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Geography of Journal Authors

Stratum plus. 2017. No6

A. V. Kovalchuk (Moscow, Russian Federation)

The Sign of Abbreviation on the Bosporan Tile Stamps




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Pages: 321-328


The article examines a special sign found on the legends of 4th century BC stamps with contracted names from Bosporan tiles. Its shape resembles a crescent or a lunar sigma/antisigma. The author attempts to determine its purpose, as well as the cases and time of use. The name “lunar sigma shape sign of abbreviation” is too well established within the academic community, however the available epigraphic data suggest no abbreviation signs used in the period under consideration. As evidenced by facts, between 380 and 310 BC, a small group of engravers worked in Panticapaeum, distinguished — among other details — by a particular use of this sign in the legends. In the paper, a speculation by N. F. Fedoseev is analysed, according to which the sign is considered as Achaeminids' crescent and interpreted as a symptom of influence of the Achaeminid Empire on the Bosporan Kingdom. However, some differences are revealed both in iconography and the position of this sign in the stamp's field, if we compare this emblem as stamped on the amphorae from Heraclea Pontica and the sign on the Panticapaeum tiles. Therefore we are not sure that it is possible to interpret this sign on the tiles as a crescent. However, considering this possibility, the sign could be read as a fashionable emblem of the time and a certain reflection of the political situation in the region, without hinting though to the direct influence of the Achaeminids' Empire.


Keywords: Bosporan Kingdom, 4th century BC, ceramic epigraphy, tiles, ceramic construction materials, stamps


Information about author:

Anna Kovalchuk
(Moscow, Russian Federation). Candidate of Historical Sciences. Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Dmitry Ulyanov St., 19, Moscow, 117036, Russian Federation
E-mail: [email protected]

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