Davydov G.A. Nekotorye itogi izuchenija gorodov Zolotoj Ordy na Nizhnej Volge // Tatarskaja arheologija, 1997, №1, s. 88-100; Ego zhe. Zolotoordynskie goroda Povolzh'ja. – M., 1994; Povolzh'e v srednie veka. – Nizhnij Novgorod, 2001; Arheologija Nizhnego Povolzh'ja na rubezhe tysjacheletij. – Astrahan', 2001 i dr.
5 Burkhanov A.A. Istorija i perspektivy arheologicheskogo izuchenija v ZaKazane // Drevnosti, izdavaemye Rossijskim arheologicheskim obschestvom. Vyp. 18. M., 1966. s. 51-52; Burkhanov A.A. Novye arheologicheskie issledovanija v ZaKazane i Kazani. // Tatarica, №1, 1997/98, s. 137-144; Burkhanov A.A. Drevnjaja istorija. // Ocherki istorii Vysokogorskogo rajona. – Kazan, 1999; Burkhanov A.A. Nekotorye itogi izuchenija pamjatnikov epohi Kazanskogo hanstva. // Uchenye zapiski Tatarskogo gosudarstvennogo gumanitarnogo instituta, №7, Kazan, 1999, s. 121-132.
6 ZaKazane: problemy, istorii i kul'tury // Materialy konferencii. – Kazan, Zaman, 1995; Ocherki istorii Vysokogorskogo rajona Respubliki Tatarstan. – Kazan, 1999, s. 363-366.
7 Burkhanov A.A. Arheologija Kazanskogo hanstva. – Kazan, 2002, s. 4-11; Burkhanov A.A. Pamjatniki Iske-Kazanskogo kompleksa. – Kazan, 2002.
8 Burkhanov A.A. Arheologija Kazanskogo hanstva. s. 7-10; Pamjatniki Iske-Kazanskogo kompleksa. s.10-11; Novye dannye po istorii Kazanskogo hanstva // 60 let kafedre arheologii MGU im. M.V. Lomonosova. – M., 1999, s. 171-176; Burkhanov A.A., Izmajlov N.L. Novye dannye po fortifikacii Kazanskogo hanstva // Nauchnoe nasledie A.P. Smirnova i sovremennye problemy arheologii Volgo-Kam'ja. – M., 1999, s. 135-138.
9 Burkhanov A.A. Pamjatniki Iske-Kazanskogo kompdeksa., s.3-16.
10 Burkhanov A.A. Arheologija Kazanskogo hanstva; Burkhanov A.A. Nekotorye itogi issledovanij srednevekovyh pamjatnikov Kazani i perspektivy ih izuchenija v zapovednoj territorii «Staro-tatarskaja sloboda» // Staro-tatarskaja sloboda ot proshlogo k buduschemu. – Kazan, 2001; Srednevekovoe gorodische Arsk-Archa. // Integracija arheologicheskih i etnograficheskih issledovanij. – Nal'chik-Omsk, 2001, s. 75-78 i dr.
11 Burkhanov A.A. Arheologija Kazanskogo hanstva. , s. 8, 12; Burkhanov A.A. Srednevekovoe gorodische Arsk-Archa., s. 75-78.
12 Hudjakov M.G. Ocherki po istorii Kazanskogo hanstva. – Kazan, 1923, s. 10-11, – M., 1991, s. 17-21.
13 Burkhanov A.A. Srednevekovoe gorodische Arsk-Archa., s. 75-78.
14 SHpilevskij S.M. Drevnie goroda i drugie bulgaro-tatarskie pamjatniki Kazanskoj gubernii. – Kazan, 1877.
15 Burkhanov A.A. Arheologija Kazanskogo hanstva., s. 12-14; Burkhanov A.A., Zamaltdinov R.R. Izuchenie srednevekovyh pamjatnikov v ZaKazane 2001 godu // Drevnosti, vyp. 36. – Moskva-Kazan, 2003, s. 256-261; Burkhanov A.A. Novye arheologicheskie issledovanija v Zakazanskom regione Tatarstana // Integracija arheologicheskih i etnograficheskih issledovanija. – Omsk-Hanty-Mansijsk, 2002, s. 35-41.
16 Burkhanov A.A. Arheologicheskoe izuchenie pamjatnikov epohi Ulusa Dzhuchi i Kazanskogo hanstva // Drevnosti, vyp. 36. – M.-Kazan, 2003, s. 242-244.
