K. K. Kostsyushko-Valyuzhinich and his reports for the Imperial Archaeological Commission
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1888 year ...

HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY has kindly wished to give the Most High Order to entrust the IMPERIAL Archaeological Commission with the affair of the archaeological investigation of the soil of the ancient Chersonesos and of the protection of its ancient monuments that were discovered earlier and will be discovered in the future.

For the execution of this Monarch will, the Commission has resolved:

  1. to make systematic annual excavations to investigate the ancient city by parts, one after another, its topographic situation and the ancient buildings that remained in it, as well as to investigate its necropoleis that remain heretofore almost unknown;
  2. to establish a temporary warehouse, until the museum of antiquities from Chersonesos is opened in Chersonesos itself or in the city of Sevastopol, for all, without exception, uncovered minor monuments of the past; and
  3. take measures for the protection of the ancient buildings, uncovered in the ancient city area in former times, and make preparation, by means of the ancient materials that were obtained and are being recently obtained by the excavations, for the cause of scholarly reconstruction of ancient Christian, Eastern Greek church of basilican style in Chersonesos.

Two latter tasks, in view of lack of particular means, could be only started by the Commission, and in very restricted size. Thanks to Mr Ober-Prosecutor of the Holy Synod, the Commission has received, for the warehouse of the antiquities uncovered by it, small room in the monastery, and has took measures to protect all the marbles accumulated in the monasterial estate and the monuments of the ancient city proper by establishing a lodge for the whole area of the latter. Let us hope that, in the course of time, the monastery administration will understand the Commission's position that is making all possible efforts for no construction or ground work in the soil of the ancient city would be done without strict inspection from the skilled supervisor left in Chersonesos for this purpose.

Archaeological excavations on the site of the ancient Chersonesos were entrusted to the supervision of the Commission member, professor N. P. Kondakov, and to the permanent directorship of the Odessa society for history and antiquities member K. K. Kostsyushko-Valyuzhinich, and brought, in result, very interesting discovery, which, apart from the artifacts that accompanied this discovery, was becoming the most important factor for the ancient city history. As it turned out, the ancient city discovered before is nothing but the top layer of the ruins covered by soil, which belonged to the city of the latest period, and that the ruins of the other, most ancient city stretched under the first city. This discovery should be attributed exclusively to the strict fulfillment of the rule, approved the Commission, that any archaeological investigation should remove piled soil of a kurgan, unbroken barrow mound, or site of fire as deep as the bedrock.

Virgin soil of the ancient Chersonesos is composed of bedrock, hence it could be easily recognized and determined; but, according to the character of this rocky area, once the ancient city was at different levels. Here and there, and namely in the centre of the city, where the excavations of Chersonesos started and its main streets, till now visible, were uncovered, along the line from the church now under construction to the sea, bedrock rises to form a kind of ridge in these streets, that is uncovered one or one and half archine below the present level. Meanwhile, in the continuation of this main street toward the sea, side streets and lanes, and then the houses on the big street proper are located not on the bedrock but on friable mound of artificially made level. It is not known yet when exactly took the ancient city this artificial level and built itself on it; it took place obviously after and in result of some catastrophe. The same catastrophe, probably a conflagration, is witnessed by ruins of churches that have been being uncovered, inscriptions and fragments used for stonework of new houses and walls of new churches of smaller size, faced with marbles from various big basilicas. But as former sites, i. e. the ruins of former churches, were selected for the new churches, and the former, according to the Greek tradition, were set up at most high places, it was quite natural, for the purpose of building new city and laying out its streets, to arrange a new level above the ruins of the former city having covered these ruins with soil. The new city was probably poorer than the former, but as much populated as the latter, which is why it was characterized by large number of small buildings, hurriedly laid of stone and crushed stone, that encircled small and narrow streets; these buildings rarely have regular masonry of ashlars that had been typical to the antiquity and was now kept only for churches and a few residential houses; everywhere is visible common Later Byzantine stonework, which is strong only because of its cement. In this latest, also ruined city, excavations uncovered very restricted number of minor monuments: according to all the circumstances, the ruins remained open and available for search for ages. And to this day they are slightly covered with soil, so the direction of the walls, and sometime even curves of the apses proper, hidden under the debris of the churches, show the way to the excavations. This is partly the reason for the disappointment that has happened in result of the excavations in Seventies, which discovered many streets but got a very few uncovered artifacts. The thing is that the previous studies were conducted almost totally along the said conventional level and gave occasion to think that the site of fired city of Chersonesos had the depth of 1½ to 2 archines below the modern level everywhere.

The plan for the excavations started by the Commission in 1888 was grounded, on the one hand, on the necessity of systematical studying the ancient city, and, on the other hand, on the fact that previous excavations had selected the centre of the city, as assumed the best part of it, so, therefore, the new investigation had to necessarily choose this or that side on the or w from the central part already excavated. The excavations started in two places: at the seashore, in the direction from the big coastal basilica to the bay of Chersonesos, and near the church under construction, as well as in the eastern area of the city, with the aim to uncover the whole intermediate area to the east from the former excavations, as far as the ground fortification constructed by the military department in 1877.

