Archaeologists excavate Roman-era manor and Greek ‘Barbie doll’ figurines in Crimea


Last year, we talked about how archaeologists had excavated the ruins of a Greek fortress in Crimea belonging to the Bosporan Kingdom (Basileion tou Kimmerikou Bosporou), dated from circa 1st century BC. This year in March, it was followed by the discovery of a Greek terracotta sculpture off the Crimean coast. And now Crimea can boast another cultural legacy in its rich tapestry of history, with researchers from the Institute of Archeology at the Russian Academy of Sciences unearthing the remains of a countryside Roman-era domus (manor) on the peninsula. This was accompanied by the discovery of what the researchers have termed as ‘”Hellenistic Barbie dolls’.


The Roman manor in question here dates back to 1st century AD. Its ruins are situated around 9.3 miles from the city of Kerch, one of the largest cities in modern Crimea that also bears its ancient legacy in the form of Panticapaeum – the royal residence of the Bosporan kings. According to Sergey Vnukov Doctor of Historical Sciences and the expedition leader –

Such manors are common for that period of time, this one shows what the everyday life of an average resident of the Bosporan Kingdom was like. During our excavations, we came across neither expensive foreign items, nor gold and silver coins, no luxury items, but we did find crockery, various tools, inexpensive jewelry and figurines, particularly puppets made of terracotta, which can be called Hellenistic ‘Barbie dolls’ because they were children’s toys.


Now in terms of history, during circa early 1st century AD, following the disastrous wars of Mithridates VI of Pontus, the Bosporan kingdom was incorporated as a client state of Rome. The lull in large-scale battles, skirmishes, and rebellions actually brought forth a period of prosperity in the region, which is rather reflected by the bucolic setting of this ancient Roman-era domus. Vnukov explained –

Slightly well-off landlords and tenant farmers lived here, sort of a countryside middle class of that era. They might have had a few house slaves and could have been able to afford hiring casual workers to cultivate their land, but they were in no way like large Roman landowners.


Interestingly enough, beyond the scope of Greeks, Bosporans, and Romans, the archaeologists also came across a dwelling site that possibly harks back to mid-Bronze Age. This site revealed a plethora of fascinating items, ranging from crockery fragments, pieces of stone tools, structural ruins to gravesites and anthropomorphic steles. And currently, the researchers are looking forward to continuing their excavations in conjunction with the construction of the Tavrida highway along the area.

Source: TASS / All Images Credit: Central European News