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PANTIKAPAION (Kerch) Bosporus.

Chief city and port of the Kimmerian Bosporus, founded by Greek colonists from Miletos in the late 7th-early 6th c. on the site of an earlier settlement, Panti Kapa, on Mt. Mithridates (Strab. 7.4.4; Plin. HN 4.87). The city became the capital of the Spartocids in the 5th-4th c. Its economic decline in the 4th-3d c. was the result of the Sarmatian conquest of the steppes and the growing competition of Egyptian grain. In 63 B.C. the city was partly destroyed by an earthquake. Raids by the Goths and the Huns furthered its decline, and it was incorporated into the Byzantine state under Justin I in the early 6th c.

On Mt. Mithridates the earliest traces of houses can be seen. Dating to the end of the 7th c. and beginning of the 6th c. B.C., they are almost square in plan and consist of just one room. In the 6th c. B.C. the houses were enlarged to two rooms and nearby were built larger houses. These had several fairly luxurious rooms and painted stucco walls. From the end of the 5th c. B.C. date the remains of the walls that surrounded the city and traces of a sacred building on top of Mt. Mithridates, probably an Ionian peripteral temple (ca. 20 x 40 m), as well as a few fragments of the architrave and some column bases. A marble altar fragment has also been found. In the 4th c. the city covered an area of 100 ha with larger houses. In the 3d-2d c. B.C. a new type of house appeared having a peristyle courtyard; the walls of the rooms were decorated with reliefs of painted stucco or terracotta friezes, also in relief. The city was greatly influenced by indigenous cultures in the early centuries A.D., in which period several complexes were put up containing cisterns for wine production, as well as a considerable number of potters' kilns. Traces of religious architecture include a fragment of the Doric architrave containing the votive inscription of the temple that was dedicated to the cult of the Bosporan king Aspurgos, A.D. 23.

The funerary architecture is monumental: a succession of kurgans 4th c. B.C.-2d c. A.D.—the Golden Kurgan, Royal Kurgan, Kul Oba and Melek Cesme—show the complete evolution of this type of tumulus tomb (see below). The Demeter kurgan, which dates from the 1st c. A.D., is much smaller than these and has a well-preserved fresco. In the center of the cupola is a medallion containing the head of Demeter. A frieze on the walls represents Pluto, Demeter, the nymph Calypso, and Hermes. The frescos in still later tombs show mainly battle scenes, gradually giving way to more schematic, geometric designs. The rich grave gifts in the tombs indicate the wealth of the city and its inhabitants.

During the first centuries of the city's existence, imported Greek articles predominated: pottery, terracottas, and metal objects, probably from workshops in Rhodes, Corinth, Samos, and Athens. Local production, imitated from the models, was carried on at the same time. Athens manufactured a special type of bowl for the city, known as Kerch ware. Local potters imitated the Hellenistic bowls known as the Gnathia style as well as relief wares—Megarian bowls. The city minted silver coins from the mid 6th c. B.C. and from the 1st c. B.C. gold and bronze coins. The Hermitage and Kerch Museums contain material from the site.


E. H. Minns, Scythians and Greeks (1913) 562-66; M. I. Rostovtsev, Skifiia i Bospor (1925) 176-250 = M. Rostowzew, Skythien und der Bosporus (1931) 164-227; I. B. Zeest, ed., Pantikapei [Materialy i issledovaniia po arkheologii SSSR, No. 56] (1957); id., & I. D. Marchenko, eds., Pantikapei [Materialy i issledovaniia po arkheologii SSSR, No. 103] (1962); V. D. Blavatskii, “Raskopki Pantikapeia v 1954-1958 gg.,” SovArkh (1960) 2.168-92; id., Pantikapei. Ocherki istorii stolitsy Bospora (1964); A. L. Mongait, Archaeology in the USSR, tr. M. W. Thompson (1961) 192-93; C. M. Danoff, Pontos Euxeinos (1962) 1119-24 RE Suppl. IX; E. Belin de Ballu, L'Histoire des Colonies grecques du Littoral nord de la Mer Noire (1965) 137-43; I. B. Braşinskij, “Recherches soviétiques sur les monuments antiques des régions de la Mer Noire,” Eirene 7 (1968) 97-99; I. D. Marchenko, “Raskopki Pantikapeia v 1959-1964 godakh,” Soobshcheniia Gosudarstvennogo Muzeia izobrazitel'nykh iskusstv imeni A. S. Pushkina 4 (1968) 27-53; S. S. Bessonova, “Raskopki nekropolia Pantikapeia v 1963-1964 gg.,” SovArkh (1969) 1.137-46.

