Today over 82 Iron Age monuments are known in the area of the Middle Dniester, Central Moldavian Hills. The most impressive monuments are situated on high promontories and heights close to Saharna village, Republic of Moldova. These sites of ancient settlements and villages are known since the end of the 40s of the 20th c., when G.D. Smirnov carried out the first reconnaissance excavations. Saharna Mare settlement stands out among these monuments. Since 2001 systematic archeological research has been carried out on the site. Saharna Mare is situated on a high stony triangular promontory surrounded from all sides by deep inaccessible ravines. The promontory is accessible only from the South. Archeological research proves that the site was populated as early as the Early Iron Age when a Hallstatt settlement of Saharna-Solonceni type was founded there. Consequently the promontory was fortified in the south by a complex system of defense. It contained a wall which went from south-east to northwest, with a ditch and three semicircular ramparts in the centre and flanks.
A comprehensive study of Saharna Mare fortifications offers certain corrections to our understanding of the construction methods at ancient settlements in the 1st millennium BC. Remains of earth mounds almost always are wrecks of a once erected “wall”. The analysis of the main line of defensive system and two ramparts (the third is demolished) has shown that the fortification was constructed out of a timber wooden drainage placed on the leveled surface. In order to save the wooden fl oaring from moisture the gap was filled by sand. The timber drainage which was the footing of the fortification was pierced by poles located evenly and strengthened by longitudinal and transversal beams on different levels. This wooden carcass was filled by earth, stones, sand and clay. To ensure the preservation of the fortification the framework was filled by building material layer by layer. The outer sides of walls of the majority of settlements which were constructed following these methods have a 2-2,7 m wide berm. It was used as a base for a construction of clay and crushed stones aimed at protecting the wooden wall from fires, and it was thicker at its bottom and narrowing on its way to the top.
Ca. 2 meters away from its southern outer side a ditch was dug, with its width at the mouth varying between 16,5-18,0 m. Excavations have shown that in antiquity the width of the ditch on the surface was ca. 15,6 m, at the bottom – 6,1 m, the depth was 3,2 m, and its 2,1 m was dug out of the stony base of the promontory.
Horseshoe-shaped ramparts which were bordering the ditch were built using the same methodology. The precise time of erection and demolition of the defenses is so far difficult to establish with any precision. Following the analysis of the discovered material it is obvious that all of them were intact and functioning in the 4th –3d c. BC.