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in media

Dumskaya about us. Ovidiopolska fortress: looking for the one that "does not exist"

This is a very interesting question: why during the nearly a dozen years after the Russian-Turkish war of 1787-91 years the Turks have not even tried to attack the "soft underbelly" of the Russian Empire - a newly attached the Bug and Dniester rivers?

After all the Ottomans were aware that the development of the port of Odessa will break the entire balance of trading in the Black Sea, which for centuries they used to call "my lake" . But at that time Russians had no time to care about south.

In Europe, Russia was mercilessly tormented by Napoleon with his brave marshals. Despite what delight contemporaries and descendants looked at Suvorov crossing the Alps (1799), it is necessary to face the truth: it was a Russian getaway from Italy, even if an "undefeated getaway". Or, if you want "forced march" to the aid of Russian Expeditionary Corps by Alexander Rimsky-Korsakov. Marsh ineffectual as Rimsky-Korsakov was defeated by Napoleon's Marshal Massena at Zurich. And after six years the very French Emperor defeated Russian`s under Austerlitz.

In such circumstances what prevented the Turks to cross the Dniester estuary (or get around it), and gambol on the endless steppes between the Bug and Dniester? And, by passing, turn into the ashes what already has been called Odessa?

Small slide valve…

A barrier for that was inexpensive but effective system of small forts, created by Russians among the boarder. It seems to be practically nothing: three small fortresses (The median which is in the Tiraspol, Ovidiopolska and Odessa). But securely blocked the entrance to the new lands of the Empire.

When we began searching for one of them, of Ovidiopol we have been repeatedly told: "It's not interesting. They have never even fired"! So after all that's the point! Not historic grandeur but a real effect. They did not fired back heroically against basurman, basurmans became so frightened that they did not even go snooping among into their walls. It's like the concept of naval fleet in being - «Fleet operates by its very presence in the theater of military operations".

We were told that there is "nothing there": Well, nothing stored from Ovidiopol fortress! Although two years ago, Odessa journalist and historian Oleg Konstantinov literally poked a finger to it. Fortunately, it was not difficult - the remains of the fortress are visible even on space: the remains of an earthen trench with two bastions at the corners. A magnificent example of an earthen fortification was designed by one of the "fathers of Odessa", a French engineer, Colonel De Wolan

And now here we are ... This is the second month, we are digging on the territory of Ovidiopol fortress on the site of the Turkish-Tatar town Adzhider. - We are the Lower Dniester expedition of Ukrainian Academic Institute of Archaeology. We have been digging for a little time now, but have already found the remains of the foundations of the barracks and have already proved that from two surviving serfs plans more authentic one that was made in 1796. It's almost exactly know where the foundations of the arsenal (warehouses), guardhouse, guard-house, and the commandant. We investigate the moat and remnants of what once was a stone bridge, the entrance to the fortress

And we constantly meet with the earlier history remains. After all Adzhider - this is a place of several discovered ancient settlements, and has something to do with the early period of the history of the Golden Horde, and the late medieval Turkish-Tatar city. Therefore, among the finds – there are Syracuse coin III century BC, coin of the pagan era of the Mongols, and the remains of a luxurious Turkish painted glazed ceramics.

What`s next?...

And further we have a very ambitious plan: to restore all of this – all the shafts and houses, and guns on the bastions... So that you could enter the castle and find yourself in the XVIII-m century. Look in the arsenal weapons and entrenching tools of the time, have a snack in the barracks, drink a glass of French wine in the commandant's house (and for the ladies - champagne!). And if you have a special wish - to spend the night in the brig. What romantic and relatively safe: it can offer and the powder magazine.

In theory, in tourism it`s called a "deep dive": when the story looks at you not through the glass of the museum display cases, but here it is, at arm's length. When you can shoot a gun, iron clothes with wooden Rubel, and try porridge from the soldier's boiler. And Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov, Joseph M. de Ribas and Franz P. de Volan – are not a history book characters, but absolutely real people - they just came out of the powder magazine to check the parapet of the shaft.

Europeans call it "Skansen", an open air museum. This is roughly the same as the nature reserve only in reverse. The reserve is making sure that history memory will not turn into nothing but "Skansen" – it is making a historical monument out of nothing. Or, at least, it is an extremely approximate replica.

