Criteria for the Presence of Barbarians in the Population of Early Olbia


in Classical Olbia and the Scythian World

Published by British Academy

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780197264041
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734311 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Criteria for the Presence of Barbarians in the Population of Early Olbia

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Historians of the ancient states of the north coast of the Black Sea were often faced by the challenge on how to estimate the presence of barbarians in the populations of early communities. Although it is generally understood that there was indeed a presence of barbarians in the early Mediterranean communities, the problem is there is no systematic means to gain material remains that may shed light on the numbers and social-ethnic characteristics of such non-Greek components. Although attempts have been made to generalize the existence of barbarians through archaeological evidence, such methods have failed due to lack of firm methodology. This chapter examines cities wherein the barbarian cultural level cannot be clearly established. It focuses on the two aspects of the issue of barbarian presence in Olbia. It examines the artefacts and assemblages, and how much materials can attest the presence of such ethnicities in Olbia. This qualitative approach examines the presence of dug-out dwelling places, handmade potteries, burial practices, jewellery and prosopography. The second aspect uses a quantitative approach which examines the statistics and percentages of particular ethnicities in Olbia. In these considerations and examinations, no objective criteria that would establish the number of barbarians in Olbia have been established. Although specific cultural features may be connected with the barbarians, they are otherwise represented slightly and in a fragmented fashion which nullifies the argument that Olbia contained substantial barbarian social stratum.

Keywords: presence of barbarians; barbarians; social-ethnic characteristics; archaeological evidence; barbarian cultural level; Olbia; dug-out dwelling places; handmade potteries; burial practices; jewellery

Chapter.  2597 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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