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Bosporan Grave Stele of Agafa, Fangoria, 179 AD.
Pushkin Museum, Moscow.

Inv. F-373
Fanagoria. 179 AD
Height 121; Width 59; Depth 16

Among the many Bosporan tombstones, the plots and the meaning of which still raise questions, the tomb of Agafa occupies one of the honorable places - thanks to the lengthy inscription and the complex two-sided image. Judging by the specifics of processing the upper and lower parts, the slab was initially attached to the stone base and crowned with acroteria.

On the front side, the image is built in two tiers. In the lower relief, two horsemen are shown. The horsemen on our right is bent over strongly and hardly holds the horse, pulling the reins; the other one sits looser, turning to face the viewer; he has magnificent hair of the “Antoninovskiy” style, his cloak flutters behind his back. The figure is highlighted as ritually significant - obviously, he is called Agafa in the epitaph.

The upper panel shows a complex multi-figure scene, varying the Greek-Eastern theme of symposia. Agafa, turning to the viewer, reclines on a wedge bed with a high bent back, on two mattresses and pillows. He is dressed in a tunic and a cloak, thrown over his right shoulder. He has a kantharos [wine cup] in his right hand and a libation bowl in his left. In front of the bed is a low little table-trapeza on three bent legs, on it are two small objects. Usually in such scenes a spouse sits at the feet of the deceased - the leader of the ritual. Here her role is played by the goddess, seated like a statue on a pedestal. She is dressed in a tunic and cloak, her head is crowned with a high conical garment with a cover. The goddess is shown strictly full face; in a frozen hieratic pose, with her hand pressed to her chest. At the table with dishes there is a small altar, on which a girl in a long robe makes a libation from the cup. She, in the eastern manner, is shown frontally, like the goddess whom she represents in the rite. The scene is flanked by two boys, the scale of the figures of which, like the girl, is disproportionately small compared with the main ones - a typical feature of the Bosporus stelae. Both in short tunics look directly at the viewer; to our right of the stele - with his right hand he holds a certain rod, a sitting dog on a leash; the left one has a hypertrophied high hat (?) such as a conical cap. This detail, shown in the immediate vicinity of the goddess, says that the power of the regeneration of life comes precisely from it (a man is reborn “from the head”).

On the front side, under the relief panels, an epitaph in ancient Greek is applied, which speaks of the deceased as a figure significant to society: “Good morning! Agafa, the son of the former head of the island Sakley Ortikov, who was enhanced, and earlier - the head of the chancellery and after that became a good politician and a wonderful captain thanks to his outstanding devotion to the lord-kings, Agafa son of Agafa [put] his memorial on the eleventh Panem of the year 476."

The tombstone was placed in the era of the reign of Marcus Aurelius - in 179 AD.
L.I. Akimova A.K. Korovin Source

Other Illustrations of Scythian, Cimmerian, Sarmatian & Bosporan Costume and Soldiers from the Black Sea Region
Ancient Illustrations of Costume and Soldiers

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