Golden Kurgan

Tumulus tomb near Kerch dating to the 4th c. B.C. The mound, which is strengthened with stones at the base, is 21 m high and 240 m in circumference. The dromos is 4.75 m long, the circular burial chamber, which is 6.4 m in diameter and 9 m high, being built like a wall with 17 courses of stone blocks to make a false cupola. Excavations have shown that the tomb was looted in antiquity.


E. H. Minns, Scythians and Greeks (1913) 194-95; G. A. Tsvetaeva, Sokrovishcha prichernomorskikh kurganov (1968) 36-39; E. A. Molev & N. V. Moleva, “Arkheologicheskie nakhodki v Kerchi,” Arkheologicheskie Otkrytiia 1972 goda 314-15.

Royal Kurgan

Tumulus tomb dating to the last decades of the 4th c. B.C., situated 4 km NE of Kerch. It is one of the most striking examples of architectural remains of the Graeco-Roman era in the region along the N coast of the Black Sea. The mound 17 m high is fortified at the base by a wall 260 m in circumference. The burial chamber (4.4 x 4.24 m) is approached by a dromos 36 m long, covered by a false arch of stone. There is a similar cupola of 17 courses of stone in the burial chamber. Excavations have shown that the kurgan was looted in antiquity.


E. H. Minns, Scythians and Greeks (1913) 194; I. Brashinskii, Sokrovishcha skifskikh tsarei (1967) 60; G. A. Tsvetaeva, Sokrovishcha prichernomorskikh kurganov (1968) 39-42.


A rocky mountain range just SW of Kerch is the site of a kurgan necropolis dating to the 4th c. B.C. Among the important burials are: Kekuvatskii kurgan, Ak-Burunskii kurgan, Pavlovskii kurgan, a kurgan with a dual vault (No. 48), a kurgan with a semicircular vault (No. 47), and Zmeinyi kurgan. Because these kurgans as a whole combine both Greek and Scythian elements, they appear to be connected either with Hellenized Scythians or barbarized Greeks from nearby Pantikapaion.

Most of the tombs are representative of one type of Bosporan tomb architecture, i.e., they consist of a dromos and square burial chamber with a false arch, the whole being covered over with the mound of earth. The only exception is the Pavlovskii kurgan, which consists of a simple rectangular tomb made of slabs of stone below the tumulus. Inside the tomb a wooden sarcophagus contains a woman s skeleton adorned with gold jewelry—a necklace, earrings with pendant in the shape of Nike, three rings, a gilt mirror, and a red-figured pelike with an Eleusinian theme: Demeter, Pluto, Kore, and Triptolemos. The tomb probably was that of a priestess of Demeter. Hermitage Museum.


M. Rostovtsev, Antichnaia dekorativnaia zhivopis' na iuge Rossii (1914) 99-109; id., Skifia i Bospor (1925) 192-95 = M. Rostowzew, Skythien und der Bosporus (1931) 176-80; K. E. Grinevich, “Iuz-Oba. (Bosporskii mogil'nik IV v. do n.e.),” Arkheologiia i istoriia Bospora, I (1952) 129-47; G. A. Tsvetaeva, Sokrovishcha prichernomorskikh kurganov (1968) 50-60; M. I. Artamonov, Treasures from Scythian Tombs in the Hermitage Museum, Leningrad (1969) 72-73.

Melek Cesme

A kurgan in the N part of Kerch and dating to the end of the 4th c. B.C. The tumulus (12 in high, 60 m in diameter) consists of a long dromos (9 m; height, 3 m) and a square burial chamber (3.7 m to a side) with a false arch. There are three stone courses over the burial chamber. The kurgan was destroyed before its excavation, probably in antiquity. Among the finds are Attic wares of the 4th c. B.C., metal bowls and some Greek arms and jewelry. The Hermitage Museum contains material from the kurgan.


G. A. Tsvetaeva, Sokrovishcha prichernomorskikh kurganov (1968) 42-44.


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