Preliminary Report 2011

Preliminary report on the 2011 field season

The archaeological mission of the National Museum in Warsaw worked in the ancient town of Tyritake (Kerch, Ukraine) from 18 July 2011 through 25 August 2011. This was the fourth field season on the site.

The research forms part of a Polish-Ukrainian cooperation programme between the National Museum in Warsaw and the Federal Cultural and Historical Museum of Kerch with the participation of the “Demetra” Foundation.

Fieldwork began on 18 July 2011 and lasted until 14 August 2011. Work on field documentation (photographs and drawings) took place between 15 and 20 August 2011, and the Conservation Mission of the Warsaw University of Technology, responsible for the conservation of uncovered structures based on an agreement signed with the NMW, worked between 15 and 25 August 2011. Surveying work was also carried out during the campaign.

During this field season, the “Tyritake 2011” Polish Archaeological Mission of the National Museum in Warsaw included members from Poland, Ukraine and Russia (staff and students of the Faculty of History, Belgorod University). The Russian students took part in the campaign between 25 July and 14 August 2011.

Team members in the 2011 field season (68 persons):

From the Polish side (22 persons):

Dr. Alfred Twardecki – head of the “Tyritake 2011” Polish Archaeological Mission

Archaeologists: Dr. Inga Głuszek, Diana Święcka, Kamila Nocoń, Emilia Smagur, Marcin Matera, Grzegorz Łaczek, Łukasz Miszk

Archaeology students: Emilia Staniszewska, Alicja Serafin, Dorota Sznajder, Joanna Barańska, Karol Kosakowski, Błażej Szojda, Piotr Choła

Conservators from the Warsaw University of Technology: Dr.Eng. Agnieszka Dąbska, Eng. Kacper Wasilewski and students of the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Warsaw University of Technology: Julia Brzostowska, Monika Tomana, Kaja Matejek–Zarębska, Mikołaj Błaszczyk, Dominika Król, Jakub Brochocki

From the Ukrainian side (36 persons):

Victor Zinko – head of the Ukrainian side

Archaeologists: Aleksey Zinko, Mark Kotin, Alla Kotina

Students of the University in Kharkiv: Elizaveta Volochayeva, Tetyana Gromova, Mykyta Maksymovsky, Olena Martynenko, Kristina Nevidoma, Karina Palchey, Yuliya Pulyayeva, Olena Pyatnicka, Oksana Rubcova, Alina Timofieyenko, Anastasiya Cisar, Margarita Zborovska, Ganna Kulaga, Mariya Sinelnikova

Manual workers: Evgeniy Yurchenko, Valeriy Grigorev, Aleksander Pudovkin, Arkadiy Zyk, Dmitriy Sutyagin, Andrey Arbuzov, Vadim Danelenko, Aleksander Botanov, Sergey Zavyalov, Artyom Ivanov, Roman Golovachov, Viktor Popov, Viktor Morkov, Igor Mitrov, Igor Slyunko, Zhenya Yurchenko, Nikita Gaydukov, Aleksander Leydo

From the Russian side (10 persons):

Staff and students of the Belgorod University: Yekaterina Krasnikova, Olesya Lyakhovskaya, Margarita Luzhkova, Yekaterina Repina, Natalia Kolomyets, Ruslana Udovyna, Yevgeniy Gusin, Vladimir Agarkov, Aleksey Telnoy, Aleksander Sapogov

In the 2011 season, work focused on four different parts of trench XXVII. In three locations, this year’s excavations were a follow-up to work performed in previous field seasons. In sectors 10, 11, 12, 15 and in the northern part of sector 13, the excavations were a follow-up to work completed in the 2010 season: the first stage was the exploration of the early Byzantine layer. In sector 14 and the southern part of sector 13, archaeologists continued work started in 2009. The third explored area were sectors 1, 2, 4, 5 and the western parts of sectors 17 and 18. This was a follow-up to activities performed in the 2008 and 2010 field seasons. Last but not least, this year also saw the beginning of work on a new sector: 19.

