The name of this fortress appeared first in the decree of Chersonesos in honor of the military commander Diophantos (late II century BC). The decree states that Chabaioi and Neapolis were "the royal fortresses" and were located somewhere in the middle of Scythia. In his second campaign against the Scythian, Diophantos took Chabaioi and Neapolis and thus forced the Scythians to accept the power of the Pontic king Mithradates VI Eupatores. When the barbarians "showing their natural perfidy" fell away from the king Mithradates, Diophantos gathered a selected troop of the Pontians and Chersonesites and approached Chabaioi and Neapolis again. We know nothing about the fate of the Scythian fortresses this time, because the related part of the inscription has been corrupted.
The Scythian fortress of Chabon, undoubtedly the same as that from the decree in honor of Diophantos, appeared in "Geography" of Strabo (late I century BC - early I century): "...in the [Crimean] peninsula there are also fortresses built by Skilouros and his sons. These fortresses, Palakion, Chabon, and Neapolis, served them as strongholds against the commanders of Mithradates…" (Strabo Geogr. 7. 4. 7). Skilouros was a famous Scythian king of the 2nd century BC, the father of the king Palakos, who waged war with Diophantos.
Thus, Chabaioi or Chabon was one of the Scythian fortresses. Although this name certainly was of non-Greek origin, there is no convincing hypothesis in this regard. Chabaioi probably was one of the largest Scythian fortresses or towns (if one can call the most important Scythian settlements "towns"), residence of a ruler of one Scythian tribe or even of the king himself: not by accident it was called "the royal fortress."
Some scholars consider that Chabaioi were located somewhere in the Crimean seacoast. For example, I. P. Blaramberg and P. Koeppen searched for its site in the east Crimea, in the region of present-day Feodosiya, but the Scythian sites have not yet been found in the area. In A. I. Sobolevskiy's opinion, Chabaioi were located close to modern Yevpatoriya, near the lake of Donuzlav. A. I. Tyumenev supposes that Chabaioi were the name of a settlement to the north from Chersonesos, at the estuary of Al'ma river, the remains of which settlement are now known as Ust'-Al'ma site of Late Scythian settlement (supposed Dandake).
Let us remember, however, that according to the decree in honor of Diophantos, which was produced by the Chersonesites themselves who certainly had a good knowledge of Scythia, Chabaioi were located somewhere in its inland. This was exactly the reason why D. S. Rayevskiy supposed that Chabaioi were the name of one of the three most outstanding Late Scythian fortresses located in the mid-stream of Bulganak> river near modern Pozharskoye village. This hypothesis will be proved if an inscription or any other document with the name of Chabaioi is discovered in the site of Bulganak. Nowadays we know about three great fortresses of the Crimean Scythia: Kermen-chik, Kermen-kyr, and Bulganak. It is most likely that these fortresses were known to the ancients under the names of Palakion, Chabaioi, and Neapolis, but there still is a question how exactly these names were correlated to the archaeological sites.
© N. Khrapunov.