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Ship-wreck of 13 century at the Black Sea by Soldaya
Remains of a ship-wreck were found in the bay Sudak-Limen in 5 km from ancient Soldaya which is called nowadays Novy Svet (Crimea). The place of the ship-wreck is in western part of the bay in 50 meters from the coastline in the depth of 10-12 m. It occupies 60 x 60 square meters of gravel-sand soil covered with numerous fragments of ceramics.
The reports of some underwater archaeological investigations carried out in this area by the groups of scuba divers in the period from 1957 to 1990 under the direction of the archaeologists P. Shults, V. Blavatski and I. Baranov mention the fact of presence of some ceramic fragments on the seabed of the bay. In 1999 the underwater archaeological expedition of Taras Shevchenko University (Kiev) began to carry out a research in the bay Sudak-Limen. To determine the depths of bedding and diversity of the material the research were started from two platforms of 4 x 4 square meters located at different parts of the site.
The significant collection of archaeological material is lifted. On the preliminary data, the ship was loaded with pithos, amphorae, table and kitchen ware, glass items as well as glaze ceramics, which was found in considerable proportion.
The most numerous and submitted by series were amphorae of the following three types. The first type is presented by the amphorae with pear-shaped body and arc-shaped handles widespread in East Mediterranean area as well at the coastlines of the Black and Azov seas at 13-14 centuries. On the walls and handles there are numerous graffitis, three of them have been stamped. Most of the amphorae is sealed by pine bark fuses. The second type is the cone-shaped small amphorae, 0,3 м long, known in layers of 12-13 centuries in Cherson, Alushta (Crimea), as well as in Bulgaria, etc. The third type can by specified as a small amphora with the ovoid body, characteristic concave bottom, small throat and flat handles. Three specimens of such an amphora were found in Istanbul (Turkey) in the layer of 13 century.
Also, the findings included glaze pottery complex contains 21 unbroken and about 225 fragmentary vessels. According to the similar quality of the potsherd, glaze and visually determined ceramic mass compound the majority of these wares is obviously a production of one or some neighboring workshops. According to main morphological features these vessels can be divided in two big groups - open-shaped and closed-shaped wares.
The close-shaped wares are presented by the high-neck pitchers (20 specimens) and one pot. Pitchers are decorated with vertical stripes of white slip and covered with plumbum monochrome yellow, brown, yellow-brown and green glaze.
Open-shaped vessels (about 225 specimens) include 5 types of wares (dishes, plates, bowls, cups and goblets) with different variations. The common feature for all types of vessels of this group is the way of bottom shaping from the monolith piece of clay and principles of the inside field ornamentation with concentric circles and spirals (sometimes with additional decorative elements) and made in sgraffito technique. The glaze was monochrome plumbum made in yellow, brown, yellow-brown, green colors and various tints. The deep red clay bowl covered with transparent yellow glaze on white slip presents an exception.
It should be mentioned that letters and symbols incised on the fired clay are often found on the glaze wares from the ship. The identical graffiti on the vessels of different groups and types is of great interest. It can be presumed that signs on vessels marked the final point of the wares distribution.
The distribution area of the glaze wares similar to the found on the shipwreck place near Sudak is very wide. They are often found on the settlements of the Azov region. The French researcher Veronique Francois localizes the production area of such wares in Byzantine Nykea of the 13th to beginning of the 14th centuries. The glaze wares from the ship especially those with sgraffito ornament are similar to the Nykea wares. However, the possibility of the origin of there wares from any other center which worked in popular for 13th- 14th centuries style cannot be excluded.
Besides the serial finds there were found some sporadic specimens of table and glaze ware of the same period which can be considered as personal stuff of the team of the ship. The analysis of all the finds allows to date the ship-wreck back to the third quarter of 13 century.
It is necessary to note on the lifted material (amphorae and glaze ceramics) some traces of a large fire. This fact, analysis the documents about sea trade at the Black sea at 12-14 centuries, dating and load composition of the ship allows to make a hypothesis, that it was found out a Piza ship burnt in sea battle against a Genoa ship on August 14, 1277 by Soldaya.
The more comprehensive information about the sunken ship and its trade activity can be received during the further archeological excavations.