Greek sea port colony founded on far northwest corner of Crimea
From Donizlav we drove northwest, across a narrow section of the
Tarkhankutskii peninsula to the bustling town of Chernomorskoye on the
northwest coast. It is located on a small bay whose lovely appearance brought
the Greeks, who appreciated such things, to name it. What follows is a
transcript of an on- site lecture about the ancient Greek colony in the Crimea,
known as Kalos Limen or the beautiful harbor, by the noted archaeologist
working on numerous sites in Northwestern Crimea since the 1970s, Dr. V. A.
Kutaisov, who appears in some of the photographs. We wish to express our
appreciation to Dr Kutaisov, who not only gave us considerable personal time
but also gave us a valuable new book on archeology in Crimea in which there is
an extensive article on Kalos Limen. We will add a summary of the article to
this web site. As always Micha recorded the discussion while interpreting.
"Kalos Limen, is an elevated area over the beautiful harbor, which
overlooks the bay of Karkinitkida." The delegation was standing on the
east wall of an early Greek fortified settlement.
"The present excavated area of the settlement is estimated to be 2.3
hectares. A portion of the settlement has been reclaimed by the Black Sea,
approximately a half has been washed away. In the ancient times the overall
area is believed to have been around 4 hectares."
In the rear, Mr. Kutaisov pointed to an earthen burrow; in early settlements
the cemeteries were covered with earthen mounds. He gave the number at thirty,
one of which was being excavated. At this point because of the interpreters
lack of knowledge of the subject matter it was unclear what was being talked
about. Fortunately a tape recorder was recording the lecture and so the
material has been translated here.
"The second group of burial mounds was under the present village,
practically all of which where lost. However some twenty burial tombs have been
excavated. A third small group was found behind the house in a line on a little
elevation. The settlement has four hallmarks which tell us the history of this
area and its graphic nature. One can refer to the recollections in the writings
of the ancient writers (the historian Herodotus). Secondly various kinds of
information is found on the scribings or inscriptions on the tablets in
Khersonese. The fortification in proper was a right angled square and was
flanked by towers on the corners. This was a Khersonese fortification and
settlement. A few years ago in the south western part of the fortification of
Khersonese, we found adjacent to the fortification, a much older settlement
which is dated to the end of the fifth century BC at the turn of the fourth
century. It existed for three quarters of the fourth century BC until it was
brought under Khersonese control along with the other settlements of the north
west Crimea. It is unknown whether this settlement had its own fortifications
and we have only begun to explore its secrets. The period of control of the
area by Khersonese, beginning at the end of the third quarter or perhaps into
the fourth quarter of the fourth century BC, continued until the middle of the
second century BC, when the fortification was taken by the Scythians. This was
followed by the process of the restoration of Khersonese control of the area
during the course of some wars, the winners of which were the army of military
leader of the Pontic army, Diophantes, sent by Mithridate, known as Evpator. A
Pontic garrison was established in the fortification. With the fall of
Mithridate the local area reverted back to the barbarians, the Scythians. The
fortification is known to have been in existence in the second century AD. In
the middle ages, in the ninth and tenth centuries, a small settlement existed
of Turkic or early Bulgars. A mirror of this early period with the exception of
the last mentioned settlement is the presently excavated site of the
fortification, with which Mr. Kutaisov focused his continuing lecture.
The fortification was 120 meters in width on the eastern side. On the far side
a tower was unearthed in nineteen twenty nine. There is practically nothing
remaining of it. In 1950, our predecessors, he said, unearthed or at least
attempted to do it, the tower at the other end which was not unearthed but we
know that it is there. The builders who put up the walls of the fortification
made a grievous error. We know that the first tower was added later. The gates
to the settlement were not guarded by a tower. The inhabitants had to pay for
this mistake. The gates were not flanked by a tower which would have allowed
the defenders to rain fire on the attacking warriors who assaulted the gate.
The result of this miscalculation is that we can see fresh evidence of burned
out living quarters, which we dug out seven years ago. However even now we are
not sure that the Scythians burned the Kalos Limen fortification and more than
likely the attacks were repulsed.
Immediately followed a reassessment of the layout of the defensive emplacements
and construction of a reinforcing tower, at which time Mr. Kutaisov pointed out
chariots' tracks and a sidewalk.
Of interest is the technique of construction of the tower. It is generally
understood that blocks were cut out at the quarry and prepared at the quarry
site. Nothing of the sort happened at this tower. What is evident here with the
different rows allows us to ascertain the process of laying each stone. For
each row, segments were laid out which determined the needed size of blocks
needed for the intended segment. The blocks which formed the lower part of the
wall were 34 centimeters in height. Higher up, blocks were used of which some
were 64 centimeters or two and a half widths of a hand. Even higher at the top
adobe bricks were used. The tower was constructed at the end of the first third
of the first century BC. Whether the adobe bricks had to be replaced every 70
years or so is not known to us. It is known that an adobe brick construction is
durable especially if it is protected from dampness with a clay tile roof. The
thing to note is that adobe bricks were used here which have since crumbled.
Geological deposits of sea shells were from a Sarmatian era of paleontology.
Sarmatian limestone is one of numerous deposits of bygone millennia.
A discussion ensued during which course it was learned that an American team
was working at a lake in the environs. The tour continued to the southern side
of the fortification. Mr. Kutaisov pointed out the southwestern tower site,
which was excavated in nineteen twenty nine. An imaginary line was drawn for us
in the direction of the light house across the bay, which provided the locale
for the once existing wall from the tower of which there only remained a
depression consisting of rubble of the wall when it was disassembled in the
19th century in order to use the materials for the erection of a mosque. We
continued along this depression to another fortification emplacement. Mr.
Kutaisov stopped us at a segment of the edifice to explain that a tower showed
us an amazing technical detail. Four construction periods are seen at this, the
most well preserved structure. This he considered to be the most interesting
and telling part of the site. He pointed to a breach in the excavation trench
to a portion of the most ancient wall of the earliest period, in the fourth
century BC. At this early period a tower had not been built yet. He pointed to
a segment of the earliest wall, some ten to twenty meters in length. It could
also be seen better standing inside the tower where it had been excavated
deeper and was greater in length. This period was followed at the end of the
third century BC, after which the Scythians began to press the settlers of
Khersonese, and many settlements ceased to exist, especially those which had no
defense, evidence of which is the imposing citadel which was erected here. A
monolithic tower of the dimensions of ten meters by ten meters was erected one
which was very imposing. Following a short time culminating in the erupting of
a series of wars between the Khersonese and the Scythians the tower was further
strengthened by a skirt (plinth) rising in the manner of a pyramid excluding
the possibility of bringing an assault tower against the wall of the tower.
This tower was skirted from the outer side, the side facing the citadel and
even the side facing the settlement. Even if the citadel was taken the tower
offered a last ditch resistance. Mr. Kutaisov said that he thinks the tower was
built here for a specific reason, purposefully built here. Perhaps it was a
light tower. It is the singular most suitable position to aid ships to navigate
using the crossed beacons of light from the other light tower on the other side
of the bay. It was the most suitable site for navigation as a point of
reference. Furthermore, the sea was four meters lower and the bays sides made
for a much narrower passage way.