During my expedition at Taman' from 22 till 27 August 2001 I found a fragment of a Tmutarakan' amphora (a private collection) of the 11th century with a graffito on a slope of the Lysaya mountain (Lysaya gora). In my opinion, the Monastery of Saint Nikon of Kievo-Pechersk and Tmutarakan' was located in this area. Let us consider the graffito, see figure 1.
In the right part of the amphora's fragment there are the following signs: a "fence", a "triangle" and an Orthodox Cross. The sign "fence" reads stena 'fence, wall', sten' 'shade' (Rjabchikov 2000: 6, 43, figure 33; 7; 9, 44, figure 40), it is a designation of the town Tmutarakan'. The sign "triangle" denotes the beach of the Sea of Azov (Rjabchikov 2000: 19 , 47, figure 89). On the other hand, this "triangle" and a line may be read GI, otherwise Gospodi 'Lord!'; the same word may be presented on another fragment of a Tmutarakan' amphora (Rjabchikov 2000: 41, figure 3). The similar Crosses are presented in the Tmutarakan' graffiti (Rjabchikov 2000: 47, figures 85, 86).
I read the word BOGRD, i.e. Bogoroditsa 'the Mother of God'. The three pairs of the parallel lines may denote the stairs (Old Russian lestvitsa, lestvicha). I suppose that they correspond to the stairs described in the Bible (Genesis 28: 12). According to some fathers of the Church, this stairway represents the Most Holy Mother of God. So it is an information about the Monastery by name of the Most Holy Mother of God founded by Saint Nikon near the town Tmutarakan'.
Rjabchikov, S.V., 2000. Tmutarakanskie graffiti. Krasnodar: Stil.
Rjabchikov, S.V., 2001. The Scythian and Sarmatian Sources of the Russian Mythology and Fairy-Tales. AnthroGlobe Journal.
Vasmer, M., 1987. Etimologichesky slovar' russkogo yazyka. Vol. 4. Moscow: Progress.
Copyright © 2001 by Sergei V. Rjabchikov. All Rights Reserved.
Published 30 August 2001.
Sergei V. Rjabchikov, Krasnodar, RUSSIA.
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