Charax – Lost Roman City and Military Camp

Crimea, in Ukraine, is the location of a Roman military settlement called Charax. These military settlements were often permanent camps built in such a way so as to protect and hold equipment used by the soldiers when they were not in war. This allowed soldiers out in war zones an opportunity at the end of the day to come back to a proper camp with all the equipment and necessities needed to continue and finish the fight successfully.

This particular military site was found in Crimea when the independent republic of Ukraine began excavations here in 1837. The work was done by a man called Peter Keppen. The Roman settlement takes up approximately four-hectares of land and is situated near to Ai Todor. When Keppen first found the remains he did a little research and came to the conclusion that the wall used to defend the camp would have been about 395 meters long. From this wall he concluded that this was a Roman military camp, the first and only one to have been discovered thus far.

Keppen didn’t have the resources to be able to carry out this task and instead wrote up a publication publishing his discoveries. It was Count Shuvalov who happened to read this intriguing publication and from then decided to supplement Peter Keppen’s excavation costs in 1849. It was later discovered that the Roman Charax was created under the rule of Imperator Caesar Vespasianus Augustus during his rule of Rome from 69 to 79 AD as a means of protection. Later the camp was abandoned but restored again by a Roman legion group used as a task force by the Roman Army. Then in the third century the Roman Charax was deserted again.

Keppen’s excavations were not professionally done and not much else was found out about this site. Nearly fifty years went by before excavations began again. This time it was Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia who undertook this large task, finding over the next fifteen years an immense number of treasures which included bronze objects and a large amount of Roman coins. The findings were so successful that a museum was opened holding the immense collection in 1907. It was also discovered that the Roman military settlement was more than just a camp, it was a Roman city.

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