Краєвид на фортецю в Судаку
Краєвид на фортецю в Судаку. Фото Тетяни Москаленко
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The Genoese fortress. Consequences of the occupation for cultural heritage

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Sudak Fortress in the town of Sudak (AR Crimea) is a medieval fortified city in Sudak (Sudak, Sugdeya, Soldaya), located on the northern and western slopes of the cone-shaped coastal mountain Genevez-Kaya (translated from the Crimean Tatar language as “Genoese rock”) on the shores of Sudak Bay of the Black Sea, which is an ancient coral reef. The first fortifications of Sugdeya were built in the 3rd century AD, but were quickly abandoned. Life in the old fortification was revived only in the second half of the 7th century, when the city became part of the Byzantine Empire. In the 13th  century in Sugdeya there was a small Venetian colony, and later it completely fell under the rule of the Golden Horde. The fortress was rebuilt on the ruins of Byzantine fortifications by the Genoese, who owned the city from 1365 to 1475. The area of the fortress is almost 20 hectares. Most of the fortifications of the Sudak Fortress that have survived to this day belong to the Genoese period, therefore it is often called “Genoese”. In 1475, after the fall of the fortress, Sudak became the center of the administrative district (Turkish “kadılık”) as part of the Ottoman Empire. At the time of the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Empire in 1783, Sudak was a small Tatar-Turkish settlement near the ruins of an abandoned fortress.

On August 24, 1963, the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR approved Resolution № 970 “On the regularising the registration and protection of architectural monuments on the territory of the Ukrainian SSR” and approved the list of architectural monuments of the USSR under the state protection. It included a complex of buildings of the Sudak Fortress under the protection number 279.[1]  After Ukraine gained independence, on May 13, 1996, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine by the Resolution № 500 “On the Sophia of Kyiv National Reserve” approved the list of objects being the part of the Sophia of Kyiv National Reserve, including the Genoese Fortress complex in Sudak.[2]

In 2007, the issue of nominating the Sudak Fortress for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List as an independent cultural and historical monument was considered. However, after consultations at UNESCO headquarters, the experts of the organization wished to create a cross-border nomination with other countries. The dossier for all cross-border nominations was expected to be presented to UNESCO by 1 February 2012, after which expert visits and evaluations were expected. It was hoped that in 2013 the Sudak Fortress, together with the Genoese Fortresses of Italy and Greece, would enter as the only cross-border object to the so-called previous nomination. After it was expected that Ukraine would withdraw its previous nomination as a separate object, and then a full-fledged dossier for the cross-border nomination would be created.[3] The inclusion of the Sudak Fortress in the UNESCO World Heritage List was made impossible by the occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation in February-March 2014.

Like other cultural heritage sites on the Crimean peninsula, the Genoese Fortress in Sudak has been illegally expropriated by the occupation authorities.

After the occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, during 2014–2015, the Government of the Russian Federation and the occupation authorities in Crimea adopted a number of decisions, according to which the so-called State Budget Institution of the Republic of Crimea “Museum-Reserve “Sudak Fortress”[4] was created on the territory of the Sudak Fortress. The fortress itself was included in the “cultural heritage sites of federal significance” and included in the “single state register of cultural heritage sites (monuments of history and culture) of the peoples of the Russian Federation”.[5] In the Russian Unified State Register of Cultural Heritage, the Genoese Fortress in Sudak is listed under № 911520358450006 as a “historical monument of federal significance” under the name “The complex of buildings of the Sudak Fortress”.[6]

In 2017, the “Committee for State Registration and Cadastre of the Republic of Crimea” registered “an ownership of the Republic of Crimea” for 60 objects of the Genoese Fortress, including 21 towers, 19 curtain walls (fortress walls), several temples, crypts and other structures.[7]

The Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine № 518 dated June 25, 2020 “On inclusion of cultural heritage sites of the national significance in the State Register of Immovable Monuments of Ukraine” included the following complex of architectural monuments on the territory of the Genoese Fortress in Sudak in the register of monuments of the national significance of Ukraine (general № 010071 of the List of the National Property Sites) :

