Author: Georgy Vilkov
The most common and well-known (and very scientifically substantiated) version of the origin of the Bendery fortress is that a real stone fortress began to be built here in 1538 - the year of the final conquest of the Moldavian principality by Turkey. It is this date, with the accompanying explanatory text, that is indicated in Sultan Suleiman's tarikh, a marble embedded slab that previously hung on the front side of the Gate Tower of the fortress citadel. The original plate is partially preserved; in addition, very accurate hand-drawn copies of its full text have come down to us, well studied, carefully translated in different variations, which has already made it possible to make an almost identical copy of the tarikh in marble and return it to its original place of residence.
The periodization of the stages of construction of the Bendery fortress is in itself a large separate topic, which will be discussed in another chapter; this article is devoted to questions that are of great interest to historians today: were there other fortifications on the site of the current Bendery fortress? Who built them and why? How long and in what form did they exist?
The first version of the emergence of fortifications on the site of the fortress, and one of the most popular is the Genoese. In short, its essence lies in the fact that initially, at the place where the fortress is now located and where the crossing over the Dniester used to exist, a stone citadel with towers was built by Genoese merchant soldiers. Only later it was completed and rebuilt by the Moldavian rulers, and then by the Turkish sultans.
The earliest mention of this, and, in fact, the first attempt to establish the age of the Bendery fortress, are found in the historian Miron Kostin (1633-1691), who suggested that the fortifications of the fortress were built at different times by the "old Dacians", Romans, Genoese or Moldavian governors.
The Genoese version was considered the main one in both Russian and Soviet historiography, which provides information from many sources claiming that the Genoese are the founders of the Bendery fortress.
So, the military historian A. Zashchuk in his work devoted to the military description of the Bessarabian region, published in 1862, in the section on the annals of the Bendery fortress, writes: “In the era of the rule of the Genoese on the shores of the Black Sea, their colonies spread along the Dniester; among the fortified castles erected by them at the most important points, the citadel that now exists in the fortress of Bendery was arranged. The name of this castle and the time of its foundation, as well as the transition to the dominion of the Turks, are not known for certain. The last castle was conquered, probably, after the time when Kafa, the main point of Genoese dominion on the Black Sea coast, fell before the arms of Mahomet II ... or similar to the one in which it was during the capture of it by Russian troops for the first time in 1770 ... The initial construction of the castle, apparently, was made before the invention of gunpowder and the fortifications of the castle were appointed to accommodate the former throwing guns.
The publication "Bessarabia" (1903, graphic, historical, statistical, economic, ethnographic, literary and reference collection edited by P. Krushevan) in a brief historical description of the cities of Bessarabia notes: "The oldest fortifications along the banks of the Dniester belong to the Genoese. Their towers in the citadels of Khotin, Bendery and Akkerman still survived. By the 15th century, there are extensions to the Khotyn, Akerman fortresses and the Soroka fortress, as well as the ruins of the Gusha fortress on the Dniester near the village of Chobruchi, Bendery district, devastated by the Cossacks of Khmelnitsky.
In particular, directly about the city of Bender, the following is said: “Bendery existed back in the time of the Getae and, according to the formation of Troyan Dacia, under the name of Tigichiula, served as one of the centers of control of the lands conquered by the Romans, in the 10th century Bendery was called Tungata and the Danube Russian Slavs lived in it. At the beginning of the 15th century, the Lithuanian-Russian prince Vitovt, having captured Podolia and the lands to the Black Sea, built the Tyagin (Tigin) fortress on the site of Tungat, then the Genoese took possession of Tigin, who built the Citadel and generally expanded and strengthened the area.
Historian P. Batyushkov in his work “Bessarabia. Historical Description" (1892) wrote: “... As for Tegin, the foundation or restoration of it is attributed to the Grand Duke of Lithuanian-Russian Vitovt ... In some of these cities, such as in Akkerman, Bendery and Soroki, as well as in Khotyn, the Genoese also lived, who set up their trading colonies and castles here ...Sultan (Suleiman) undertook a campaign against Moldavia and destroyed the Moldavian fortresses Akkerman, Kiliya, Bendery and Soroca, in which there were Genoese trading posts and castles.
