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Ancient Greek Heritage Uncovered at the Black Sea Coast of Bulgaria

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Ancient ruins in Sozopol, Bulgaria. Credit: Mister No/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

Ancient Greek heritage from six centuries before Christ has been uncovered by archaeologists exploring the ancient Hellenic colony of Apollonia Pontica in modern-day Bulgaria.

According to the Archaeology in Bulgaria news site, the dig has uncovered the well-preserved remains of a dwelling as well as artifacts that include a special wine vessel showing the classical Greek myth of Oedipus and the Sphinx.

The finds were made during high-priority excavations near the Black Sea town of Sozopol, Bulgaria inside the Old Town Archaeological Preserve on the Skamni Peninsula.

The finds were made six feet below the foundations for a 19th-century home. Soil in the area has also thrown up later artifacts, such as crosses of bone and bronze from the 11th century.

It is thought the Skamni Peninsula in Bulgaria has been inhabited non-stop from ancient Greek times.

The town was founded in the 7th century BC by ancient Greek colonists from Miletus as Antheia. Its name was later changed to Apollonia because of its temple dedicated to Apollo featuring a huge statue of the god.

The colony was eventually sacked by the Romans in 72 BC who took  the statue of Apollo to Rome and placed it in the Capitol.

These latest finds also come hot on the heels of other Hellenic discoveries in the region. In 2016, experts found the remains of an ancient temple dedicated to the Greek goddesses of Demeter and Persephone near Sozopol.

Ancient Greek kilns, figurines of Demeter found in site on Black Sea

Remnants of ancient Greek civilization can be found across the Black Sea region. Figurines representing the ancient Greek goddess Demeter and her daughter, Persephone, were unearthed 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 of 2020 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.

Along with a number of complete figurines of Persephone, Demeter’s daughter, archaeologists found a one-sided bust figurine of Demeter herself and an array of tiles, bowls, and pottery fragments at the site.

A dedicatory relief depicting an enthroned Cybele, an Anatolian mother goddess, flanked by Hermes and Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft, was also discovered at the Anapa site.

Archaeologists from the Institute for the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences believe that the relief would have been displayed near a temple or important public building.

The finds at Anapa, located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, highlight the far-reaching influence of Greece in antiquity, as well as its persistence throughout time, as Anapa is still home to a vibrant community of Pontic Greeks to this day.

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