(Ancient Bielorussian Navagradak)
In 1981 a book "Ancient Navagradak (trading post-defended town)" was published by the author of the present book. The first section consisted of information gathered by the Navagradak archaeological expedition of Leningradskoie Otdielenie Instituta Archeologii (Leningrad Division of the Institute of Archaeology), obtained during the exploration of the mound Maly Zamak in 1957-1967. The second section of the book dealt with the construction of dwellings, the history of trades and external contacts from the end of the X century to the end of the XIII century. These dates were established from the archaeological findings. In a short summary it was pointed out, that it will be possible to arrive at firmer conclusions concerning ancient Russian Navagradak when archaeological findings from the trading post-defended town would be augmented with the archaeological information about the Navagradak citadel as well as with a review of the literature. This is the aim of the present work. In the present volume, the results of many years of the archaeological endeavour in Navagradak and it's surroundings are outlined.
The layout of this work is different from that of the previous one. In the main body of the text the results of all archaeological findings in Navagradak and surroundings are broadly outlined. The published information was incorporated and an attempt was made to recreate the history of the culture of this west Belarussian town to the end of the XIII century. The findings of the excavations on the Zamak mound - the citadel of the ancient Belarussian Navagradak - are listed in the Appendix to the book, where the results of the laboratory analyses have also been included.
The book "Ancient Navagradak" contains a description of the archaeological investigations of the ancient town. A detailed account of this, including the history of the investigation of the monuments in the Navagradak district is given in the book.
The first information about the burial mounds of the Navagradak district was obtained in the middle of the previous century (XIX c) and the names of A.I. Dmitrov and K. Tyshkevich are prominent among the investigators. In preparation for the IX Archaeological Conference, N.P, Averius dug open three burial mounds next to the village of Maruliny. M.A. Cybishev, in 1892, investigated two burial mounds along the highway to Korelichi, close to Navagradak, as well as two burial mounds at the village of Garadzilouka .
Rumours circulated of excavations of burial grounds in the Navagradak district in the twenties and thirties of our century (XX c), when the district was part of Poland. Treasure hunts were conducted in the village of Garadechna and, probably in the villages of Kamenka and Kasheleva.
An object of note in Navagradak is the Zamak mound, where, till the twenties of our century (XXc.) there were two stone towers - Shchitovaya (Shchytouka) (shield) and Kascielnaya (church). In 1906 the Kascielnaya tower collapsed. Due to the efforts of a local historian T. Karvan the tower was re-enforced in1909-1910. During the first world war the southern wall of the Shchitovaya tower collapsed. The Governor of the Minsk gubernia (to which Navagradak belonged) asked the administration of the town to provide the means to reinforce "this rare memorial of the past history". However, work did not commence until 1922. At the same time the Kascielnaya (church) tower was provided with an escarpment.
Significant restoration and conservation works of the Zamak mound in Navagradak were undertaken by Polish investigators and restorers under the direction of S. Lorentz and J. Roemer. The summary of their work is given in the book about the defended trading town Navagradak. Their work deserves to be looked at in more detail.
The work of restoration and conservation of the Zamak mound commenced in conjunction with erection (on the south-east corner) of the neighbouring hill, the Maly Zamak, of a memorial mound to Adam Mickiewicz, where later the remains of the trading post - defended quarters of ancient Navagradak were discovered, The soil for that mound was taken from the top of the Zamak mound, which was used in the XIX century as a garbage tip. During the earth works, new and previously unknown memorials of monumental architecture were discovered on the Zamak mound. On the south side of the ground was the stone Vyezdnaya (Drive-in) tower which was connected to the newly discovered stone wall, which was surrounding the ground. On the southern hillside of the Zamak mound were the remains of the Kolodeznaya (Water well) tower, which was providing the entry to the water supply. A wall connected the tower to the Zamak. On the north-west of the ground the remains of the Uglavaya (Corner) tower were discovered.
Between the Szchytouka and Kascielnaya towers the investigators cleared the foundation stones of a palace, which they dated to be of the XVI or early XVII century. To the south-west of Szchytouka were the ruins of an orthodox church and of a catholic church, which were known to have been standing, (though without a roof), as late as 1850.
Whilst working on the Szchytouka, the investigators discovered the remains of a previous tower, built, according to them, at the same time as the orthodox church. The charred logs led the investigators to conclude that initially the Zamak mound was surrounded by a wooden wall and one tower.
The Polish architects restored the Kascielnaya tower by essentially rebuilding it and reinforcing the defensive stone wall, which is 2.40 m high.
Around the edges and the centre of the ground six trenches were dug and the following stratification was revealed: at the depth of 1.90 m there is a layer of clay and sand containing broken bricks. Under it there is black soil with a small amount of broken bricks, and lower still (to the depth of 3.20 m) there is grey soil with remains of burned and rotting timber. Findings of coins and stone missiles led the investigators to the conclusion that in the history of the Zamak mound there were two stages of which the first was dated to the first half of the XV century and the second to the beginning of the XVI century.
The work of the Polish architects is of the highest order. Due to their endeavours, the Zamak mound of Navagradak was shown to have been a multi-towered defensive structure, and the conservation of the towers and defensive wall has prevented further destruction. On the other hand, their results were confined to the history of the Zamak in the late middle ages. There were no discoveries pointing to the earlier history of the monument.
The archaeological investigations of the LOIA (at that time the Leningrad Division of the Institute of the history of the material culture) started in Navagradak in 1956. On the territory of the Zamak mound a trench was dug some 10 m to the south from the stone foundations of the palace. Initially the stratification was similar to the one observed previously. However, at the depth of 3 m unburnt planks, ceramics, an axe and other realia of the XII-XIII centuries were discovered. It could be firmly asserted that the Zamak was inhabited at that time. At the same time a historical stratum was investigated on the Maly Zamak mound. The summary of those findings is contained in the book "Drevnii Navagradak".
In 1959 on the Zamak mound, close to the Vyezdnaya tower, excavations of an area 20 sq.m. in size were started. An historical stratum up to 5 m thick was investigated only in 1962. As the diggings in depth continued, the area of the hole was reduced, till at the subsoil the area of the hole was quite small. Nevertheless, based on the findings one could conclude that there existed on that spot an ancient Belarussian settlement.
Systematic excavations on the Zamak mound began in 1968. The area of the excavations was 320 sq. m. and was started 20 m to the west from the Szchytouka. In the South-West part of the excavations were the ruins of the late middle age monumental memorials, among them was an orthodox church, first found by the polish architects. It was considered necessary to add to those excavations an additional 104 sq. m., thus extending it to the bank (earthen wall) and the stone wall.
Investigations of this northern digging continued until 1973. In that time some new areas were added to the investigation. In all, an area of 1250 sq m was dug, of which 850 sq m was occupied by the residue of the architectural constructions of the late Middle Ages.
