Research Activities 

In 2012-2013 a new era of Ukraine underwater archeology was heralded. It was the first time when Ukraine underwater research problems were considered at high state level and, as a result, decision to establish a state specialized scientific institution was made. Finally, Crimean Republican Institution (CRI) “Chernomorskiy Underwater Research Center” was created. For the first time in history of the Black Sea underwater archeology starting from the 19th century, it was the first practical step made by Ukraine towards development of this scientific field. According to Order #739-р of the AR Crimea Council of Ministers, requirements of articles ## 7, 10, 12 and 22 of UNESCO International Convention (The Convention was ratified by Ukraine in 2006) on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage on establishment of state institution dealing with underwater and archeological issues were met. Currently the newly established center is the main Ukrainian scientific institution authorized to check conducting of underwater researches, certification of underwater monuments found, saving of underwater cultural heritage and law violation prevention in this field.

The Center was established on the base of several Ukrainian scientific institutions as “Intersectional Historical Research Laboratory” of the state enterprise “Department of Underwater Heritage”, Archeology Institute of Ukraine NAS, Science and the National Research Institute of Standardization, Evaluation and Certification of Ukraine National Academy for Culture and Art Managerial Personnel.

2012 was not only the year of birth and progress of new scientific institution but also the beginning of new policy and strategy related to underwater research in Ukraine.

2012 summary of the most interesting scientific discoveries and researches is presented below.

From May 20 up to October 12, the 12th underwater archeological expedition “Coast of Gods” was conducted in four stages (Leader - Sergey Voronov). For the first time scientists tried to find flooded archeological objects of prehistoric period on the Black Sea shelf (material remnants of ancient cultures in the form of man sites or markers of the Stone Age).

In four days (May 20-25) research of the expedition’s south-western squares was conducted. medium black sea seiner “MBSS 10-06” (Kerch registration port) covered the distance from Yevpatoriya city (AR Crimea) along flooded ancient sea coast up to the mouth of Dnieper paleo-channel and further to the north along the paleo-channel to Odessa oblast water area (The Back Sea,  exclusive economic zone and territorial waters of Ukraine).

Archeological investigations were conducted with the help of remotely controlled submarine device “Sophocles-1” of “Towed Bottom Video” “TBV-2” underwater towing system (test model of the National Naval Construction University named after admiral Makarov, Nikolayev city) and side-looking sonar. Investigation of the squares ## 19 (32° 11' 42,3672"/44° 57' 24,1128"), 18 (32° 3' 7,5852"/44° 53' 8,8548"), 17 (31° 34' 24,8412"/44° 49' 8,9112"), 15 (31° 12' 4,5612"/44° 49' 23,124") і 14 (31° 13' 22,728"/45° 5' 45,5712") were made.

Integrated procedure for detection of underwater prehistoric encampments based on previous laboratory motivated choice of search locations’ was worked out. Study highlights of geologic columns bottomed up from ancient shore line indicated that current ancient shore is covered by contemporary sea oozes 40-50 cm. depth. Perspective sectors of ancient shore line for objects’ searching were determined. As a result, deposits of Holocene age were opened and cataloged. It is very likely that the Upper Pleistocene deposits were found on the columns’ bottom (Points В-019 and В-017). There were documented changes of lithology differences of bed deposits related to changes of the water depth during last 10 thousand years. Deposits of Mytilus Galloprovincialis shells found on contemporary bench marks from -100 up to -60 meters deep give evidence that the Black Sea level was lower than the modern one in ancient times. The expedition results also testify that hypothesis on the Black Sea catastrophic flood by Mediterranean waters in early Holocene age or Caspian waters in later Pleistocene age does not have any confirmation.

On June 07-10, 2012 exploratory search of the expedition’s southern stage squares was conducted. “Argo-dive” vessel (Kherson registration port) covered the distance in southern area of northern-western Black Sea shelf (Ukraine territorial waters). Archeological investigations had been conducted with the help of remotely controlled submarine device “Sophocles-1”, remotely controlled submarine device “Inspector” (test model of the National Naval Construction University named after admiral Makarov, Nikolayev city) and side-looking sonar. P Sector #1 area was Aya Cape – Sarych Cape (44° 21/33° 28, 44° 14/33° 44). Sector #2 area was Chersoneses Cape – 25 km to the west (44° 26/33° 19, 44° 30/33° 07). During inspection of the square #2, a sunken ship initially indemnified as catastrophe site location of probably antic vessel was found by “Sophocles-1” device. During inspection of the square #3 a military motor boat related to the WWII (probably USSR small submarine hunting boat) was found. While inspecting the square #4 a big-size sunken vessel had been found previously identified as “Empress Catherine the Great” armor-plated destroyer of the Russian Empire Black Sea Fleet.

