Bilyar Expedition

Bilyar Archaeological Expedition by the Institute of Archeology named after A. Kh. Khalikov of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan under the supervision of Doctor of Historical Sciences F. Sh. Khuzin and Candidate of Historical Sciences Z. G. Shakirov conducted field studies in the territory of Bilyar settlement located in Alexeyevsky District of the Republic of Tatarstan from June 26 to August 28. The expedition received significant support from the Kazan (Volga Region) Federal University (KFU) within the framework of scientific cooperation. The expedition provided archaeological field practice to students of Institute of International Relations of KFU, Elabuga Institute of KFU and Ulyanovsk State Pedagogical University. The participants of Bilyar Expedition include the employees of the National Museum of the Republic of Tatarstan and the representatives of student labor groups of the Republic of Tatarstan.

The studies were conducted in the “Inner Town” of Bilyar settlement approximately 300 meters west-north-west of the Cathedral Mosque. The excavation revealed residential, household and public sites (10th – first third of the 13th centuries) associated with the existence of the capital center of pre-Mongol Volga Bulgaria, the town of Bilyar, referred to in Russian chronicles as the “Great Town”.

The archaeologists studied a portion of a large brick building dated the 12th – early 13th centuries, which perished as a result of a capture of the town by the Mongols in 1236. The upper layers feature traces of a great fire and the cleared remains of town residents who were apparently hiding inside the building. After the debris were removed, it became possible to trace the structural elements of the building: tanks for water heating, walls, a large furnace, and heating channel systems. This allowed to advance a working version according to which that the building could have been a medieval public bathhouse. The building will be studied and interpreted with more accuracy when it is completely uncovered, which is planned to be completed during the subsequent field seasons.

A great number of household items, utensils and adornments made of clay, bone, glass, ferrous and non-ferrous metal, ornamental and semi-precious stones have been discovered in the course of the studies.