World Monuments Watch List includes two sites in Ukraine
NEW YORK - The World Monuments Fund (WMF), an organization dedicated to preserving the historic, artistic and architectural heritage of humankind, recently released its 2004 World Monuments Watch List of 100 most endangered sites. The biennial Watch list is a call to action on behalf of threatened cultural-heritage monuments worldwide.
Ukraine appears on the "100 most endangered sites" list, with two sites listed: the ancient city of Panticapaeum (site of present-day Kerch), in Crimea and the Tyras-Bilhorod Fortress, in ilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Odesa.
The WMF describes the Panticapaeum site as follows:
"Once the capital of the Bosporan Kingdom, the largest political site in the region of the ancient Black Sea, the ruins of the city of Panticapaeum contain evidence of settlement dating back to 2600 B.C.
"Over its long history the site has been occupied by Greeks, Scythians and Sarmatians, as evident in the art, architecture and Kerch-style ceramics of the Bosporan Kingdom.
"More recently, Panticapaeum was the site of the oldest Christian church in Ukraine, the 10th century Church of St. John the Baptist.
"For archaeologists, who began excavating the site at the close of the 18th century, Panticapaeum is unequalled in the Black Sea region in its richness of ceramics, jewelry, sculptures and other artifacts.
"Since 1826, the site has been under the auspices of the Kerch Museum of Antiquities. Some site security was provided during the Soviet period due to Panticapaeum's proximity to naval bases. More recently, however, Panticapaeum has been plagued by looting and vandalism, and the site is now riddled with looters trenches, which have destroyed walls and ancient frescoes. This damage has been compounded by natural factors such as rain and erosion, combined with unregulated tourism and local development."
The entry for "Panticapaeum" in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine (University of Toronto Press, 1984), notes that, given its strategic location on the western shore of the Kerch Strait, the city grew quickly. As the leading trade, manufacturing and cultural center on the northern coast of the Black Sea it became the capital of the Bosporan Kingdom, which arose in the 5th century B.C. as an alliance of existing Greek city-states.
Panticapaeum was heavily damaged in Saumacus' revolt and Diophantus' capture of the city at the end of the 2nd century B.C. and by an earthquake c. 70 B.C.
It was rebuilt under Roman rule, and by 1 A.D. had regained its commercial importance. It began to decline in 3 A.D. as tribal raids disrupted the trade in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Basin.
Panticapaeum was destroyed by the Huns ca. 370 A.D. Later a small town arose at the site, which in the Middle Ages became known as Bosphorus.
The city was dominated by Mount Mithridites, on which the temples and civic buildings were built. Villas were built on the terraced slopes. Beyond the city walls was a large necropolis, which has been excavated since the end of the 19th century. The necropolis includes a number of famous kurhans, such as Melek-Chesmen, Tsarskyi, Zolota Mohyla and Yuz Oba. The city itself has been excavated systematically since the second world war.
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The Tyras site is described by WMF as follows:
"For centuries the fortress of Tyras-Belgorod [sic - WMF employs Russian-based transliteration] has watched over the calm waters of the Dniester [sic] Estuary. Founded in the sixth century B.C. as the Greek city of Tyras, the site was mentioned by Strabo, Ptolemy and Pliny.
"The ancient site encompasses the preserved remains of houses, paved streets, gutters, headquarters of a Roman garrison, and fortifications built of massive limestone plates unknown anywhere else in the classical world.
"Built in the Middle Ages, the fortress functioned as a military post for Byzantine, Moldavian, Turkish, and Russian forces until the early 19th century. With three gates, 20 towers, a defensive wall and a moat, Tyras-Belgorod is the only remaining medieval fortress in southwestern Ukraine.
"Since 1940, Tyras-Belgorod - now part of the modern city of Belgorod-Dnestrovsky (Bilhorod Dnistrovsky) - has been a designated national monument in the care of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine and the Ukrainian State Committee for Architecture, Construction and Housing Policy.
"Over the past four decades, restoration work has been carried out on the site's Greek remains, including the insertion of concrete supports along the estuary to protect the crumbling bedrock from further erosion.
"Due to a lack of funds, however, an assessment of the physical condition of the entire site has never been carried out, nor has a comprehensive plan for shoreline stablilization been developed. Without these, it will be impossible to arrest further decay."
The Encyclopedia of Ukraine entry for the Tyras notes that preliminary archaeological work was done at the site in 1927-1932, while systematic excavations under the auspices of the AN URSR (now ANU) Institute of Archeology started in 1945.
In terms of the history of Bilhorod-Dnistrovsky, the city lies on the right bank of the Dnister Estuary. In 600 B.C. this was the site of the Greek colony of Tyras. In 9 A.D. it became a city of the Tivertsian and Ulychian tribes named Bilhorod. In the 13th century it was part of the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia. In the 14th century it was ruled by the Genoese, renamed Montcastro; for a time in the 15th century it was part of the Moldavian principality.
In 1484 the city was captured by the Turks and in 1503 renamed Akkerman (White Rock). During the 17th and 18th centuries it became the seat of the Bilhorod Horde. The city came under Russian rule in 1812. From 1918-1940 it belonged to Rumania and was called Cetatea Alba. It became part of the USSR in 1940, and in 1944 it was renamed Belgorod-Dnestrovsky [Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi.]
...The city has an ethnographic museum, founded in 1934, which contains among its exhibits archeological finds from the city of Tyras.
The encyclopedia notes that the city's architectural monuments include the well-preserved fortress built in 1438-1454 by Master Fedorko, with "26 turrets, four gates, and a citadel whose walls are almost 2 kilometers long, and a restored church built during the 14th and 15th centuries."
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This year, for the first time in its eight-year history, the Watch list encompasses every continent, including Antarctica. This geographic reach reflects the broad definition of "cultural-heritage monument," a term that may refer to an individual building, a work of monumental sculpture, a town center, or an entire cultural landscape.
The WMF program identifies a broad range of endangered sites and brings them to the attention of the public, preservation professionals and local governments with the aim of protecting the world's endangered heritage and in saving individual sites.
Taken together, the sites on the list comprise a diversity of building types, periods and threats, and include 33 places in Europe, 16 in Asia, one in Australia, 18 in Africa and the Middle East, 31 in the Americas, and one in Antarctica.
This year's watch includes several modern sites, including both dwellings and industrial and engineering sites.
For additional information call the WMF, 95 Madison Ave. New York, NY 10016, at (646) 424-9594; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.wmf.org.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, November 9, 2003, No. 45, Vol. LXXI
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