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B. A. Kutaisov

Extract from the book, translated by Micha Jelisavcic

Interest in establishing the true location of Kerkinida in modern times began with the F. Z. Bayer, an academician of German ancestry, who attempted to find a location for the references made by Herodotus. On a map Bayer located Kerkinida at the mouth of the river Kalanchak on the north shore of the Karkinitida bay. This location was west of the Perekop isthmus and so not on the Crimean peninsula. The French ambassador to the Crimean khan, M. d'Anville published in 1770, "Examen critique d'Herodote sur ce quil rapporte de la Scythie//Memoires de litterature, teres des (found in) L'Academie Royale des inscriptions et belles - lettres. - 1770 - No.35.-P.580. He reached the same conclusion as Bayer. Soon however, in 1784, another German by the name of Tunman in his book the Crimean Kaganate located Kerkinitida where Arrian had placed it close to Yevpatoriya. All of these postulations where made without an analysis of the total information available and relied on written sources in which the city was named. Furthermore none of these writers had access to the Decree in honor of Diophant and the "Khersonesus oath," nor to the coinage of Kerkinitida which were yet to be discovered. A German scientist G. Fridlender, chose to name two separate cities, one with the letter "A" and the other with the letter "E". However a Russian coin collector related this inconsistency with difficulties in transcription and located the city at the mouth of the Giparis-Kalanchak river. In the middle of the last century some scientists in writing about Kerkinitida either chose Fridlender's approach or Spasskii's approach. A postulate by Gaidukevich explained the presence of two cities by a migration of the Scythian population from outside the peninsula to one on the peninsula. The majority opinion was that whether there was one city or two, it was situated close to Yevpatoriya. In the opinion of N.F. Romanchenko, the Biyuk-Moinaksii lake was at one time a bay which in ancient times was used as a harbor. Others chose to place the city close to the Donuslav lake which in Greek colonial times might have been mistaken for one of the Scythian rivers. P.O. Burachkov linked Kerkinitida to the ancient settlement located at the so-called Belyaus cantine. However as recent archaeological digs of the past decades have shown, the settlement Belyaus (see our web page ) was not of the same type, whether by size or the era and thus could not be linked to Kerkinitida. Belyaus was a conglomerate of four groups of lodgings joined together by towers. Two factors sway Kutaisov to doubt the existence of the city on the north shore of the Karkinitida bay. One is the absence of suitable navigable waters at the promontories to the bay in ancient times when the level of the Black Sea was shallower. The other pertains to the perception of the Taurids as mountaineers, which stemmed from the appellation originating in Herodotus's time from the Tavra mountain range in Asia Minor which was thought to stretch around to this location. Furthermore the Greek sailors route from Olvia went by straight maritime path to the Chersonesus promontory and not along the undulating shoreline. Herodotus' placing of cities respective to rivers allows for a city such as Istra to be located close to the mouth of the river of the same name, when in fact the city was 500 stadii from the contemporary place of where the southern flow of the Danube empties into the sea. therefore the location of Kerkinitida was not close to the sixth river - the Gipakiris (Konka), as was thought to be by many explorers, but at some distance to it.
The History of Herodotus contains in the fourth book, entitled Melpomene, paragraph 56. The seventh river is the Gerrhus, which is a branch thrown out by the Boryshtenes at the point where the course of that stream first begins to be known, to wit, the region called by the same name as the stream itself, viz. Gerrhus. This river on its passage towards the sea divides the country of the Nomadic from that of the Royal Scyths. It runs into the Hypacyris (Gipakiris). The renowned historian B.A. Rybakov says that this is a knot that he can start to unravel. He says that one would not place fault on Herodotus, as we in the twentieth century even though we are using precise maps, are not always are able to clearly depict for ourselves the tangled web of hydrographic layout of the Lower Dnieper region: After the cataracts, the Dniepr splinters into hundreds of offshoots, some ensuing from the river, some coming back and taking on estuaries of the Dniepr. The estuaries/savannas extend for 100 km, forming a grid of flows whose width is 15 to 20 km. It is into this unraveled water system, that empties to the left the river Konka, flowing from the depths of the steppes in proximity of the Azov Sea. On our maps this river is usually depicted as a curving flow known as the "Konka Waters" and emptying into the Dniepr at Nikopol. Only when one refers to a large detail map do we learn that the river Konka flows another 220 km to the south-west, flowing parallel to the Dniepr and emptying into the Black Sea in proximity of the so-called Zbur'yevshii savanna. This then is that special river that should be identified as the mysterious Gipakiris, in spite of there being no other points which can be linked to shape our picture as we shall see. The Gerrhus was an appellation in all likelihood as was the entire system layout of savannas, formed following the passage of the Dniepr thru the cataracts, which included the wide expanses of the elongated strips of savannas. Therefore one can suppose the following denouement of the Herodotus "savannas." First of all, the savannah was a locale bounding the wide expanses of flows and savannahs. This is where were located the Royal Kurgans of the Scythians and this is where was the northern boundary inhabited by the nomadic Scythians, "the so-called lost peoples of the savannahs." Secondly, savannahs refered to those flows which "broke away from the Borysthenes (Dniepr)." Some of these flows do in fact "empty into the Gypakiris," (Konka), referring to latter as that part of the Konka which loops around the system of savannahs on its south-east side.
