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Unique Byzantine Inscription Found on Gerasun Island off Black Sea Coast

Byzantine plaque black sea inscription
A unique Byzantine inscription using some Greek letters was discovered recently on Gerasun Island, the only inhabited island in the Black Sea. Credit: Facebook/Ioannis Georgopoulos

A unique Byzantine inscription from the fourteenth century was recently discovered on Giresun Island in the Black Sea; inscribed on a terra cotta tablet, it is considered to be one of a kind because it is written regional alphabet of the Empire of Trebizond.

Giresun Island lies 1.2 kilometers (0.7 miles) from the Turkish province of Giresun (the ancient Greek Kerasous) on the southeastern coast of the Black Sea.

Excavations have been ongoing on this beautiful and historic island under the supervision of Giresun University associate professor Gazanfer Iltar since 2009.

His team recently discovered the terra cotta plaque with the unique inscription this year; they unveiled the incredible find last week. Iltar told reporters that the inscription is of great importance, helping to shed light on the long history of the island and the entire Giresun region, once the site of many Greek colonies.

Byzantine inscription uses unique alphabet from the Empire of Trebizond

Telling the press that the plaque was found on the floor of the tower on the island, Iltar stated that was created during the reign of Alexios III Megas Komnenos, the emperor of Trebizond.

“The inscription states that the structures and walls on the island were commissioned by the venerable Maria, the wife of Pinkernes Kyriakos, the son of Giresun Governor Roustam,” Iltar noted, adding “The name of Roustam in the inscription also gives us clues about the strategic marriages between the Turkmen beys in the region and the Komnenos dynasty.”

The plaque, which measures 30 by 50 centimeters (11 inches by 19 inches) has an inscription that was written with a quill.

Related: Archaeologists uncover 6th-century BC Greek settlement at Apollonia Pontica

Gerasun plaque
The plaque found in the tower of Gerasun Island in the Black Sea is from Byzantine times. Credit: Facebook/Ioannis Georgopoulos

The Daily Sabah reports that the plaque with the Byzantine inscription had been translated by an unnamed academic from Russia. Iltar stated that “The inscription provides us with several pieces of information and perspectives. For example, the title of ‘pinkernes’ means the cup bearer of the emperor of Trebizond.

“It is actually a high court position in terms of diplomacy, and a pinkernes should be considered one of the closest people to the emperor. Therefore, it is understood that the governor of Giresun at the time was very close to the emperor of Trebizond.”

Regardless of this imperial connection, the find is especially important since it is written in a unique script. Noting that “it is a unique work written in a regional alphabet of the Empire of Trebizond,” the archaeologist added that archaeological excavations will continue on the island during the 2022 season as well.

Related: Figurines of Demeter, Persephone Found in Russian Black Sea Town

Black Sea was once dotted with Greek colonies

Figurines representing the goddess Demeter and her daughter, Persephone, were unearthed just last year at a construction site in the Black Sea resort town of Anapa, in Russia.

The terracotta statuettes, along with a relief, were discovered in early November by archaeologists from the Institute for the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

In antiquity, the region surrounding Anapa, known as Sinda, served as an important seaport. Pontic Greeks established a settlement called Gorgippia there in the sixth century BC, and it developed into a major power in the Black Sea throughout the years of antiquity.

A number of kilns used for the production of pottery and ceramics, mainly dating from the 4th to the 2nd century BC, were also discovered on the outskirts of the ancient city.

It is near the remains of one of the kilns that archaeologists discovered the bulk of the priceless figurines of the Greek goddesses.

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