Tsymlianskoe Settlement

Known today as two sites, distinguished by “right-bank” and “left-bank” of the Don River, near the Tsimlyanskoe settlement excavated in the 1880s was a right-bank Khazar fortress, built in the 840s, a line of defense along the Silk Road by the Khazar Khaganate. The left-bank fortification is referred to as Sarkel, also the name of a nearby village. Inside the walls were found Khazar dwellings, rich and poor alike. The dry sandy soil permitted the preservation of numerous iron objects as well as ceramics formed on a potter’s wheel, including amphoras. The fortress was attacked in the 9th century, attested to by the skeletal remains of women and children; where were the men? Religious identity is also problematic, as Khazaria had adopted Judaism. The fortress was built with technical assistance from the Byzantines, who had left behind sufficient remnants that V. B. Antonovich characterized it as “Christian” in 1884. Grand Prince of Rus’ Sviatoslav Igorevich conquered it in 965, and the white stones inspired the renaming it “White Vezha.” Prince Vladimir Monomakh used it as a garrison, but the Polovtsy ravaged it in 1117. The white-stone blocks of the fortress stood until 1744, after which the walls were dismantled and used in the construction of the Starocherkasskaya fortress.