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Fortress of Tustan

Fortress of Tustan

Fortress of Tustan

Thig work reports on investigations of a medieval defensive complex from the 9th — 13th century town — fortress of Tustan. The fortress structures of log construction were built atop a series of rocky mountain outcrops overlooking the present village of Urich in the Carpahian Mountain district of the Lviv region, Ukraine.

Studies of Tustan made by the author have led to the discovery of a new type of medieval rock fortification previously unknown to scholars world. Existing knowledge about wooden fortification architekture from the pre — Mongolian period (pre — 13th century) is based mainly on archaeological studies. Previous researchers have argued that on the basis of exavated materials little more than the floor plans, arrangements of structures, etc., could be learned from remnats preserved in the soil. Usually such remains are no higher than 2—2.5 meters and thus the height of the building, the number and size of stories, or the total height of the structures cannot be accurately determined. As a result, when wooden structures of this time are recreated on the basis of such archaeological evidence, a considerable portion of the work is necessarily hypothetical.

Recent archaeological developments in the study of wooden architecture from the 9th — 13th centuries, however, allow us to speak of, among other details, the heigth of known perimeter wooden walls as reaching 13 meters to 15.27 meters, and of interior structures reaching the height of 17.5 meters. This evidence survives at several sites as chiseled slots and grooves onto stone outcrops and cliffsides, making possible the reliable recreation of 9 th — 13th century wooden buildings at these sites. The absence of analogous examples of such wooden fortifications from the same period elsewhere in Europe places the sites in a unique position.

Among the identified sites of cliff — side buildings, one of the most systematically re-serched and excavated is the fortress of Tustan from the ancient Kiev Rus' period. Documentation and exavations have continued for twenty field seasons. More than four thousand slots and grooves carved on the rock faces give the opportunity to make a scientific reconstruction with a 90 % degree of authenticity. The site has yielded a rich body of archaeological and architectural data which have become the basis for this monograph.

Primary source material on the history and architecture of Kiev Rus', Halych and the Halych-Volynian principalities firmly places this fortress complex chronologically among other known or surviving sites and structures of the period. Yet it also suggests that such wooden, cliff-side buildings were rare phenomena in the architectural history of the period.

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