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Archeology monument «Barrows of Bald mountain» near Taman. Finds and explorations.

The materials of archaeological researches in ХIХ-ХХ centuries established that around the archaeological complex of Ghermonassa-Tmutarakan' in antique and medieval time soil and barrow burial grounds were located surrounding the city in three directions: West, East and South. These burial grounds were located accordingly in the beginning of all three main ancient roads along which they formed and expanded.

Western soil and barrow burial grounds (the place of current ethno-village Ataman) are the most extensive among soil burial grounds of all the archaeological complex. It extends for about 2 km: from the small ravine limiting the central part of an ancient settlement site in the West – the Cow Ford (Koroviy Brod) to a barrow of Taman 21 – Sharp (Ostry) and ex-broiler plant located in three hundred meters to the West from the Bald mountain on the eastern slope of the wide and deep ravine going to the Taman gulf. The burial ground occupies a wide shore and a coastal part of the village between Lebedev Street and coastal steeps. In the central part the Western necropolis stretches to the South from Lebedev Street almost to Proletarian Street.

The most remarkable place of the necropolis is the group of barrows on the Bald mountain. The present Bald mountain earlier was named the Stone (Kamennaya) mountain as there stone from ancient tombs was extracted. Here a magnificent marble sarcophagus which is in the State Historical Museum in Moscow now was found in 1916.

Here is what V.V.Sokolov, a famouos Russian archeologist writes concerning detection of this sarcophagus:

«I had to hear repeatedly from Taman inhabitants that in the barrows on the Bald mountain «Tsar Mitridath» is buried (possibly Mithridates the VI — ), but these ridiculous cock-and-bull stories concerning Mithridates the VI have found acknowledgement in relation with another person buried in a sarcophagus found here. The visible arrangement of barrows on a considerable height almost at the sea provides to assume a high probability of a rich tomb. Since 1912, local «grave diggers» rummaged this barrow under the pretext of extracting the stone of «Savage». Their work paid off from time to time by some finds: a magnificent clay fish dish (unfortunately, broken) with an image of fishes on a black background, various clay vessels of a fine black lacquer, gold earrings and a great deal of thick crocks with artwork drawings were found. Such finds gave them energy, and «grave diggers» continued during almost four years while in January, 1916 they came across a stone crypt. Having opened it, they found a big marble sarcophagus, and two vases (pelíkes) near to it; one black lacquer with flutes and gold vegetative ornament on the neck, and another one of red clay painted with a water color. Having lifted the sarcophagus cover, robbers rummaged the contents, closed the cover again and covered with the earth hoping to conduct excavations later. Whether they found something valuable in the sarcophagus or not is unknown, they themselves deny the find. One of «grave diggers» tempted with money for some compensation informed a member of the Archaeological Commission of V.V.Shkorpil about the find, the latter on February, 3rd, 1916 informed me requesting to check up on the place whether there are new traces of excavation in the barrow. The same day I left for the place. The whole barrow was pitted deep enough with holes, walls between many of them pierced by mines. The rain having fallen the day before did not allow to find fresh digging, only test by a thin stick gave a chance to make sure that one of excavation is filled up with recently excavated earth. I informed Shkorpil on the result of the data extracted through the telegram, and on February, 5th there the senior workers of the Commission arrived. And supervision of the works was handed over to me. Prospecting on February, 6th gave positive results, and till 1 o'clock in the afternoon the corner of a decorated with acroterion marble sarcophagus appeared. To clear the sarcophagus from earth seemed impossible because the lack of time, and the 7th of February was Sunday, so it was carefully thrown again with earth, and works renewed on February, 8th with the help of 6 workers. »

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