Nymphaion necropolis in Bosporos - article ; n°1 ; vol.27, pg 199-216


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Travaux de la Maison de l'Orient méditerranéen - Année 1998 - Volume 27 - Numéro 1 - Pages 199-216
18 pages
Source : Persée ; Ministère de la jeunesse, de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche, Direction de l’enseignement supérieur, Sous-direction des bibliothèques et de la documentation.



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Nadejda Jijina
Nymphaion necropolis in Bosporos
In: Lyon : Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée Jean Pouilloux, 1998. pp. 1-2. (Travaux de la Maison de l'Orient
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Jijina Nadejda. Nymphaion necropolis in Bosporos. In: Lyon : Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée Jean Pouilloux, 1998. pp.
1-2. (Travaux de la Maison de l'Orient méditerranéen)
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/mom_1274-6525_1998_act_27_1_1086NYMPHAION NECROPOLIS IN BOSPOROS
Various archaeological finds from Kertch have been regularly discussed in literature starting from the
40s of the previous century. Among these were wooden sarcophagi with decorative appliques made of
plaster. 1 Along with the rest of sarcophagi from Bosporos, those dating from the lst-2nd centuries A.D.,
the mentioned ones should be considered as specific examples of local art production, "quite characteristic
of Bosporos that show themselves to be its contribution to the development of classical craft and
culture". 2 As for decorative plaster appliques for the sarcophagi panels, they were also discussed in
literature, mainly together with other groups of archaeological materials and in relation to some aspects
and general problems of classical art history and archaeology of the Black Sea coast. 3
In the present article an attempt is made to find out, if such decorative elements of wooden
sarcophagi like plaster appliques can be recognized as date-reliable finds. Apart from that, there exists a
problem common for any research in archaeological materials from necropoli, namely that of social
stratification in this or that ancient community.
The ruins of the city of Nymphaion lie seventeen kilometres south-west from Kertch on rather a
high plateau by the sea-side. The city-site and its necropolis have been investigated since mid- 19th
century but only in the late 30s of the present century the sporadic excavations of the past changed for
regular ones. The particular description of Nymphaion necropolis and the data from the earliest period of
its investigation were presented by Lina F. Silantyeva in her special work devoted to the items from the
Hermitage collection and the archives. 4 The newly accessed materials that are discussed here, were
excavated by the expedition of the State Hermitage museum under the guidance of the late Dr. Nonna
L. Gratch. Most of the tombs dating from the 1st century B.C.-the 3rd century A. D. were examined
during the seasons of 1973-1977. 5 They occupied mainly the north-eastern part of the necropolis area,
north-west from the city-site. The artificial earth-ridge that hides most of the tombs stretched "along the
ancient ravine descending northwards from the plateau of Nymphaion". 6 Twenty two catacombs, cut in
rock, almost parallel to each other, their entrances chiefly open to north-west, were discovered on the
western side of the ravine. 7 They formed a solemn and strict street of underearth sepulchres. Several
* Musée de l'Ermitage, Service des antiquités grecques et romaines, Saint-Pétersbourg.
1. Zapiski Odesskogo obshtchestva istorii i drevnostey, Odessa, 1844, p. 617-618; Ashik 1854, vol. I,
p. 614 et al. ; Ashik 1854, vol. II, p. 815-816 et al. ; OAK za 1862 g., p. XI-XII ; OAK za 1864 g.,
p. XVI ; OAK za 1867 g., p. XI ; OAK za 1868 g., p. 59 ff ; OAK za 1872 g., p. XXII-XXIV ; OAK za
1873 g., p. VII ; OAK za 1874 g., p. IX-X etc. Detailed list of publications and the archival information to
be found in Sokolsky 1969, p. 54-85.