In 1974, on the south side of the grounds, 20 m to the east from the excavations of 1959 and 1962, excavations of an area of 140 sq m were begun. They were completed in 1977. The historical stratum of the ancient Russian period was destroyed by later constructions. Its existence was confirmed by the findings of ceramics, fragments of amphoras, glass bracelets and other characteristic objects.
After a considerable halt, the work of the Navagradak expedition was renewed in 1983, together with the division of archaeology of the Institute of History of Academy of Sciences of the Belarus'n SSR led by the Belarus'n archaeologist L.G. Ranicheva. An exploration of an area of 100 sq m, adjacent to the excavations of 1974 and 1977, was started. The ancient russian stratum of this digging was investigated under the leadership of the author in 1984-1985.
Apart from the work on the Zamak mound of Navagradak, other archaeologists were conducting investigations, studying defensive structures and memorials of monumental architecture. In 1959 P.A. Rappoport cut a bank in the middle of the grounds and in 1969-1970 M.A. Tkachev investigated the defence structures, adding substantially to the observations of the Polish architects. In the beginning of the 1970's a group was formed, which was part of the Navagradak expedition, under the leadership of M.V. Malevskaya. The group dug the ruins of the XIV century orthodox church and a temple dated to the XVII century. Of great interest are the remains of a dwelling of the second half of the XIV century - the only, at the time, monumental home of a feudal lord in Belarus'.
In Navagradak investigations were conducted on the elevation south-west of the Maly Zamak. On that hill in 1961. 1962 and 1965 M.K. Karger excavated the remains of the ancient russian temple, which was found under the orthodox church of Boris and Gleb, which was built in the XVI century.
At the same time when investigations in Navagradak were conducted, archaeological memorials were found and excavations were conducted in the vicinity of Navagradak. A large study of kurgans (burial mounds) around Navagradak was performed by K.V. Pavlova. From 1963 to 1972 her team had excavated 75 kurgans in the villages of Garadzilouka , Sialec, Molnichy, Sulacichy and Batarouka.
In all, in the archaeological works on the territory of Navagradak, an area of 3000 sq m was investigated. 23,500 pieces of ceramics were found as well as about 11,000 other findings. In addition, information was obtained about an ancient russian temple and 105 burials in a Christian cemetery on the Maly Zamak. Outside the town, evidence of several settlements and about 100 kurgans was obtained.
As a result of the archaeological studies in Navagradak, we can view anew the scarce written documents about the town, and come to new conclusions about the history of that memorial from the end of the X century to the end of the XIII century. The findings in Navagradak have been compared, where possible, with the findings of other western russian towns. This aids in finding the place which was occupied by Navagradak among the towns of Western Rus'.
The chronicle of Navagradak was written with the help of many investigators. In the book about the trading post-defended town is a list of archaeologists who headed the excavations on the Maly Zamak. In the investigation of the Zamak mound the leading investigators were: M.V. Malevskaya, I.D. Zilmanovich, K.V. Pavlova, T.S. Ponomareva, K.T. Kovalskaya, L.G. Pancheva and N.V. Nikalaeu. Our work was conceived and formulated in the department of slavonic-finish archaeology (previously the group of slavonic russian archaeology of LOIA). The author had for the last thirty years the unfailing support of all her friends in the department. The author dedicates this work with gratitude to all who helped in its accomplishment.
Chapter 1. Written sources and their attribution in the works of historians.
In the Ipat'ev chronicle under the year 1235 Yazyeslav Novgorodski is mentioned (in ancient russian) "In that year Daniil lead against Kondrat Mindovg's Lithuania, Izyeslav (Yazyeslav ) Novgorodski". In the 30th of the XIII century the polish prince Kondrat Mazowiecki tried to enter into a coalition with the Teutonic Order, to defend himself from Volyn and Lithuania, and among Daniil's supporters was the ruler of Navagradak Izyeslav (Yazyeslav), who's name is not mentioned again in the chronicle.
Basic written evidence about Navagradak (Novogrodok, Novgorod, Novyi gorod) was contained in the Galician-Volyn chronicle, which was preserved as a separate part of the Ipat'ev chronicle and is a tale of the events of years 1238-1292. Investigators have shown that the first part of this most important source about the history of Western and South-Western Rus was written on the order of Daniil Galicki, probably in Chelm and was extended and amended later during the reign of his brother Vasilka Romanovich.
The first mention of Navagradak refers to the campaigns of Daniil into the lands along the river Nioman. Under the year 1252 it is said that "Danila and Vasilko went to Novougorod". At the same time Volynian princes have conquered other towns of that land - Volkovysk and Slonim and also Zditov. The chapter concludes with a remarkable phrase: "and having taken many towns they returned home".
The conquest of the towns along Nioman was not secure, because under the next, 1253 year the chronicler informs of a new campaign by Daniil. With him were: his son Lev, Vasilko, his sons (daughters) in-law Teak "from the polovci (tribe)", an the princes of Pinsk. There is a lively description of the campaign. The detachment of the Volyn princes, having reached river Shchara - a tributary of Nioman- refused to go further. Daniil had to exert much effort to be able to complete the campaign. "Using wise words" said the chronicle about the prince "it would be a shame before Lithuania and all lands if we don't reach (our goal) and return". The campaign was completed and its finish was marked with these words: "in the morning all the land of Navagradak was captured".
The third campaign on Navagradak was also headed by prince Daniil. As is known, under the year 1255: "Daniil went to war on Lithuania, on Navagradak".
The intension of Daniil to take possession of Navagradak resulted in the campaigns of 1252, 1253 and 1255 and were aimed at severing the centre of the Navagradak district from Lithuania, which under the rule of Mindovg, penetrated there somewhat earlier. It would appear that it was not possible to achieve this by military means and in the year of the third campaign there were peace negotiations between Lithuania and Volyn. Mindovg, through his son Voishelk, married his daughter to Daniil's son Shvarn and Voishelk handed over Navagradak, on behalf of Mindovg, to another son of Daniil, Roman. Voishelk also gave Daniil "Voslonim and Volkovyesk". The transfer of Navagradak to Roman is mentioned again in the chronicle under the year 1257.
Having taken over Navagradak, Roman., answering a call from his father, comes to his help to fight the yatvyags. "And he sent for Roman in Novgorodok and Roman came to him with all the Novogrudians". There was however, still a dependence of Roman on Mindovg, who told Daniil "And send word Mindovg to Daniil I will send you Roman and Novgorodians so that he can get to Vozvyagl and from there Kiev".
After Mindovg was murdered (under the year 1262) "Voishulk (previously spelled Voishelk) became the prince of Novegorod". There is a long description, how the pagan prince had converted to christianity in Navagradak "and he was christened in Novegorodce" and his activities as a neophyte. In a year Voishelk "went with the Linyans to Novougorod and from there with novgorodce went to Litvoy to be a prince".
