Military Review

Great Kelasur Wall

12
At the moment, the ruins of the once powerful defensive structure, called the Kelasur wall, or the Great Abkhaz wall, are on the territory of the Republic of Abkhazia. The wall once stretched from the Kelasuri River (Sukhum region) to the Inguri River, in fact, along which the modern border of Abkhazia and Georgia passes. The length of this structure is estimated at 160 km. Analogues of the Kelasur wall in the Caucasus, and in Europe, do not exist in principle. This majestic fortification once revived all infrastructure construction in the area. In some sections of the wall you can find the remains of ancient roads, in others, small fortresses adjoin the wall, and it itself bristled with hundreds of fortified watch towers (the exact number is still unknown). At the same time, the structure was constantly being completed and was not static.


Great Kelasur Wall


The towers of the Great Abkhazian wall are built on almost square quadrangular foundations. They are rectangles with sides up to 8 and 9 meters. The towers, like the wall itself, are made of local cobblestone and limestone fragments. The entrance to them is at ground level, however, traces of repeated restructuring of both the entrances and the direction of the loopholes are visible, which, of course, makes it difficult to determine the direction of defense, and, therefore, the authorship of the structure. In addition, it is extremely difficult to determine which tribes lived in this area during a given period, which gives rise to some more incredible assumptions beyond the list of standard theories.

Despite the fact that research on the Kelasur wall began back in the 30 of the 18 century by a Swiss of French origin, archaeologist and ethnographer Frederic Dubois de Montperet, the exact answer who raised it and against whom it was directed does not exist to this day. The situation with the search for answers to these questions is so acute that the specialist of the Ministry of Culture and the Protection of the Historical and Cultural Heritage of Abkhazia, historian Sandor Kaitan, in an interview with Sputnik in 2015, said:
“The Great Abkhazian wall, despite the fact that it is listed in the preliminary lists of especially valuable objects of historical and cultural heritage, still does not have its passport, since the issues of dating have not been resolved. This prompted us to begin archaeological excavations in the winter of 2013. ”



Map of Vahushti Bagrationi with the image of the Kelasur wall


An additional complication in the work of historians and archaeologists is the national-political issue. Thus, the vast majority of Georgian scholars absolutely categorically argue that the wall was erected by Georgians with a natural conclusion that Russian-Abkhazian historians simply “privatized” someone else’s, although Abkhazian and Russian historians are just engaged in an objective study of the structure as part of a joint Abkhaz-Russian project of specialists Abkhaz Institute of Humanitarian Research ANA and Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Georgian roots?


In total, there are several theories of the origin of the wall, each with its own argument and its own weaknesses. The so-called Georgian (also known as Mingrelian or Mingrelian) theory says that the wall was erected in the 17 century by the rulers of Megrelia Dadiani, namely Levon II Dadiani. The wall was called upon to defend Megrelia from Abkhazian raids, for throughout the 17 century Abkhazia and Megrelia were in a state of permanent and devastating war for both peoples. This theory is starting to stagger for several reasons.

Firstly, the very possibility of the Mingrelian princes to build such a powerful fortification is being questioned. It would be enough for the warring princedom of forces and resources, being threatened by constant raids, to erect a wall is unlikely. Secondly, such a wall appeared at that time, the number of raids and their intensity should have been significantly reduced, but this did not follow. For example, the patriarch of Jerusalem, Dosipheus II at the end of the 17 century, wrote that "the Abkhazians devastated Mokva, Zugdidi and the entire side from Dioscuria to Gipius" (Tskhenis-Tskali River in Western Georgia), i.e. regions located behind the wall. Thirdly, of course, they could use some fortifications of the wall of the mingrel (according to some scientists, they didn’t just use them, but they also finished building them), but they were not able to assemble a garrison for the full defense of its entire length, and therefore the idea of ​​such construction is doubtful.

Greeks Skillful builders on the Black Sea


The next version claims that the wall was built by Greek colonialists. So, in the writings of Gekatey of Miletus (550-490 of the year BC), one can find an indication of the presence of a kind of “Coraxian wall” and “Coraxian fortress” in the area of ​​modern Abkhazia in the 6 century BC. Firstly, these dates are quite correlated with the emergence of the famous Greek colony of Dioscuria. Secondly, in the Dioscuria region there lived a tribe of Coraxes, who could give the first name to the structure, and also be those from whom this structure was called to defend. Thirdly, it is unlikely that Hekatei would mention any kind of fence in his works, and there were no other massive walls in the Dioscuria area.



However, the question arises: did the Greek colonists have sufficient resources to build such a massive fortification? The question is complex, but the heyday of the Greek colonies in itself suggests that the colonists could afford such a laborious construction. For example, Gorgippia (Anapa), located north of those days, was just a metropolis with its own sewer, stone-paved streets, strong fortress walls, and the brand of the city was stamped on each tile.

