book is a publication of one of the most interesting and intriguing
burial-grounds in the Crimea with cremation burials in stone
cists, which are quite unusual for the Crimea. Similar graves
are known here only in two places.
burial-ground in question is situated on the southeastern
slope of the mount Chatyr-Dag in 8 km from the health resort
city Alushta and 557 m over the sea level. The excavations
were carried out with long interruptions from 1980 until 2002
by the Crimean Branch (head Victor Myts) of the Ukrainian
Institute of Archaeology and the Slavic-Sarmations Expedition
(leader Mark Shchukin) of the State Hermitage Museum of St.-Petersburg
also joined in 1994 the investigation. The excavations were
partially funded by a grant of INTAS within wider projects.
book consists of two parts. The first one (Chapter
1) contains a detailed description of all 55 graves
discovered there and also 11 objects which we call "waking
pits". They contained some traces of fire, sometimes
burnt items, but there were no human bones. This part also
includes 63 plates representing plans and cross-sections of
every grave as well as funeral Roods in them, grave in this
abstract we will only refer to the most outstanding ones.
second part (Chapters 2-4) of the book is
analytical. Burial rites and objects found in graves are discussed
here. There are amphorae, red-slip vessels, hand-made ceramics,
weapons, implements, buckles, fibulae and other ornaments,
beads and so on. A special part is devoted to the controversial
problem of chronology. In the Conclusion we give an account
of various attempts to interpret the cemetery Chatyr-Dag that
already appeared in the literature. Then we compare Chatyr-Dag
with the necropolis Harax near Yalta, where cremation graves
in stone boxes containing combination of weapons and agricultural
tools are also present. (Блаватский, 1951; Орлов, 1987).
we attempted to put Chatyr-Dag into the historical context
of relations between the Bosphorian Kingdom, Rome, Chersoneses,
the Goths and other people.
has to say few words about the layout of the cemetery in question.
If one looks at a standard map of the site (Plate 1), one
can notice that the graves are not distributed equally, but
form two areas, "bushes",– the southern and the
northern ones. A distance between them is around 80 m.
first excavations were carried out by Victor Myts in 1980-1982
after the destruction of several stone-boxes on the southern
spot by contemporary construction workers. Eleven graves were
discovered there and the most interesting was grave
number 1. (Plates 3, 4). An amphora-urn has been
placed into a sandstone cist. Fifteen bronze coins have been
scattered inside the cist. These were the coins of Roman Emperors
of the Tetrarchy: Diocletian (284-305), Constan-tius Chlorus
(305-306), Maximinus Daia (308-313) and Licinius (307-323).
2 and 3 (Plates 5, 6, 7) were destroyed during the
construction works, but funeral goods were preserved. Both
graves were also stone-boxes with amphorae-urns and sets of
weapons and implements. In grave 2 there were discovered a
bent sword, a spearhead, a javelin-head and also a sickle.
Grave 3 consisted of a shield boss, a shield
handle, a spearhead, a sickle and an axe-mattock or axe-adze.
Such multifunctional implements were widely used by the legionaries
of the Roman army when marching camps were erected.
of the northern "spot" situated on a glade occupied
the top and the eastern slope of a small stony hill (Plate
1: Plate 13). The construction works conducted at
the foot of the hill in 1988 destroyed several graves with
stone constructions. The rescue excavation was done by Victor
Myts and 11 more graves were investigated.
1994, the investigations began at the northern spot on the
slope and the top of the hill with a wider area of excavations.
Totally 43 burials and 11 "waking pits" were discovered.
On the slope of the hill, mainly pit-cremation graves were
found (Plate 13) and one more sandstone box, grave 55 (Plates
51, 52, 53), that hadn't been disturbed by modern
A large amphora containing cremated human bones, several hand
and wheel-made vessels, various bronze and iron objects were
found in the cist. Among them was a bronze coin by emperor
Diocletian minted in 284-287 AD. A spearhead and a siekle
have been placed behind the stone slabs.
for the "waking pits", they were concentrated mainly
on the top of the hill (Plate 13). The most
interesting among them is the pit number 8 (Plate
57A), where a piece of wooden square bar was found.
It seems likely that a large square pole had been put into
the pit, perhaps an idol or a totem.
separate items were found on the ground on
the top the hill (Plates 14A; 15B). These
were a spear-head, three knifes, a pair of awls, a pendant
made from a rubbed bronze Bos-phorian coin, fragments of iron
rings, several rivets perhaps for shield bosses or other objects,
an iron axe thrust into the ground.
is not impossible that the top-ground had been used as a place
for sacrifice, wakes or some similar ritual.
iron fibula of the so-called Pilviny type
dated from 5-6 centuries (Гавритухин 1989) was also found
at this place (Plate 14A). It is the latest
item found on the necropolis. In this time the funerals apparently
were done on the slope of the hill. Among them apart from
the aforementioned grave number 55 the following ones are
the most interesting.
