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 Vladimir Anatolyevitch Gorontcharovskiy
Iluraton: A Fortress of the 1st- 3rd centuries AD on the European Kimmerian Bosporos

Planning of fortress, house-building, occupations and religious beliefs of its population

The two main streets, crossing at right angles and leading to the gate, form the basis of the regularly planned city, which was evidently laid out initially. They have been provisionally named the Main Longitudinal and Transverse Streets and have a width of about 6 m and 4.5 m respectively. The Main Longitudinal Street is crossed by ten transverse streets from 1 to 1.8 m in width, forming separate blocks, which lodged several apartment houses. Such a system of planning allowed for the swift redeployment of troops inside the fortress.

A pavement made out of large blocks of limestone was partially preserved along the Main Transverse Street (Fig. 5, 3). Streets, paved with stone or rubble, run frequently along the artificially created terrace. A sufficiently wide staircase leads down to the courtyard of the houses located below. This overall structure of the internal buildings was not substantially modified during all the whole time Iluraton functioned as a fortress: changes only occurred in individual building complexes. All 26 houses at Iluraton which have been completely excavated can be divided into four groups, according to their size:
1) from 45 to 100 m2;
2) from 120 to 180 m2;
3) from 215 to 285 m2;
4) from 400 to 600 m2 (Goroncharovski V.A., 1983, p. 31-33.).
The majority of the houses in the first group probably belonged to common soldiers. They lie in the northwestern quarter of the city. The absence of large courtyards and domestic rooms, and the prevalence of hand-made pottery in the ceramics deposited are typical features. The houses embraced by the second group should be ascribed to the middling social stratum of the population. As a rule, they are situated along two main streets. The large housing plots of the third and fourth groups are concentrated in the northeast and central quarters and were apparently intended for representatives of the military authorities and the wealthiest strata of the population of the fortress. Consequently, it is possible to explain their proximity to the southeast gate and the rather high level of comfort associated with them, including pavements and a well thought-out system of drains for water.

Figure 5.
3. Remains of pavement near crossroads of main streets.

A number of observations allow us to conclude that the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of Iluraton comprised barbarian people, brought to the place as military settlers. It is possible to try to establish the population of the fortress at the final stage of its existence thanks to a technique developed by S.D.Kryzhitski (Kryzhitski S.D., 1985, p. 94-103).

Taking into account the maximal use of space inside the fortifications and on the northwest terrace (about 2.6 hectares), and the total area of the streets and lanes (about 0.4 hectares), the percentage of the city area allocated for housing comprises about 73 % - no less than 2.2 hectares. Since, on average area an Iluraton house covers an area of about 180 m2, there should be about 120 houses in total. With 8-10 people per family including servants or slaves, this suggests that about 900-1200 people lived in Iluraton. The garrison of the fortress may have numbered no less than 150 warriors. They seemed to be military settlers and served the king in return for land. A small part of them came from a Greek cultural background. The rest of the population was mainly of barbarian origin retaining many features of their original culture. The richest of the citizens served as heavy cavalrymen or 'cataphracts'. A graffito of a horseman of this type has survived on a fragment of plaster (Fig. 5, 4). He wears long body armour made of small metal plates and holds a heavy spear atilt in his hands (Šurgaja I.G., 1983, p. 98-99. Fig. 4; Goroncharovski V.A., Nikonorov V.P., 1987, p. 201-212).

Figure 5.
4. Graffito with image of cataphract.

