Wantonly destroying what is prized by enlightened nations is the Russians’ most striking national character trait, – wrote a British traveler observing their vandalization of ancient Kerch/Panticapaeum in Crimea

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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 town of Kertchy, standing on the right of the ancient Panticapaeum, is now reduced to extreme wretchedness and insignificance. It was, not long since, of considerable consequence. The Russians, according to the statement made by several of its inhabitants, destroyed no less than 5000 houses. Even in its ruins, the regal seat of the Bosphorian kings once the residence of Mithridates, will ever be considered an interesting, if not an important place, for the researches of the historian… There is perhaps no place in the Crimea where the traveller will find so many antiquities, as in Kertchy. Many of the inhabitants have placed ancient Greek marbles over the doors by way of ornament, but without any knowledge of their real nature, or even common attention to the position of the figures; so that they are seen in all directions, sometimes lying side-ways in the wall, or wholly inverted. A number of interesting relics of this kind were in imminent danger of disappearing for ever when we arrived; for they had collected them as substanees for repairs of the church. I purchased three very remarkable slabs of antique marble, with the view of sending them to Cambridge; but a dispute arising among the proprietors concerning the division of the money, the bargain was set aside, and the marbles were detained… It is from Panticapaeum that the imaginary Anacharsis of Barthelemy is said to have embarked for his travels in Greece. Here also, in ancient times, stood a temple of Asculapius, in which was preserved the vessel of brass mentioned in the Anthologias a having burst in consequence of a severe frost upon the Bosphorus. If any future traveller should look for the site of that temple where the present church of Kertchy stands, he will not perhaps be far from the truth. Upon the introduction of Christianity, especially in countries where it wholly superseded the ancient superstitions, temples were always made subservient to the purposes of the new religion…

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But of all the people who have hitherto scourged this devoted land none have proved go injurious to the interests of literature as the Russians. [I dare not mention the high authority on which the traits of their national character were delivered to me, at the time I was conducting this journal. It is sufficient to say, one, who best knew them, affirmed that there was no characteristic of a Russian more striking, than that of wantonly destroying whatever is prized by enlightened nations. In Kertchy, after leveling to the earth 500 houses, they left about thirty poor shops in the midst of the ruins, whose owners it is their daily practice to defraud. False in all their public engagements, as well as in their private treaties, they issued a ukase, inviting Greek merchants to settle in the town; but no sooner had these deluded people fixed there with their families, than the soldiers pulled down the houses about their ears, using at the same time other intimidating measures to compel them to higher duties than any of the Russians themselves have paid, to whom no exemptions had been accorded. ‘Thus insulted and plundered, the oppressed Greeks demanded permission to leave the peninsula, which was positively refused. It may be asked why so little has hitherto been made public concerning the real character of this very profligate people—to which the answer is, that there is no country where such pains have been employed to prevent it. 

The “Cradle of Civilizations” has unique facts about the Bosporan Kingdom. It also describes the most famous Scythian Royal Barrows in the area.

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