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Gepaipyris II? Once More about the Silver Plate from Scythian Neapolis**

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Abstract This article is devoted to the study of a silver plate with an inscription of Queen Gepaipyris, found in the excavations of Scythian Neapolis in 1959. It has up to now been thought that the plate belonged to the Bosporan Queen Gepaipyris, ruling in AD 37-38, and was probably a diplomatic gift during negotiations with the Scythians. The analysis of the shape of the plate, its stylistic features and the composition of its decoration give grounds for dating the plate from Neapolis (Cat. No. 1, Fig. 1) within a broad framework of the second half of the 2nd and first half of the 3rd century AD, but more probably to the second half of the 2nd than to the first half of the 3rd century. The distribution of plates, dishes (Fig. 4), cups (Fig. 7) and bowls (Fig. 8) with Dionysiac friezes allows us, with a high degree of probability, to suggest that the Neapolis plate was manufactured in a workshop located in Gaul. From the viewpoint of palaeography the inscription on the plate from Neapolis (Cat. No. 1, Figs. 1, 3-4; 9, 10; 10, 1) also cannot be dated earlier than to the 2nd century AD, the most probable date being within the last decades of the 2nd or the first half of the 3rd century AD. The suggested dating of the plate provides grounds for abandoning, without hesitation, the unfounded suggestion about its belonging to a Bosporan Queen, ruling in the second quarter of the 1st century AD. The dating of the silver plate from Scythian Neapolis, based on the analysis of its shape, decoration, the palaeographic features of the inscription and the specific form used for the designation of its weight, fits in well, in general, with the dating of its archaeological context. The plate was found in the debris of tiles and stone to the north of the buildings of the so-called North Palace of Neapolis, which existed in the last quarter of the 2nd and the first quarter of the 3rd century AD and could have been a residence of the Bosporan governor. The name Gepaipyris (Γηπαιπυρίς, Γηπαίπυρος, Γηπεπυρίς) is Thracian, rather rare and occurs in only four inscriptions found in Thrace and dated mainly to the 2nd-3rd centuries AD. As there could not have been a queen in Thrace, since it was a province of the Roman Empire in the given period, we can only suppose that a woman with the Thracian name Gepaipyris was, most probably, either a so far unknown queen, who once ruled the Bosporan Kingdom or a wife of one of the Bosporan kings. If we adopt the first suggestion about the reign of Gepaipyris II in the Bosporan Kingdom, then that could have taken place theoretically between 170/171 and 174/175 AD, i.e. between Tiberius Julius Eupator and Sauromates II. This is the only chronological gap within the period under discussion, for which dated gold staters are unknown. Certainly, Gepaipyris could have been, given the dating of the plate and the inscription on it, the wife of one of three kings of the Bosporan Kingdom: Tiberius Julius Eupator (154-170 AD), Sauromates II (174-210 AD) or Rhescuporis III (210-226 AD), most probably, in this case, one of the last two. The appearance in the Bosporus of a silver plate, manufactured in Gaul, is not surprising, if we remember that precisely in the 2nd-3rd centuries AD articles from workshops located in Gaul and in the Rhine area made up a considerable part of the imported glass and bronze items found in the Bosporus and neighbouring area.


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