A. Veltman in his work "The Inscription of the Ancient History of Bessarabia" (1828) wrote: "IN XII century are the Genoese. Their power and influence crept in everywhere. The sea and rivers were covered with formidable ships of the Genoese. At this time, the works of the generous nature of Moldavia, Wallachia and Bessarabia, Podolia and other surrounding lands were turned into gold by them. Along the Danube and Dniester rivers, they settled colonies, built fortifications and possessed the trade of these places.
Confirmation of the Genoese version of the origin of the fortress can be a letter from the governor Stefan Petriceiku dated March 30, 1673 to the people of Genoa, where he, in the text of the letter, speaking of the fortress of Tigina, directly calls it belonging to the Genoese (Genovese).
What do respected encyclopedias say about Bender?
Geographic Encyclopedia: "In the 12th century (Here) the Slavic Tigin arose, in the XIII century it was captured by the Genoese, who built the citadel, in the XIV century (captured)Moldavian princes, in 1538 - the Turks.
Great Soviet Encyclopedia: "In the XII century, on the site of an ancient settlement, the Genoese built a fortress.
Soviet Historical Encyclopedia: "In the XII century, it - the settlement of Tyagin was conquered by the Genoese, who built a citadel with towers.
Encyclopedia of Brockhaus and Efron: "... Bendery was first fortified during the era of Genoese domination on the Black Sea coast.
In the encyclopedia dedicated to the history of rivers, in the section on the Dniester River, it says: “In the XII century, Russian chronicles indicate the existence of the Belgorod colony at the mouth of Tiras, which arose on the site of the Greek policy of Tyre. Since that time, the trade influence of the Genoese on the Dniester has been increasing. They establish a number of trading posts on the river, for the protection of which they build fortresses in Bendery (Tyaginya Kyacha), Soroka (Olkhion), Khotyn and Belgorod.
We return to the works of the historian A. Zashchuk. In another section of his work, devoted to the description of the tribes, customs and customs of the peoples of Bessarabia, A. Zashchuk writes: “In the XII century, the Genoese are here. Along the Danube and Dniester rivers, they settled colonies, built cities and had trade in these places for about four centuries. The walls, towers and loopholes of the castles of Khotinsky, Olkhinsky (Soroka), Tiginsky (Bendery), Palansky and Monkastro (Akkerman) remind them to this day.”
In the edition of the Chisinau Diocesan Gazette of 1874, they not only mention the Genoese in Bendery, but even describe the fortress itself: “Under the Genoese, the city of Bendery was limited to one castle, which still exists and an insignificant group of huts, incorrectly scattered on three sides of the castle. This castle consisted of eight high towers ... In the houses located on the outside of the castle, partly Genoese servants lived, partly Moldovian natives, the latter were engaged in fishing on a small scale, as well as rafting of Genoese ships ... When exactly the Genoese lost dominion over the Tigin castle, i.e. whether they ceded it to the Moldavian ruler Stephen the Great ... or whether they ceded it to the power of the weapon of the formidable conqueror of the Turkish Bayazet 2nd, is unknown.
When considering the Genoese version of the origin of the Bendery fortress (and not only it), the question always arises - why are the Genoese not mentioned in any of the sources as owners of this or that colony, territory, trading post, fortress, despite the fact that they invested considerable capital in the construction of trading posts? To find the correct answer, one should consider the general political and economic situation of that time. It is also very important to understand that these territories had an owner, no matter how he was called: “supreme ruler” or “prince”; but the Genoese were not these masters. The supreme owners of these lands and everything that was on them (including the Genoese colonies) at that time were the Tatar khans. They gave the Genoese "permits" for construction and trade, but gave them complete independence. In 1380, the Genoese infantry even participated on the side of Mamai in the Battle of Kulikovo. Despite this vassalage, the Genoese colonies in the Northern Black Sea region were repeatedly attacked and devastated by the Tatar khans.
