Special to The Ukrainian Weekly
The Canada-Ukraine archaeological expedition has continued conducting annual field research in the town of Baturyn, Chernihiv Oblast, irrespective of the military actions in eastern Ukraine. In 2014, some 50 students and scholars from the universities of Chernihiv, Kyiv and Hlukhiv took part in the excavations there. Last summer, the expedition involved 45 members from these institutions.
The leaders of the expedition are archaeologists Yurii Sytyi and Dr. Viacheslav Skorokhod of Chernihiv National University. Dr. Volodymyr Mezentsev of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) at the University of Alberta is the executive director of the Baturyn archaeological project from the Canadian side. Prof. Zenon Kohut, distinguished historian of the Hetmanate and previous director of CIUS, is the academic adviser. A leading historian on the Chernihiv Principality, Prof. Martin Dimnik of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (PIMS) at the University of Toronto, also participates in the research of Baturyn and the publication of its findings.
In 1669, this town became the capital of the Kozak state. The glorious reign of Hetman Ivan Mazepa (1687-1709) was a golden age for Baturyn, when it competed with Kyiv and Chernihiv for supremacy and became known in the West. During Mazepa’s insurrection for the freedom of Kozak Ukraine from Moscow’s growing domination, Baturyn residents were the first to offer armed resistance to the Russian troops. The Russians brutally suppressed this uprising. In 1708, the tsar’s army, aided by a traitor, occupied, plundered, and burned down the hetman capital, killing 5,000 to 6,500 garrison fighters and 6,000 to 7,500 civilian inhabitants, regardless of gender or age.
The enlightened Hetman Kyrylo Rozumovsky (1750-1764) rebuilt Baturyn from the ruins, restored its status as the capital of the Kozak realm, and developed it into a major manufacturing center in the Chernihiv region. After his death in 1803, the town gradually declined throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and revived in independent Ukraine. Following the reconstruction of the impressive fortress citadel, the hetman’s palaces, the state treasury house, the court hall and churches, as well as the establishment of several modern museums of antiquities, since 2009 Baturyn has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ukraine. Despite the tense situation in the country, about 143,000 tourists visited its museums and historical sites last year – an increase of 13,000 from 2014.
In 1751-1753, Rozumovsky commissioned his first palace in Baturyn, which was demolished in 1821. It was probably designed by the renowned Italian architect Antonio Rinaldi, whom the hetman invited to Ukraine in 1751. Descriptions from the 18th and 19th centuries tell us that this palace was a spacious one-story late Baroque wooden building with private living quarters, two side wings for guests, an inside chapel and a rich library.
In 2014, Mr. Sytyi discovered the trenches from the dismantled brick foundations of this palace near the town’s secondary school. On the basis of architectural drawings of analogous timber palaces in the Chernihiv and Sumy regions of the 1740s, as well as descriptions of the first Rozumovsky residence in Baturyn, this writer and computer artist Serhii Dmytriienko of Chernihiv have completed a hypothetical graphic reconstruction of its front elevation.
The archeological expedition has continued excavating the remnants of Mazepa’s manor in Honcharivka, a suburb of Baturyn. In the late 1690s, he constructed there a masonry palace (20 by 14.5 meters) with three stories, a basement, and a mansard primarily in a Western Baroque style. This main residence of the hetman was pillaged and burned by Muscovite troops during the town’s ravaging in 1708.
Archaeological and architectural research of the palace debris, along with analysis of a 1744 drawing of its ruins preserved at the National Museum in Stockholm, have allowed investigators to determine the ground plan, size, design and decoration of the edifice. This author and Mr. Dmytriienko have prepared hypothetical computer reconstructions of the exterior of Mazepa’s palace. I posit that it had no counterparts among contemporaneous secular buildings of central Ukraine but was similar to the tower-like royal and aristocratic palatial halls of early modern Poland. Some analogous examples of the latter include the three-story masonry residential tower of King Sigismund I the Old in the town of Piotrkόw, Łódź Voivodeship (1519), the lost mansions of the magnates Kazanowski and Kotowski (late 16th century), as well as the restored castle of the Ostrozky (Ostrogski) princes from the 1680s in Warsaw.
As a youth, Mazepa served at the court of King John II Casimir Vasa in Warsaw, and he could well have modeled his Baturyn residence on palaces in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. At the same time, it is possible that the hetman borrowed the pattern from some fashionable Baroque structure in Western Europe. It was from there that the tower halls of the 14th-16th centuries as well as Renaissance and Baroque architecture and ornamentation spread to Poland. In 1656-1659, Mazepa traveled and studied at universities in Germany, France, Holland and Italy, and had the opportunity to familiarise himself with true masterpieces of Baroque architecture there.
Archaeologists have unearthed hundreds of fragments of fine ceramic glazed multicolored and terracotta floor and stove tiles, or “kakhli,” as well as plate-like rosettes and plaques bearing Mazepa’s coat of arms that revetted the fasades of his villa in Honcharivka. These details are recognized as valuable examples of Ukrainian Baroque decorative and heraldic arts. Mr. Sytyi has established that they were fashioned by accomplished Kyivan craftsmen whom the hetman brought to Baturyn. Thus, the imposing adornment of his principal residence represented a blending of Western and Ukrainian baroque styles.