True, a number of figures believe that the Corax was built just by the Coraxes, but this does not hold water, because this tribe was engaged in predatory raids; it did not have statehood and, of course, could not have a clue about borders and some kind of border fortifications.

However, the question immediately arises of the appropriateness of such a large-scale defensive construction to protect one Dioscuria, because the next large colony, Fasis (the area of ​​modern Poti), was far from the Kelasur wall and Dioscuria. Not to mention the number of soldiers that would be required for the service on the wall. Could a Greek colony afford an army of several thousand people? Most likely no.

The trace of the great Byzantium?


Another version of the appearance of the wall is connected with Byzantium. In fact, in the 6 century, the Byzantines captured the coast in the area of ​​modern Sukhum and took control of Dioscuria, or rather, Sebastopolis (that was the name of the city that was once captured by the Romans at that time). In the same century, Emperor Justinian the Great began large-scale infrastructural transformations in the area of ​​the ancient city. So, the philosopher Stefan of Byzantium just in the 6 century A.D. writes about the Great Wall. But just his testimonies raise even more questions, because he calls her Coraxian.


Inside one of the towers


At the same time, often the apologists of the "Byzantine" theory do not argue with the "Greek" roots of the wall, believing that the Byzantines could well use the ruins of older structures as a basis for their own. After all, Sebestopolis was not rebuilt by Byzantium from scratch. And again the question arises: did the Byzantines have the possibility of such a construction? Of course, yes, especially during the reign of Justinian the Great. Given the constant competition and open military confrontation of the empire with the Persians and Caucasian peoples, including neighboring Mingrelians, it should be recognized that the presence of such a wall was entirely due to defensive necessity.



But even this theory is being questioned. So, if Byzantium had erected such a strong defensive line, then for what reason in the 550 year A.D. the Persian shahinshah Khosrov Anushirvan organized a major campaign on the territory of Colchis (the territory of Georgia and Abkhazia) and marched through these lands without encountering strong Byzantine resistance? The Byzantines did not even try to defend the Sebastopol fortress, they left it, to say nothing of the defense of the wall. In addition, if the wall was supposed to protect Sebastopolis from Mingrelians, including, then it is located somewhat incorrectly. However, this claim is quite controversial, as there is still debate over the borders of the lands of the Abazgs, Apsils, Megrelians and Lazs who lived in that region.

Suspect and Persians


There is also a version of the Persian origin of the Kelasur wall. In the 5 century in Lazik (the state formation of the Laz), Persian influence was established. At the same time, Lazy are in the struggle against the Byzantines, having found their overlords in the Persians. Thus, the Persians and manholes also had a reason to build a wall. In addition, the Persians in the Caucasus had already had the experience of erecting such fortifications. The Persians, namely the already mentioned Khosrov Anushirvan, is considered the founder of the Derbent Wall, a once very magnificent defensive structure.


Khosrov Anushirvan. Bas-relief in the building of the Tehran court


However, the hope that the secret of the Abkhaz wall will be revealed remains. Already mentioned by the author, Sandor Kaitan stated:
“The stratified, strictly layer-by-layer revealed and fixed by us material contains a complex set of artifacts dating from the early Middle Ages, 6 — 10 centuries. The lower layer is 6 — 7 of the century, the upper - 8 — 10 of the century. The basic question of who built the wall has not yet been answered. In any case, the construction was carried out not without the participation of the local population, maybe even his participation was decisive in this matter. But we must understand that we examined only part of the huge wall, the conclusions are not final, there should be further research. ”



Fragment of a wall slowly eroded by the waters of a mountain river


As the saying goes, the truth is somewhere nearby ... Only now there is less and less time for knowing its time. Fragments of the wall, scattered over the mountains and gorges, are gradually being destroyed under the pressure of years, mountain rivers and, to be honest, the very person who wants to inherit in any place where he appears.
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12 comments
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  1. Olgovich
    Olgovich 7 August 2019 08: 47
    +2
    Judging by the configuration of the wall on the map, it protected a vast stretch of the coast — from megrels and Caucasian tribes.

    So, most likely, built by the Greeks or Byzantines.

    It is a pity that such a monument is slowly being destroyed, because it could become an object of world tourism ......
    1. Cartalon
      Cartalon 7 August 2019 09: 14
      -2
      Definitely not the Greeks too large territory for the policy, the Romans are also dubious grand construction in a loosely controlled territory and without any mention in the sources, so most likely the local built
      1. Olgovich
        Olgovich 7 August 2019 09: 34
        +1
        Quote: Cartalon
        Definitely not the Greeks too large territory for the policy, the Romans are also dubious grand construction in a loosely controlled territory and without any mention in the sources

        100 km of the coast is not such a big territory, especially for Byzantium. In addition, the wall of a horseshoe against the sea protects it.
        Quote: Cartalon
        most likely local built

        Where, when, why were they able to build something like that?
        They were simply not capable.
        Unlike the Greeks and Byzantium.
        1. Cartalon
          Cartalon 7 August 2019 09: 43
          -1
          Well, yes, and the local statues on Easter Island were also not able to build? Where did the Greeks come from to protect such a line?
          1. Olgovich
            Olgovich 7 August 2019 09: 55
            +2
            Quote: Cartalon
            Well, yes, and the local statues on Easter Island were also not able to build?

