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Greek Penetration of the Black Sea 2

Gocha R. Tsetskhladze

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The next city on the Black Sea that was founded in the 7th century BC, was Apollonia in
Thrace. According to Pseudo-Skynmus (728-731) it was founded by the Milesians in 610. Part of the city had probably been built on an island (at the time of Strabo) and it had a convenient harbour. The earliest pottery dates from the late 7th century (Hind 1984, 72-3; 1993, 84-5). Archaeological dates from Histria, Berezan and Apollonia (as well as Byzantion) indicate that all these cities were founded in more or less the same period. For Apollonia, this would indicate that it was not founded as a port of call for ships on their way to Histria and Berezan, but as an apoikia in its own right (Isaac 1986, 243).
Thus, the first colonies on the Black Sea were founded by the Milesians in the second half
of the 7th century (Sinope, possibly Trapezus, Histria, Berezan, Apollonia and Amisos). Most
of the colonies in the Propontis were probably founded at that time as well (Malkin and
Shmueli 1988). Originally, these were trading settlements (Histria, Berezan), being situated
on peninsulas without their own chora. Apart from Greeks, the population would have
included representatives of local tribes (the handmade pottery in Berezan) (Marchenko 1979;
Kopeikina 1981). Apollo was worshipped: the Milesians sought advice in Didyma, the oracular sanctuary, the oracular of Apollo founded by Miletus arid shared by all the Pontic colonies, according to which their god and protector was Apollon letros (Ehrhardt 1983, 145-7; Vinogradov Y. G. 1989, 30-1).
Discrepancies in the dating of the first colonies on the Black Sea in written sources are a
major obstacle, but it would seem that archaeologists should have the last word. After all, the
priority of archaeology over and against accounts by Thucydides, as regards the foundation
dates of the Greek colonies in Sicily, has already been acknowledged (Snodgrass 1987,
53-60). Should not the same approach be adopted when it comes to the colonies around the
Black Sea?
As usual, we are obliged to judge when the early colonies were founded on the basis of
pottery finds: yet when it comes to determining dates, it emerges that the earliest pottery
fragments are few in number. We have to decide whether to take into account the small
number of samples, or even isolated finds, or to explain their presence in other ways (for
example, that a vessel had been a family heirloom). The problem is as important as it is
complex. The principle should be that when dates for foundations are being calculated, all
early archaeological material should be taken into account, even isolated examples. A
quantitative approach is evidently inappropriate here, since it can be assumed that the earliest
artefacts are bound to be few in number. Indeed, the first group of settlers is unlikely to have
been large. It is difficult to imagine that they would have set off on a long and extremely
difficult voyage to foreign lands loaded with fragile tableware. Let us recall, for example, the
story of the apoikia from Thera to Cyrene narrated by Herodotus (IV. 150-158): the settlers
succeeded in consolidating their position in their new home only after grim and lengthy
tribulations. It might also be added that the archaic levels in most sites are those most
inaccessible for the archaeologist, and secondly that these levels are usually thin, indeed they
are most likely to be almost non-existent (Kuznetsov 1991, 32-3).
In these circumstances it is difficult to expect that the earliest pottery could be abundant.
Yet the approach to each site should be adapted to the specific conditions. If, for example, the
earliest pottery from Berezan (several dozen fragments) gives Kopeikina grounds for dating
the settlement to the third quarter of the 7th century, which enabled her to bring into line the
archaeological material and the written sources, it may be that the situation is rather different
in Olbia. Here all the archaic pottery was confined to the 6th century, with the exception of
one sherd from the third quarter of the 7th century. Its presence can, however, perhaps be
explained by the presence nearby of the earlier settlement of Berezan (Kuznetsov 1991, 33).

