In Antiquity

Gurzufskoye Sedlo
"Ancient Chersonesos"of Strabo
"Another Harbor of the Chersonesites"
Kalos Limen
Roman strongholds
The Sanctuary on the Isthmus of the Saki Lake
Symbolon Limen

In the Middle Ages


The site of Al'ma-Kermen (fortress of Alma in Crimean Tartarian language) is located in the middle-stream of the river Al'ma on its left bank on the outskirts of modern Zavetnoye village. This site was discovered in 1830s by P. Koeppen, who wrote: "Remains of walls making a small fortress are hardly visible at this place. The Tartars call it Kala".

The Late Scythian settlement appeared at this place probably in the II century BC. During the first development stage, this fortress did not differ from the other sites of this type. In the II century AD, however, the Romans came to this place...

Having made their stronghold in Chersonesos, the Romans carried out a policy of developing and subordinating new territories in the Crimean peninsula. The line of the Roman fortresses stretched along the Sapun mountain slopes separating the Herakleian peninsula from the east from Balaklava (Symbolon Limen) to Inkerman (Ktenous?). Another Roman possession was possible located northwards, in the Kara-Tobe site, near the sanctuary of the isthmus of the Saki Lake. Settlement, which remains are known now as Al'ma-Kermen, controlled the roads from Chersonesos and Ust'-Al'ma fortress to the core of Scythia. From this place, the Romans could easily organize an effective reconnaissance and watch service in the very heart of the barbarian lands. It is not surprising that one day the soldiers of XI Claudian legion drove the Scythians away from Al'ma-Kermen and established their own small fortress there.

At this place, they built a few houses, the technology of which differed much from that of the Scythian buildings. Stone walls were connected with lime mortar and covered with fresco paintings from inside. Roofs were covered with tiles shoing legion stamps. The houses were trimmed with marble-like limestone columns, eaves and other architectural details possibly imported from Chersonesos. Nearby there was a glass-making workshop with three kilns (barbarians did not know the art of making glass).

Near the kilns was a special yard where a craftsman was making furnace charge, a mixture of mining nearby quartz sand and soda from fired sea plants or forest ferns. From time to time he added lead to the furnace charge (lead ingots, which were probably imported from Chersonesos, have been excavated in this courtyard) thus making the glass stronger. By means of additional lead the glass wares were colored yellow. Many vessels from the workshop of Ust'-Al'ma were decorated with laid on yellow glass threads. Furnace charge was exposed to the primary baking in the first kiln, then put into ceramic vessels (crucibles) and cast in the next kiln. The craftsmen took liquid glass mass on from the crucible through a special hole in the kiln's wall, blew vessels, and immediately put them into warmed up beforehand third kiln. Already finished items were put to cold processing, for example, to polishing and engraving.

...But the Romans stayed at this place for a short time. Changes in the military and political situation in 20 or 30 years forced them to leave Al'ma-Kermen, and the Scythians returned to that place. The settlement fell in fire in the middle of the 3rd century, and its population left this area in panic. In this surprise flight, they missed different artifacts, among which there were a gold ingot about 160 g and gold ring-shape plate, decorated with almandines. As one knows from the sources, in this moment warlike tribes of the Goths migrated to Crimea. They probably were those who crashed the Al'ma-Kerman settlement.

© N. Khrapunov.

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