Scythian-Olbian relationships in the 5th century BCE – revaluation of an old scientific controversy on the basis of the current results of excavations in Olbia Pontica
The relationships between Olbia Pontica and the Scythians in the 5th century BCE have frequently been the subject of scientific studies. However, it has never been possible to develop a commonly accepted reconstruction of the historic processes during the classical period. On the contrary – the two major theses contradict each other diametrically, despite the fact that they are based on the same ancient traditions and archaeological excavation results of the last decades. Thus, on the one hand, a Scythian protectorate over Olbia was postulated and thereby an immediate dependency of the Greek polis on the Scythian ruling class. On the other hand, and contradicting this opinion, there has been an emphasis on an initially peaceful character of the Greek-Scythian relations, which were marked by a culturally and economically profitable cooperation for a long period of time. Latest research results of a German-Ukrainian cooperation project in Olbia Pontica will in the future enable a validation of these theses. Thus, for example, Herodotus’ report of the Scythian king Skyles appears in a totally different light on the basis of the current archaeological findings from the suburbs of Olbia. Furthermore, the discovery of a Late Archaic fortification in the western part of the city, whose alleged absence has previously been voted in research as an essential argument for the peaceful relationship between the two „neighbours“, allows to revaluate the question of the urban development of Olbia in the Late Archaic–classical period. This lecture is supposed to introduce the current state of research and to demonstrate how severely it will change our perception of this Milesian colony in the 5th century BCE and therefore also of the Scythian-Olbian relationships.