Revista Studii Teologice


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Completări la istoria Mănăstirii Radu-Vodă din București. Referatul Pr. Niculae Șerbănescu, adresat Patriarhului Justinian Marina, în legătură cu săpăturile arheo-logice din interiorul bisericii

Additional data about the history of Radu-Vodă Monastery in Bucharest: A report upon the archaeological excavations inside the church

Autor(i): Oana-Mădălina POPESCU

In August 1954, the Patriarch Justinian Marina deputed N. Șerbănescu to be present, as the official of the Romanian Patriarchate, at the archaeological excava-tions, carried inside the church of Radu-Vodă Monastery in Bucharest. The excava-tions had started in 1953, at the initiative of the Romanian Academy, in close coop-eration with the Museum of Antiquities. But, in 1953, the works had been carried out only in the exterior of the church, inside the courtyard of the monastery and in neighbourhood, on the hill, but not inside the church building. Soon after, the Minis-try of the Culture obtained the approval to continue and extend the excavations inside the church. And, for the purpose of attending the archaeological investigations, the Patriarch commissioned N. Șerbănescu, together with Gh. Moisescu, to take part at the works, to be on the spot. On March 31, 1955, N. Șerbănescu wrote his official paper upon the archaeological excavations and addressed it to the Patriarch, who read it, as confirmed a note on the first page. The report is based on the observations and competent conclusions drawn by the team of archaeologists, under the direction of V. Zirra.
The aim of this study is to present, in full text, this important document, held nowadays, by the Romanian Archives-Bucharest Department, as it reveals valuable data on this subject. The document offers more details on the excavations inside the church and it completes therefore other important studies, which give information on the investigations outside the building, as are the studies of I. Ionescu, V. Zirra, P.I. Panait and Gh.I. Cantacuzino. The text is not a hand-writing, it is typed and dis-played on 18 pages and it has some valuable and unpublished photos and drawings, annexed at the end. The text is organized in three distinct parts. The first one short-ly presents the history of Radu-Vodă Monastery, its founders and several historical data. The second part, briefly presents the excavations carried out in 1953, outside the church and the most important archaeological discoveries. But, the most valuable part of the paper is the third one, which describes, in detail, the excavations orga-nized in 1954.
So, on the basis of this document, we can determine several important as-pects, steps and methods followed in the archaeological works. The method of excava-tion consisted in digging a main ditch along the church, in the direction West-East, from the entrance door to the altar. This principal ditch was perpendicularly cut by other secondary, smaller trenches and several cassettes, cut in the narthex, for a better supervision of the archaeological complexes revealed. Based on the statements of the archaeologist V. Zirra, the chief of the site, N. Șerbănescu presented in his report the main targets of the excavations, namely: to identify some vestiges of a previous building inside the church erected by Alexander II Voivode; to determine the period of construction of the porch and to dig the graves inside the church. The excavations also revealed several different periods of human habitations on the space where the actual church was built. The conclusion was drawn by the examination of all the layers of clay inside the building. The investigation finally proved that the place was inhabited from the ancient times.
The archaeologists also investigated all the strata of earth in the interior of the church, in order to discover an older building, previous than the construction built by Alexander II Voivode. The results conducted to the conclusion that, indeed, there was a previous building inside of the actual church, older the one built at the middle of the 16th century. It was located mainly in the central part of the actual church and it was made of wood and clay. So, one important task of the excavations was attained. Other important conclusion drawn by the investigations was that the actual church was built in two different stages of construction: at the middle of the 16th century, then at the beginning of the 17th century.
Thus, the archaeological excavations confirmed the written historical sources and proved that the church erected by Alexander II Voivode was destroyed by fire and then it was rebuilt, on its previous foundations, by Radu-Mihnea Voivode, at the beginning of the 17th century, as the charters and chronicles showed. So, the excava-tions clearly showed that Radu Mihnea Voivode constructed his church on the an-cient foundations of the older church. That was another important conclusion of the investigations. But there was a difference in the architectural plan between the two constructions: the church built by Radu Mihnea had 3 or 4 spires, while the ancient one had probably only one spire.
The tombs inside the church were also excavated. The archaeologists discov-ered that the graves had been opened before, in the past; some of them presented traces of consecutive burials. Then, the works were extended in the church porch and they proved that it was constructed later than the rest of the building, in the 18th century. Its spires were added later on, in the 19th century. In other words, the porch was not built in the same period of time with the church itself. So, the archaeo-logical investigations completely confirmed the written sources. They elucidated the stages of construction of the church, its original architectural plan and they also testi-fied its violent destruction, by fire, at the end of the 16th century, in the historical context of the Turkish invasion, during the reign of Michael the Brave.
In the end of his report, N. Șerbănescu suggested that further excavations should be done, in the future, only in the needed and determined parts of the church and only if required, in order not to destroy in vain the historical building. Similar recommendations for possible investigations were done by the architect I. Paraschivescu, who was named by the Patriarch to assist at the excavations. He also made the checking of the reparations works, which were necessary, as, during the archaeological excavations, several slabs of marble were completely destroyed and they had been replaced by new ones. The Patriarch Justinian Marina, whom the report was addresses to, strongly encouraged the architectural restoration of the religious monument, in 1968-1973. In 1977, on his death, he was buried inside the church, in the left side of the nave, in an elegant marble sarcophagus. And, for his activity and constant support of revival the Radu-Vodă Monastery, he was considered one of its founders.

Pagini: 99-128