All Iluraton's houses relate to the group of non-canonical constructions (Kryzhitski S.D., 1982, p. 104-107. Fig. 38, 39; idem, 1993, p. 201-202. Fig. 142). They have a strong economic character and lack inhabited cellars (Fig. 5, 5, 6). Dwelling houses had reed or tiled roofs. In the latter case flat and semi-cylindrical tiles of local manufacture were used. Iluraton's houses formed city blocks from which blind walls only looked out onto the streets. The overall plan was almost completely adhered to, and corresponds quite closely to the traditions of classical house-building (Fig. 6). A corridor, usually narrow, closed by a door or wicket, led into a paved courtyard, which took up from 14 to 43 % of the total area of the house. It led out into the ground floor rooms. In one case we even know its height, which was 2.2 m. The masonry of the walls generally comprised roughly cut flattened pieces of limestone set in clay. In most cases their thickness is about 60-70 cm. Well-trimmed stone blocks were also used, mainly at the corners of houses and rooms. The doorways were also built out of stone blocks, and incisions in the threshold blocks show that wooden doorframes were originally set in them. The design of stone thresholds shows that the doors were hung on hinges. (Kryzhitski S.D., 1982, p. 107). Numerous finds of forged iron nails up to 15 cm in length suggest that there were plenty of other wooden constructions inside Iluraton's houses.

Figure 5.
5. Interiors of Iluraton houses.

Figure 5.
6. Interiors of Iluraton houses.

Figure 6.
1-2. Reconstructions and plans of Iluraton houses (2 - with two possible reconstructions).

Figure 6.
3-4. Reconstructions and plans of Iluraton houses ).

As a rule, one of the rooms on ground floor was intended for cooking. In such cases there is usually a stone mortar for processing grain, about 0.5 m high, near to the entrance. Hand mills with rotating circular millstones were used for grinding flour. Quadrangular millstones are much more widely distributed over the Greek world (Blavatskiy V.D., 1953, p. 135.). Usually they are made of an imported stone of a gray colour, with a greenish or lilac tinge (Petrun' V.F., 1965, p. 126-128) and are characterized by their fine condition. The size of the top millstone is standard enough: 0.56 x 0.5 m and 0.12-0.14 m high. Slanting grooves are cut on the bottom sides. The presence of two semicircular cuts shows that wooden handles were once fitted in order to rotate the millstone (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 88. Fig. 82, 132).

A large oven was built against one of walls from vertically set slabs with one, two or three small stone columns inside (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 77. Fig. 69). A wrought brazier plate was put on them with the sides projecting some 3-4 cm above. It is obvious that flat cakes of grain were baked on the heated surface of such braziers. Judging by the ashes, straw served as the basic fuel. Smoke escaped through the door or a special hole in the wall. A carelessly cut female name, WWWWWWW (KBN № 968), was found on one of the slabs making up the lateral face of the furnace found during the excavation of plot IV. According to the character of the letters, this inscription is dated to a time not earlier than the 3rd century AD. Quite often were the wall niches near the oven used for household purposes.

In most of the rooms the floors were covered with clay. Rooms with pavements and fences made of stone slabs with holes for tethering animals were intended for accommodating and feeding of young grazing stock during the winter period. In each of houses pits for grain and other household items were cut in the rock, closed by stone lids. On the walls of pits sometimes remained traces of clay daub applied for protection from insects and rodents.

Usually, above the northern part of the house there was a second inhabited floor where a wooden ladder led up from the courtyard. Rich owners could afford to decorate their best rooms with red plaster or marble decorative tiles. In one case it was possible to observe a section of the burnt flooring fallen from above lying in a row, and consisting of beams of pine, considered to be the best species of tree used for construction. We have also found items lying on the floor which originally came from the second floor, for example small loom weights of pyramidal shape fallen in a line.

Besides weaving on a small scale, the production of ceramics, especially amphorae and cooking pots, probably took place in Iluraton. This is suggested by the finds of muff-shaped ceramic supports with round air holes. These were intended to support vessels with pointed bottoms while they were being fired in pottery kilns (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 55. Fig. 42; Kruglikova I.T., 1966, p. 145-146). As a rule, objects of such a specific use would be found near to the potters' workshops. Naturally, on account of the fire hazard we should expect these to be found outside city boundaries, and they have not so far been located. Part of the need for domestic utensils may have been satisfied by production of primitive hand-made ceramics burnt in the furnace or by the fireside by each family for its own needs.

