Room 17. Siberia in the 16th and 17th Centuries

The room’s exposition uncovers one more subject that has to do with the development of Russian economy in the 16th and 17th centuries. Territorial expansion, development of new lands and their resources, establishing new cities in annexed areas became an outstanding evidence of Russia’s political and military power. In the eighties of the 16th century the intensive development of Siberia and its richest resources commenced. The first stage of this process encompassed the lands beyond the polar circle.

case 1
As polar seafarers were developing the northern sea route, they were able to reach the territories that were inaccessible even to the indigenous Siberian population. The navigator’s «caftan» (robe) (case 1) was found in a winter camp on the Faddey Islands in the Gulf of Ob vicinity. The clothing was reconstructed by extant fragments, and scholars obtained a unique opportunity to get an idea of how an overall of the medieval Russian man looked.

cases 2 – 3
A ship rope and a compass brought from Western Europe originate from Mangazea – the first Russian town beyond the polar circle that was founded in 1600 and was the trade capital of Siberia during the first half of the century. Mangazea played an important role in the development of polar navigation and new lands. The items from this legendary city are placed in cases 2 and 3. In case 2 one can see objects that characterised the everyday life of townsfolk: leather footwear, chess pieces, flute’s mouthpiece and lute’s neck, fragments of glass crockery and slip ceramics. Some of these things testify to the presence of a colony of foreign merchants in town. The implements of furry animals hunters are placed in case 3. Fur-skins or «soft stuff», as it was often called, were the main Russian export article.

case 4
By the middle of the 17th century Russian Cossacks and peasants would have beaten trade route in Siberian south, tilled its fertile lands, started mining its bowels, reached the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Case 4 is fully dedicated to the Siberian epic. The silver wineglass and dipper belonged to Maxim Stroganov the most eminent Russian industrialist of the 16th century who financed the Cossack squadron led by Yermak Timofeyevich that fought against the Siberian khanate. The victory over this khanate started penetration of Russian people into Siberia. In 1689 Russia signed a trade agreement with China where the Chinese Emperor acknowledged new Russian possessions in Siberia. Those estates along with the border with China are reflected on the geographic map of Siberia compiled by outstanding Russian cartographer S.Remezov. The map represents the Great Chinese Wall and the Amur River that became a natural border.

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