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Kobyakovo Hill(Кобяково городище) (Aksay)
Kobyakovo Ancient Settlement is a located on
a huge KobyakovoHill on the banks of the River Don, near Rostov. It
is one of the most interesting archeological sites in
Southern Russia and the main reason why thousands of thrill
seekers come to Aksay. It is surrounded by numerous legends
and bizarre stories.
Location: Just off E115 overlooking Don River
According to local legends
Kobyakovo was named after famous Cuman leader khan Kobyak
who was mentioned in a medieval Russian epic "The Tale of
Igor's Campaign". It describes as failed military campaign
of Duke Igor of Novgorod against the Cumans. It is widely
believed that Igor was imprisoned in the underground tunnels
of the Kobyakovo hill.
It is hard to say when exactly Kobyakovo was
settled by the ancient people. During archeological digs
historians discovered traces of Sarmatian,
and even Russ (eastern Vikings that later became known as
Russians) presence. The oldest signs of humans presence date
back to the 8th and 9th centuries BC. Remains of an ancient
settlement is still visible on top of the hill.
Monster of Kobyakovo
A weird feature in many
artifacts that were discovered in several historic strata
are depictions of various beastly looking reptiles. Russian
documents described that local residents sacrificed people
to some watery reptiles that is said to live in the Don
river. Alternatively they might have thrown criminals as a
punishment for their actions. Whatever might be the case
legends about a scary beast still exist in the area. Some
claim that underground passages from Don river actually lead
to the Kobyak Hill.
digs on Kobyakovo Ancient Settlement
The Kobyakovo hill itself is honeycombed with
numerous catacombs and underground passages.
First excavations in Aksay Kobyakovo hill
were undertaken in 1437 and 1438 under supervision of the
famous Venetian politician and military leader Giosafat
Barbaro. It is no surprise that an Italian explorer and
treasure hunter came to Southern Russia. At the time these
lands didn't belong to Russian Empire (which didn't exist at
the time btw). Instead basin of the Black and Azov sea
belonged to various colonies that were settled by travelers
from Ottoman Empire, Genoa (Italian city) and Venice.
Giosafat Barbaro and 6 other Jewish and Venetian merchants
from Tana (Genoese colony near Rostov- on- Don today) hired
120 people to excavate a hill.
Giosafat Barbaro came to
Kobyakovo hill in hopes to find alleged treasure of the last
Alan king who was said to be buried in a kurgan (burial
mound) near Aksay. Or at least this was the cover story. He
didn't discover treasure in Aksay, but later in his memoires
he boasted that he discovered everything that he expected.
"We found everything as
it was predicted. Therefore, we believe more in what we were
Europe in the 15th century
was home to many secret religious sects that were often
hidden from the official authorities of the state and a
Christian church. Cults of Osiris, Hermes, Marduk and many
other ancient deities were honored by European political
Giosafat Barbaro was not an exception. It is quiet possible
that he in fact was looking for an entrance to the kingdom
of the dead ruled by god Aides (Greek god of the
underworld). Herodotus believed that is far beyond Tana. It
is quiet possible that Giosafat Barbaro found remains and
underground passages and mistakenly believed it was the land
of the dead. Alternatively he might have discovered a
Byzantine underground church with beautiful frescoes and
exquisite detail. This church was in fact discovered
accidentally in 1926 after the earthquake that exposed parts
of the tunnels.
Kobyakovo Hill was
abandoned for another several centuries. People were afraid
to come to close to this strange hill either out of fear for
the dead that once lived here or a legendary creature
supposedly still lives here. Only 1949 people attempted to
venture inside underground passages. Several military
engineers were sent there and didn't return.