Black Sea Basin Joint Operational Programme

Black Sea - Unity and Diversity in the Roman Antiquity


Joint Operational Programme “BLACK SEA BASIN 2007-2013”

Priority 3: Supporting cultural and educational initiatives for the establishment of a common cultural environment in the Basin 

Measure 3.1 Promoting cultural networking and educational exchange in the Black Sea Basin communities


     In Antiquity, the Black Sea Basin represented one of the most interesting areas, from the historical point of view. Inhabited by various populations (Thracians, Getae, Scyths) with different degrees of culture and civilization, these territories were intensely colonized by the Greeks in the 8th – 4th centuries BC, the Black Sea thus becoming “friendly for foreigners” (Eúxeinos). Greek colonies flanking the whole Black Sea coast are a testimony in this regard. Without turning this territory into a Greek one, the Greek influence proved to be rather strong in creating a certain facies of this zone. Gradually, the Black Sea territories are incorporated into the scope of interest of some of the greatest powers of Antiquity: the Persian Empire, the Kingdom of Pontus, the Roman Empire, etc.

     The Kingdom of Pontus, initially created south of the Black Sea at the beginning of the 3rd century BC, managed to gather at its frontiers, by conquest or by clientage relations, many of the regions around the Black Sear, opposing to Rome, which, already during the period of the Republic, manifested its interest for the eastern coast of the Black Sea. The defeat of the King of Pontus, Mithridates VI (132-63 BC) by the Romans brought the Black Sea territories under the ruling of Rome, be it effective or of the clientage type: the Roman administration was introduced, cities and roads were built, a new culture and a new civilization imposed for several centuries. Served by the Roman administration and army, the Roman civilization imposed in this area also because it knew how to preserve viable institutions and forms of cultural diversity. 

     Our project started from the identification of the component of the joint cultural inheritance ― the Roman historical and archeological heritage ―, which represents the fundament of this cultural and educational initiative meant and implemented in cooperation with partners from the Black Sea coast countries. We have always kept in mind Gh. Brătianu’s lesson, a Romanian historian of international reputation, the first one who during the between world war period demonstrated the functioning of the Black Sea Basin, in Antiquity and Middle Ages as a geopolitical entity. A testimony in this regard is his erudite volume “La mer Noire, des origines à la conquête ottomane” published posthumously (Munchen 1969, Bucharest 1987 ― translated in Romanian). The fact that nowadays this brilliant idea has been appropriated by the international scientific community is demonstrated by the last years’ initiatives such as: foundation (in 1994) of the European Society for the Study of the Black Sea, of the Centre for Black Sea Studies within The Danish National Research Foundation -, the organization of the “International Congress on Black Sea Antiquities”, upon the initiative of an international scientific committee, which now reached its 5th edition, the initiation of the magazine “Il mar Nero” thanks to an academic French-Romanian collaboration.

All these initiatives belong exclusively to the academic environment, and, with one exception, have been started from outside the area they refer to, that is the Black Sea Basin. First of all, they serve the scholastic type of knowledge (knowledge in itself and for itself) and are especially addressed to the Western scientific community.

First of all, our project aims to actuate mechanisms and create those resorts that would make possible the collaboration of all types of entities involved in the research, protection, management, of the cultural (archeological) heritage in the countries circumscribing the Black Sea Basin: research institutes, museums, universities, representatives of the local administrative authorities, cultural scientific associations, etc. 

The novelty and relevance of the project for the Black Sea Basin consist in the fact that, this time, a local public authority acknowledges the need and importance of knowing the historic past and the cultural heritage of the Black Sea Basin countries as a basis for the integrate promotion of such values. This public authority manages to bring together institutions involved in the research, conservation and management of cultural heritage, and also in the education and shaping the competences in this direction of the young generation, of all countries eligible in the project, in a joint action, of knowledge and valorization of the Roman heritage. Managing the joint inheritance represents a challenge that the project partners aim to approach by working together. 

This time, knowledge is not the feature of the initiated (a part of the international scientific community) and does not represent an aim in itself, but addresses different levels ― researchers, museographers, students, central and local public authorities, the public at large, internet users, tourism operators, providing each one intelligible information according to the degree of preparation and level of action. Moreover, the public at large of the partner countries shall have access to that type of information that would show them what is part of their cultural treasure; the central and local administration of the partner countries shall be helped in acknowledging the rights and obligations assigned to it for the preservation of national identity, culture and cultural tourism operators shall have available information and arguments for the promotion of these areas, domestic and foreign tourists interested in visiting these areas shall have access to on line information, the scientific community of the partner countries and also the international one shall have available tools for a thorough knowledge of the Roman history and civilization and also of the cultural identities in the area. 

Heritage is thus concerned both as cultural, identity value, component of the historic inheritance of each people in the Black Sea area, but also as value creating value, by the valorization of such heritage by means of cultural tourism.

At the same time, our project is an integrated project, based on the identification of partners’ joint needs, wherefrom the necessity of jointly developing and implementing the action has resulted.  

The joint action involves a series of components: a joint traveling exhibition, workshops on relevant topics pertaining to the Black Sea Basin in the Roman Antiquity, one seminar, the achievement of joint integrate presentation materials for the Roman archeological heritage of the Basin (catalogues, a CD, leaflets, a database), whose design and implementation shall be achieved by the works of teams of specialists of all partner institutions, under the coordination of a scientific committee formed of one representative of each partner and associate institution (the latter ones have the statute of consultants). 

Thus, all specialists in the history of Roman Antiquity in the project partner institutions shall have the possibility to meet and work together both in the design and elaboration of the documentation necessary to the exhibition and the exhibition catalogue, and ― especially, in working groups created with the occasion of thematic workshops: they shall scientifically and socio-culturally liaise, they shall work together, they shall understand the differences due to the various schools of thought, the current cultural diversity and also the joint interest of integral research, in the manner of total history, of the Roman archeological heritage in the Black Sea Basin. This way the joint cultural heritage shall be individualized and possibly perceived differently. Moreover, at the cognitive level, there shall be achieved that time transition that would allow the understanding of ancient cultural diversity and unity, and vice versa, the learning of tolerance and of the respect for the other’s culture starting from the Roman model. Joint activities shall involve students from universities in the partner and associate countries  in the Black Sea Basin: they shall learn the rigors of the research activities and the necessity of looking at the history of the Black Sea Basin in an integral manner, they shall be helped understand the cultural richness of this area, resulting from the living together of several ethnicities and cultures, and also from a history which has not always been “friendly” to the populations and peoples in the area. 

The direct, scientific and cultural contact of specialists, students, local authorities, operators in the cultural  tourism of the Black Sea Basin countries and the promotion of local  heritage proposed to be achieved by the activities of this project comply with the specific objective no 3 Promoting local, people-to-people type actions, to which actually our project is subordinated.

Last but not least, the project refers to the creation of a transnational entity which would assure, in the long run, the continuity of the joint activities of research and promotion of the Roman archaeological heritage in the Black Sea area, that is the Association “Center for Roman Archaeological Heritage in the Black Sea”, which shall have as founding members the project partner institutions. 


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