Wednesday, 7 August 2013


The native/foreigner moniker is really not such a good description for the complexity this visit to the Black Sea has presented.  So much history, so many stories, such interesting interpretation.  So when a tour guide says to you, this city recently celebrated its 200th anniversary, and before it there was "nothing here", you begin to take it with a huge grain of salt.  A clever listener however begins to see the multiple layers of civilization on these shores.  Visiting archeological sites gives but a glimpse - and you begin to question the sometimes incomprehensible routes that avoid strategic aspects of historical significance. and read the tiny hints embedded in the artifacts themselves. 

People in positions of power may interpret as they please but the fact that publications about the archeology of this place are now accessible to a wider public means the individual artifacts themselves draw attention.  Each ancient artifact speaks volumes about the times, the place, the ideas and dreams of the people. From ancient temples, to agricultural tools, to the study of ancient man and the development of strategic technologies, this area has it all.  Undoubtedly the early people were nomads, but nomads with wealth, connected to the wider world with its trends in thought and technology.  This meant prosperity, prosperity that other envied and coveted.  Peaceful trade, possibly, but policed by fierce warriors and leaders making negotiated treaties on all sides.  Neighboring empires with their need for trade goods, tribute, and services of all sorts have infused the people with a type of resilience that is hard to describe. 

I have so many questions about this place.  Though there may have been "nothing" here, why do authorities allow children to climb into the remains of a centuries old stone fortress just meters away from the Potemkin Steps, taking the walls apart stone by stone.  What to say about the young man climbing onto a monument encouraging his reluctant companion with something to the effect 'you know we've been told we own this place'?  What to say about the bandura player on the boulevard who played a song about Marusia for me?  Or the woman in the Armenian church who quietly and perfectly clearly spoke Ukrainian as she handed me a candle?  Or why tour guides spend an inordinate amount of time on people who "lived in this place" for 3 years, perhaps 4, and then rush through thousands of years of historical artifacts hidden in deep corners, dimly lit and supervised? 

A place of contraditions, a place of deep history, complexity and mystery. 
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