Fortification of Bolgar Town in the 14th Century: the current state of the problem Cover Image

Фортификация Болгара в XIV в.: современное состояние проблемы
Fortification of Bolgar Town in the 14th Century: the current state of the problem

Author(s): Vladimir Yu. Koval
Subject(s): History, Archaeology, Military history, Middle Ages, 13th to 14th Centuries
Published by: Издательский дом Stratum, Университет «Высшая антропологическая школа»
Keywords: Middle Volga region; Bolgar town; rampart; moat; wooden walls; towers; city defense strategy
Summary/Abstract: The article reviews published materials and hypotheses concerning the fortification of Bolgar town in the 14th century, in the era of its heyday and reaching the maximum area. The hypotheses were verified based on the data obtained during excavations in 2014—2015. It is shown that the archaeological realities documented in the excavation reports do not match with O. Khovanskaya and Yu. Krasnov’s hypotheses on a buttress wall (or a cellular wall, ‘tarasa’) placed on the crest of the rampart and existence of pillar-basedtowers. In reality, during the excavations of 1946, 1953 and 1967, only irregular traces of pillar pits of different depths were discovered. Such traces could be left by a light fence supported by some separate pillars. Pillar-based towers in the Russian medieval fortifications are not known, because they would represent very fragile structures, vulnerable to stone-hurling artillery. It was suggested that the found pillar pits could be traces of some household structures of a Russian village dated by 17th—20th centuries. Defensive structures on the top of the rampart could consist of a light wooden fence without any towers. Some attempts are made to explain the difference between the Russian and Bolgar urban defense strategies. While the Russian strategy was based on use of vertical barriers (wood-earth walls), the Bolgar strategy was based on the construction of ramparts to prevent cavalry attacks on the town. Such ramparts were defended by cavalry detachments moving inside the town walls.

  • Page Range: 307-323
  • Page Count: 17
  • Publication Year: 2019
  • Language: Russian