After the crusades, in an effort to expand the scope of their trade operations and wishing to monopolize trade in the Black Sea in general, with the support of Byzantium, the Genoese sought from the protege of the Golden Horde in the Crimea, Mangu Khan, to transfer Kafa (modern Theodosia) to them in 1266. Kafa becomes the base, the center of trade of the Genoese. In 1357, the Genoese captured Cembalo (Balaklava), in 1365 - Soldaya (Sudak). At the mouth of the Dniester, Samastro (or Monkastro, modern Belgorod-Dnestrovsk) becomes the largest trading post of the Genoese; on the Black Sea coast - Ginestra (Odessa), and at the mouth of the Danube - Likostomo (Kiliya). Also, they are laying the small, above-mentioned trading posts directly already along the Dniester.
If we trace the settlements mentioned above from the Dniester estuary, up to the sources of the Dniester (upstream): Belgorod (Moncastro), Palanka, Tigina, Soroki, Khotyn, then one or another activity of the Genoese is noted everywhere. These colonies were inhabited by representatives of different peoples. Greeks, Armenians, Italians, Jews, Tatars, Circassians and other peoples lived in them. Factories, as a rule, were well fortified, there were military garrisons in the fortresses
Along the Dniester, the Genoese transported wheat from Poland to Belgorod, but not only - the goods were different and diverse, including slave slaves, including Slavs, who were bought from the Tatars and Turks for the purpose of further resale. Kafa was notorious for being one of the largest centers of the slave trade. Pretty accurate information has come down to us about the types of merchant ships that the Genoese used to deliver goods along the Dniester; they were called galleys, they were rectangular wooden structures with a total capacity of up to 12 tons of cargo, they had a very low landing, thanks to which the shallow sections of the Dniester easily passed. It is known that the Dniester River was a river branch of the "Via Tatarica" - the Tatar trade route, along which wheat and other goods were delivered from Podolia to Ak-Kerman. The Florentine manual "The Practice of Trade" testifies that in 1324-1336, grain from the Danube and Transnistria came to the markets of Pera and Genoa.
In the middle of the XIV century, the Golden Horde loses the territory of the Dniester Estuary. The fortress of Moncastro (from now on it becomes Cetate Alba) passes into the control of the Moldavian rulers. As a result, the Genoese are deprived of the formal right to use the fortress. However, the Romanian historian N.Yorga suggests that it was in the middle of the XIV century that the actual power in Moncastro (Ak-Kerman) passed from the Golden Horde to Genoa.
Nevertheless, Chetatya Albe remains the main financial and commercial center of the principality, and a significant part of the capital there is Genoese. The Moldavian rulers did not interfere with the trade and penetration of the Genoese up the Dniester, they even included them in the list of merchants with special privileges, along with German and Armenian merchants. And the main trading capital of the Genoese was located precisely in Belgorod or Chilia, which were under the control of the Moldavian rulers. At the same time, despite very close and mutually beneficial relations with the Moldovan authorities, the Genoese receive permission to sail on the Dniester from the Tatars in 1436, and not from the rulers of Moldova. Apparently, the tripartite relations between the Moldavian rulers, the Tatars and the Genoese were very complex and difficult.
It was not easy for the situation to develop further for the Genoese themselves. The aggravation of the internal situation in Genoa itself, the growth of social and national-religious contradictions, a tough struggle between various trading groups and usurious capital, rivalry with Venice led to the deterioration and decline of the Genoese colonies in the Northern Black Sea region. In the 15th century, after the fall of Byzantium (1453), Genoa ceded the Black Sea colonies to its bank of San Giorgio.