Sectors 10, 11, 12, northern part of 13, 15

Sectors 10–15

In the area encompassing sectors 10 to 15, work was initially focused on the mechanical removal of a modern excavation from the World War II period at the border of sectors 11 and 15. In the remaining part of the discussed area, exploration continued of the intact layer dated to the Early Byzantine or Late Roman period. First of all, the arbitrary level, around 20 cm thick, was removed along with the stone rubble in the eastern part of sector 12. In the course of explorations of the northern part of sector 12, a stone structure was uncovered, which turned out to be paving (marked with no. 7). After it was cleaned, the relevant documentation of the uncovered layer was prepared. The paving was then removed to explore the layer underneath. In the course of exploration, another functional layer was discovered, which was also excavated down following its documentation. Two coins were found in the course of exploring the layers located below both paved levels. Their analysis will allow us to rather precisely define the chronology of building these structures.

A rubble composed of a large number of small stones was uncovered at the border between sectors 11 and 12. Consequently, a gradual exploration of its subsequent layers began. In the course of research, four bonded fragments of masonry were uncovered and marked with nos. 36, 37, 38 and 39. These walls, together with the uncovered wall no. 35 in sector 10, appear to have been the walls of two adjacent rooms A and B in the newly separated building complex VI. A fragment of a stone wine press was found in room A of the complex, enclosed within walls no. 35 and 36. However, it was probably not placed in situ, as suggested by its fragmentary state of preservation and atypical location. A similar discovery was made during the exploration of the layer of stone rubble in room B in building complex VI. A fragment of a stone trencher-shaped structure was found directly next to wall no. 39. Its placement and archaeological context suggest that it is the original location of the find. At the same time, it was established that the stone rubble filling room B had changed its structure. A deposit of charred seeds was found in this layer, a sample of which was taken for paleobotanical analysis. At this stage, the decision was taken to stop exploring room B. It should be added that four bronze coins were found in the rubble layer. In the 2011 season, it was impossible to ultimately verify either the scope of the room or whether the preserved bonded fragments of masonry had genuinely served as its external walls.

A pit (no. 13) was discovered in sector 11 – it was most likely a storage pit, the fill of which was explored. The pit was filled with a layer of dark grey, loose soil containing a large number of archaeological objects.

Another pit (no. 14) was discovered along the eastern border of sector 12. Directly above it, in a part of sector 12, was a modern excavation filled with rubble. During the exploration of the pit, it turned out that its walls had been covered with stone slabs, mostly preserved in situ. Two of the slabs were slightly tilted towards the inside of the pit. The pit was most likely a storage one, with an unidentified purpose. A sample was taken from its fill for zoological and paleobotanical analysis. Preliminary analysis following the flotation of the sample did not indicate any presence of organic remains. Unfortunately, this makes it more difficult to propose any hypotheses as to the purpose of the discussed archaeological object.

A paved section (no. 10) was uncovered at the border between sectors 12 and 13. This structure appears to have been the functional layer of room A in building complex VII, outlined within walls no. 30 and 31 (discovered during the 2010 field season) and the newly uncovered wall no. 41. There was another wall (no. 42) adjacent to wall no. 41, placed on paving no. 10. The new wall was a supportive one, it was meant to prevent wall no. 41 from sliding. A fragment of a stone slab next to wall no. 30 is an interesting discovery – it was most likely a part of the entrance threshold created at the same time as paving no. 10.

