Saturday 7 December 2019

Taurides

This is a very interesting vessel from Kizil-Koba settlement, fragment and reconstruction. Kizil-Koba Culture was an archaeological culture that existed in the mountain and foothill regions of the Crimea in the ninth to sixth centuries B.C.

The material similarity between Kizil-Koba culture and Koban culture of the northern Caucasus has led to the supposition that the two were genetically linked and that the Kizil-Koba culture originated in the Caucasus. Kizil-Koba pottery. Probable cheese curd strainer bottom right



The Kizil-Koba culture has been also linked with the Tauri tribes of transhumance shepherds which at the time lived in the mountains of southern Crimea. Map showing Kizil-Koba settlements (circle) and Taurian cemeteries (square).

Kizil-Koba settlements, consisting of pit-houses or aboveground wattle-and-daub houses with numerous grain pits around, had no fortifications. The excavations unearthed bronze decorations, arrowheads, parts of horse harness similar with the artifacts found in Taurian cists.



The Taurian cists were about one meter in diameter, made from four massive stone walls stuck into the ground and a massive cover stone. They were encircled by pebble pavement surrounded by square stone fence


Some necropoleis consisted of a few grave constructions, the other contained tens of cists sometimes located in parallel lines.


Cists were used for multiple burials. It seems that when cist got full, the bones were removed and only skulls kept. One cist in Mal-Muz cemetery contained 68 skulls.  

Kizil-Koba Household pits contained a few dozen artefacts of ill- baked clay including anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines,  like these two, probably of cultic nature 


The local population mixed with Greeks who set up colonies along the Crimean coast. Example of this mixing can be seen in the settlement and necropolis of Panskoye, village near Greek Chersonesos 



Herodotus says that "...Tauri...live by plundering and war...they sacrifice their captives...to the Virgin goddess...The Tauri themselves say that this deity to whom they sacrifice is Agamemnon's daughter Iphigenia...."

And this is very very interesting. The Greeks called the Tauric goddess Artemis Tauropolos and also linked it with Iphigeneia, daughter of Agamemnon... 

According to Euripides, the cult of the bloodthirsty Artemis Tauropolos was brought to Greece by Orestes and Iphigenia, who brought a wooden statue of Artemis to Sparta where she was from then on worshiped as Artemis Orthia


The whole story about how Iphigenia finds herself among the Tauri and how and why she gets the Artemis statue from Tauri to Spartans is very strange....

Apparently King Agamemnon accidentally kills a deer in a grove sacred to Artemis and is forced to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to the goddess to repay his debt. But goddess changes her mind at the last moment and replaces Iphigenia with a deer which is then killed...

Artemis then transports Iphigenia to Tauris where she becomes the priestess in Taurid Artemis temple, directing human sacrifices...

When her brother Orestes is captured by Taurides and was brought to the temple to be sacrificed to Artemis by Iphigenia, two of them instead steel the statue and run away to Greece. And as I said, according to Euripides, they bring the statue to Sparta...

In Sparta the wooden statue of Artemis becomes the centre of a major cult. During the excavation of the temple, numerous female offering statues were discovered. Possibly symbolic replacement for actual female sacrificial victims??? Or the depictions of the Goddess?


But the Tauride goddess still demanded blood. As described by Plutarch Xenophon Pausanias and Plato, the temple of Artemis was the place where once a year young men were ritually whipped until they bled and the blood sprayed the statue of the goddess


Here is the best bit: During the Roman period, according to Cicero, the ritual became a blood spectacle, sometimes to the death, with spectators from all over the empire 🙂 An amphitheatre had to be built in the 3rd century CE to accommodate the tourists

Bloody Romans 🙂 


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