Under 1268 the chronicler reports that Shvarn rules Navagradak "at that time Shvarn rules Novegorod". From Navagradak the Prince goes to Volyn' to help his family fight Poland.
One of the last and vivid mentions of Navagradak is found for the year 1274. The Volynian prince Lev - son of Daniil, preparing a campaign against Navagradak is seeking help from the Tatar chan Mengutimur, and the last obliges sending troops under Yagurchin. Among the volynians were numerous Russian princes. The chronicle mentions the voivode of a district beyond the Dniepr, Roman dobryanski with his son Oleg, Gleb the Prince of Smolensk "a lot of other princes, because they were beholden to the Totars". And thus all went to Novougrodok". The combined forces arrived to the land along the Nioman. They slept on the shore of Servech a tributary of Nioman. At dawn " the troops approached the town". On the right marched the Tatars, next to them was Lev with his solders and on the left was Prince Vladimir with his regiment. "The army stopped next to the town". The campaign was in winter and steam from the running water was rising over the Navagradak mounds. Lev outwitted his allies " he took the defended town without the Tatars but the citadel remained (untouched)". The other princes were angry, they thought that "having taken Novgordok they could continue their campaign in Lithuania, but because they were angry with Lev, they returned home from Novogrodok".
After three years the volynian princes heard the news that the Tatars had taken the town. "M'stislav, Volodimir, Jur'i said that they too could have taken Navagradak but the tatars have conquered all".
This news of 1277 complete the written evidence, which without doubt was describing ancient Navagradak and was recorded by the Galician-Volynian chronicle. The passage describing the inhabitants of Navagradak bemoaning the death of Vladimir Vasilevich, together with the germans, surozans and others, was probably referring to another town.
The information about Navagradak contained in the Galician-Volynian chronicle concerns the events in the history of the town in a quarter of a century of the XIII century (1252-1277) and describes the attempts of Volyn and Lithuania to rule the town by force or peaceful means. The christening of Voishelk in Navagradak was also done with the aim to strengthen his hold on the town.
The amount of information about Navagradak in the Galician-Volynian chronicle is not large. The town is mentioned 11 times, but it is the most valuable source of material about the ancient Navagradak, and we will return to it frequently.
Of later documents, which would be of interest in the recreation of the history of ancient Navagradak, the "The list of cities of near and far" is a memorial of the XIV century where Navagradak is mentioned among the Lithuanian towns. Peter Duesburg a priest of the crusaders writes that in 1314 magister Heinrich von Plocke has surrounded and tried to capture the town of Navagradak, which was in the country of the krivichi. Interesting is the message of Prince Gedimin, who in 1323 invited to Lithuania the citizens of Luebeck, Schtralzend and other german towns. He promised them the freedom of their religious beliefs. The Prince told them that he built places of worship for the minorities of the Order in Vilno and Navagradak.
There is also information of interest about the ancient Navagradak in a later chronicle of a Polish historian Maciej Stryjkowski (XVI century). This document can not serve as a source of information for the period of interest to the students of ancient Navagradak, but some echoes of the past could be of use if handled critically.
In one West Belarussian chronicle of the XVI century there is a story of a mythical prince who, with his troupes "crossed the river Nioman and found within four miles from the river a beautiful mountain where they created a town which they called Navagradak and created a great prince whom they called the great prince of Navagradak".
Stryjkowski repeats the above story almost word for word. "An so they crossed the Nioman and found within four miles a beautiful and toll mountain on which there was the first capital of the russian princedom Navagradak, which was destroyed by the tsar Batyi. There Erdivil created his capital and defended without blood letting a big part of the russian lands, he became known as the Great Prince of Navagradak".
Both stories obviously refer to Navagradak, which is situated 28 km (4 miles) from the Nioman and is situated on high hills. Without doubt the town is distinguished in its significance among the towns along the Nioman, which is obvious also from reading the Galician-Volyn chronicle.
In the Gustyn chronicle (XVII century), in the first part of which much is borrowed from the Ipat'ev chronicle for the year 1252, it is said "In that summer the great prince of Lithuania Mindovg was crowned to be the king of Lithuania in Navagradak with the blessing of Pope Innocent (IV 1243-1254) by Henryk Bishop of Chelm, in Prussia the Papal Cardinal".
The list of written sources would not be complete without mentioning the words in the IV Novgorod and Sofian chronicles in which under the year 1044 it reads "Yaroslav went to Lithuania and in spring he founded Novgorod and he did it".
The written information about Navagradak were used by Belarussian investigators in general works on the history of Russia and in special works about the Western Belarussian lands. They were mainly accounts based on chronicles and other sources and, more seldom, conclusions based on the sources.
Considering the information contained in the chronicles that Navagradak was founded by Yaroslav in the 40's of the XI century, the first Russian historian V.N. Tatishchev writes "This is meant to refer to the Lithuanian Novgorodok, but is more likely to be the Seversky (Northern), because it too was mentioned at about the same time". Tatishchev was put of by the story of Stryjkowski that Navagradak was founded on the spot where a town was destroyed by Batyi and he writes: "Batyi was never in Lithuania, not even in Smolensk".
Snippets of information about Navagradak are contained in the capital work of N.M. Karamzin "Who built Navagradak - asked the author- we don't know. Probably the Belarussians."
In the 80-90's of that century (XIX) a series of works about the Western Belarussian lands have appeared. Those were based largely on the historical sources about Navagradak. Some of the sources were judged critically. Thus, for instance, N.P. Barisov and V.B. Antonovich did not consider the information in the IV Novgorod and Sofia chronicles about Novgorod to refer to Navagradak. Antonovich saw in the Western Belarussian chronicles compiling (?) devices, but believed in the veracity of the Gustyn chronicle about the marriage of Mindovg in Navagradak in 1252. This evidence is also believed by N.P. Batyushkov and P.D. Bryancev. The well known historian M.K. Lyubavski concludes that Navagradak had become the main town of Black Rus' and the permanent home of Mindovg.
The question of where was the first capital of Lithuania occupied the historians in the later years. In 1910, when V.I. Picheta had written that it was Navagradak, a professor of the St Petersburg university E.A. Volter thought that the first capital should be found further in the depth of Lithuania.
Among the soviet historians we should mention the ideas of M.N. Tichomirov, who thought that Navagradak was created in 1212. He quotes the Ipolit chronicle for that year which said: "Les'tka has complained of his shame and sent to Navagradak for Mstislav and told him 'take me if you go and occupy Galicia'." However, the events mentioned in the chronicle refer to Galicia and the place named must be another Navagradak.
V.T. Pashuto has subjected to a serious analysis the written sources about Navagradak, and considered them together with other information about Black Rus and its towns. The author thinks that Novgorod of the IV Novgorod chronicle is not the same as Navagradak. It is interesting to note that the author considers the history of Mindovg and other Lithuanian princes as imbued with enlightenment and could have been subject to a separate chronicle written in one of the orthodox monasteries along the Nioman, possibly in the one founded by Prince Voishelk in the land of Navagradak.
In 1972 appeared an article about the early history of Navagradak by the Belarus'n historian M.I. Yermalovich in which the author disagrees with the notion that "Novgorod" of the IV Novgorod and Sofia chronicle was not Navagradak. Yermalovich considered that Yaroslav the Wise founded the town to fight Lithuania.
To support his views the author shifts the Lithuania of the chronicles from the land which has become the eastern part of soviet Lithuania to the immediate vicinity of Navagradak. "Lithuanians" of the Belarussian chronicles, as Yermalovich assumes, lived on land between Minsk and Navagradak from east to west and from north to south between Molodechno and Lyachovichi. The 'migration' of "Lithuania" is not supported by any archaeological findings. Only in one case, establishing the lithuanian-russian border, the author mentioned that the line of toponyms (place names) coincides with the southern border of the findings of hatched ceramics ie with the border of settlement of Balts, who inhabited "Lithuania". In other words, to explain events of the XI century Yermalovich is using as evidence findings which have been dated to the first half of the first millennium.
To prove that "Lithuania" of the chronicles existed close to Navagradak, the author is trying to use information from the chronicles about campaigns against it. However, the evidence which he uses shows the directions of that campaigns. The territory occupied by "Lithuania" of the Belarussian chronicles is to be found not too far from Navagradak, but not in the immediate neighbourhood. This is clear from the description by the chronicler of Voishelk, who in 1263, having collected people from Pinsk, came to Navagradak "and otgole, poya with him the people of Novgorod and went to rule Lithuania".
It is difficult to agree with Yermalovich that the toponym "Lithuania" found in the upper Nioman country indicates that the whole nation lived their. This finding does show that isolated groups of baltic people lived there and were different from the primary inhabitants of this land.
Yermalovich has transplanted "Lithuania" of the 40's of the XI century onto a slavonic territory. Here was the ancient Izyaslavl', which the "Story of temporal years" places in the X century. Close to the town was a large cemetery (344 kurgans) were mainly krivichi were buried. V.V. Sedov shows that the land which Yermalovich had assigned to "Lithuania" is slavonic land, settled by dregovichy, which can be established by studying their settlements and burial places. As to the lands which were indeed lived on by Lithuanians, they have been well established by archaeological investigations in the eastern part of present day Lithuania. Investigations by A.Z. Tauttavichyus and R.K. Volkaite-Kulikauskene, which showed uninterrupted inhabitancy of that territory by baltic people, starting from the first centuries of our era till the middle ages and the affinity of their culture to the culture of the latgals, zemgals and other baltic tribes. These findings are well supported by the chronicle about the tribes living in the neighbourhood of Russia, among whom were "Lithuania, Zimergola, Kors' and Let'gola".
Navagradak can not be considered a town founded in the 40's of the XI century to fight Lithuania, for the reason that, as shown by the archaeological excavations early Navagradak was not a fortress. Modest settlements, of which the town consisted, could not be known to the authors of the Novgorod and Sofia chronicle, who lived a long way from the Nioman region.
Yermalovich writes that Novgorod of the XI century founded in 1044 was the Navagradak described by Tatishchev. As was shown previously, Tatishchev was inclined to think that the Novgorod he describes was Novgorod Seversky and refers to the year 1119. "Glab Minskyi prince started fighting with the polovians in the Novgorodok and Smolensk regions (belonging to) the children of Vladimir" The Belarus'n historian (Yermalovich) considers Novgorodian lands as the lands of Navagradak. The fact that the land of Novgorod was considered alongside the land of Smolensk means that the lands of the children of Vladimir were large territories, and in all likelihood the lands of Novgorod the Great.
Lets look at another statement of Tatishchev, which Yermalovich is trying to tie with the history of Navagradak. In the "History of Russia" under the year 1130 it is written: "The Great Prince Mstislav went to war on Lithuania having destroyed many homes he returned to Novgorod with many captives and founded in pirogoschi a church of the holy Mother of God. And from there he went to Kiev. " According to Yermalovich this citation speaks of Navagradak and the church mentioned by Tatishchev is in all likelihood the one the remains of which were discovered by M.K. Karger. The citation from Tatishchev has nothing to do with Navagradak. In this text there is an error. The church of the Holy Mother of God Pirogoshchei was built in Kiev and not Novgorod. "In that summer (under 1132) a stone church was founded to the Holy Mother of God called Pirogoshcha." Remains of that church were excavated in Kiev in 1976-1979.
It can be shown that, despite the attempts by Mikola Yermalovich, there is no mention of Navagradak of the XI and XII century in the chronicles. We examined in detail the article by the Belarus'n historian, because it is one a the few works dedicated to our town. Also, at the beginning of the 70's, when the article was published, a considerable body of archaeological material about Navagradak and its region has been accumulated, which was not used by Yermalovich.
The old controversy about the location of the capital of Lithuania did not disappear in the Soviet literature, but it has become the matter of interest of Lithuanian historians and archaeologists, who attempted to locate the capital within the territory of Lithuania. Written evidence about Navagradak was the subject of interest to Polish historians. In 1759 a book by J. Pazowski appeared in Lviv, in which, in latin, the information about the town, taken from the chronicle by Stryjkowski and a historian of the XVII century A. Kojalowich, who also used the material of the Polish chronicler.
A historian and publicist T. Narbut, who published in the 30's of the XIX century a multivolume history of Lithuania, based the history of Navagradak on the information contained in the Galicya-Volyn chronicle, which assumed that Mindovg resided in Novgorod.
Among the works of the Polish historians, concerning the treatment of written information about Navagradak, the investigation by J. Latkowski deserves attention. He held in high regard the Galicya-Volyn chronicle, but considered the Bychovec chronicle "muddled and erroneous". Latkowski tried to separate genuine and mythological Lithuanian princes. He thought that Prince Ringolt, considered to be the father of Mindovg, was a mythological figure. According to Latkowski, Navagradak was one of the important towns of Mindovg, but he was not conceived that in the year 1252 was the wedding of the prince in Navagradak, because in that year there was Prince Daniil's campaign on the towns along the Nioman. He thought that the wedding was held in Lithuania, in Voruta, where Mindovg resided.
The work of Latkowski, who rejected Navagradak as the capital of Lithuania in the days of Mindovg, influenced the thinking of subsequent Polish historians, though later, such as in the work of A. Prochaska, Navagradak was declared the place of the coronation of Mindovg. The search for the capital of Lithuania continued. W. Ketrzynski thought that it was the fortress of Utury on the river Dubisa (a tributary of Nioman). Kernovo and other places were also named as the likely capital.
In 1931 a small book was published about the town and its surrounds. In it were mentioned Belarussian chronicles and narratives about the legendary rulers of the town. The most valuable was the list by the author [Jozef Zmigrodzki whom we knew well], who was an engineer , of preserving works carried out on the Zamak mound of Navagradak till the 30's of our century (XX).
