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Stratum plus. 2005-2009. №4

A. V. Lysenko (Simferopol, Ukraine)

Roman Shrines in the South of the Rocky Crimea (An Etude of Systematization)

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Pages: 374-400

Southern part of the Rocky Crimea (“Taurica”) is a geographically separate region between Chersoneses, Bosporus and lands of the ‘late Scythians’ (fig. 1). There are six studied shrines there: Kharax I, Autkinskoe, Gurzufskoe Sedlo, Aligor I, Eklisi-Burun, Taraktash (fig. 1: 1–6). They demonstrate 3 ritual traditions, each marking a different stage of development. The most archaic one (I – “pre-state”) is characterized by open shrines, collective animal sacrifices, borrowed household and cult objects. A developmentally later tradition (II – “early state” / “ancient agricultural”) is characterized by presence of temples, images of deities and cult objects made by adepts of shrines, and some individual burials on the site of the shrine, some collective animal sacrifices and a habit of the temple’s “funerals”. The most “developed” tradition (III – ‘state’) is characterized by temples, images of deities and epigraphic documents of craftsmen, practice of their private consecrations.
Traditions II and III are represented by shrines Taraktash (fig. 4) and Kharax I, which demonstrate such types of ritual culture as ‘Ancient Oriental’ and ‘Ancient Greek and Roman’, typical of some parts of population of European Bosporus and militaries of the Roman Moesia army. Their main areas are outside of Taurica.
Tradition I is typical for the Rocky Crimea, with such sites as: Autkinskoe, Aligor (fig. 3), Gurzufskoe Sedlo (fig. 2), Eklisi-Burun. These are social shrines, divided into two groups by their location and status: 1) placed close to settlements (Autkinskoe, Aligor) (fig. 1: 2, 4) and worshipped by some local groups; 2) remote from settlements (Gurzufskoe Sedlo, Eklisi-Burun) (fig. 1: 3, 5), regional – landscape-adjacent.
By innovations in ritual practice conditioned by the inflow of new population, the author distinguishes 2 stages in existence of the Rocky Crimean shrines: “early Roman” (late 1st c. BC – early 1st c. AD – middle 2nd c. AD) and “late Roman” (second half of 2nd AD – first half of 4th AD). It seems that the first stage was connected either with military activities of the Bosporus King Aspurgus, or with penetration of ‘late Scythians’ into the region. The second stage could be connected with colonization of Taurica by newcomers from Bosporus (at the time of King Sauromatus II), started upon agreement with Rome.

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