Panticapaeum and Phanagoria. The Two Capitals of the Bosporan Kingdom

29.06.2017 – 17.09.2017

Main Building

2017 marks the 90th anniversary of archaeological activities of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in the Eastern Crimea and the Taman Peninsula. The exhibition “Panticapaeum and Phanagoria. The Two Capitals of the Bosporan Kingdom” is organized to celebrate this milestone year.

Pushkin State Museum archaeologists started their research at the site of the ancient settlement of Phanagoria in 1927. In 1936 a permanent Phanagorian archaeological expedition was established jointly with the State Historical Museum, and in 1945 the Pushkin State Museum founded a Bosporan (Panticapaeum) expedition. Currently the Pushkin Museum field team works in Panticapaeum (led by V.P. Tolstikov, the Head of the Department of Ancient Art and Archeology) and the field team of Archeology Institute of RAS works in Phanagoria (led by V.D. Kuznetsov, Dr. hist., Director of the State Historical Archaeological Museum Reserve “Phanagoria”).

In the exhibition you will discover the history and culture of Panticapaeum and Phanagoria, the two most important cities of the Bosporan Kingdom in the territory of present-day Russian Federation. In the few recent years the Pushkin Museum experts provided the evidence that Panticapaeum was founded in the end of 7th century B.C., and other nations of Lesser Asia besides Greek colonists, specifically Phrygians and Lydians, took part in formation of the ancient city.

In the exhibition you will see the items from the largest Russian collections (the overall number of items is 450) dating back from the 7th c. B.C. (“Dinos with Geometric Ornament”, East Crimean Historical and Cultural Museum Reserve) until the 1st c. B.C., the period of reign of Mithridates VI of Pontus (“The sculpture portrait of Mithridates VI Eupator Dionysius” from the State Hermitage). A small section of the exhibition is dedicated to the Roman period. The exhibits were selected to illustrate various aspects of the daily life of the ancient kingdom: politics, crafts, trade, and religion. Among them you will find an altar desk with a consecration to the goddess Ditagoya (the only existing record of this deity) and the marble head of Athena from the palace of the Spartocids in Panticapaeum (both items from the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts).

Some elements of the architectural orders from the ancient temple of Apollo in Panticapaeum dating late 6th c. B.C. from the holdings of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts and the East Crimean Museum Reserve will be displayed along with a new replica of this colossal building. One of the most interesting exhibits is a burial of a dismembered horse carcass (a sphagion) from the acropolis of Panticapaeum. Apparently, it was used in a magical rite against the Scythians, whose equestrians were the main strike force of the rival nomadic tribe.

A dedicated section will be allotted for the findings from the 19th century and recent years that allowed the scientists to revise the history of the ancient Bosporus. The most recent discoveries include a plinth of the memorial headstone of Hypsicratea, the wife of Mithridates VI of Pontus. In the epitaph, the king ordered to spell her name as Hypsicratus, in masculine gender, to acknowledge her courage and valiance. 

The exhibition is designed as a research lab where you can collate together the most important Bosporan proxenic decrees or the best sculptural pieces. You will have a unique opportunity to see the fragments of allegedly one and the same red-figured lekane top with painted komasts that will be brought from two different museums – the State Hermitage and the Pushkin State Museum. Many exhibits will be displayed for the first time. A printed exhibition catalog will be available.

Concept by: Vladimir P. Tolstikov, the Head of the Department of Ancient Art and Archeology of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts; Vladimir D. Kuznetsov, Director of the State Historical Archaeological Museum Reserve “Phanagoria”.

Curator: Vladimir P. Tolstikov, the Head of the Department of Ancient Art and Archeology of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.

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