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Ancient ships found at the bottom of the Dnieper river


Scientists are studying wrecks of ancient ships found at the bottom of the Dnieper. In total, according to researchers, about ten wrecks were recorded near the coast of the island of Khortitsa, which date from different eras.


Since the end of February this year, a scientific expedition “Khortitsa-skuba” has been working in Ukraine on the island of Khortitsa, studying old ships sunk near the island. The researchers shared the results of their work during a briefing.

The members of the expedition are specialists from the Khortytsa National Reserve, researchers of the Navareks Diving Club from Odessa, as well as archaeologists from the Center for Underwater Research at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. The goal of scientists is to record, photograph and describe the ships at the bottom of the Dnieper.

“The task is to start registering finds that have already been discovered on the State register; there is an international convention signed by Ukraine on the protection of underwater cultural heritage. These are the first attempts to design at the state level those attractions that we already know. At the same time, there is a search and fixation of new objects, which the Dnieper will certainly give a lot. Therefore, the task is complex. Actually, the Dnieper is not just a repository of some random finds, but a place of concentration of unique historical and archaeological sites, “

Maxim Ostapenko, General Director of the Khortytsa Nature Reserve

One of the wrecks is a flat-bottomed transport ship, which probably sank in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The second is a small boat from the ships of the Dnieper flotilla of 1736-1739. Scientists also believe that together with the boat they have previously identified and are now describing, there is another boat at a greater depth.

In total, according to researchers from the expedition, about ten ancient ships were recorded near Khortitsa, which date from different eras. About half of them date back to the 19th century.

They lie at a depth of 6-7 meters in different places. During the entire expedition, archaeologists made about 20 dives.

The expedition is guided by the Head of the Monument Protection Department of the Khortytsa National Reserve Dmitry Kobalia.

The expedition called “Khortytsya-Skuba” is carried out in winter, because now the visibility in the water is 4-5 meters and it is possible to normally photograph sunken ships, make models, study the structure, describe them. After receiving the three-dimensional models, it is planned to prepare a package of documents for entering objects into the Register of Immovable Monuments of Ukraine in order to provide them with an appropriate protection status. In summer, it is much easier to work, but the visibility is such that we cannot even take a photo. Therefore, we must work in winter, the water temperature is +1 degrees, but the visibility is good.

Dmitry Kobalia

The surveys are carried out by a non-contact method, therefore they are not archaeological excavations. Odessa specialists will take thousands of photographs in less than a week, from which an accurate three-dimensional model of each object will be developed in laboratory conditions.

We have three large historical layers. The first is monuments dating back to Slavic times. These are mostly dugouts. One is in the restoration hangar. This is the Middle Ages. The second layer is the period of the Russian-Turkish wars. Near Khortytsya and in the lower reaches of the island there was a Dnieper flotilla. This is the junction of eras, the beginning of the 18th century. And the third layer is the end of the 18-19th century. This is the time of the development of the merchant fleet. These are flat-bottomed barges, barges, which are almost unknown in Ukraine.

Dmitry Kobalia

Now scientists are also considering the possibility of creating an underwater museum of hydroarcheology on Khortitsa in the future, where everyone, using diving equipment, will be able to see sunken ships on the Dnieper bottom.


Source and pictures: CFTS UA