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Paphlagonian Hadrianoupolis 
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2005
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2003
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2006
2007

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2006

Church B
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Paphlagonia
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International Conference
Paphlagonia et Pontus

Hellenistic and Roman Ceramic Archaeology on the Southern Black Sea Coast:

An Overview of the Turkish Archaeological Literature related to Ceramic Archaeology of Paphlagonia and Pontus*

Ergün Laflı**

Abstract

This study is aimed to investigate the contribution of archaeological research on the southern coast of the Black Sea region to the archaeology of Hellenistic and Roman pottery. This limited literature overview is solely based on the published reports at MKKS (=Annual Turkish Symposium for Salvage Excavations and Museum Studies). The reports of salvage excavations in the region is reviewed in detail and integrated with the evidence from some other excavations in the region for making assumptions about the region in the antiquity. The context of this article covers in particular Amisus, Sinope, Pompeioupolis and Sebastoupolis in Paphlagonia and Pontus.



Introduction

The Black Sea coastline of Asia Minor will be named as “The Southern Black Sea Region” in this study. The region is the least known area in the course of the development of Hellenistic and Roman pottery and particularly in the aspect of archaeometry in comparison with other countries that are located on the Black Sea coast, namely Bulgaria, Romania, Moldovia, Ukraine, Russia and Georgia. The very few number of studies that were conducted in the region by the beginning of the Turkish Republican period has not been sufficient to revive the archaeological heritage there. Compared to the other parts of Asia Minor, the Black Sea region has been archaeologically neglected. The studies in the region are not only few in number but also insufficient. Some of the major studies in the region may be listed as; the researches of H. von Gall on the rock-cut tombs of Paphlagonia; the surveys of U.B. Alkım in association with İkiztepe excavations, which were published by Z. Kızıltan; the studies on the classical period pottery found at the İkiztepe excavations of Istanbul University; the regional surveys conducted by J. Dengate; the researche on the Byzantine architecture in the region by A. Bryer and D. Winfield; the epigraphic and topographic studies of D.H. French at Sinope; epigraphic, numismatic and historical archaeological studies by Chr. Marek, E. Olshausen and B. Remy and their teams; archaeological field surveys by R. Matthews in Paphlagonia (and pottery analysis by D. Cottica). In September 2001, the studies carried out in the region were presented in the “Second International Congress on Black Sea Antiquities”. Finally, the topic of the “The Black Sea: Past, Present and Future” congress that was held at Istanbul Technical University in October 2004 is determined as “The Studies on Black Sea Region”. Furthermore in September 2005, some of the studies carried out in the region were also presented in the “Third International Congress on Black Sea Antiquities” in Prague.


The major goal of this article is to present a study of the pottery that were found during the salvage excavations that were conducted by the local museums of the Turkish Black Sea region (Amasya, Amasra, Bolu, Çankırı, Düzce-Konuralp, Giresun, Kastamonu, Samsun, Sinop, Tokat, Trabzon, Zonguldak-Ereğli) in order to shed light to the cultural and economical structure of the region in antiquity. Since the context of this study is restricted to the ceramics that were found at the salvage excavations of the museums, the main source of this study is the series “(Müze Çalışmaları ve) Kurtarma Kazıları Sempozyumu” (=Annual Turkish Symposium for Salvage Excavations and Museum Studies), which is being annually published by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, The General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums. I intend to bring together the evidence from the salvage excavations and the evidence obtained from systematic excavations in order to present a holistic perspective.


Hellenistic and Roman Pottery in the Black Sea Region: Production and Distribution

Until the present day neither the excavations nor the surveys did provide chronological evidence for the Hellenistic and Roman periods of Paphlagonia and Pontus coastline in the Southern Black Sea region. Perhaps the main reason is the location of the Paphlagonian cities Abonouteichus, Amastris, Gangra, Germanicoupolis, Hadrianoupolis, Heracleia Pontica1 Neoclaudioupolis, Pompeioupolis, Sebaste, Sesamus as well as Sinope and the Pontic cities Amaseia, Amisus, Cabeira, Cerasus, Laodiceia, Sebasteia, Sebastoupolis, Trapezus ve Zela, below the modern settlements.

(Fig. 1)

In addition to that, the landforms might have prevented the formation of stratified layers. On the other hand, the diverse ethnicity of the region, composed of indigeneous people, Hellens, Persians and Romans, must have had an effect on the material culture.2 The Southern Black Sea region has been politically independent intermittently in antiquity. There was a local kingdom under the rule of Mithridates VI during the Hellenistic period. The reflection of this independent political force may be defined in terms of material culture, particularly through ceramics. The distinctive features of the region in terms of topography, economy, politics and ethnicity are expected to yield to pecularities in the material culture during antiquity. For instance, the absence of cities characterised by colossal architecture similar to the ones in western Anatolia, and the presence of higher number of rural settlements instead during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, is a distinctive feature of the Black Sea region. These rural settlements, that provide evidence about the material culture, however, are not adequately studied due to the scantiness of regional surveys. It is known from the literary sources that the agricultural activities were intensive in the region and some famous people were born there, including Strabo who was born in Amaseia.


In the course of the Hellenistic and Roman periods, Black Sea region is a well-known centre for the manufacture of trade amphorae. The production of wine and olive oil must have contributed to the economical development of the region and even permited competing with the Greek poleis in the Aegean such as Cnidus, Rhodos and Thasos. A scientific study concentrated on the agriculture of vine and olive in the region has not yet been done, however the geographical proximity of the region to Caucasia, where the viticulture and wine production was common, might have had an impact on the development of viticulture in the Black Sea region. The major manufacturers of trade amphorae in the region were Sinope, Heracleia Pontica, Amisus and Amastris. Since 1990’s, the excavations of trade amphorae workshops at Sinope produced abundant evidence. Still, the evidence on the distribution of these amphorae is very limited in comparison to other regions. These workshops, which were active from the Late Classical period onward until the Late Roman period are recognised from the amphora stamps, but the list of manufacturers is still being studied. Trade amphorae of Sinope were also found in other parts of the Black Sea coastline and in the Aegean as well as the Mediterranean,3 just as other types of pottery4 that were manufactured in the southern Black Sea region and the Aegean were found in Olbia, Chersonesos, Panticapaeum and Histria.


Pontic sigillata is a group of fine ceramics that is peculiar to the region during the Hellenistic and Roman periods and very little is known about its origin, manufacturing technology, chronology, and distribution.5 The ceramics belonging to this group are found commonly in the region, but since there are no studies covering the whole scope of this group, detailed information is not available. This red-slipped pottery must have begun to be produced by the 1st century A.D., the earliest phase of the Roman Empire that was culturally represented in Asia Minor, and the production continued into the 6th or 7th centuries A.D. These fine ceramics were first studied in detail by T.P. Knipowitsch in 1929. Pontic sigillata was extensively used in the Black Sea and it was distributed as far as Ostia. Even if they were occasionally stamped, they could still be easily distinguished with their matt and dark red colored slip. The origin of the Pontic sigillata is assumed to be southern coast of the Black Sea, but there are no studies about it yet. On the other hand, the examples of Pontic sigillata that were found on the rest of Black Sea coast were studied by K. Domżalski6 and D.V. Zhuravlev.7 Some examples of this group were found during the Saraçhane excavations in Istanbul and believed to be the pioneer of sigillata production at the cities under the Roman rule located to the east of Central Anatolia.8


The terracotta figurines of Amisus have recently been published and they are assumed to have been manufactured together with amphorae.9 The production place and the technique are not well understood yet. Some of the figurines of this group are unusual and grotesque. To this date, very few examples of this type of figurines were found in the Black Sea region. Some examples were found in the test trenches that were opened by E. Akurgal during his excavations at Sinope in the 1960’s. The distribution of these is another enigmatic problem. There is no sufficient information concerning the Hellenistic fine ware in the region. In Asia Minor, with the rise of the Hellenistic kingdoms, local production of fine ware appeared with common features in terms of style and shape throughout. However, the Pontic and Paphlagonian ceramics appear to be unique. Future studies on Hellenistic pottery in the Black Sea region are expected in order to shed light to the ethnic and cultural structure of the region in antiquity.


