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Pearls of nature

Khersonesus Tavrichesky Reserve

The archeological reserve Khersonesus Tavrichesky is known not only in our country, but far beyond as well. For many centuries this city was a large political, economic and cultural center on the Northern Black Sea coast. Khersonesus was a Greek colony, built in 422-421 BC. Several hundred years later people emigrated from Geraklea Pontiskaya, on the Asia Minor coast of the Black Sea. Khersonesus is located in the southwest part of Crimea, in a bay, which is currently referred to as Quarantine. Khersonesus gained a large section of the peninsula lying between Quarantine and Sand Bays within a few years of being built. (In Greek "Khersonesus" means peninsula). Farmers and craftsmen, doctors and sculptors, architects and artists, historians and poets once lived here. It was a republic, but with slavery, with a democratic form of government and the supreme body of state was the national assembly. Being a slave state resulted in a message of war from the citizens. In the 2nd century BC a long, bloody war was fought and Khersonesus was compelled to use the help of the King Pontia Mitridat VI Evpator (??). A large group led by Commander Diofant was directed to Crimea. Skiffs (boats) were used to raid and Khersonesus fell and claimed by the Mitridat power. Since then the city has been in constant dependence from its stronger neighbors. In the first century BC Khersonesus lost its democratic form of government, becoming dependent upon the Roman empire and long served them as the key advance post against aggressive politics on Northern Black Sea coast.

With the beginning of a new era in Khersonesus, Christianity had taken its place in the 4th century becoming the official religion. Monuments, antique art, theatres and temples were ruthlessly destroyed and replaced with Christian churches. In this period many cities perished due to such invasions. Khersonesus, protected by powerful defense walls, continued to live on for a thousand years, but with new feudal buildings. In the 5th century, Khersonesus was rebuilt in the structure of the Byzantium empire, and in the 9th century became one of its military and administrative areas. Not only was the external design changed to that of a medieval city, but also it name: Byzantium named it Kherson and the Slavs named it Korsun. Russia at this time became a force, from which they were compelled to be considered not only as their nearest neighbor, but also as a large force, as with Byzantium. When Byzantium had not executed the obligations of a contract with the Kiev prince Vladimir, Russia acted against Korsun in 988 and took it after a nine month siege. Byzantium compromised with a joint union. Khersonesus, served as an intermediary and this union proved to be very favorable. From then on the products of agricultural and animal industries were sent to Asia Minor and Byzantium; and from the southern parts in Khersonesus and in the north is where the weapons, fabrics and oil were produced.

As time passed the power of Byzantium weakened and in the 13th century trade by the Black Sea has appeared in the hands of the Italian (Venetian and then Genoan) merchants, which were based in Crimea trading stations. The trade ways had moved into Eastern Crimea, and it became one of the reasons of decline of the Khersonesus economy. Havoc was wreaked by nomadic raids at the end of the 13th century which resulted in irreparable loss within 100 years. Destroyed and to committed to flames, Khersonesus could not survive. By the middle of the 15th century life in Khersonesus had ceased to exist. Time passed and within no time the ruins of this majestic city were buried. Only 400 years later, in 1827, an officer of the Black Sea Fleet, Kruse, made the first excavation on the lost Khersonesus. Subsequently, this mission was carried out by others. The most systematic excavation had begun in the late 1880s. Twenty years of life were devoted with much enthusiasm in the organization of what became a future museum. K.K. Koscushko - Valuzhinich.

Under years of Soviet authority this archeological reserve, Khersonesus, has turned into one of the largest scientific research centers today, and has become a base, where research work has been conducted by scientists and archeologists alike, from all corners of the world. Many students of various universities pass through its gates. The systematic excavation has helped to restore a history of an ancient city and state. The museum is very popular and is annually visited by tens of thousands of tourists. It includes collections of epigraphical (inscriptions) monuments (including the world known oath of the Khersonesus citizens of the III century BC), works of art, crafts and instruments of labor, and artifacts with which the inhabitants of Khersonesus had used. The tourists can familiarize themselves with the territory of this ancient city: walk along its main street, stroll about and see its once stark quarters, ruins of an antique theatre, white marble columns of medieval temples, majestic defense structures made of walls and towers. The greatest interest is found in Zenon's tower, which was the cornerstone of defense and consequently was constantly rebuilt and improved by Khersonesus citizens. Not by accident is it the largest tower of Khersonesus. It is the most interesting archeological monument of the Northern Black Sea coast, with many architectural details and today can be admired with all its beauty.

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