HISTORY OF THE DONUZLAV AND HISTORI OF THE WEST CRIMEA
In the Paleozoic era, a few hundred million years before our time, the south of the Crimea and space which is now occupied by the Black and Azov seas, were covered by the waters of the Tethys Ocean. 250 million years ago a meteorite fell to Earth, leaving a crater with a diameter of 480 kilometers. Because of the fall of the meteorite almost all the animals that existed between the Permian and Triassic periods had disappeared. Now the crater lies under the ice in the area of Wilkes Land, south of Australia. The size of the meteorite is estimated at 48 kilometers. The fall of the object on the planet, the researchers said, allowed the dinosaurs to become the dominant kind of animals for 200 million years.
Thus, roughly about 220 million years ago, due to movements of the crust, the sea parted and from the bottom of the ocean a mountainous country rose, lying on the ground today Carpathians, the Crimea and the Caucasus. Later it split into separate large tracts, most of which sank into the sea to a considerable depth. Remnants of this country are Dobrogea in Romania, some parts of the Caucasus, the Crimea and the Carpatian plains. Basis of plain Crimea, formed in the crumpled folds of the Paleozoic rocks, in turn, broke up into large blocks, some of which are lifted, while others fell. Thus, in the center of the elevated valley of Tarkhankut Evpatoria-Novoselovo block was formed, which was then raised and then lowered so that now it is possible to get it only with boreholes at depths ranging from several hundred to 1,600 meters.
Further to the north was the North-Crimean dropped block. Through the fault line the magma penetrated, then it became frozen and formed bulges and dome-like shapes in the upper parts of giant fissures. They call such igneous bodies intrusive. In some places the magma broke through to the surface and then volcanoes appeared. So if we remove in mind younger sedimentary rocks from the territory of plain Crimea, we will open ranges in height of 3000 meters, deep gorges and wide plains with a chain of extinct volcanoes.
On the same spot of the mountain area at that time the sea formed again, where rivers and temporal streams demolished a large number of products of rock land, existing on the site of the plain Crimea. Millions of years passed, the mountains are gradually destroyed and area fell. Porous unconsolidated sediments of the time in some places are repositories of oil and gas.
By the end of the Mesozoic era the territory of the modern mountain area was a vast island. Its gradual expansion in subsequent geological epochs occurred against the background of large vibrational motions of the earth’s crust that drew to the approach of the sea on land and elevation of the land above the sea.
The sea, receding, left sedimentary rocks of which clay, sandstone, limestone, marl and other rocks were formed. North-western Crimea as like as peninsula in a whole was folded of rocks of the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras.
The final release of the north-west of the Crimea from the waters of the sea occurred in the late Neogene geological period, approximately 5-6 million years before the modern era. Since that time, nature of the west of the Crime is developing under the influence of the internal orogenic forces of the Earth and the sea, temporary and permanent streams, and wind and solar.
At the beginning of the Quaternary period (approximately one million years ago) on place of the north-western Black Sea was a marshy land, occupied by interconnected delta of the Danube, Dniester and Southern Bug and then the territory extended much farther to the west. Valley of the lower part of the Dnieper River was on the spot Karkinit Bay and the mouth-the south of the Tarkhankut. About 6-7 thousand years ago the Old Black Sea Pool gave way to modern Black Sea. During a long and difficult period of development this pool was connected with the Mediterranean Sea twice and with the Caspian Sea three times. That is why the modern flora and fauna of the Black Sea has a unique mixed character. Here there are very ancient inhabitants and Mediterranean aliens and finally peculiar only to this water organisms.
Scientists believe that the history of the region is fraught with many mysteries. By assumption of archaeologists one of the ways of resettlement of Neanderthal man from Asia to the Crimea took through Tarhankut about thousand years ago. However Tarhankut remains the only part of the Crimea where there are no traces of the lives of people of the Stone Age. The most ancient monuments include parking Eneolithic (copper-stone, the end of four- beginning of the 3rd millennium BC), discovered on a high sea-shore at Big Atlesh by archaeologist Schepinskij. Archaeologist Shulz found parking related to the end of the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age on the shore of Donuzlav . In addition to these camps and settlements of Chalcolithic and Bronze Age monuments of later times were found. Probably Cimmerian (9-8 century BC) remnants of dwellings and business structures with fragments of ceramics, bones of domestic animals and other monuments were found near the village of Vladimirovka. Burials of the Kizil-Koba tribal culture (5-4 centuries BC) were found at the village Vodopojnoe.
The earliest inhabitants of the Crimea, known from written sources, were Cimmerians, Scythians and Tauri. The Greek historian Herodotus, who visited the northern Black Sea in the 5th century BC, said that the Tauri lived in the mountains of the Crimea and on the coast. North Black Sea region and steppe Crimea ancient Greeks called Scythia or country of Scythians.
The history of the Donuzlav originates from the ancient and is full of mysteries and discoveries. In 5-6 centuries BC there was founded a number of Greek city-colonies (Pantikapaion) on the Crimean coast. On the west coast Greek colonies appeared: Kerkinitida was on place of modern Eupatoria and a little later (the end of the 4th century BC) - Kalos-Limen(Fine Harbor), the remnants of which are preserved in the settlement Chernomorskoe. Between Kerkinitida and Kalos-Limen at about the same time(4th century BC), a number of Greek fortified settlement appeared. They are opened in 1933 by archaeologist Shulz settlements which were on place of modern village Popovka, Gromovo(Belyaus), Olenevka(Karaj), Mezhvodnoe and several others. All of them are located on the shores of bays, suitable for mooring of vessels, so the settlement created a system of Greek fortifications, placed with more or less regular intervals and kept close economic and political relationship with Chersones. Settlements near Popovka and Belyaus obviously shielded the road, which took place on mound or were guarding the entrance to the Donuzlav if the mound at that time has not been formed yet and was incised with channel. Greek ship with amphoras was found in the sea against the canal dug in 1961 and that indicates on the possible connection of the lake with the sea.
