In ancient times, Staraya Ladoga was a large trade and craft centre, and its citizens could afford to invite professional warriors to protect their town. The legendary Rurik, who started the first Russian ruling dynasty, headed one of such armies. He was obviously a bold and adventurous person, yet he could not expect that his personal success would make many generations of historians argue on how the Russian state was formed. As a result of this dispute, the ancient capital of Rus was completely forgotten. According to the Norman theory, the Russians were half-wild tribes before Rurik settled his people in Novgorod. Novgorod was the centre of Russian history before Kievan Rus. However, the excavation in Ladoga has refuted this theory. Although it was lost in time, Ladoga was the main trade centre of Northern Slavs in the 10th through 12th centuries. According to Professor Kirpichnikov, it can be called the first window to and Asia rather than to Europe. Ladoga was an international trade centre that linked the East and the West.
Even after ten centuries, Staraya Ladoga is surprisingly beautiful and magnificent. This area started attracting researchers in the 19th century. In the early 20th century, the excavation of one of the burial hills near the town on the Volkhov bank caused a sensation. The researchers found some items that suggested that the grave belonged to the legendary Oleg the Wise. Excavations in the ancient city have been carried out since 1972, and there are new discoveries every season.