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Eski-Kermen is one of the large “cave towns” of the Crimea. Now deserted and silent, during the Middle Ages it held the dominant position in the economic life of the surrounding communities, was a major center of trade and crafts. 

Eski-Kermen was founded on an inaccessible plateau at the beginning of VI century, by assumption, by Scythians-Sarmatians. Its name translated from the Tatar means “Old Fortress”. Eski-Kermen was well fortified. Defensive walls of large blocks of limestone with a thickness of 2 meters and a height of 3.5 meters stretched over the cliffs. Towers-casemates were carved in the rock or built of stone. In case of siege, a deep well of 70 cubic meters of water was cut out. 

Most of the territory of the fortress was undeveloped – as a protected area reserve and refuge for the inhabitants of the valley in case of danger of war. Residential town occupied an area of 10 hectares and was built up almost entirely with two-storey houses covered with tiles. The first stone floor with cellars cut in the rock served for household purposes; the second one – living – was made of wood and, as a rule, with balconies. 

The town had a water supply system made of pottery pipes supplying water from the springs of the nearby hill in four kilometers; several places of worship, a necropolis. Slopes of Eski-Kermen were cut with caves. There are about 350 of them and they, for the most part, refer to XII-XIII centuries. Caves served as quarters for livestock, handicraft workshops, wine presses and reservoirs for grape juice. 

The fate of the fortress had a lot of hardship. The first defeat of Eski-Kermen occurred in VIII century. The town completely ceased to exist at the end of XIII century; in 1299, it was burned by hordes of Nogai... 

Literature: Ye.M. Yakusheva, A.M. Nizhura. “Cave towns of the Crimea”. Guide. – Simferopol: Tavriya, 1972.
P.Ye. Garmash. Guide to the Crimea. – Simferopol, 1996.


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