The largest archaeological excavations in recent decades have begun on the territory of the former military units near Chersonesos. Scientists are exploring an area of 3.4 hectares, which was previously occupied by the Black Sea Fleet Autobat.
The military unit was relocated to Industrialnaya Street, and the site will be transferred to the Tavrichesk Chersonesos Museum. In total, the military will liberate about 20 hectares of land near Chersonesos, on which a historical and archaeological park will be built.
In 2020, archaeologists conducted reconnaissance on the territory of military units. A new object of cultural heritage was identified – the southern suburb of “Tavricheskiy Chersonesos”. At the end of May, excavations began on the first large site with an area of 3.4 hectares, Sergei Soloviev, head of the antique new-building archaeological expedition of the Institute for the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told RG. The work must be completed in four months, and since the territory is large, the archaeologists of Tavrichesky Chersonesos, the State Hermitage, the Institute of Archeology of the Crimea of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Sevastopol State University were involved in the research.
Larisa Sedikova, deputy director of Chersonesos for scientific work, says that scientists have not had access to these lands for more than half a century. Now excavations are underway at the site where the military garages stood.
“During the construction of a military unit in 1950-1960, the museum managed to explore a small area where the remains of pottery and crypts from Roman times were discovered,” says Sedikova. – Once it was a suburb of Chersonesos, where the Keramik district was located, pottery for household and commercial needs, amphorae, dishes were produced here. During the exploration of 2020, the first excavation site of the Keramik area was found.
Sergei Soloviev said that now the members of the expedition have cleared two ovens, which they mothballed after excavations in the 1960s. A new furnace, previously unknown to scientists, was found on the site, which is being investigated by the Chersonesos staff. Pottery kilns and crypts will remain in the future park as archaeological sites.
“We are finding new evidence of the existence of the Keramik area,” says Soloviev. – Such an area was in any large ancient city. It was usually located outside the city walls, because it is a fire hazardous production. The ovens opened in the 1960s are partially destroyed. A toilet was built on one of them. Collectors, communication lines, pipelines passed through the territory. This is a common misfortune in cities. But nevertheless, due to the fact that the military was here, the territory was not built up with high-rise buildings, we have a lot to explore.
The active work on the site of the southern suburb has caused concern among the public. No one was informed that excavations had begun, although the governor of Sevastopol only promised last month that residents would be informed in advance about such works. The townspeople sounded the alarm: excavators are working at the identified cultural heritage site, trucks are taking out the earth along with the remains of ceramics.
The expedition leader explained that the top of the soil is a disturbed cultural layer of technogenic origin. When the military unit was being built in the 1960s, the territory was leveled. In one place, the builders stumbled upon a crypt and informed the scientists. The rest of the sites were covered with soil. There is no exact data on where it was brought from. The land could have been taken from the outskirts of the Chersonesos settlement, therefore fragments of antique ceramics and objects of the 19th-20th centuries are found in it. According to Sergei Solovyov, the regulation on the conduct of field archaeological work allows the use of earth-moving equipment when excavating the disturbed layer. The excavator removes a thin layer, archaeologists examine it and select materials.
“For three weeks, we found about 17 thousand items that belong to all periods of the history of Sevastopol from the IV century BC to the XX century,” said Solovyov. – There are finds of the Crimean War, the Great Patriotic War. We clean them, fix them. However, the scientific and historical significance of finds in the technogenic layer is close to zero, information for research is provided by material found in an archaeological complex – a room, a burial, a cultural layer.
The thickness of the technogenic layer on the territory of the autobath in some places reaches 1.5 meters. When they remove it and get to the ancient cultural layer, which was revealed during exploration, work will begin manually, without the use of technology.
According to the head of the expedition, more than 20 scientific workers are participating in the excavations. We work 12 hours a day, seven days a week, to meet deadlines.
At the second stage, archaeologists are exploring the territory of the training center for training military rescuers and diving specialists on Eroshenko Street with an area of about eight hectares. For the naval divers’ training center, a new modern base is being built in Kamyshovaya Bay, the facility should be ready in the third quarter of 2021. According to Larisa Sedikova, during exploration in 2020, a cistern of the Hellenistic time and the so-called “cave city” were found on the slope of a ravine under the walls of Chersonesos on the territory of the divers’ school on Eroshenko. This is a very interesting find for scientists. The slope will not affect the construction, it will be studied thoroughly.
What will be built?
Sketches of the future historical and archaeological park have been published on the website of the My History Foundation, which finances the entire project. As “RG” already wrote, museums of antiquity, Byzantium and the history of Christianity, as well as a branch of “Artek” – a children’s camp “Korsun” will appear here.
Ivan Yesin, chairman of the board of the My History Foundation, told RG that these are only rough plans of what we would like to see in these territories. Decisions will be made after the completion of the excavation, when it becomes clear where to build and where not.
– The museum complex of the historical and archaeological park can become a large object that will fully reveal the history of Chersonesos from ancient times and contain modern exhibition equipment, – said Yesin. – The children’s center “Korsun” will provide an opportunity for children’s groups from “Artek” to spend 5-7 days near Chersonesos and get acquainted with the history of Sevastopol.
Elena Morozova, director of the Tavrichesk Chersonesos Museum, told RG that the park should be built in 2024. The territory liberated by the military is about 20 hectares.
“The park will only have what the museum needs,” says Morozova. – New exhibition spaces have not been opened in Chersonesos for a long time. We must make museums that will be interesting for at least another 50 years. For us, this is an opportunity to expand the boundaries.
The exposition area of Chersonesos will grow more than 10 times. According to Elena Morozova, the Museum of Antiquity and Byzantium will have about 4000 square meters of exhibition space, and the Museum of Christianity – 5000. Now the antique exposition of Chersonesos occupies 300 square meters, and the Byzantine one – a little more. The medieval exposition was made in the 1980s and is unique in its own way, but the museum has significantly expanded its funds since then, and exhibition technologies have stepped forward. Halls on the territory of Chersonesos will be vacated for temporary exhibitions.
“We need the Museum of Christianity, because Chersonesos is a sacred center, the cradle of Russian Orthodoxy, this is the point that gave rise to the development of Russian statehood and influenced the entire history and culture of our country,” Morozova noted. – We will discuss what items to present in this museum.
A special storeroom will also appear in the new building, where items made of gold and silver, jewelry, weapons, including finds discovered during excavations on the Tavrida highway, will be exhibited.
The territory of the historical and archaeological park will be planned taking into account the transport accessibility of the museum-reserve. According to the director, a large underground parking is planned.