2. Sokolsky 1971, p. 120.
3. Stephani 1878, Jebeliov 1901, Brodskaya 1960, Blavatskiy 1979.
4. Silantyeva 1959.
5. Gratch Nonna 1975a, p. 270-271 ; Gratch Nonna 1975b, p. 59-60 ; Gratch Nonna 1978, p. 314-315.
6. Gratch 1975a, p. 270.
7. Op. cit., p. 271.
Nécropoles et pouvoir, TMO n° 27
Maison de l'Orient, Lyon. 200 Ν. JIJINA
types of burials dating from the Roman times were discovered there : apart from the rock-carved cata
combs, two more kinds of vaults have been found - those dug in earth, their walls free of stone covering,
and the one with its walls lay ed and strengthened with even limestone slabs. All catacombs appeared to be
family tombs which had been in use for rather a long period. Other burials, once used for the only dead,
were similarly either carved in rock, or dug in earth. Some of them (mainly rock-carved graves) contained
a sarcophagus or a simple coffin (the latter were mainly discovered in earthen graves), some were lined
with a thick rug of dry algae or seaweeds, dead body put on it without any receptacle for a corpse. It is
"personal" graves never exceeded 2,85m in length by 1,7m important to mention that the largest among
in width and contained burials in wooden sarcophagi decorated with plaster-cast theatrical or lion masks.
Most of the tombs are left aside here but the earthen vault ordinal n° K-26. It contained a group of burials,
both in sarcophagi and without ones. This seems sufficient to suppose that the vault had existed for
relatively a long period, and to suggest some conclusions. This vault was the last link in the chain of the
above mentioned twenty two catacombs on its western end (Fig.l) but in this very place the rock broke
abruptly. Unlike the rest of the catacombs, the entrance of this one was open to south with slight
declination to west, "the axis of the dromos and the camera was directed from south-west to north-east". 8
Before presenting the precise description of the vault itself, the ritual and the offerings, it seems
necessary to mention that the excavations were carried out in the shortest period and should be considered
as rescue works because the area had been intended to be built up. Therefore the company of 1974 resulted
in excavating the camera of the vault, while the dromos was examined during the next season (1976).
Partly the vault was excavated with the help of mechanisms, thus it should be remembered that some
informative lacunae or uncertainties may still exist, especially concerning the depth and the filling of the
Layout of the Vault
The underearth camera and the dromos were dug in a dense soil - dark brown loam -, on the
southern part of the area (i. e. by the dromos), and grey forerock soil on its northern side (/. e. by the
camera). In both cases the soil was mixed with rock crumb and debris. The upper level of this basic
forerock vein lay as deep as 1,40m (on the camera side) and 1,00m (on the dromos side) from modern
surface. The camera lay in it as deep as 1,80m and the dromos at 1,60m. The above described soil was
overlaid with a stratum of a buried dark soil mixed with humus. It was as thick as 1,10m on the camera
side, while on the dromos side it appeared to be only 0,15-0,20m thick as it had been overlaid with a
bolster of the dug up earth, also mixed with rock crumb. Thickness of the bolster was about 0,70m, it
could be traced on both sides of the dromos when viewing the entrance. The humous stratum that overlaid
everything was as thick as O,3O-O,35m on the camera side and 0,1 0-0, 15m on the dromos side.
All this proves that the works were started on the dromos side in order to settle the camera under the
thickest earth layer, namely under the southern end of the ridge. It seems evident that the location of the
ridge was convenient enough to place the catacomb necropolis exactly there. At the same time the ridge
itself could have been growing in the process of catacomb building.
The right-angled camera of the vault was as big as 2,50m (east-west) by 2,90m (south-north). Three
earthen podia were located in the walls (but the wall with the entrance), their height being almost similar
(0.15-0,20m), their width different (eastern podium was 0,70m wide, western one -0,60m, northern -
0,50m). The slightly inclined walls of the camera prompt that the ceiling was semi-circular, numerous
traces of white, yellow and light blue paints prove that they had been once decorated. The light coloured
earth of the collapsed ceiling (0,90- 1,0m thick) could be easily differed from the lower part of the filling,
which was dark-grey (1,50m thick). The trapeziform short dromos was filled with the same kind of soil
that contained some black streaks, however. It should be mentioned that at the threshold of the camera the
dromos was almost twice wider than at its mouth (1,30m against 0,70m).
8. Gratch Nonna 1978, p. 315. NYMPHAION NECROPOLIS 201
The Contents of the Vault (funeral ritual and the offerings)
The camera of the vault contained the remains of nine buried persons. The bones of only four
skeletons were still preserved in respectively strict anatomical order, while the rest ones had been badly
disturbed supposably in ancient times (Fig. 2).
I. The better preserved female skeleton had an ordinary n° 5. 9 It was located on the podium by the
eastern wall of the camera, quite close to the latter.