On July 15-17, 2012 exploratory search of the 3rd stage squares was conducted.  Medium fishing trawler (MFT) “Grif” (Feodosiya registration port) has passaged the central part of the Crimea southern coast area, western part of Feodosiya bay and southern coast of Kerch peninsula (Ukraine territorial waters). Archeological investigations were conducted by remotely controlled submarine device “Sophocles-1” and «INTERPHASE Twin Scope» echo-sounder. Inspection of the squares with the site datum: 44° 21' 601"/34° 08' 915", 36° 03' 3"/44° 55' 4", 36° 17' 204"/44° 57' 59", 36° 05' 44"/44° 59' 10", 36° 06' 10"/44° 59' 04",36° 05' 38"/44° 58' 14" was conducted. On July 14, at 11.47 a.m. the echo-sounder found a catastrophe site of “Communist” transport vessel, which was officially considered to be missing. The square of probable catastrophe site of “Krasnyi Kavkaz” battle cruiser was checked, however, according to the given site datum the ship was not found.

On July 16, new “Back Sea Treasures” museum initiated by our scientists was opened in “Artek” International Children Center. It was the first underwater archeological museum on the territory of Ukraine. Scientists handed over 257 artifacts form the Black Sea bottom. Many of these artifacts are unique and existing one-of-a-kind. These exhibit items display the Black Sea history from classical up to the Great Patriotic War times. In the space of a month, under financial support of Igor Kurus (Kiev), Ms. Irina Vitryk (Archeology Institute of NAS of Ukraine) and Ms. Olga Voronova (National Academy for Culture and Art Managerial Personnel) created really professional museum exhibit, which attracted children attention from the first working days. Exclusive underwater photos of archeological objects found during last four years were presented for the first time. The museum was opened on the 87th “Artek” anniversary. This present made by Ukrainian archeologists opened a new page in Artek’s history – page of underwater archeology. Program of underwater archeology promotion and restoration  developed under support of Ms. Elena Poddubnaya, “Artek” Director and Mr. Alexander Kosykh, “Artek” Deputy Director, aroused much of children’s interest. A result of mutual efforts was establishment of Laboratory on conservation and restoration of underwater artifacts on “Artek” territory. Since May 28 newly established Children Archeological Academy has started its classes for children and local teachers. The best Ukrainian scientists and archeologists have been giving their lectures. Children were greatly impressed. Students from “Lesnoy” (Forest) and “Ozernyi” (Lake) camps received practical studies on conservation and restoration of real ancient objects, as well as on diving equipment and diving itself.

In August, 2012 there was an official opening ceremony of monument devoted to the Crimean (Oriental) War on the territory of International Children Center’s sea port. The monument itself presented a full-scale model of 68-ponder smoothbore muzzle-loading cannon designed by Colonel William Dundas (United Kingdom Royal Navy), which was put on a gun carriage. In September, a monument devoted to killed sailors with subscription “TO SAILORS OF ALL EPOCHS AND NATIONS PERISHED ON THE BALCK SEA AREA” was erected on the “Lesnoy” camp territory. The monument looks like an anchor designed by Potter-Trotman, specimen of 1850 (Great Britain), which was bottomed up by underwater archeologists in the Bug bay (Nikolayev).

In 2012, there were continued explorations of Accra ancient settlement located on the Kerch Strait coast next to Naberezhnoye village (Leninskiy rayon, AR Crimea).  Excavations had been conducted under the leadership of Victor Vakhoneyev on several sites. The aim of the excavations was to explore a hole next to eastern façade of southern-eastern fortification wall. The hole had been researched at a depth of 1.7 meters. Brickwork of the fortification wall is bedding and double-faced, stones’ lines are not straight; the wall consists of two plates made of badly-cut stones of medium sizes and filling with rubble stones of small and medium sizes.

