The Scythian Kingdom in the Crimea in the 2nd century BC and its relations with the Greek states in the North Pontic region
The new data that have become available in the last two decades show that the Scythian Kingdom with its capital in Neapolis Scythica, which existed in the Crimea in the 2nd century BC, was much closer to Hellenistic states ruled by barbarian dynasties than to nomadic kingdom of the Scythians of the 4th century BC. At the same time, these data allow us to return in part to the old view formulated by Rostovtzeff about continuity between the Scythia of the 4th century BC and the Late Scythian Kingdom, which most researchers have rejected during the last thirty years. It turned out that this continuity existed at least at the ideological level, and the excavations at Ak-Kaya (Vishennoe) filled the chronological gap between the Scythian Kingdoms of the 4th and 2nd century BC. Apparently, Ak-Kaya became one of the political centres of the Scythians as early as the late 4th century BC, before the fall of “Great Scythia”, and the capital of the Crimean Scythians was located there before it was moved to Neapolis Scythica. In the formation of Late Scythian culture and the Late Scythian Kingdom with its capital first in Ak-Kaya and then in Neapolis Scythica, apart from the Scythian elements, sedentary Tauri took part, as well as probably the Greeks and the Hellenized population of the chorai of the Greek cities in north-western Crimea. A key role in changing the character of Scythian culture was apparently played by a change in its economic-cultural type and the transition from nomadic pastoralism to settled agriculture. This article proposes a new interpretation of the inscription on the mausoleum of Argotas, discovered in Neapolis Scythica in 1999. Argotas was probably not a Scythian, but a Greek, despite his Scythian name. This Bosporan aristocrat with Scythian family ties married the widowed Bosporan queen Kamasarya in the second quarter of the 2nd century BC and is mentioned as her husband in the inscription CIRB 75. He played an important role in governing the Bosporan Kingdom and in protect- ing it against attacks from the East. Then, most likely after the death of Kamasarya, he moved to the neighbouring kingdom of the Scythians, where he became one of the leading generals, the right-hand man of the king and the tutor to his children. After his death in ca. 130-125 BC, he received from King Skiluros unprecedented honours – a heroon in front of the facade of the royal palace was erected for him and, moreover, this was the only truly Greek building in Neapolis Scythica: it was built in accordance with the rules of the architectural order and decorated with Greek statues and reliefs, as well as a metric epitaph with numerous Homeric forms and expressions.