The buried one lay on the back, her arms along the body, her head pointing to the north-east. The
cranium had been moved to the left shoulder. Thick bedding of seaweeds was discovered under the cranium
and the upper extremities. The decorations and the offerings were as follows :
Two bronze ring-shaped earrings on the cranium
Two bracelets (Fig. 3) on the hands
Short necklace of various beads (Egyptian faience, on the breast
coloured glass, transparent and opaque, colourless
glass gilded from inside)
Oval-shaped bronze buckle made of round-sectioned on the left shoulder
wire, with a tonguelet
Short bronze nail with a deformed flat hat by the left shoulder
Fragments of two unguentaria of colourless by the feet
transparent glass, covered with milk-white
Damaged jar of light blue transparent glass between the bones of the left foot and the camera
wall (Fig. 4)
II. A male skeleton (n° 6) of still worse preservation was discovered obliquely to the right from the
previous one (westwards of it).
The buried one lay on the back, his arms along his body, his head pointing almost strictly to the
north. The skeleton was just partly preserved - the cranium badly hurt, the ribs, shoulder and arm bones
in some places destructed, somewhere - missing. The offerings :
Selery-shaped golden leaves from the funeral wreath among the fragments of the cranium
by the feet Red clay jar with a wide mouth (Fig. 5)
Oval-shaped bronze buckle with two plaques for the by the shin-bone, closer to the ankle
same place Iron knife
Prismatic whetstone same place
Bronze needle same place
Two bronze coins same place
In the western part of the camera two more skeletons of still worse preservation were located on the
next podium.
III. The male (?) skeleton (n° 7) that lay closer to the edge of the podium was presented just with the
ribs, spinal column and the largest bones of the extremities. Some fragments of the lower jaw and the
9. Anthropological investigations were carried out by Dr. Yuri Tchistov from the corresponding section of
the Academic Institute for Ethnography and Anthropology under the guidance of Dr. Ilya Gokhman,
St. Petersburg. 202 Ν. JIJINA
cranium were also discovered. Judging from the arrangement of the bones, the Juried one lay on the back,
his head pointing to the north-east. The offerings :
Fragments of the transparent light blue glass jar to the right from the ribs
Circular bronze buckle with a long tonguelet close to the loins
Iron pointed knife with a haft for wooden stem and the by the feet
traces of wooden scabbard on the blade
between the right thigh-bone and the Bronze needle
neighbouring skeleton (n° 8)
IV. The skeleton (n° 8) that lay closer to the wall had been so badly hurt that it appeared possible to
identify just some pieces of the spinal column and some bones of the extremities. Fragments of the
cranium and the teeth, quite destructed, were scattered along the remaining bones. The offerings :
Fragment of an iron knife with a short haft for stem by the right leg
Three big ball-shaped lobed beads to the left from the cranium place
Tongueless bronze ring-shaped buckle of tetrahedral- by the right leg
sectioned wire
Bronze needle with broken eye by the right elbow
Damaged bracelet of bronze wire on the right wrist
Fragment of a thick needle from a bronze fibula with between the spinal bones
a part of damaged loop fastening
By the northern wall of the camera there was the third podium with the remains of five more burials
on it. Four of them (n° 2, 3, 4, 9) were so badly disturbed that it was impossible to describe regular
skeletons, but just groups of bones. Among the debris various offerings were discovered, none of them
exactly belonging to this or that damaged skeleton. It seemed like the deceased hearsed in this part of the
vault could have been the first to be buried there. It might be also possible that grave-diggers of later
periods moved the remains aside off-handedly without any system. As a result this part of the camera
represented a terrible mixture of bones and offerings. Nevertheless, four burials (though quite
approximately) were distinguished from the rest.
V. Burial n° 4 was discovered in the eastern part of the podium, in the corner by the northern wall.
Some vertebrae, fragments of cranium and the extremeties were found there. It could be supposed that the
buried one lay on the back, his head pointing to the east with slight deviation to the north. No offerings.
VI. The opposite corner of the podium was occupied by the burial n° 2. There were some fragments
of cranium, ribs, vertebrae and tubular bones left. As the skeleton was badly disturbed, it could be just
stated that the dead one lay on the back, his head pointing to the east with slight deviation to the south.
