Although constructed originally in first centuries of the Christian era, this fortress, excavated first by V. I. Sizov in 1886, returned to prominence under the Ottoman Empire. The ruins left behind pull together the many cultures and confessions of eastern Black Sea littoral. Rebuilt by Genoese traders circa the turn of the 14th century, kale is the Turkish word for fortress, and Mamai refers to the stone babas, or steppe idols associated with the Cumans, or Polovtsi, nomadic tribes who traded with the Italians and others.