Barbarization of the State? The Sarmatian Influence in the Bosporan Kingdom

Halamus Michaił

This article discusses the problem of the so-called ‘Sarmatization’ of the Bosporan Kingdom from the first century BC onwards. Analysis of different kinds of evidence shows that, the non-Greeks indeed became an important element of the Bosporan everyday life. From a short passage of Strabo’s Geography and later inscriptions we know about a group consisting of members of local tribes, called the Aspurgians. Their support must have been significant for the Bosporan rulers as many of their representatives gained high positions in the Kingdom. While epigraphic evidence demonstrates that the North Pontic region experienced an influx of non-Greek elements, the Greek political tradition continued to hold sway over the kingdom: indeed, Bosporan cities of the Taman peninsula and Tanais apparently adopted the typically Greek institutions of demos and boule, and, despite the so-called ‘Sarmatization’ of the Bosporus, they were functioning «under the umbrella» of a Greek polis.

Keywords: Bosporan Kingdom, Sarmatians, Aspurgians, epigraphic evidence, boule and demos

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