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Rarities from underground

In the centre of Mogilev, a heating main was replaced during the summer. Nothing exciting about that, you may think. But it has brought a welcome surprise to the inhabitants of Pionerskaya Street, and to the city as a whole. The local Museum of History has received a windfall of items, dated from 17th-19th centuries, which were unearthed in the holes and open pits which were created during the removal of the old pipes.
By Olga Kislyak

Historical splinters
People who are not interested in the past, never pay attention to clay crockery, pieces of tile and moulding in the ground. It is good when these types walk by. These invaluable, tiny splinters of history are often inadvertently destroyed by such people. But fortunately, there are people who understand that these objects, as ugly as they may appear, should not be in the dirt, but under glass, in a museum exposition.

There were no gold coins or ancient jewels found in Pionerskaya Street, but those objects which were unearthed were of equally great interest. The red brick chipped on the edges doesn’t sound anything, but it tells us much. It is larger and flatter than modern bricks, with deep grooves. Grooves are the author’s mark of a master, who pressed the bricks from clay, explains the Museum’s Director.

“Such bricks were used until the end of the 18th century. Other finds included pieces of green and white-blue tile. On one is an image that resembles a lion, although it is possible that it was a different animal. These fragments will be studied by archaeologists, but already we know that such tiles were used for lining furnaces and fireplaces by our fellow countrymen in 17-18th centuries. The biggest piece of tile, a moulded piece, was made later, in late 19th or early 20th century.”

It is unknown what was stored in a tiny small bottle made of thick, dark glass. Probably, medicine of some description, as it has a distinctive pharmaceutical feel about it. But what is clear is the time period in which this small bottle was used. On a bottom of the vessel decorated with a horseshoe, there is a monogram with the date — 1895.

Maps, newspapers, coins
The collection of the Museum of History of Mogilev, which holds 8,000 items, was augmented by the receipt of a book — Marvellous Messages about Jesuits of Belarus which recently arrived from Russia. Published in 1785 in Frankfurt (Germany), it went on sale on an online auction. The museum badly wished to add this rarity to its collection but was outbid by Belarus born Ales Chaichits. However, when he learnt that the Mogilev museum had long dreamt about this edition, Mr. Chaichits, now living in Russia, kindly donated the book to his fellow countrymen.

Among the other new exhibits at the museum is a 1608 map of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which belonged to the renowned Belgian cartographer Gerardus Mercator. This well-known cartographer, (he suggested to name collections of maps an ‘atlas’) made it much earlier, but the first copy was issued in 1595, a year after his death. Subsequently, only a few copies of this map were republished. One of them is stored in the National Library, but it is from a later year.

The museum also received a large number of the German newspaper Illustrirte Zeitung from 1863 in which the events of the revolts in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus are described and illustrated in detail.
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