Thirdly, the Gerrus (savannahs) the river which it was named, whose estuaries began in the "local of the savannahs," and it was this river "whose path to the sea served as a boundary of the Scythian-nomads and the Royal Scythians." It was this river, which emptied into the Azov sea, noted by Ptolemy at 49 degrees 50 seconds latitude and sixty one degrees of eastern longitude. F. Braun and Yu. Kulakovshii and the later authors correctly point to this river as the Molochnaya, emptying into the Azov sea somewhat easternly of the Crimea into a wide savannah-bay (with a width of 7 and a length of 33 km). B.A. Rybakov's analysis unravels the knot of the Gerruhs river appellation.
The Konka, curves from the south-east all the flows and empties into the Dniepr and then flows out again, extending to the sea proper, called appropriately an "equestrian name" Konka, from the word horse. However in Herodotus the lower flow of the Gipakiris does not approach the Borisphenes: the puzzling river empties into the well-known Karkinitida bay, where Ptolemy pin points the river Karkinitida with a length of more than 150 km and with six cities on it banks. The river turns in the direction of the Dniepr. F. A. Braun proposed that the Gipakiris was the small river Kalanchak, the sole river emptying into the Karkinitida bay, but in view of the fact that at present it is so insignificant, he allows for the ancient Gipakiris was formed from a series of lakes, marshes and criss-crossing streams between the flows of the Dniepr and the Kalanchak. The idea postulated by Braun is correct; as it is the only plausible possibility which explains the contradictions of the account.
However if one takes into consideration the data of Ptolemy, one must move the Gipakiris system somewhat to the West. If we draw the river Karkinitida on the coordinates of Ptolemy and we assign its lower branch as the present Kalanchak, then we see, that the upper course of the Kerkinida will come close to the Dniepr in the locale of Kakhovka. If we refer to the maps of state canals of the 1950s, we shall see that the Ptolemy Karkinit exactly coincides with the stretches of these canals, running away from the Dniepr in proximity of Kakhovka. In summation then, Herodotus erred in his acceptance of savannah waters becoming the Konka, as the source of a major river which also had a name - Gerros (Molochnaya, the Milky river). In Ptolemy's time the river in question was named Kerkinida. In present days it is not possible for us to picture the fragments of this unusual water system, unless we reconstruct the Gipakiris, running for 10 "days sailing time," making it understandable why it drew so much attention. Beginning at the steppes of the Scythian-nomads, the Giparikiris cut thru the lands of the Royal Scythians beginning at the Kurgans of Gerros up to the sands close to Olesh'ye and drew in the eastern boundary of "Ancient Scythia" at the cozy bay of Kerkinida.
The analysis of Yu. G. Vinogradov explains the change in the spelling of the word from KARKINTI to KERKINITI as a result of a change of dialect from Ionian to Dorian ancient Greek dialects. The sole existing monument from the VI-Vth centuries BC in the large space from Olvia to Chersonesus is the ancient settlement in Yevpatoriya. This is not withstanding the intensive archaeological probes conducted over the course of more than a century. Those who believe in the one-time presence of two same-name cities on the north shores of the Black Sea, put the peninsular city founded by Chersonesus in the second half of the IVth century BC or perhaps at the beginning of the IIIrd century BC. The opening of an archaeological find with cultural artifacts of the archaic epoch refutes such a conclusion.
