A Case for Papyri from the Necropolis at Ust’-Al’ma in the South-Western Crimea

Zaitsev Yu. P.

In 1996 an area containing elite burials dating from the 1st century AD was discovered within a Late Scythian necropolis. Tomb 620 occupied a prominent place among the rich burials. Among the numerous and various finds one of particular interest was an object later identified as scrinium (capsa, cista, teuchos) – a case for storing papyrus texts. The fine whittled sticks found together with the case are omphaloi or umbilici – small sticks attached to the end of scrolls. This extremely rare find provides archaeological confirmation of the fact that objects of «high culture», such as Roman items connected with writing, storing and transporting texts, had made their way into the barbarian world of the North Pontic region.

Keywords: South-Western Crimea, Ust’-Al’ma, Scythian necropolis, case for papyri, North Pontic region