Excavation “Orient” of the Necropolis of Olbia

Keywords: necropolis, burial, sepulchral rites, cremation, undercut, crypt.


At the excavation of Olbia in 2010—2018 a new site, called the “Orient”, by the name of the nearest benchmark, was explored by wide areas method. During works, it was established that this territory has some specific features: firstly, only objects associated with sepulchral actions are found here, no traces of any other household activity were found. Secondly, this territory was used for burials throughout almost the entire existence of ancient Olbia — from the middle of VI c. BC to the beginning of III c. AD. Thirdly, there are all types of funeral structures known at Olbian necropolis, with the exception of large stone crypts under high barrows. In connection with this, the generalization of the results obtained has become relevant.

Total investigated area is 925 sq. m. The average depth was 1.0—1.1 m from the modern day surface. The stratigraphy of the excavation site is simple: a layer of turf and humus up to 0.2 m thick lies on top, a layer of light (dark yellow) sandy loam with various impurities lies below, and a layer of pre-continental loam of red color with separate mass inclusions of lime lies below. On this square, 67 different-time burials of various types were found, as well as 50 other objects associated with the sepulchral tradition. At the excavation site, four large chronological periods can be distinguished, which generally correspond to the historical periodization of Olbia: Late Archaic — Early Classical, Classical, Late Classical – Hellenistic and Roman.

It was found that this territory was really used exclusively for performing funeral and memorial activities throughout almost the entire history of ancient Olbia. For each period there wasn’t any location system for burials. The typological diversity of funerary structures increases during time from period to period. The quantitative ratio of objects to the length of time varies, but the peak of using this territory for burials and related rites falls on the Roman period, i. e., at a time when it was as far from the residential area of Olbia as possible. In a comparative analysis, it is possible to distinguish individual elements of funeral rites, which are preserved throughout the entire existence of the necropolis. For example, the use of “ancient” things as part of funerary inventory.


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