Eastern face was opened at 7-9 stones’ rows of 1.9 meters lengthwise. The hole edges were cut due regard to underwater excavation works. Soil from the level of heavy grey clay loam was dated not early as the middle of the 4th century B.C. Several amphora marked sherds stand out from other findings including mouth portion of Heracleian amphora with “ΕΠΙΚΑΛΛΙΑ ΑΓΑΘΩΝ” mark. Remains of stone structures have been found at the depth of 1.6 metes under sand depositions. After detailed cleaning, a chamber with an area of 25 м² was found. The chamber was fenced by brickworks up to 0.8 meters in height. The survived brickworks consisted of 2 rows of stones. Bits and pieces of Heracleian amphorae were cleaned out on the northern-eastern corner of the chamber floor.  These archeological items found during the investigation of the chamber allow dating the findings as the middle of the 4th century B.C. Such integrity of underwater architectural remnants is unique for flooded towns of the Black Sea area: neither Olbia nor Chersonesus or Phanagoria do not have anything of the kind. In north-west from the chamber, 20 м² stone pavement has been discovered at a depth of 1 meter. The stone pavement was made of big stone plates. Using hydro-ejector device the stone pavement was cleaned out from seaweeds and sand depositions while clear frame of the cleaned squares allowed making graphic recording of the item. Topographic specifics of the pavement as well as archeological material found during its cleaning gives a chance to relate it to the same chronological age as chambers and fortification wall earlier found here, namely, to the 4th century B.C. Thus, it can be assumed that Hellenistic layers were totally annihilated under the water just as Roman layers survived only under the sand deposits of bay bar that separates Yanysh Lake from the strait. Expedition completed investigation of the “northern fortification wall” oriented to west-east line. Theretofore it had been considered that these items were the fortification remnants defending this ancient settlement from the North and running parallel to the southern-western fortification wall.  However, neither specifics of the brickwork, nor its integrity (just 1 row of stones) shows impossibility to get the same angle on these two constructions. Probably this structure with 10 meters’ length and 2 meters’ width would be functioning as fortification construction but the date of its building relates to Romans times.

In November Olbia underwater archeological expedition under leadership of Mr. Vakhoneyev continued its research of flooded area of Olbia ancient settlement (Parutino village, Ochakov rayon, Nikolayev oblast). The main efforts were aimed at detailed studying of acquatoria to the east of the “Klif-2” spot dug. The main goal was to put stratigraphic column of the area for the monument’s part flooded by the brackish lagoon waters. Two holes were made in order to reach the goal. The hole 1/2012 was made on 60 meter distance from the coast on flat sand bottom area. The stratigraphic column is as follows: 0-0,3 м – yellow sand layer with many round and non-round ceramics of Hellenic period (amphorae sherds of Sinop, Heraclea, Phasos and Chios) as well as stones of small and medium sizes. Layer of grey clay of 0.4 meter thick has been laid lower. This layer contained separate non-core amphorae sherds.  Continental turtle layer has been laid lower. The hole 1/2012 was made on 140 meter distance from the coast in muddy ground. The upper layer has 0.1 meter thickness. There is gray sand layer located lower with rather numerous non-round ceramic sherds. It is particularly remarkable that all these sherds had dark grey mud tincture as contrasted with findings from the yellow sand layer of the hole 1. Non-core amphorae sherds are dated by Hellenic and Roman periods. The lower layer consists of gray clay with non-round ceramic sherds. Over a period of three years’ research of flooded part of lower Olbia settlement there were 3 holes and 4 spots made along one line. The stratigraphic columns of all holes look rather similar in spite of their vast distance from one another. Occupation “in situ” layer was not found in any hole.

On October 11-12 testing of remotely operated underwater apparatus with new range of equipment has been conducted from the board of “ia 1777 КV” diving tender (Kherson registration port) on the territory of Kinsburg Spit, Nikolayev oblast (Leader – S. Voronov). As a part of the testing there was identified a localized disaster scene of antic vessel weighted with amphorae dated as the 5-4 centuries B.C. In order to date findings two amphorae were bottomed up: Chios type package amphorae to carry liquid and bulk cargos dated as the 5th century B.C. and damaged Phasos type amphora dated as the 70s of the 4th century B.C. Amphorae sherds were located on a slope over a 200х300 meter area at a depth of 4-7.5 meters. Argol presence was recorded in the Chios type amphora.

