The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a 17th-century Russian town situated in northwestern Siberia on the Taz River, which was part of the Mangazeia sea route. As early as the 16th century, inhabitants of Pomor’e used the route, which went from the mouth of the Severnaia Dvina through the strait of lugorskii Shar to the lamal Peninsula, then along the Mutnaia and Zelenaia rivers into the Ob inlet, and finally down the Taz River, with a portage to the Turukhan, a tributary of the Enisei. In 1619 navigation along the route was prohibited, chiefly to prevent Western European trading companies from gaining access to the fur-rich regions of Siberia. However, Russians continued to use the sea and canal route via the Ob inlet.

Between 1601 and 1607 a detachment of Tobol’sk and Berezov strel’tsy (semiprofessional musketeers) and cossacks built a city with four walls and five towers on the high right bank of the Taz 300 km from its mouth. Intended as a stronghold for the advance of Russians into the heart of Siberia, Mangazeia quickly became very important as a trading and trapping center. Its inhabitants bartered for furs, especially sable, with the surrounding local population, chiefly the Nentsy. In addition, they trapped sable and engaged in fishing, livestock raising, shipping, and crafts such as metal casting and bone carving. Many Russian merchants came to Mangazeia with domestic or Western European goods, which they exchanged for furs.

Excavations conducted from 1968 to 1970 and again in 1973 by expeditions of the Arctic and Antarctic Scientific Research Institute established that Mangazeia consisted of two parts. The kremlin-stronghold, which covered 5,200 sq m, contained several interior buildings (the court of the voevoda [military commander], the assembly hall, the church, and the jail). It was surrounded by aposad (merchants’ and artisans’ quarter) covering about 25,000 sq m and divided into a trading district (an E-shaped arcade of merchants’ shops, a customhouse, merchants’ dwellings, three churches, and a chapel) and an artisans’ district (80-100 residential houses, foundries, and smithies).

Mangazeia remained economically important until the 1640’s. Its status as a center of trade, trapping, and crafts began to decline in the mid-17th century because of the extermination of fur-bearing animals in the northern part of the Enisei Basin and the shift of trapping farther east in Siberia. The people of Mangazeia moved, and the garrison was transferred to the Turukhansk winter station on the Enisei. On that site the city of Novaia Mangazeia was founded in 1672. In the 1780’s it was renamed Turukhansk. (It is now a village and a raion center in Krasnoiarsk Krai).


Bakhrushin, S. V. “Mangazeiskaia mirskaia obshchina XVII v.” Nauchnye trudy, vol. 3, Moscow, 1955.
Aleksandrov, V. A. Russkoe naselenie Sibiri: XVII-nachalo XVIII v. Moscow, 1964.
istoriia otkrytiia iosvoeniia Severnogo morskogo puti, vol. 1: M. I. Belov, Arkticheskoe moreplavanie s drevneishikh vremen do serediny XIX v, Moscow, 1956.
Belov, M. I. Raskopki “zlatokipiashchei” Mangazei. Leningrad, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.