Along the whole area, the excavations reached the bedrock and discovered the ruins of the ancient Chersonesos under the medieval city level: everywhere, under the walls of the latter, there were either the walls of the ancient city that had been used as the foundation for the later city, or the remains of the houses of the ancient city under the houses of the later one, or the streets under houses, and vice versa. New city used only a part of the ancient city cisterns, its grain pits and cesspits, but arranged its own aqueducts and drains. All the ancient city buildings differ from the later ones; the ancient walls are always laid of ashlars and the interior of the rooms is covered with fine plaster; it often appears covered in red and dark red color; the walls remained as high as one or, rarely one-and-a-half archine; they are often lower and represent the remnants of the city razed to the ground.

The deeper the excavations come, the more small finds are discovered. On top, heaps of rubbish and crushed stone contain almost exclusively roof tiles, of big size, with impressed stamps that roughly reproduce letters, animals and other maker's marks, shards of glazed vessels, and tureens with images of beasts against glazing, in oriental style. Te rubbish also contains, rarely, marble fragments of architectural origin, inscriptions, even statues and statuettes, stone millstones, stone hammers, etc. More rare are utensils of iron and copper, bronze artifacts from personal decorations, fragments of icons and underwear crosses, earthenware lamps, unbroken and broken amphorae. Chersonesos coins of Byzantine period appear in the mound so often, that the excavations have collected 280 specimens, more or less preserved. Lower come coins, minted in Chersonesos in the Greek period (16 pieces were found), in the Roman period (9), coins of Greek colonies and kings of Bosporos, Roman emperors, etc. About 700-odd coins have been found in total. On the floor of many rooms in the lower, or most ancient city, there constantly were shards of Greek vessels of clay covered with black glaze, more often without any drawings, but sometimes decorated with the images of the style that allow us to date this pottery to the third century BC; the great number of such finds, tens of which appeared in some rooms, indicates the time when the city existed. This mass of small ancient artifacts, which filled the established temporary warehouse but have no particular artistic significance, could get historical importance for the first-hand study of the Byzantine antiquities in the period from the ninth to the fourteenth century. Among the artifacts from the Greco-Roman period, the ones calling the attention are six fragments of Greek inscriptions on marble, and psephism honoring Pharnaces from Amastris, who got the citizenship right in Chersonesos in the age of the emperor Titus.

Very interesting finds originate from one of the living rooms, that was uncovered near the sea shore, as deep as bedrock, with one third of it under the building of a later period, and has been investigated as deep as conditional level. Two sections of this room were encircled with ancient plastered walls and housed ancient workshop manufacturing artistic goods of terracotta or fired clay; in the back room was pottery kiln, of excellent preservation; the front room appeared to contain stock of clay models on its floor, in which the ancient coroplasts or modelers pressed their statuettes, heads, low relieves, lids for painted cups of clay, and other clay articles. There are only singular specimens of clay models of the type from the Greek colonies in south Russia, which has created erroneous opinion that such type goods were the articles of import only. The given case of discovery of such stock of terracotta models in the same place established another view of the art manufacture in the colony; in particular, it is the evidence from the period of the city life before Christ, as the style suggests that the models should be dated to the third and second centuries BC. There are thirty-eight models that remained unbroken; many models were broken and survived in the form of fragments. Among the unbroken, the following models call the attention: 1) mask of bearded Dionysus, or the so-called Indian Bacchus, of archaic style, 2) medallion for lid of round toilet box, with images of Anchises and Aphrodite in low relief, 3) perfect-style head of Apollo, 4) medallion with Nice and Eros, 5) head of Aphrodite, 6) low relief of Apollo playing the kithara, Satyr, and Maenad, 7) head of Athena, 8-12) heads of Silenus, repeated in five different types, 11)Eros, 12 - 15) several portraits of ephebe, gymnast, etc., for unknown clay utensils; then a number of models for lion's masks, for statuettes of female figures of common type, among which there is especially interesting model for comic figure or grotesque woman dancer, resembling grotesques from Kerch. Moreover, there are several models for ornamental terracotta ware, decorative fasciae, profiles, cornices, palmettes, etc.

The reconnaissances were made in the western area of the city, at the seashore, and brought, in general, the same results as the excavations of the area selected in its eastern half, and namely: everywhere, under the layer of the most late, top city, there were ruins of the most ancient lower city, at the depth of 4 to 5 archines, and everywhere, the excavations were accompanied with the finds of the same character, which confirms the main discovery. Among those finds, the attention is called by shards of Greek pottery with black glazing, that indicate the period of the city; amphora handles with stamps of the Greek period, that appear in the same place, are interesting because of the new names of astynomoi. This way, future excavations will have a complicated and difficult task of making investigation of two cities, keeping, as far as possible, the remains of both, and separating the finds according to the type and place. The reconnaissances have finally uncovered the fact that, apart from a few places where the rocky bedrock projects like a ridge, all the other site of burnt town, both unexplored and already unearthed by previous excavations, should be studied as deep as the bedrock, at the depth two times bigger than it was supposed before.

The future will see what the finds from the ruins of the upper and lower Chersonesos will give.

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