Hestiatorion of the Chaikinskoye Site

Kovalenko S. A.

The author undertakes a comparative analysis of the remains of a building unearthed at the ancient site of Chaikinskoye. The building was situated near the entrance to the settlement, it was square in shape and its decoration made it conspicuous among the rest of the buildings, underlining its public meaning. Its architectural features and layout make it possible to suppose that it was a hestiatorion, a building intended for cult feasts (banquets) in the form of the so-called theoxenia implying that the deity honoured by the feast was invisibly present among the mortals. It is very probable that the deity worshipped here was Heracles. The cult of Heracles was a state cult in Chersonesus, he was worshipped as Soter (i.e. as protector of the Chersonesian land), especially by the Chersonesian colonists who lived in remote parts of the chora. The discovery of the hestiatorion at the Chaikinskoye site gives archaeological evidence proving the existence of that religious practice (known before only from epigraphic and written sources) there and then.

Keywords: archaeology, Chaikinskoye site, North Pontic region, Black Sea, Chersonesus