12 (Plate 15A). The burial was destroyed by construction
works, but the workers passed to the Alushta Regional Museum
two objects: a dagger or a short sword (the blade is 51,2
cm long) and a bayonet-like lance-head.
dagger has two cuts on the upper part of the blade near handle.
The arms of such kind are usually called in Russian archaeological
literature the "daggers of Maeothian type", because
they are often found at the Northern Caucasus and the Lower
Don basin, although as a matter of fact they spread over a
vaster area up to the Danube, where they are called "Micia
type" (Хазанов 1971, с. 72-78; Harchoiu 1988; Suep-pault
is some disagreement concerning the function of such weapon
and the intention of the cuts on the upper part of the blade.
The first version: the daggers were rather often found in
graves together with long swords. A question arises, whether
daggers were weapons for the left hand during the fencing.
Such method is well known from old handbooks of fencing. (scukin
1993, p. 327).
second version: the cuts were made in order to tie the dagger
to a staff transforming it into a lance (Схатум 2004) or,
to be more precise, into a kind of halberd.
a matter of fact these debates are superfluous, the weapon
might have had double function. The daggers of the "Maeothian
type" first appeared at the turn of the 3-rd–4-th centuries
and existed until the 6-th century, mainly during the late
4-th–early 5-th centuries (Souppault 1996).
for the bayonet-like armour-piercing spearhead (Plate
15A, 2) similar items are not found very often but
some finds are known along the Rhein-Danubian Roman limes
(Waurick 1994, S. 15). One piece originates from the famous
bog-site Illerup in Denmark (Ilkjaer 1990. S. 53-59, 79-85,
Abb. 197), which is dated from the period of the Marcomannic
Wars of 166-180 or a little bit later. Similar piercers are
also known in Abkhazia at the Caucasus, where they date back
to the second part of the 4-th-5-th centuries (Воронов, Шенкао
1982, рис. 2, 25, 26, с. 124, 126).
could assume that bayonet-like points were used as protective
heads for ballistae, which were used by the Roman army; every
legion had 52 ballistae in its disposition (Vegetius I, 25).
According to the information by Constantine Por-phirogenius
a special detachment of ballistae mounted on vehicles was
stationed in Chersoneses in the Crimea (Const Porph. 53) exactly
in the period of Diocletian and Constantine the Great.
burial rite of the grave 13 (Plate 16) is
quite unusual. A comparatively small stone box (0.5x0.3x0.2
m) was placed in a rather deep pit. Inside of the stone-box
there were put cremated bones as well as fragments of bronze
bracelets, rings, bead of lead and so on.
grave 14 (Plates 17, 18) is similar in construction.
Stone box of the size of 60x34x34 cm was placed into the pit
of the size of 70x40x80 cm. The northern slab of the box was
larger then other ones and towered over the box over 12 cm.
It was noticeable from the ground even nowadays. Apparently
it marked the place of the burial. The stone-box was filled
with products of burning including human bones and various
small objects. There were fragments of bronze bracelets, a
torque, finger-rings, pendants, numerous beads including the
ones made of blue Egyptian faience. Except that, there were
also found two bronze and one iron buckles as well as 6 small
bronze bells and 6 small bronze rectangular decorated plates
with two borders bent for fasting.
purpose of the plates is unclear, they could decorate different
objects. However, in the inhumation graves of the burial-grounds
Bitak and Nejsats in the Crimea similar items were discovered
in situ on the foreheads of female skeletons. Those graves
were dated from the turn of the 2-nd – 3-rd centuries. (Храпунов
1998, рис. 1:1 1, 12). Apparently the plates once decorated
either a headdress or kind of diadem or forehead wreaths.
plates and small bells of the tomb 14 in Chatyr-Dag were used
perhaps for same purpose.
can be noticed that such decorations were rather rare in the
Crimea and Northern Black Sea coast during the Roman Period,
however a custom to wear forehead wreaths, the so-called "vainagi",
was very popular among the women of Eastern Balticum (Vaskevicyte,
1992, p. 128-132) – Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia. Ornamentation
of the plates resembles the plaques from a burial-ground in
the Kama river basin (Васюткин 1980 Табл. З, 1-30).
seems that these finds demonstrate certain contacts with population
of the forest zone of the Eastern Europe – the Balts, Proto-Slavs
same direction of contacts could be shown by a find from the
grave 15 (Plate 19A). Unfortunately the tomb was
destroyed during the building works although the remains of
the burial were found as a spot of dark earth, which included
burnt bones, charcoal, fragments of sandstone slabs and several
objects. Among them the most important is a fragment of a
bronze large fibula of the so-called "cross-stepped"
or "cross-pieces" type.
objects until that moment were not known in the Crimea and
the Northern Black Sea coast, but the brooches of that kind
in various variants are rather typical for the archaeological
sites of Latvia, Lithuania, Sambian peninsula and Mazuria
(Lietuvos, 1978, p. 36-38, pav. 25, 3; Mi-chelbertas, 1986,
pav. 37: 2-4, p. 368; Moora, 1938, Abb. 18-19. S. 81-100).
