Lastadie of Königsberg Altstadt

In 2010–2014 the Sambia expedition carried out rescue excavations in Lastadie of Königsberg Altstadt. Lastadie was a port and warehouse area typical for Hanseatic League towns of Europe. The excavated areas (some 5,000 m2, the thickness of the occupation layer is 3–6 m) are located in a section of the Pregola (Pregel in German) flood plain some 10–30 m from the waterline. A high level of humidity provided good conditions for preservation of the organic matter.

The excavations revealed remains of fortifications, such as the moat and the Altstadt brick defensive wall built in the 14th–17th centuries, and, possibly, their predecessors, a palisade and a moat in front of the palisade, which are earlier defensive constructions. In the Late Middle Ages the Altstadt fortifications were substantially modernized; vertical walls of the moat filled with water were lined with stone; a ground (parkham) was arranged between the wall and the inside buildings; the defensive brick wall was reinforced. Pilework provided stability of stone constructions in complicated hydrological conditions.

The moat deposits yielded a great quantity of finds, including well-preserved wooden window-frames, with colored stained glass fixed in place by lead sashes; a gorget, which is an armor component protecting the throat; a set of wooden crossbow arrows with metal arrowheads; lance and spear arrowheads; a flint lock of a gun; parts of a gun furniture; different types of star spurs; household items; locks, kitchenware and tableware; belt sets; and jewelry.

Several thousand items were found in the occupation layer, such as coins struck in various cities and states of Europe, including rectangular coins of Swedish mintage; counting tokens; lead commercial seals; glass goblets including painted goblets. Ceramics are represented by fragments of kitchenware and tableware; white clay Dutch or North European pipes; ceramic tiles; and construction ceramics. Wooden plates, spoons, a leather embossed book binding, parts of leather footwear, fragments and pieces of a sheath, gloves and belts were well-preserved. Fragments of textile, including course weave cloth, apparently, used as a packing material, were recovered in great quantities.

As soon as the area explored by the expedition lost its defensive function, it was turned into a high-density residential quarter. Wooden piled constructions and stub abutments, on which boulder-lined foundations rested, provided adequate stability for two- or three-story brick buildings. When the latter were constructed, some parts of the defensive fortifications were used as bearing walls, to which new brick walls were attached. In the 18th–19th centuries construction materials from the earlier buildings that had been partially demolished were used to construct buildings.

Because of the Pregola River and a stream that flowed into the moat from a nearby high terrace the area explored by the expedition had to be continuously drained. The design of numerous hydrological constructions changed over time. The constructions identified include open water collecting ditches, with the walls reinforced by horizontally placed planks that were kept in place by vertical piles; drainage pipes made from complete pine logs up to nine meters long, with the inner part removed by drilling; bricked channels with arched vaults; and wooden and brick storage wells. Landscaping of the streets and alleys included pavements, stone hewn and sawn slabs, and bar-shaped curb stones.

Lastadie houses and buildings were located in the section in front of the Altstadt defensive wall. The researchers managed to trace stages of the man-induced changes in the waterfront and construction of wooden, brick and other buildings that subsequently formed the river embankment, which in the 19th century was made of stone. When the new riverfront daylight surface was formed in Lastadie, the first house was built on the bank of the Pergola River (in fachwerk, or half-timbering, technology) as early as the 14th–15th centuries. It was divided into several rooms by partitions; an open hearth was placed on a brick ground in the kitchen. A household building, with a cellar sunk in soil, was erected nearby.

In the second half of the 19th century the embankment was paved with cobblestones and railway tracks were laid for train wagons, to which bales and barrels were unloaded from ships to be transported into warehouses located west of the riverfront. A brick administration building with cellars was built on a section near the riverfront.  By the end of the 19th – early 20th centuries the Lastadie area explored by the expedition became a part of the cargo handling terminal of the Königsberg Inner Bay; in 1944 it was destroyed during city bombing by British air force.

A.N. Khokhlov

Digital Version of the Booklet