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Information about the place (3)
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites
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.
M. L. Bernhard & Z. Sztetyllo, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites,
Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from
Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
Perseus Project index
Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)
Panticapaeum (Pantikapaion, Pantikapaion, Scylax, Strab. et alii;
Pantikapaia, Ptol. iii. 6. § 4: Eth. Pantikapaieus, Pantikapiates, Steph. B. s.
v. for the latter we should probably read Pantikapaites, as Pantikapaitai occurs
on coins Eckhel, vol. ii. p. 3;, also Pantikapeus, as if from a form Pantikape,,
Steph. B.; Panticapenses, Plin. vi. 7: Kertch), an important Greek city, situated
in the Tauric Chersonesus on the western side of the Cimmerian Bosporus, and not
far from the entrance to the Lacus Maeotis. (Strab. vii. p. 309; Appian, Mithr.
107.) Scylax says (p. 30, Huds.) that Panticapaeum was 30 stadia from the Maeotis,
which is too short a distance;. but Arrian (Peripl. § 29, p. 20, Huds.) more correctly
makes the distance 60 stadia from Panticapaeum to the mouth of the Tanais, the
Maeotis being regarded by this writer as a continuation of the Tanais, and the
Bosporus as the mouth of the latter. According to Steph. B. (s. v.) Panticapaeum
derived its name from a. river Panticapes; but this is a mistake of the learned
Byzantine, who appears to have recollected the river of. this name mentioned by
Herodotus, and therefore connected it with the city Panticapaeum, which, however,
does not stand upon any river. Amimianus also erroneously places it on the Hypanis
(xxii. 8. § 26). According to a tradition preserved by Stephanus (s. v.) it was
founded by a son. of Aeetes, who received the district as a present from the Scythian
king Agaetes; but we know from history that it was a Milesian colony, and apparently
one of the earliest on this coast. (Strab. vii. p. 309; Plin. iv. 12. s. 26.)
Ammianus (l. c.) calls it the mother of all the Milesian towns on the Bosporus;
but. the date of its foundation cannot be determined. Bockh (Inscr. vol. ii. p.
91) places it about Ol. 59. 4 (B.C. 541), and it must certainly have been. earlier
than O1. 75.1 (B.C. 480), which is the date assigned to it by Niebuhr. (Kleine
Schrift. vol. i. p. 373.) The Greeks connected the name Panticapaeum with the
god Pan, whose figure, or that of a Satyr, frequently appears on the coins of
the city; but this name, as well as that of the river Panticapes, probably belonged
to the Scythian language, and was, as in similar cases, adopted by the Greeks
with an Hellenic termination.
Panticapaeum was the capital of the kings of Bosporus (Strab. xi.
p. 495; Diod. xx. 24), of whom a brief account is given elsewhere. [Vol. I. p.
422.] Accordingly Panticapaeum was frequently called Bosporus, though the latter
name was also given to the whole kingdom. Hence, when Demosthenes says that Theudosia
was reckoned by many as good a harbour as Bosporus, he evidently means by the
latter the capital and not the kingdom (in Lept. p. 467); and accordingly Pliny
expressly says (iv. 12. s. 24) that Panticapaeum was called Bosporus by some.
Eutropius (vii. 9) erroneously makes Panticapaeuni and Bosporus two different
cities. Under the Byzantines Bosporus became the ordinary name of the city (Procop.
de Aedif. iii. 7, B. Pers. i. 12. B. Goth. iv. 5); and among the inhabitants of
the Crimea Kertch is still called Bospor. The old name, however, continued in
use for a long time; for in the Italian charts of the middle ages we find the
town called Pandico or Pondico, as well as Bospro or Vospro.
The walls of the city were repaired by Justinian. (Procop. de Aedif.
The site of Panticapaeum is well described by Strabo. Panticapaeum,
he says, is a hill, 20 stadia in circumference, covered with buildings on every
side: towards the east it has a harbour and docks for 30 ships ; it has also a
citadel (vii. p. 390). The hill is now called the Arm-chair of Mithridates. The
modern town of Kertch stands at the foot of the hill, a great part of it upon
alluvial soil, the site of which was probably covered by the sea in ancient times
Hence the bay on the northern side of the city appears to have advanced originally
much further into the land; and there was probably at one time a second port on
the southern side, of which there now remains only a small lake, separated from
the sea by a bar of sand. Foundations of ancient buildings and heaps of brick
and pottery are still scattered over the hill of Mithridates; but the most remarkable
ancient remains are the numerous tumuli round Kertch, in which many valuable works
of art have been discovered, and of which a full account is given in the works
mentioned below. The most extraordinary of these tumuli are those of the kings
situated at the mountain called Altun-Obo, or the golden mountain, by the Tartars.
One of the tumuli is in the form of a cone, 100 feet high and 450 feet in diameter,
and cased on its exterior with large blocks of stone, cubes of 3 or 4 feet, placed
without cement or mortar. This remarkable monument has been at all times the subject
of mysterious legends, but the entrance to it was not discovered till 1832. This
entrance led to a gallery, constructed of layers of worked stone without cement,
60 feet long and 10 feet high, at the end of which was a vaulted chamber, 35 feet
high and 20 feet in diameter, the floor of which was 10 feet below the floor of
the entrance. This chamber, however, was empty, though on the ground was a large
square stone, on which a sarcophagus might have rested. This tumulus stands at
a spot where two branches of a long rampart meet, which extends N. to the Sea.
of Azof, and SE. to the Bosporus just above Nymphaeum. It was probably the ancient
boundary of the territory of Panticapaeum and of the kingdom of the Bosporus,
before the conquest of Nymphaeum and Theudosia. Within the rampart, 150 paces
to the E., there is another monument of the same kind, but unfinished. It consists
of a circular esplanade, 500 paces round and 166 in diameter, with an exterior
covering of Cyclopean masonry, built of worked stones, 3 feet long and high, of
which there are only five layers. But the greatest discovery has been at the hill,
called by the Tartars Kul-Obo, or the hill of cinders, which is situated outside
of the ancient rampart, and 4 miles from Kertch. Here is a tumulus 165 feet in
diameter; and as some soldiers were carrying away from it in 1830 the stones with
which it was covered, they accidentally opened a passage into the interior. A
vestibule, 6 feet square, led into a tomb 15 feet long and 14 broad, which contained
bones of a king and queen, golden and silver vases, and other ornaments. Below
this tomb was another, still richer; and from the two no less than 120 pounds'
weight of gold ornaments are said to have been extracted. From the forms of the
letters found here, as well as from other circumstances, it is supposed that the
tomb was erected not later than the fourth century B.C. (Dubois, Voyage autour
du Caucase, vol. v. p. 113, seq.; Seymour, Russia on the Black Sea, &c. p. 255,
seq.; Neumann, Die Hellenes in Skythenlande, vol. i. p. 478, seq.)
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD)