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The State Museum-Reserve “Kulikovo Field” was established in 1996.

Prior to that the story of the Kulikovo battle had been represented at various times across the site. Until 2010 there was an exhibition entitled “For Russian land and Christian faith” at the cathedral on Krasny Hill, and the village of Monastyrshchino hosted an exhibition until 2016.

2016 saw the opening of a new museum on the site, in a building designed specially to house a new exhibition about the Battle of Kulikovo.

  • 3825
    hectares protected area
  • 5
    museums in a museum-reserve
  • 380
    monuments of archaeology, history and culture
  • 13
    major holidays and festivals every year

The Museum-Reserve sees its main aim as preserving the tangible and intangible memory of the Battle of Kulikovo. This aim is embodied in our large-scale programme to: study and re-establish the forest-steppe landscape of the 14th century; study archaeological artefacts and search for battlefield relics; research written sources; and preserve architectural monuments. The findings from the Museum-Reserve’s research are relayed promptly to a wide audience.

An important strand of activity is awareness raising and outreach amongst local residents, to ensure environmentally friendly use of the land.


Archeological research at Kulikovo Field and the wider Tula region

Archaeological sites at Kulikovo Field


Kulikovo Field is one of the most researched areas of ancient Russian territory. Our knowledge and awareness of ancient Russian history has benefited from the study of sites close to the epoch of the Kulikovo battle. Studies have been carried out into how this land was settled from the 12th to 14th centuries, looking at individual settlements and groups of settlements, large towns, burial grounds, domestic industries, cultural and trading links between populations along the Russian borders.

Archaeological sites in the Tula region


The Kulikovo Field Museum-Reserve archaeological expedition has surveyed the entire sweep of the Tula region, since the study of Kulikovo Field in isolation is not sufficient to understand the archaeology of the region as a whole. Work has included exploratory investigations, the search for new archaeological sites and monitoring the condition of those already known to us. In the future, sites will be selected for excavation in areas where there were ancient settlements and graves that are crucial to our understanding of how the ethno-cultural and political situation developed in this region over different historical periods. 


Rescue archaeology

One of the main activities of the Museum-Reserve’s Archaeology Department is rescue or preventive operations, designed to protect archaeological sites (or part of a site) that are due to be destroyed as a result of construction or other activities such as trenchwork under a building, laying communication lines, pipelines, roadbuilding, etc.

Preventive archaeology differs from research first in that archaeologists conduct work beyond the scope of their field of study, where sites for research are known and planned in advance. The chief requirement for preventive archaeology is that it be carried out in the shortest possible time and at any time of year. A significant challenge is presented by modern day building technology and the scale of construction, which put huge areas of archaeological interest at risk of destruction.

Field archaeology is carried out largely by hand. It is done in such a way that all the details of cultural stratification can be fully recorded, the layers of the site can be studied in detail including remains of buildings, structures, burial mounds, grave sites. All of this is recorded with painstaking detail and mapped, and items contained in the occupation layer are extracted with maximum care.

After any kind of research, including preventive work, each archaeologist prepares a scientific report which fully describes the approach and the findings; this includes sketches, photographs and drawings of any unearthed artefacts. Even then the preventive work cannot be considered complete; the report is just the starting point for the scientific interpretation of everything that has been found. As a result of preventive (rescue) archaeology scientists have a wealth of new information, and their challenge is to analyse it and transform it into academic work. 

The Museum-Reserve’s research into military history


Studying the heritage of the Battle of Kulikovo 

One main line of work for the Museum-Reserve is the study of the legendary battlefield in all its historical, archaeological, environmental and cultural aspects. Specialists carry out complex scientific exploration of the land and any items found, including weapons used by those who fought in the Battle of Kulikovo.

Every spring and autumn, staff from the Museum-Reserve take part in an expedition at Kulikovo Field to search for relics from the battle of 1380. These specialists have developed a uniquely successful way of searching for these relics whereby the area is divided into sections, which are scanned using sensitive metal detectors. Anything discovered during this process is logged using satellite technology. 

