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TANAIS Russia.

An ancient city on the steep right bank of the Mertvyi Donets, a branch of the Don delta, near the village of Nedvigovka. Founded in the 3d c. B.C. (Strab. 11.2.3), it replaced Elizavetovskoe as the chief commercial center in the lower Don and the main intermediary between the Graeco-Roman world and the inhabitants N of the Sea of Azov. Its mixed population is proved by the indigenous names found in Greek inscriptions. The city was destroyed by the Bosporan king Polemon ca. 8 B.C., but it recovered and began to flourish in the late 1st c. A.D. Its destruction ca. 240, perhaps by Goths, put an end to the city as a major economic and cultural center but it revived in the late 4th c. and existed very modestly until it died out sometime before the mid 5th c.

Two walls encircled the city: the inner one of stone enclosed an area of ca. 5 ha; at a distance of 215 m from it was an earthen wall. Between these two rings of fortification were the huts of the poor. Within the walls traces of houses have been found, built of uncut stone bonded with mud and roofed with clay tile. There is no evidence of a street plan. There are potters' kilns and evidence of local glass production.

The necropolis outside the walls contained inhumation burials and a few cremations. Grave gifts include many Greek objects.


E. H. Minns, Scythians and Greeks (1913) 566-69; T. N. Knipovich, Tanais: Istoriko-arkheologicheskoe issledovanie (1949); D. B. Shelov, Nekropol' Tanaisa: Raskopki 1955-1958 gg. [Materialy i issledovaniia po arkheologii SSSR, No. 98] (1961); id., ed., Drevnosti Nizhnego Dona [Materialy i issledovaniia po arkheologii SSSR, No. 127] (1965); id., ed., Antichnye Drevnosti Podon'ia-Priazov'ia [Materialy i issledovaniia po arkheologii SSSR, No. 154] (1969); id., Tanais i Nizhnii Don v III-I vv. do n.e. (1970); id., Tanais i Nizhnii Don v pervye veka nashei ery (1972); A. L. Mongait, Archaeology in the USSR, tr. M. W. Thompson (1961) 202-3; E. Belin de Ballu, L'Histoire des Colonies grecques du Littoral nord de la Mer Noire (1965) 148-50; I. B. Brašinskij, “Recherches soviétiques sur les monuments antiques des régions de la Mer Noire,” Eirene 7 (1968) 102-3.


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