Published in the bulletin Canadio-Byzantina, no. 31, University of Ottawa, January 2020, pp. 10-15.
Volodymyr Mezentsev (Toronto), Yurii Sytyi (Chernihiv), Yurii Kovalenko (Hlukhiv)
In August of last year, archaeologists continued their annual excavations at the Ukrainian town of Baturyn, Chernihiv Oblast. The Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) at the University of Alberta, the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (PIMS) at the University of Toronto, and the Ucrainica Research Institute in Toronto sponsor this Canada-Ukraine project. The Ukrainian Studies Fund at Harvard University also supported the archaeological and historical investigations of early modern Baturyn in 2017-19.
The 2019 archaeological expedition in Baturyn involved some 45 students and scholars from the universities of Chernihiv and Hlukhiv, as well as the Institute of Archaeology at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in Kyiv. It was headed by archaeologist Yurii Sytyi of the Chernihiv College National University. Prof. Zenon Kohut, former director of CIUS, is the founder of the Baturyn project and its academic adviser. Dr. Volodymyr Mezentsev (CIUS) and Prof. Martin Dimnik (PIMS) are engaged in this research and the publication of its results.
Archaeologists believe that Baturyn was founded as a border fortress of the Chernihiv principality of Kyivan Rus’ in the 11th century and razed by the Mongols in 1275. Under Polish rule over central Ukraine, the Baturyn fortress was rebuilt and enlarged in the 1620-40s. It was an important strategic outpost on the eastern frontier of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (fig. 1).
Researchers have established that the 17th-century town citadel was protected by a moat, rampart, wall, towers, and gate made of horizontally placed logs in keeping with the medieval Rus’-Ukraine tradition of urban fortifications. It covered 1.3 hectares in area. In 2008, the citadel’s earthen and wooden defences, as well as several brick and timber structures within its bailey, were reconstructed on the basis of archaeological research of their remnants in 1996-2008 (figs. 2, 3). Prof. Antony Littlewood (University of Western Ontario) praised highly the historical, architectural, and technical aspects of these reconstructions. See the report on his visit to Baturyn in 2019 in this issue.
One hypothesis has been proposed that local Cossacks modelled the wooden palanka border forts of the Ottoman Empire for building the palisade outer defences of the Baturyn stronghold in the 1630-40s. The authors of this article, however, assert that Polish magnates and royal administrators, who commissioned the construction of fortress, borrowed its design from Poland or Lithuania. There, palisade fences were widely used as frontal fortifications of medieval and early modern town suburbs, castles, and monasteries. The Baturyn fortress had an area of 26.4 hectares and a perimeter of approximately 1 km. In the 1670-80s, its wooden towers and gates were reinforced by flanking earthen bulwarks. Researchers have graphically recreated the hypothetical general view, plan, and defensive structures of 17th-century Baturyn (fig. 1).
In 1648-54, as a result of a massive popular uprising, central Ukraine was liberated from Polish domination and the Cossack state, or Hetmanate, emerged in this region. From 1669 to 1708, Baturyn was its administrative and military capital. The town achieved the height of its urban development during the illustrious reign of Hetman Ivan Mazepa (1687-1709). But in 1708, this Cossack ruler resisted militarily the increasing absolutist power of Muscovy over central Ukraine. That year, the Russian army totally destroyed Baturyn, the main military base of Mazepa’s revolt. The dynamic Hetman Kyrylo Rozumovsky (1750-64) rebuilt the town, restored its status as the capital of the fading Cossack realm, and promoted its demographic, economic, and cultural revival until his death in 1803. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Baturyn declined into an insignificant rural settlement.
This past summer, the expedition renewed its archaeological and architectural investigations of the remnants of Mazepa’s villa in the Baturyn southern suburb of Honcharivka. In the late 1690s, the hetman commissioned there his ambitious three-story masonry baroque palace, a timber court church, and houses for guests, servants, and guards. The palace was ransacked and burned by Muscovite troops in 1708.