The known Polish historian H. Lowmianski produced in the 30's a capital work about the history of Lithuania. A special part was devoted to the ancient Navagradak. He rejects the notion of previous investigators, who, when Novgorod of the 40's in the XI century was mentioned in the chronicles, thought it was Navagradak. The author joins Latkowski in his belief of the impossibility of the coronation of Mindovg in Navagradak and suggested that the capital of Mindovg was in Lithuanian lands, because, for one thing, in the 30's of the XI century Navagradak was ruled by the Russian prince Izyaslav. Lowmianski considered the towns of Black Rus to be sentry posts, which belonged to the princes of Polesie, and the lands along the Nioman scanty and poorly colonised, which could not provide Mindovg with sufficient support.
The Polish emigre historic H. Paszkiewicz considered that Navagradak was the town from which lithuanians would raid South-Western Rus.
The above is a brief, incomplete summary of the written sources about Navagradak, which were written over hundreds of years. Because of limited written information, the thoughts of the historians concentrated on deciding if the town of the 40's in the XI century mentioned in the chronicles was Navagradak and if it was the first capital of Lithuania. On the whole the answer to both those questions was negative.
The real significance of Navagradak has become obvious as a result of many years of archaeological investigations, conducted on its territory and surrounding countryside.
Chapter 2. About the origins of Navagradak and its early history (to the end of the XI century).
The accounts of the formation of ancient Belarussian towns, which are subject of live discussions among historians and archaeologist. are considered now a separate section of the soviet urbanistics.
The author of the current work has written previously about the formation of Navagradak. However, this is such a difficult and multifaceted problem that we need to address it again, based on new information and new interpretations of previously known history.
The history of the formation of each ancient Belarussian town is difficult to deal with. The study of the formation of our town presents additional difficulties. Navagradak of the chronicles belongs to a group of ancient Russian towns (M.N. Tichomirov lists 47 such towns) which were first mentioned in writing in the XIII century ie at the time when the vast majority of the towns of Ancient Rus were already mentioned in writing. Indirect information, as we mentioned before, about the existence of Navagradak can be found under the year 1235 when Izyaslav of Novgorod was mentioned. Direct mention of the town occurred in 1252, in the description of the campaign by Daniil of Galicia on the towns along the Nioman.
Though the references to Navagradak and other towns of Black Rus were late, it can be concluded that in the middle of the XIII century those towns were significant and important settlements because they attracted the attention of the volynian princes. This is particularly true of Navagradak, which Daniil tried to capture again twice (1253 and 1255) after his first campaign on Black Rus.
Archaeological findings have shown, that the above conclusion was right. Settlements on the territory of Navagradak appeared at the end of the X century, and when Navagradak was mentioned first in the chronicles, it was an ancient Belarussian town with a colourful and unique culture.
Every investigator of the foundation of any town endeavours to give a concept of the territory where the town was settled. Alas, there is little information about the land of Navagradak. Archaeological findings dated to the first millennium and particularly to its third quarter and the IX-X centuries, prior to the foundation of Navagradak, are known only from the archaeological findings. The investigation of the land of early Navagradak as well as other Belarus'n lands along the Nioman, is less advanced than of other ancient Belarussian territories.
Some idea about the ancient relics of the first millennium on this land have been obtained by the findings at the village of Chereshlya, at the confluence of the rivers Belanozka and Nioman. At the northern end of the village, on the boundary "Zamachak" there is a settlement. Here our expedition dug an area of 16 sq m and discovered a historical stratum in which there were hatched ceramics from vessels with prominent ribs, fragments of rough ceramics, which were similar to the findings in the settlements of Lithuania, fragments of moulded profiled pots and frying pans, similar to the slavonic ceramics of the VIII-IX centuries and ancient Russian pots made on a potter's wheel with grooves, at times decorated with a wave. A restored pot from that settlement is similar to the ceramics of the X century found in Navagradak. L.D. Pobol' was also working in Chereshlya. He noticed ceramics characteristic of the late stage of the Zarubinec culture and of the Bancerov culture.
Ceramics similar to those found in Chereshlya are also known in different combinations in various places of the Navagradak district. For instance, hatched ceramic, fragments of late Zarubinec vessels and vessels of the Bancerov culture have been found in the village of Tolkuny. Moulded ceramics of the VII-IX centuries were found in the villages of Agarodniki, Garadki, Skrundi and others. The same type of ceramics together with early spun ceramics were found in the villages of Radagoshcha, Selishche, Maruliny and others.
We will take a closer look at two memorials in the vicinity of Navagradak. One of them is Garadishche next to the village of Boiki 6 km to the north-west of the town. Within 1 km from the village on a high hill, which did not have defensive structures, a 30 cm thick historical stratum was discovered. In it were unitary fragments of hatched ceramics. Most of the finds were ceramics of the Bancerov culture. Among them were fragments of tulip shaped vessels and a fragment of a vessel with a smoothed out rib.
The second memorial is connected with investigations of the previous century (XIX). The information about it are incomplete, but are of great interest. In 1892 M.A. Cybishev noticed next to the road to Korelichi, on the eastern border of Navagradak, elongated and round kurgans (burial mound) of which he excavated two elongated mounds. At the ground level there were open fire places, calcined bones and fragments of vessels. In one of the kurgan on an elevation stood nine moulded vessels, in one of them were human bones in another bones of a horse. Other items found in three kurgans were: knife with a thick pick, scissors, grinding stone, kresalo, a buckle, a bronze spiral and a bell. The significance of those finds was that close to the town there were not only round kurgans but also elongated ones, which were undoubtedly older. The assortment of items made of iron and bronze is similar to the inventory belonging to the original population of Navagradak and only the large assortment of moulded vessels is different to the ceramics of the early Navagradak.
Attempting to determine the composition of the population living in the territory which was later called Navagradak, we need to attribute to the ethnic groups the archaeological materials of the first millennium. We mentioned previously the slavonic moulded ceramics. As to the ceramic of the Bancerov culture of the V-VII centuries and at times VIII century, a large number of investigators consider that they belong to the baltic population (P.N. Tret'yakov, A.G. Mitrafanau, V.V. Sedov). Sedov is of the opinion that the Bancerov culture and the related to it Tushemlinski- Kolochinsk culture, beginning with the VI century started to penetrate into the slavonic population. L.D. Pobol', however, is of the opinion that the Bancerov culture was related to the slavonic peoples.
Judging by the archaeological findings, the land of Navagradak in the second half and the last centuries of the I millennium were not empty. Numerous memorials don't provide the real picture of the settlement of this territory at that time and show that this part of the land along the Nioman was not investigated adequately. The verity of this statement can be tested by looking at a archaeological map of the neighbouring district of Slonim, where as a result of active and systematic investigations by the archaeologist V.R. Supin, many memorials of the VI-IX centuries have been found in the basin of the upper and middle flow of the river Shchara, were there were many ancient Belarussian settlements of the end of the I and the beginning of the II millennium.
