Taganrog, Black Sea (Topoi A-I-2)
What were the Greeks doing so far to the east? Taganrog was the outpost of Greek settlement furthest away from the ancestral Greek homeland in the furthermost northern Black Sea region. The Greeks had begun colonizing this area in the second half of the 7th century BC. They had advanced as far as the mouths of the Don and Myus Rivers on the shores of the Sea of Azov. About ten kilometers west of the present-day mouth of the Don, traces of an early Greek settlement have been found. At that time, the adjacent steppes and the Don delta were already settled; by the late Bronze Age, a system of settlements had arisen that may have been used temporarily by half-settled nomads. Taganrog was a trading post with local and Greek population; it seems to have lived on into the Middle Ages, though evidence of this is still lacking. The reason is obvious: the Don delta was always an attractive area for settlement, being in a favorable transportation location and having rich stocks of fish.
But one of the crucial questions for research was why no city developed here of the kind found everywhere else that the Greeks colonized. The problem cannot have been a lack of means of livelihood. Were there political reasons for the exception? Did nomadic peoples prevent the formation of a city? Or did Crimean or Tatan Greeks want to prevent competition?
Archaeologists and geo-scientists worked hand in hand to trace the connection between the developments in the natural surroundings and in culture in the late Bronze and early Iron Age. As in the Land of Seven Rivers, here too the landscape is characterized by huge kurgans.