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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(old Russian, Korsun’), an ancient Crimean city, now part of the city of Sevastopol’. Chersonesus was founded in 422 or 421 B.C. by Greeks from Heraclea Pontica. From the fifth to first centuries B.C. it was a polis; from the first to fourth centuries A.D. it was an aristocratic republic in vassalage to Rome; at the end of the fourth century it became a Byzantine dependency. The city existed until the mid-15th century.

In antiquity, the economy of Chersonesus was based on viticulture, fishing, handicrafts, and trade. Grain was brought from the western Crimean coastal area, which was ruled by Chersonesus from the fourth to second centuries B.C. Other possessions of the city were the cities of Cercinitis and Kalos Limen (Fair Harbor) and a series of fortifications. The city had nine streets parallel to the coast, which were intersected by 27 cross streets. Chersonesus had an acropolis, an agora, a marketplace, a port, and a citadel; the population was approximately 20,000.

In the late second century B.C., the Chersonesites, aided by Diophantos, routed the Scythians, who had laid siege to the city; they came under the rule, however, of the Pontic king, Mithridates VI. In 63 B.C., Chersonesus was subjugated by Rome. In the 60’s A.D. it became the principal base for Roman troops in the Crimea; it later played a similar role for Byzantine troops.

In the Middle Ages the chief occupations of the population were land cultivation, cottage industries, handicrafts, and trade. In the ninth and tenth centuries, the area of Chersonesus reached 40 hectares. The population was ruled by the landowning and commercial aristocracy and by Byzantine officials. In 989 the city was taken by the Kievan prince, Vladimir Sviatoslavich. Contacts between the city and Rus’ increased, and many Russians lived in the city. The final period in which the city flourished lasted from the second half of the ninth century to the 12th century. In this period the port was expanded, a new wall with sea gates was built, and churches were constructed. In the early 13th century Chersonesus came under the domination of the Trebizond Empire. The city was laid waste in 1299 by Nogai and at the end of the 14th century by Edigei.

Excavations of Chersonesus were begun in 1827 and have been conducted systematically since 1876 by such archaeologists as K. K. Kostsiushko-Voliuzhinich, R. Kh. Lener, K. E. Grinevich, G. D. Belov, and A. L. Iakobson. The excavations have uncovered walls, towers, gates (fourth century B.C. to 12th century A.D.), residential and artisans’ quarters, a classical theater with 3,000 seats, and more than 50 Christian churches (fourth to 15th centuries). Other finds include fish-salting cisterns, a water main, thermae, a potters’ quarter, and a necropolis. Excavations outside the city have unearthed Tauric settlements, traces of cleroi (plots of land) from the third and second centuries B.C., and a burial ground. Epigraphic texts found in the city include the oath of the Chersonesites (early third century B.C.) and decrees honoring Diophantos (late second century B.C.). Artistic remains include fragments of paintings (fourth century B.C.), stelae (fourth and third centuries B.C.), mosaic floors, and medieval frescoes. Approximately 20,000 coins have been found.


Khersonesskii sbornik, fascs. 1–6. Sevastopol’-Simferopol’, 1926–61.
Belov, G. D. Khersones Tavricheskii. Leningrad, 1948.
Iakobson, A. L. Srednevekovyi Khersones (XII–XIV vv.). Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
Iakobson, A. L. Rannesrednevekovyi Khersones. Moscow-Leningrad, 1959.
Soobshcheniia Khersonesskogo muzeia [issues 1–4]. Simferopol’, 1960–69.
Kadeev, V. I. Ocherki istorii ekonomiki Khersonesa Tavricheskogo v I–IV. vv. n. e. Kharkov, 1970.
Khersones Tavricheskii: Remeslo i kul’tura. Kiev, 1974.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Four of these were Crimean museums--the Tavrida Central Museum in Simferopol, the Kerch Historical and Cultural Preserve in Kerch, the Bakhchisaray History and Culture State Preserve of the Republic of Crimea in Bakhchisaray and the National Preserve of 'Tauric Chersonesos' in Sabastopol--and there was one museum in Kiev, the National Museum of History.
Plautius Silvanus, Tauric Chersonesos and classis Moesia.' Dacia 50:85-92.
In particular, historians such as Makarii Bulgakov (1816-1882) argued that Crimea had been part of the Apostle Andrew's missionary territory, and even more importantly as the place of Prince Vladimir's conversion in the tenth century (in Chersonesos), thereby making it the "cradle of Russian Christianity." These arguments were bolstered not just by textual evidence but also archeology--and Kozelsky notes that many Russians at the time "perceived science and religion as complementary pursuits" (59) rather than conflicting ones.
(1974), "Suvarnadvipa and the Chryse Chersonesos", Indonesia, 18(Oct.):1-40.
In one of the several chronicle tales that explain how the Russian lands converted to Christianity, for example, Prince Vladimir of Kiev besieges the Greek emporium at Chersonesos. At first he makes very little progress against its defenders, but then he promises to convert to Orthodoxy in exchange for victory.
Among their topics are community in the hinterlands of a Black Sea port, the chora of Kerkinitis, and ancient roads and land divisions in the chorai of the European Bosporos and Chersonesos. The 15 papers, one in German, were presented at an August-September 2003 conference in Sonderborg, Denmark.
Oneion, overlooking Loutro Elenis (ancient Chersonesos).
CHERSONESOS IS AN ENORMOUS, ANCIENT RUIN alongside the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol, on the shores of the Black Sea.
Ahnliche Schwierigkeiten wie im Falle von "Babylon" ergeben sich auch beim Stichwort "Chersonesos," sowie auch im Falle der drei Eintragungen von "Cahuk." Bei letzterem ist nicht leicht zu ersehen, dass Nr.