Uch-Bash at the Inkerman galleries

The Uch-Bash on the Inkerman Adits: the Last Shelter of the Unconquered


Uch-Bash at the Inkerman galleries“… When we entered the glorious bay, around which a steep cliff rises on both sides, and the overhanging shores protrude against each other at the mouth and a narrow entrance, here all directed rounded ships in the middle…” – this is a passage from the story of Odysseus, told us Homer, is remembered at first glance at the top of Sevastopol Bay. To the left, on the rocks above the Inkerman Valley, still rise the towers of Kalamita, the fortress of the Gothic principality of Theodore, and to the right, above the valley, hangs a steep cliff with still visible traces of a giant landslide. This is Uch-Bash.

The tragic history of this place is known to all Sevastopol residents. In the 1930s, an entire underground town, known as Spetskombinat № 1, was built here on the site of a champagne factory. In the tunnels formed by the sampling of stones, from which, in fact, was built Sevastopol, were placed military warehouses, hospital, medical unit, a factory for the production of certain types of ammunition, dormitories, kindergarten – a completely autonomous world, designed for long containment. enemy in case of war.

With the beginning of the war, the Moscow command in this part of the Crimea created a base of the Black Sea Fleet, which was not going to surrender. At the beginning of 1942, it was decided to move all the ammunition of the Black Sea Fleet to the Inkerman galleries. The lost campaign of the defense of Sevastopol in 1942 led to tragic events in the summer of this year, when the entire Primorsky Army was killed and captured on the Heraklion Peninsula, and the Inkerman tunnels with remnants of civilians, wounded and personnel were mined and blown up on June 28, 1942. Admiral FS Oktyabrsky of the Black Sea Fleet to carry out an order received from Moscow.

In Soviet times, it was reported that evacuations were carried out in the tunnels, determining the number of dead to hundreds. After the publication of part of the documents of a closed conference in 1963 in Moscow, gathered to investigate the events of June 1942 on the Herculean Peninsula, it became clear that many more people were buried alive in the galleries, perhaps more than a few thousand, no evacuation. Such “cursed Champagnes” remained this place for the people of Sevastopol after the end of the Second World War. The place, which was not only a witness to a terrible tragedy and war crime, but also contained all the ammunition of the Black Sea Fleet for 1942, because when the tunnels were blown up, the ammunition depots did not detonate at all. In what condition were the ammunition, how to carry out their removal and disposal,- all this was unknown and remained a secret behind seven seals for more than half a century after the end of the war.

In archeological research in the 1920s, this place was named the Devil’s mound by its first researcher, LM Solovyov (it had such a name in local toponymy, because the hill on which the mound is located is surrounded by the Devil’s Beam from the south). As an employee of the Museum of Local Lore, LM Solovyov held a collection of archaeological material there. Excavations were started only after the Second World War by the then acting director of the Chersonese Museum SF Strzheletsky. He was a prominent representative of his time, collaborated with the NKVD, with his assistance LM Solovyov, who owned the first discovery of almost all known since the twentieth century archaeological sites of Sevastopol and its environs, was transferred to Sukhum, and another researcher of antiquities Inkerman valleys – OKTakhtai was accused of collaborating with the occupiers and convicted under the article “treason.”

In 1952-1953, SF Strzheletsky conducted excavations at the Devil’s settlement, giving it another name – Uch-Bash, in order to confirm the results of his dissertation. But the results of the excavations were so unexpected that their interpretation had to be postponed. The material obtained by the researcher did not fit into the general Marxist-Leninist scheme, which testified that it was not primitive brands, hunters and pastoralists who lived here, as indicated in the museum guides, but artisans and farmers with complex skills and abilities, among which, as already established. the work of our expedition, and the development of the process of obtaining iron from ore, the process that ushered in a new era in human history – the Iron Age.

Since then, the material has been deposited in the Chersonese Museum and has remained unanalyzed and unpublished for a very long time. I saw these collections by accident. Former Soviet, and in 2001 – long ago American archaeologist, Professor of the University of Pennsylvania OM Leskov (Philadelphia, USA) in a conversation with the head of the Ukrainian-American project to study Chersonese and its choir, director of the Institute of Classical Archeology, University of Texas (Austin, USA), Professor J. Carter mentioned that when he was a graduate student, SF Strzeletsky showed him very interesting materials from Inkerman. At my request, the staff of the Chersonesos Museum showed me these collections, only from a visual inspection of the shelves with which I lost the gift of speech, because in front of me was not even our North Pontic pre-Scythian pottery,and something much better and in the number of thousands of storage units.

Subsequently, the Inkerman detachment of the Sevastopol Archaeological Expedition of the Chersonesos Tavriya National Assembly was created, and then we separated into a separate Inkerman Expedition of the Institute of Archeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. During the full 8 years of excavations at Uch-Bashi, we laid three excavations and explored the monument in new areas – west and north. The western part is especially rich in archeological material and objects, in the stratigraphic sequence it contained layers of the Second World War, the Crimean War (Battle of Inkerman), VII-XIV centuries. not. – the time of functioning of the Christian monastery and several stages of the settlement of the final of the Bronze Age – Early Iron Age.

The upper one is an ashtray (garbage deposits) of the end of VIII – the beginning of VII centuries. BC, it was lined with layers of destruction of the fortifications of the settlement around the middle of the VIII century. B.C.The remains of the defensive walls covered the buried center of iron metallurgy – one of the most powerful and earliest in the Northern Black Sea, which stood on even earlier defensive structures – a moat with an ancient bridge-entrance.

At the present stage of research we can say that the settlement was founded around the end of the twelfth century. B.C. This is a time of significant changes in the history of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, it was then that the conquest of Troy took place, the peoples of the sea terrorized Egypt, and a new powerful tribal union emerged in the Balkans, historiographically called the Thracian Thalassocracy. The tribe that founded this new settlement in the upper Sevastopol Bay is related to the population of the so-called Thracian or Eastern Hallstatt culture, and it is possible that the very appearance of both this and other settlements of the final Bronze Age in the Northern Black Sea is an echo of these global processes.

The first inhabitants brought with them a whole set of knowledge and skills about growing cereals, house building, ceramic and bronze foundry, processing of crystalline rocks, as well as the sea and its resources. The remains of all these branches of the economy are demonstrated by the earliest archeological complexes of Uch-Basha. Already in the next horizon, things appear in the settlement, the method of production of which corresponds to the previous horizon, but typologically tends to Belozersk archaeological culture, common in the south of Ukraine. At the turn of the second and first millennia BC. events took place on Uch-Bashi that led to destruction and fires. A fragment of a bone psaltery, typical of Montenegrin monuments associated with the first nomads, also known as the Cimmerians, was found in the fire of one of the buildings.Several more bone arrowheads were found in synchronous complexes, which also date back to the time of the appearance of Montenegrins in the Black Sea steppes.

However, the destruction and fires did not stop life in the settlement. On the contrary, the next period is represented by perhaps the richest archaeological complexes in this part of the Crimea of ​​the pre-Scythian era. This is due to several factors: the earliest nomads opened contact with the settlers by land, horsemanship revived metabolic processes and speed, and later, in the second half of the ninth century. BC, on Uch-Bashi there is an ironworks. It is one of the earliest centers of iron production in the Northern Black Sea region in a way that has spread here already in its formed form from the Western Caucasus. The appearance of the center on Uch-Bashi is not accidental – here, next to the hill of the Devil’s settlement through the Devil’s beam, the outcrops of hematite ore deposits in limestone deposits are still visible. These are very high quality ores,where the iron content exceeds 50% with a minimum of harmful impurities for forging, especially phosphorus. In addition, the pack of clays Devil’s mound contains extremely valuable for metallurgy bentonite clay, refractory and coking clay. All these factors, as well as a fairly high level of social development of the inhabitants of Uch-Basha, became the key to the establishment of an iron center here.