Probably they were a local derivation of fibulae Almgren 94-98
widespread over the territories of the Central Europe during
the stages B2/C1 and Cla of the Roman Period, that is the
second part of the 2-nd and early 3-rd centuries (Almgren,
1923, Taf. IV-V; Godliowski, 1970). The local variants appeared
perhaps a little bit later.
the large "cross-pieces" fibulae are decorated with
red enamel in the champleve technique. The brooch from the
grave 15 in Chatyr-Dag obviously belongs to the same type.
objects decorated by red champleve enamel (fibulae, pendants,
links of chains and so on) are typical feature of various
archaeological cultures of the Eastern Europe between the
Baltic and Black Seas littorals, the Vistula and the Volga.
They were catalogued by. G. F. Korzukhina in 1978 (Корзухина,
1978) and dated from 5-th– 6-th centuries. However E. L. Gorokhovskij
argued then that most of the ornaments dated from the late
2-nd–4-th centuries (Гороховский, 1982).
the finds of the enamelled objects G. F. Korzukhina noticed
17 "cross-pieces" fibulae. Their finds concentrate
on the right bank of the Middle Dnieper and several ones are
also marked as coming from the basin of the rivers Desna,
Don and Volga (Fig. 11 A).
to the latest research most of them dated from the turn of
the 3-rd – 4-th centuries (Гороховский, 1982; Гороховский,
Кубышев, Терпиловский 1899; Щукин, 2000). Judging by the size
and the configuration, the fragment of the fibula found in
Chatyr-Dag is closest to examples from Nizhnij Bishkin (Гороховский,
Кубышев, Терпиловский 1999, с 146, рис. 3,7) and Khmelna in
the Middle Dnieper basin, the one found during the excavation
of the earthwork Duna near the town of Tula not far from Moscow
and the fibula from Dworaki Pikuty in Eastern Poland (Корзухина,
1978, с. 23, 55, 58, 59).
21 (Plates 24-25) is rather peculiar. It is two-storied.
A funeral pit (1,05x0,85x0,63 m) was faced and covered with
sandstone slabs. The slabs of the western wall of the stone-box
were higher than the others and towered over the surface,
thus marking the place of the grave. Inside of the stone-box
there were placed the remains from the cremation. On the bottom
of the pit there was a hollow of the size of 0,45x0,60x0,30
covered with sandstone slabs. A corpse of a baby almost completely
decayed was discovered here. A red-slip jug (Plate 25, 1)
and various objects were placed near the baby. There were
5 bronze bracelets, bronze finger-ring, bronze torque with
a large black bead string on it, beads of glass and some other
items (Plate 25). Three silver coins were also found - Trebonian
Gallus (251–253 AD), Gallienus (253–268 AD) and a coin by
a Bosphorian king Rescuporis IV printed in 266 AD.
gold oval medallion was found in the upper part of the tomb.
A bronze oval base-plate was covered by a gold leaf with stamped
ornamentation and a large cornelian was inlaid in the centre
of the medallion. (Plate 25, 7; Plate 14B).
looks like the medallion was used for the second time. Originally,
it was probably a central part of a wide gilded bracelet of
hinge construction. Specimens of such jewellery are rather
well known among the antiquities of the Crimea. For example
such bracelets were discovered on the cemeteries Chernaja
Rechka (Бабенчиков, 1963 с. 99, Таб. XIII, 1) and Druzhnoe
(Храпунов, 1994 с. 524, 531, 534, 535. рис. 5: 4, 5; Храпунов,
1999 с. 152, рис. 4: 7). They were found together with coins
by Gordian III (238-244 AD), Philipp the Arab (247–249 AD),
Trajan Decius (249–251 AD). Similar ornaments existed also
in later time, in the burials of the middle of the 3-rd and
first half of the 4-th centuries (Гущина, 1974, с. 42, 51,
рис III, 14: Спицын, 1905, c. 123, рис. 28; Зайцев, 1997,
с. 108, рис. 58: 5). Most of the scholars believe that the
bracelets of this sort were mainly in vogue during the middle
of the 3-rd and the first half of the 4-th centuries (Амброз,
1994, с. 77, рис. 2: 7; Труфанов, Юрочкин, 1999, с. 244-245,
рис. 1: 25, 32).
