The Sarmatians in the Northern Black Sea region (on the basis of archaeological material)
we may assume that during the Sarmatian period the neighboring “centers of civilization” exercised considerable structural influence over the culture of the peoples who inhabited the steppe zone of European and partly of Asiatic Sarmatia (i.e., the territories adjacent to the northern coasts of the Black Sea and the Azov Sea). The mere existence of these centers and the political and economic developments that took place there were one of the factors that, to a great extent, determined the changes observed in the material culture of the peoples who populated the “barbarian” territories.
Publication of fieldwork 1994-96 in the Iron Age to early medieval cemetery of Klin-Yar (near Kislovodsk, North Caucasus), with descriptive and analytical chapters on graves, finds, human bones, and animal bones
The Sarmatian Animal Style objects are found in North Pontic burial contexts belonging to the social elite. An analysis of finds from the region shows that most of the Animal Style objects may be interpreted as emblems of power. Their appearance in ‘Barbarian’ burial contexts was previously interpreted, generally, in an ethnic sense, as having been brought physically to the Northern Pontic region by newcomers from distant eastern lands. However, the patterns of their distribution in graves of several chronological periods most probably reflect the development of network contacts of political elites.
Review of Wegener's monograph on Sarmatian finds, particularly weapon burials, east of the Caspian Sea.
The idea for this book concerns the Northern Black Sea in antiquity. It is published in memory of Heinz Heinen, who was writing on the Roman Imperial period in the Northern Black Sea region for this volume and planned to call his chapter "The Long Way to Pontic Unity". Later, at any rate, he admitted that the term "unity" did not seem adequate to him: "Pontic Networks", he said, would be "more realistic". The piece was never written - Professor Heinen died in July 2013 - but his deliberation on his chapter's title reflects the ideas that permeate the entire book. The question of identity is one of many addressed in several chapters of this book. Together, the nine chapterd comprising the volume cover a broad variety of topics, but by no means offer ab exhaustive study of the region.
The article concerns cultural and historical processes in the "barbarian" world of the Crimea studied on the material of burial assemblages of elites.
The paper is devoted to the cross-guard of the fragmentary dagger found in 1984 in the princely nomad burial near the village of Kosika in the Lower Volga area, belonging to the type of gala daggers which were wide spread in Eurasia in the 1st century BC – 1st century AD and became one of the insignia of power as testified by the finds in the princely nomadic burials and their depictions on the royal figures on the stelae from Commagene. The dated (year 238) dotted inscription revealed on the gold overlay of the cross-guard by one of the authors in 2015 and completely cleaned from the iron oxides in 2017 contains an indication of the craftsmen and the weight of gold, confirmed by the eclogist, which means estimated on the highest state level. The inscription allows to suggest with high degree of probability that the dagger may have been manufactured either as a tax payment of the corporation to the state or rather by the decree of the royal person as a gift to an equal person. Moreover, the analysis of the inscription suggests that the object could have made in Asia Minor, perhaps in Commagene, in 74 BC (that means the date belongs to the Seleucid era), rather than in 59 BC, because the existence of the eclogists in the Pontic Kingdom has not been confirmed by any documents. This dating corresponds well to the archaeological dating of the burial in Kosika to the early third quarter of the 1st century BC and the already published hypothesis, that the deceased could have been a participant of the Asia Minor campaign of the Bosporan King Pharnakes in 49–47 BC.
Michael Rostovtzeff designed a model of cultural history of the North Pontic region that span from the Archaic period to the early Middle Ages, covered much of the Eurasian territory and tried to integrate the literary, epigraphic, numismatic and archaeological sources available in the early-20th century. In essence, he reduces the cultural development of the 1st millennium BC with an antagonism between a dominant Greek and a recessive Iranian culture, the latter represented by the ‘Scythians’, who were receptive of Hellenizing influences. In contrast, the period of Roman political domination is defined by a ‘Sarmatization’ in ethnic and cultural terms, which Rostovtzeff also calls ‘new Iranization’ and ‘Barbarization’ nearly without distinction. He extends this second phase into Late Antiquity, when ‘waves’ of Iranian migrations are seen as thoroughly impacting Western European civilization. This synthesis commanded so much respect that it continues influencing cultural history in Russian scholarship (and beyond), especially in Classical and Scythian-Sarmatian archaeology. Rostovtzeff's ideas root in concepts prevalent in his days. First, the etiological myth of the Russian Empire had already been well-established by the end of the 19th century, where the steppe corridor of Eurasia was considered a ‘world axis’, regularly inviting mass migration from East to West, substantially affecting the ethnic composition of the European population. At the same time, the steppes of Eastern Europe were seen as a ‘buffer zone’ that slowed down or mitigated the impact from the Far East. Second, the predominant role that Rostovtzeff ascribes to the common people in the context of cultural change ultimately goes back to Marxist theory. Third comes the direct association of certain elements of the archaeological material with specific ethnic groups, whence a change of material culture is regularly explained with the migration of peoples. Since such paradigms tend to be internalized at the early stages of a scholar’s socialization, they are slow to change, even when current international scholarship draws on more nuanced socio-cultural concepts and research methodology, largely incompatible with Rostovtzeff’s premises and conclusions.
The terms “Crimean Scythia” and “Late Scythian Culture of the Crimea” are modern concepts reflecting an interpretation model formed by the study of written and epigraphic sources. The term “Late-Scythian Culture” appeared rather late in comparison with other culture-terms known in the Northern Black Sea Region, after 1946, in the frame of the work of the Tauro-Scythian expedition headed by Pavel Schulz. It is formed according to the ethno-chronological principle for the designation of the material culture of the “Scythians” supposedly superseded by the “Sarmatians” from most of the territory occupied by the “Great Scythia” of the 6th till the 4th BCE, and formed two enclaves – the Crimean-Dnieper and the Thracian, both known from Strabo as the “Scythia Minor” (Strabo, Geogr. VII.4.5).
The term “Crimean Scythia” for the designation of the Crimean part of the Strabo’s Scythia Minor appeared in the late 1980s – early 1990s under conditions of the collapse of the USSR. The continuity between the Scythian kingdom in the Crimea and the Great Scythia was questioned. It seemed that its formation took place in the conditions of the appearance of new ethnic groups in the Crimea, first of all the Sarmatians of Prokhorovka culture. In this sense, the term “Crimean Scythia” reflects the idea of the appearance in the Crimea of a separate new Scythian state and, in fact, represents an expression in historical terms of the concept of the Late Scythian culture of the Crimea.
At the present stage, the phenomenon of the Late Scythian archaeological culture of the Crimea seems to be a reflection of the economic and cultural development of the Barbarian population of the Crimean peninsula in the context of its involvement in the world-system with two geopolitical centers – Rome and Parthian Iran. Their weakening or destruction in the 3rd century AD led to the rupture and reformatting of most of the networking systems – ideological, military, trade and economic. Under these conditions, the idea of transforming the Late-Scythian culture under the influence of “Sarmaticization” seems meaningless. The migrations from the steppe or the Caucasus being very likely, which are confirmed by the data of physical anthropology, had a much lesser effect on the functioning of social networks and the economic and cultural appearance of the Crimean Scythia than the proximity of the ancient cities and geopolitical aspirations of the main hegemonic powers.