Since the Kulikovo Field Museum-Reserve was established, around 50 discoveries have been made that are directly related to the battle: segments from plated armour, two spear tips, seven arrowheads, fragments of chainmail, a helment nose-piece, fragments from battle-axes, a spear shaft, the tip of a metal ‘sulitsa’ lance, belt buckles, firesteels, details from horse harnesses, and other items. The discovery of these items has enabled us to detail and pinpoint the epicentre of the combat on 8th September 1380. Each unearthed relic has been studied and logged and now occupies a place of honour in the museum exhibition.

The fate of relics which were found on the Kulikovo battlefield between the 18th and 19th centuries and kept in noblemens’ collections remains, like many other things, unknown. But the study of other Russian museums’ collections and archive documents allows us to significantly expand our understanding of the history of the battle.


The search for fraternal graves of Russian warriors on the field of battle

An important part of our battlefield research is the search for the graves of Russian warriors who fell in battle. There are no sources that shine any light on this problem, and no special methods have been developed that help us locate this kind of site.

However, scientists have a range of research methods at their disposal including geophysical exploration and digital aerial photography, carried out in a diverse range of light conditions. 


Scientific reconstruction of the weapons used in the Battle of Kulikovo

The scientific reconstruction of weapons and equipment used by the warriors who took part at the Battle of Kulikovo gives museum visitors an opportunity to imagine the reality of what took place in 1380.

In Russia’s military history there have been three historic battles, and battlefields. These were the scenes of decisive victories that influenced Russia’s destiny: the battlefields of Kulikovo, Borodino, and Prokhorovka (Kursk). Our military history collection and the items on display at Kulikovo Field relate to this wider theme, though of course the majority of them are connected specifically to the Battle of Kulikovo.

It was only quite recently that the idea of scientific reconstruction was adopted in Russian museum circles. In contrast to Europe, where the importance of good quality reconstructions has been recognised since the end of the 19th century, Russia has only begun to do this in the last few decades. Artistic reconstruction starts with archaeological and iconographic material from the area in question, and transforms it into an object using artistic skill. Artistic reconstruction is underpinned by reference to written sources so that maximum authenticity can be ensured.

More than 20 complete reconstructions have been created for the museum exhibition: plate armour of heavily-armed Russian warriors, the heavy armour of a Mongol warrior, the armour of light-armed warriors, and also princely garments. The reconstruction of a Mongol war horse’s armour is particularly interesting: it took around 11 months to make, using 912 metal plates attached to hundreds of metres of leather straps. Once complete it weighed 47.5kg without the saddle. This exhibit has repeatedly won prizes at various exhibitions across Russia and Belarus.


Researching the military heritage of Kulikovo Field

Kulikovo Field, the glorious scene of Mamai’s defeat, was later to become the scene of bitter combat with the Crimea Tatars and the Nogai, and (during the Time of Troubles) also with the Poles. The inhabitants of Kulikovo Field, as part of the Tula Region homeguard, took part in the Patriotic War of 1812 and got as far as Danzig. The Kulikovo Regiment fought on the frontline during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, and the First World War. In the terrible days of 1941, the field of Kulikovo became the scene of battle against Guderian’s tanks. 

Studying and re-creating the historic natural landscape of Kulikovo Field

The academic team from the museum-reserve have been carrying out ambitious scientific and practical work to recreate the historic forest-steppe landscape of the 14th century battlefield site.

The recreation of the forest-steppe area, whose species composition encompasses more than 300 types of plant, is a unique scientific programme - unprecedented not only in Russia, but globally.

Studying nature and reconstructing the processes of change in the natural environment of Kulikovo Field over the last 10,000 years occupies an important part of the team’s work.

The depth and detailed nature of this research make Kulikovo Field one of the key sites for studying the relationship between man and the environment in Russia. Our team of naturalists has paid particular attention to the epoch of the Battle of Kulikovo; this has revealed new details about the circumstances of the battle, giving scientists access to a wider range of information about how the landscape of the battlefield developed.

Researching and reconstructing the natural historical landscape has been a complex endeavour. It has brought together academics from natural science and humanities disciplines (historians, archaeologists, geographers, biologists) from Russia’s leading universities.