for the others burials of the necropolis they
are mainly pit-cremations. The corpses were burnt anywhere
outside, the burnt bones and the remains of the funeral fire
were put into the pits of various depth and form. Sometime
the pits ,were covered with stones. Various goods were placed
into the pits such as ceramics, ornaments and so on. The form
and the configuration of the pits very often depended on the
uneven surface of the rock that formed the base of the hill
(Fig. 1, 2).
for the chronology of the cemetery, the dating
of every type of the objects and every grave is discussed
in the corresponding part of the book. Apart from this, all
data are shown on the fig. 18, 19, where the chronological
position of every type of objects and their assemblages in
graves are shown according to the method of "short dating"
and "rhombus approach" (Щукин, 1978; Shchukin, Sharov,
1999; Щукин, 2004). We came to the following conclusions.
is a certain small probability that the earliest graves were
made already in the first part of the 3-rd century; however,
it is more likely that they were done in the middle of the
3-rd century. It is exactly the cemetery that was used during
the later 3-rd – early 4-th centuries during the Tetrarchy
from Diocletian to Licinius. At any rate it was a period approximately
between 280 and 320 AD when the majority of the people buried
in the necropolis were particularly active in their life.
The period of the middle of the 4-th century also should not
be excluded, although it is less probable. Most of the graves
in the stone cists perhaps were done at the same times.
likelihood of functioning of the cemetery in the late 4-th
and in the 5-th centuries is minimal.
fibula of the type Pilviny (Plate 14A, 5) found
separately on the upper sacral ground of the hill could be
explained by two reasons. Either it is an accidental find
or somebody still visited the already neglected cemetery.
Some scholars suppose that the cremation burial rite appeared
on the peninsula in connection with the penetration in the
middle of the 3-rd century of the Germans and other northern
tribes, the participants of the so-called "Scythian"
or "Gothic" Wars, when the bands of the invaders
tormented the Balkan and Asia Minor provinces of the Roman
Empire. As a matter of fact there is no direct evidence in
the written sources for the presence of the Germans on the
southern coast of the Crimea during the period in question,
although according to some indirect evidence of archaeology
one could suppose that.
any rate some form of hand-made ceramics from Chatyr-Dag resembles
pottery of Northern Europe (Fig. 5)
most intriguing fact is that one could see on Chatyr-Dag a
combination of the following features: cremation in stone
cists, bent weapons and agricultural implements placed into
the graves together. This phenomenon is known in the Crimea
only in one place. It is the burial ground Harax near Yalta
(Блаватский, 1951; Орлов, 1987). There is nothing similar
on the surrounding territories neither in the Ukraine nor
in the Northern Caucasus, neither in Central nor in Eastern
Michel Kazanski has once noticed, there is only one rather
remote place in Europe, where one could see similar combination
of these features. It is Southern Norway. He listed a series
of sites: Snipstad, Ovre Stabu, Gile, Burel, Evang, Haakenstad,
Valle, Sunkenstad, Ringm, Krabe, Konsengen, Egge, Brntehangen-Einung,
Fjellberg, Snortheim, Ula, Vahaugen, Medladen and so on (Kazanski,
1991, p. 496).
could suppose that this is a coincidence, nothing more. However,
on the other hand during the period of the great migrations
from the Marcomanning and until the Gothic Wars, all long
distance movement of the groups of populations who disturbed
the borders of the Roman Empire were possible and real.
it was noticed (Shchukin, 2000), the contacts between the
Baltic and Black Seas littorals occurred by three ways. The
first and the main one was the way along the Vistula, the
Western and the Southern Bug rivers as well as along the Dniester.
This way marked the movement of the population of the Wielbark
culture to the Southeastern direction. It was rather remarkable
massive migration (Kucharenko, 1967; Кухаренко, 1980; Szczukin,
1981; Wolagiewicz, 1993 and so on).
there also existed other ways. The second western one was
a way along the Vistula to the Tisza and then to the Lower
Danube region. The third eastern one came by the Eastern Europe
along the Neman or the Western Dvina to the Upper Dnieper
or the Desna rivers and further to the South. The existence
of all the three ways is supported by the distribution of
the archaeological finds. (Shchukin, 2000).
of a rather dense population of the regions on both western
and eastern routes, only certain comparatively small groups
of traders and travellers could penetrated by these two ways.
Since the "cross-pieces" fibula was found in the
grave 15 and the objects of such kind are typical solely for
Eastern Europe, one could suppose that the small group of
travellers going from Scandinavia reached the Crimea by the
is likely that the emperors of the Tetrarchy used the newcomers
as mercenaries to control an important mountain road along
the southern coast of the Crimea from Chersoneses to Theo-dosia.
Both Chatyr-Dag and Harax lay exactly on this road.
course, all these speculations are nothing more than a hypothesis.
by Mark Shchukin
Corrected by Anastasya Lukina