The ceramic complex is basically represented by fragments of pithoi, amphorae of Bosporan and South-Pontic production, red-clay (less often gray-clay) table and cooking vessels, red-glaze and hand-made pottery dated to the final period of the fortress' life, the end of the 2nd straight the first half of the 3rd century AD. Bulky pithoi with flattened bottoms had height of up to 1.5 m and a capacity of up to 600 litres were used for the storage of wine or grain (Gajdukevic 1958, 86-87). Sometimes their function was carried out by big pots, up to 0.8 m in height, reminiscent in their form of the type of vessel, which has two vertical handles on its shoulders (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 39, 101, 103. Fig. 23, 98,102; Kruglikova I.T., 1966, p. 152).

There are plenty of massive amphorae of Bosporan production represented by several types:
1) 'Myrmekian' amphorae with a high cylindrical neck and elongated cone-shaped body with a ribbed surface;
2) red clay amphorae with a wide neck and handles which are round in section (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 56, 119. Fig. 43, 122);
3) pink clay amphorae with a conical foot.
The most numerous categories of imported ceramic containers were light clay narrow-necked amphorae of types A-D, dated from the second quarter of the 1st century AD to the first half of the 3rd century AD (Shelov D.B., 1978, p. 16-21). Among them the most widespread are small vessels such as type D dated to the first half of the 3rd century AD. Less frequently occur amphorae dated to the same period with a funneled neck and an egg-shaped body: variant 3 in the classification of V.B.Uzhentsev and V.Ju. Jurochkin (Uzhentsev V.B., Jurochkin V.Ju., 1998, p. 101-109).

The majority of simple wheel-made ceramics, such as pot-shaped vessels, jugs, and bowls, are of Bosporan production. The red-glaze ceramics group (bowls, cups, dishes) with a dark red cover, made of clay of a brown or flesh-colored shade with an admixture of lime particles, is also connected (Silant'eva L.F., 1958, p. 303-309. Fig. 17-19). Imported red-lacquer ceramics of the 1st century AD originating in Asia Minor are represented by a small number of fragments: side plates with vertical edges, cups of conical or globular form and small flat dishes. Forms of red-glazed ceramics dated to the 2nd century AD, which include also deep bowls, cups, kantharoi, two-handle pots and plates, are more various. More than half of the recovered fragments, and the whole vessels that form a prominent feature, which are covered by an almost colorless varnish (Fig. 7, 1), relate to the later period of city existence, i.e. the first two thirds of the 3rd century AD (Silant'eva L.F., 1958, p. 290-303. Fig. 5-16). Various closed lamps (Fig. 7, 2), either flat on top or with relief ornament, are frequently found (Gajdukevic 1958, 58-59. Fig. 47). Similar hand-made lamps have an open boat-shaped form, or resemble a small cup on a high leg. The large quantity of hand-made pottery finds (Fig. 7, 3-5) and the variety of its decoration, testifies that it functioned as tableware, rather than cooking ware. In the life of common inhabitants of the fortress hand­made pottery was obviously used more frequently than imported wares.

Figure 7.
1-2. Red-slip pottery: 1 - cup; 2 - lamps.

Figure 7.
3. Hand-made pottery: filter

Figure 7.
4. Hand-made pottery: lid of vessel

Figure 7.
5. Hand-made pottery: beaker with zoomorphic handle.

Ironworks also existed in Iluraton, using the iron ores found in the Kertch peninsula (Krug O.Ju., Ryndina N.V., 1962, p. 254-258; Kruglikova I.T., 1966, p. 161). Finds of small iron blooms and ferrous slag inform us that the puddling technique was used to extract iron. Thus, it is quite possible that forges and weapon workshops existed in Iluraton. This may have constituted one of the household activities of the fortress population, faced with constant military danger. They had the necessary raw materials to hand and the capacity to work it. The find of a stone crucible with traces of copper oxides also attests to a flourishing bronze-founding activity (Vinogradov Ju. A., 1983, p. 229-231). It was made of a small sandstone plate 19 x 17,5x 6 cm in size. It has a round depression with three grooves on top, and in the back three parallel fillets for sharpening arrows. It was possible to smelt about 350 ml of metal in the crucible, and then the extracted metal would be poured directly into moulds. The Iluraton crucible was probably used in a small workshop, or even in a domestic context to produce fine ornaments and various hand-made articles to satisfy the day-by-day requirements of the fortress population. High quality craft could, indeed, be obtained nearby Panticapaeum.

