Charax, Crimea

Charax (Ancient Greek: Χάραξ, gen.: Χάρακος) is the largest Roman military settlement excavated in the Crimea.[1] It was sited on a four-hectare area at the western ridge of Ai-Todor, close to the modern tourist attraction of Swallow's Nest.

The military camp was founded under Vespasian with the intention of protecting Chersonesos and other Bosporean trade emporiums from the Scythians.[2] By the end of the 1st century AD, the Roman forces were evacuated from the peninsula. Several decades later the camp was restored by a vexillatio of the Legio I Italica; it hosted a detachment of the Legio XI Claudia at the end of the 2nd century. The camp was abandoned by the Romans in the mid-3rd century.

The ruins of the camp were discovered by Peter Keppen in 1837; he estimated the length of the defensive wall at 185 sazhens (395 meters). Keppen identified the site with Charax (from the Greek word for "fortification"), the only Roman camp recorded in Crimea. Although there is no evidence that Charax was situated near Ai-Todor, the name stuck. Intrigued by Keppen's publication, Count Shuvalov funded the first (and rather amateurish) excavations of the site in 1849.

In 1896, excavations were resumed under the supervision of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia, who had his summer dacha constructed in the immediate vicitinity of the ruins and the 1865 lighthouse. The excavations lasted for fifteen years and yielded a great number of Roman coins and bronze artifacts. Michael Rostovtzeff, who oversaw the excavations on behalf of the St. Petersburg University, classed Charax as the "entire Roman city", rather than just a fort, as was previously thought.[3] A museum of archaeological finds was opened at Charax in 1907.

Further exploration of the site, undertaken by Vladimir Blavatsky in 1931-35, revealed remains of two public water basins, thermae, and an aqueduct. There were also a gymnasium and a sanctuary outside the walls. Blavatsky and his followers lent their support to Rostovtzeff's theory that the most ancient line of cyclopean walls at Charax was erected by the Tauri before the arrival of Romans,[4] a theory which since lost much of its popularity. They also hypothesized that the castrum had been ruined by retreating Roman soldiers in order to avoid its seizure by the enemy.

Charax site


  1. ^ For other Roman settlements in the Crimea, see В.М. Зубарь "Таврика и Римская империя: Римские войска и укрепления в Таврике". Kiev, 2004.
  2. ^ Article on "Харакс" in the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia, 3rd edition, 1969-78.
  3. ^ Page about Charax Archived March 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine on the website of the Crimean government.
  4. ^ "In Charax, the Roman defences consisted partially of cyclopean walls erected by the Tauri and two new lines of fairly carelessly laid stone walls. Most of the buildings were concentrated in quite a small area (not above a hectare and a half) enclosed by the upper wall. In this area there were small stone and brick houses, water drains made of clay pipes and a reservoir with a mosaic portrayal of an octopus". Quoted from: A.L. Mongait. Archaeology in the USSR. Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1959. Page 215.

External links

Coordinates: 44°25′42″N 34°07′18″E / 44.4283°N 34.1217°E


Charax (Χάραξ) may refer to:

Charax, alternate name of Acharaca, an ancient oracle site in Lydia, Anatolia

Charax, alternate name of Tralles, an ancient city in Lydia, Anatolia

Charax (Corsica), ancient site in Corsica

Charax (Lesser Armenia), ancient site in Lesser Armenia (now in Turkey)

Charax (Media Atropatene), ancient site in Media Atropatene (now in Iran)

Charax (Thessaly), ancient site in Thessaly, Greece

Charax Alexandri, ancient site in Phrygia, Anatolia

Charax, Crimea, the largest Roman military settlement excavated in the Crimea

Charax Spasinu, an ancient port at the head of the Persian Gulf

Charax Sidae or Anthemusias, an ancient Mesopotamian town Seleucia in Mesopotamia

Charax, Rhagiana, a Seleucid and Parthian city in the province of Rhagiana, in the area nearby modern-day Rey

Charax, Bithynia, an ancient Greek town in Turkey and possible location of the death of Constantine the Great

Cape Charax, or possibly Cape Lithinon, a promontory at the southernmost point of the island of Crete

Charax (genus), a genus of fish in the family Characidae


Gaspra (Ukrainian: Гаспра, officially transliterated Haspra; Russian: Гаспра; Crimean Tatar: Gaspra) is a spa town, an urban-type settlement in Yalta Municipality in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, a territory recognized by a majority of countries as part of Ukraine and incorporated by Russia as the Republic of Crimea. It is located on the Black Sea coast, west of Yalta, and is a popular holiday resort. Population: 10,310 (2014 Census).Leo Tolstoy lived in Gaspra in 1901 and 1902. Nearby are the Swallow's Nest, a modern castle and Charax, Crimea a Roman fort.

The asteroid 951 Gaspra is named after Gaspra.

