Edited by Gianni Guadalupi. Texts by Professor Pallas, Edmund Spencer, François de Mély
1986 / 224 PAGES.
Crimea before the Russians: the Tatar khans, their opulent dwellings, harems, raids and slaves, the steppes and gardens of a formerly Islamic “Riviera” that shifted to Czarist.
Hanging from the vast Sarmatian plain by the thin strip of the Isthmus of Perekop, Crimea gives the impression of desperately longing to escape and to sail towards the Mediterranean world around which it gravitated for thousands of years. Known to the Ancient Greeks as Chersonesus or the Tauric Peninsula from the name of its inhabitants (who used to offer shipwrecked foreigners as a sacrifice to their virgin goddess – a fate Orestes escaped while on Iphigenia’s trail), the peninsula was dotted with Hellenic colonies that grew rich by establishing a successful trade with the Shiites following their herds of horses across the immense country extending from the Carpathians to the Don. And so these barbarian horse breeders also began to appreciate the luxuries of civilisation, and their tombs – brimming with precious objects – filled several rooms at the Hermitage in the 19th century. The history of this country unravels from here, told by means of stunning illustrations and texts by Peter Simon Pallas (who had the opportunity to visit it in the late 1700s and portray its geography, customs and traditions), as well as writings by Edmund Spencer and François de Mély, travellers who observed these lands with alert, curious gazes.