The international position of the colonies also deteriorated greatly: they became tasty prey in the internecine wars of the Mongol-Tatar khans. The Genoese tried to intervene in the struggle of the Tatar feudal lords for power, but only aggravated the situation even more. In 1475, almost all the Genoese colonies were captured and plundered by Turkey and the Tatar khans. Gradually, the colonies on the periphery began to decline, in particular, on the banks of the Dniester. After the fall of Belgorod in 1484, the Genoese were forced to leave the city and move to Soroki, to their Olkhonia trading post, which would also soon be left to the Moldavian governors. Apparently, a similar fate befell the fortress of Tigina, and its first Genoese builders were somehow forgotten, because they were the owners (stewards, administrators), but not the legal owners of their colonies and trading posts; Italians received this or that territory or object for rent - as a label for use in Moncastro or participation in the construction of Khotyn in the second half of the 13th century. It is most logical to assume that something was the same with Tigina. The Genoese were not subjects of law, even if they invested their own funds in the construction of new trading posts. If it was they who built the citadel (or a kind of fortress in Bendery), formally the building still belonged to that state formation, whose power, at that time, extended to this territory. And this circumstance, already in our time, has led to serious scientific disputes, different interpretations and discussions on the issue of the true origin of the Bendery fortress.
The second version of the origin of the Bendery fortress is the Moldavian version. Its essence lies in the fact that long before the arrival of the Turks in this region, the fortress in this place was built by the Moldavian governors. The version is also partially confirmed by documents and has its supporters, but, nevertheless, it is very controversial. The defensive system of Moldova of that period of time is quite well studied, covered in historiography - and the Tighina fortress is practically not mentioned there.
The defensive system of the Moldavian state did not consist of fortified cities, but of nine fortresses, six of which were located near the urban settlements of the same name. These are the fortresses: Belgorod, Kiliya, Khotyn, Suceava, Neamts and Roman. The remaining three are wooden and earthen for military purposes: Tsetsin (Chechun), Khmel (Khmelev) and Magpies. At the same time, hardly anyone will dispute the fact that some of these fortresses are not of Moldovan origin; these are former Genoese trading posts and fortifications of other eras and states.
So, on the site of the Genoese trading post of Olkhonia, in 1499, Stefan the Great built the fortress of Soroca, first wooden, and, under Peter Raresh, in 1543, a stone fortification was erected. The beginning of the Belgorod fortress was laid in the XIII century by the Golden Horde Khan Berke under the name Ak-Libo, on the site of the ancient Greek city of Tire. The Mongol-Tatars also built a large city called Shehr-al-Jedid (new City), next to which the Moldavian fortress Orhei would later be built. The fortress of Chilia was known even under the Romans under the name Achilles.
Equally, no one will dispute the fact that the Moldavian rulers have invested colossal forces and resources in the restructuring and strengthening of these fortresses. Stefan cel Mare seriously modified and strengthened Belgorod and Chilia; The Belgorod fortress was generally modernized, received the most modern additional fortifications at that time, which simply absorbed and overshadowed the preserved Genoese citadel.
So to say, the original Moldavian fortresses can be considered Suceava, Neamts, Roman and Tsetsin, founded directly by the Moldavian rulers within the country. These are large or, geographically, important fortifications. But there were a number of fortresses that, one way or another, are mentioned in the documents, but, for some reason, were considered less important for the Moldavian state: Krachun, Shkeya, Jurgich-Kermen (Palanka) and some others. Judging by the frequency of mentions in historiography, the fortress of Tighina belonged to this category; Almost nothing is known about her at that time. Rare references to the fortress of Tighina are found in the following sources: in the work of the historian M. Sadoveanu, devoted to the biography of Stefan cel Mare, and published in 1934 in Bucharest, it says: “... Further extends ... Lepushenskaya (land) with the fortress of Tigina, Orhei, Soroca, Budzhak, Kiliya and Belgorod ... On the Dniester, Soroki also had a fortress associated with Tigina and the Belgorod stronghold on the Liman. In the fourth chapter of the same work, M. Sadoveanu writes: “And then, having granted his boyar Gangur as a pyrkelab, the ruler ordered to lay without delay, a stone fortress with earthen peals near Orhei on the Dniester ... and also add warriors in the Soroca and Tiginsky fortresses.
