Valuable artefact from knights’ age
Unique 16th century armour from days of Grand Duchy of Lithuania discovered near Mstislavl
Archaeologists and divers worked without stint for three days, using the most advanced equipment to raise the buried armour. Fortunately, it is in perfect condition: no Belarusian or other museum within the post-Soviet space owns such a unique helmet as the Omar sallet. Only a few dozen are found in Europe.
Invented in Italy, sallets gained popularity in Germany in the late 15th century, notes Prof. Igor Marzalyuk, who heads the Mogilev State University’s Department of Archaeology and Special Historical Disciplines. He tells us that sallets were a feature of Gothic armour.
The steel cuirass vest found is also in perfect condition, made of bison leather, with a brass cover. There are also gloves, elbow covers and a hauberk. Elements of linen and leather clothes were also discovered. “These indicate that the armour was owned by a wealthy man, who probably died during the 1500-1503 Russian-Lithuanian War (when the Great Duchy of Moscow and Crimean Khanate fought against the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Livonian Confederation). The struggle of the Moscow and Lithuanian duchies for Western Russian lands resulted in several Russian-Lithuanian wars in the late 15th-16 century,” Mr. Marzalyuk explains.
The armour is undergoing restoration, before being exhibited at Bykhov Castle. Prof. Marzalyuk notes that the site is being guarded by police and volunteers. Another dig is likely soon, aiming to reveal ancient settlements discovered nearby. Among the recently unearthed artefacts is a silver-covered ‘pisalo’: an ancient writing tool.