THE PSKOV FIND: CHRISTIANITY IN RUSSIA MIGHT HAVE SPREAD BEFORE AD 988
A cross found in Pskov while examining a burial site purportedly dating back to 10th century may cause quite a stir. According to an Izvestia reporter, historical data referring to a time frame and the ways of Christianity in Russia may have to be updated as a result.
The burial site in question is thought to date back to 10th century. It?s located right at the center of the town. Construction workers unearthed it by accident at the end of 2003 while working on the site of an old house awaiting demolition.
The remains of a diseased woman were found in a sit-up position 4 m deep in the ground. A careful inspection of the burial chamber revealed the following items: a bronze bowl measuring nearly 50 cm in diameter (sitting at the feet of the diseased); various articles of jewelry made of silver and bronze (bracelets, rings and a necklace); Byzantine golden coins, a weighing balance, glass beads etc. Historians believe that all the above items point to high social status of the diseased person. Some experts say that she might have been a younger sister of the Princess Olga, a founder of Pskov. Anthropologists have begun their work to reconstruct the looks and determine the age of the diseased woman.
Lately the archeologists have found a Christian cross in the funeral garb during an X-ray examination. The find may result in updating of the present concepts with respect to the adaptation of Christianity in Russia. The officially recognized year of baptism of Russia is AD 988. However, the diseased one whose age is yet to be clarified had been apparently baptized while still alive as the find indicates. The cross placed in a tomb is a sign of a certain rite that might have been in common use at the time. The theory seems even more plausible if we take into account references to the Princess Olga?s baptism which took place sometime between AD 955 to 959, according to Western historical chronicles. The same source says that the Princess Olga invited the German missionaries to Pskov in AD 961-962.
Commenting on progress of the research to PAI News Agency, Elena Yakovleva, senior fellow with the Pskov Memorial Reserve, said that ?since the burial site was discovered within the limits of the Roundabout town we can presume that the Scandinavians in the 10th century Pskov kept their settlements quite isolated.? By no means it implies a lack of close ties between the Norse people and the Russians living in Pskov or any disputes arising from the matters of faith.
And one more opinion concerning the issue. Experts at archeology department of the Pskov Memorial Reserve said to Izvestia that ?final conclusions can only be drawn once we?re able to say how old the burial site actually is. It might date back to the second half of 10th century as well as to the second half of 11th century.?
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