Tigina is indirectly mentioned in the description of the fact that in 1482, on the way to Belgorod, Stefan III also visited Tigina, where he prayed in the Orthodox Assumption Church. However, describing this visit, the source speaks of a settlement, not a fortress.
The already mentioned historian Miron Costin suggested back in the 17th century that on the basis of the old, already existing, fortifications in Tigin, the Moldavian governors recreated, that is, rebuilt new fortifications.
In the 20th century, the historian Nikolai Iorga wrote that the fortress, located on the old Dniester crossing, already existed in the middle of the 16th century. According to Constantine Giurescu, the old fortifications in Bendery, most likely, were built of wood and earth, as was then customary in the Moldavian principality, when its borders in the period 1370-1380. were extended to the banks of the Dniester and the Black Sea.
The only evidence directly pointing to the existence of a real fortress on the site of Bender, possibly built of wood and earth, was found in the Polish-Moldovan chronicle dated to the middle of the 15th century. There, in the description of the Ottoman conquests of 1538, it is directly stated that the Turkish Sultan Suleiman "took possession of the Moldavian fortress of Bendery.
Historian Ion Chirtoaga argues that in order to eliminate the danger of Tatar raids, which increased significantly at the end of the 15th century, Stefan the Great continued to strengthen the defense system on the banks of the Dniester. To do this, at the end of the 15th century, next to the old fortifications of the Moldavian Tighina, he built a small fortress made of wood and earth. She, first of all, was directed against the Tatars, from their invasion of Moldova through the crossing in this place. Against those Tatars who took part in the war against Stefan in the companies of 1478 and 1484. And, already in the period between 1538 and 1539, the Turks built a stone fortress on the site of the old fortress.
Architect Valentin Voitsekhovsky, having studied the walls of the Bendery fortress, came to the unequivocal conclusion that the main fortifications of the Moldavian fortress of Tigina were rebuilt by the Ottomans. According to Voitsekhovsky, Moldovan architectural elements can be traced throughout the entire system of the complex. Observing the walls of the castle, the author found that vertically they are formed from two layers, which indicates the existence of a fortress here even before the Ottoman invasion. In his opinion, the second layer of walls was added by the Turkish builders of Sinan. For the sake of fairness, it should be noted that in his report Wojciechowski does not separate the walls of the citadel from its towers, which could have been built or reinforced with shell masonry at different periods of time. Wojciechowski pointed out three periods in the evolution of this medieval fortification. At the first stage, the fortress (citadel) was built by Moldavian governors with thin walls at the end of the 15th century. At the next stage, starting from 1538, the Turks fortified the walls of the Moldavian citadel, and already at the final stage, in the 18th century, an external fortress was also built.
But, any assumptions and versions must be confirmed, and, preferably, not by one, but by several sources. This is precisely what the Moldavian version of the emergence of the Bendery fortress lacks; Based on the available data, it is not yet possible to call it primordially Moldovan.
The third version of the emergence of the Bendery fortress is the Tatar one. On the one hand, she is very famous, thanks to the work of G. Astvatsaturov; on the other hand, in scientific circles it is the least discussed and recognized, although it is also very seriously supported by evidence and evidence. Briefly, its essence is as follows: the Tatars controlled this area for a long time and had a significant impact on its development. According to some experts, it was the Tatars who first built a fortification on the steep bank of the Dniester, and one of the historical names of the city of Bendery comes from the toponym "Tyagyanya-kyachu", meaning "Tegin's House".
According to this version, in the period of the 13th-14th centuries, on the site where the Bendery fortress is now located, as well as in the area of \u200b\u200bthe current village of Parkany, there was a nomadic wintering place of the Tatar prince Tegin-bey Shirin (later became the founder of the Russian princely family of the Shirinskys) Hence the Tatar version of the origin of the name of the city is Tigin, Tegin, and the ending kyach, kyach, could serve as a designation of housing from the Tatar term kyoshk (kiosk, parking lot, temporary fortified housing).
