Wednesday, 25 November 2020

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE: AULACOSTEPHANUS

A beautiful example of Aulacostephanus undorae (Pavlow, 1886), a Late Jurassic, Upper Kimmeridgian, upper zone Eudoxus ammonite from an old quarry near the river Serena, near the village Lipitsy, Kaluga Region, Russia. 

Kaluga is known for its most famous resident, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a rocket science pioneer who worked here as a school teacher. 

The Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics in Kaluga is dedicated to his theoretical achievements and their practical implementations for modern space research, hence the motto on the city's coat of arms: "The Cradle of Space Exploration."

Kaluga, founded in the mid-14th century as a border fortress on the southwestern borders of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, first appears in the historical record in chronicles in the 14th century as Koluga; the name comes from Old Russian Kaluga - "bog, quagmire." 

During the period of Tartar raids, it was the western end of the Oka bank defence line. The Great Stand on the Ugra River was fought just to the west. In the Middle Ages Kaluga was a minor settlement owned by the Princes Vorotynsky. The ancestral home of these princes lies southwest of the modern city.

On 19 January 1777, the Kaluga drama theatre opened its first theatrical season, established with the direct participation of the Governor-General M. N. Krechetnikov.

Kaluga is connected to Moscow by a railway line and by the ancient roadway, the Kaluga Road (now partly within Moscow — as Starokaluzhskoye Shosse - the Old Kaluga Highway — partly the A101 road. This road offered Napoleon his favoured escape route from the Moscow trap in the fall of 1812. 

General Kutuzov repelled Napoleon's advances in this direction and forced the retreating French army onto the old Smolensk road, previously devastated by the French during their invasion of Russia — an event that may be attributed to poor planning and tin buttons, but that is for another post.

On several occasions during the Russian Empire Kaluga was the residence of political exiles and prisoners such as the last Crimean khan Şahin Giray (1786), the Kyrgyz sultan Arigazi-Abdul-Aziz (1828), the Georgian princess Thecla (1834–1835), and the Avar leader Imam Shamil (1859–1868).

The German army briefly occupied Kaluga during the climactic Battle of Moscow, as part of Operation Barbarossa. The city was under full or partial German occupation from October 12th to December 30, 1941. In 1944, the Soviet Government used its local military buildings to intern hundreds of Polish prisoners of war — soldiers of the Polish underground Home Army — whom the advancing Soviet front had arrested in the area around Vilnius. This specimen is in the collection of the deeply awesome Emil Black. Maximum diameter of 58mm.