The Salvage Excavations in Southern Black Sea Region and their Contribution to the Archaeology of the Hellenistic and Roman Periods

Amisus Excavations

Perhaps the most curious archaeological work conducted in the Black Sea region is the Amisus excavations.10 Amisus is located 3 km to the southwest of Samsun on a hill named “Kara Samsun” overlooking the sea, at the Cedit vicinity.11 The acropolis is below the modern school, Sahra Sıhhiye. During the Roman period, the borders of the city have extended to the slopes of Toraman Tepe where the harbour was located. The lower city was also founded there. The first excavations at Amisus were conducted by the Samsun Museum on the slopes of Baruthane River in 1991. These excavations brought to light Roman mosaics and ample amount of ceramics from the test trenches opened near the mosaics.12 The scenes depicted on the mosaics and their quality strongly suggested that these buildings were elité villas.13 On the basis of this, presence of local rulers in the Black Sea region who admired Greek art may be considered during the Roman period similar to the in Western Anatolian examples.

A close inspection of the ceramics reveals different pottery types of the Hellenistic and Roman periods.14 They also include fine ceramics of Hellenistic period. There are easily distinguishable groups such as metallic horizontal handled, incurved rim bowls that are well known from the western and southern Asia Minor for the Late Hellenistic period,15 guttae of Pontic sigillata fabric16 and Hellenistic fish plates.17 Both of the groups are supposed to be Black Sea productions on the basis of fabric and typology and they may be the earliest examples of such types from the southern Black Sea coast. Among the fine ceramics, there are eight terracotta unguentaria that reveal single typology.18 Two of these were decorated with flutes imitating contemporary metal vases. In terms of typology, they are similar to the Western Anatolian examples dated to the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. The late Hellenistic and Early Roman trade amphorae among these were probably produced in Amisus. An oil lamp dated to the late Classical period is the only published example of late classical oil lamps from the Southern Black Sea coast. 19

(Fig 2.)

Two fragmentary terracotta figurines were also included in this study.20 In spite of it being a major figurine production centre in antiquity Amisus itself produced very few number of figurines in excavations. The ceramics found in Amisus do have local features even if they expose similarities with the examples from western and the southern coasts of Asia Minor. There are no imported sigillata among the published material. Even though the rest of the Black Sea coast is represented with ESA, ESB, ESC, Cnidian and Italian sigillata, none was found on the southern coast.21


The second excavation that took place at Amisus was conducted in 1996 by the Samsun Museum in cooperation with the Department of Archaeology of the Trakya University for the salvage of the mosaics in the modern school, Sahra Sıhhiye. A cistern was discovered there and a test trench was dug in it.22 This excavation produced Late Roman cooking wares, which are similar to the Pompeioupolis examples in terms of morphology, and fragments of red-slipped local fine ware that can probably be dated to the Late Roman period as well.23 Looking at the illustration provided in the report of this excavation, part of the Late Roman red-slipped wares could have belonged to the Pontic sigillata group. This suggestion is made depending on the wide shallow shape and the dark red colored slip of these examples.24 A terracotta oil lamp, probably dated to the Late Roman period, is remarkable in terms of shape and capacity.25 Particularly the bases of the glass calyxes are significant because they are similar to the Pompeioupolis examples.26 These calyxes and an elongated unguentarium should date to the Middle to Late Roman period like the other terracotta finds.

In 1995 a grave was revealed at Samsun, during road construction at the Ebusuud Street by the Municipality of İlkadım and Late Roman grave goods were found in it. However, none of these are published.


In addition to the Cedit vicinity, where the core of the ancient settlement is likely to be situated, Kılıçdede-Dündartepe (Öksürüktepe), Hasköy-Toptepe (Belediye Evleri neighbourhood, Samsun-Çarşamba highway), Atakum-Baruthane hills (on the north of the road), Büyük Kolpınar hill (to the north of the Veterinary Directorate), Dedeüstü hill at Küplüce village (Hellenistic-Roman), Karanlık Tepe, Büyükoyumca, Çobanlı and Çatalçam mounds, Kümbettepe mound at Alanlı village (Hellenistic) and Sazak mound at Büyükoyumca village (Hellenistic) point out the intensive habitation in the region during classical antiquity. There are no reports on the archaeology of ceramics from the rural areas. The archaeological surveys conducted by L. Summerer are expected to produce further evidence.


