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Gallery: Kalamaja plot continues to yield up medieval treasures

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The haul of late medieval artifacts found in ongoing excavations on a Tallinn building site has continued to increase, with the figure so far standing at 15,000; this is the single largest number of finds at one site in Estonia.

The plot, at the junction of Väike-Patarei 1/Jahu 6 in the Kalamaja district just to the west of the Old Town, has seen an area of approximately 1,000m2 excavated so far with roughly as big an area still to be dug over.

The treasure trove of items is particularly notable given the short time frame which the artifacts derive from. Previous excavations at sites in Tallinn and Tartu have yielded an even larger number of finds (between 20,000-30,000 items in both cases) but over a larger area and much longer time span, according to archeologist Erki Russow from Tallinn University.

The bulk of the items found at Väike-Patarei 1/Jahu 6 date from the last few decades of the 15th century, at a time when Tallinn was in its late medieval heyday, according to Rivo Bernotas, the archaeologist in charge of the site. They were apparently deposited in earth used to level or elevate the ground at the location, some time in the early 16th century, making up a layer of almost one metre in depth.

The makeup of most of the finds suggests that the ground was brought from a demolished religious building as well as a property which had been used for artisan purposes working with leather.

Highlights, many of which are rare or even unique in European finds, include a small ivory figurine representing Christ, 25 badges worn by pilgrims, a fragment of a glass window depicting a musician and a ring bearing the image of some sort of mythical creature in a gothic (14th-15th century) style.

The most recent coin to be found was minted during the bishopric of Johannes II Bertkow who was Bishop of Tartu in 1473-1485, according to Bernotas.

Chess pieces, dice, arrowheads, canon balls, fragments of ceramics, a variety of tools and writing implements and other items have also been discovered.

"The plot contains everything that we should be finding in the Old Town, but don't," said Russow.

The remainder of the plot is to be excavated through the course of the summer.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: BNS

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