Archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology at the Russian Academy of Science have discovered a Roman necropolis in the Crimea, containing anthropomorphic gravestones and stele.
During the Roman period, the Crimea (called Taurica) was part of the Bosporan Kingdom, a suzerainty state submissive to Roman rule. It was briefly incorporated as part of the Roman province of Moesia Inferior from 63 to 68 AD, before being restored as a Roman client kingdom.
The discovery was made during excavations of the Kil-Dere 1 burial site, in preparation for a new highway near the town of Inkerman 5 kilometres east of Sevastopol.
Kil-Dere 1 and associated burial sites nearby, probably relate to the ancient city of Tauric Chersonesos on the shore of the Black Sea, first founded by settlers from Heraclea Pontica in Bithynia in the 6th century BC.
Unfortunately, the team found that the necropolis had already been targeted by illegal excavations and treasure hunters, with over 120 shafts and pits being excavated with modern digging equipment. Of the 232 burials studied by the team, only 14 remained intact with no evidence of disturbance.
In the course of documenting the wider site, the team discovered 63 tombstones of varying types, consisting of anthropomorphic stele, grave stele depicting masks, and the bases for steles.
The Institute of Archaeology RAS said in a press statement: “It is the most significant collection of tombstones ever obtained during the excavation of the Late Scythian burial grounds of the Crimea of the Roman period: only 15 such tombstones have been found in the nearest large and well-known necropolises.”
Archaeologists have also discovered more than 1200 grave goods at Kil-Dere 1, consisting of small decorative objects with precious metals, to ceramic red-lacquered plates, jugs and bowls.
An Institute of Archaeology RAS spokesperson stated that the grave goods allow archaeologists to build a chronology of the ethnic population inhabiting the region, suggesting that Kil-Dere 1 was active as a burial site from the 1st – 2nd century, until the 4th century AD.
Header Image Credit : Science Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences