Ancient Greek terracotta sculpture head discovered underwater near the Crimean coast


Back in August of 2016, we talked about how archaeologists had discovered the ruins of a 3rd century BC fortress constructed by Greeks of the Kingdom of Bosporus, just west of the Crimean city of Kerch. Well this time around, another evidence of the ancient Greek connection to Crimea of antiquity came to the fore when divers discovered part of a uniquely contrived terracotta statue (comprising its head). The fascinating find was made during underwater excavations at the Crimean bridge construction site near the Ak-Burun Cape, in proximity to Kerch.

According to Sergei Olkhovsky, head of the underwater unit of Russia’s Academy of Sciences –

As far as we know, this unique artifact discovery is the first of its kind in the northern Black Sea area, such objects have never been found here before. In order to figure out what it was used for, when and where it was made, we will cooperate with the leading ancient Greek art experts and will also carry out a laboratory test of the clay.

Now historically, the Greek terracotta artifacts were mass produced since 6th century BC by using simple molds (till circa 4th century BC), a technique that improved their cost-effectiveness, and as such made the objects ideal for religious offerings. However at the same time, most of these artifacts were limited to small figurines that rarely had heights of beyond 40 cm (16-inches). But in this case, the head is obviously part of a far bigger sculpture, thus attesting to the find’s uniqueness.


The bridge construction site. Credit: TASS

As for the historical context of the discovered object, according to researchers from the Crimea Bridge information Center, the area near the Ak-Burun Cape was an important ancient hub for shipping and trading, with trade networks connecting the nearby Sea of Azov to distant Mediterranean. And considering the high volume of commerce in the region, some of the manufactured goods (including terracotta sculptures) turned out be defective. These items were unceremoniously discarded into the sea, which in turn aided in the formation of remarkable caches of terracotta objects over the course of two millennia.

Finally coming to the scope of this discovery, divers are still manually excavating the underwater zone to avoid the risk of damaging potentially valuable ancient artifacts in the proximate area, with their project expected to continue till the end of summer. In the meantime, the salvaged historically-significant objects are being handed over to the Eastern Crimean Historical and Cultural Museum and Reserve.


Source: TASS / Images Copyright: Crimea Bridge information Center

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