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The fourth issue of the series «The Black Sea Region in the Middle Ages» contains results of new archival and archaeological investigations fulfilled by the Center of Byzantine and Pontic studies of the Moscow Lomonosov State University with the support of two National Research Foundations — RFBR (project № 97-06-80144) and RFH (project № 97-0100440).

In the first part of the book the reader will find publications in original languages with a short Russian summary and comments of unexplored documents from the State Archives of Venice. The earliest deliberations of the Venetian Senate concerning regulation of navigation of merchant galleys to the Black Sea ports are not preserved in the regular series of Senato, Misti. Some of them were fortunately found in cartularies of the special commission of Extraordinarii, responsible for maritime trade control. This documentation reflects the first stage of maritime traffic, at the beginning of the 14th century.

A big complex of notarial acts was compiled in the most remote Venetian settlement, Tana (Azov) in the Don estuary. Two chancellors of Tana, Cristoforo Rizzo (probably of English origin) and Donato a Mano were active there in 1408-1419. Ms. A. Talysina and Ms. N. Prokofieva examined their rich documentation (cartularies and testaments). Some notarial entries were hardly decipherable due to poor condition and damages. Both chancellors could not boast of accuracy and good handwriting. Plus, notarial minute were heavily corrected. Thus, transcription of texts and verification of formulas was not an easy job and may still contain queries. Notarial records are a most valuable source for economic and political history of the Don area in a rather obscure and dangerous, due to raids of the nomads, period of its history. They contain extremely interesting new data and disclose rich cultural exchange between multi-ethnical populations of the Black Sea zone.

Mr. R. M. Shukurov has undertaken an attempt to restore the contents of a message (preserved only as an incipit of a form letter) of the sultan of Egypt Baybars I to the emperor of Trebizond Andronicus II. The author has convincingly dated the message to ca. 1264 and has also connected it with the struggle of the Anatolian principalities for a possession of a most important port of Sinope.

Unpublished documents from the State Archives of Genoa are investigated in two articles of Mr. O. Barabanov and Mrs. S. Bliznjuk. The first one is concentrated on the practice of arbitration courts of Genoese overseas settlements. It is based on the counsels of a prominent Genoa's lawyer of the beginning of the 15th century Bartolomeo Bosco. The second paper deals with the reasons of decline of the largest emporium of the Levant — Famagousta (Cyprus) — during the Genoese rule in the first half of the 15th century. Observations are documented by extensive summaries of archival documents.

A large section written by Mr. A. Ponomarev is a study of the book of accounts (massaria) of the largest Genoese settlement of the Black Sea area — Caffa (Feodosiya) for the years 1381—82. He gives an unprecedented reconstruction by means of quantitative analysis of ethnic structure of urban population and reconsiders local toponymy. It is possible now to evaluate the entire number of inhabitants of Caffa at that time and to attribute historical names to towers, quarters, churches of the medieval city. New opportunities arise for further archaeological and historical research of Caffa.

Mr. A. Sazanov offers a first full edition of results of archaeological excavations of the so called «Basilica of 1987» in Chersonese. Analysis of the stratigraphy of layers, the character of substructures of the building and of the tombs inside the church brought the author to a conclusion that the earliest basilica of the 11th century was a burial temple transformed in the 12th-14th centuries in a smaller cemetery chapel.

Mr. A. Vinogradov has published and re-dated interesting fragments of Greek lapidary inscriptions of the principality of Mangoup (Theodoro), 14th-15th centuries.

Consequently, this volume of collected studies offers new data, ideas and approaches. We hope it may contribute to a better explanation of some enigmatic questions of the medieval past of the Black Sea region. Probably, Tana and Caffa, will be better «measured» or, at least, viewed in new perspectives.

S. Karpov

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