The Tatar invasion in Central Europe in 1241-42 has strongly
marked the history and northern Dobrudja. In the 13th
century, the region from the mouth of the Danube became an
active area of international trade, especially after the Golden
Horde settled here. The Tatars’ presence at the mouths of the
Danube is a topic investigated by many Romanian historians, but
it is still far from being clarified,
due to the limited number of historical sources, and to the lack
of archaeological research, with the exception of some
discoveries that have been reviewed and ascribed to the Golden
Thus, the archaeological research from Tulcea,
Păcuiul lui Soare,
the random discoveries from Jurilovca, Slava Rusă and Babadag
have revealed yellow, reddish or grey ceramic fragments,
decorated with the wheel; they are typical to the material
culture of The Golden Horde from the 13th-14th
The money circulation at the mouths of the Danube in the 13th-14th
centuries is the most eloquent testimony of the Tatars’ presence
in this area. Undoubtedly, at present the coins still represent
the main documentary source for understanding the evolution of
events and socio-economic area from the mouth of the Danube
during the Tartar domination.
In order to better understand the specific material culture of
the Golden Horde, we should note that the medieval settlement of
Isaccea was located on a promontory in the northwest of
present-day town and very close to the well-known ford of the
Danube from Isaccea to Orlovca.
Both Isaccea District, represented by the nowadays town, and the
bordering area, which represented the administrative territory
is known for housing remains assigned to different historical
periods because the area was a crossing ford intensely used
along history by various groups of people who came by.
The settling and control exercised by the Golden Hoard over the
area from the mouth of the Danube were certainly complex, with
different steps marked schematically by the literary and
The monetary discoveries remain for now the main source of
historical information on the Tatars, as well as on the
political events and socio-economic development of the area at
the mouth of the Danube during the Golden Horde’s rule.
For the topic in question, two important archaeological points
of interest are known: the fortress of Noviodunum and the city’s
In 2006, the Museum of History and Archaeology of the Eco-Museum
Research Institute Tulcea purchased from Manea Mihai, resident
of Isaccea town, his collection of archaeological and numismatic
objects. Among the objects offered for acquisition there were 7
pieces of ceramic moulds, a vessel of ellipsoidal shape,
hemispheric bottom, a bowl-vessel (ready for glazing) and 3
tripods. According to the person who collected these objects
over a period of 10 years, they were found on his property:
• oval-shaped vessel, probably a pitcher, hemispheric bottom,
reddish paste subjected to oxidizing firing, decorated with
rosettes, missing the top; angoba, glazed in the upper half with
white pearlescent enamel with greenish reflections. Diam. –
15.8; h – 9.5 cm;
• ceramic mould (7) fragments, semicircular, rosettes Preserved
L – 11.1; cm h – 8.5 cm; Preserved L – 10.2; cm h – 9 cm;
• bowl, reddish-yellow paste, angoba, prepared for glazing,
stylized decoration: flower petals, tendrils.
• tripods – 9 items.
• coins – 3 items.
The pitcher is cast in compact, good quality mould paste and
burnt in an oxidizing atmosphere. The moulds are also made of
Both the patterns and the vessel present similarities regarding
the decoration, with spheroconical vessels dated to the 13th-14th
centuries, found in Tulcea County.
The decoration consists of rosettes, obviously done by patterns.
For analogies, similar discoveries from Crimea are known, where
they discovered a number of patterns (published),
vessels (unpublished but mentioned and described by authors),
Orheiul Vechi, Costeşti
and Cetatea Albă.
In the historical literature, especially in the Russian one,
this ceramics category is called stamped pottery. This kind of
was also found on Romanian territory. Thus, at Coconi,
Curtea de Argeş
there are some vessel fragments made in moulds, dated to the 14th
The existence of vessels prepared for glazing indicates the
performance of the pottery masters from Isaccea who knew this
technique. In the absence of other elements that could offer us
more clues regarding the dating of the ceramics found at
Isaccea, we indicate a date sometime in the 14th
century. The reddish-yellow ceramics was produced in Tatar
centers in north-eastern Moldavia, using the existing prototypes
in the lower basin of the Volga and in Crimea or other regions
of the Golden Horde. Due to its qualities, this type of pottery
became superior to the local one and in the 14th
century its used spread up to Bārlad basin, which marked the
western limit of Mongolian territory.
The existence of a workshop for producing ceramics and the
presence of specialized craftsmen in the workshop at Isaccea
points to the existence of a strong political and economic
center under Mongol control. We wanted to draw attention to the
presence of this type of ceramics at Isaccea, and to the
existence of a workshop producing these ceramic types, hoping
that in the future archaeological discoveries in this area will
provide new information regarding the presence and the material
culture of the Golden Horde at the Danube mouth. We hope that
future archaeological research will bring out new data regarding
the presence of Tatars at the mouths of the Danube.
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Ellipsoidal shaped vessel.
Bowl (prepared for glazed).
1 – Ellipsoidal shaped vessel; 2 – Ceramic mould; 3 – Bowl (prepared
Ellipsoidal shaped vessel
Bowl (prepared for glazed)
For this issue, see: Brătianu 1935, 53-78;
Brătianu 1999, 296-310; Spinei 1970, 607-610;
Spinei 1975-1976, 34-37; Spinei 1982,
168-177; Spinei 1994, 253-255; Spinei 2006,
319-366; Papacostea 1993, 90-125; Ciocāltan
1998, 13-16; 129-259.