Archaeological Investigations on the Crimean littoral of the Sea of Azov

During the 2006–2009 digging seasons investigations on the Crimean littoral of the Sea of Azov were carried out at several sites.
The completion of the exploration of the estate complex known as Generalskoye Zapadnoye (south-western slope), dated to the second half of the 4th – first third of the 3rd century BC, marks the end of the long-term research into the so-called royal chora of the Bosporus in the Eastern Crimea. Building remains uncovered here underwent at least three reconstructions: three primarily separate blocks of household structures were lilnked togther at some time, comprising a single complex. The buildings were grouped around two paved courtyards and had tiled roofs. A relatively high level of building skills is to be obaserved not only regarding the layout of constructions and the quality of masonry, but also regarding the presence of gates, altars, drains and storm-water inlets. Among the finds made at the site there were amphorae and tile stamps, coins, graffiti and fragments of both black-glaze and table ware.
Two terrace quatres erected in the second half of the 1st century BC have been examined at the settlement of Polyanka. Spacious single-chamber buildings with stoves and “chests” built of flat stones had small paved courtyards adjacent to them providing access to the streets. In the West the settlement was bordered by a defensive wall and in the East by the steep slope of a rocky hill. The inner side of the defensive wall was abutted by a small winery dating from the final stage of the settlement’s existence and containing a wine-pressing platform with a stone counter-weight and at least one cistern. From the small range of finds that came from inside the rooms and courtyards it is worth mentioning the lid of a bronze jug or an oinochoe with the small figure of a dolphin on the top, Bosporan coins, ampohorae stamps, stone weights of varying sizes, hand-moulded censers. The most extensive group consisted of fragments of amphorae and hand-moulded vessels.
Levels dating from the late-3rd – 2nd centuries BC were also studied over the whole territory of the site: these were concentrated in particular in the vicinity of the coastal cinder heap and on the foothill in the East. Building remains of this period have not yet been found. The layer of ash and rubbish contained an abundance of amphora fragments including more than 100 stamps. Sherds of plain, brown-slip pottery, “Megarian” bowls and hand-moulded vessels, rare copper coins, arrow-heads, fragments of terracotta figurines, bone needles and numerous animal bones have also come to light.
A fully investigated tomb on the Mysyr Plateau consists of a vault constructed from dressed flat rectangular slabs of limestone with a low burial-mound above it. In the tomb were found 12 relatively well-preserved skeletons buried in cist-like coffins and several heaps of bones. Analysis of the anthropological material has shown that at least 52 individuals, both adults and children, had been buried in the tomb. The grave goods — beads, coins, lamps, fibulae, unguentaria, table ware and so on — date mainly from the 2nd–4th centuries AD.
On Cape Bezymyannyi an unusual construction, supposedly a coastal fortification of the 3rd – early-2nd century BC, has also been fully excavated. On its western slope the base of a strong defensive wall 2.8 m wide has survived, as well as the walls of several structures arranged on two terraces.
At the settlement of Krutoi Bereg (Steep Shore) dating from the late 4th to early-2nd century BC a section of a defensive wall, some rooms abutting on its north side and several pits have been discovered. The investigations have made it possible to specify more precisely the previously accepted chronology of the site.
Thus the new materials have shed more light on one of the most “obscure” periods in the history of the chora of the European Bosporus.

A.A. Maslennikov, A.A. Suprenkov and A.V. Koval’chuk

Digital publication