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| Vladimir Anatolyevitch Gorontcharovskiy|
Iluraton: A Fortress of the 1st- 3rd centuries AD on the European Kimmerian Bosporos
Iluraton in the 2nd century AD
A large-scale reorganization of the fortress was carried out not earlier than the second quarter of the 2nd century AD, judging from a fragmentary building inscription carved on a thin marble slab (Fig. 4, 2): (KBN № 966)
Another inscription on the limestone stele, which was discovered among the masonry of a wall of one of buildings, is dated to the same period, i.e. the second quarter of the 2nd century AD or a bit earlier: (KBN № 966)
The lower rows of rusticated blocks in the northeast defensive wall are built over with huge limestone blocks measuring up to 1.5 x 1.1 x 1.1 m laid in completely different techniques. The same picture is found in the southwest wall, which was obviously constructed in haste, likewise the northwest and southeast lines of defence, which are completely rebuilt. It is only possible to explain the use of any suitable building materials which lay to hand in the most vulnerable parts of the defences, such as stone feeding troughs for animals and anthropomorphous gravestones, by the great haste in which the defences were constructed in the face of a real military threat (Gajdukevic V.F., 1981, p. 110 ff.). After re-building the fortress walls had a thickness of 2.4 m on three sides, and only 1.8 m on the northwest side. Even so, noting the carelessly closed up breach near the southern tower V (Gajdukevic V.F., 1981, p. Ill), we may conclude that they did not provide reliable protection for the city. The breach may have been caused by an attack of the Crimean Scythians using battering-rams. One notes that the image of battering ram, shown as a vehicle with a shed roof, has been preserved on the plaster in one of buildings at Neapolis Scythica (Dashevskaja O.D., 1962, p. 182. Fig. 10). Furthermore, one has to consider why an additional amplification of all of Iluraton's defensive system, accompanied with reorganization of some of the inhabited quarters, took place. This determined the layout of the site uncovered by excavation.
The third building phase relates to the end of the 2nd century AD when vigorous measures to strengthen the state defences were undertaken by King Sauromates II. At this time, three of the defensive curtains were additionally strengthened. External masonry, acting as an extra defence against battering rams and strengthening the curtain by a thickness of 4 m, was added to the southeast defensive wall, preserved to a height of 3.15 m, along its entire length of 200 m approximately. It consisted of five rows of masonry up to 1.7 m high, built at an angle of 67° from the base. Along the curtain between tower I and the gate anti-battering ram masonry was attached directly to the defensive wall (overall thickness 6.4 m). Beyond the gate and on the southwest line of defence the space between the main wall and the external anti-battering ram masonry is filled with densely stamped rubble and a limy fill. Thus thickness of the foot of the walls reached 8.2 m here. Masonry of 1.35 m thickness was also added to the northwest wall. Four towers were placed along the line of the southeast defensive wall at intervals of about 31 m, including an opening for a gate. Three of them, practically identical in structure, have been excavated. All of them are rectangular in form with internal rooms and are connected to adjoining domestic complexes. Tower I had a narrow entrance with a length of 1.65 m and width of 0.77 m. The internal room measures about 9 m2 (2.97 x m). The tower protruded beyond the curtain wall for a distance of 4m. The length of its southeast side is 13.8 m, and that of the northeast side 10.5 m, including the additional external masonry of up to 6 m. Tower II was preserved up to a height of 3.5 m. The length of its frontage is 14.5 m. Here too there was a doorway of 1-1.1 m width, leading to an internal chamber measuring 2.85 x 3.4 m (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 22 ff.).
Near Tower II, where a side street opens on the southeast wall, masonry 2.1 m in width was attached to it from the inside. The length of it which has been excavated reaches 8 m at a height of up to 1.4 m. It is probably the remains of a ramp - a flat ramp for the raising of mechanical stone-throwers onto the wall (Gajdukevic V.F., 1981, p. 78. Fig. 2). Near to the ramp, in house № 3, a well produced limestone spherical missile some 7 cm in diameter and about 450 g in weight was found (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 71. Fig. 63, 2). It is thought that balls of such calibre had a universal character and were intended to be used against human targets (Sokol'ski N.I., 1962, p. 246; Akopyan A.M., 1986, p. 233). The absence of any damage to the surface of the ball makes it highly unlikely that it had been shot into the city, and, almost certainly, it had been intended to be used by stone-throwing artillery located in one of the towers of the fortress. Calculation of the calibre of ballista to which this ball corresponds can be made using the formula: С (calibre in inches) = 1,1 V3 100 M (weight in minas) (Ellenisticheskaja tekhnika 1948, p. 288). This gives us C=0.13 m. According to classical authors the minimal sizes of the area necessary for the installation of a ballista constituted 13.5 calibres in width and 16-21 in depth (Ellenisticheskaja tekhnika 1948, p. 291). Hence, platforms of 1.75 m width and 2-2.73 m depth were necessary for the installation of Iluraton's ballista. This conclusion corresponds to the size of the fortress towers.