Actually, there were quite a lot of such Tatar winter quarters called "Khan-Kyshla" (Khan's winter quarters) in our region.
The Tatar version of the origin of the fortress and the name of the city is confirmed in historical sources. So, back in the 17th century, the Turkish chronicler Ibrahim Pechevi (1618), opposite Bendery, on the left bank of the Dniester River, discovered a family Tatar cemetery. Describing the ruins of a “high-arched” building, the chronicler found an inscription on it, which he translated as “This grave is Shirin. This, apparently, was about the family crypt of the Crimean Khan Tegin Bey, who died in 1456.
In the 19th century, non-professional archaeologists, the Stepkovskys, discovered about four hundred burial mounds in the Bendery region, in which they found coins of the Golden Horde khans Tokta (1291-1313), Uzbek (1313-1342).
In the testimony of a Turkish official, who gave a brief historical account of the Bendery fortress in the 18th century, it is said that:Previously, Bender was less significant and served as the seat of a bey appointed by the Crimean Khan with a single-tailed bunchuk".
The Turkish traveler Evliya Celebi, describing the Bendery fortress, expressed a very interesting idea in the preamble, mentioning that in the place of Bender, at the end of the 15th century, there was a small fortress built by the Turks at the request of the Tatars in 1484: “Bayazid II Khan gave an order and the Grand Vizier Gedik Ahmet Pasha built a small tower, but useful for crossing.
Italian G.B. Motalbani, in 1620, called Tigina a former Tatar fortress, and quite confidently stated that the region had been in Turkish possession for 76 years. The Turkish chronicles themselves consider Moldova conquered by the Ottoman Empire since 1476, i.e. a year after the fall of Kafa in the Crimea.
Indirectly confirms the Tatar version and the fact that the Turks, although they gave a new name to the fortress and the settlement (Bender), but for a very long time continued to use the old one - Tekin. Under the name Tekin, the fortress was displayed both on Turkish and European maps. On the map of the Ottoman Empire in the middle of the 17th century, the Bendery fortress is indicated by these two toponyms at the same time: "Bender, Tekin".
Opponents of the Tatar version of the emergence of the Bendery fortress refer to the fact that the Tatars, being, in fact, a nomadic people, did not build fortresses. But this opinion is erroneous - the Tatars were perfectly able to build both fortresses and entire cities, and very high quality. During the heyday of the Golden Horde, it was not inferior to Ancient Rus' in terms of the number of cities and their size; even surpassed Rus' in this respect. The largest cities of Rus', Kyiv and Chernigov, were inferior to the average cities in the Horde, such as Madjara, for example. What can we say about the metropolitan Saray, where only city blocks occupied an area of up to 10 square meters. km.
In the 60s of the XIII century, the Golden Horde temnik Nogai settled in the Dniester-Prut interfluve, and, after 10 years, his possessions were the western ulus of the Horde, well developed in economic terms. The borders of the ulus stretched along the left bank of the Danube from the Hungarian fortress of Turnu Severin to the Dniester. Archaeological excavations have revealed in this region directly and in the Dniester river basin numerous Tatar settled settlements with characteristic features of the Golden Horde culture.
If we talk about the Tatar cities in our region, then Akkerman, founded by the Tatar-Mongols, has already been mentioned above. The city of Kiliya was the westernmost city of the Golden Horde, it was simultaneously exploited by the Tatars and the Genoese. Settlement Costesti (Tatar name unknown), the remains are located near the Moldavian village of Costesti-Gyrlya, Kotovsky district - the area of \u200b\u200bthe city within the boundaries of the XIV century is about 4 square meters. km. Archaeologists have established that the city was a major trade and craft center. The city of Shehr al-Jedid (Yangi-Shehr), also mentioned above, had large monumental stone buildings - mosques, baths, palaces and stone houses.
