Horn Processing in Western Temenos of Olbia Pontica

Keywords: Olbia, bone processing, Western temenos, horn processing


On the territory of Olbia, three areas reserved for the worship of the gods were studied at different times, and the traces of craft activity were found in each of them: in the Eastern and Western temenoses – bronze foundries, and in the Southern temenos the bronze foundry some time later was replaced by ceramics workshop. The possibility of horn processing workshop functioning on the territory of the Western temenos of Olbia in the 5th century BCE is analyzed in the paper.

This assumption is based on the discovery of a number of processed antlers in one of the complexes (bothros № 9). The range of these artifacts is represented by wastes of horn primary splitting, blanks, and semi-finished produced items. In addition, fragmented remains of the bone processing process (primarily processed horn) were found in other objects and layers of the Western temenos.

Of course, the most convincing argument in favor of the horn being processed in the Temenos area would be the founding of an object there that could be convincingly interpreted as a workshop. However, it cannot be localized; one can only assume that it should have been, like other industries, at the side. The relatively small amount of processed horn and bone does not allow us to say that the craft activity that took place in the temenos could not be a specialized bone-cutting craft, but it could not be a household production for self-consumption either. Most likely, its production volume was dictated by the needs of the sanctuary, rather than a wide range of consumers: so there could not be a large specialized bone-cutting workshop.

In addition, we cannot exclude that the horn was processed by a multi-skilled craftsman who also worked with other materials (for example, wood), or was focused on the production of specific produced items, rather than on certain raw materials. Such opinions are also caused by the predominance of semi-finished onlay plates at different stages of the production process. Specialized bone processing workshops have not been found yet, not only in the temenos but also in other parts of Olbia. We know about only a few objects (Tyritake, Myrmekion, Chersonesus) in the Northern Black Sea region, which can be convincingly associated with bone processing craft, but not specialized in it.

Based on the available sources, we can conclude that the bone processing activity in the poleis of the Northern Black Sea region in general, and Olbia in particular, did not have the characteristics of a specialized craft. It is possible that the craftsmen were specialized not in raw materials, but in types of produced items. This is evidenced by the finding of complex works of art, not all of which could be imported as goods from other places.


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How to Cite
Semenova, A. (2021). Horn Processing in Western Temenos of Olbia Pontica. Eminak: Scientific Quarterly Journal, (3(35), 146-153. https://doi.org/10.33782/eminak2021.3(35).548