Watchtower, 14th-15th centuries, № 010071/1

Jacobo Torcelo’s Tower, 1385, № 010071/2

Bridgehead fortifications, 1385-1414, № 010071/3

Bernardo Franco Pagan’s Tower, 1414, № 010071/4

Pasquale Judice’s Tower, 1392, № 010071/5

Round tower, 1385-1414, № 010071/6

Corrado Chicalo’s Tower, 1404, № 010071/7

Lucini Flesco Lavani’s Tower, 1409, № 010071/8

Nameless Tower, XIV-XV centuries, № 010071/9

Giovanni Marioni’s Tower, 1387, № 010071/10

Gvarko Rumbaldo’s Tower, 1394, № 010071/11

Tower, 1385-1414, № 010071/12

Frederico Astagvera’s Tower, 1386, № 010071/13

Church of the Twelve Apostles, 14th century, № 010071/14

Corner tower, 14th-15th centuries, № 010071/15

Consular Tower, 14th-15th centuries, № 010071/16

St. George’s Tower, 14th-15th centuries, № 010071/17

Tower, 1375-1414, № 010071/18

Ancient temple, XV century, № 010071/19

Church with an arcade, until 1322, № 010071/20

Underground building, 14th century, № 010071/21

Warehouse building №1, 1385-1414, № 010071/22

Warehouse building №2, 1385-1414, № 010071/23[8]

According to the director of the Sophia of Kyiv National Reserve N. Kukovalska, proper care for the Genoese Fortress in Sudak is not carried out. Dangerous landslides are not controlled on the territory of the fortress. The reserve staff did not have the opportunity to manage this object, as well as to participate in its research and restoration. At the same time, the quality of the work carried out under the control of the occupation authorities was not at the proper level.[9] The most experienced Ukrainian scientists in Sudak have been fired. The towers and walls of the fortress have limit-exceeding inclinations, work on their strengthening is not carried out by the occupation authorities. One of the landslides threatens to destroy the church, part of the walls and towers of the monument.[10]

In November 2015, there was a partial collapse of the Nameless Tower №19 on the outer defense line of the Sudak Fortress.[11] According to the occupation authorities, this was due to the lack of work on research of the technical condition of the monument and restoration works, as well as due to the construction of hotel rooms and toilets on its territory by the new “management” of the fortress.[12]

Almost a year later, in August 2016, the “State Committee for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Crimea” announced the approval of the project of “priority anti-damage works” in the Sudak Fortress.[13] According to the administration of the Sudak Fortress Museum-Reserve, in January-May 2017, the “planned restoration and rescue work” was carried out on three towers and three curtain walls in the western part of the fortress, as well as on the Lucini di Fiesco di Lavagna’s Tower and on the curtain wall nearby. The roof on the bathhouse of the “temple with an arcade” was replaced. “Archaeological excavations” were carried out. The contractor was Meander LLC from St. Petersburg, the chief architect of the project being V. Fomin.[14] [15] [16]

Currently, due to the lack of access of the state authorities of Ukraine to Crimea, the state of implementation of anti-damage works  by the occupation authorities on the territory of the archeological monument is unknown.

In the autumn of 2016, illegal earthwork operations involving heavy construction equipment (excavators and dump trucks) began at the foot of the Genoese Fortress in Sudak in the protected area of the monument.[17] Despite the cessation of illegal works, a significant amount of soil was removed from the territory of the museum-reserve and large trenches were dug in the area of the potential location of the archeological cultural layer.[18]

In the period 2014 – 2021, specialists of the State Hermitage (a group led by a researcher of the Oriental Department of the State Hermitage V. Gukin) together with employees of the historical and cultural reserve “Sudak Fortress” and “Crimean Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences” under the guise of “archaeological research” unlawfully conducted excavations at cultural heritage sites of Ukraine of 14th-16th centuries in the town of Sudak and its environs, including the Genoese Fortress and the port part of the settlement. Archaeological artifacts were unlawfully seized from the sites during these works.[19]

2014

Two above-ground stone dwellings, rebuilt over 250 years ago and finally abandoned in the first quarter of the 16th century, were excavated. Pottery of different epochs, from antiquity to the late Middle Ages, as well as various objects made of metal, ceramics, bone, glass and stone, numismatic material dating from the 10th to the end of the 15th century, were unlawfully seized.[20]

2015

In the port part of the medieval settlement of Sudak, cultural layers and remains of stone buildings of different times layered on top of each other during the 10th-12th  centuries were excavated. The following objects were unlawfully seized: ceramic material, mostly non-glazed containers and a few dishes of the same period, as well as fragments of molded and circular jugs, pottery containers of local production, various objects made of metal, ceramics, bone, glass and stone, numismatic material of 10th – end of 15th centuries.[21]

2016

The dwelling of the 8th-9th centuries was excavated, with a household stove and two pithos, one of which having a property sign drawn on raw clay. A monastery complex with a medieval temple and an adjoining burial ground containing human remains was discovered in an excavation near Fortress Mountain. The complex contained preserved fragments of the apse of the temple, pillars from the arch structures, the altar, the partition between the naves and the narthex. Polychrome frescoes and church utensils, including a silver cross with the Creed in Greek, bronze and silver clasps from book covers, glass bracelets, fragments of enamel-covered lamps, ceramic glazed utensils with underglaze painting, medieval numismatic material were unlawfully seized from the site.[22]

2017

A monastery complex with medieval temples and an adjoining cemetery was excavated near the Sudak seaport. Ancient burials were excavated within the monastery and the temple. In addition, earlier architectural structures that existed on the site of the temple were discovered on the territory. Polychrome frescoes and church utensils made of clay, metal, glass and stone, ceramic utensils with underglaze painting, as well as numismatic material of the 13th-15th centuries were unlawfully seized.[23]

2018

The excavation of the monastery complex continued in the area of the Sudak seaport. A stone structure of the crypt with the remains of the relics of an unknown saint or martyr was discovered near the altar of the main temple of the monastery complex. Artifacts were unlawfully seized from the site.[24]

2019

Remains of a stone structure of an early crypt, a fragment of the outer shell of the temple wall, a drainage system and a drainage cistern were excavated in the area of the monastery complex near the seaport of Sudak. Faience and glass beads and an ivory comb were unlawfully seized from the site. Among other artifacts seized from th site, there are numerous fragments of building tiles, a variety of packaging, kitchen and tableware, including near and far imports, items made of iron, bronze, bone, glass and stone.

Unlawful excavations were also carried out in the area of the Pacific Bay (near the village of Koktebel), during which the ruins of 4 farmsteads and a medieval temple with an adjacent cemetery, the remains of residential buildings, a walled cemetery on the plateau were discovered. Numerous fragments of pottery of the 13th-15th centuries were unlawfully seized from the site.[25] 

2021

On the website of the museum-reserve “Sudak Fortress” there is a notification about the beginning of work in Sudak of the so-called “Field School of Archeology” as part of a scientific and educational socially oriented project “At the foot of the Barbican 2.0”, which is the winner of the competition of the Russian Presidential Grants Fund. The work of the project, the “scientific supervisor” of which is a leading researcher of the Institute of Archeologyof the Russian Academy of Science Oleg Sharov, is carried out on the basis of the museum-reserve “Sudak Fortress” in the framework of its cooperation with the Union of Restorers of Russia. It was noted that 10 people from Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Voronezh, Vologda, Perm, Astrakhan, Rostov-on-Don) and Kazakhstan are taking part in the project.[26]  “The press service of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Crimea” added that during the implementation of the first part of the project in August 2020, an interdisciplinary team of young architects-restorers developed a concept of “improvement” of a small area to the east of the Sudak Fortress barbican. This season, the “school of archeology” conducts “archaeological exploration” in order to “deepen the study of the research area and substantiate the previously developed concept.” Nadezhda Novosyolova, a researcher at the Classical Antiquity Department  of the State Hermitage, gave a lecture on the basics of archeology to the project participants. An event with the participation of mass media was planned for July 8, 2021, at which the participants of unlawful “archeological works” were supposed to present their findings and results of actions.[27]

Currently, due to the actions of the occupation authorities in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea on the territory of the Genoese Fortress in the town of Sudak, ancient specimens of ancient Greek, Genoese, Armenian and other cultures are being damaged.

