Keywords: graffiti, suburbs, dugout, pit, structure, abbreviated names, initials of proper names, processed ostracons, digital signs, graffiti of unclear meaning.


This paper is preliminary review of a small collection of graffiti from the latest excavations on the western outskirts of Olbia Pontica (the so-called «suburbs») in 2015—2020, and their introduction into scientific circulation.

The excavations were conducted by the Olbia International Archaeological Expedition led by A. V. Bujskikh as the part of Ukrainian-German multidisciplinary project (co-directors A. V. Bujskikh and J. Fornasier). The researches on the suburbs were headed by A. G. Kuzmischev and J. Fornasier. Over six years of research in various cultural strata and in the fillings of half-dugouts, pits and other objects more than 50 graffiti have been found, inscribed mainly on the fragments of Attic black-lacquered tableware of the 5th—4th centuries BC. Emphasis is placed on determining the main types of inscriptions and their features. Regardless of the year and location of discovery they are divided into five groups: A. Abbreviated anthroponyms or individual words; B. Initials of proper names or one-letter marks; C. Graffiti on treated ostracons; D. Various digital signs and records; E. Graffiti of unclear meaning. The collection under study significantly supplemented the source base of the small epigraphy of the Olbia polis. However, no original, rare and to some extent important informative inscriptions which were recorded in temenos, residential neighborhoods, in some settlements and in Borisfen have been found yet here. In addition the damage of many graffiti makes impossible to interpret them reliably. In no one case we could identify reliably the inscriptions dedicated to any deities. Instead, the large number of abbreviated names and initials of the owners of dishes coincides with a significant import of Attic black-lacquered ceramics in the life of the inhabitants of the suburbs in the 5th—4th centuries BC. Despite the relatively limited number, processed ostracons have replenished this category of Olbia votive finds by the original graffiti of magical significance. At the same time, the fact that in general in the suburbs is a lot of graffiti with digital markings which are most often attributed to traders, deserves special attention. Of course, in the future, all the graffiti from the suburbs need a more detailed visual study both as the fragments of ceramics and their exact professional sketches, and comparative analysis of this type of inscriptions from many ancient Greek sites.


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How to Cite
Rusiaieva, A. S., Kuzmishchev, A. G., & Fornasier, J. (2021). GRAFFITI FROM THE WESTERN OUTSKIRTS OF OLBIA PONTICA. Archaeology and Early History of Ukraine, 40(3), 89-103.