A new interpretation of the inscriptions on the handles of signature knives found on the shores of Sims Bay 

Avdeev A.G., Okladnikova Ye.A., Svoiskii U.M., Romanenko E.V.





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The article reports on a new interpretation of the inscriptions on two personalized knives found on the coast of Sims Bay in the Laptev Sea. This interpretation differs from the readings published previously by paleographers and source-study experts due to the fact that it has been possible to devise correct transcription of these inscriptions with the aid of the method of non-contact 3D modeling of epigraphic records developed by the RSSDA Laboratory and used in the Code of Russian Inscriptions (CIR). The reading of the inscriptions on the signature knives proposed by the authors of this paper has enabled establishing their ownership to Gurii (baptismal name) — Akakii (prayer? name) Ivanov son of Karzyaev’s, likely the head of the commercial and industrial expedition of the 1620s. The site of the polar mariners of the 17th century in Sims Bay is located 70 km west of the island of Thaddeus Severny, where in 1940 members of the hydrographic detachment of the East Taimyr hydrographic expedition found similar articles, including 8 other knives. Unfortunately, these knives have only partially preserved handles, and most of them turned out to be represented only by the blades. Inscriptions made in the Slavic ligature could be found only on two knives from a hut in Sims Bay. According to the official version, both sites belong to the members of the Russian trade and industrial expedition of the 17th century. The rich composition of the collection of archaeological artifacts assembled at the locations of these two sites makes this monument unique for the Russian culture of the 17th century.

Keywords: Taimyr Peninsula, island of Thaddeus Severny, Sims Bay, archaeological artifacts, expeditionary research, nominal knives, 17th century, Russian polar expeditions, Code of Russian Inscriptions, Old Russian epigraphy, non-contact 3D modeling of inscriptions, mathematical visualization methods, photogrammetry.


Acknowledgements. The article is dedicated to the memory of A.K. Stanyukovich, who was the first to correctly read the owner's inscriptions on knives from Sims Bay. The article was written with the support of PSTGU, as well as the University of Dmitry Pozharsky and the RSSDA Laboratory as part of the research project “Code of Russian Inscriptions / Corpus Inscriptionum Rossicarum” (the scientific supervisor of the project is A.G. Avdeev, the technical supervisor is Yu.M. Svoisky), as well as with the support of the “Preserved Culture Foundation”, and personally the founder and head of the foundation V.B. Naumov (scientific supervisor of the project — E.A. Okladnikova). The authors express their sincere gratitude to the director of the RSMAA, historian M.V. Dukalskaya, the chief curator of the RSMAA funds, Yu.M. Svoysky, as well as with the support of the Preserved Culture Foundation, and personally the founder and head of the foundation, V.B. Naumov. Scientific supervisor of the project — E.A. Okladnikov. The authors express their sincere gratitude to the director of the RSMAA, historian M.V. Dukalskaya, the chief curator of the RSMAA funds, Yu.V. Vepreva, and E.L. Fedotova, Senior Officer of the Department of Accounting and Storage of Funds of the Russian State Museum of the Arctic and Antarctic.


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 05.09.2022

Article is published: 15.03.2023


Avdeev A.G., Orthodox St. Tikhon University for the Humanities, Novokuznetskaya st., 23Á, Moscow, 115184, Russian Federation, E-mail: avdey57@mail.ru, https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7253-9126


Okladnikova Ye.A., Russian State Pedagogical University named after A.I. Herzen, nab. Moiki, 48, St. Petersburg, 194295, Russian Federation, E-mail: okladnikova-ea@yandex.ru, https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4720-9584


Svoiskii U.M., Institute of the Classical East and Antiquity National Research University Higher School of Economics, Myasnitskaya st., 20, Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation, E-mail: rutil28@gmail.com, https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6256-4299


Romanenko E.V., RSSDA laboratory, Rusanova st., 9, Moscow, 129323, Russian Federation, E-mail: ekaterina.romanenko@gmail.com, https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5138-9202