The Research Concerning the Trade Amphorae Workshops at Sinope

Sinope,27 which is known to be a colony founded by Miletus in 7th century B.C. has a naturally sheltered harbor and is renown as the most convenient one on the southern Black Sea coast. 28 Sinope, the birthplace of Mithradates VI., was colonized by the Romans during the reign of Julius Ceasar in 46 B.C. E. Akurgal conducted test excavations in order to shed light to the earlier periods of the city, but most of the archaeological artefacts at the Department of Archaeology of the Ankara University have not yet been closely inspected.29 The most significant study on ceramics is the excavation of the amphora workshops at Demirci, 14 km away from Sinope, which is conducted by Y. Garlan, D. Kassab Tezgör and the Sinop Museum since 1994.30 The systematical surveys conducted in this region since 1993 revealed more than ten workshops.31 This research produced significant evidence concerning the dimension of amphora production and techniques in the Black Sea region. The excavations conducted by the Museum in 1994 produced Hellenistic pottery.32 It is revealed that small sized kilns which lasted for 50 to 100 years were used for the production of amphorae, and the location of those changed frequently. The discovery of the dumps that included the wasters of these workshops yielded more comprehensive evidence on the amphora production in Sinope. At the workshops on Boztepe peninsula (Zeytinlik ve Nisiköy) the associated amphorae were dated to the 3rd century B.C. with the aid of stamps they had. The chronology was based on the names of the officials and the potters mentioned on the stamps. The latest date suggested for the workshops on Demirci bay is between the 2nd and 4th centuries A.D. The study indicated that amphora production in Sinope and environs continued between 4th-2nd centuries B.C. and 2nd-6th centuries A.D. Y. Garlan identified the names of 166 potters during the 2000-2001 seasons. He also identified more than 125 stamps. This reveals that the amphora production in Sinope may be regarded as an industry for the concerned period. Excavations of amphora workshops are few in Asia Minor. For this reason, the excavations at Sinope are very promising in terms of increasing our knowledge in regards of techniques and mechanisms of transport amphorae production particularly for the Hellenistic period.


In 1997, the excavations of Sinope amphora workshops conducted by the Sinop Museum continued and concentrated on underwater research.33 Even though this work yielded a great amount of finds, none was published in the proceedings of salvage excavations.


In addition to the studies of the Franco-Turkish team on the production and distribution of Sinopean amphorae, the collection of the Samsun Museum34 and some private amphora collections in the Black Sea35 were published. Since 1996, an U.S. American team from the University of Pennsylvania Museum has been conducting a regional survey in Sinop and environs, which contributes to our knowledge of the pottery in the region.36 The excavation of an early Byzantine church at Sinop-Çiftlik, which was conducted by the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara under the directorship of the Sinop Museum, aimed at salvage and excavation of mosaic pavements. The pottery associated with it is not mentioned in the publications even if the results are significant in terms of chronology. The latest results of this excavation is not yet published.


Pompeioupolis Excavations

Several salvage excavations were carried out at Pompeioupolis (mound of Zımbıllı Tepesi) in Taşköprü near Kastamonu by the Kastamonu Museum since 1984.37 Pompeioupolis, the capital of Paphlagonia, fell under the rule of the Roman Empire with the defeat of the Pontus king Mithridates VI by the Roman general Lucullus in 73-72 B.C. Pompeius who was appointed to the position of Lucullus for the re-organisation of Paphlagonia and this area in general founded the city of Pompeioupolis in 64 B.C.


The location of Pompeioupolis as a capital city on top of a mound is quite challenging. In the southern Black Sea region the number of flat settlements is almost equal to the number of mounds. At Pompeioupolis the nucleus of large ancient settlement was a mound site similar to southeast Anatolia.


