08 May 2003, 17:08

Tanais

Ancient city in a mouth of Don (Greek - Tanais). Settled in the beginning of III century up to A.D. by natives from Bospor empires. It was located on a place of modern settlement Nedvigovka (Mjasnikovsky region of the Rostov area). It was an important trade centre between Greek Bospor and nomads of Azov and Don steppes.

Tanais consist of three parts enclosed with strengthenings, and the central part (225x240 metres) was enclosed with powerful walls and towers and surrounded by moat. The city was built up by stone houses without any certain lay-out. The population of the city was engaged not only in transit trade with Bospor and Asia Minor, but also with fishery, agriculture and cattle breeding. The ethnic structure of the population was mixed: in Tanais there lived both Greeks-colonists and Sarmatians. Gradually Tanais became more and more "Samaritian" - it is possible to retrace in burials and the epigraphic data.

A Bospor vicegerent (presbevt) ruled the city. Tanais conducted a long struggle for independence from Bospor governors, from time to time leaving from the Bospor empire submission. Actually administrative authority above the Greek population belonged to ellinarkh, and above the Tanaitioans - to arkhont. However, due to the mixture of the population, such division soon disappeared. Today historians believe that the ellinarkh ruled the city dwellers, and the Tanait arkhont ruled the population of rural neighbourhood.

In end of I century up to A. D. Tanais was destroyed by Bospor king Polemonom, but soon it was restored. Time of Tanais growth - II century - 1st hpart of III century A. D. In 237 year Tanais was destroyed by the Baltic-German tribes of Goth nomads. 140 years later it was restored by Sarmatians, but remained an insignificant settlement, and in the beginning of V century had finally come in desolation and was deserted.

Site of Tanais was a subject of disputes of scientists for a long while. Originally researchers of an ancient history of Don, beginning with admiral Kornelij Krjujs, who created the "Diligent description of the river of Don or Tanais" in the beginning of XVIII century,considered that Tanais was settled down on a place of ancient Azov. After excavations of "Elisavetinsky gorodische" started in 1871 that settlement was connected with Tanais though in 1823 archeologist A.I.Stempkovsky made excavations at the farm of Nedvigovka and assumpted that there was settled down a city of Tanais. Final site of Tanais on the place of "Nedvigovsky gorodische" was determined in 1955, after excavation of the Nizhny Don archeologic expedition under D.B.Shelov's managemen. In 1961 on the place of Tanais an archeologic reserve and a museum are created.

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