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Medieval Gozlov
Experts have not been able to agree on the origin of the town’s name and there are several versions of the translation. In one, ‘Gozlov’ means ‘one hundred eyes.’ In another, the town name comes from the verb ‘gezle’ which translates to the imperative: keep an eye on, or observe. In a third version, the name is explained as the combination of two words: ‘goz’ meaning eye and ‘yov’ meaning house or observation post. The last two versions are similar in their translation and to some degree are consistent with Gozlov’s importance as a city where the Turkish sultan’s policies for the Crimean Khanate were dictated. In Russian transcription and documents, the city is usually called ‘Kozlov’.
Evpatoria’s medieval name was Gozlov. The first written mention of it, in a statement by Firkovich in 1106, was from a Karaites Jew graveyard in Chufut Kale. There, on one of the stones placed over a grave, an inscription states that buried there were elders who had died in Gozlov.
At the time of the Turks arrival in Crimea, 1475, a small fishing hamlet situated east of ancient Kerkinitida during the early middle ages, transformed into independent city. The rise of Gozlov began after the land of the peninsula was subordinated to the Ottoman empire. The town became one of the main support points of Turkey’s power on the peninsula. By agreement of 1478, the sultan kept a garrison of up to 3000 soldiers in Gozlov. At this time, the town was protected by battlements surrounded by a deep trench.
In 1666 the town was visited by the Turkish traveler Evliya Chelbi. He left a detailed description not only of Gozlov but also of its defensive system: “Twenty four powerful square bastions covered in red tile rose on all side of the fortresses, spaced out a distance of 150 arsheen steps between each one. This enormous fortress was constructed from cut stone. It had five large and powerful gates." Chelbi explained the purpose of this fortress: "Cossacks repeatedly came here by sea and in the port seized the ships".
Near the east gate was one of the peninsula’s largest slave markets. Gozlov became a large center for the people trade. The majority of these people came as captives from Russian and Ukrainian lands, seized during raids. In one year the number of slaves reached 50,000 to 60,000 people. This was main product that entered Turkey from Crimea through Gozlov. The demand for slaves in Turkey was enormous: men were sent to galleys and quarries and for craft and agricultural work, but young women and girls went to the harems.
Kozlov (Gozlov) was mentioned frequently in the Ukrainian national Duma in accounts of the suffering of the captives - under the name Kozlov as it was known in Russian chronicles and documents. Zaporesian and Don Cossacks repeatedly stormed it, freeing slaves from captivity. In 1588 Cossacks raided the west coast of Crimea from Perekop to Gozlov. In 1589 their assaults took the Gozlov fortress and freed many slaves. In the following century (in 1675) 20,000 person army division of the Ataman Ivan Sirko destroyed Bachesarai and Gozlov, freeing thousands of slaves.
In addition to ‘living goods,’ salt and wool, felt and skins, weapons, linen and bread were exported from here. Gozlov’s harbor could take up to 200 ships at the same time, which came from Istanbul, Alexandria and many other Mediterranean cities and countries. In the seventeenth century, Gozlov was one of the largest trading ports in Crimea. Fleets from Asia Minor, Constantinople and Russian lands brought fabrics and thread, soap and tobacco, copper and ceramic dishes and eastern spices. It was a wealthy merchant town.
In 1790 in old Gozlov there were more than 300 shops, 17 guest houses, up to 50 coffee and drinking houses, 18 bake shops and more than 40 different workshops. The town’s buildings had been built up in a disorganized way, cutting off the world with high fences and walls. There were no trees on the narrow, crooked streets.
The street plan of the medieval town has been preserved in the eastern part of Evpatoria: narrow, tangled, lonely streets leading to the mosque of the Crimean Khanate, Jan-Jami (Juma-Jami) built in 1552 to 1564 for the khan Devlet-Hirey by the prominent Turkish architect, Sinan Hodji, as well as the town water system.
From descriptions left to us after the movement of Russians into Crimea in 1736, it seems that Evpatoria was a fortress, destroyed on order of Count Minih, the town consisted "of five thousand houses and several good mosques and Christian churches." As judged by the output and the spoils gotten by the troops, it’s possible to suppose that the city was rich and well protected with stone walls with enormous towers, around which ran a deep trench. These fortifications, as judged by the preserved ruins of some of them inside the city on Bazarnaya Street, were reconstructed during the era of Turkish power over the region.
The town was divided into living and craft/trade sections as well as by ethnicities. Although the majority of the population was Tatar and Turk, Armenians, Karaites Jews, Greeks, Russians and Gypsies also lived here. Each ethnic group occupied its own quarter or region. A temple was the center point for each of these ethnic groups.
Gozlov was surrounded by battlements of shell/sand stone for about three kilometers. The battlements rose to a height of six to eight meters and were three to five meters thick. The wall was built in the shape of a pentagon and had five gates:
- A Port gate on the east near the seashore where now stands the orthodox cathedral,
- The Wood market gate in the southeast,
- The While Mullahs Gate in the north (now the intersection of D. Ulyanov., Karaim and Volodar Streets),
- The Earth Gate at the present-day intersection of Internationalnaya and Bolnichnaya Streets, and
- The Horse Gate on the west at the present-day intersection of Pioneer and Dyomisheva Streets.
The pentagon-shaped battlements ran along a path now followed from Internationalnaya Street to Karayev Street to Revolution Street to Pioneer Street to D. Ulyanov Street.
In the Crimean Khanate, Gozlov was second in population and significance only to Bacheasarai, its capital. In the middle of the eighteenth century, descriptions of travelers state that Gozlov had around 2,500 stone houses with many beautiful mosques and was populated mainly by Tatars, Turks, Greeks, Armenians and Jews (including Karaites Jews).
For 300 years medieval Gozlov prospered and developed. With its predecessor Kerkinitida it was not an isolated phenomena as it indeed laid the foundation for modern Evpatoria.