The offerings gathered from the north-western corner of the camera were as follows :
- red-glazed jar on a circular foot (Fig. 6)
- earring, made of golden wire, decorated with a bell-shaped pendant filled with white paste
- fragments of a simple round bronze mirror
- light blue glass goblet (Fig. 7)
-prismatic whetstone
- oval-shaped buckle made of round-sectioned bronze wire, with a tonguelet
- fragment of a bronze fibula (part of the needle and the fastening)
VII. Burial n°9 was located southwards from the previous one. There were just fragments of cranium
and some tubular bones left. One cannot judge, therefore, about the position of the skeleton. Offerings :
- fragment of a golden leaf from the funeral wreath NYMPHAION NECROPOLIS 203
- thin silver pin with a piece of green glass mounted into the golden setting
- bronze fibula (Fig. 8c)
- circular bronze buckle made of round-sectioned wire (Fig. 8b), with a long-tonguelet
- miniature bronze anthropomorphic idol with a hole in its back (Fig. 8d)
- bronze buckle made of cut wire (Fig. 8a), with a tonguelet
- iron knife with broken point and the haft for stem (Fig. 8e)
- prismatic whetstone (Fig. 8f)
- two round-shaped beads made of red and colourless opaque glass
- fragments of three bronze needles
- small plaster female head (possibly a fragment of an applique)
It is noticeable that a rectangular slab manufactured of local clay, one side of it decorated with an
oblique concave cross, was found by the western wall of the camera. Put on its edge, it was placed
between the burials n° 2 and 9.
VIII. The remains of the next burial (n° 3) were also represented by the fragments of cranium and
some other parts of the skeleton. The group of bones in this case was covered with a tile piece of
Bosporan production. Not a single thing from the whole amount of offerings could be surely referred to
this burial.
IX. One of the skeletons discovered on the north podium appeared to be preserved better than others
(n° 1), the bones remained in relatively strict anatomical order. The buried one lay on the back, his arms
along the body, his head pointing north-westwards. The offerings :
Golden selery leaf from a funeral wreath on the cranium
Bronze coin by the cervical (jugular) vertebrae
Thin bronze ring with a narrow hoop swiftly on a finger phalanx of the right hand
turning into an oval bezel
Partly damaged red-glazed deep bowl (Fig. 9) under the pelvis bones
Fragments of a narrow-necked jar on a same place
ring foot
Miniature unguentari urn of colourless glass by the feet
{Fig. 10)
Fragments of a bronze needle between the thigh bones
It seems significant that the dead one was buried on a thick-felt bedding, quite rot through. Apart
from that, the cranium was rested upon a tile piece which covered the remains of the deceased n° 3.
Some finds on the north podium had no relation to any of the burials, at least it was impossible to
decide which one belonged to which. Among those one should mention an oinochoe of thin bluish
transparent glass (Fig. 11). The expert in classical glassware Dr. Nina Z. Kounina (the State Hermitage,
St.-Petersburg) considers it to date back from the lst-early 2nd centuries A.D., though she doesn't point
out any exact analogues. Nevertheless, the vessel combines some features of similar oinochoes dating
from the period (comp. to such items from the Hermitage collection as P. 1875.377, P. 1862.30 and
P.1903.103). Most likely this example dates from the late 1st century A.D.
Summing up the description of the north podium, it is important to mention numerous fragments of
wood scattered here and there, though it is impossible to state firmly that any of the deceased was buried
in a coffin or sarcophagus. The only dead one (n° 9) might have been hearsed in a coffin or on some kind
of a couch or bier which is proved by a wooden plaque partly covered with white paint and a piece of
plaster applique, both found by this very one. But even this careful supposition is quite speculative 204 Ν. JUIN A
because skeleton n° 9 was located directly northwards from the western podium, very close to it, thus,
some fragments were to a certain extent likely to belong to the sarcophagus discovered there.
Further on the three burials that were accompanied by the residues of sarcophagi decorated with
plaster-cast appliques are examined.
Preservation of wood was very poor, so at present scholars have just separate half-ruined panels and
planks at their disposal, as well as some details of wooden decorative elements, mainly pieces of carved
cornices. The outward appearance of the sarcophagi in some cases can be to a certain extent reconstructed
following the traces of wood in the soil. For instance, under the burial n° 6 there was a hollow (22cm
long, 5cm wide, 10cm deep) filled with dust of rotten wood which might have been the leg place.
