In Antiquity

Gurzufskoye Sedlo
"Ancient Chersonesos"of Strabo
"Another Harbor of the Chersonesites"
Kalos Limen
Roman strongholds
The Sanctuary on the Isthmus of the Saki Lake
Symbolon Limen

In the Middle Ages


Chabaioi and Neapolis were the two "royal fortresses" of the Crimean Scythia mentioned in the decree in honor of Diophantos. Neapolis probably was a residence of the Scythian kings.

Greek "neapolis" referred to "new city." Certainly, the Scythians could hardly give this Greek name to one of their fortresses. What is more probable, the Greeks heard the name of this fortress in the Scythian language and transformed it in according to their own manner, thus turning it into a word of neapolis, which sounds familiar to them. It was neither the first nor the last case in the history of Crimea, when given from one people names of places were later transformed and re-interpreted by another people. For example, not long ago, after the World War II, many Tartar names suffered similar changes: the river of Kara-su ("black water") turned into Karasyovka (from Russian karas', "crucian carp") and the village of Kady-koy ("judge's village") into Kadykovka (from Russian kadyk, "Adam's apple").

In the Hellenic geographer Strabo's (late I century BC - early I century AD) words, the fortress of Neapolis was built according to the Scythian king Skilouros' order as a stronghold in his struggle against the Greeks. However, it was not necessarily so. There is some background against which one can think that the Late Scythian fortresses were established much earlier than the years of Skilouros (second half of the II century BC), and Strabo just wanted to relate the fortress which he knew with the name of the famous Scythian king.

According to the Chersonesian decree in honor of the military leader Diophantos (late II century BC), Neapolis was located somewhere in the inland of Scythia. The glorious commander twice besieged that fortress. Both campaigns met with success, the Scythians were twice defeated and twice acknowledged the power of the Pontic king Mithradates VI Eupatores, on behalf of whom Diophantos acted.

The majority of modern scholars identifies Neapolis with Kermenchik site on the outskirts of present Simferopol, where the capital of the Late Scythian state was located. But it is still possible that "Neapolis" was the name of one of other largest settlements in the central part of the Crimean Scythia, Bulganak or Ust'-Al'ma, as well as that Kermenchik in antiquity might be called Chabaioi, Palakion or Napis...

© N. Khrapunov.

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