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Princely Burial of the Hellenistic Period in the Mezmay Burial-Ground (North-Western Caucasus)

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Abstract In 2004 a previously unknown burial-ground consisting of flat graves was discovered by grave-robbers on the northern slopes of the Central Caucasus range at a height of 800 metres above sea-level near the settlement of Mezmay in the Apsheronsk District of the Krasnodar region. In 2005 the first rescue excavations were undertaken. Among the assemblages so far investigated, the most interesting has been Grave No. 3, in which a warrior of aristocratic descent and high social rank had been laid to rest. Apart from the deceased warrior, there were also horse burials in this funerary complex and a large range of grave goods, the number and quality of which make the complex unique, not only for the Northern Caucasus but also for the whole North Pontic region. Two bronze helmets were found in it for example, iron chain-mail, swords, spear-heads, short spears and arrows, a battle-axe, bronze, glass and pottery vessels, gold jewellery, a bronze mirror, an iron tripod bearing zoomorphic depictions and many other artefacts. The preliminary date which has been assigned to the burial ranges from the late 3rd to the early 2nd century BC, while the necropolis itself is considered as belonging to the Late Hellenistic and Early Roman eras. It is not possible to identify unequivocally the culture with which the Mezmay necropolis is linked, but it can for the time being be classified as linked to the range of Maeotian antiquities of the North-western Caucasus. Apart from Burial No. 3, bronze and iron helmets from the spoil heaps of the grave-robbers’ excavations are also published in this article.


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