A few days ago we talked about how the Achaemenid Persians possibly had their influence in the regions close to Crimea, circa 6th-5th century BC. Well this time around, researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Archaeology, have discovered the ruins of a fortress constructed by their ‘eternal enemies’ – the Greeks. Founded sometime in 3rd century BC and extensively built in 1st century BC, the fortress in question was the bastion of the Bosporan Kingdom (Basileion tou Kimmerikou Bosporou), an ancient Greek state established in eastern Crimea and around the present-day Strait of Kerch. The excavated site also matches with the geographical attribute, with the defensive complex being situated near the village of Gornostayevka, located about 10 miles west of the city of Kerch.
In terms of the features, the ancient fortress boasted a defensive ditch, a grandiosely conceived ‘gate’, structural blocks made of masonry bricks, an ‘economic’ section with bored wells and a preserved ancient tower that overlooked a large part of the settlement. Additionally the archaeologists have also discovered several burials, including the tomb of a female (of presumed high status) buried with objects like a jug and bowl, earrings, beads and a bronze mirror.
Now as for the military side of affairs, the fortress is question was probably constructed to guard the overland passage to Panticapaeum (modern day Kerch), the capital city of the Bosporan Kingdom. Founded way back in 7th century BC (by the Greek Milesian settlers from Anatolia), Panticapaeum rose in prominence to become the third largest city of the ancient Greek world. Suffice it to say, the city with its command of the Black Sea trade routes, was a strategic settlement that often invited raids from the Scythians of Eurasia.
As for the Bosporan Kingdom itself, the ancient Greek mercantile state prospered from its noted export of wheat, fish and slaves to mainland Greece. As a matter fact, the strategic value of the realm was not lost on the Romans who offered the client-state status to the kingdom (circa late 1st century AD) even after the subjugation of mainland Greece, thus making it the longest surviving client kingdom of the Romans. On the other hand, the realm also showcased its fascinating brand of cultural synthesis between the Greeks and the Eurasian nomads (Scythians and later Sarmatians), which was often mirrored by exotic artworks, including Bosporan architectural and sculptural specimens.
Via: Russia Beyond The Headlines / Images Credit: Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Archaeology