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Kobyakovo Hill (Кобяково городище) (Aksay)

 Kobyakovo Hill (Aksay)

Kobyakovo Ancient Settlement is a located on a huge Kobyakovo Hill 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, Cuman, Tatar 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.

 

Kobyakovo Hill Ancient Settlement

 

Monster of Kobyakovo (Aksay) Hill

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.

 

First Archeological 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 told."

 

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 elites. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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