In 1984, a structure with mosaic pavement believed to be a bath was exposed during the excavations, however, the associated pottery was not included in the publications.38 The excavation campaign by the Kastamonu Museum in 1993 at the same place yielded more pottery39 and this time the excavators were more concerned with the stratigraphy and concentrated more on the classical periods.40 The stratigraphy of this settlement, which was identified as a mound was defined as complicated by the excavators and unfortunately the excavations did not yield a clear picture of the stratigraphy.41 The coins found there suggested long term habitation from the Hellenistic period to the middle Byzantine period. The corpus of the ceramics found during the excavations include a large number of coarse pottery such as Roman and Late Roman jugs, cooking ware and lids.42 An amphora fragment with an inscription on the neck dated the 5th-6th century was published.

(Fig. 3)

The grafitti on it is in red and reads “YMEPIOY” which is the genetive of “Hymerios".43 Even if it is difficult to identify from the photographs, several of the red-slipped plate fragments were also published.44 The Late Roman pottery is the largest group among the ceramics. A detailed evaluation of this group may produce new evidence concerned with the use and distribution of Late Roman coarse pottery on the Black Sea coast. Perhaps, the pottery found in the settlement may be associated with the last phase of the settlement. The presence of large amounts of glass fragments among the pottery may be related to wealth.45 Recently L. Summerer has begun with an excavation project at Paphlagonian Pompeioupolis.


Sebastoupolis Excavations

Sebastoupolis is located at Sulusaray, Tokat and was settled on a mound like Pompeioupolis. Salvage excavations were conducted at the site in 1989 and 1990.46 The mound was located at the junction of the trade routes that linked Cappadocia with Pontus. An ancient settlement was located on the northwestern and southern slopes of the mound. The excavation reports state that Sebastoupolis was inhabited continuously from the Early Bronze Age to the Byzantine period and has a great amount of architectural remains. The variety of these remains is quite interesting. In 1990, a test trench was opened to the south of the settlement, which was encircled with a wall.47 This trench produced some fragments that are supposed to be Hellenistic. A trifoil rimmed jug among those resembles Phrygian pottery.48

(fig. 4)

Perhaps the Hellenistic fine ware of the region, which has not been studied properly until the present day, was a sequel to the Phrygian pottery style and a parallel to the Central Anatolian Galatian pottery. These ceramics that continued the Iron Age tradition in such a location near central Anatolia possibly indicate the presence of a secondary local pottery tradition along with the coastal Black Sea pottery traditions that followed contemporary Hellenistic Greek styles.

The absence of any statement about the pottery associated with the early Byzantine church in the report is interesting. The ceramics from Sebastoupolis require further study.


The Burial Customs and Pottery of the Hellenistic and Roman Periods in the Southern Black Sea Region

One of the enigmatic problems concerning the archaeology of the Black Sea is the burial customs and the archaeology of ceramics in relation to burial customs during the classical antiquity. Our knowledge regarding the burial customs in the southern Black Sea region, during the Hellenistic and Roman periods is provided by the salvage excavations.


No large cemeteries or sporadic burials are mentioned in archaeological publications concerned with the southern coast of the Black Sea. However, there are quite a number of cemeteries in central Amasya. The modern city of Amasya is also the site of ancient Amaseia.49 A sarchophagus dated to the first half of the 2nd century A.D. or in other words, middle of the Roman Imperial period was found at a place called Uygur not far from central Amasya.50 The skeletons of an adult man and woman were accompanied by silver coins dating to the reign of Hadrian and Trajan.51 In addition to these, gold ornaments and bone tools that belonged to the female were also found in the sarchophagus.52 The fragments of an unguentarium and a gem cameo substantiated the date suggested for the burial.53 Typologically the unguentaria are in two main groups and exmples of them have been dated to the first half of the 2nd century A.D. on the other coasts of Asia Minor. Perhaps, the gem and the golden ornaments are indicators of an elite burial.54

(fig. 5-6)

Another burial ground that was used during the 3rd century A.D. was discovered at Kurşunlu in Amasya.55 Six vaulted tombs were uncovered at Kurşunlu during the 2000 campaign.56 Similar type of vaulted chambers were also found at Kulistepe,57 Şamlar and İhsaniye which must be the necropoleis of Amaseia. These reveal the common use of sarchophagi and vaulted chambers along with the grave complexes in this region during the Roman period. The anthropological evidence of the burial site in Kurşunlu have not been studied and a coin dated to 224 A.D. is the only datable object recovered from the burials.58 No terracotta finds from these burials were mentioned.