In ancient times Donuzlav region of the Crimean peninsula was the most populated, especially the Black Sea coast till the Cape Oyrat. It had many settlements and adjacent farmland. And this is not surprising. Donuzlav in the Crimea is a natural place with numerous bays, estuaries that hide ships from all winds that, along with fertile black soil, the sources of pure spring water and favorable climatic conditions, determined the choice of the Greeks in the region for the organization of their settlements.
However, the use of Donuzlav for anchorage in ancient times was possible in case if the Donuzlav Lake was not separated from the Black Sea with the sand mound as it is now. There is still no consensus among experts in history as to when the Donuzlav mound, which creates the best sandy beaches in the Crimea, was formed. According to one of the most extreme versions, isolation of Donuzlav from the sea occurred long before the beginning of the ancient period. One of the most convincing arguments in favor of this should be a lower level of the water in the Black Sea in the first millennium BC, which differs from the present in different areas of 2-6 meters! According to another version the relationship of the Gulf with the sea retained till the second half of the 19th century. Back in 1874 there were several narrow flows through the mound which were later buried under the sand. Medieval Venetian and Genoese map where Donuzlav is depicted as a river that flows into the sea provide proof of that. In ancient times Shulz insisted on connection of the Donuzlav with the sea, his opinion was based on the conclusion about the defensive functions of the fortifications, situated on the southern and northern ends of the mound- South-Donuzlav settlement and Belyaus that guarded the entrance to the bay and made up the chorus (the state, area) Hersones.
For a paleogeographic reconstruction of the issue scales of mullet-singil in abundance found during excavations of Belyaus and Tarpanchi is of special interest. In fish scales the rate of growth during whole life, age and absolute size can be determined. When compared it was found that in ancient times mullet was larger and faster growing. The paradox can be explained by the fact that Donuzlav in ancient times had constant communication with the sea, being one of the main feeding grounds and wintering for mullet in the north-western Black Sea. In the gulf, besides an abundance of food, the spring water warming up starts around two months earlier than in the sea, greatly increasing the time of feeding and consequently the growth of fish.
During the archaeological excavations in layers dating from the third century BC- third century AD, in all the settlements various fishing gear, brass hooks, sinkers clay for the networks as well as the remains of skeletons and scales of three species of mullet, sea carp, turbot, skate, foxes, sturgeon, crab shells and so on were found. Mass findings indicate that fishing was of an industrial nature and was one of the areas of economic activity, along with livestock and farming. There is a quite reasoned opinion that in ancient times the north-western Crimea provided Hersones with bread and exported it with fish and other products to other regions.
A special place in Hersones winemaking took. The average vine area (approximately 21. 4 acres) may contain the special order of about 107,000 bushes, which made 90-95 thousand liters of wine, a third part of which was consumed and 50-70 thousand liters were exported in special amphorae with capacity of about 18 liters. There were about three and a half thousand amphorae- the usual load of merchant ship. The remains of a ship that sank in the fourth century BC were found in 1961 during construction of the canal, together with twenty intact amphorae.
About the prosperity of Hersones almost immediately after the settlement say the fact that in the fourth century BC it began production of its own money of copper and silver specially bought in other countries. The Museum of History presents ancient Greek and Byzantine coins of the later ninth-tenth centuries, which were also found in the Donuzlav. This and other findings say about wide variety of natural edge in ancient times. For example, the name of the bay (correct “Domuzlav”) is translated as “Shelter of wild boars” and “Gipakiris” means “Horse River”, Karaja (Roe), “Tarpanchi” comes from “Tarpana” that means “Wild horses”.
The farther of history Herodotus possessed in the fifth century BC Gipakiris considered as the sixth full-flowing Scythian river, it is the place of modern Donuzlav, the shore of which is really reminiscent the shore of river and the bottom in some places is covered with thick layer of slit; that indicate a very ancient origin of Donuzlav. Author of the essay suggests that the lake is a powerful relic of an ancient river, which is located on the top of the Donezk Ridge- now it is a river Domuzla. In this regard it will be interesting to note that “Belyaus” is translated as “The rocky mouth”.
In an effort to secure free access to the sea, the Scythians, not to be in the commercial and political dependence on the Greeks, captured in the second century BC, some of their town and fortifications. In these places they create their own line of fortified settlements. Especially dense it was between the Donuzlav mound and the Cape Uret. Archaeologists Shulz and Scheglov discovered and investigated here 13 ancient fortifications and villages, stretching along the coast at intervals of 2 to 4 kilometers. The settlements are located mainly in the high slightly protrude into the sea promontories bounded by deep gullies and sometimes in places devoid of coves and often inconvenient for the mooring of vessels. Towering above the sea they probably were observant and watch-points.
Who knows how many more surprises are fraught with the land and what the excavations in the coming years will bring. And in the meantime, numerous mounds in the area of Donuzlav show us old gravestones of events of its long and rich history. The North-Crimean archaeological expedition of SSR has already been studied 28 mounds. The oldest of the graves are of about 4500 years.
The story is based on the book “Protected landscapes of the Crimea” by En, “North-Western Crimea” by Podgorodezkiy and supplemented by documentary evidence and evidence obtained through modern scientific research. If you have any documents or artifacts relating to the history of the region- you are welcome to cooperate!
This page is a translation of original article in russian language History of the Donuzlav