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Treasure trove found in Ukraine recalls bloody excesses of Roman Empire

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 11th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A treasure trove of ancient artifacts has been uncovered in the Crimea, in Ukraine. More than 200 coins, mostly bronze, and were uncovered along with "various items of gold, silver and bronze jewelry and glass vessels" inside an ancient fortress within the Artezian settlement. Archaeologists say that the finds points out to an especially brutal chapter in the Roman Empire of 2,000 years ago, and that these finds were "funeral sacrifices" made by people that they were about to be killed by the invading armies.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Artezian, which covered an area of more than three acres featured a cemetery, was part of the Bosporus Kingdom. The kingdom's fate at that time was torn between two brothers: Mithridates VIII, who sought independence from Rome and his younger brother, Cotys I, who was in favor of keeping the kingdom a client state of the growing empire.

Rome sent an army to support Cotys, establishing him in the Bosporan capital. Armies pillaged and set fire to settlements controlled by Mithridates, including Artezian.

In reconstructing the probable cause for the recently discovered treasure trove, the people huddled in the fortress for protection as the Romans attacked, knowing they were doomed.

"The fortress had been besieged. Wealthy people from the settlement and the neighborhood had tried to hide there from the Romans. They had buried their hoards inside the citadel," Nikolaļ Vinokurov, a professor at Moscow State Pedagogical University, explained.

"We can say that these hoards were funeral sacrifices," Vinokurov wrote in an email. "It was obvious for the people that they were going to die shortly," he wrote in an email. The siege and fall of the fortress occurred in AD 45.

Curiously, each hoard included exactly 55 coins minted by Mithridates VIII. "This is possibly just a simple coincidence, or perhaps these were equal sums received by the owners of these caskets from the supporters of Mithridates," the team wrote in its paper.

Vinokurov's team has been exploring Artezian since 1989. Scholars have found that the people of the settlement followed a culture that was distinctly Greek.

The population's ethnicity was mixed, Vinokurov wrote, "but their culture was pure Greek. They spoke Greek language, had Greek school; the architecture and fortification were Greek as well. They were Hellenes by culture but not that pure by blood."

Greeks had been known to intermarry with the Crimeans. The customs and art forms they introduced appear to have persisted through the ages despite being practiced nearly 600 miles from Greece itself.

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