(Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia)
A series of Alanian fortresses of the 2nd half of the 1st millennium AD in the Kislovodsk basin have been singled out as standard sites for our study. Besides traditional archaeological investigation, geo-archaeological research has been taken to answer the following questions: defining the natural (geological) features as a factor affecting the building and functioning of the townships and traditional Alan architecture; the choice of building materials; how the morphology and relief of the site are used; investigation the conditions in which the monument functioned after active use ceased; and the nature of destruction, defining various forms of destruction as the result of anthropogenic or natural forces. The geological evaluation of the sites has enable us to investigate the geological situation at the time of the formation of the a site as well as the nature and intensity of its deterioration and the way its conservation in modern ecological conditions. Detailed study of the occupation deposit and structures applying traditional soil methodology has allowed to draw certain conclusions on peculiarities of Alan building technologies. The North Caucasian building tradition has been characterized by a high degree of adaptation to landscape and the inclusion of the latter into architectural complex as well as by cultural organization of the environment.
A fairly well-preserved in this region Alanian fortress of Gornoe Ekho has been singled out as a pilot project of stonework conservation and the foundation of an open-air museum – the only one of its kind in the region. The creation of an archaeological museum involves several stages of joint work of specialists in different branches of scholarship, including the conservation of ruins and the elaboration of the museum concept and the complex method of conservation.