The Second Stage

At the beginning of the 6th century BC Miletus began extending its colonizing activity. In
Berezan there appeared a new wave of settlers and stone buildings. This new population
ushered in the gradual penetration by Greeks from Berezan of the mainland and the opening
up of a chora. The earliest of these settlements within the chora were founded no later than
the second quarter of the 6th century BC clustered on the left bank of the Berezan estuary and
in the western part of the Dnieper-Bug estuary in the immediate vicinity of Berezan
(Vinogradov 1989, 51). A similar situation is to be observed at Histria where the first city
walls were built in 575 (Coja 1990, 159-60).
Apart from the extension of the colonies that had already been founded, new cities
appeared. In the western part of Pontus, Tomis was founded, where the early pottery dates
from the early 6th century (Bouzek 1990, 28; Hind 1993, 89). At this stage Olbia was also
founded by the Milesians not far from Berezan. Only two fragments of pottery found there
have been dated to the third quarter of the 7th century, while there is more dating from the
first half of the 6th century (Korpusova 1987; Vinogradov Y. G. 1989, 36, Note 16). Its
emergence can probably be placed earlier than the end of the first quarter of the 6th century
BC, or later than the beginning of its second quarter (cf. Graham in CAH, 125-26 and
Vinogradov Y. G. 1989, 36).20 The bulk of the archaeological material and remains of
buildings do not appear before the third quarter of the 6th century (Kryzhitskii and Otreshko
1986). Olbia then extended her zone of influence and founded rural settlements in the lower
reaches of the River Bug. In the Archaic period Olbia's chora comprised 107 settlements
(Kryzhitskii, Buiskikh and Otreshko 1990, 12 3).
Miletus by this time was beginning to settle new territories - the Taman and Kerch
peninsulae. The earliest pottery is in the burial at Temir-Gora - an oinochoe belonging to the
Vlasto group and dated to 635-625 (Korpusova 1980; Kopeikina 1972). In this area one Greek settlement had already been in existence, unfortunately not well known, the so-called
'Taganrog settlement'. It has been totally destroyed by the sea. A collection of pottery from
the sea-bed and the shore, not yet properly published, allows us to assume that this settlement
had already been in existence in the last third of the 7th century (Treister and Vinogradov
1993, 551, fig. 17). (It had probably played a similar role in the development of areas adjacent to it, as had Berezan). Excavations of the last 10-15 years make it possible to review the dates of the founding of many colonies in the Kimmerian Bosporus.
Panticapaeum. Mithridates Mount is dated to the last decades of the 7th century (Blavatskii
1964, 23), or to the beginning of the 6th century (Noonan 1973, 80). The pottery
associated with the earlier date is slight. The rest, mainly Ionian, gives grounds for the first
appearance of Greeks at c. 590-570. The first colonists lived in dugouts (Koshelenko and
Kuznetsov 1990; Kuznetsov 1991, 33; Tolstikov 1992).
Nymphaeum was firmly dated to the second quarter of the 6th century, which might be
narrowed down to approximately 580-570 BC (Kuznetsov 1991, 33).
Theodosia was usually held to have been founded in the second half of the 6th century, yet
pottery of an earlier period has been found during excavation, which obliges us to consider
an earlier date of c. 580-570 (Kuznetsov 1991, 33).
Myrmekion was founded in the second quarter of the 6th century. The first colonists there lived in dugouts (Vinogradov Y. A. 1992).
Tyritake produced material very similar to that found at Myrmekion, from which we assume
that the founding dates were also the same (Kuznetsov 1991, 33).
A similar, but evidently somewhat more complex situation is to be observed on the Asian side of the Bosporus: Hermonassa was a joint colony of Miletus and Mytilene. The early level of the city-site is dated roughly to the second quarter of the 6th century (Kuznetsov 1991, 33).
Kepoi. Fairly numerous finds of pottery from previous and recent excavations give a date of
580-560 (Kuznetsov 1991a; 1992).21
Patraeus is usually dated to the second half of the 6th century: but appears to have been
founded somewhat earlier than the middle of the century, to judge by the pottery that has
been found (Koshelenko and Kuznetsov 1990).
