Since the activity of our team is associated with the reconstruction of ancient Russian dwellings, we need to know technical aspects of log constructions of that period. How to cut out this or that element, what shape it had, which tool they used for cutting, what gaps between logs were allowed etc.

Unfortunately, descriptions of finds of buildings in scientific publications are not enough detailed. They give only linear size, approximate diameters of logs and orientation. For good reconstruction it’s not enough, we need to see the original. So we went to the «Berestye» museum in Brest.

«Berestye» remains in the shadow of the Brest Fortress. It’s very sad, though the fortress is realy cool. The main exhibition of the museum is unique not only in Belarus but also in the world.

General view of the exposition.

Now this monument is dying slowly. Due to lack of funds there is no heating in the museum, in winter it is subzero temperature here. Moisture in the pores of wood expands while freezes, destroying logs. Experts say that the monument can be completely lost in 15 years. We can can easily see the difference between its preservation today and five years ago.

Buildings in «Berestye» are unique because of their preservation. Some are preserved to a height of 12 rows of beams. This is some very rare case in archeology.

A log cabin with the record preserved height.

There are preserved doorways, some entirely, and doors. In «Berestye» 28 doors were found. They are made on the same technology, «stitched» with tenons of two or three boards, at least of one wide board. The door has ledges/heels, by which they turn in the holes drilled in the top and bottom log. Three such doors are presented in the museum, each of them is interesting and unique. Each door has a technological hole. We failed to identify the purpose of these holes, so for a joke we called them peepholes. Most likely, these are keyholes.

Doors and stairs.

The door is «stiched» of several boards by a tenon. Note the sizes.

From the butt one can see that the door has an uneven thickness, narrowing at the edges, it has the «dovetail» geometry.

It was made of a solid wide board. The heel is interesting: it doesn’t go out the door surface but is cut out in the body. At the bottom of the door there is no heel, instead of it there is a right-angled slit. Principles of installation of the door in the doorway are not clear.

Door tenon, cut out in the door body without projection.

The door is also made of solid boards, but one of its wide brims has trapezoidal grooves such as «dovetail» for mortise tenons. Perhaps the door was sewn of two boards, one of which has not been preserved.

One can clearly see the processing method.

Excavations in Berestye were conducted by archaeologist P. Lysenko. In his book «Discovery of Berestye» he writes that by the XIII century it had not been yet worked out a single, most efficient design of doorways, and there are four types of it found in Berestye. Unfortunately, these types are not described in the book, and we failed to examine them properly in situ. Let’s wait till the next expeditions. P. Lysenko wrote that all the doors in Berestye opened inwards, but we saw in one of the log cabins some remnants of threshold, where the door clearly opened outwards. Perhaps this was a mistake of assemblers during the restoration.

One can see the place of fitting of the door that opened outwards.

In this log house the door opened inwards. This is typical. One can see a groove for a tenon.

The second part of the report about Berestye