White covering was partly preserved on the panels of sarcophagi. The "sepulchral" sense of white
paint could, probably, match the craftsman's aesthetic concept - display coloured appliques against white
background should have been an advantageous effect. Paints used for appliques were of bright colours :
cobaltous blue, orange and pink pigments, light brown and smoke-black. 10
The appliques themselves were scattered round the skeletons, still preserving the scheme and order of
application along the sarcophagi panels. They lay mainly by or under the planks, some of them face up,
some face down, most of the pieces broken. Fragments of the appliques which can be restored and the
intact examples were located as follows :
Sarcophagus η ° 1 - on the easten podium, quite close to the camera wall ; it was surrounded
with :
Lotus flowers 5 pieces
High open-work ornamental elements styled as sprouts 3
Theatrical tragic masks 3 pieces
Gorgoneions 3 pieces
Miniature leaves 2 pieces
Sarcophagus n° 2 - found closely to the previous one (though the location proved it to have stood
by the podium, not on it ; it was accompanied by :
Lotus flowers 5 pieces
Figures of Attis clothed in a cloak flung open {Fig. 12) 3
Figure of a serpent-legged goddess 1 piece
Small carefully cut palmettes with an oval heart painted pink 4 pieces
(Fig. 13)
Theatrical tragic masks 4 pieces
Fragment of a big massive acroterium styled as an open-work 1 piece
Apart from that, along the perimeter of each sarcophagus a lot of fragments and 12 intact ornaments
shaped as chess pawns were discovered together with 16 intact capitals (or basements) from wooden pillars
with fluted trunk. The latter were in some places supported with small tooth-shaped props.
There was one more wooden sarcophagus on the podium in the western part of the camera.
10. Microscopical and microchemical analysis of paints was carried out at the Chemical laboratory of the State
Hermitage by Lioudmila I. Oleinikova (Report n° 219 from April, 16, 1981). The result of the qualitative
analysis is as follows : blue pigment, frit ; brown pigment, natural ochre ; orange pigment, red lead ;
black pigment, coal of organic origin, i.e. charcoal and fat (rich) coal ; pink pigment, chalk coloured with
an organic dye-stuff based on some kind of mealybug (Pseudococcidae). NYMPHAION NECROPOLIS 205
Sarcophagus n° 3. Plaster appliques :
Niobide's figure (Fig. 14) 1 piece
Theatrical tragic masks 9 pieces
Lotus flowers 2 pieces
High open-work decorative elements styled as sprouts 6 pieces
2 Big multipetaled rosettes (Fig. 15)
9 pieces Chess pawns
4 pieces Basements of fluted pillars
By the opposing longer panels of the sarcophagus n°3 several poorly preserved nails have been
The Problem of Dating
The general date for the above discussed area of Nymphaion necropolis is the lst-the 3rd
centuries A. D. u Finds from the vault K-26 - coins, glassware and red-glazed pottery - are believed to
date from mid- 1st - the first half of the 2nd centuries A.D. The question is, whether archaeologists can
consider plaster appliques to be reliable dating finds. According to some opinions, passion for such kind
of sepulchral decorations falls on the same period. 12 Thus, it's necessary to examine the offerings that
can be referred to the burials with the definite presence of sarcophagi and plaster decorations for them.
Burial 5 (eastern podium)
1 . Ring-shaped earrings of round-sectioned wire with a loop on one end, the thin other end turned up.
Bronze. Dm. 2,5cm. Inv. ΗΗΦ [NNF]. 74.532.
Analogues : Korpusova 1983, p. 110, pi. XLII, n° 9, tomb 152 (1st century A. D.) ; Arsenieva
1977, p. 71-72, pi. XXXI, n° 5, tomb 254 (2nd cent. A. D.).
2. Wire bracelet with its ends wound round a short arch-shaped stem. Bronze. Dm. 7,8 χ 6,3cm. Inv.
HH<D[NNF]. 74.528.
Analogues : Zubar 1982, p. 94, fig. 61, n° 1-7, type I (lst-4th centuries A. D.) ; Koltukhov &
Puzdorovsky 1983, fig. on p. 150, n° 12 (1st century B.C.) ; Korpusova 1983, p. 101, pi. XX,
n° 16, tomb 35 (lst-2nd centuries A. D.).
3. Wire bracelet with flattened unclosed ends styled as serpent heads and ornamented with a zigzag of
pricks. Bronze. Dm. 6,5 cm. Inv. ΗΗΦ [NNF]. 74.529.
