In the Late Roman Iron Age numerous farms made up a settlement near Gudme in the south-east of Funen. In the undulating landscape near Gudme lake, around 5 km from the Great Belt coast, Gudme’s heyday began in the 3rd century AD. This is a time in which the Roman Empire’s expansion and connections to the north are clearly reflected by the many finds from the area. The settlement reached its maximum size in the 4th and 5th centuries, when the total of farms was around 50. The numerous finds from Gudme show that the area was used for settlement right up until the Middle Ages. This is unusual, as Iron Age settlements in Denmark often moved to new and more favourable locations after only one or two generations. During the excavation it was deduced that the settlement could be divided into 9 different chronological phases, each with a duration of around 50 years. After each phase the farms, fences and small buildings were taken down and rebuilt again in the same place. The farms were continually demolished and rebuilt again on the same spot from c.200 until 600 AD.
In the middle of the cluster of farms was an unusually large hall complex consisting of two parallel buildings. The largest of the buildings was an enormous hall measuring 47 x 10 metres, the roof of which was supported by eight sets of sturdy roof-bearing posts, each with a diameter of 80 cm. From the large hall building one could walk into a smaller building associated with the hall. The two hall buildings had a total internal area of c.700 m2. The larger hall building functioned for around 100 years, from the end of the 3rd century to the beginning of the 5th century AD, when the building was demolished. After this the smaller hall building continued to function until the middle of the 6th century. However, throughout this period the building was taken down and rebuilt again several times. The function of the hall complex is unknown. However, when the main building’s exceptional size is taken into consideration, as well as the many finds of a religious nature from inside the hall and the area around it, this suggests a magnate’s residence with an associated cult building.
After the demolition of the unusually large Gudme hall at the beginning of the 5th century no new hall was rebuilt on the spot. Despite this the settlement continued to exist until the Middle Ages. New excavations at the location will give greater insight into the settlement’s development and continuity, together with the location’s political and religious relationships. Perhaps such excavations will even reveal the presence of an additional magnate’s residence at a yet to be investigated location in Gudme.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.