17 Burkhanov A.A. Nekotorye itogi issledovanij srednevekovyh pamjatnikov Kazani i perspektivy ih izuchenija v zapovednoj territorii «Staro-tatarskaja sloboda» // Staro-tatarskaja sloboda – ot proshlogo k buduschemu. – Kazan, 2001, s. 62-70; 72-74.
18 Burkhanov A.A. Arheologicheskoe izuchenie pamjatnikov epohi Ulusa Dzhuchi i Kazanskogo hanstva // Drevnosti, vyp. 36, s. 245-248; Burkhanov A.A. Otchet ob itogah istoriko-arheologicheskih issledovanijah v rajonah Vostochnogo Tatarstana v 2000 godu. – Kazan, 2001. Rukopis'.
19 Arheologicheskie pamjatniki Tatarskoj ASSR. – Kazan, 1987, s. 198-205; Arheologicheskaja karta Tatarskaja ASSR, – M., 1981, s. 50, 64-65.
20 Burkhanov A.A., Zamaltdinov R.R. Issledovanie srednevekovyh pamjatnikov v Predvolzh'e // Integracija arheologicheskih i etnograficheskih issledovanij. – Omsk, 2003, s. 169-171; Burkhanov A.A. Drevnosti Predvolzh'ja. – Kazan, 2003, s. 16-24.
21 Burkhanov A.A., Zamaltdinov R.R., Hamzin R.R. Issledovanie srednevekovyh pamjatnikov v Zelenodol'skom i Apastovskom rajonah v 2002 godu // Zelenodol'skij region: problemy istorii i kul'tury. – Kazan-Zelenodol'sk, 2003, s. 40-44; Burkhanov A.A. Drevnosti Predvolzh'ja. – Kazan, 2003.
22 Burkhanov A.A. Drevnosti Predvolzh'ja, s. 25-35; Gazimzjanov N.R. Antropologicheskaja harakteristika kostjakov iz zahoronenij s territorii Tetjushskogo-I gorodischa. Prilozhenie-2 // Burkhanov A.A. Drevnosti Predvolzh'ja, s. 39-45.
23 Ahmerov G. Otchet o poezdkah s arheologicheskoj cel'ju 1909 g. v Svijazhskij i Tetjushskij uezdy Kazanskoj gubernii. // Izvestija Obschestva arheologii, istorii i etnografii. T. XXVI, vyp. 4. – Kazan, 1910; Bulatov A.B. Bulgarskie etnograficheskie pamjatniki XIII-XIV vv. na pravoberezh'e Volgi // Epigrafika Vostoka. – M.-L., t. 16, 1963; Mardzhani Sh. Mustafad al'-Ahbar ahval'. – Kazan, 1897; JUsupov V.G. Vvedenie v bulgaro-tatarskuju epigrafiku. – M.-L., 1960.
24 Hudjakov M.G. Ocherki po istorii Kazanskogo hanstva., s. 17-21; Jusupov G.V. Vvedenie v bulgaro-tatarskuju epigrafiku., s. 23, 25-26 i karta; Ali Rahim. Tatarskie epigraficheskie pamjatniki XVI v. // Trudy obschestva izuchenija Tatarstana, t. 1. – Kazan, 1930, s. 171-172; Fahrutdinov R.G. Zadachi arheologicheskogo izuchenija Kazanskogo hanstva // Sovetskaja arheologija, №4, 1973; Burkhanov A.A. Arheologija Kazanskogo hanstva. – Kazan, 2002
25 Burkhanov A.A. Arheologicheskoe izuchenie pamjatnikov epohi Ulusa Dzhuchi i Kazanskogo hanstva // Drevnosti, s. 247-250; Burkhanov A.A. Izuchenie zolotoordynskih pamjatnikov v Srednem i Nizhnem Povolzh'e // Kul'turnye tradicii Evrazii. – Kazan, 2004, s. 120-121.
26 Valeev R.M., Burkhanov A.A. Nekotorye problemy izuchenija i sohranenija pamjatnikov istorii i kul'tury Tatarstana i tatarskogo naroda i opyt ih reshenija // Integracija arheologicheskih i etnograficheskih issledovanij. – Omsk – Hanty-Mansijsk, 2002, s. 98-101.
27 Fedorov-Davydov G.A. Zolotoordynskie goroda Povolzh'ja. – M., 1994; Kul'pin E.S. Zolotaja Orda. – M., 1998; Povolzh'e v srednie veka. – Nizhnij Novgorod, 2001; Arheologija Nizhnego Povolzh'ja na rubezhe tysjacheletij. – Astrahan', 2001.