Analogues : Zubar 1982, p. 96 (lst-3rd centuries A. D.).
4. Short nail with a deformed flat hat and curved stem. Bronze. H. 1,3 cm. Dm. of the hat 1,8cm. Inv.
ΗΗΦ [NNF]. 74.531.
5. Oval-shaped buckle made of round-sectioned wire, with a tonguelet. Bronze. Dm. 3,6cm. Inv. ΗΗΦ
[NNF]. 74.530.
Analogues : Gaidukevitch 1959, p. 218, fig. 85, n° 4, tomb 9/21/ (late lst-2nd centuries A. D.).
6. Necklace of 39 beads. Egyptian faience, blue glass, colourless glass gilded from inside, red paste.
Inv. ΗΗΦ [NNF]. 74.534.
1 1. Gratch Nonna 1975a, p. 270-271 ; Gratch Nonna 1975b, p. 59-60; Gratch Nonna 1978, p. 314-315.
12. Rostowtsew M. 1925, p. 230 ff. ; Kobylina 1941, p. 78; Gaidukevitch 1949, p. 396-397; Berzina
1962, p. 250-254 ; Sokolsky 1969, p. 60-66. 206 Ν. JUIN A
Analogues :
a), minute beads of egyptian faience - Alekseyeva 1975, p. 32, pi. 5 n° 19, type 9 (maximum of
finds falls on tombs dating from the lst-2nd centuries A. D.) ;
b). colourless cask-shaped glass beads with bolsters on both ends, gilded from inside -Alekseyeva
1978, p. 32. pi. 26, n° 24-31, types 22, 23 (lst-3rd centuries A.D.).
7. Partly damaged jar : tight neck, funnel-shaped mouth with a jut over it, narrow, bandlike handle with
a loop on its upper end is attached to the neck quite under the mouth, steep, almost vertical sides,
concave bottom without a foot. Bluish transparent glass. Mouth dm. 6,2cm. Bottom dm 4,0cm.
Inv. ΗΗΦ [NNF]. 74.536.
Analogues : La Baume & Salomonson 1976, n° 4, cat. 71 (3rd-4th centuries A.D.) ; Isings 1957,
p. 31-32, F 14 (1st century A. D. ; the latest examples in this group, those with the convex body,
may be considered to date from the 3rd-4th centuries A. D.) ; Kunina & Sorokina 1972, p. 150,
fig. 4, n° 31, tomb 69-1900 that contained a coin of Cotys I and a sarcophagus with plaster appliques
(mid lst-mid 2nd centuries A. D.).
8. Damaged unguentarium with a tight neck, conic body and almost flat bottom (the mouth is missing).
Colourless glass with an opaque iridescence. H. 10,0cm. Bottom dm 3,3cm. Inv. ΗΗΦ [NNF].
Analogues : Kunina & Sorokina 1972, p. 160-161, fig. 1, types 1, 2 Β (V) and É (G), fig. 7 -from
the tombs of Pantikapaion and Kaepy necropoli (mid lst-the first half of the 2nd centuries A.D.).
9. Damaged unguentarium with tight neck, slightly accented mouth, conic body and concave bottom.
Colourless glass with milk-white iridescence. The size cannot be reconstructed for certain. Inv. ΗΗΦ
[NNF]. 74.536.
Analogues : look through n° 8.
Burial 6 (eastern podium)
1. Four trident-shaped leaves with stamped veins -part of the funeral wreath. Gold. L. l,5-3,0cm
Inv. ΗΗΦ [NNF]. 74.543.
2. Jar with a profile bell mouth, the handle attached obliquely to the neck and ornamented with a vertical
groove from outside, while the spherical body is ornamented with horizontal slightly concave belts.
Flaky, ochre-coloured clay with minute sparkles of mica (supposedly Samian). H. 17.1 cm. Inv. ΗΗΦ
[NNF]. 74.504.
It seems like exact analogues are unknown but the way of working and attaching the handle is close to
those of Samian shapes. For instance - Schneider 1929, p. 96-141, fig. 23.
3 . Oval-shaped buckle with a small rectangular frame for a belt and two circular plaques with a tonguelet
between them (ornamented with engraved oblique lines and triangles). Bronze. L. 3,3cm. Inv. ΗΗΦ
[NNF]. 74.538.
