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

The Necropoleis of Iluraton The 'Upper' necropolis

The necropoleis of Iluraton were situated along the roads leading to the city. The so-called 'Upper' necropolis, located 200 m on the southeast of Iluraton, has been quite well uncovered. In its present state the necropolis occupies about 3 hectares. Alongside the erection of funerary monuments, the intensive working of stone to be used in place, was carried out here. In a number of places holes for the breaking off of excess stone, or roughly trimmed blocks which they had no time to remove, are still visible. Up to date, in the area of the rocky channel found here, and along slopes of the small gully, more than 210 funerary complexes and funeral constructions of several types have been found. These include tombs dug into the earth and underground chamber tombs (Fig. 11, 1), ordinary tombs made of stones, catacombs with an open dromos and stone benches, one or two chambered tombs constructed from well-trimmed blocks of limestone, and chamber-tomb with the remains of a semi-cylindrical or stepped vault (Khrshanovski V.A., 1997, p. 265-267; idem, 1998, 77-87; Zakharenkov N.V., 1999, p. 315-319). In the latter case the upper courses of stones making up the masonry of the walls frequently tower above the present day land surface. In their original state the tumuli would have had an earth mound of up to 3 m in height (Kryzhitski S.D., Kublanov M.M., 1972, p. 46; Kublanov M.M., 1983, p. 101-103). Sometimes niches for lamps are found in the funeral chambers of the tombs. Inhumation with a westward orientation is characteristic.

Figure 11.
1. 'Upper' necropolis: two-chambered tomb.

The earliest of the funeral complexes, dated from the 1st to the beginning of the 2nd century AD, are situated in the northern necropolis, which adjoins the city. Re-used materials of Hellenistic date have been found here. There are fragments of Heraclean and Thasian amphorae, a black-glaze kylix, and terracottas of the 4th and 3rd centuries ВС. The double-stemmed handles of amphorae of the 2nd and 1 st centuries ВС have also been found, as well as Megarian bowls and a Pontic copper coin of 80-70 ВС (Goroncharovski V.A., Khrshanovski V.A., 1994, p. 85-86; Khrshanovski V.A, 2003, p. 272). Thus the assumption that a Hellenistic settlement had once occupied the site of the later Iluraton, once stated by V.F.Gajdukevic, is confirmed (Gajdukevic V.F., 1958, p. 17-18). Comparison of the funerary constructions, funeral assemblages, and anthropological data from the northern and southern parts of the necropolis suggests not only chronological, but also ethnic and cultural differences (Khrshanovski V.A., 2003, p. 273). Earth tombs and tombs with accompanying sacrificial pits are earlier. In some cases samples of red slip ceramics of the first half of the 1st century AD have been found here. To the south stone tomb-boxes and tomb-chambers of various types with the prevailing westward orientation of the body predominated.

Frequently enough there are traces of lifetime deformation of the skull. This confirms the presence of persons of Sarmatian (or Alanic stock) in the garrison of the fortress. Some types of weapons and the cast 'Sarmatian' mirrors absent in the funerary assemblages of graves of the 1st and the beginning of the 2nd centuries AD. Red-slip, red clay and hand-made pottery are represented in the ceramic assemblage. There are several ornaments: rings, bracelets and earrings, mostly of bronze, but in some cases of gold and silver. A gold ring is of special note, on the wide bezel of which the inscription WWWWWWWWWW has been punched out. Quite often burials of dogs and the entire skeletons of horses have been found near the tombs. At least in one case (catacomb № 37) it is possible that human sacrifice had also taken place (Khrshanovski V.A., 2000, p. 241-242). The occurrence of this new ethnic-cultural tradition in about the middle of the 2nd century AD, is probably due to the radical reorganization of the fortress, and the inclusion of some groups of Sarmatians in the structure of Iluraton's garrison.

Traces of ritual sites for commemorative funeral feasts all over the area of the necropolis have been found near to the remains of the burial complexes. They consist of areas of ash rich in fragments of pottery, terracottas, melted glass, and bronze and iron goods. It is worth mentioning a unique terracotta statue of a female deity (Fig. 11, 2), dated to the 1st century AD and some 62cm high, was found among deposits of this type in the 'Upper' necropolis (Kublanov M.M., Khrshanovski V.A., 1989, p. 18-20. Fig. 6; Goroncharovski V.A., 2000, p. 255-257). It was found near the entrance to Chamber Tomb N 52 in 1984. Here, at the site of the funeral feast, the statue had been broken into a great number of pieces. The terracotta shows a person in a relaxed, slightly turned, pose. She wears a diadem on her head and a cloak thrown over her left arm, its edge rolled into a plait. She wears a chiton underneath, falling in intricate folds, fastened by a narrow belt tied under the breasts. The elongated oval face of the goddess is absolutely symmetrical. The nose is straight, and there is no additional treatment to the pupils of the eyes. The reverse side of terracotta has traces of smoothing on the surface. It was hollow inside, and open at the bottom. The joints of the separate parts, which come from different moulds, have been carefully smoothed.

Figure 11.
2. 'Upper' necropolis: unique terracotta statue of female deity.

Judging by the clay it is the product of a Bosporan workshop, but its mould was imported. Unfortunately the arms of the figure and other details are missing. Nevertheless we can find parallels for this image of a goddess among Roman art of the Imperial period. Particularly close are the 2nd century AD representations of Fortune with a horn of plenty from Rome and Ostia (Amelung W., 1903, p. 79, 101-103. Taf. 9, № 59; 13, № 86). Perhaps these works of art had a much earlier prototype. This is suggested by the distinctive coiffure with a middle parting and two curled locks on both sides of neck. This hair-style was in fashion for a very short time, because otherwise it appears only in sculptural portraits of the mother of the Emperor Caligula (AD 37-41), Agrippina the Elder, who died in exile (West R., 1933, Taf. XLIV, № 191; Wood 1988). Apparently, the mother of the Emperor, was idealized as Fortune with horn of plenty, as her daughters were on coins (Wood S., 1995, p. 458. Fig. 1). Taking into consideration the dimensions of the tomb, the graves of horses found near it and the burial ritual, the owner of the statue was a well-off Sarmatian by the birth. Evidently, he regarded Fortune above all as the goddess who bore war booty, fertility and prosperity.

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