            I do not see Easter statues in Abkhazia
            Quote: Cartalon
            Where did the Greeks come from to protect such a line?

            The Chinese wall was NOT guarded ALL the time and EVERYWHERE.
    2. svp67
      svp67 7 August 2019 15: 20
      0
      Quote: Olgovich
      Judging by the configuration of the wall on the map, it protected a vast stretch of the coast — from megrels and Caucasian tribes.

      And how did it not help to defend against the Mongol invasion? They went like a "hot knife through butter". And here is the configuration of the towers themselves
      The towers of the Great Abkhazian wall are built on almost square quadrangular foundations.
      indirectly suggests that the towers themselves were built at a time when artillery was not used during the assaults
      1. Olgovich
        Olgovich 8 August 2019 10: 20
        0
        Quote: svp67
        And how did it not help to defend against the Mongol invasion? They went like a "hot knife through butter"

        And when did such walls help?
        Quote: svp67
        The towers of the Great Abkhazian wall are built on almost square quadrangular foundations.
        indirectly suggests that the towers themselves were built at a time when artillery was not used during the assaults

        Certainly: Byzantium used guns only at the very end of its existence, but the walls were built much earlier ....
  2. Alexander Trebuntsev
    Alexander Trebuntsev 7 August 2019 12: 31
    +1
    Maybe this wall is much older? Once upon a time, the ancient Chimerians constantly attacked Asian states from the North precisely along the Black Sea coast. Always arose suddenly, smashed, robbed and left. There is a lot of evidence for this. So maybe they were built from them in antiquity?
  3. Vitaly Tsymbal
    Vitaly Tsymbal 7 August 2019 14: 07
    +3
    I live in the North Caucasus, I traveled all over Transcaucasia before, but I learned about the wall for the first time - many thanks to the Author.
    1. depressant
      depressant 7 August 2019 19: 12
      +3
      She lived in Abkhazia for a long time. Since childhood. She also knew nothing about the wall. But, once in the village of Lykhny, she saw there very dilapidated ruins of an ancient fortress. Near the local football field, which was used mainly for public gatherings. The Abkhazians had such a form of democracy since the 80s. They brought equipment, thousands of people gathered, members of the government came, speeches were made. They were unhappy with the Georgians. And already in the post-Soviet era on TV they showed that a cultural center was built near the field. So next to the fortress. This is if they did not take it to the stones. House of Culture - empty, pulled apart and destroyed. Just as the sanatoriums were spread all over Abkhazia, when in the last two decades of the existence of the USSR, the local rights that had defended their rights had come there as supply managers. What is now left of those sanatoriums ...
      Abkhazians did not build a wall. The wrong mentality of the people, the wrong traditions, clan society.
  4. Sunstorm
    Sunstorm 7 August 2019 18: 47
    +3
    It is strange that so far no assumptions have been made about the fate of the ancient Ukrainian Sumerians ... Although yes there are already Georgians ... competition, however
  5. Goral
    Goral 4 October 2019 13: 21
    -1
    Sometimes I am simply amazed at the bias of the authors. All facts and information are available, documents, archives of information of travelers directly indicate that the Megrelian wall (and not the Kelasur or later "stretched" name - Abkhaz) was the border between ethnic Western Georgians (Mingrelians) and the Abkhaz proper. That to the west of Kelasuri, that is, from the middle of today's Abkhazia to the north-west was the territory of the Abkhaz and historical Abkhazia itself, and to the east - the western Georgians-Mingrelians and the Megrelian principality. The author himself directly writes about the Mingrelian garrisons, that is, he recognizes the functional role of this wall in the defense of Mingrelians (Georgians) from the Abkhaz. The loopholes in the wall face the West and NORTH-WEST (to the Abkhazians) and not back to the Georgians, and all the same, the author, from some hangover, "does not know" who built the wall. And what is even "better!. Puts some conflicting questions and conclusions. Allegedly the Mingrelians could not build a wall and use it, but on the other hand they cannot get away from the fact of its" anti-Abkhaz "purpose and use by Georgians. And in addition, he admits that the Abkhaz still managed to overcome the wall and ravaged Megrelia from Kelasuri (the middle of today's Abkhazia) right up to Inguri (the southern border of today's Abkhazia) and further on Tskhenis-Tskali. of all Western Georgia and is able to maintain garrisons on its north-western borders near the Megrelian wall without any special problems. ”Information about this is also known to the author.