The ancient city of Chersonesos, one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, has been a deliberately well-kept secret for most of the last century. Not since Ellis Minns's thorough and scholarly account in Scythians and Greeks (1913) has anything extensive been written about the city in English. Its equally famous agricultural territory and its treasures, now housed in the Museum of the National Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos-as well as in Moscow and St. Petersburg-are virtually unknown to the non-Russian or non-Ukrainian speaking public. Now, at last, all are open to the international cultural community. The purpose of this book is to introduce to a worldwide audience this remarkable site. Its long life of nearly two millennia (500 BC to AD 1400) and its almost unequaled state of preservation fully justify the appellation, the "Slavic Pompeii." In the ancient and medieval worlds Chersonesos, as a Greek colony and Roman and Byzantine outpost, was the furthest and most important point of contact between Mediterranean civilization and the vast Eurasian continent, influencing the political as well as the artistic development of barbarian worlds and, in turn, being influenced by them. It was the portal and major link between the civilization of Byzantium and the still pagan Rus', the very place from which Orthodox Christianity spread to the eastern Slavic world. The principal reason for the secrecy surrounding Chersonesos was the fact that its modern successor-Sevastopol, of Crimean War fame and a remarkable city in its own right-was, as headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, one of the most guarded places of the cold war. This book attempts to trace the whole history of the region, from the Greek colony to the historic Sevastopol, to the modern city and its environs, a countryside rich in monuments of diverse cultures and in natural beauty-a setting of irresistible charm.
Reviews & Quotes
"an attractive book, suited to the general reader,'"
J G F Hind
Ancient West & East (2008)