The story of Kerkinitida - one of the smaller cities of the Black Sea coast was not a simple one. As an exception to other ancient Greek colonies, the location of which were established some time ago, and consequently attention to their study was in such fashion carried out, Kerkinitida was only known thru its coinage and written sources. Its archaeological research can be divided into three distinct stages, of which the initial stage was connected with the location of the city, which was unknown, and the absence of a marker, whose time frame ran from the 1870s to 1918. A local graduate of the Simpheropol gymnasium, P.O. Burachkov, noted ancient ceramic shards in the area between lake Moinakskii and the Yevpatoriya wharf. The absence of any traces of buildings did not allow him then to determine the location of the ancient city at this precise place. In 1880, he undertook a exhaustive dig of the entire territory. What traces of buildings in his interpretation were found, were that of a small village and were not confirmed by certain authors as the location of an ancient city. Of note were the curtain wall whose length was around 150 m, flanked by two round towers.
In 1893, as a result of a happenstance find of ancient monumental architecture, N.F. Romachenko, an engineer, began new searches the result of which in the suburbs of Yevpatoriya attracted so much attention because of visual appeal, that the Taurid scientific-archival commission requested this St. Petersburg collector to make his finds known in the society's publication, "Bulletin." This was never done however. The extensive finds of N.F. Romachenko were not followed-up and he turned his attention to the restoration of architectural edifices in the north. The alarming signs of the endangered position of antiquities were coming from not only Yevpatoriya. Development of lands sold in parcels, and the unabated interest of collectors, on visits such as vacation trips, including whole families whose occupation became the unearthing of ancient resting places, all over the Northern Black Sea shoreline. The results of this process was in part the realization in the imperial government circles of the necessity of action and marked interest in such artifacts as stone tablets depicting the positions in Greek society of the families whose loved ones the tombs contained. The deities that where the objects of cult worshiping also gained attention. The Necropolis of a city was usually outside the city's limits and L.A. Moiseyev pointed to the presence of the city of Kerkinitida on the side behind the city wall. This led to the uncovering of the western defensive wall of the city with its square towers and an adjoining block of the city's quarters. Subsequently, the dating of these dwellings were placed at the earliest at the end of the VI-Vth centuries BC, followed by other blocks of the IV-end of the IInd centuries BC and a final latter period of the I-IInd centuries BC. These final datings were inaccurately made due to the specific historical study methods used in archaeological work in this period which contradicted the observations received earlier during field analysis.
L. A. Moiseyev was a member of the commission heading the archaeological digs and the discoverer of Kerkinitida. His plan of the Karantin (wharf) promontory, depicts finds of 1917 thru 1929. In 1932, the excavation area was turned over the sanatorium for use as a park area. Limited work continued until 1942, in January when V.F. Shtiftar was shot along with other Crimeans as part of a Nazi campaign to kill off the males of the city of Yevpatoriya. In spite of this the work of Shtiftar left an indelible trace of plans and sketches of the well surrounded by dwellings. The ancient city had as concluded by P.N. Shultz, emerged on the sloping sandy shore which topographically made Kerkinitida different from the other places of colonization, with an area of 10 hectares. The geometrically correct shape of the city necessitated the creation of an undulating contour of the defensive walls. P.N. Shultz also concluded that two adversarial systems emerged in the IVth century BC. One was the Greko-Scythian and the other Scythian-Sarmatians. The first of them which included Kerkinitida ceased to exist at the end of the second century BC and the second existed till the IIIrd and into the IVth century AD. It was supposed that a simultaneous settlement of the North-West Crimea shore by the Greeks and Scythians took place. In fact these processes did not coincide and where separated by a lengthy period of time.
In March-April, 1941, a lampadier with thirty ancient Greek copper coins which was found by a team member of the Chersonesus regional museum, one of the coins turned out to be of that city. The foundations of a round tower were also uncovered, being perhaps one of the traces of the round structures indicated on P.O. Burachkov's plan. In the 1950s work continued on unearthing segments of the defensive wall on the south side of the city. In 1952 on the north side of the upper side of the city work continued on unearthing the layers of structures dating at the earliest to the VI-Vth century BC. Unfortunately in the 1970s construction work on the sanatorium interrupted and destroyed in large part the site. This concluded the second stage in the archaeological study of Kerkinitida. The third stage includes the study of all archeological material collected and the long-term continuation of digs of the city. Plans are for a museum and preservation of the structures unearthed for the viewing public.