Union Académique Internationale

Scytho-Sarmatian World and Greco-Roman Civilization

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Project nº61, adopted in 2001

The study of relations between the Greco-Roman world and its neighbors has always been one of the most promising domains in the study of Antiquity. The problem of relations between the Greeks and the world of the steppes, occupied at this period by Iranian nomads (Scythians, Sarmatians, etc.), is no exception. Contacts between these peoples began almost immediately after the founding of the first Greek colonies in the Pontic region (second half of the XVIIth century BCE) and remained quite active until the extinction of Greco-Roman civilization. In this region, urban civilization came face-to-face with a completely different kind of culture, that of nomadic shepherds. These contacts resulted in the formation of a unique culture that joined together elements of completely disparate origin. Le monde scytho-sarmate et la civilisation gréco-romaine is a project whose mission is to coordinate international research in different domains (history, archeology, philology, linguistics, etc.) relating to the problems of the study of the Scytho-Sarmatian world, and its relations with Greco-Roman civilization. Above all, the project envisions the study and publication of materials from excavations in the Pontic region, both Greek and Barbarian. Many highly important scientific discoveries located today in Russian and Ukrainian museums are not yet published and remain unknown to researchers. Two primary undertakings are part of this project.

The first is the preparation of a new corpus of Greek and Latin inscriptions from the northern coast of the Black Sea, entitled Inscriptiones antiquae orae septentrionalis Ponti Euxini Graecae et Latinae, edition 3 (IOSPE3). The first corpus of these inscriptions was published in 1885-1901 by V. Latyshev. He was able to publish the second edition of the first volume of his corpus (Tyras, Olbia, Chersonesus and other sites in the western part of the region) in 1916. It was only in 1965, however, that the second edition of the second volume (Kingdom of the Bosphorus) was published. Compiled by many different authors, this volume (Corpus inscriptionum Regni Bosporani, CIRB) is of varying quality, both in the reading of the texts, as well as their restitution and commentary. The number of new inscriptions discovered since the corpus’s last publication has nearly doubled thanks to the intensive archeological excavations in the Pontic region in the last fifty years These newly discovered inscriptions remain in great part unpublished. The editions of others, not always of the greatest quality, are scattered among many publications which are difficult to access, even to Russian researchers. A new edition of a corpus of inscriptions from the northern coast of the Black Sea is therefore highly desirable for research in this domain, as often noted in the scientific literature. The purpose of the project in question is to fill this gap and continue in the footsteps of V. Latyshev. The corpus is considered the third edition of his work (the CIRB is equated to the second edition of the second volume) and takes up the name Inscriptiones antiquae orae septentrionalis Ponti Euxini Graecae et Latinae. Its structure has only slightly changed. The two volumes of Latyshev are replaced by four which will be subdivided into sections if necessary: 1. Tyras et vicinia; 2. Olbia et vicinia (the northwestern region including Leuké); 3. Chersonesus et vicinia (central and western Crimea including Neapolis Scythica); 4. Kingdom of the Bosphorus. Finally, supplementing these volumes: 5. The Byzantine inscriptions of the Black sea. We are also planning to publish a supplement to the corpus which will include sometimes unpublished inscriptions of unknown provenance, now in Russian and Ukrainian museums (the Hermitage, the State Historical Museum of Moscow, the Odessa Archeological Museum, or the Kyiv History Museum, etc.).

The second undertaking is the publication of the corpus of Scythian and Sarmation tumuli (Corpus tumulorum scythicorum et sarmaticorum), which is our principle source of knowledge about the history of ancient nomads of the Eurasion Steppes. This need was first brought to the attention of the scientific community by Mikhail Rostovcev, one of the founders of research in this field. The number of excavated tumuli is constantly growing thanks to the active digs in Ukraine and southern Russia, but the publication of their results often lags significantly. Many important sites remain unpublished or only partially so, in the form of brief notices in the scientific literature. This also applies to even the most prestigious objects included in exhibition catalogues. In fact, the famous ‘royal’ tombs of the Scythian excavations at the turn of the twentieth century are not all published (Alexandropol, Oguz, ad Kozel remain unpublished). The purpose of the series Corpus tumulorum scythicorum et sarmaticorum is to improve this situation. It will include new and original publications on the Scythian and Sarmatian tumuli without regard for the period of their discovery. Each publication will include all the available information concerning the published monument, particularly the description of funerary constructions along with their plan and other illustrations, the complete catalogue of artefacts, etc. The corpus will be published in two languages, Russian and English, (or French and German).