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


Fertile lands of the Central Crimea were an attractive place for living from time immemorial. That is why when the Scythians turned to settled way of life in the III century BC, they chose the central part of the peninsula as a place to build their fortresses. One of these settlements was located 15 km to the west from Simferopol in the valley of the Bulganak river.

The Scythians placed their fortress atop a high hill, steep slopes of which made a good natural fortification. There was no such barrier at the south, so the Scythians constructed ground rampart and possibly built a stone wall on its top. Besides that, in the north part of the settlement they arranged a well-fortified acropolis. The system of fortifications of this last bastion of the town defenders were rebuilt and strengthened many times.

The defensive wall went parallel to the exterior line of fortifications and separated acropolis from the settlement. Building houses near this wall was prohibited, so that if the enemy succeeded to break the town wall, this open space would prevent him of accumulating in immediate proximity to the acropolis and deprive of free maneuvering. Besides that, the road leading to the acropolis road was arranged in order to make the enemies offer their right side (which was not protected by the shield) to the arrows and sling balls flying from the wall. At the steep edges on the west and east sides where the acropolis' wall was much vulnerable, the Scythians erected strong stone towers. It is interesting that there was no room in these constructions, which is why these Scythian towers were actually projections of the wall. These strong defenjsive lines were aimed to protect the settlement's dwellers in case of a military conflict with Chersonesos (the relations between the Late Scythians and this Greek city finally became problematic in the III century BC and never recovered well) or warlike nomadic Sarmatian tribes.

Those who were more or less well to do lived in stone buildings with straw or ground roofs, the poor dwelt in pit-houses. They cook their meals in fireplaces or in portable clay brazier. The Scythians placed special supports, decorated with sculptures of ram heads, on sides of a fireplace and put spits with pieces of meat on these supports. In the courtyards, they dug out household pits for keeping corn and other needs.

Every day the dwellers left their settlement and went on work to the valley of the river, where there were fields, gardens, and water springs. The Scythians cultivated mostly wheat, which was then sold to the Greek cities of the northern Black Sea coast in exchange for the wine and olive oil, pottery and decorations.

In the late II century BC the settlement was seized with a terrible conflagration. The fire destroyed many dwelling houses, and the defensive structures suffered as well. One knows that it was the time when the military leader Diophantos made several campaigns in the middle of the Scythia and twice besieged the "royal" fortresses Chabaioi and Neapolis. There is a hypothesis that the site of Chabaioi is known now under the name of the Bulganak monument, and its II century BC conflagration was caused by these Diophantos' campaigns.

The dwellers of the settlement steadfastly withstood assailing disaster and rebuilt their town soon afterwards. Here the life was continuing for more than 200 years more. Only in the middle of the II century AD the Sarmatian pressure forced the Late Scythians to leave this area.

© N. Khrapunov.

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