Settlement ‘Horodok’ and Prospects for Medieval Fortress of ‘Balyklei’ Studying
In 1998, MDPI (Mykolaiv State Pedagogical Institute) expedition headed by Yu.S. Hrebennikov conducted a study of a stratified settlement and burial ground near the village of Horodok of Variushyne Village Council of Veselynove Raion of Mykolaiv Oblast. It was found out that the largest part of the site was damaged during the forest plantings. Deep draining plowing completely destroyed the cultural layer in the southern part, behind the biggest rampart. The site has three ramparts: the first, the southernmost, is almost unnoticeable; the 2nd is barely noticeable, with the height of not more than 0.3 m; the 3rd rampart is well preserved, and its height reaches 2.0 m in some places. There is also a clearly noticeable moat up to 3.0 m wide and no more than 1.0 m deep.
To carry out the planned research, 5 prospect holes with a total area of 18 square meters were sunk. The holes № 1-4 were located along the central North-South axis, the hole № 5 was sunk 15 m east from the hole № 4. The holes № 3-5 were located in the ‘castle’ part of the ancient settlement, to the north of the biggest rampart.
As a medieval site, the settlement of Horodok is also known among archaeologists as the fortress of Balyklei. Supposedly, during the time of the Golden Horde, the nomadic headquarters of the khan were located here, and the city itself was a trade and craft center of the North-Western Black Sea region. This is confirmed by the finds of coins of such khans as Uzbek, Janibek, Kildibek, Abdullah, Berdi Beg, Khidr, and Tokhtamysh. There is also an assumption that in the 15th century in the fortress there was a mint (temporary or field) and the coins of Khan Mengli I Giray (V. Pyvorovych) were minted there.
Most information about the Golden Horde cities we have got from the descriptions of travelers or other written sources of the 14th – 15th centuries or from maps of the 17th – 18th centuries. Ukrainian Golden Horde archeology is in an unsatisfactory condition, so researches are being conducted chaotically, and the systematization of discovered and studied sites is extremely poor. The last remark is also true concerning the ‘steppe cities’ located on the territory of Mykolaiv Oblast.
Carrying out systematic research on the territory of Balyklei will give an opportunity to reconsider the region’s place on the land trade routes from the Crimea to Europe, to study the Golden Horde city organization, to broaden the knowledge on the Golden Horde, and the Crimean numismatics.
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