GANTSEV V.K. Rotary Millstones of the 9th–11th Centuries from the Excavations of the Mangup Princely Palace


Valentin K. Gantsev

Postgraduate Student,

Department of Ancient World and Middle Ages History, V.I. Vernadsky Crimean Federal University,

Prosp. Vernadskogo, 4, 295007 Simferopol, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. By the results of excavations of the Palace of Principality of Theodoro (1425–1475), a number of architectural and archaeological sites of the pre-palace and post-palace times were revealed. The cultural layer of the middle 9th–11th centuries in the history of Mangup settlement is quite expressive in the Palace complex. The find of three rotary millstones in this layer testifies the connection of local population with farming.

Methods. The study is based on a comparative analysis of medieval rotary millstones of the 9th–11th centuries, which were found on the territory of the Palace of Principality of Theodoro and synchronous monuments of the Crimea and the Khazar Kaganate.

Analysis. Millstones from excavations of the Palace are assigned to group I, according to the classification of R.S. Minasyan; according to the typology developed by V.K. Mikheev, one millstone is from type IIA2, the other two are from type IA1. Two millstones opened in a single complex allow to reconstruct a mill device based on the use of manual force. By means of a rotary rod attached at one end to a beam or ceiling, and the other to a side bearing attached to a handstone, the latter was given a rotational movement; the questone was not movable. The gap between millstones was regulated by a thrust bearing; the pivot fixed in the lower millstone centered the slider. The search of analogies to the Mangup millstones on synchronous Crimean monuments is difficult due to the insufficient publication of this category of artifacts (visual similarities are traced with the millstones discovered during excavations of Tepsen, settlements of the Baydarskaya valley, Kyz-Kermen).

Results. A comparison with the millstones of the Saltovo-Mayak culture demonstrates the difference in the design of the mill device. Most of the upper millstones discovered in the Saltovo-Mayak settlements have a special recess (sometimes more than one) for a short lever-handle, which makes them more mobile in contrast to the millstones found in the Crimea, the design of which is based on the use of a rotary rod. This fact allows us to talk about different economic and cultural traditions. In addition, millstones could serve not only for grain processing, but also for grinding legumes and oil.

Key words: Byzantine archaeology, Mangup, palace, rotary millstones, reconstruction.

Citation. Gantsev V.K. Rotary Millstones of the 9th–11th Centuries from the Excavations of the Mangup Princely Palace. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2020, vol. 25, no. 6, pp. 131-141. (in Russian). DOI:

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Rotary Millstones of the 9th–11th Centuries from the Excavations of the Mangup Princely Palace by Gantsev V.K. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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