The most well-known burial ground in Amesia is the Late Roman cemetery at “Eski Şamlar” which was published in the fifth volume of the “Salvage Excavation Seminars”.59 In total, there were eleven vaulted grave chambers and two cist graves only two of which were decorated with frescoes. It was reported that Late Roman pottery was found there, but none were illustrated in the publication. Two intact glass unguentaria dated to the 3rd century are interesting.60

(fig. 7-8)
The report does not include any information about the death cult, the gender of the skeletons, ethnicity and religion, anthropological information was disregarded in the report.


Six Roman graves that were discovered by coincidence at Kiremitçiler road of Gelincik neighborhood at Sinop are significant for understanding the burial customs of the region in the middle and Late Roman periods.61 Grave goods attributed to various periods were found in the grave complex that were built underground. In those graves, a coin dated to the reign of Theodosius and other coins that dated roughly to the early Byzantine period were recovered. Some of those grave chambers were decorated with frescoes. Among the finds, red-slipped local vessels (Pontic sigillata) and Sinopean amphorae are mentioned.62 In the publication only three of these are illustrated which include a red-slipped terracotta flask dated to the 3rd – 4th century, an early Byzantine oil lamp and a Late Roman glass unguantarium.63

(fig.9)
Particularly the flask is likely to be locally produced and reveals that the tradition of placing a flask in the grave as in the rest of Anatolia was practiced here as well. The Early Byzantine oil-lamp, with its extraordinary form and decoration, is a unique example that reflects the tendency for regionalism in pottery production. The variation in the chronology of these finds is due to the long usage of these graves.

The common features of these burial grounds in particular for Amaseia, Merzifon,64 Heracleia Pontica and Sinope are that they are located within the present city centres and they are not any different than the rest of Anatolian coasts in terms of burial customs.


Burial grounds were discovered at an underground settlement at Aydıntepe that is located 24 km to northwest of province center of Bayburt, but the associated pottery is not mentioned.65 It is significant for revealing the presence of a different type of burial custom in a region near Cappadocia.


Appendix I

In this appendix two salvage excavations conducted at the Southern Black Sea region are introduced since they provide information about the antiquity of the region. Associated pottery is not mentioned in the reports.


Trapezus Excavations

Trabzon, the site of ancient Trapezus is not very well known in terms of classical periods. In 1997, a salvage excavation conducted by the Trabzon Museum revealed some architectural elements that may be associated with the ancient city during the Roman Imperial period.66 These architectural elements such as architraves and friezes entirely belong to monumental structures dated to the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. In addition to these, a Corinthian capital67 and a column base dated to the 3rd – 4th centuries A.D. were also found. The most significant find is a statue of a young male larger than life size.68 The statue was discovered with its head and it is perhaps the only example that belongs to sculpture found in-situ in the area. It is difficult to relate this statue to the monumental architectural pieces eventhough it cannot be denied. Even if the excavator identified the statue as Hermes, author claims it to be a depiction of young Apollo which would coincide with the cults of Trapezus. This figure that bears a pipeflute in his hand, which is well known in the depictions of Satyrs and Dionysos, is very likely to be a depiction of Apollo.


Amastris Deponation Statues

Four statues were found at Amasra during the construction of Küçüksanayii Sitesi in 1993, however the ceramics found together were not documented.69 One of these statues is cuirassed and was most probably the depiction of an emperor.70 The others might have belonged to the elite.71 It is difficult to understand why these statues were casually deponated. The statues have not been properly studied yet. The identification of these statues requires a good knowledge of the Amastrian history during the Roman period.

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Ballard, R. D., F. T. Hiebert, D. F. Coleman, C. Ward, J. S. Smith, K. Willis, B. Foley, K. Croff, C. Major ve F. Torres. 2001. “Deepwater Archaeology of the Black Sea: The 2000 Season at Sinop, Turkey.” AJA 105:607-23.

Bittner, A. 1998. Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft in Herakleia Pontike: eine Polis zwischen Tyrannis und Selbstverwaltung. Asia Minor Studien 30. Bonn: Rudolf Habelt GmbH.

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