Analogues : Arsenieva 1977, p. 73-74, pi. XXXV, n° 2, tomb 256 (lst-early 2nd centuries A.D.),
p. 56, pi. XXXV, n° 4, tomb 222 (founded on the date of another buckle, this one may be considered
to date from early Christian ages in general).
4. Sharp-pointed knife with a short triangle haft bearing some traces of wooden stem. Iron. L. 1 1,0 cm.
Inv. ΗΗΦ [NNF]. 74.541.
Analogues : Arsenieva 1977, p. 133, pi. XLI, n° 2-5 (knives from the tombs dating back to the lst-
3rd centuries A.D.) ; Korpusova 1983, pi. XXXV, XXXIX et al. (lst-3rd centuries A.D.).
5. Prismatic whetstone with a hole in its upper end. Light limestone. L. 9,6 cm. W. 1,7 cm. Thick.
1,0 cm. Inv. ΗΗΦ [NNF]. 74.542. NYMPHAION NECROPOLIS 207
Analogues : Korpusova 1983, p. 154, pi. XLII, n° 2, tomb 152 ; Arsenieva 1977, p. 84-85, pi. XI,
n° 8, tomb 267 (2nd-3rd centuries A. D.) ; Gaidukevitch 1959, p. 221-222, fig. 93, n° 11, tomb 17
(2nd century A.D.), Pinelli 1987.
6. Needle with the eye, its point broken. Bronze. L. 3,2 cm. Inv. ΗΗΦ [NNF]. 74.537.
7. Coin. 13 Sesterce of Cotys II (123-132 A.D.). Bronze. Dm. 2,4cm. Inv. ΗΗΦ [NNF]. 74.539.
Obverse : Folding stool, an inscription around it - Κ Ο Τ...
Reverse : Letters M H inside a wreath.
8. Coin. The stamped images are not preserved. Bronze. Dm. 1,8cm. Inv. ΗΗΦ [NNF]. 74.540.
Burial 7 (western podium)
1 . Fragments of a jar - profiled mouth, short wide handle, its vertical part decorated with ribs, cylinder
body, concave bottom. Blue transparent glass. Mouth dm. 6,4cm. Handle w. 3,0cm. Inv. ΗΗΦ
[NNF]. 74.547.
Analogues : La Baume & Salomonson 1976, n° 3, cat. 99 (lst-2nd centuries A.D.) ; Isings 1957,
p. 67-69, p. 51a and 51b ; 23, p. 156 (second half of the lst-early 2nd A.D.).
2. Circular buckle made of thin wire, long tonguelet attached to the ring with its flattened end. Bronze.
Dm. 2,7cm. Inv. ΗΗΦ [NNF]. 74.544.
Analogues : look through n° 5 of the burial 5.
3. Sharp-pointed knife with a haft for a stem, the blade still covered with the remains of wooden
scabbard. Iron. L. 13,0cm. Inv. ΗΗΦ [NNF]. 74.546.
4. Needle with broken eye. Bronze. L. 5,0cm. Inv. ΗΗΦ [NNF]. 74.545.
Before we turn to the conclusions, it seems necessary to remind of the principles for chosing
archaeological criteria of prosperity, those recognized as inherent in researching ancient necropoli in
general (for instance, look through Gratch Alexander 1975). Those, I believe, are :
- the best, or at least noticeable, position of a tomb in the necropolis area ;
- size of a construction (both, surface and underearth) ;
- complicacy of a construction, i. e. the quantity and quality of labour spent to erect it ;
- decorative elements (reliefs or paintings on the walls of cameras, decorated tombstones, sarcophagi
etc.) ;
- memorials (inscriptions on gravestones, for instance) ;
- sets of offerings by each burial (presence of golden and precious things, variety, number and
quality of the rest items etc.) ;
By all means it should be remembered - any additional feature that may appear, is to be taken into
To conclude the above-described data, one may suggest the following :
1 . The vault K-26 of Nymphaion necropolis is a typical sepulchral construction for Bosporos of the early
Christian ages. It belongs to a group of widespread family tombs 14 and should be considered as a
funeral place of rather a prosperous family.
13. Numismatic attributions by the Senior Research Associate of the State Hermitage museum
Anna M. Gilevitch.
14. Sorokina 1957; Kamenetsky 1973; Korpusova et al. 1983.