National institutions of science and culture of the Russian Federation, in particular, the federal budgetary institution of culture “The State Hermitage”, are involved in unlawful activities at the Genoese fortress site. The State Hermitage is included in the list of entities to which sanctions are applied according to the Decree of the President of Ukraine of May 14, 2020, №184 “On the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine of May 14, 2020 “On the application, abolition and amendment of personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions)”.

The actions of the occupation authorities, which resulted in unlawful appropriation, unlawful archeological excavations, during which archeological artifacts were seized, as well as careless management of sites, which led to their destruction, are a violation of international humanitarian law.

These actions of the Russian Federation, together with other actions of the Occupying Power in their entirety may constitute a war crime in the form of extensive destruction and appropriation of cultural property, not justified by military necessity, and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.

The group of monitoring experts of the Regional Center for Human Rights,

the working group of the expert network “Crimean Platform – Humanitarian Policy”

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[1] Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR N 970 of August 24, 1963 “On streamlining the registration and protection of architectural monuments on the territory of the Ukrainian SSR”. Access mode: https://archive.is/B7elp

[2] Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine N 500 of May 13, 1996 “On the Sophia of Kyiv National Reserve”. Access mode: https://archive.is/9Xm2G

[3] Sudak Fortress: a silent watchman of history. UNIAN. December 29, 2011. Access mode: https://archive.is/YJnWF

[4] Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea N 575-r of June 24, 2014 “On the establishment of the State Budgetary Institution of the Republic of Crimea” Museum-Reserve “Sudak Fortress”. Access mode: https://sudak-museum.ru/userfiles/files/rasporyagenie-soveta-ministrov.pdf

[5] Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation № 2073-r of 17.10.2015. Access mode:      http://static.government.ru/media/files/XnNawtIgNdGfkAMwq9cweD5tE4N6miAy.pdf

[6] Object card from Unified State Register of Cultural Heritage № 911520358450006. Complex of constructions of the Sudak Fortress. Access mode: https://archive.is/ZBHNb

[7] Specialists of the State Committee have registered 60 real estate objects of the main attraction of Sudak – the Genoese fortress. Government of the Republic of Crimea: State Committee for State Registration and Cadastre of the Republic of Crimea. 11.09.2017. Access mode:https://archive.is/EaMTH

[8] Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dated June 25, 2020, № 518 “On inclusion of cultural heritage sites of national importance in the State Register of Immovable Monuments of Ukraine”. Access mode: https://archive.is/fn6Ld

[9] The Sudak fortress in Crimea is falling into decay – expert. Krym.Realii. June 25, 2015. Access mode: https://archive.is/FCZcJ

[10] Nelya Kukovalska: “The first task is to revive the scientific school and develop it into the Saint Sophia Institute.” Viche. August 2015. Access mode: https://archive.is/2gOnD

[11] Experts are investigating the reasons for the partial collapse of the tower of the Sudak Fortress. Crimean news, Crimean news service. November 19, 2015. Access mode: https://archive.is/pEtBq

[12] One of the towers of the Genoese fortress was destroyed in Sudak. Crimean news, Crimean news service. November 18, 2015. Access mode: https://archive.is/4LtUs

[13] The project of anti-damage works in the Sudak fortress has been approved. Crimean news, Crimean news service. August 15, 2016. Access mode

: https://archive.is/xX0dS

[14] INSPECTION OF THE PERFORMED WORKS. Museum-Reserve “Sudak Fortress”. 01.05.2017. Access mode: https://archive.is/EFa91

[15] VISIT of V.V. MAIKO. Museum-Reserve “Sudak Fortress”. 01.05.2017. Access mode: https://archive.is/qWkKh