Early Greek pottery was also found in the so-called Tuz.lian Cemetery (not far from
Hermonassa) which belonged to some kind of Greek settlement. The settlement has been
destroyed by the sea, and the early pottery can be dated to 580-560 (Kuznetsov 1991, 32).
This means that there is every reason to assume that the first mass wave of Greek colonists
in the territory of the Kimmerian Bosporus arrived approximately during the period 580-560,
several decades earlier than had been proposed in most previous literature.
Within the territory of the European Bosporus, we see five centres of that date, and four
within the territory of the Asian Bosporus. All these cities were situated right on the coast and
had convenient harbours.
The Third Stage of Greek Colonization

The third stage of the Greek penetration of the Black Sea began after 560 BC, assumed a
particularly wide scale after the middle of the 6th century and lasted until approximately 530
BC, when Miletus, because of strong pressure from the Achaemenians, was obliged to
abandon its colonizing activity. This period is also characterized by the appearance of colonies which were founded by people other than Milesians, but their number is small. New parts of the Black Sea region (Colchis) were being opened up.
Heraklea was founded to the South of the Black Sea in 554 by Megarians and Boeotians
(Pseudo-Skynmus 968-975). Different written sources provide different kinds of information
about the founding of the city (Burstein 1976, 12-8). The city (modern Eregli) has never been
the subject of archaeological excavation: investigations of other parts of the Black Sea region
have shown, however, that Heraklea developed into a major trading centre of importance for
the whole of Pontus and that it even founded two of its own colonies - Callatis (in modern
Bulgaria) and Chersonesus in the Crimea (see below) (Hind 1984, 75-6; Saprykin 1986,
52-69). Admittedly on the subject of the founding of Callatis there is information
(Ps.-Skynmus 761-64; cf. Strabo VII. 6. 1; XII. 3. 6) to the effect that it took place in the last
quarter of the 6th century BC, but archaeological excavations point to its having been founded
in the early 4th century (Hind 1984, 765; Isaac 1986, 261-5).
On the western shore of the Black Sea, Odessus was founded by the Milesians.
Pseudo-Skymnus even gives a date: "It is said to have been founded when Astyages ruled the
Medes" (748^49). This was c. 585-539. Excavation brought to light a thin archaic level and three ritual pits of the middle/late 6th century. Pottery, including Corinthian and East Greek,
rosette bowls and Fikellura ware, suggests that the city was founded a little before or after 560
(Hind 1984, 74; Isaac 1986, 254-5; Boardman 1980, 247).
Excavation has also shed light on many small settlements, which were situated right on the
sea-shore. They probably appeared as a result of the extension of the Greek cities that had
already been founded in the western part of the Black Sea region and had been part of their
chora (Hind 1984, 72-7; Isaac 1986, 238-78).
To the North of the Black Sea, near Olbia and Berezan, major changes were taking place.
Olbia was already a polls: the city itself and the chora were extensive and it had its own
coinage.22 Berezan had already become part of Olbia (Rusyaeva 1986; 1992; Kryzhitskii and
Buiskikh 1989; Wasowicz 1975; Vinogradov Y. G. 1981; 1989)23. In the mid-6th century newcities appeared as well: Tyras, Nikonion and a large number of settlements (approximately 50) which, taken together, formed the chora of those cities (Treister and Vinogradov 1993, 531-9; Karyshkovskii and Kleyman 1985; Samoylova 1988; Sekerskaya 1989).
New cities also appeared within the Kimmerian Bosporus. The only colony that had not
been founded by the Milesians was Phanagoria, an apoikia of the Teians. The written tradition (Arrian, Byth., fr. 56 Rocs) and archaeological material show that Phanagoria was founded around 542 (Koshelenko, Kruglikova and Dolgorukov 1984, 77).
It was also at this time that the city of Gorgippia (or to be precise, that Greek city which
preceded Gorgippia - Sindica) was founded (Alekseeva 1991). To that period the founding of
the small city of Toric - at the location of the modern town of Gelendzhik - was dated
(Onaiko 1980). A large number of small centres of population grew up in the territory of the
Asian Bosporus (approximately 30) (Abramov and Paromov 1993; Paromov 1990). In the
territory of the European Bosporus, on the other hand, only a few small cities appeared: Akra,
Porthmeus and Iluraton (Treister and Vinogradov 1993, 547).
