April 8, 2021

Scholars publish illustrated book on recent archaeological findings in Baturyn


Richly illustrated booklet on the 2019 excavations at Baturyn. Fragment of a glazed ceramic tiled stove with the armorial bearings of Hetman Ivan Mazepa, 1707-8. Hypothetical computer graphic reconstructions of the tiles by Serhii Dmytriienko, 2020.

“Rozkopky u Baturyni 2019 roku. Kakhli het’mans’koi stolytsi XVII – pochatku XVIII st.” (Excavations at Baturyn in 2019. Stove Tiles of the Hetman Capital, 17th and Early 18th Centuries), by Zenon Kohut, Volodymyr Mezentsev, Yurii Sytyi. Toronto: Homin Ukrainy/Ukrainian Echo Publishing Company Ltd., 2020, 36 pp. in Ukrainian, 70 color illustrations.

This attractive and colorful publication is the ninth annual booklet in a series (2011-2020) devoted to the archaeological and historical research of Baturyn, Chernihiv Oblast, Ukraine. The town was one of the capitals of the Kozak state, or Hetmanate, and is remarkable for its glorious and tragic history. This publication is recommended for both scholars and general readers interested in Ukrainian antiquities.

Since 2001, the Canada-Ukraine project for the study of the history and culture of early modern Baturyn has been sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) at the University of Alberta, the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies at the University of Toronto, and the Ucrainica Research Institute in Toronto. Prof. Zenon Kohut, the former director of CIUS and an eminent historian of the Hetmanate, is the founder of this project and its academic adviser. Dr. Volodymyr Mezentsev (CIUS) is the project’s executive director. Archaeologist Yurii Sytyi of the National University of “Chernihiv Collegium” heads the archaeological expedition, which is based at this university. It has conducted annual excavations in Baturyn from 1995. The Ukrainian Studies Fund in New York supports the archaeological and historical investigations of this town with annual subsidies.

Fragment of the upper façade of the heating stove at Orlyk’s home faced by the terracotta tiles featuring floral relief patterns and the multicolored glazed ceramic plaque with his arms in the centre, 1707-1708. Hypothetical reconstruction by Volodymyr Mezentsev and Serhii Dmytriienko, computer graphic by Mr. Dmytriienko, 2020.

In light of the latest research, the authors of this booklet survey the foundation of Baturyn as an 11th-century border fortress of the Chernihiv Principality of Kyivan Rus’, its history and material culture during the Polish rule over Left-bank Ukraine, the Khmelnytsky revolution, and the town’s dynamic development as the capital of the Kozak realm from 1669, particularly under the illustrious reign of Hetman Ivan Mazepa (1687-1709). His uprising, in alliance with Sweden, against Moscow’s increasing curtailment of the political autonomy of Kozak Ukraine and the total destruction of the insurgent Baturyn by Russian troops in 1708 has been described.

The brochure examines in details the results of the 2018-2020 excavations of remnants of an intriguing underground brick tunnel on Mazepa’s estate, the home of his closest assistant, Chancellor General Pylyp Orlyk, and the dwelling of a well-to-do Kozak within the town’s environs which were burned during this onslaught. The investigators present their computer graphic reconstructions and photos of polymer clay replicas of the unearthed broken and burnt ceramic tiles that faced the heating stoves at Mazepa’s palace and Kozak houses of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. They have graphically recreated the masterful floral ornaments and the uniquely designed coats of arms of both Mazepa and Orlyk depicted on the multicolored glazed ceramic and plain terracotta plaques found at Orlyk’s home. Also included are graphic reconstructions of the upper façades of two ruined tiled stoves adorned with heraldic emblems of the hetman and his chancellor. These locally manufactured stove revetment tiles from the Kozak elite residences of Mazepa’s capital represent valuable examples of Ukrainian baroque ceramic and heraldic arts.

During the second half of the 18th century, Hetman Kyrylo Rozumovsky rebuilt and repopulated the devastated Baturyn. However, the local production of such stove tiles with relief images in the Ukrainian baroque style never recovered in the town after its ravaging by tsarist forces in 1708.

For a detailed Ukrainian-language academic article by Mr. Mezentsev on the heraldic stove plaques unearthed at Orlyk’s residence in Baturyn, please visit the website “Ivan Mazepa Name” under the following link: http://www.mazepa.name/baturynski-kahli-z-herbamy-mazepy-y-orlyka-prodovzhennya-doslidzhen/. Brief reports on annual excavations at Baturyn in 2001-2020 in English are available online in Canadio-Byzantina, Nos. 13-32 (https://uottawa.scholarsportal.info/ottawa/index.php/cb/issue/archive).
The publication of the advertised booklet was funded by the BCU Foundation (Roman Medyk, chair; Lada Kozak, managing director) and the Ucrainica Research Institute (Orest Steciw, M.A., president, executive director of the League of Ukrainian Canadians). This and earlier brochures of the Baturyn series can be purchased for $10 from the office of the National Executive of the League of Ukrainian Canadians in Toronto (416-516-8223, luc@lucorg.com) and through the CIUS Press in Edmonton (780-492-2973, cius@ualberta.ca, https://www.ciuspress.com/product-category/archaeology/). These booklets can be ordered online from the CIUS Press website.

Yurii Sytyi

2019 excavations of the remnants of brick walls and steps of the underground tunnel at Mazepa’s manor in Baturyn, ca. 1700.

Researchers of Baturyn in Ukraine and Canada plan to resume excavations there this coming summer. However, the Ukrainian government may suspend its funding of the field research in this town during the pandemic quarantine. Thus, the continued benevolent support from Ukrainian organizations, foundations, companies and private benefactors in North America would be most needed to sustain further archaeological explorations of Mazepa’s capital and the publication of its findings this year. American citizens are kindly invited to donation by sending a check made out to Ukrainian Studies Fund, P.O. Box 285, North Billerica, MA, 01862, U.S.A. Checks may be made out to Ukrainian Studies Fund (memo: Baturyn Project).

Canadian residents are advised to send their donations to Orest Steciw, president, Ucrainica Research Institute, 9 Plastics Ave., Toronto, ON, Canada M8Z 4B6. Checks may be made out to Ucrainica Research Institute (memo: Baturyn Project). These Ukrainian institutions will issue official tax receipts to all donors in the United States and Canada. They will be gratefully acknowledged in related publications and public lectures.

For more information about the Baturyn project, readers can contact Dr. Volodymyr Mezentsev in Toronto, Canada (416-766-1408, v.mezentsev@utoronto.ca). Its participants kindly thank the Ukrainian communities in North America for their generous ongoing support of the historical and archaeological study of the Kozak capital, especially during the pandemic.

Burnt polychrome glazed ceramic stove plaque with a relief heraldic emblem of Chancellor General Pylyp Orlyk, 1707-1708. Computer photo collage and graphic reconstructions by Serhii Dmytriienko, 2018.

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