[16] RESTORATION WORKS FINISHED. Museum-Reserve “Sudak Fortress”. 12.05.2017. Access mode: https://archive.is/Vbv4o

[17] The Genoese fortress was dug down in Crimean Sudak. Crimea events. 07 November 2016. Access mode: https://archive.is/P6GOy

[18] In Crimea, they will check the legality of excavation work at the Genoese fortress. Crimean news, Crimean news service. November 9, 2016. Access mode: https://archive.is/zolam

[19] South-Eastern Crimean Expedition. The State Hermitage. Access mode: https://archive.is/bJIlj

[20] The State Hermitage report. 2014 / The State Hermitage. – SPb.: Publishing house of the State Hermitage Museum, 2015. 244 p., ill.: P. 163. – Access mode:       https://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/wcm/connect/0868d170-3ae8-4699-8e41-9f644a0a0f73/%D0%9E%D1%82%D1%87%D0%B5%D1%82+%D0%93%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%83%D0%B4%D0%B0%D1%80%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B2%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B3%D0%BE+%D0%AD%D1%80%D0%BC%D0%B8%D1%82%D0%B0%D0%B6%D0%B0+2014.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CONVERT_TO=url&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE-0868d170-3ae8-4699-8e41-9f644a0a0f73-l4fSHkd

[21] The State Hermitage report. 2015 / The State Hermitage. – SPb.: Publishing house of the State Hermitage Museum, 2016. 200 p., ill.: P. 129. – Access mode:       https://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/wcm/connect/c6c40776-75e6-449e-843c-47a7fed28774/otchet_2015.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&amp%3BCONVERT_TO=url&amp%3BCACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE-c6c40776-75e6-449e-843c-47a7fed28774-m1kGC20

[22] The State Hermitage report. 2016 / The State Hermitage. – SPb.: Publishing house of the State Hermitage Museum, 2017. 204 p., ill.: P. 136. – Access mode:       https://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/wcm/connect/f93842af-ecd8-4446-a954-3d66054e15c4/report2016r.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE-f93842af-ecd8-4446-a954-3d66054e15c4-lZjycIk

[23] The State Hermitage report. 2017 / The State Hermitage. – SPb.: Publishing house of the State Hermitage Museum, 2018. 216 p., ill.: P. 153. – Access mode:       https://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/wcm/connect/7b60549f-4fe9-4878-bb3f-4f45626e7591/%D0%9E%D1%82%D1%87%D0%B5%D1%82+%D0%93%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%83%D0%B4%D0%B0%D1%80%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B2%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B3%D0%BE+%D0%AD%D1%80%D0%BC%D0%B8%D1%82%D0%B0%D0%B6%D0%B0+2017.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE-7b60549f-4fe9-4878-bb3f-4f45626e7591-muIYRB2

[24] The State Hermitage report. 2018 / The State Hermitage. – SPb.: Publishing house of the State Hermitage Museum, 2019. 228 p., ill.: P. 152-153. – Access mode:       https://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/wcm/connect/c9220123-12be-47bf-924f-beae36983491/otchet_2018.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE-c9220123-12be-47bf-924f-beae36983491-mWT9VLJ

[25] The State Hermitage report. 2019 / The State Hermitage. – SPb.: Publishing house of the State Hermitage Museum, 2021. 244 p., ill.: P. 177. – Access mode:       https://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/wcm/connect/4d36cdb4-263a-47fe-b419-cfd9d4b00347/otchet19.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE-4d36cdb4-263a-47fe-b419-cfd9d4b00347-nz6QdmO

[26] At the foot of the barbican. Museum-Reserve “Sudak Fortress”. 28.06.2021. Access mode:: https://archive.is/pmAZS

[27] A Field School of Archeology has begun work at the Museum-Reserve “Sudak Fortress”.. Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Crimea. 05.07.2021. Access mode: https://archive.is/f0pmJ

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Implemented within the project “Information Platform” Voice of Crimea. Culture “- about Crimea honestly, qualitatively, actually” with the support of the Media Development Fund of the US Embassy in Ukraine. The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect the official position of the US government.

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