From July 7 up to August 17 archeological expedition was conducted (Leader – S Voronov) on Tender Spit Island. As a part of the expedition activities there was conducted an experiment on research of coastal stripe, which became a part of the island seacoast due to regression. The incorporated equipment units were georadar “LOZA-B” type with 150 and 300 sm. aerial wires (***-Black Sea area, Odessa city). The main research task was to check the assumption on existence of underwater cultural heritage items sunken during phanagoria and korsun regressions.  Expedition task #2 was to localize ashen hill (escarp) found in 1824, which probably was Achilles’ sanctuary (Cretan ashen).  Task #3 was to check localized remnants of sea crashes found by several expeditions:  “Black Sea Area” (1983), “Peripheral” USSR AS expedition (1984) and “Medea” (2001), which confirmed existence of monuments on coastal stripe and seacoast areas. Examination square was 3 km.  area to the North from Tender main lighthouse. Tender Spit Island is an accumulation place with rather unstable configuration of the coastal line and bottom, especially from the sea side. Any ancient item that fell into the bottom was buried under the sand. After regressions’ completion this territory became a firm land. Thus, it is not impossible that remnants of ancient vessels sunken next to the coast. Currently they might be on the shore and probably they locate at considerable distance from water level. It is known that the Tender Spit is the most dangerous territory for coastal navigation in the Northern Black Sea Area. To study geological structure of the needed vertical cut, georadar with receiving-transmitting aerial wires was moving along the profile. Size for one move of aerial wires along the profile was chosen in accordance with the study detalization needed: small size items were searched with 5-10 sm. moves. In order to identify geological borders, the move may be from 20 sm. to 2 meters. In the process of measurement georadar aerial wire was fixed at 1-2 seconds in every measurement point. Scanning of three parallel profiles ##3,4 and 5 has been done in the process of examination. Scanning was being made from north to south. Overall structural anomaly (180-220 meters of the profile) was found on two parallel profiles ##3and 5. Taking into account that the distance between the profiles is equal to 5 meters it is possible to make an assumption that this is a big-sized long object perpendicular to the coastal line located lower underground and sea waters’ level. Its stratification depth is from 1.5 m on PR2 to 2.5-3 m on PR5. The found anomaly has 6 m width and up to 0.5 m height. It is situated on the surface of one sand layer, which could be a spit surface at certain moment of historic time. Based on significant amount of anomalies on the marked radarogram areas it is supposed that this is quite localized vessel remnants or stormy vegetation bulk. For the first time archeological research with using of georadar has been conducted on the Tender Spit territory.

Government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea developed several important events aiming to actively promote saving and preservation of underwater heritage. Under support of the President of Ukraine Administration, Government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea actively strengthens technical capacity of Ukrainian scientists and does its best to promote development of this field. Special attention is paid to establishment of marine complex consisting of museums and laboratories on conservation and restoration of underwater artifacts. In December 2012, a decision on establishment of national level Regional Center of Underwater Archeology, category II, under UNESCO guidance was made. The Center was created on the base of national level historical object “Building of Stamboli Summer Residence” (AR Crimea, Feodosiya”.  In December 2012 “Back Sea Treasures” exhibition was opened on the territory of historical object of national importance “Lastochkino Gnezdo” (Swallow Nest). The exhibition opening was the first step made by CRI “Chernomorskiy Underwater Research Center” aiming to promote of underwater Ukraine history.

Exhibition “From the Remote Past” was solemnly opened by the ARC Republican Committee on Cultural Heritage Protection and CRI “Chernomorskiy Underwater Research Center” in CRI “Central Taurida Museum”. The exhibition displays history of “Lieutenant Zatsarennyi” fleet destroyer of Russian Imperial Fleet sunken in 1917. The following officials took part in the event: Mr. Andrei Yermolayev, General Director of National Institute of Strategic Research at the President of Ukraine, Mr. Vladimir Konstantinov, Head of the ARC Supreme Council (Verhovna Rada), Mr. Victor Plakida, Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in Crimea, George Psarev, Deputy Head of the ARC Council of Ministers, Mr. Sergey Tsekov, Head of Permanent Culture Commission of the ARC Supreme Council, Ms. Larissa Opanasyuk, Head of the ARC Republican Committee on Cultural Heritage Protection, Ms. Alena Plakida, the ARC Minister of Culture, Mr. Alexander Bartenev, Feodosiya Major, and Mr. Sergey Voronov, Director of CRI “Chernomorskiy Underwater Research Center”, Member of Ukraine National Commission on UNESCO Collaboration.

The exhibition display presents items withstood the ravages of time as logbook, vessel’s library, papers, test tubes with medicines found in medical outpost, bronze letters “ЛЕЙТЕНАНТЪ” (lieutenant) from the vessel’s breast, lantern from machine space, and current vessel pictures. Remotely controlled submarine device “Sophocles” found these artifacts, occupied separate area of the display.

In addition to the main display, there were also underwater made paintings of sunken ships. Mr. Sergei Voronov, Director of CRI “Chernomorskiy Underwater Research Center” was awarded by the flag of Ukraine National Commission on UNESCO Collaboration. The other staff members of the institution were awarded by marine shoulder boards.