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

The Sanctuary on the Isthmus of the Saki Lake

In the end of the II century BC. famous military leader Diophantos won a series of brilliant victories over the Scythians. As a result of this success Chersonesos became free of the Scythian danger, and the Late Scythian kingdom accepted the power of the ruler of the Pontic State (it was located in Asia Minor and Near East) Mithradates VI Eupatores, on behalf of whom Diophantos acted. The sanctuary discussed in this passage was probably built in order to commemorate the victory in one of the battles, possibly in that where the army of Diophantos had resisted to the joined force of the Scythians and the Roxolanians, which were many times more in number than the Greeks.

The sanctuary was located on the isthmus, a narrow strip of land dividing the Lake of Saki and the Black Sea Bay of Kalamita. It is supposed that the battle took place exactly at this place. Unfortunately, not much material preserved of the holy building. In its center was a square of ceramic slag, where they probably sacrificed animals. The buildings grouped around the square. The Greeks offered their gods with rich sacrifices, such as coins and wine, oil and meet. They devoted stone relieves, tables, and steles with inscriptions to their gods. It is interesting, that although there was a great deal of the Late Scythian settlements around the Greek sanctuary, the barbarians nevertheless did not try to rob the holy place. It might be that there was a kind of unwritten treaty concerning this sanctuary between the Greeks and the barbarians.

A marble stele devoted to Artemis was excavated in the site. There is a hypothesis that this goddess was the holy patroness of the sanctuary, and in the Chersonesians' opinion she was no more than an incarnation of their highest Parthenos goddess ("Virgin").

In the first centuries AD, the Roman troops were installed to Taurica. They took a number of cults with them. Soon afterwards, the portraits of the Heroic Warrior, Cybele, Jupiter, Mithra, and Hera appeared in the sanctuary. The cult of the Heroic Warrior originated from Thracia, where he was considered the highest divine protector, creator, and thunderer. This cult united features of many local Hellenistic gods. The scholars have supposed that there was a post of the Roman troops somewhere close to the sanctuary to control the road from Chersonesos to the northern Kerkinitis and Kalos Limen.

The Romans left Taurica in the middle of the III century AD. They were sent to the Danube to struggle with the Goths. The sanctuary on the isthmus of Saki Lake declined approximately in the same time.

© N. Khrapunov.

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