Stele of Darius I found in ancient city of Phanagoria in Russia – HeritageDaily

The Oleg Deripaska Volnoe Delo Foundation and the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences have discovered fragments of a marble stele bearing an inscription of the former Persian King Darius I.

Found in the ancient city of Phanagoria, in the Krasnodar region in southern Russia, the stele dates back to the first half of the 5th century BC.

The stele bearing a signature in the name of the Persian King Darius I was unearthed in the center of Phanagoria, the remains of an ancient Greek city near the Crimea and the Black Sea during an archaeological expedition supported by the Volnoe Delo Foundation since 2004.

The decoded inscriptions on the stele indicate that someone made them in the name of the Persian king Darius I who lived from 550 to 486 BC. The rough estimate dates the discovery to the first half of the 5th century BC The text contains a previously unrecorded word and roughly interpreted as the place named Miletus, one of the largest cities in Ionia, an area known as Asia Minor now. Miletus was the head of the so-called Ionian uprising of the Greek cities against Darius I. It was suppressed in 494 BC.

Fragments of a 5th century building with Roman holes

Archaeologists believe that the king erected a marble stele in the city after his victory over the Greeks. The monument included a text recounting the king’s triumph. Later, a fragment of the overturned and broken stele arrived in Phanagoria – most likely, as ballast on a ship that called at the port of Phanagoria, as there is no such natural stone on the peninsula. from Taman.

At present, the stele is undergoing careful examination in the restoration laboratory of the Phanagoria Research and Culture Center. The discovery has a good chance of becoming a worldwide sensation.

Darius I, a Persian ruler of the Achaemenian dynasty, significantly expanded the territory of his country with the help of wars against the Getae, Thrace, Lemnos, Imbros and Macedonia. He was buried in the mausoleum built on the cliffs of Naqsh-e Rustam near Persepolis by his order and decorated with sculptures.

In addition to the stele, archaeologists have found in the acropolis the remains of ancient fortress walls, which in itself is an important element even in classical archeology.

Vladimir Kuznetsov, doctor of historical sciences and leader of the Phanagorian expedition:

“The inscription on the stele made in the name of King Darius I is obviously dedicated to the crushing of the Ionian revolt. The discovery places Phanagoria in the context of one of the most important events in ancient history, which had far-reaching consequences for the Greeks as well as the Persians, and helps to trace the connections of this colony with many other parts of Greece world and analyze its importance in the advancement of Hellenistic civilization on the Black Sea coast ”

The Volnoe Delo Foundation, one of Russia’s largest private charitable funds headed by businessman and industrialist Oleg Deripaska, has supported research activities in the 2,550-year-old city of Phanagoria since 2004. The Foundation has allocated over $ 10 million to Phanagoria fieldwork over the past 12 years. Now Phanagoria is one of Russia’s best-equipped archaeological expeditions with its own science and culture center, state-of-the-art equipment for aerial and underwater excavations, and a diverse team of specialists involved in the fieldwork.

Among the recent finds made in Phanagoria are the remains of a palace of Mithradates VI dating from the 1st century BC to the 5th century BC and a number of submerged objects, for example the streets of the ancient city covered with sand, the Port structures of Phanagoria, ship debris.

The excavation works cover several areas which include the 2,500 square meter acropolis in the center of the ancient city, the eastern necropolis, an ancient cemetery that served as a burial site from the very founding of the city, and a part submerged city. What makes the expedition unique is the mix of diverse specialists working together. Besides archaeologists and historians, there are anthropologists, soil scientists, paleozoologists, numismatists and other researchers. A complex approach to the study of the cultural remains of Phanagoria helps to restore the way of life of the inhabitants, their religious beliefs, their economic cooperation, as well as their roles in military conflicts.

About Phanagoria

Phanagoria is one of the main ancient monuments on Russian soil. Founded in the middle of the 6th century BC. Phanagoria was the main economic and cultural center of the Black Sea region, one of the largest cities in Greece, the first capital of Greater Bulgaria, one of the main cities of Khazar Kaganate. It is also one of the ancient centers of Christianity. It was believed that Saint Andrew preached in Phanagoria. The city is home to the largest Jewish community in the Black Sea region: Russia’s first synagogue was built in Phanagoria in the 16th century AD

In the 9th-10th centuries, the inhabitants abandoned the city for reasons still unknown. Phanagoria is surrounded by the largest necropolis in Russia covering an area of ​​over 300 hectares. The total volume of the crop layers is 2.5 million cubic meters of soil; the depth of the layer can reach seven meters. No buildings have been erected in the city since ancient times, which has preserved the ruins and historical artefacts. Regular archaeological expeditions have taken place in Phanagoria since the late 1930s. To date, only two percent of the city’s territory has been surveyed. Phanagoria is located in Temryuksky district in Krasnodar region.

About the Volnoe Delo Oleg Deripaska Foundation

The Volnoe Delo Foundation by Oleg Deripaska ( is one of the largest charitable organizations and was founded by Russian industrialist and businessman Oleg Deripaska. The Foundation supports a wide range of initiatives, with a particular focus on Russian education and science. It helps to support the cultural and historical heritage of the country, contributes to the preservation of spiritual values, supports health care projects and solves crucial social problems.

About John A. Provost

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