The gate in the southeast wall has not survived. P.Dubrux marked, that 'gate T' in this place had a width of 3-4 sazhens (Gajdukevic V.F., 1950, p. 188), i.e. about 8 m. This impression was caused by the destruction and robbing out of the adjacent wall, causing the opening to seem wider than it actually was in ancient times. No traces of stone masonry were found during excavation of this site in 1977. The width of the gate, however, could naturally not be wider than the Main Transverse Street, i.e. 4.5 m.
At the right angle meeting of the southeast and southwest walls, lays the most powerful corner tower of the fortress (IV). Its external size is 10 x 14 m, with the internal room size measuring 3.3 x 4.5 m. An opening, about 1.6 m high was set in the tower, topped by two massive limestone blocks (Fig. 4, 4). A stretcher with a groove for a joist found in the northwest wall allows us to determine the height of the tower floor as 2.6 m. There were probably not less than four such floors connected by internal stairs. In such case the total height of the tower, including the merlons whose usual size is 1.5-1.7 metres, would have reached about 12 meters. Defensive walls ending in rectangular merlons are repeatedly represented on Bosporan coins of the lst-2nd centuries AD (Zograf A.N., 1951, p. 201. Tabl. XLVII, 3, 18; Anokhin V.A, 1986, p. 101. Tabl. 14, 381; 16, 416; 18, 461). The question, whether the towers and curtains of the fortress were roofed is difficult to resolve. Taking into account the character of their masonry, laid on a clay solution, which progressively collapses as a result of the direct influence of rain, such a feature cannot be completely ruled out.
Tower IV was destroyed by fire. Its internal chamber was filled with a quantity of burnt wood (pine) and the remains of cane or straw, obviously used for arson (Gajdukevic V.F., 1981, p. 111). The fire was so strong it coloured the masonry stones a reddish shade and cracked them on the inside. Outside of the tower the remains of a ditch, dug into the rock at a depth of 1.5 m was found. It has the form of an inverted trapeze in section. The width on top is 6.2 m and 3.5 m at the bottom. The ditch was dug along the complete length of the external face of the southwest wall with a crossing place left opposite the gate. It could have been filled by water only when it rained. Apparently its purpose was to hinder to forward movement of battering rams.
The southwest curtain has been excavated along its internal face in it entirely from Tower IV to Tower V at a length of 94 m. A staircase (Fig. 4, 3), 1.2 m wide, of which seven steps set at an angle of about 45° were preserved, allow us to determine its original height (Gajdukevic V.F., 1981, p. 129). Based on the face that the bottom of the staircase lay some 10.95 meters near the wall, and given that the stairs would have met the wall walk with a platform no less than 1.5 m along the parapet, the wall must have been about 8.5-9 m high. If we count in its merlons, the total height would have been not less than 10 m. This corresponds to the standards of classical fortification (Philon. Byz. III. 2).
The approach to the outside of the wall at the southwestern gate was of more simple construction. The structure here was not attached to the defensive wall as it was customary. There is an interval of 1.3-1.7 metres between the two. It was packed to a height of 1.1 m by densely packed earth with an admixture of rough stones. The total length of this ramp is 18 m, rising gently to the gate on the wall (Gajdukevic V.F., 1981, p. 115). It probably looked more like an earthen embankment with an angle of about 30°, with several stone steps added to the bottom part.
In the centre of the southwest line of defences, some 43 m from the corner tower, lies the only remaining gate of the fortress. The main street of the city runs from it and forms the planning axis of the city. From here the worked surface of the rock goes down in the direction of city centre for 0.88 m. The entrance to the gate is in the form of an extended gate chamber 10.2 m in length and 3.75 m in width. An important detail in their construction is a rectangular incision (0,32 x 0,28 m) 5.3 m in depth for a wooden beam locking the inside gate. It was found at a height of 1.4 m. When the gates were closed, the beam was moved forward from the incision and, obviously, inserted into another one in the opposite wall, which has not been preserved (Gajdukevic V.F., 1981, p. 113). Undoubtedly, there was also an external gate system, not flanked by towers as it was a usual practice, but by pylons, extending beyond the line of the wall by 2 m. Probably, they were once joined by linked by an opening for an arch and defended by an arch over the tower. It is possible that the gate defence system also originally featured a portcullis (Tolstikov V.P., 1992, p. 44-45). Thus, the usually extremely complex structures found to defend the gate have been reduced to a minimum. On the one hand these features limited the opportunity of shooting from the adjoining curtains, while on the other hand overlapping the arcs in the area of the gate on the line of the ditch so as to create additional difficulties for the attacking enemy. Similar gate structures have been noted at Neapolis Scythica (Vysotskaja T.N., 1979, p. 44-45. Fig. 10) and in the Roman fortress of Augusta Traiana in Thrace dated to the 2nd-3rd centuries AD (Ivanov Т., 1980, p. 204. Fig. 226). The ancient designers perhaps designed these elongated internal gate structures rather than reinforcing the external structures of the gates.
