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An exhibition "Crimean Atlantis" dedicated to the flooded ancient city of Acra was shown in Kerch. In ancient Greek sources, there is only scant information about him. They searched for Akru for almost two hundred years, and only today it turned out that the city literally went under water.
An accidental find indicates a place
In 1820, a collector of antiquities, a Frenchman in the Russian service, Paul Dubrux, explored the ruins on a hill south of present-day Kerch. He decided that this was the city of Acre, mentioned by ancient authors. "Acre" in Greek is an elevation, hence the acropolis is a fortified part of the city on a hill. However, a hundred years later, a temple table was found there with an inscription that left no doubt that it was a different city - Kitai.
In the periphery of an unnamed ancient Greek author, describing a voyage along the coast of the Crimea, it is said that from Acre to Kitai - 30 stadia, or four miles, from Kitai to Cimmerik - 60 stadia, or eight miles. These cities, founded by Greek settlers in the 6th century BC, later became part of the Bosporus kingdom. The ruins of Cimmerik, Kitai and a dozen other ancient city-states have been identified. But from Acre - no trace.
In the early 1980s, an ordinary schoolboy Lesha Kulikov found in the coastal waters on the sandy embankment separating Lake Yanysh from the sea, one and a half hundred antique coins, including one gold one with the name of Tsar Kotis. He took the treasure to the Kerch Historical and Archaeological Museum. Soon, scientists began underwater research and saw a flooded city. This was Acra.
"There were no inscriptions there. This is a rarity for the Bosporan cities. They are not found either in Nymphea or in Mirmekia. We rely on the reports of ancient authors - the periphery, where the distances between settlements are indicated. Acre is mentioned in five written sources, including Strabo", - says underwater archaeologist Viktor Vakhoneev, senior researcher at the Institute for the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Acre occupies about three and a half hectares, most of it is under water, at a depth of three to four meters. For almost half a century of underwater and land excavations, no more than five percent of the city has been studied.
"Archeology is not a quick business. It is important for us to fix everything, to think it over. It is not for nothing that we are called criminologists who were late for the crime scene for hundreds and thousands of years. Our finds are evidence. The interpretation of facts and the restoration of the course of events depend on their spatial location. So Acre will have to investigate. more than one generation of archaeologists, "says Viktor Vakhoneev.
It is already clear that Acra is unique. Usually underwater archaeologists deal with disturbed cultural layers, redeposited objects. Structures are destroyed by currents, storms. Here, scientists discovered a practically untouched city. It was protected from the elements by a stone defensive wall of the 4th century BC.
"At that time, a large-scale state construction program was in effect, many Bosporan cities were fortified in order to withstand an external threat," the scientist specifies.
Who exactly threatened Acre is hard to say. At that time, the Scythian tribes roamed in the Crimea. Indeed, the tips of Scythian arrows are found during excavations, but the Greeks also used this weapon.
A wall 250 meters long protected the city, built on a low promontory jutting into the sea from the southwest. Its width is 2.5 meters, its height is up to eight meters. Archaeologists found out that at some point the wall was partially destroyed, and the city was burned. Then they quickly restored it. The wall was modernized, a tower made of rusticated blocks (most likely taken from a destroyed public building) was added. Moreover, neatly laid wooden beams were used as a foundation.On land they would decay, but in the sea they would be preserved.
Among the unique finds are four wooden ridges that have lain under water for two and a half thousand years.
And the most famous artifact is a gold earring in the shape of a lion's head, raised in 2015. Usually such things are found in necropolises. Moreover, only 16 of them are known in the world.
"There was a paradoxical situation - Greek authors, inhabitants of the Mediterranean, were not particularly interested in the situation in the Black Sea, and the works of the Bosporan historians have not survived. Therefore, we know little about Acre," Vakhoneev notes.
Information about the Akrians is obtained literally bit by bit. Thanks to underwater excavations, it was established that they were growing wheat and fishing. Amphorae and their fragments with the brands of the manufacturer, black and red-lacquered crockery allow one to judge about trade relations and crafts.
A notable detail is a rolled-up lead plate with a letter, where the governor was instructed to put in order the damp sanctuaries. This is the II-I century BC. Probably, then the sea was already heating the city.
The death of the "Crimean Atlantis"
Acre strikes with the development of fortifications. Their good preservation under water provides a rare opportunity to study them in detail. Ancient historians called Akra an ice-free port - the sea to the south is indeed navigable all year round, in contrast to the northern part of the Kerch Strait, which is covered with ice in severe frosts. For the Bosporan Kingdom, located at the intersection of trade routes, this was of great importance.
Meanwhile, Strabo, who lived at the beginning of our era, called Akra a village. The most varied versions of extinction have been expressed - from war to earthquake. But archaeologists see a completely different picture - slow flooding by the sea.
"Periods of transgression and regression of the sea occur cyclically and often. Over the past two thousand years, the water has risen by three and a half meters. The flooding of Acre lasted for three hundred years," explains Viktor Vakhoneev.
Archaeologists find sterile layers in cultural layers - without traces of human activity. This means that at times Acre was completely flooded. The inhabitants gradually moved further into the interior of the peninsula. The city turned into a village, and then disappeared forever under the water.
Scientists are proposing to turn Acre into an underwater museum. This will attract scuba diving tourists from all over the world to the Kerch Peninsula. There are such museums in Greece and Italy. Acra is able to compete with them.