The late entry of Navagradak in the chronicles and paucity of archaeological findings in regard to the I millennium, force to consider the origin of the town solely from the findings in the town, the local burial grounds and memorials of the X-XI centuries.
Archaeological works have shown that at the end of the X century and in the first half of the XI century three empty hills were settled at the northern end of the present town. Two of them were the Zamak mound and Maly Zamak, where among early spun dishes were few moulded ceramics and also some forms of beads, among them pierced mosaic, dated to the IX-X centuries. The third mound was to the south-west of the Maly Zamak.
As to the population on the Zamak - the highest hill - under an ancient bank, which was moved later, a historical stratum was found contained ceramics, which first appeared on the Maly Zamak not before the first half of the XI century. It can be concluded from this that the Maly Zamak was settled earlier than the Zamak. On the Zamak, in the stratum just above the subsoil, a moulded slightly profiled pot was found - the only whole moulded pot in Navagradak.
The third settlement was found on the height adjacent, on the south-east from the Maly Zamak, where in the XII century an orthodox church was built. Having installed a prospecting shaft the investigators found a historical stratum up to 1 m thick with stones and clay coating. Among the ceramics, fragments of a vessel were found with pressed ornaments of the X-XI century. Ceramics of the XI century were found in the historical stratum, when the temple was excavated. Among other finds were: a bushed two-pinned arrowhead of an iron arrow.
The hills of Navagradak were settled at the same time, they were a nest consisting of three settlements. The Maly Zamak was settled around the periphery and in the centre, whereas the Zamak mound was initially settled only around the periphery of the ground.
None of the settlements had in the early period a defensive structure. Their security was achieved by the height of the hills, among which the highest was the Zamak mound, rising 20 m above the valley, which was the highest point of the Navagradak height. Early in the second half of the XI century a bank, 10 m from the edge of the plateau, was raised. It would appear that for more than 50 years the Navagradak settlements did not have man-made defences, therefore the settlements were not considered to be a town.
The people who occupied the Navagradak hills had a fully developed culture. The residues of most houses found on the Maly Zamak were predominantly built above the ground and made of logs, though some were built in the ground. Among the ceramics which were found were mostly pots with bent rims, some of which had the upper part ground on a potters wheel. Among the many findings of moulded items are interesting fragments of thick walled braziers, which served as the tops of ovens.
The original inhabitants of the Maly Zamak were producing iron products. Melting of iron was done in the living quarters in pots. Findings of ingots as well as various metal articles (working and domestic tools, articles of attire) allowed to observe the development of the blacksmith's and locksmith's art. The production of non-ferrous metals by the first inhabitants of Navagradak was done in pits, found in the southern part of the grounds. In the pits were preserved samples of smelted bronze. Many pits had domestic uses and were filled with ceramics and the bones of animals.
Items found in the early settlement on the Maly Zamak illustrated the occupations of the inhabitants in agriculture and various other enterprises and also home craft. Examples are many clay and, less frequently, stone pryaslica, bone tools and other findings.
The existence of connections with the outside world at the time of the first settlement can be confirmed by the findings of specific metal items from the baltic region and glass beads of eastern origin.
Though the settlers had a large inventory of goods, they had practically no arms. The only finding was a binding for a quiver, found in one of the oldest buildings.
The burial memorial of the settlers at the end of the X century is a kurgan cemetery 1.5 km north-east from the present town. Burial in those days consisted in burning of the dead on the spot or on the side. Burning on the spot can be identified by the burial bonfires, in which calcine bones can be found as well as ceramics and fragments of iron and bronze products. When burned on the side, the burned bones were put in a small hole, dug in the ground.
Such was the material culture at the time of settlement of the territory of Navagradak at the end of the X century, which is reconstructed by sets and individual findings in the settlement on the Maly Zamak and the oldest burials in a kurgan cemetery. At the beginning of the XI century the Zamak mound is settled, which is proven by the findings in the historical stratum under the original bank, and findings on the hill south-west of the Maly Zamak.
In the second half of the XI century a bank is erected around the settlement of the Zamak, which made it a citadel, an Maly Zamak with the neighbouring hill became suburbs (trading quarters). Settlements changed into a town, in which the material culture was typical of the time. Casting of bronze was done in the domestic quarters. This will become later characteristic of this trade. New types of decorations appear, in particular bronze and silver temple rings with a spiral curl. Arms appear among the inhabitants, mainly iron arrowhead of bushed arrows. Among the suppliers of imported goods Kiev appears, which supplies slate pryaslica (from pryast' to spin?).
From cremation the settlers changed to laying out of the body. In one of the kurgans the transfer from the old to the new rite was observed: the body was layed out with the head pointing west and the skeleton was partly burned. In the other burials by inhumation the skeleton was always in the same position, on the level of the subsoil. Their hands were extended or crossed on the chest. On the burial grounds there were stains of ashes and coal, sometimes stones spread at random. At the feet of the buried or alongside them pots were standing. The rest of the inventory in the kurgan were decorations or a certain amount of domestic articles. In one of the kurgan a battle axe was found.
From the beginning of the settlement of the Navagradak hills, the surrounds are forming actively. Along the banks of the nameless stream, which flows into the river Volovka, 3-4 km from Navagradak the following memorials can be found: 1) a kurgan cemetery next to the village Selec, consisting of 50 kurgans 6-10 m in diameter. 2) a hamlet on the shore of a river next to the village of Garadzilouka , which occupied an area of 130x125 m and nearby 13 kurgans of 5-12m in diameter (Garadzilouka I) 3) a kurgan cemetery consisting of 42 kurgans 5-10 m in diameter to the west of the settlement (Garadzilouka II). 4) township next to the village Garadechna on the right side of the river. The area of the township is elevated to 3.5-4 m and covered at present by a dense forest. 5) on the west edge of the village in the fields are signs of kurgans which have been ploughed in. It is probable that from these kurgans came the finds which have been kept in the museum of Krakov.
About 1 km south of Navagradak there was a cemetery on both sides of the rivulet Chyemerovka. In 1956 9 kurgans were there, and 5 km to the north of the town next to the village Ladenniki our expedition discovered 23 kurgans 5-15 m in diameter.
Within the radius of 10-12 km from Navagradak next to the villages Sulyatychi, Molnichi, Maruliny etc settlements and kurgan cemeteries have been found.
Archaeological works were conducted in the village of Garadzilouka , where in an area of 160 sq m few moulded ceramics were uncovered as well as spun ceramic products. Some of the products were pots with bent rounded rims and a waving ornaments, similar to those found in the early settlements in Navagradak.
When digging prospecting shafts in the village of Garadechna, in a historical stratum 60 cm thick, most ceramics found were spun, but a few were moulded. It would appear that the township was developing synchronously with the settlements and later town of Navagradak.
