Archeologists discovered old Russian prince’s seal with depiction of the Annunciation

Moscow, August 16, 2016


An old Russian prince’s seal has been discovered on
the territory of Russia’s Kaliningrad region for the
first time, reports Interfax with reference to
the press service of the Institute of Archeology of the
Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS).

This unique artifact was discovered by members of the
Sambiyskiy expedition (named after the Sambia, or Samland
Peninsula) of the Institute of Archeology during
excavations at the Privolnoye settlement in the
Kaliningrad region.

The seal was stamped on behalf of Prince Vsevolod
Mstislavich who was a grandson of Prince Vladimir Monomakh
of Kiev. The prince himself was the elder son of Grand
Prince Mstislav Vladimirovich of Kiev and Grand Duchess
Christina, daughter of the Swedish king Inge I the Elder.
He lived from about 1095 till February 11, 1138.

The scene of the Annunciation is depicted on one side of
the seal: Archangel Gabriel, the seal owner’s
patron, bringing the Good News to the Virgin Mary. On the
other side is a holy warrior – judging by an
explanatory inscription in Cyrillic letters, the holy
Greatmartyr Theodore (the patron of the prince’s

The lead seals which bear the prince’s name have
confirmed the authenticity of a document written on
parchment (from which they were suspended) –
probably patent letters confirming land rights or a
charter permitting free traveling on lands under the
ruler’s jurisdiction.

Presumably, the charter was extremely important for the
man who brought it from Russia (Rus’) to the Baltic
shores. This seal is the only find of its kind discovered
within the area of settlement of ancient Prussians on the
south-east coast of the Baltic Sea.

The unfortified settlement of Privolnoye (originally
“Gunthenen” in German) was found in 2016 by
members of the Sambiyskiy expedition of the RAS Institute
of Archeology. An occupation layer of up to fifty
centimeters was found in the exploring shafts which
contained fragments of moulded and circular ceramics,
animal bones and amber.

Among other discovered artifacts are a great number of
bronze bars, pieces of bronze and silver, and fragments of
more ancient objects (for example, fibulae of the Roman
period and the era of great migration of peoples) which
were used as raw materials.

Among the factors which play an important role in the
dating of the Privolnoye settlement are discovered coins,
such as: half of a dirham (Baghdad; the year 190 of the
Hegira – the Muslim era reckoned from Muhammad’s
departure from Mecca), a denarius of Otto and Adelheid (c.
990), an eleventh-century denarius of the city of Cologne,
a fragment of a denarius of the city of Duisburg
(1039-1056), a twenty-one-gram cut-off fragment of a
silver grivna, and a lead sealing of the Drahichyn style.
These finds are indicative of a high social and property
status of the settlement’s inhabitants.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *