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George Page
Micha Jelisavcic
John Sloan

History and description

The current name of the Greek colony, Belyaus, founded on northwest coast of Crimea.

We visited Donizlav on a beautiful sunny afternoon in July 1997. It is an archeological site right on the beach amid summer camp grounds. The location appears on our map of Crimea. It is on the southern side of the Tarkhankutskii Penn., the westernmost part of Crimea. It is just east of Okynevka village and west of the inlet at Novoozernoye, where the Ukrainian Navy has now established a base. We were fortunate to have the archeological project director, Dr Olga Dashevskaya, lead us personally around the site. She appears in several of the photos. We wish to express our great appreciation to her for taking several hours of her valuable time to guide us through the town and explain both its history and her current archeological project. We also thank Pavel Lyashuk for arranging for the visit. Each summer Dr Daskevskaya supervises and teachs groups of young people who greatly enjoy the opportunity to camp out on a beautiful beach and learn something at the same time. The following is the transcript of some of her explanations as recorded by Micha, while he was also providing the simultaneous interpretation.

Question: "How many years have you been working here?"

Answer: "I have been working here more than thirty years. We have pretty much excavated the entire town and the cemetery."

Question: "Whose town is it?"

Answer: "Let us proceed to the site and I will tell you all about it."

Question by Dr Dashevskaya: "Where are you travelling from?" "Did you arrive from Khersonese?"

Our answer: "From Sevastopol. We have visited the site headed by Sergei Vnukov (Kara-Tebe) and just came from Volodya's Kerkinitkida and came straight here."

Dr Dashevskaya: "Okay, I understand. The principal state of our dig here is as follows. This settlement was founded by the city of Khersonese, by the Greeks who travelled here from Khersonese, who came here at the end of the fourth century BC. And in the middle of the second century BC it was overrun by the Scythians. They inhabited this settlement until the first century AD. It is for this reason we have here in this settlement, both Greek architectural traces and Scythian architecture. This is one of several settlements founded by the Greeks on this shoreline. This is the site of a Khersonese "Khora." That is to say that this was an agricultural growing area, territorial area for those two cities of Khersonese and Sevastopol. The inhabitants of Khersonese who arrived here, founded here dwellings, built homes. One set of homes was close to the shoreline and another one was far removed.

Question: "Where was the shoreline then?"

Answer: "At that time the sea was of course much further out, perhaps 300 meters further out. What you are looking at is a tower. In this tower we have detected a well, in which the water is right now brackish. Of course in those days the water was fresh. Over here under the sand we have dug out a supporting abutment and wall for the tower. Please take a look at the tower.

Question: "Do we know how tall the tower was?"

Answer: "Approximately twenty meters high."

Question: "Was it used for illumination for ships?"

Answer: "Yes it could possibly have been a light tower. A two meter foundation."

Olga then pointed out the inscribed Greek letter Epsilon and Beta and another Beta. The same outer covering on the walls was evident here too.

Question: "Was the masonry considered to be good workmanship?" Answer: "Yes, it was."

Question: "Where did the stone come from?"

Answer: "The stone came from cliffs, and further on the shoreline is made up of cliffs. Under the sand and clay there is a quarry. Here is a well. Here a stair way to the second floor and to go higher they had wooden stairs. They used to store wheat in the other rooms. Here is the entrance, Here are very clear letters. The builders put their own trade mark on their work so they knew how much to get paid for their work."

Question: Before you began work here, was the area completely covered over?

Answer: "Absolutely, totally covered over by clay. We did all this with our own hands. Please note the second "pansir" of the tower, a pyramid skirt around the tower to guard against assault. This was a defensive position to defend themselves from the Scythians. Please note the openings these were wooden plugs to strengthen the construction. What you have here are all Scythian dwellings. And there also."

Question: "Do you have any idea what the population of the Greeks was?"

Answer: "Maybe two hundred. A plantation of the new world. There lies the outer wall of the colony. Here is a good view point. Here is the second dwelling area. The dwellings were built right up to the wall. These were Greek. There used to be a court yard there. But the Scythians built on it too. In these dwellings the Scythians also lived after the departure of the Greeks. There were many layers of different peoples that lived here. Here we reached the bottom layer, of archaeological remains."

Olga pointed to the Greek's wall dated at the later period. And then pointed to the second settlement.

"Here is the settlement. Please note the room of the second dwelling. Here is another tower. A big tower. Another dwelling. In the beginning the dwelling used to be behind the tower. But as the settlement grew the tower was encircled. When you are digging one has to determine the archaeological period."

Question; "How do you determine the age of the period?"

Answer: "The layers we excavate, the dating of the ceramic, the inscriptions on the handles of the amphora."

Question: "Where are the remains preserved?"

Answer: "In Evpatoriya in the museum. Here is our second tower. The first tower level here is badly preserved here. The first wall level was built on these slabs."

Question: "What kind of metal did they have to work the stone in?"

Answer: "Iron, they did have iron. There is the stairwell. A well, which was very narrow. Here is another tower. This one is dated to the first colony. It is small tower. It has also a well. All built in sandstone. Here is a typically Greek architectural slab."

Question: "Any detection of rock that has ocean sediments."

Answer: "No, the only thing is that the sea has come closer. There was no massive flood."

Question: "Were the streets paved with stone?"

Answer: "Yes with two rows. All over. Here we have a sanctuary. Very pretty and aesthetic. Note the darker areas where they lit fires. Perhaps even the Scythians conducted religious rituals. There is a bath house too with a drain hole."

Question: "Were there any reliefs found on the walls."

Answer: "An inscription on the pedestal to a statue to the Greek Goddess Gekatiya. No relief on the walls were found. Just partial inscriptions such as those on tomb stones. Here is a Scythian earthen burrow. Here is a Scythian fortification. They had a ditch, a tranche, with a tunnel. When the Scythians conquered the area they fortified it."

Olga showed us the tunnel.

"Here is a bridge built by the Scythians. It is all part of their fortification. This was the main gate to their colony."

Question: "What do you think the burrows were covered with?"

Answer: "They were thatched with animal hides, and posts, with hay. They found some tiled roofs but they are rare."

Question: "What did they eat"

Answer: "Wheat they sowed, they ate meat, all the animals' bones have been found, such as horses, cows, pigs, and goats. There are at times 50 to 60 people working on the dig."




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Foundation walls


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House foundations


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Seacoast, approaching houses


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Archeology team camp tent


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Walls near beach


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View across town to sea


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Town walls and seacoast


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Detail of stone foundations - very rough building, not ashlar


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Detail of another foundation - note the wall includes dressed stone work


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Dr Dashkevskaya explaining the project


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Belyaus town with camp beyond


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Beach front with town and camp


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Dr Dashkevskaya leading way through town


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Walking through town


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Sign at entrance to camp


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Belyaus walls and sea


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Town walls and interior


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Archeology camp


We believe this archeology project would be an ideal summer activity for American students. For further information please contact Xenophon To return to the Xenophon main page please click here. .