Listen to a report on an archaeological treasure that has been unearthed in the course of excavations in the ancient kremlin in Torzhok. During digging works archeologists have discovered a treasure consisting of 250 silver ornaments that had been in use, and scrap silver dating back to the period of Batu Khan’s invasion. They for the first time found unique seals that had belonged to local governors, who ruled the town on behalf of Novgorod. Archaeological evidence suggests that everything had been specially saved, most likely, in a boyar family.
This episode helps for vocabulary development through the introduction of the authentic material on the Russian cultural history. Crucial here is to emphasize on the active/productive vocabulary vs passive/receptive vocabulary. Also relevant here might be a pre-teaching of lexical items as a means to aiding either recall or recognition. Students can find it motivating to work collaboratively to define new words using creative means, such as context and visual clues, rich discussions about new words and their meanings and traditional methods, such as a dictionary or other media sources. I would suggest focusing on the vocabulary, then on the episode’s discussion that may be followed by the students’ question-answer session. Look at the three word-sets for this episode:
Новичок; схрон (Ukrainian loan word = тайник, укрытие); ниша; траншея; деревянная посудина; «черные» копатели;
Богатая горожанка; слой золы; человеческие кости; спекшиеся от пожара иконы;
Домонетный период; серебряный лом (сломанные серебряные украшения); серебряные позолоченные нашивки; подвески, височные кольца
Historical commentary Although little known outside of Russia, Torzhok (Tver Region) is a 1,000-year-old town, first mentioned in ancient chronicles under the year 1139. The word ‘torzhok’ comes from the word for trading site i.e. "small marketplace." Actually, the marketplace that used to be located here until the 18th century could not be considered small, as Torzhok was one of the oldest and largest markets in medieval Russia. It was founded as early as in the 12th century, and trade was more than active here in the pre-Mongol era. An American historian of Russian architecture, a preservationist and an architectural photographer William Brumfield argues that “One of the oldest settlements in Central Russia, Torzhok features buildings from every era in Russian history in a wide range of architectural styles.”
This small town of Russia, beautiful and ugly, happy and desperate all at the same time is located not far from Moscow, not far from St. Petersburg. It seems as if somebody specially created a model provincial town for us to see. Torzhok is among the centers where the rare art of precious golden embroidery is still practiced. Craftsmen of the town have long been decorating the dresses with glittering design, ornamenting objects of secular and ecclesiastical culture. The embroiderers of Torzhok had often worked on Royal commission.