In the excavated kurgans in the district around Navagradak burials by the ritual of burning of the body were found in the cemeteries of Garadzilouka I and in Ladzeiniki. The burned bones were lying mostly on an embankment. In Ladzeiniki blocks were found on the ground and in the embankment, which were remains of coffins. In the embankment coal and stones were found. Judging by the materials found in the kurgans of Garadzilouka I, burials by the ritual of burning of the body were performed there in the XI century, which can be determined by the lyre-like yarn and other finds. A body burned through an inlet pipe was found in one of the kurgans in the village of Selec.
The transition from burning of the body the ritual of laying out of the body in the district of Navagradak can be seen in one of the kurgans in the village of Molnichi, where the upper part of the skeleton was lightly burned and the skull was carbonised. The ritual of body burning was continued in the villages later.
Kurgans with calcine bones were found in the cemetery by the village of Sulyatichi. They were of the XII-XIII centuries.
In the kurgans where the ritual of laying out of the body was used the skeletons were laying extended with the head facing west. An eastern orientation was noticed only once in a kurgan in the village of Molnichi. In that cemetery were the remains of coffins - boxes made of logs, covered by an embankment. Sometimes there were stones in the kurgans. Under the bodies and above them were layers of ashes.
Next to the skeletons were remains of pots. Often remains of pots were found in the embankment. The inventory of the kurgans is not rich. They are domestic items (knifes, remains of a wooden bucket). An interesting find were two battle axes. In women's graves were dresses and decorations. All the items found in the kurgans of the district of Navagradak, except for two cricoid rings in a kurgan at Garadzilouka I, identical to the things found in the Navagradak settlements. In the villages were items which were made on the spot or they were brought from the settlements on the hills. Before the settlements became a town, they were the economical centres of the district, and they were forming synchronously with the population growth on the Navagradak heights.
Those are the archaeological materials which illustrate the development of Navagradak from a nest of settlements at the end of the X - first half of the XI centuries into a town, which began its existence in the second half of the XI century. The pre-town period was not appreciated initially by the author, who thought in terms of two periods: late X century - time of the first settlement on the Maly Zamak to the end of the XI century and the second period was in the XII-XIII centuries. A better division is late X century - first half XI century is the pre-town period, and the second is early town period - the second half of the XI century.
The culture of the memorials of Navagradak and its surroundings at the end of the I millennium and the beginning of the II millennium are typically slavonic, in which were preserved the tribal peculiarities of the dregovichi. The defining ethnic characteristics take many forms. In the 80's of the previous century (XIX) V.Z. Zavitnevich, who excavated the largest number of dregovichi kurgans, saw the peculiarities in the location of the buried in the kurgan embankments. E.I. Timofeev of the 60's of this century is inclined to agree with this. A.A. Spicyn thought that characteristic for the dregovichi were timber frames and little chambers in the kurgans and in the attire cricoid temple rings and metallic grain beads. A.V. Uspenskaya supports the view of Spicyn about the decorations of the dregovichi. V,V. Sedov considers the most important ethnic defining characteristic of the dregovichi the metallic grain beads, whereas all the other characteristics ascribed to the dregovichi by other investigators can be found among other slavonic tribes.
In the Navagradak cemetery and kurgans, which were investigated in the surroundings of Navagradak there are all characteristics which are ascribed to the culture of the dregovichi. In the burial ritual this is confirmed by the location of the bones on the ground and the construction of the coffins and among the items found cricoid temple rings (Garadzilouka II, Molnichi, Kamenka) and metallic grain beads. The last have been also found in the Navagradak cemetery and also in the kurgans of Garadzilouka II, Garadechna, Molnichi and Kamenka. Some grain beads were found in the historical stratums of the Zamak mound and the Maly Zamak.
The skeletons of the Navagradak cemetery and kurgans in the vicinity of the town were examined by L.M. Kazei, who was looking for the physical development of the ancient inhabitants of Navagradak and surroundings. According to I.I. Salivon, who investigated the skeletons of the XII-XIII centuries cemetery on the territory of the Maly Zamak, the craniological peculiarities and their dimensions are similar to the anthropological indicators of the dregovichi.
Determining ethnic characteristics of the dregovichi are supported by the discovery that in Navagradak their living quarters were build above ground level with pise (of clay, mixed with straw, gravel etc) ovens or stoves made of stones.
The majority of the population was slavonic and were the descendants of the dregovichi, but in the early Navagradak there were indications of the presence of other groups of slavonic populations. This is evidenced by the remains of sunken buildings and braziers, in navershie ovens, characteristic of the south-eastern peoples and also ceramics of the Volyn type. Those finds should be connected with the penetration into Navagradak of a certain part of the population from Volkovysk, which is 100 km south-west of our town. In Volkovysk in the second half of the X century settled emigrants from the south-west lands, who's only stile of house building till the end of the XI century were half dug-outs with stone ovens. In the oldest settlement in Volkovysk "Swedish Hill" (Shvedskaya Gora) the leading type of ceramic in the second half of the X - beginning of the XI centuries were pots of the Volyn type.
Small quantities of ceramics have appeared in Navagradak ornamented with a punch, which was typical of the ceramics of western slavs. Few fragments of pots of the so called drogichinski type M.V. Malevskaya connects with inhabitants of Volyn or Podlasie on the Bug, where this type of dishes was typical in the IX-XI centuries.
Some findings allow to see in the Navagradak district signs of the presence of krivichi. One of the indications is the kurgan cemetery on the Korelichi highway, which was mentioned previously. As is known, elongated kurgans, which were excavated in this cemetery, are characteristic of the burial mounds of the krivichi. In the kurgan of the 10th Navagradak cemetery calcine bones were laying in a rectangular pit, almost in the centre of the kurgan. The dregovichi did not practice the ritual of this form of burning of the body, but the krivichi have been known to use it. This is similar to the cemetery in Zaslavl, a substantial part of which belonged to the krivichi. In this cemetery, different to the cemeteries of the dregovichi, the buried were surrounded by stones. Stones were also logged in the tops of the kurgans.
Remarkable are also bronze temple rings with tied ends from the kurgan Garadzilouka I. They are reduced copies of the krivichi bracelet like rings. Similar adornments can be found in the second and third group in the cemetery of Zaslavl.
A non-archaeological indication of the penetration of the krivichi into the territory of Navagradak is a village named Krivichi not far from the Nioman.
Such a toponym indicates the ethnic composition of the settlement, different from the indigenous population of the land. We should also recollect the words of Peter Duisburg about the magister of the Order who attempted to capture Navagradak, which the author places in the land of the krivichi. This was written by a man who does not know who lived on the land along the Nioman, where the crusaders went. However it is interesting to note that in the XIV century the chronicler heard of the krivichi in those lands.
