2,000-Year-Old Treasure Discovered In Black Sea Fortress

2,000-Year-Old Treasure Discovered In Black Sea Fortress

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2,000-Year-Old Treasure Discovered In Black Sea Fortress

Around 2000 years ago, Roman Army residents of a city under siege buried two treasures at the citadel of the city — the treasure recently excavated by archeologists.

More than 200 coins, mostly bronze, were found in an ancients fortress in the Artesian settlement in Crimea (Ukraine) along with “specific pieces of gold, silver and bronze jewelry and glass vessels.” The researchers wrote the most recent Ancient Civilizations journal from Scythia to Siberia.

“The fortress had been besieged. Wealthy people from the settlement and the neighborhood had tried to hide there from the Romans. They had buried their hoards inside the citadel,” Nikolaï Vinokurov, a professor at Moscow State Pedagogical University, explained.

Artezian was part of the Bosporus Kingdom, covering an area of at least 3.2 acres, and also had a necropolis (the cemetery). The destiny of the Kingdom was at that time torn between two brothers — Mithridata VIII, who sought Rome ‘s independence, and his younger brother, Cotys I, who supported the reign as a client of the growing Empire.

Rome sent an army to support Cotys, established it in the Bosporan capital, and torched settlements, including Artezian controlled by Mithridates.

People huddled in the fortress for protection as the Romans attacked, but Vinokurov said they knew they were doomed. “We can say that these hoards were funeral sacrifices.

It was obvious for the people that they were going to die shortly. The siege and fall of the fortress occurred in AD 45.

Curiously, each hoard included exactly 55 coins minted by Mithridates VIII. “This is possibly just a simple coincidence, or perhaps these were equal sums received by the owners of these caskets from the supporters of Mithridates,” the team

Vinokurov’s team, including a number of volunteers, has been exploring Artezian since 1989 and has found that the people of the settlement followed a culture that was distinctly Greek.

The population’s ethnicity was mixed, Vinokurov wrote, “but their culture was pure Greek. They spoke Greek language, had Greek school; the architecture and fortification were Greek as well. They were Hellenes by culture but not that pure by blood.”

Greeks are known to have created colonies on the Black Sea centuries earlier, intermarrying with the Crimeans. The customs and art forms they introduced appear to have persisted through the ages despite being practiced nearly 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) from Greece itself.

This Greek influence can be seen in the treasures the people of Artezian buried. Among them is a silver brooch engraved with an image of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and gold rings with gems engraved with images of Nemesis and Tyche, both Greek deities.

When archaeologists excavated other portions of the torched site they found more evidence of a Greek lifestyle.

More treasures from the hoards: a silver brooch (left) depicting Aphrodite, goddess of love, alongside a pair of winged deities known as Erotes.
More treasures from the hoards: a silver brooch (left) depicting Aphrodite, goddess of love, alongside a pair of winged deities known as Erotes.

“In the burnt level of the early citadel, many fragmentary small terra cotta figures were found depicting Demeter, Cora, Cybele, Aphrodite with a dolphin, Psyche and Eros, a maiden with gifts, Hermes, Attis, foot soldiers and warriors on horseback, semi-naked youths,”

the researchers wrote in their paper, adding fragments of a miniature oinochoai (a form of Greek pottery) and small jugs for libations also were found.

All this was torched by the Romans and later rebuilt by Cotys I, who had been successfully enthroned by Rome. However the treasures of the earlier inhabitants remained undiscovered beneath the surface, a testament to a desperate stand against the growing power of Rome.

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P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.

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