In the Dniester-Dnieper region, archaeologists have discovered the following Tatar cities and fortifications: Fortress Islam-Kermen (Kakhovka); Tatar cities: Mayaki settlement, located near the mouth of the Dniester, on the site of a former crossing; settlement Great Mosque; a large settlement at the confluence of the rivers Kodyma and Sinyukha, dating back to the reign of Khan Uzbek; settlement Solonoye; ancient settlement Arganakli-Saray; settlement Ak-Mechet, etc.
In the Black Sea region, the Tatar Khan Mengli-Girey in the 15th century founded the fortress of Kazy-Kermen (Gazy-Kermen), now Berislav, on the site of Donganichit, then he built the fortress of Islam-Kermen, now Kakhovka. During his reign, the fortresses Tyagin, Khan-Burun were laid. Already in the 16th century, the Tatars built the Mustrit-Kermen and Mubarek-Kermen fortresses in the same places. In 1509, during the reign of Khan Mengli I Gerai, the Or-Kalu (Perekop) fortress was erected.
Fortresses such as Kazi-Kermen, Mustir-Kermen, Mubarek-Kermen and Aslam-gorod were part of the fortification system of the Tavan crossing, whose stone citadels are well shown in Tarasevich’s engraving “The Capture of the Tavan Cities” of 1695. So the Tatars knew how to build. And they built.
In Dmitry Kantemir's book about his father, Gospodar Konstantin Kantemir, we find a curious phrase: “Bendery lie in Bessarabia. This area, constituting the third province in ancient times of the Moldavian Principality, ... even during the life of Stephen the Great (1429-1504) was taken away and ... went to the Turks and Tatars in the division. This is another indirect confirmation of the Tatar version of the emergence of the Bendery fortress.
In addition to all of the above, it should be mentioned that, in addition to the three main versions of the emergence of the Bendery fortress: Genoese, Moldavian and Tatar, there are a number of theories and assumptions dating back to much more ancient times.
So, at the end of the last century, in Russian historiography, the idea appeared, according to which in the 10th century, on the site of the current Bendery, there was the Slavic city of Tungata. P.N. writes about this. Batyushkov in his work “Bessarabia. Historical description”, which was mentioned above, refers to the fact that the Byzantine emperor Constantine VII (913-959) wrote in one of his works, in the chapter “On the people and the Pechenegs”: “You should know that on this side of the Dniester, in the region facing Bulgaria, at the crossing over the river, there are empty fortresses. The first fortress was called the Pachinakites (Pechenegs) Aspron, since its stones seem completely white; the second fortress of Tungata, the third fortress of Kraknakata, the fourth fortress of Salmakata, the fifth fortress of Sakakata, the sixth fortress of Gieukata. In the midst of the very buildings of ancient fortresses, some signs of churches and crosses carved in sandstone are found, so some people keep the tradition that the Romans (Romans) once had a settlement there".
The commentary on the 1989 translation of this work says: “The names of the Pecheneg fortresses have a Turkic basis and can be translated. The second component of most of the names that sound in Constantine's transmission, like "gaty" or "rolled", means "strengthening". The names of the fortresses are translated as follows. Tungaty - Tun-katai - "peaceful fortress"; Kraknakaty - Krak-katai - "guard fortress"; Sakakata - Saka-katai - "fortress on stilts"; Salmakaty - Salma-katai - "patrol fortress"; only the name of the Aspron fortress is not associated with the Turkic language and means “white” in Greek and is identified with Belgorod-Dnestrovsky.
Mentioning these cities, the emperor speaks of them as fortresses located at the crossings. In the names “Tungata and Kraknakaty, if we discard the endings, it is easy to recognize Tigina and Soroca, near which crossings across the Dniester are still located.
Archaeological excavations carried out near the citadel of the Bendery fortress in 1969 by Ion Hincu revealed the remains of several residential complexes and a defensive moat dating from the 15th-16th centuries. The excavations also led to the discovery that there were fortifications at this place, presumably made of wood and clay, built before the middle of the 16th century, on the site where a stone bastion would later be built. According to the works of Ion Hyncu, on the territory to the north of the outer side of the stone citadel, he discovered the remains of the moat and ravelins of the fortress, as well as houses where objects of material culture of the 15th-16th centuries were found. The surface of the perimeter of the fortress had a round or oval shape, was covered with a layer of ash and burnt materials. Ceramic and metal objects bore traces of fire. Also, as a result of excavations, fragments of ceramics were found that belonged to the Geta, Chernyakhov and Slavic cultures. Most of the discovered materials and structures belonged to the Moldavian and Turkish periods of the history of the fortress.
But, it should be clarified that these excavations were carried out only once and not on the entire territory of the fortress, so they do not give a complete picture. At the same time, the results of the excavations of Khynku were never officially published, apparently in order to maintain secrecy at a special object, which was then the Bendery fortress. Unfortunately, a lot of material objects on the territory of the fortress have been irretrievably lost for scientific research. Thus, according to the words of the servicemen who served in different periods in the Bendery fortress, it was possible to establish that structures made of wood and clay were repeatedly found there, at great depths. No one explored them, and most of them were simply destroyed.
Another interesting fact should be mentioned: when studying the Bendery fortress, one should clearly separate the citadel as a complex from all its other fortifications, especially the outer defensive belt.
The citadel is the most interesting structure of the fortress, and most likely the oldest, as evidenced by the very laying of its walls. Its archaism contrasts sharply with the masonry of other fortifications of the fortress, even the towers of the citadel itself, and is not repeated anywhere else. The walls of the citadel are composed of different-sized (non-calibrated) limestone blocks, which differ significantly from each other in size. At the same time, from the same blocks, both the inner walls of the citadel and the outer ones were laid out. One gets the impression that the citadel was built quickly and hastily, from the material that was at hand. It is also interesting that some of the blocks bear traces of patterns, obviously not of Turkish origin, but rather of Greek, which indicates imported material from the nearest former Black Sea Greek city-states.
Actually, during the construction of the citadel, no one even bothered with the correct architectural geometry of the building. The rectangle of the citadel is broken due to the removal of the northeast corner far towards the coastal plateau, unless, of course, this was done on purpose, for some unknown reason. There is an assumption that the towers of the citadel were built into the already built structure later, or were rebuilt, including the application of additional armor-clad masonry to the towers.
From all that has been said, we can conclude that on the site of the powerful stone Bendery fortress subsequently built by the Turks, which has survived to this day, there already existed a fortification. What it was and by whom it was built, historians have yet to find out. Every year more and more sources are introduced into scientific circulation, new research and archival materials appear that will help lift the veil of secrecy and answer a number of questions related to the history of our region, city and fortress.
The fortress here, on the site of a convenient crossing, could be built in different eras, by different states and rulers, based on the political and economic situation of a particular period. One of the most important trade routes of the region has always passed here, the Dniester River for many years remained the border between states with different socio-political and economic potential and different military-political aspirations. The protection of the trade route and the existing crossing had to be carried out in any case, and in ways available at different times.
It is quite possible that a fortress on this site was erected both during the time of Roman Dacia and during the time of the Lithuanian prince Vitovt. The fortress could be either completely or partially demolished by the Tatar-Mongols and rebuilt by the Moldavian rulers. It is quite possible that both a stone Genoese trading post and a Tatar ancestral castle made of earth and wood could exist nearby. Unfortunately, the descriptions of these fortifications have practically not survived to this day, and therefore further research in this area is important.
Some researchers believe that, speaking of the Tatar, Moldavian or Genoese fortresses on the site of Tigina, we are most likely talking about the same object. The citadel built by the Genoese was not legally their property, as mentioned above, but was considered the property of their "owners" - the Tatars; it is from the Tatars that they receive a “label” (the right to lease) to own Belgorod and the right to use the waterway - the Dniester. The Moldavian principality also considered the citadel its own, since nominally the territory was part of the principality, although in fact it was torn away by the Tatars from the Moldavian rulers.