Tauric Chersonesus in Crimea vandalized by Russians in 19th century, – description by British famous traveler

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Edward Daniel Clarke (1769-1822) wrote in his famous book ‘Travels in Russia‘ which became a bestseller in 19th-century Europe: “The country included within the isthmus formed by the principal harbour of Aktiar, or Inkerman, that is to say, by Ctenus of Strabo, and the port of Balaclava, or Portus Symbolorum, is the Heracleotic Chersonesus so accurately described by that author as a portion of the Peninsula Major or Taurica Chersonesus. On this small district stood the cities of the old and new Chersonesus, and Eupatorium; the temple of Diana, the Promontory Parthenium, celebrated by the story of Iphigenia: the famous Chersonesian Mole: with numerous ramparts, tombs, canals, and other works, the memory of which historians preserve, but the last trace of whose magnificence the Russians daily labour to annihilate… we endeavoured to investigate the ancient geography of the Heracleotic Peninsula. It was a work of some difficulty; yet the materials indeed were ample. The ruins, as they still existed, with the assistance of Strabo, and an accurate survey of the country, might be deemed sufficient for the purpose; but the insurmountable difficulties created by the barbarity of the Russians were very intimidating. When they settled in the country, the remains of the city of Chersonesus were so considerable, that all its gates were standing. These they soon demolished; and, proceeding in their favourite employment laying waste, they pulled down, broke, buried, and destroyed whatever they could find which might serve to illustrate its former history; blowing up its ancient foundationstearing open tombsoverthrowing temples; and then, removing the masses of stone to Aktiar, exposed them for sale, by cubic measure, to serve as materials in building. If the Archipelago [Aegean Islands] should fall under the dominion of Russia, the fine remains of ancient Greece will be no more; Athens will be razed, and not a stone left. to mark where the city stood. Turks are men of taste and science, in comparison with Russians

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Among other interesting antiquities, which the latter had removed from the city of Chersonesus, was a beautiful bas-relief of white marble, exhibiting a sculpture equal in perfection to some of the most admired productions of the art. It had closed the entrance to the tomb of a philosopher by the name of Theagenes. Any of the inhabitants of Aktlar might have. purchased it, together with a ton weight besides of other stones, for a single rouble. To us the sale was prohibited, because we were strangers; aid, worse than all, we were Englishmen. 

As a bas-relief, it represented Theagenes and his wife. The drapery of these figures beautifully displayed the perfection to which the art of sculpture had attained among the inhabitants, and thereby illustrated and confirmed the text of Pliny. The philosopher held in his left hand a scroll, in form and size resembling the manuscripts found in Pompeii. His feet were bound in sandals. His wife, in a Grecian habit, wore a long robe, which fell negligently in folds to the ground. They both appeared in the prime of life. From the style of the inscription written below, the date Professor Porson affirmed that the date of it might have been at least 200 years prior to Christianity. I was afterwards conducted to the sepulchre from the mouth of which they had removed this marble. It was a family vault, hewn in the rock on the outside of the walls of the ancient city of Chersonesus. Within were recesses for the bodies of the dead. When it was opened, the soldiers found the bones still in a state of preservation, and they scattered them among the ruins. 

The “Cradle of Civilizations” book has unique facts about Tauric Chersonesus and battles of famous armies that took place near it in antiquity.

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