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Tiger bells in Europe

(Russian Federation)

Tiger bells are of the classic A type.

In November 2011 Dmitri Timoshenko from Tver, in Russia (Russian Federation, 150 km north of Moscow) reports the find of two tiger bells in a potato field near Tver, capital of the Tver region which is part of Russia. He writes the following:

I found the bells myself. I was searching in a potato field with metal detector for "treasure " :-) when I found the first bell. It was already damaged and did not hold a pellet inside. The second bell was found on the next day, just 20 meters away from the first one. The second is in a much better shape and even has a pellet inside. Around the bells I found a lot of things - from a silver coin of Tsar Ivan the Terrible (1534-1584) to modern coins lost by local farmers.

The potato field itself is located on the right bank of Volga river, 50 km west of Tver city. This field is one of my favorite places for treasure hunting with the metal detector. Just last summer season I found in this field a large amount of objects: 9 Russian silver coins (1613-1711), 5 silver coins (1800...1900), almost 100 copper coins (1676-1956), bronze and silver Christian crosses, rings, earrings... and by the end of the season: those tiger bells

This is a highly unusual amount of findings for a simple potato field. I tried to find out what was there before... Possibly the field has been used for a very long time as a place for a fair, but this is just my impression. I could not find any information on this in local archives.

...My local friends who go treasure hunting have never seen bells like mine in the European part of Russia. So I feel kind of proud to be the first person to find "the first ever tiger bells"in Europe :-)

I do not know the age of the tiger bells. But when I noticed the hieroglyphs on the bells, the first idea that jumped to my mind was - "Wow, this goes back to the Mongol Invasion era of Russian history (13 century)!". However, I understand that my bells could have arrived much later...

The tiger bells; the bell on the right was found first, the other bell one day later at a
distance of 20 meters from the first bell.

The bells, turned around.

Top view of the two bells. Although heavily worn, the outline of the floral motives and
one or two groups of lines and curves, possibly Chinese characters, are still visible.

This is one of six reports of an archeological find of the tiger bells (the other reports are from Sumatra, Indonesia (2 cases), Wales, (Great Britain), Vietnam and Kazakhstan. Apart from the bells in Malta and Wales this is the most western location the bells have reached. The variety of objects found in the potato field indicates that the location was a meeting place, a market, or a fair ground, in use for many, possibly hundreds of years. Mr. Timoshenko's association with the Mongol invasions is supported by a quote in the book The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan (publ. in 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing). The city of Tver is mentioned together with Rjazan an Kiev as one of the cites that were plundered and destroyed during the raids by the Mongols in the 13th century. This event has led to further investigation in that direction; see the paragraph on the Mongol Invasions.

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