Excavations of Mazepa’s manor have been conducted since 1995. Last year, 19 m west of the site of his palace, archaeologists discovered debris of a hitherto unknown spacious brick edifice from the late 17th or early 18th century. It had an underground 2 m-wide vaulted tunnel with 12 steps leading down to what was presumably a basement, which has yet to be unearthed and identified. In 2019, this passageway was excavated for 6 m in length. Its side walls have survived with a height of 0.64-1.5 m and are 0.9-1 m thick. The lowest step of this tunnel is situated over 4 m deep from the present ground surface. The brick pavements of the floor and steps are in a fragmentary state of preservation (fig. 4).
At the upper part of this stepped passage, a door aperture and arched niches in the side walls were found. Unfortunately, the upper portions of these walls, vaults, as well as the ruins of the building’s superstructure, were dismantled for reusing of bricks in the 19th century. Further excavations are needed to explore the remaining debris of both the underground and aboveground levels of this intriguing edifice to determine its dimensions, layout, and function within Mazepa’s estate. Preliminary analysis suggests that similar brick vaulted tunnels with steps leading down to the basement have been preserved intact at the masonry mansion of Judge General Vasyl Kochubei in Baturyn and the chancellery of the local Cossack regiment in Chernihiv of the late 17th century.
In Pobozhivka, the northern suburb of Baturyn, the expedition continued researching the remnants of the residence of Chancellor General Pylyp Orlyk, personal secretary, chief adviser, and closest associate of Mazepa. Orlyk’s wooden dwelling was burned during the conflagration of Baturyn in 1708. In 2017-19, brick foundations of two of its heating stoves were unearthed. Archaeologists found many fragments of locally manufactured polychrome glazed ceramic and terracotta tiles of high technical and artistic quality from their revetments. These plaques are ornamented with elaborate floral and heraldic relief motifs in the Ukrainian baroque style. Several of them bear the family coats of arms of both Orlyk and Mazepa.
In 2018-19, researchers recreated two complete heraldic stove tiles of roughly square shape with each side about 30 cm long. The computer photo collage and graphic reconstructions of the burnt tile featuring Orlyk’s arms (1707-08) was published in Canadio-Byzantina, No. 30, January 2019, p. 12, fig. 3.
In this issue, the authors present hypothetical computer reconstructions of the fragmented burnt glazed ceramic stove tile with Mazepa’s armorial bearings in relief. In the centre of its composition is a massive light-green Polish baroque shield surrounded by decorative garlands or leaves of darker green enamel. On this shield, a darkest green anchor-like six-barred cross with a white crescent moon and a six-pointed star on both sides are depicted, i.e., the main heraldic symbols of Mazepa’s family arms referred as Kurch (Kurcz in Polish). Hung around the crossbar, between the crescent and the star, is a white ribbon with the Order of St. Andrew. The hetman received this award in 1700. The shield is surmounted by a medieval helmet crested with a princely crown (fig. 5).
Around the shield are relief images of symmetrically placed stylized Cossack standards with horsetails, banners, hetmans’ large globular maces, flanged maces, military trumpets, spears, partisans (pole arms), flags, cannons, ramrods, muskets, sabres, oval and figured shields, a baroque suit of armour and helmet, all glazed green and set against a white background. Only the cannonballs, gunpowder barrel, and two Cossack kettle-drums at the bottom of this composition are situated asymmetrically.
Representations of various weapons, munitions, and Cossack or hetman insignias of power on the recreated tile resemble those found in many engravings and silver-gilt icon covers (riza or oklad of the Byzantine tradition) featuring the armorial bearings of Mazepa, which were created in Kyiv and Chernihiv during his reign. Probably at Orlyk’s behest, a professional drawer from the Kyiv-Chernihiv art school prepared the original graphic designs for his own and Mazepa’s arms. He may have modelled some distinguished earlier versions of the hetman’s heraldic emblem. On the base of this graphic original, Baturyn tile-makers carved the wooden moulds for fashioning the clay tiles.
The image of a princely crown surmounting the helmet on Mazepa’s coat of arms deserves special attention (fig. 5). Similarly shaped crowns are depicted on many early modern armorial bearings of princes of Ukraine and Western countries. The authors have suggested that Orlyk commissioned the heraldic emblem of the hetman with this specific crown to honour him as Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. Mazepa was awarded this title on 1 September 1707 for services rendered to the Holy League. This allows us to date the reconstructed stove tile with the hetman’s arms, as well as the finishing of Orlyk’s home, from that time to the fall of Baturyn on 2 November 1708.
