Gnezdovo Kurgans

In 1867 workers building the Orel-Vitebsk railroad found a cache of silver jewelry, in what turned into a major discovery of a settlement from 10th-century Rus. Of particular interest to archeologists is material about Scandanavian burial customs. Sizov raised controversies when he presented on the kleima – or seals on a number of the clay implements, suggesting a developed cultural identity. Systematic excavations have been conducted since; when the Germans occupied Smolensk during World War II, they sent artefacts back to Berlin.