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Culture news, 15.07.2005 12:24

Early Antiquity in the Northern Black Sea Littoral.

berezan_early_antiquity 23 June 2005 - 11 September 2005

The exhibition in Halls N 28-32 by the Saltykov entrance to the Winter Palace is devoted to the 120th anniversary of archeological investigations of the settlement of Borisphen on the island of Berezan, located not far from the modern-day citl examination of Berezan. s of Odessaó of Ochakovo. Borisphen was the most ancient Greek colony on the northern coast of the Black Sea; it was founded by settlers from Miletos in the 7th century B.C.

The exhibition is timed to coincide with a scholarly conference entitled The Culture of Archaic Greece: History, Archeology, Art and Museum Sciences, which takes place 23-25 June in the State Hermitage.

Excavations of the Berezan settlement have been going on for more than 100 years. Initially archeological finds came to the Hermitage by way of the Imperial Archeological Commission. B.V. Farmakovsky, E.R. von Stern, R.A. Prendel, and G.L. Latyshev were among the first researchers. After 1917 the excavations continued, though with intervals of varying lengths: in 1924, from 1927 to 1931, in 1946 and again in 1947, under the direction of M.F. Boltenko, an employee of the Odessa Archeological Museum.

The State Hermitage’s own archeological expedition made an especially significant contribution to the study of Borisphen. Digs were conducted every year beginning in 1962 and continued right up to 1991; they were led during various years by K.S. Gorbunova, L.V. Kopeikina, and Ya. V. Domansky. In this manner the museum assembled its Berezan archeological collection, which now comprises more than 9500 articles.

Ancient artifacts from Berezan are to be found in the Hermitage and also in the State Historical Museum (Moscow), as well as in the archeological museums of Odessa, Kiev and Kherson (Ukraine). During the course of archeological research an ancient settlement and its necropolis were excavated. Numerous residential structures and buildings of commercial use dating from early antiquity were found. Archeologists unearthed many highly artistic pieces created by Greek and local master artisans.

More than 250 objects from the 7th century B.C. to the 3rd century B.C. are on display. These include amphora, vessels from Eastern Greece, fragments of Chios vessels, Corinthian skyphos (vessels for drinking), Attic black-figure, red-figure and black lacquered ceramics, articles made of bronze and lead (coins, stamps, decorations), articles from glass, tools made of bone, terracotta statuettes, and oil lamps.

Îne of the early proofs of the existence of Greeks in Berezan is a fragment of a cup made in Eastern Greece which dates from the middle of the 7th century B.C. In this regard one can also mention a group of early Chios amphoras, and separate examples of ceramic table vessels from Chios and Corinth. The vessels of local manufacture – molded pots, jars and cups – are characteristic of the agrarian populations of the forest and steppe areas of Scythia and the Northern Black Sea Littoral. Among the items on display in the exhibition are epigraphs found on the island, for example, a letter from Achillodorus which speaks of a conflict of interests among participants to a commercial operation. This suggests that the main elements of the Borisphen economy were trade and crafts.

The State Hermitage has prepared two publications for the exhibition. One is a scholarly illustrated catalogue which was written by the exhibition’s curator, S.L. Soloviev, senior researcher in the Department of the Ancient World. The other is the first volume in a series entitled Borisphen-Berezan. The State Hermitage’s Archeological Collection. The series plans to issue five volumes of research devoted to the history of the archeological examination of Berezan. It will include a full bibliography of works on Berezan, photographs and drawings of the finds, ground plans of the digs and graphic reconstructions of the buildings.

News source: hermitagemuseum.org

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