This particular type of crown does not appear in other representations of Mazepa’s heraldic emblem from his era, which have survived to the present. Hence, the recreated design of the hetman’s armorial bearings that adorned Orlyk’s residence in Baturyn and dates to 1707-08 is unique and chronologically one of the latest known to us.
The combination there of Mazepa’s coat of arms together with images of weapons, accoutrements, and hetman attributes of power is also unique. Other ceramic heraldic stove tiles manufactured in the Hetmanate, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Muscovy lack this armature. It was likely an innovation of Orlyk to introduce such military motif into Mazepa’s heraldic composition on some stove tiles at his home. But the existence of these stoves was too brief. It would appear that the ravaging of Baturyn as well as Orlyk’s residence in 1708 put an end to the continued use and spread of his innovation in the ceramic tile decoration of early modern Ukraine and its neighbours.
The expedition investigated further the remnants of the administrative complex commissioned by Rozumovsky in 1750-64 on the site of Kochubei’s former court. These government offices of the Cossack polity were demolished in the 19th century. Debris from two of them was partially uncovered in 2017-19. An example of such state buildings from Rozumovsky’s era is the extant masonry two-story chancellery of the Kyiv Cossack regiment in the town of Kozelets, Chernihiv Oblast, which was constructed and embellished in the Ukrainian baroque style with rococo elements in 1756-65.
This past summer, in the park of Kochubei’s estate, archaeologists resumed excavating the brick foundation of the south-western structure of this complex. It had the dimension of 12 m by 10 m, one floor, timber walls, a kitchen, a dining room, and at least two heating stoves. One was faced with costly ceramic tiles adorned by Delft blue and white glazing and featured ornate plant, anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, and architectural designs in the late baroque Dutch style. Rozumovsky could import them from the Netherlands. Photos of two fragments of these tiles discovered on site in 2018 were published in Canadio-Byzantina, No. 30, 2019, p. 13, figs. 4,a,b.
Another stove was apparently revetted with cheaper flat ceramic plaques glazed brown, green, light beige, yellow, and white. Presented here is the photo of a shard covered with this polychrome enamel depicting seemingly the folds of a garment or drapery on the right side. It was found among the structure’s remnants last year. Several analogous stove tiles bearing flower ornaments, human images, and landscapes executed in a similar naїve manner were unearthed at Kochubei’s court and the citadel in previous years. Their painters adapted some artistic motifs of Dutch painted earthenware and reinterpreted them using multicoloured glazing techniques and traditions of Ukrainian folk art. Such tiles were possibly fashioned and decorated at the local manufactory of architectural majolica that Rozumovsky founded in Baturyn in 1750. During the 18th century, comparable replicas of popular and reputable Dutch glazed ceramic stove tiles were also produced in Kyiv, Chernihiv and Poltava provinces, and Galicia, Ukraine.
While excavating the Baturyn outskirts, archaeologists also found a broken gilt bronze pendant with an oval semi-precious gem from a necklace set of an elite Cossack woman, a lily-shaped bronze belt clasp from a horse harness, a copper button, three copper Russian coins of small denomination, two broken iron locks and a key, various iron household implements, and three fragments of ceramic Cossack tobacco pipes, all dating to the 17th and 18th centuries.
To summarize, in 2019, archaeologists closely examined the building history of the early modern Baturyn fortifications and identified their Ukrainian and Polish designs. They graphically recreated some defensive structures and the general view of the hetman capital before its destruction in 1708. Remnants of the heretofore unknown masonry edifice and many informative decorative and heraldic stove tiles of the Mazepa era were discovered. The importance of these archaeological finds and the computer graphic reconstructions of the unique versions of Mazepa’s and Orlyk’s ceramic coat of arms for the study of heraldry and applied arts of Cossack Ukraine cannot be overstated. Next summer, excavations at Baturyn will continue.