Besides military service the main occupations of the inhabitants were pastoralism and agriculture. I.M.Gromov has analyzed the osteological material (period 1948-1953) for the final stage of fortress' existence (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 143).3 The proportion of large horned quadrupeds stood at 37.3 %, and that for small horned quadrupeds at 45.3 %. Horse bones accounted for 7.5 % and pigs for 9.9 %. Thus, the prevalence of small quadrupeds and relatively high ratios for horse and domestic pig bones is evident enough. The majority of the small quadruped bones belonged to goats, rather than sheeps. Breeding animals were exploited for both meat and milk, to judge from the ratio of adult and young individuals. Among the horses, individuals with a medium height of up to 144 cm at the withers predominate. The especially valuable tall riding horses could have been kept in special premises on the ground floor, which had provision for tethering, a high drinking trough, and a drain for the removal of sewage (Šurgaja I.G., 1983, p. 100).

Probably, the specific structure of the herd kept was influenced by such factors as climatic conditions, the quality of pasture and water supply. Cattle, for example, prefer juicy meadow grasses. Their quantity depends, to a large extent, on the size of the hay meadows, which, in the region of Iluraton, would probably have been small. The structure of the herds kept would also have been governed by social factors. So, the prevalence of small quadrupeds, characteristic for nomadic herding, is possibly best explained by the presence of a nomadic group, of Alan origin, within the population of Iluraton. A change has been noticed in the materials deposited in a necropolis from about the middle of the 2nd century AD onwards. On the basis of the available data it is possible to conclude that the population of Iluraton combined grazing on distant pastures and keeping their animals in stalls during the short winter period, when the snow cover is light and variable (Podgorodetskiy P.D., 1988, p. 59). Butter and cheese would probably have been produced with the aid of special ceramic churn and cup-filters.

The presence of deposits of non-carbonate and carbonate 'chernozem' soils to the northwest of the fortress was of significance for the development of agriculture in the outskirts of Iluraton, despite the presence of rather large rocky outcrops there. Such soils were quite suitable for the cultivation of both grain crops and grapes. It would have been possible to store a significant amount of grain in the numerous storage pits in the houses of Iluraton, sufficient not only to fully meet their day-by-day requirements, but also to provide adequate stocks in case of siege. Charred grains of various cereals, among which barley and wheat predominate, found during excavation are of importance for determining the breakdown of agricultural crops grown (Gajdukevic V.F., 1981, p. 76, 101;Kruglikova I.T., 1975, p. 109).

Archeological finds connected with agriculture are not numerous in Iluraton, but indicative enough. First of all the iron tip of a plough was found in one of the houses leading to the crossroads of two main streets. It is shaped out from a flat extended ingot and has a length of 24 cm and a maximum width of 5 cm. Its cutting edge is nearly semi-oval in shape, and the end is sharpened. Such a tip would have been convenient for processing both firm soils and virgin land (Kruglikova I.T., 1975, p. 164-167). It could have been attached to ploughs of various constructions.

An iron scythe with a narrow, thin edge 26 cm in length and an overall length of about 45 cm (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 116. Fig. 96) could have been used for mowing meadows, and also for wheat and barley fields. Sickles could also have been used for harvesting, similar to an example found with the end of its blade broken off. The other end was in the shape of a hook, which would have been driven into a handle, and could have been additionally secured in place by a leather thong or a metal ring. Thus, the tang for the handle is a continuation of the blade, by which it forms an angle of about 150°, which closely resembles that of the scythe (Kruglikova I.T., 1966, p. 118).

Wine production was less developed. The only winery known so far is situated in one of the central city blocks (Goroncharovski V.A., 1985a, p. 89-92). The building consists of three rooms and a small yard. In the part of the winery devoted to production are the bases of four presses and two cisterns, covered by several layers of a special lime solution with an admixture of crushed ceramics have been found (Fig. 8). The grape mash extracted was drained into cistern tanks through special stone drains. The overall capacity of the tanks, which have an inclined bottom for the deposit to accumulate, amounts to about 3.5 thousand litres. This would be adequate to deal with the harvest of a vineyard of 1.5 square hectares, equivalent to an allotment of an average size (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958a, p. 450).

Figure 8. Industrial site of winery: view.

Figure 8. Industrial site of winery: plan and sections.

A lever and screw press were used for extracting the grape juice. A beam 5 m long was attached with a stone weight (1,4 t). In a small courtyard three bell-shaped pits were discovered, including one with a layer lying at the bottom, approximately 0.5 m thick, consisted of grape stones of both table and wild varieties (Šurgaja I.G., Janushevich Z.V., 1983, p. 102). It seems probable that at one time they would have been filled by the pressed grape skins. In another pit a vine-grower's knife was found. The building complex also contained a warehouse with a pise floor where wine had once been stored in three pithoi, each with a capacity of about 600. The wine production was most likely intended for the inhabitants of the nearby house to which the winery belonged, and was only partly intended for sale.

Fishing was also important for the inhabitants of Iluraton. The small river flowing near the fortress was no deep at all, taking into account the steep fall of the river, of some 12 m per kilometre. They must, therefore, have made use of the sea gulf, which lies some 5 km on the east. Fish-scales though are not a significant find in the houses of Iluraton, but objects connected with fishing are. Pyramidal or globular clay weights are found, and bone needles for weaving nets are found frequently (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 131. Fig. 140, 2). Some inhabitants of the fortress produced fishing weights for their own needs, baking them in furnaces or fires. In one case some dozens of unfinished round net-weights had been paced in a small niche under a small stone table in the corner of a room before baking. A small anchor with three flukes and a fishing hook was found nearby.

Despite its proximity to the state capital, trade in Iluraton was not developed, although it was not limited predominantly to barter as it had been supposed by V.F. Gajdukevic (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 144). To date, a single square-shaped lead weight has been found on the site (Goroncharovski V.A., 1982, p. 236-238). On one of its sides the sign of an octahedron has been imprinted, probably designating a weight standard of one mina. Consequently, with a weight of 402.7 g, the Iluraton weight standard would be a relatively heavy one, lying close to the late Attic weight system with a ntina of 390-409 g (Grach N.L., 1976, p. 198-199).

Finds of coins in the strata are rare enough, but one of them is of completely unique character. It is of a type previously unknown: a double denarius of the Bosporan king Sauromates II (AD 174-210) found in the central district of fortress, in the wall of house (Goroncharovski V.A., 1984a, p. 90-93). Maybe the coin was deliberately deposited during the time of construction for good fortune. It is a massive copper coin weighing about 15 gr. On the obverse side of the coin is a fine profile image of the king with a diadem on his head, on reverse the fifth Labour of Hercules, the cleaning of the Augean stable is shown (Fig. 9, 2). The hero is pictured nude with a mattock in his hands. The lion's skin and club are shown behind him. The double denarius is an addition to the not so numerous series of Bosporan coins showing the Labours of Hercules, which was first known one hundred years ago (Frolova N.A., 1977, p. 150-180; Maslennikov A.A., 1986, p. 175-183. Fig. 1). Not all of Hercules exploits are shown on these coins, but only the following subjects: the Nemean lion, the Hydria, the Stymphalian birds, the Cretan bull, the horses of Diomedes and a few others. Bearing in mind the infrequency with which the cleaning out of manure is shown in classical art, it seems likely that coins showing other labours of Hercules will be shown in the future. Perhaps the series had a purely commemorative significance, because the Bosporan kings were descended from the legendary Hercules. There is an obvious parallel between the martial victories of the Sauromates II over the Scythians, the Siraces, and the pirates of the Black Sea and the exploits of his divine ancestor. Such coins could have been awarded to the participants in these military operations.

Figure 9.
1 - Hoard of King Rheskuporis IV staters.

Figure 9.
2 - Unique double denarius of King Sauromates II.

The religious preferences of the inhabitants of Iluraton, mainly involving Greek deities with cults and ceremonies going back to the early age of agriculture, was determined both by their engagement in pastoralism and by their mixed ethnic structure. Consequently, the first place in the archaeological record is taken by the cults of female deities whose images differ to each other appreciably in artistic style. Some objects were made according to traditions of ancient art, for others a more generalized appearance is characteristic. A rare find from Iluraton is a marble head of Aphrodite with a hairstyle consisting of freely falling ringlets divided in the middle by a parting (Gajdukevic V.F., 1981, p. 135. Fig. 55). It was a part of a small statue about 40 cm high, which once decorated the interior of a wealthy citizen's house. A fragment of the foot of a statue approaching life-size suggests the existence of monumental marble statuary in the city (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 117-118. Fig. 121). Some finds of art works have no analogies elsewhere in the territory of Bosporan kingdom. For instance, one might mention the imported terracotta figurine of a half-naked Aphrodite before an altar (2nd century AD). She has diadem and shawl on the head. White plaster patches are preserved on its surface in various places. The image of Aphrodite also appears on a well-preserved golden medallion of the middle of the 3rd century AD (Fig. 9, 4), discovered in the destruction layer of the house adjoining the western tower of the fortress (Goroncharovski 1993c, 80 ff). This image itself is a plate 2.85 cm in diameter with the schematic bust of the goddess whose hair, arranged in large curls around her head, falls down onto her shoulders. Her headdress takes the form of a cylinder with five vertical projections. Above her shoulders are two six-ray rosettes, which are symbolized stars alluding to the heavenly nature of this deity. We know of golden and electrum medallions of the same size and the same technique of manufacture from other sites within the territory of the Bosporan kingdom. These pieces come from the settlement of Novo-Otradnoye and by chance were found in the Lower Kuban region.

Figure 9.
3 - Golden medallion with image of Aphrodite.

Figure 9. 4

Products of a workshop are most likely in Panticapaeum. The images on these medallions are influenced by sculptural images of Aphrodite Urania, whose cult had assumed a national dimension on Bosporos since the end of the 2nd century AD. The medallions probably played some role in the ceremonies connected with the cult of the goddess, and were only worn for religious ceremonies. It is not by mere chance that this ornament is depicted as being worn on the breast on four of Iluraton's terracotta figurines (Fig. 9, 4), obviously meant to represent the very same Aphrodite Urania (Denisova V.I., 1984, p. 127. Tabl. XXIV, a). She sits on a throne with a high footstool on her feet. Her narrow face with a large nose has been deliberately stylized. The main emphasis has been put in depicting the attributes shown in the hands of the goddess, roughly moulded bowls, fruit or round cakes. The syncretism of the religious beliefs of the inhabitants of Iluraton is reflected in terracotta busts in which the draped figure of the goddess is represented as projecting at the bosom, symbolizing pregnancy (Denisova V.I., 1984, Tabl. XXIV, c). Thus, Aphrodite acquires the features of a deity with natural creative forces.

Another terracotta from Iluraton reproduces the image of the Great Goddess shown without 'a Greek veil'. On a round clay stamp used in making the flat cakes for cult use, we see the so-called Great Goddess, the mistress of fauna and flora (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 79-84. Fig. 76), appearing in a long garment extending from top to bottom as a personification of the world tree with open hands as branches (Fig. 10, 1). They serve as a border between the upper heavenly world marked by the schematic image of a star or a flying bird, and the lower underground world represented by winged griffins. The shape of the head of the goddess, with its twelve shoots, is reminiscent of an ear of grain.

Figure 10.
1 - Clay stamp for producing cult cakes.
2 - Stone altar with skull of man.

The clay stamp has been found near a large building near the southeast defensive wall, which apparently functioned as a public sanctuary. Remains of human sacrifice have been found there (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958,p. 43-46. Fig. 29-31), which suggest that the inhabitants of the fortress resorted to bloody rituals immediately prior to its fall. In a cult room, on a raised platform of rectangular form, there was a funnel-shaped depression. Nearby the remains of a substantial fire were found, in the layer of ashes of which part of a goat skeleton was found. In the eastern corner of the room there was a stone altar built from several calcareous slabs. In the in-fill of this construction were found the skeleton of a cock, and on the topmost slab the skull of a 30-35-years-old man, most probably a captured enemy, with a straight cut on the bottom vertebra, were found. He had witnessed a great deal in his lifetime. Long before his death he had suffered a strong blow to the right side of his head, perhaps in battle, which had left a mark on his cranium. To which bloodthirsty deity had the priests of this sanctuary brought such a sacrifice? Perhaps it was to the same Great Goddess, personifying the powerful forces of nature. We may presume that this sacrifice had probably been provoked by quite extraordinary circumstances, and was carried out not on the initiative of a single person or family, but rather by a substantial and powerful group of the citizenry.

A small domestic sanctuary was also uncovered in one of the central quarters of Iluraton (Šurgaja I.G., 1986, p. 217-222). In the middle of the sanctuary there was an altar built of three vertically set limestone slabs. It was covered by a heap of ashes about a metre high, at the bottom of which the skeletons of a dog and a goat were found still in proper anatomic order. In the ash layers and near to it, figurines carelessly moulded from clay were found, with emphasized attributes of gender (Fig. 10, 4). All of them are slightly burnt, with traces of ochre remaining in places. The heads of the male figurines are conical, while those of the female ones are more rounded. The nose is pinched out, the eyes are rounded in shape, and the hands and legs project forward like ledges. A terracotta bed corresponding to the figurines in size, and painted red in colour, the 'colour of life', leave no doubt that these figurines were used in ceremonies imitating the 'sacred marriage' carried out on the ash altar. This ceremony may have been carried out to ensure fertilization and good harvests. The figurines would have been thrown down into the ash after use. The ritual flat cakes with the image of the goddess of flora and fauna were probably baked in the firs lit on this altar. If so, as in many other cases, we witness a belief in the influence of ritual fire on weather, vegetation, plentiful crops and fauna, as the fire was a reflection of sunlight.

Figure 10.
4 - hand-made clay figurines from domestic sanctuary.
5 - Marble figurine from ash-hill near southeast gate.

Special attention must be given to a fragment of a hand­made cult vessel found near the domestic sanctuary. On an internal surface of the vessel there is a relief in the shape of female figure with her head in the shape of an ear of grain, with her hands stretched out, swollen breasts and a protruding stomach. A background of lines drawn in parallel symbolize a ploughed field (Fig. 10, 3). It, thus, represents a plea for a plentiful harvest conveyed by graphic means. It is interesting to note that a number of figures of this type were moulded, although only two remain, probably in order to strengthen the magical force of the contents of the vessel.

Figure 10.
3 - Fragment of a hand-made cult vessel.

The special attitude of city dwellers to ashes is attested in the way that they were poured in specially allocated places. Hills of cinder have been discovered near the defensive walls. It is possible that they formed an additional line of protection in the imagination of the inhabitants of Iluraton. The largest ash-hill (5.2 m in height) rises up behind the southeast gate. Judging by materials recovered from it, it was formed from the second half of the 1st down to the middle of the 3rd centuries AD. Besides a purely household function, the hill of ash may have played a role in agrarian magic rituals. Indeed, at the top of the hill a platform constructed from stones and burnt clay has been partly excavated, above which a layer of pure ash up to half a metre in thickness was recorded. A small marble figurine (Fig. 10, 5), almost fully complying with the female clay figurines described above (Goroncharovski V.A., 1987, p. 320), was found nearby. It was probably intended for repeated use in ceremonies of importance to the city as a whole. Next to the ritual area a pit with two dogs buried in it, which had apparently been sacrificed.

Thus during the Roman period, within the territory of the Bosporan Kingdom the religious beliefs of the rural inhabitants were largely based upon traditional Greek cults.

3 Finds of subsequent years have not necessitated any essential changes to the percentage ratios noted for the earlier seasons.

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