In the middle of the VIII century. B.C. events took place in the Black Sea steppes, which marked the beginning of a new order in the region – the early Scythian period began. During this period, the entire fortification was hastily rebuilt on Uch-Bashi, the ironworks were filled up, and a strong defensive wall was built on them, probably with towers and battlefields, some of which were discovered by excavations in the 1950s and 2000s. The construction of new fortifications, despite the rapid pace (in the trench of the foundation of the wall were imprints of shoes of its builders, indicating construction in heavy rains, when the bentonite is completely wet), was not completed. The fortress did not withstand the assault and fell, many arrows, fragments of psalms, broken battle axes and maces, broken battle hammers, collapses of ceramic vessels on the outside of the walls, sling stones were found at the places where the wall broke.chopped skulls and their faces of horses. A compact group of things from the place of the assault indicates their belonging to the nomads, who are associated with Novocherkassk antiquities, which are also identified with the Cimmerians. The closest to Uch-Bash Novocherkassk burial is the grave of a noble soldier or leader in the Ash mound near Simferopol, possibly an eyewitness or participant in those events.

After these events, life in the settlement later resumed, but not many of its former inhabitants returned to the old fire. The skills of most crafts were lost, the economy degraded somewhat.

Ceramics, the clearest indicator of ethnic origin, has changed radically. The incredible diversity of ceramic types, their identity with completely different regions of the Black Sea coast from the Middle Dniester to the Don, shows that after the rapid passage of the steppes of nomadic Novocherkassk, the remains of many burned and looted settlements coincided with the Crimea.
Life in the settlement did not last long, at the beginning of the VII century. B.C. people descended from the top of the hill into the river valley, where several settlements appeared at once, the material of which typologically corresponds to the last post-pogrom horizon of Uch-Basha. These tribes later, in the VI-V centuries. BC, the first Greek settlers and called the Taurus.

In fact, in earlier times, Uch-Bash was not the only settlement in the Inkerman Valley. On the opposite bank of the Black River in front of the old ford across it was another synchronous settlement – Saharna Golovka on the slope of the mountain of the same name. It arose when Uch-Bash already existed, and the similarity of material culture in these settlements may indicate that this small settlement on the opposite bank of the river was taken out not by chance and by schoolchildren to control the ford. Because further in the mountains behind Saharna Golovka the through passage to the Crimean steppe began. It is probable that another settlement of schoolchildren was in Balaklava, but the lack of materials about it leaves everything at the level of assumptions. His researcher OK Takhtay was repressed in the 1950s, and his entire archive is still preserved in the materials of his case in the archives of the current FSB in Simferopol.

Well, Uch-Bash not only told us the history of the Black Sea coast to unknown written sources, but also provided numerous archaeological material, which is now stored in the funds of the Chersonese Tavriya National Park and the Institute of Archeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Advancing the work on the demining of the galleries and our research made the creation of a museum in this difficult place with a tragic and heroic history quite real in the near future. For this purpose, a new exposition was prepared for the renovated antique hall of the Chersonesos Reserve, a new concept was written, a plot of land with an archeological monument was prepared for documentation, accounting documents for the monument of national importance Uch-Bash (security ний 270011-Н № 928 dated 03.09.2009). But 2014 came to the Crimean land.Instead of archaeologists, “green men” appeared on the plateau of the Devil’s settlement, instead of a museum they started talking again about closing this part of Inkerman and creating a powerful military base of the Russian Federation, of these victims in 1942…

Such a future looks cynical and wild for Uch-Bash, as if someone has decided to repeat the tragedy that has happened here several times. Nevertheless, our work and efforts to preserve and study Uch-Bash cannot be ignored, as more than a thousand artifacts of exposition value, obtained during the research of 2006-2013, are stored in the funds of the National Reserve “Chersonese Tavriya” and about 15 thousand units of the scientific collection from these excavations have been transferred to the funds of the Institute of Archeology of NASU in recent years, more than 20 articles and two monographs devoted directly to Uch-Bash have been published in the last 15 years. All this allows us to argue about the need to preserve the monument of archeology as a kind of archive,and later the creation of a museum complex on its excavated sites – an open-air museum and a memorial to the victims of the Second World War. After all, only memory can save us from repeating tragedies. Let’s remember and we will not allow to repeat!

Evelina Kravchenko, candidate of historical sciences, senior researcher at the Institute of Archeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, head of the Inkerman expedition of IA NASU

The project was implemented with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation

Evelyna Kravchenko

Candidate of Historical Sciences, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Archeology of the NAS of Ukraine, Head of the Inkerman Expedition of IA NASU

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