"If one sails along the [Crimean] coast, there is a big cape which projects into the sea… and on this cape is situated a city of the Herakleians… called Chersonesos… Then comes the Ancient Chersonesos, which laid in ruins, and then a harbor with narrow mouth where the Tavrians used to prepare their predatory bands to attack those who fled there for refuge. It is called Symbolon Limen ("Signal Harbor")..." (Strabo, VII, 4, 2).
That is all we know of the "Ancient Chersonesos," which is sometimes called "Old Chersonesos" or "Strabo's Chersonesos".Strabo, who was an ancient Greek geographer and historian and worked on his Geography in the late of the 1st c. BC - early 1st c. AD, supplies only two clear evidences. First, the Ancient Chersonesos was a town located somewhere nearby the city of Chersonesos. Second, the Ancient Chersonesos had declined and had been depopulated by the moment when Strabo was writing his "Geography"
The problems of the location and the foundation date of this town have been being discussed for ages. F. K. Brun suggested that the Ancient Chersonesos was located in the south coast of the Crimea near the cape of Aya. K. E. Grinevich searched for this town on the sea bottom at the lighthouse of Chersonesos. He made underwater investigations at this place in 1930 and 1931, but without any result.
Nowadays, there are two hypotheses that are considered nore or less grounded and are based against the background of K. K. Kostsyushko-Valyuzhinich's and N. M. Pechyonkin's excavations in Mayachnyy ("Lighthouse") peninsula. The first hypothesis states that the Ancient Cherosnesos occupied the whole Mayachnyy peninsula. Two fortificational walls with strong towers separated it from the Herakleian peninsula. The area in between was a refuge for Mayachnyy dwellers in case of a danger; in time of peace this place probably was uninhabited, so it seems to have no buildings. The settlement of the Ancient Chersonesos itself was a conglomerate of farming estates spread through Mayachnyy peninsula, with plots of lands attached to them. G. D. Belov was the first who offered this hypothesis.
According to another point of view, by S. F. Strzheletskiy, the Ancient Chersonesos was located in between of two fortificational walls on the isthmus near Kazach'ya ("Cossack") bay, and its chora occupied Mayachnyy peninsula. Read more details about the organization of the farming economy and fortifications on Mayachnyy peninsula in the Chora section of this site.
© N. Khrapunov.