Though V.V. Sedov considers that the Navagradak kurgan cemeteries are memorials to the dregovichi, he points out that in the upper Nioman they were not the basic original population and agrees with the linguists (K. Buga, Ya. Rozvadovski, V.N. Toporov etc) that on arrival the slavs found in those lands the balts. Did the balts live in the early Navagradak and surroundings? In the burial memorials of Navagradak there is no sign of their presence. The nearest east lithuanian kurgans are to be found on the right shore of Nioman. Stone kurgans, which Sedov considers to be the burial mounds of the yatvyags who changed to become slavs, are also to be found some distance from the lands in which we are interested. It is possible that balts were buried in the kurgans outside Navagradak that were excavated in the past century (XIX). In those were found: pots, arrowheads, a siecle, a silver pleated grivna (russian unit of currency), a plate-like hoop and a ring. There was a kurgan in the cemetery in the village of Sulyatichi which had a stone cover and stones on the burial ground, which showed baltic influence.
More basic is the study of the influence of balts on the culture of the settlements of Navagradak and, firstly, on decorations and attire. Along the production of general slav and specifically Navagradak products (temple rings with a spiral curl) the jewellers were making decorations which were characteristically baltic. They were horseshoe shaped buckles, spirals, trapeziform weights etc. It is possible that it reflects the presence of balts, primarily Lithuanians, in early Navagradak.
As to the origins and early history of Navagradak, in the light of the available evidence, it can be answered at present as follows: the settlements which were started on the Navagradak hills at the end of the X century and the beginning of the XI century were settled by the dregovichi, among whom were small groups of other slav tribes - the krivichi, volynians, inhabitants of Podlasie and Mazowsze. They came from east, west and south-west and stopped in Navagradak. As to the basic population, the dregovichi, it is not clear how their culture at the end of the I millennium is connected with the culture of the few settlers and the slav moulded ceramics, mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. Unexplainable are the origins of the baltic culture which influenced the early settlers. It is necessary to learn more about the memorials of the third quarter of the I millennium and specifically the IX-X centuries to find the answer.
Independent of the solution of the problem of continuity in Navagradak and its surroundings of the earlier developments, it is certain that the situation which existed there at the end of the X century was connected with a basic change in the economic condition of the population.
Settlement of the empty hills of Navagradak and its surroundings, was connected in all probability with the progress in agriculture, which led to the mastery of the local medium and highly opozolennych lands. The soil of this land is known for its fertility. Even at the beginning of the XX century the land of Vsielub, Shchorsy and other places of the Navagradak region were renown of their fertility. At the end of the X century what happened in our lands is typical of what happened in many slav regions, where the population was concentrating in suitable areas not overgrown by forests. As the history of the Moscow district of the X century is showing, settlement was mainly taking place on unoccupied lands.
The culture of the early town, the birth of which is connected with the erection of a bank on the Zamak mound, is in many ways connected with the culture of the pre-town population. The burial place of the town's people was the old kurgan cemetery, where they were still burring people in the XII century. Only at the end of the XI century new characteristics of the culture of the town began to appear - large living quarters, glass crockery, glassed ceramics and other changes characteristic of the mature Navagradak.
In the generally russian culture of the original settlements and of the early town archaic characteristics can be seen. This is the absence of the differentiation of the property ownership and culture of the dwellers, which is seen in the homes, inventory and also burial ritual. Among the kurgans of the Navagradak cemetery there was almost none, in which one could find a sign of the privileged position of the dead. Also, the kurgans of Navagradak were no different, as far as the contents were concerned, from the kurgans of the district. A certain reluctance to change is seen in the long adherence to paganism (to the end of the XI century).
It is possible that in the initial settlement of Navagradak one can distinguish a tribal centre of the dregovichi, similar to Turov, which was such at the beginning of its existence. According to V.V. Sedov the oldest towns in Rus have grown out, in general, from tribal centres, which were in the zone of concentration of agricultural population and were the centres of trade and commerce. The information quoted above convince that the settlement in Navagradak started in the zone of fertile lands and was a place of trade and commerce and a centre of the district.
Why did the town obtain the name Novy gorod (new town)? In relation to what settlement was it new? Was it because that it replaced a settlement in another place, or did it replace a settlement on the same spot? As is known, many of the ancient russian town are called "Novgorod". However, only in respect of Great Novgorod is the question asked about the meaning of its name. It is thought that the predecessors of Novgorod on the Volchov were Rurik's Old Township, 2 km from Novgorod, Old Rus, Old Ladoga and other towns. In the early 70's (of the XX century) the investigators were impressed with the view of V.L. Yanin and M.Ch. Aleshkovski according to which Novgorod was preceded by three settlements of slav tribes: krivichi, sloven and chudski measure. When a common fortification for the three was erected, Novgorod was created.
In the recent times the question of the origins of Novgorod was investigated by E.N. Nosov. Considering a wide range of information about the district of Novgorod and Old Township (he was excavating the later) Nosov comes to the conclusion, that in the IX-X centuries the main military, commercial and administrative centre was Old Township and only later were those functions taken over by Novy gorod.
It was seen that not always did the name Novgorod mean the transfer of the older settlement to a new place. For instance at the excavations of Novgorod Severski, first mentioned in the chronicle of the year 1096, it was established that this town was formed a hundred years earlier in a place where a settlement of romens culture existed. Thus the name Novgorod in this case reflects the change in the character of the town that existed previously in that spot.
Archaeological materials of Navagradak and its surroundings did not reveal a previous settlement on the Navagradak hills. There is a local legend that the town was previously in Garadechna, 4 km from the town. From the evidence sighted previously it can be concluded that our town was called New Town relative to the settlement which existed previously on the Navagradak hills.
The beginning of Navagradak was part of the process of formation of towns in the lands along the river Nioman in the end of the first and the beginning of the second millennium. At one stage we tried to show the similarity of the historical fate of Navagradak and Volkovysk, though the later had a somewhat different composition of the population. Due to the similarity it is possible that Volkovysk also originated as a tribal centre.
Seemingly the ancient Slonim had a different origin. In 1 km from the town there was an old township and an old village on the Kosovo highway. In the historical stratum of the old town a lot of moulded ceramic was found as well as spun crockery of the X-XIII century. Archaeological findings in Slonim permit to establish its origin in the second half of the XI- the beginning of the XII century. It is possible that the settlement on the Kosovo highway had its origin earlier than Slonim, and after formation of Slonim, the old village continued to exist.
Grodno on the river Nioman, established at the end of the XI century, was considered to be initially a fortress which gradually attracted tradesmen. Archaeological works of the recent times revealed on the territory of the Grodno citadel, Stary Zamak, a fair amount of early spun ceramics of the X century, which moves back the time of the establishment of a settlement there.
Ancient russian towns in the lands along the river Nioman have been established in various ways. One of them - is the growth of the pre-town, probably tribal centre into a town. This is the origin of Navagradak.