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In 2017, the necropolis team of the Phanagorian Mission of IA RAS explored the Late Antique children’s burial, which is one of the rarest types of burials of Phanagoria of this time (deep tombs with a niche in the sidewall of the mine). There are less niche tombs than simple graves and ground crypts in the necropolis of the Asian Bosporan capital in the 4th –5th centuries AD. Gold items are seldom found there, indicating a rather high social status of the citizens buried in them. The burial No 280 is a narrow rectangular mine with a niche in the northwest wall. A wooden coffi n with a child’s skeleton was situated in the center. The dead laid on his left side; the bones of his hands were located on the body and under it; the legs are stretched out and in the area of the feet are pressed against each other. The child is oriented by head to the southeast, to the burial mine, that is not typical for the Phanagorian Late Antique burials. Solely goods of funeral practice imitated real artefacts. All of them are made of foil of precious metals. In the fi eld of the body of the child, gold imitations of the details of the belt headset (buckle, two belt tips) were made in the same stylistics and made according to the same technological scheme. In the lower part of the shins a decay from the silver foil was recovered, probably the remnants of a plate imitating an element of the belt headset (buckle or belt tip). Next to the lower jaw of the buried one, a gold danake was found, which, apparently, was used as the “Charon’s obol” and was fi rst in the child’s mouth. The danake was impressed from the bronze coin – the half-follis of Constantine I, issued at the mint of Rome from October 312 to May 313 AD. It sets the lower chronological boundary of the whole complex and allows dating the burial after 313 AD. Based on the analysis of similar burial sets of the Bosporus, the archaeological context in which they were discovered, we are suggesting that these antiquities belong to a military funerary culture. A hypothesis is advanced that the imitation of buckles and belt tips can be used as elements of a funeral belt set.


Phanagoria, necropolis, late antiquity, death customs, belt set, military equipment, buckle, danake

Alexey N. Voroshilov, Olga M. Voroshilova

Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

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