In Antiquity

Gurzufskoye Sedlo
"Ancient Chersonesos"of Strabo
"Another Harbor of the Chersonesites"
Kalos Limen
Roman strongholds
The Sanctuary on the Isthmus of the Saki Lake
Symbolon Limen

In the Middle Ages


In the direct translation of this name from the Greek is "Pleasant Harbor". That is what was written about this place by an ancient geographer, the author of the Black Sea Circle Navigation, in the 6th century AD: "From Cherson to... Kerkinitis are 600 stadia... from Kerkinitis to the Scythian Kalos Limen in the land of Cherson are 700 stadia... From Kalos Limen to the river Istros or Danubios, the Scythians live again. After Kalos Limen a bay starts; it is called Karkinitis and stretches to Tamiraka; it is 2250 stadia long..." (Anon. PPE 83).

There is need to provide some explanations for this passage. 1 stadium in different systems equals from 177 to 210 m. The Circle Navigation estimates distances not as a straight line but along the seacoast. "Istros" and "Danubios" are both the ancient name of Danube. The "bay called Karkinitis" is present Kerkinitskiy bay, to the north- west from the Crimea. Tamiraka possibly is the modern river of Kalanchak in the administrative district (oblast') of Kherson, that is continental Ukraine. This way, Kalos Limen was located to the north from the city of Kerkinitis, on the coast of Kerkinitis bay. The distance from Kalos Limen to Kerkinitis along the coast exceeded the distance from Kerkinitis to Chersonesos. The name itself gives evidence for Kalos Limen had got a splendid harbor.

Taking all the aforementioned facts into account, the scholars have supposed that the ancient city of Kalos Limen was located on the north-western coast of Tarkhankut peninsula, where its coast turned to the north-east, in the deep of Uzkaya ("Narrow") bay, near the modern town of Chernomorskoye. The first excavations of this site were organized by the director of the museum of Chersonesos L. A. Moiseyev in 1929. The studies of this exciting monument have been being continued to this moment.

It is interesting that in antiquity there were even two, not just one pleasant harbors to the north and south from Kalos Limen. Nowadays they dried out, and the settlement, which was located on the cape in former times, found itself on the top of a stony ridge, which is limited with a sandy spit from the south and low rocky precipices from the north.

Kalos Limen was founded by the Ionian Greeks in the 4th century BC. The city occupied an area of ca. 4 hectares and was encircled with a defensive wall with quadrangular towers. Outlying lands were marked off as plots. In the center of each plot usually was an estate: either a circular dwelling tower or, if the owner did not hesitate over the raids of the steppe nomads, a rectangular building with central courtyard and dwelling and household buildings around.

The history of Kalos Limen followed the history of Kerkinitis in many respects. The favorable location of Kalos Limen, arable lands in its neighborhood, and its excellent harbor tempted its more powerful neighbors. That is the reason why the period of independence was not too long, and Kalos Limen was annexed by the Chersonites already to the end of the IV century. In the III century BC new pretenders, the Scythians and the Sarmatians, came to the stage. Their raids forced the Hellenes to strengthen the fortifications which existed already and to erect a new defensive line, which was a citadel with numerous towers located near the bay.

These measures delayed the fall of Kalos Limen, but as early as the 2nd century BC the city fell to the hands of the Scythians. Soon after, it became, together with Kerkinitis, the most important seaport of the Late Scythian state.

In the late 2nd century BC the north-west Crimea became the center of the military operations anew. This region was invaded by the expeditionary corps headed by the commander Diophantos. The Greeks defeated the Scythians and annexed Kerkinitis and Kalos Limen once again. One can learn about these events from two honorable decrees: one for Diophantos, another for the troop of the Chersonites who seized Kalos Limen. However, the Chersonesites returned there for a short time: in the middle of the 1st century BC Kalos Limen came back under the Scythian power. The last day of this city fell on the 1st century AD, when the Sarmatians came from the northern steppes and finally destroyed this once flourishing city.

© N. Khrapunov.

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