Tower V was situated where the southwest and northwest defensive walls met. It was entered from the courtyard of a house (Fig. 5, 1), from which it was possible to climb up to a walkway on the curtain by a staircase. The structure of this tower differed from the one described above, in that its ground floor was completely filled by rough stones, and a course of limestone blocks carefully trimmed and fitted to each other was built facing the yard. Adjacent was a stone box with clinker filling set into the pavement of the yard. Taking into account the fact that such boxes were usually placed under stairs (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 49. Fig. 35-37), it seems highly likely that the stack was used to support a wooden staircase which once led to the walkway.
The northwest defensive wall follows the contours along its length of 240 m. As it has already been noted, the curtain was rather thin, 3.15 m even after its reinforcement with additional masonry. It seems probable that the initial line of fortification had been hastily erected and demanded repeated repair. The remaining structures suggest the presence of a retaining wall about 10 m in length on its northeast section and a similar construction under the northern corner tower number IX.
In total, there are five towers2 on the northwest wall, including the corner towers. Only two of them - VIII and IX - have been excavated. They defended the northern corner of the fortress and were sited immediately alongside one another. The distance between the other towers varies from 26 to 93 m depending on the demands of defence made by the natural conditions. The only opening in the defences here is a postern about 1.2 m wide. It is flanked on the southwest by tower VII, the remains of which were seen by P.Dubrux (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 27. Fig. 11). Nearby was a guardroom with two exits, one into a courtyard and then into a lane, allowing the postern to be kept under observation (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 29). On the other side of the lane there was a house (№ 1) from which it was possible to ascend to the wall. Between the wall and the domestic room 4 the remains of another staircase were found. The top step of the staircase rested on a stone platform 6.4 x 1.8 m in size. A staircase with five steps 0.65 was once built against it at a right angle (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 29). Thus, we have sufficient data which allows us to attempt an initial estimation of the height of the wall in this section of the defences. The steps of the bottom flight of steps rose at an angle of 60° to an intermediate platform at a height of 2.2 m. Most likely its size, as well as that of the platform joining it to the wall, did not exceed 1.5 m in length. Then, if the top flight was at the same angle, the height of the northwest wall would be about 7 m (or with merlons ~ 8,5 м). Hence, it was at least 2 m lower than walls on the lower side of the fortress, which corresponds well to its location and strength.
Tower VIII marked on the plan of P.Dubrux is located in 62 m from the postern. Its external dimensions are 7.6 x 5.5 m. The tower is not well preserved, but even its remains give us the impression of extreme negligence of construction. Probably it was built during the reorganization of (at least) the northern corner of the fortress during the 3rd century AD. The necessity of repeated repair of the walls and towers in this section of the fortifications was caused by the fact that they were partly built over a layer of ash refuse which caused the defensive works to slide. The masonry of the walls near the northern tower also changes as a result of the reconstruction, and two phases can be distinguished. The defensive line has a thickness of only 1.4 m between Tower VIII and the top of a retaining wall lying to the southwest. An extensive domestic complex was located next to it at a sharp angle, the interval of which was packed with densely stamped earth mixed in with small rough stones. Thus, it forms part of the internal masonry, widening the overall thickness of the defensive wall to 2.7 m.
To the northeast of tower VIII the defensive wall has a thickness of 1.8 m, being strengthened on its external side at its base by rough stone masonry built on clay up to 2 m in width, put together extremely carelessly. Between the wall and northern tower IX ran a corridor 1.2 m wide. On one side, it was connected to the domestic complex mentioned above, on the other side it led directly to the slope of the foot of the tower, entering it by a small gate. The corner tower, of which only the base remains, with external dimensions of only 9 x 7.5 m, is built on the rocky ground table, levelled by large limestone slabs. A gateway 1.4 m wide leads from its ground floor to a house attached to it.
2 Tower VI is marked on the plan of P.Dubrux, but it has not been located yet.