But Ovidiopolska fortress - it might even be something more than a simple "Skansen": Greeks, Lithuanians, Cossacks and Tartars, and, since the end of XVIII century, Russians lived in this region. So our project could become a kind of "chronological corridor" when next to the fortress will stand reconstructed ancient Greek villa, Tatar yurt, and Cossack hut. And it will be possible easily to travel from epoch to epoch, from nation to nation. But for now this is only a dream.

Now we have only one task - the fortress. Archaeologists-traditionalists usually perceive the study of the monuments of modern times with an arrogant smirk perceive. From one point it is understandable: forty centuries, looking at us from the heights of some Bronze Age barrow, - and then suddenly some sassy earthen fortress, which is only two years old. While on the other hand, the "archeology of modern times" - is the unfolding European trend.

Enough to remember the excavation of Ackroyd factory in Manchester on the “Angels” street . Timing is the same as ours, the end of XVIII century. Object – is the usual weaving factory, that was standing at the origins of cotton spinning in Britain. But what a scope of work: electronic microscopes, machines with telescopic tower, two excavators Caterpillar - very impressive! Even VIASAT HISTORY is showing a movie about it . But "Viasat" – is a league of television journalism.

But ours is better…

But our Ovidiopol fortress – is much more interesting, and more romantic, and more promising than British monument of industrial archeology. She – is like a soldier in good faith to stand on the clock through his time. And building a replica of it is simple, because the area of the fortress itself is small - some 12 hectares. In all these acres - a thick layer of earth mixed with garbage and waste of XX century. Brick and bread factories used to be working here for decades. All of this layer can be simply used for sprinkling restored shafts, then tamp it, cut the parapet and there valgang (battle ground), put layouts, guns and let the watch-soldiers in. That's it: you're in the XVIII century.

Excavations are already showing exactly where the main parts of the castle were located. So, there is no problem to build buildings that were conceived by de Wolan. Create exhibition with these types of weapons that were used by the "miracle heroes" of Suvorov. Produce a glass similar to the one from which could drink Veuve Clicquot Pushkin`s muse, adventurer and scout Carolina Rzhevuskaya-Sobanskaya. And a lot of other sorts of legends associated with Ovidiopol fortress. Or those places at which the fortress was built

Well, for example, that here was buried the great author of "Science of Love" Publius Ovidius Nazon. Aristocrat, poet and a lover of granddaughter of the first Roman monarch, Octavian Augustus. Love ruined poet; furious and aged emperor sent him to the edge of the Roman world - to the savage tribes, where Ovid could hoped for happiness only - "if I survive my share of adversity, if my blood is not drained by Scythian arrows, if my head is not cut down by blade of getsky". But the happiness did not come, and poet died in exile

Some believe that he was buried here and that his tomb was found by Russian soldiers in Ovidiopol in 1794 during the construction of the fortress. From here, by the way, is the name of the city. And exactly, ceramic head of Princess Julia the Younger, was found in a burial structure. Statuette didn`t survive to our times, but there was a sketch of Englishwoman, Mary Guthrie in a letter to her husband Matthews.

Historically, of course, it is not true: Ovid died at Tomah, modern Constance in Romania. And ceramic head - is a sacred image of the Greek goddess Demeter. But what is the value of historical accuracy while creating a legend, a legend of love between poet and the Princess?

But it's all just a great future, which we are sure will come soon. For now - not an easy daily routine with its problems. Tents are being broken by hurricanes, rainstorms are flooding excavations, canned meat and gasoline becomes more expensive, not enough people at the expedition. At night we feel sad in the cold rain, during the day we are groaning under the fierce sun.

But even in suffering there is a charm, as "at the edge of the abyss"... And where it all goes, all the suffering, when suddenly you see even conventionaly military uniform button from the beginning of the XIX century under a shovel? Even Ekaterininsky or heavy bronze coin of 1792. Or, and this is just like a fairy tale, an ancient Greek coin of Syracuse King Hiero II? Exploring that same golden crown Archimedes brought his great law: “the upward buoyant force exerted on a body immersed in a fluid, whether fully or partially submerged, is equal to the weight of the fluid that the body displaces.”

But the most important is in another. Ovidiopol fortress for us - it is not a place “”which does not exsist” (and more recently many believed). For us, this is the place "to be." This is a reconstructed earthen fortress: with museums, souvenirs, excursions and fine saturated rest. It's not even a modern European trend - "Skansen" Ideally, it is something more: it is a "chronological corridor", showing the lives of people over the past two millennia`s. And giving everyone a chance to touch this life.

Andrey Ganzha

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