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Materials of archaeological excavations in Mangazeya (State Historical Museum, Moscow)

Mangazeya (Russian: Мангазе́я) was a Northwest Siberian trans-Ural trade colony and later city in the 17th century. Founded in 1600 by Cossacks from Tobolsk, it was situated on the Taz River, between the lower courses of the Ob and Yenisei Rivers flowing into the Arctic Ocean. The name derives from a Nenets ethnonym Monkansi or Mongandi.[1]

Russian settlers of the White Sea coasts of Russia (pomors) founded a route along the Arctic coast to Arkhangelsk to trade with Norwegian, English and Dutch merchants. Mangazeya accumulated furs and ivory (walrus tusks) around the year to be shipped out during the short Northern summer. Trade also occurred along the Siberian River Routes' Northern Route. It became "a virtual Baghdad of Siberia, a city-state, all but independent of the Russian Empire in its wealth and utter isolation."[2]

The Northern Sea Route was forbidden in 1619 under the penalty of death and the city closed to outsiders: navigational markings were torn up, posts established to intercept anyone who might attempt to get through, and maps were falsified.[3] The state was unable to collect taxes, and there was a fear of English trading penetration into Siberia; furthermore, "Mangazeya had aroused the envy of inland merchants working out of the Urals, Tyumen, and Tobolsk, who saw it siphoning off commerce that would otherwise have come their way."[4] The city was finally abandoned following the catastrophic fire of 1678, after which the remaining population was evacuated to Turukhansk at the junction of the Yenisei with the Lower Tunguska, which was known as New Mangazeya until the 1780s.

The location of original Mangazeya and the Pomors' Kremlin and a Gostiny Dvor on the site of Mangazeya.

There is a town owned by Gasprom with the same name nearby.


  1. ^ E.M. Pospelov, Geograficheskie nazvaniya mira (Moscow: Russkie slovari, 1998), p. 406.
  2. ^ George St. George, Siberia: the New Frontier (Taylor & Francis, 1970), p. 263.
  3. ^ Benson Bobrick, East of the Sun: The Conquest and Settlement of Siberia (Heinemann, 1992: ISBN 0434928895), p. 56.
  4. ^ Bobrick, East of the Sun, p. 56.

External links

  • Mangazeya:A 16th Century Arctic Trading City in Siberia (Dead link as of 2015.09.06)
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