Research on the Honcharivka palace’s floor pavements has shown that there were at least nine rooms, halls, vestibules, corridors, storage areas and the like on the ground and upper levels, as well as five vaulted chambers, a corridor and a staircase in the basement. I surmise that the basement had a brick floor and that it stored the state/military and hetman’s private treasuries. The ground floor was paved with elongated six-angled ceramic tiles combined with square tiles all covered by green enamel. A gala hall for official receptions, council meetings and banquets could have been situated on this ground level.
On the second and third stories and mansard, were likely located the bedchambers and living quarters of Mazepa and his wife (“hetmanova”) Hanna, the hetman’s office, his private and general military chancelleries, a library and the state archives. Presumably the floors there were made of ornate ceramic square and octagonal tiles faced with common flask-green and rare blue enamel, as well as unusual bicolor half terracotta-half glazed apple-green tiles. Mazepa and his wife may have personally selected the shapes and colors of these tiles and inlays for the floors. Cheaper ceramic floor tiles without glazing were apparently used in the less important and more modestly furnished service premises and rooms for servants or guests.
Examples of early modern floor designs and inlays comparable to those discovered at the Honcharivka palace have been found in St. Sophia Cathedral (the 17th-century floor in its altar apse) in Kyiv; the Holy Trinity Cathedral (1675) at the Hustyn Monastery in Chernihiv Oblast; the 16th-18th century castle of the Ostrozky princes in the town of Ostroh, Rivne Oblast, Ukraine; as well as the residences of Polish kings on Wawel Hill in Krakow and the Wilanow district of Warsaw (1696). In my conclusion, the principal residence of Mazepa in Baturyn was his largest and most lavishly embellished secular building, as well as an outstanding piece of both the palatial architecture and the ceramic decorative art of the Kozak state.
In 2014, our expedition finished excavating the remnants of a sizeable elongated timber structure (19 by 5 meters) which stood at Mazepa’s estate in Honcharivka. Perhaps this was the military barracks, or “kurin,” that housed either members of the hetman’s bodyguard (“serdiuky”) or Kozak officers (“starshyna”) from his retinue. At this building were found: silver and copper Polish and Russian coins, bronze buttons, a clasp and four figured belt appliqués with relief floral patterns and engravings, a lead musket and pistol bullets, iron heel plates for boots, ceramic Kozak tobacco pipes of local manufacture, fragments of German glazed tableware and Dutch porcelain chibouks and mouthpieces from the 17th-18th centuries.
On the basis of 16 bronze clasps and appliqués unearthed at this site in 2011-2014, this author and Mr. Dmytriienko have prepared hypothetical computer reconstructions of five ornamented leather belts of wealthy Kozak officers. These could have been the work of artisans from Baturyn or some other center of crafts in the Hetmanate.
The Kozak elite was the main consumer of costly local white-clay tobacco pipes and those of Dutch porcelain. The great quantity of such pipes found in the barracks provides additional argument that its residents belonged to the officer class. Thus, the excavations of this edifice have enriched our knowledge about the armament, accoutrement, consumption of domestic and imported goods, the prosperity, culture, lifestyle and customs of Kozak officers at Mazepa’s court.
Mr. Sytyi’s archaeological explorations in 2014-2015 revealed the site of the Church of the Presentation of the Mother of God near the extant masonry residence of Judge General Vasyl Kochubei in Baturyn’s western suburb. He built this church with squared oak logs in the late 17th century. It survived the Muscovite onslaught on the hetman capital. In 1778, Rozumovsky ordered that the Presentation Church be dismantled and reassembled in the neighboring village of Matiyivka. Soviet authorities demolished this monument of wooden Ukrainian folk architecture in 1933.
Last year, north of the former Baturyn fortress, in the market square, Mr. Sytyi’s excavations uncovered the foundations of an unidentified 18th century structure. Its foundation trenches were filled with broken 17th century bricks, many of which exhibit fire damage. This researcher suggests that these burnt bricks came from the masonry of St. Nicholas Church. Mazepa donated 4,000 gold coins (“zoloti”) for its construction. This church stood somewhere within the present-day market square and probably suffered from the conflagration of the town in 1708. Rozumovsky dismantled its ruins and reused the bricks for his buildings.
In 2014, in the fortress east of the site of the Holy Trinity Cathedral (1692), which was endowed by Mazepa and destroyed by the tsarist forces, remnants of the 17th-18th century storage structures of well-to-do burghers were excavated. Archaeologists found there: low-denomination Polish silver coins, fragments of refined plates made from milk-glass and painted with polychrome plant motifs (likely a Turkish imitation of expensive chinaware), iron and bone buttons, two ceramic gaming chips and shards of terracotta stove tiles of local production of this time. Archaeological finds of imported goods testify to the broad commercial and cultural contacts of Baturyn with Northern, Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the Islamic East, prior to 1708.
