Russia from Clans to Empire
What we know about the Rus economy and how
There are very few States nations or kingdoms that have managed to survive soly on one form of economic subsistence. The only example that comes to mind is Venice during the enlightenment, but even then they did not have complete freedom from agriculture. The reason that this is such an important realization is that Rus during the 8th through the 15th century was no exception. Archeologists have discovered massive amounts of material both in the cities and in the country side showing that there was a very active trade network and a booming agricultural sector to support their economy.
From the records we can see that farmers living in the northern part of Rus were not excluded from this prosperity. We can see that the type of tools and the techniques that they used were by no means stagnated. For example the type of plows found were primarily light plows that were very effective at tilling the soil after a heavy plow has worked over the land. And in the south we find evidence of different farm techniques in the form of Fallow Land techniques. What is so significant about this is that the records show that this along with many other improvements started to slowly move across the land in a gentle wave. This suggests that trade and communication between famers was likely supported by steady commerce and a strong economy.
So we know that the nation of Rus had a steady interstate trade that would facilitate the needs of the farmers. We also know that there was strong international trade pushing their economy based almost exclusively on the Dnieper, especially in amber. The reason we know this is that we have found hundreds of unfinished pieces of amber and entire workshops devoted to the creation of amber jewelry. The key thing that this can tell us about the Rus economy is how dependent the trade routes were on travel through the Baltic land. We know this because in the thirteenth century the German Teutonic order started to attack and seize the Baltic region and Prussia. At the same time we notice a dramatic drop in the amount of amber found in local shops and towns. We know that the amber mines still had amber so the only logical conclusion is that the Rus had no second trade route to ship their goods and so their economy stared.