On the Taman peninsula more than 30 sites relating to the period embracing the middle
and the third quarter of the 6th century have been recorded (many of the cities and settlements
are now under the sea). The majority of those centres of population is situated either right on
the sea-shore (9 of them), or on the banks of deep straits or rivers of the Kuban. Unlike the
situation obtaining in the second stage (when all the cities were situated only on the coasts),
settlements had, by now, also appeared in the interior.
During the third stage of the colonization of Pontus, the lonians began settling new
territory - in Eastern Pontus (Colchis). We know very little about this process and for this
reason the subject of the Greek colonization of Colchis nowadays appears the most
controversial and difficult problem of Black Sea archaeology, and very far from a final
solution. The controversy stems mainly from the fact that the Greek cities have been virtually
ignored, so far, by those engaged in archaeological research.24
The names of the Greek cities are known from written sources. They are Phasis, Gyenos
and Dioscuria. According to both the written tradition and archaeological evidence, the Greek
cities were founded by Miletus in the middle of the 6th century (notwithstanding the existence
of examples, few in number, of early Greek pottery in Colchis, dating from the second quarter
of the 6th century) (Lordkipanidze 1983; 1985; 1991; 1991a; 1991b; Tsetskhladze 1992; 1993; 1994; 1994a-d).
Apart from the Greek cities, Hellenic settlements existed elsewhere in Colchis - at
Pichvnari and Tsikhisdziri. Unfortunately, we know practically nothing about them because,
to date, only Greek graves have been studied and not the settlements themselves. We know
of the burial customs of the Greeks in Colchis, especially how they adapted their funeral
practices to the local climatic and natural conditions. At the same time the Hellenization of
the local population was quite strong. Study of these graves shows that there existed either a
separate Greek settlement or quarter within the Colchian one (Pichvnari) or a mixed
lonian-Attic-Colchian settlement (Tsikhisdziri). The cults of Apollo and Demeter were
practised in both places (Tsetskhladze 1994d) and the cult of Apollo Hegemon was the official
cult of colonists in Phasis (Tsetskhladze 1994b).
A question which in recent years has been widely debated is the date of the foundation of
Chersonesus in the Crimea. For a long time it was held that it was the only Dorian colony on
the northern Pontic shore and had been founded by colonists from Heraklea Pontica in 422/21
(Saprykin 1986, 52-69, with bibliography). Yet during excavations at Chersonesus earlier
material kept appearing, admittedly in small quantities: painted Ionian pottery, and black and
red-figure pottery. Scholars put forward a variety of explanations for what had been, until
recently, a question of isolated finds. Some had assumed this to be an indication that a trading
station and Ionian settlement had come into being there as early as the 6th century BC; others
that the Dorian colony had been preceded by a mooring for ships (Koshelenko et al. 1984,
Renewed interest in this problem has resulted from the excavations undertaken in the
Chersonesus Historical-Archaeological Reserve in the north-eastern part of the city-site, begun
in 1976. On this part of the site many hundreds of objects from the Archaic period of various
categories have been found: a large collection of Ionian and Corinthian vessels and Attic
black-figure pottery, archaic amphorae and terracotta figurines, an Ionian ring, and cast Olbian
coins. All this material dates from the last quarter of the 6th century and the 5th century BC
(Vinogradov and Zolotarev 1990; Chtcheglov 1992, 214-20).
I shall consider some of the material which may help determine the date of the founding
of Chersonesus: one black-figure lekane lid, of which 15 fragments have been preserved. The
inner surface is painted. The outside is decorated with three friezes using silhouette technique.
The lid dates from the third quarter of the 6th century BC and was made in a Boeotian (?)
workshop (Vinogradov and Zolotarev 1990, 88).

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