History of Crimea

The recorded history of the Crimean Peninsula, historically known as Tauris (Greek: Ταυρική), Taurica, and the Tauric Chersonese (Greek: Χερσόνησος Ταυρική, "Tauric Peninsula"), begins around the 5th century BC when several Greek colonies were established along its coast. The southern coast remained Greek in culture for almost two thousand years as part of the Roman Empire (47 BC – 330 AD), and its successor states, the Byzantine Empire (330 AD – 1204 AD), the Empire of Trebizond (1204 AD – 1461 AD), and the independent Principality of Theodoro (ended 1475 AD). In the 13th century, some port cities were controlled by the Venetians and by the Genovese. The Crimean interior was much less stable, enduring a long series of conquests and invasions; by the early medieval period it had been settled by Scythians (Scytho-Cimmerians), Tauri, Greeks, Romans, Goths, Huns, Bulgars, Kipchaks and Khazars. In the medieval period, it was acquired partly by Kievan Rus', but fell to the Mongol invasions as part of the Golden Horde. They were followed by the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire, which conquered the coastal areas as well, in the 15th to 18th centuries.

In 1783, the Ottoman Empire was defeated by Catherine the Great. Crimea was traded to Russia by the Ottoman Empire as part of the Treaty provision. After two centuries of conflict, the Russian fleet had destroyed the Ottoman navy and the Russian army had inflicted heavy defeats on the Ottoman land forces. The ensuing Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca forced the Sublime Porte to recognize the Tatars of the Crimea as politically independent. Catherine the Great's incorporation of the Crimea in 1783 from the defeated Ottoman Empire into the Russian Empire increased Russia's power in the Black Sea area. The Crimea was the first Muslim territory to slip from the sultan's suzerainty. The Ottoman Empire's frontiers would gradually shrink for another two centuries, and Russia would proceed to push her frontier westwards to the Dniester.

In 1921 the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was created. This republic was dissolved in 1945, and the Crimea became an oblast first of the Russian SSR (1945–1954) and then the Ukrainian SSR (1954–1991). From 1991 the territory was covered by the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol City within independent Ukraine. However, during the 2014 Crimean crisis, the peninsula was taken over by Russia and a referendum on whether to rejoin Russia was held. Shortly after the result in favour of joining Russia was announced, Crimea was annexed by the Russian Federation as two federal subjects: the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol.

Pax Romana (reenactment)

Pax Romana is a Classical reenactment society based in the Netherlands, with the main goal to show Romans in the Netherlands as they would have lived in the last quarter of the first century AD.

Roman navy

The Roman navy (Latin: Classis, lit. 'fleet') comprised the naval forces of the ancient Roman state. The navy was instrumental in the Roman conquest of the Mediterranean Basin, but it never enjoyed the prestige of the Roman legions. Throughout their history, the Romans remained a primarily land-based people and relied partially on their more nautically inclined subjects, such as the Greeks and the Egyptians, to build their ships. Because of that, the navy was never completely embraced by the Roman state, and deemed somewhat "un-Roman".In antiquity, navies and trading fleets did not have the logistical autonomy that modern ships and fleets possess. Unlike modern naval forces, the Roman navy even at its height never existed as an autonomous service but operated as an adjunct to the Roman army.

During the course of the First Punic War, the Roman navy was massively expanded and played a vital role in the Roman victory and the Roman Republic's eventual ascension to hegemony in the Mediterranean Sea. In the course of the first half of the 2nd century BC, Rome went on to destroy Carthage and subdue the Hellenistic kingdoms of the eastern Mediterranean, achieving complete mastery of the inland sea, which they called Mare Nostrum. The Roman fleets were again prominent in the 1st century BC in the wars against the pirates, and in the civil wars that brought down the Republic, whose campaigns ranged across the Mediterranean. In 31 BC, the great naval Battle of Actium ended the civil wars culminating in the final victory of Augustus and the establishment of the Roman Empire.

During the Imperial period, the Mediterranean became largely a peaceful "Roman lake". In the absence of a maritime enemy, the navy was reduced mostly to patrol, anti-piracy and transport duties. The navy also manned and maintained craft on major frontier rivers such as the Rhine and the Danube for supplying the army.

On the fringes of the Empire, in new conquests or, increasingly, in defense against barbarian invasions, the Roman fleets were still engaged in open warfare. The decline of the Empire in the 3rd century took a heavy toll on the navy, which was reduced to a shadow of its former self, both in size and in combat ability. As successive waves of the Völkerwanderung crashed on the land frontiers of the battered Empire, the navy could only play a secondary role. In the early 5th century, the Roman frontiers were breached, and barbarian kingdoms appeared on the shores of the western Mediterranean. One of them, the Vandal Kingdom, raised a navy of its own and raided the shores of the Mediterranean, even sacking Rome, while the diminished Roman fleets were incapable of offering any resistance. The Western Roman Empire collapsed in the late 5th century. The navy of the surviving eastern Roman Empire is known as the Byzantine navy.

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