In the fortress, three tiny terracotta human figures have been unearthed. The lower parts, arms and the head of one of them are broken off. Their body shapes, facial features and head dress were coarsely and naïvely executed. The modeling technique of these images shows no influences of realistic Baroque or neoclassical sculpture.
Presumably these rare artifacts represent distinctive vernacular toys created by a local Baturyn potter during the Rozumovsky era. Clay female statuettes from the 14th to 18th centuries have been found in Kyiv, Vyshhorod, Bila Tserkva and Baturyn. An early modern terracotta anthropomorphic figurine comparable to those described above was discovered in the village of Ulanovo, Hlukhiv region, Sumy Oblast, in 2009. According to analysis, toys of this design and technique were manufactured in Baturyn, Hlukhiv and possibly other centers of pottery-making in the Chernihiv and Sumy regions in the 18th-19th centuries. These pieces may indicate a revival of ceramic folk art in Baturyn during its reconstruction by Rozumovsky in the second half of the 18th century.
In 2014, in the town’s northern suburb, a fragment of a burnt glazed heraldic stove tile was found. It features the relief coat of arms of the famous Pylyp Orlyk, secretary general of Mazepa’s administration, a future émigré hetman (1710-1742) and the author of the first Ukrainian constitution (1710). Archaeologists hope to locate the remnants of Orlyk’s ruined residence at the site where this tile was found.
Exploratory excavations carried out by Dr. Skorokhod in the Baturyn district of Podil, on the flood-land of the Seim River, uncovered the remnants of wooden structures which were burned by the tsarist troops in 1708.
For many years, archaeologists have excavated the remains of hundreds of buried and unburied victims of the Russian assault in every part of the town and its environs. The leading researcher of the Baturyn necropolis, Mr. Sytyi, has discovered their graves in several 17th-18th century cemeteries.
In 2014, our expedition excavated 10 graves of the townsfolk from this time at the burial ground of Trinity Cathedral in the fortress. Mr. Sytyi identified the skeletons of two adults and one child (Graves Nos. 1, 13, 14) as victims of this massacre. In particular, the infillings of their grave pits included charcoal fractions from the 1708 conflagration. Last summer, archaeologists excavated 80 graves from the 17th-18th centuries at this cemetery. Some contained casualties of the 1708 Muscovite attack on Baturyn. The results of these field investigations and examinations of exhumed bones by specialists in physical anthropology are now being analyzed, and the conclusions will be published in June.
The excavations in Baturyn in 2014-2015 have obtained valuable information for locating the 1751 hetman residence and the churches of the Presentation and St. Nicholas, as well as for the research and reconstruction of the architectural design and adornment of the Mazepa and Rozumovsky palaces and the accoutrement of Kozak officers at the hetman court. The latest historical and archaeological findings have also demonstrated the vibrancy of the ecclesiastical and palatial building, miller’s trade, crafts, applied arts and international commerce of the town before 1708. Every year, our expedition provides new archaeological evidence of the total destruction of Mazepa’s capital.
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For 15 years, the Baturyn project has been sponsored by the Kowalsky Program for the Study of Eastern Ukraine at CIUS, PIMS and the Ucrainica Research Institute in Toronto. In 2005-2015, the Chernihiv Oblast State Administration contributed annual subsidies for the excavations at Baturyn.
The late poetess Volodymyra Wasylyszyn and her husband, artist Roman Wasylyszyn of Philadelphia, the late Dr. Maria Fischer-Slysh of Toronto and Alexandra Zolobecky-Misiong of Livonia, Mich., have been the most generous patrons of the study of Baturyn. In 2014-2015, research on the hetman capital and the preparation of publications was supported with donations from the Ukrainian Studies Fund at Harvard University, the Ukrainian Historical and Educational Center of N.J. at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A., the National Executive of the League of Ukrainian Canadians, the League of Ukrainian Canadians – Toronto Branch, the National Executive of the League of Ukrainian Women in Canada, the League of Ukrainian Women in Canada – Toronto Branch, the Kniahynia Olha Branch of the Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada, the Buduchnist Credit Union Foundation, the Prometheus Foundation, the Ukrainian Credit Union, the Golden Lion Restaurant, and the Healing Source Integrative Pharmacy in Toronto.
Next summer, our Canada-Ukraine archaeological expedition will renew the systematic excavations in Baturyn. However, because of the current situation in Ukraine and state budget cuts to academic and educational institutions there, it is unlikely that the Ukrainian government will fund our scholarly project this year.
The continued support of archaeological research in Baturyn and the publication of its findings in 2016 by Ukrainian organizations, foundations, companies and private benefactors in the United States and Canada will be much needed and greatly appreciated. Donations may be sent to: Mr. Stan Kamski, Treasurer, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 59 Queen’s Park Crescent E., Toronto, ON, Canada, M5S 2C4. Please make your checks payable to: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (Memo: Baturyn Project). This institute will issue official tax receipts to all American and Canadian donors, and they will be gratefully acknowledged in related publications and public lectures.
For additional information or questions about the Baturyn project, readers may contact this author in Toronto at 416-766-1408 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.