Tartar word "kermenchik" refers to "small fortress". This was the name of the mountain on the outskirts of Simferopol for a long time serving as a kind of carry: a great part of the houses in the old part of Simferopol were built of stones, which sometime had been used by the dwellers of the Late Scythian capital. Finally, in the middle of the 19th century an antiquity-lover A. Krym-Girey met on a street a loaded on with stones wagon, on which he saw a fragment of a stone relief depicting warriors and a part of an inscription in Ancient Greek language. Thus the largest Late Scythian fortress, which probably had been the capital of the Late Scythian kingdom, was discovered.
This town was probably established in the IV century B.C. and existed to the middle of the III century A.D. The Scythians chose a place protected with steep rocks and precipices and from three sides. From the south, where was no natural barrier, the Scythians built a defensive wall, the base of which was made of huge stones and the upper part of adobe brick. A wooden gate led to the capital. The main square opened after it. An equestrian statue of the famous Scythian king Skilouros stood in the middle of the square. Just opposite to the town gate, the Scythians built a house in the Classical style, which actually was just a wall with covered galleries with columns (porticos) annexed to its two sides. It was probably a hall for assemblies and religious ceremonies. Numerous fragments of statues and slabs with Greek inscriptions (the Scythians had not their own written language) were excavated around the "house with porticos" and inside of it.
Another house, which possibly was the religious center of the town, looked on the central square of Kermenchik. This building consisted of a very large hall with a wooden gallery encircling it on the second floor level. There was a fireplace in the center of the hall with marble and clay portraits of different gods staying around it.
The houses of the Scythian nobility were located around the main square. The walls were decorated with pictures above fresh plaster (frescos). These houses were roofed with tiles. The common dwellers of the Scythian capital lived in less picturesque pit-houses.
Even now, one can see two great hills on the territory of the Late Scythian capital. The Scythians treated the deities of home fireplace with all possible honors. To swear on these deities' honor considered inviolable, which is why the Scythians collected the ashes from their fireplaces to a very special area, where a hill of ashes appeared soon.
The population of the town included the Greeks together with the Scythians. These Hellenes originated from Chersonesos and other Greek cities of the northern Black Sea coast. These Greeks built the "house with porticos" and produced sculptures of the famous Scythians. On the territory of the Late Scythian kingdom archaeologists have excavated several Ancient Greek inscriptions. One of them told how a merchant Posideos had won a victory over the pirate tribe of the Satarchians. By the way, this document proved the fact the Scythians had got their own fleet.
At the town gate, the Scythians built a mausoleum where they buried dead members of the royal kin. There were about 70 persons buried in the mausoleum altogether. Its central stone grave contained the remains of the king, who possibly was the famous king Palakos. His armor was gilded and his clothes were embroidered with gold badges. Nearby, a woman (probably the king's wife) with precious grave goods was buried in a cypress sarcophagus. All other funerals were made in pine coffins, which were placed one on another in several tiers.
All other dwellers of the capital were buried in vaults, which were cut in slopes of gullies limiting the town from the east and west. On the wall of one vault, there was a relief picture of the equestrian Scythian warrior. The walls of the other construction were decorated with multi-colored pictures illustrating the Scythian idea of the paradise. One can see pictures of a rider, two dogs attacking a wild boar, a Scythian playing lyre, and an enigmatic item, either a carpet or a chess-board.
Strabo's "Geography" and the inscriptions of Chersonesos mentioned four Scythian fortresses: Neapolis, Chabaioi, Palakion, and Napitos. Archaeologists have unearthed sites of four more or less large Late Scythian settlements: Kermenchik, Kermen-kyr, Bulganak, and Ust'-Al'ma.
Although these are the sites of the towns that were probably mentioned in the ancient Greek sources, it is still impossible to relate one of the sites with one of the names with certainty. In spite of this fat, the majority of scholars have supposed that the capital of the Late Scythian kingdom, the remains of which now are known under the name of Kermenchik, was called Neapolis.
© N. Khrapunov.