Their achievements to date are varied:

-          pinpointing the location of the battlefield through the correlation of black earth, grey forest and meadow soils

-          mapped reconstruction of the natural historical landscape of the Kulikovo battlefield of 1380 (scale 1:10,000)

-          mapped natural-historical landscape with elements of reconstruction indicating sites from the time of the Golden Horde and pre-Mongol era (scale 1:10,000)

-          paleographical conditions established for the second half of the Holocene (present epoch)

-          mapped natural-historical landscape of key sections with areas of economic impact (1:2,000, 1:10,000)

-          map of the transformed landscape of Kulikovo Field as influenced by man-made factors

The creation of a map of the reconstructed natural historical landscape, based on research findings, is now the scientific basis for carrying out the unique experiment to reconstruct the natural landscape of Kulikovo Field.

There are two aspects to this work: re-establishing the steppe plant species and restoring the forests.

Today the forested area covers the entire historical location of the legendary Green Oak Wood, which was lost more than 300 years ago. The re-establishment of the historical forested area is an important part of the ongoing work to restore the natural landscape of the battlefield.

The first attempts to re-establish the steppe planting were made in 1998-99 on Krasny Hill. After the Museum-Reserve was granted land in perpetuity on the site of the historic battlefield, the first experimental strips of field were assigned for the restoration of meadow-steppe plant associations in their native habitat.

At the same time, feather-grass seedlings and a seed collection area were established to provide the project with seeds to sow on the site of the historical landscape. So far the collection area has collected up to 90 types of steppe, meadow and forest grasses and shrubs, and filled 20 patches covering an area of 70 hectares.

The significance of the results of the Museum-Reserve’s research and the experiment in reconstructing the historical natural landscape has been recognised by the scientific community in Russia and abroad. The Museum-Reserve’s specialists are now members of the European Dry Grassland Group. Every five years the Museum-Reserve also hosts the All-Russia Scientific Conference on themes relating to restoring the natural landscape in the forest-steppe zone.

Ethnographic research at Kulikovo Field

Daily culture, or the story of everyday life, is all about the material components of life including the things that people require for their clothes, food, accommodation, communication, relaxation, or carrying out the traditional ceremonies of life.  

From 1998 to 2008, staff from the Kulikovo Field State Museum-Reserve carried out eight ethnographic expeditions to the area between the rivers Don and Nepryadva. Their main aim was to recreate a picture of traditional national culture and peasant life in the region in the 19th and 20th centuries. During the ten year period of their work they have surveyed more than 60 settlements across the Bogoroditsky, Kimovsky and Kurkinsky districts of the Tula region, plus the Dankovsky district in the Lipetsk region; they have interviewed around 200 people, and collected more than 300 items of historical domestic and ethnographic material. This expedition material, together with historical and scientific data, allows us to paint a picture of the particular regional culture of Kulikovo Field, which is most similar to the culture of southern Belarus. The mix of natives from the northern provinces, neighbouring Ryazan and the Russian steppe, where archaic characteristics lingered on for many years, gave rise to the Kulikovo saying: “On our field three roosters crow: from Lipetsk, Ryazan and Tula”.

The Museum-Reserve’s collection has subsequently been augmented with items donated by private individuals, or objects found by staff during their research. All these items have been included in the National section of the museum collection and in the National Catalogue of the Museum Collection of Russia.

From 2008 to 2018 the museum’s main activity in the field of regional ethnographic study has been to organise and promote understanding of all the material it has gathered. Several priorities have been identified for further study:

-          daily life and occupations of the population of the Tula area and the region of Kulikovo Field

-          the history of Kulikovo’s cathedrals, holy places and iconic symbols

-          history and way of life of the Russian merchant class and petty bourgeoisie, using the example of the Baibakov manorial ensemble

the role of Epifan in the socio-economic development of the Kulikovo Field region in the 18th-20th centuries.

Looking ahead to the period 2018-23, the museum’s ethnographic research will focus on collecting items relating to urban material and spiritual culture in the first half of the 20th century. Future studies will examine textile items, including homespun and embroidered towels. 


Looking ahead to the period 2018-23, the museum’s ethnographic research will focus on collecting items relating to urban material and spiritual culture in the first half of the 20th century. Future studies will examine textile items, including homespun and embroidered towels. 


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