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Chersonesan Studies 1

The Polychrome Grave Stelai from the Early Hellenistic Necropolis

By Richard Posamentir

Publication Year: 2011

Archaeological investigations by the Institute of Classical Archaeology that examine a unique collection of Greek funerary monuments from the Black Sea.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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Series Forward

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pp. ix-xii

This book is a first in several important ways. It is the first volume in a new series of publications, Chersonesan Studies, undertaken by the Institute of Classical Archaeology at the University of Texas, with support from the Packard Humanities Institute. It is the first fruit of a pioneer collaboration between a foreign classical archaeological mission and a major cultural institution of the former Soviet Union, the National...

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Author’s Preface

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pp. xiii-xviii

I begin with a matter of particular importance to me: expressing my profound gratitude to Joseph Coleman Carter, director of the Institute for Classical Archaeology (ICA). Professor Carter initially intended to be the author of a new, comprehensive work on the grave stelai of Chersonesos. Over time, though, coordinating the constantly expanding Chersonesos project in...

I. The Polychrome Grave Stelai from the Early Hellenistic Necropolis

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-12

From the start, a necessary objective of this work has been to provide a comprehensive description of the grave monuments of the Early Hellenistic necropolis of Chersonesos Taurike. Because the polychrome coloring is extraordinarily well preserved, this project inevitably entailed the exhaustive documentation of technical details, analysis of the monuments’ distinctive...

2. Catalog of Grave Stelai

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pp. 13-128

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3. Shape and Object Analysis

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pp. 129-154

Some of the necropolis elements found built into the inner face of the Tower of Zeno—the stelai, their bases and anthemia, small naiskoi, and a large number of anthropomorphic objects with their associated bases (see Chapter 8)—can be related directly to one another (see Chapter 9). However, the relationship between the grave stelai and the so-called sarcophagi...

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4. Painting

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pp. 155-167

Preservation of paint on antique monuments depends on various factors: the pigments, the binder, and to a great extent, the substrate material. Paint pigments behave differently on a marble surface than they do on a softer stone,1 and so the investigative techniques employed must be selected accordingly. The Chersonesos grave stelai were made mostly from the soft local limestone. There are a few exceptions, such as...

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5. Stelai from Inside the Tower of Zeno

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pp. 168-202

Among the gravestones recovered from the Tower of Zeno, several were so similar in form, iconography and overall appearance—although their state of preservation sometimes disguises these similarities—that they could be identified as a group almost at a glance. It was thus possible to begin dividing the entire collection into groups, with the assumption that these were...

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6. Stelai from Outside the Tower of Zeno

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pp. 203-214

To put into greater perspective both the workshop attributions and groups identified among the Tower of Zeno finds, it may be useful to examine the gravestones that were not found in the tower. These stelai need not necessarily belong to a later period, and they could as well come from a coeval necropolis, or possibly...

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7. Dating of the Grave Stelai

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pp. 215-226

Assigning dates to the grave stelai of Chersonesos is not a simple task. The following discussion focuses almost entirely on the gravestones found in the fill of the Tower of Zeno, with only occasional mention of those found outside or in other environments. This is because only with the tower group can we be sure that we are dealing with a sealed deposit of material in...

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8. Elements: Crownings, Bases, Naiskoi, and Anthropomorphic Stones

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pp. 227-248

The stelai, which have been the focus of the discussion up until now, were the most visible part of complex funerary monuments consisting of several elements. Five groups of other finds are directly associated with the grave stelai and are presented in the catalog at the end of this chapter. Some of these objects were found in the fill of the Tower of Zeno, but most were found...

8a. Catalog of Associated Elements

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pp. 249-343

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9. The Location and Appearance of the Necropolis in the Hellenistic Period

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pp. 344-355

The inhabitants of Chersonesos, like those of most Greek poleis, were accustomed to burying their dead outside the city’s walls.1 The necropoleis of the earliest settlements2 in the north near the coastline,3 along with those in the south in the area of the later theater,4 imply that the city of the late 5th and early 4th centuries bc was essentially confined to the northern part...

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10. Stelai Comparisons

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pp. 356-372

There are close similarities between the gravestones of Chersonesos and their predecessors in Classical Athens, in respect to both their form and the objects depicted on them (see Fig. 3.16). These are so apparent that more subtle influences from other areas have probably been overlooked. This chapter presents parallels from other parts of the Greek world with a special...

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11. Conclusion:The Necropolis, Its Destruction, and the Tower of Zeno

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pp. 373-380

The painted grave stelai and their accompanying bases, anthemia, anthropomorphic objects, and small naiskoi were the focal point of this investigation. These objects were created and erected in one of the necropoleis of Chersonesos Taurike in the Late Classical/Early Hellenistic era, but served as building material for the Tower of Zeno (city wall tower...

II. Specialist Studies

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12. The People of the Citadel Necropolis

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pp. 383-428

The present chapter explores what the funerary monuments from the Tower of Zeno reveal about the people who commissioned them and who buried their dead in the Early Hellenistic necropolis (hereafter referred to as the “Citadel Necropolis”). The focus here is on the painted and inscribed epitaphs and the other markers, notably the “age-symbols,” from which it is possible to sketch a portrait of this community. The...

12a. Catalog of Inscriptions

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pp. 429-454

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13. Pigment Analyses for the Grave Stelai and Architectural Fragments from Chersonesos

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pp. 455-462

Production of archaeologically and historically useful results from scientific analysis of ancient painting remnants requires more than a basic identification of what these remains consist of today. Scholarly inquiry into subjects as diverse as the uses and symbolisms of color in antiquity, ancient aesthetic sensibilities, the...


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pp. 463-476


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pp. 477-483

Index of Catalog Numbers

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pp. 484-486

Illustration Credits

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pp. 487-489

E-ISBN-13: 9780292784956
E-ISBN-10: 0292784953
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292723122
Print-ISBN-10: 0292723121

Page Count: 510
Illustrations: 716 color and b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 802047712
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Chersonesan Studies 1

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Polychromy -- Ukraine -- Chersonese (Extinct city).
  • Sculpture, Hellenistic -- Ukraine -- Chersonese (Extinct city).
  • Fortification -- Ukraine -- Chersonese (Extinct city).
  • Inscriptions, Greek -- Ukraine -- Chersonese (Extinct city).
  • Cemeteries -- Ukraine -- Chersonese (Extinct city).
  • Sepulchral monuments -- Ukraine -- Chersonese (Extinct city).
  • Chersonese (Extinct city) -- Buildings, structures, etc.
  • Stele (Archaeology) -- Ukraine -- Chersonese (Extinct city).
  • Chersonese (Extinct city) -- Antiquities.
  • Towers -- Ukraine -- Chersonese (Extinct city).
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