Sectors 13, 14

The eastern parts of sectors 13 and 14 proved to be the most interesting research area. Research in sector 14 focused on uncovering the usable area of room B in building complex II. However, the initial task was to take apart stone wall no. 10, which concluded in removing a stone slab from the eastern profile of the sector. Research continued after that, resulting in the discovery of a layer of stone paving, marked with no. 8. This paved section was chronologically related to the use of room B in building complex II, and it may be provisionally dated to the Late Antique period (third to fourth century AD). A stone structure situated on the border between sector 14 and 13, built using two large vertically-placed stone slabs, could have originally served as the grate of a hearth or a smoking chamber, and dates to a later period. The structure is probably associated with the Saltovo-Mayaki culture (Khazars, seventh to ninth century AD). It is functionally connected to pit no. 12, which partially enters the eastern side of sector 14. It most likely served as a container for ash from underneath the grate, or as the hearth itself. The very loose structure of the pit’s fill was composed of ash mixed with cinders, with a high concentration of burnt shells. Traces of slags were also found at the bottom, and samples were collected for analysis. The exploration of the pit started with a profile line on the W-E axis, and the available fill was then excavated in the stratigraphic technique. The thus obtained partial profile of the pit was documented in photographs, after which the southern part of the pit was explored within the boundaries of the trench. In the course of research, apart from slag samples, paleobotanical samples, samples for radiocarbon dating and dendrochronological samples were also collected. In the course of the mission, one of the paleobotanical samples was flotated, as a result of which more than ten burnt seeds and grape seeds were obtained, as well as a large number of shells and a small assemblage of burnt animal bones (including a fish bone). Apart from slag, pugging was also discovered at the bottom of the pit – it was most likely used to pad the walls. Apart from samples, a large number of ceramic and other objects were also found in the pit, including a fully preserved stone quern.

Work in the southern part of sector 13 began with the removal of wall no. 29 and exploration of the layer of seagrass located directly underneath the layer of dried brick rubble. Another level of dried brick rubble was found underneath the seagrass layer, stretching southwards from object no. 1 (root cellar of the Saltovo-Mayaki culture excavated down in 2010). This layer was cleaned, documented and then excavated down. Directly underneath was another level of seagrass, below which was the next level of dried brick rubble. These layers, showing little chronological variety, most likely represented the subsequent stages of building room B in building complex II. The external wall of this room was wall no. 11, whose scope was extended to include the wall in sector 13 (no. 40). The layers of dried brick probably served as the structural element of the walls, while the seagrass could have constituted the floor or ceiling. A flat stone slab was discovered underneath – possibly the table in room B in building complex II. Fragments of a broken amphora and two handmade pots were found on the slab. While the context of the amphora does not indicate that it was captured in situ, the situation is different in the case of the two pots. Even though the vessels were cracked, it seems that they were located where they had originally been used. Thanks to another discovery made in sector 13, it was possible to rather precisely determine the purpose of room B in building complex II. A stove structure was discovered north from the aforementioned table. The stove was almost oval and built from stone slabs with a brick interior. Two bricks were preserved inside the stove. In all likelihood, the discussed room represents a Late Antique kitchen. The stove itself was excavated down to the foundation. The inside was filled with very loose grey ash. The “kitchen” character of room B in building complex II may be also confirmed by the discoveries made in sector 14: a quern was found on the level of paving no. 9, and fragments of a large broken pithos were discovered north of the stove. Analysis revealed that the pithos originally broke in two parts. Its bottom was found in a special pit, where the vessel was originally located. The layer of ash found next to the opening of the stove, discovered underneath the dried brick rubble, appears to also be associated with the stove.


 Numerous fishbones, as well as the skull of a snake, additionally confirm the “kitchen” character of the room. It is also worth mentioning an interesting find inside the fill of the stove: a fragment of a pithos, measuring 17 cm × 14 cm, put to secondary use – its shape suggests that it could have served as a grate.

Sectors 1, 2, 4, 5, 17 and 18

In season 2011, work also began in the area encompassing six sectors (1, 2, 4, 5, 17 and 18). The work was focused on four sectors (1, 2, 4, 5), only slightly affecting the two remaining ones. This research was a direct continuation of excavation performed in 2010.

At the beginning, the decision was made to remove paving no. 6, which was uncovered in the course of previous field seasons. Exploration also began of the layer in the southern part of sector 4. A preliminary analysis of found material suggests that this unit should be dated between the sixth and fifth century BC. Unfortunately, a part of the layer was disturbed by a modern excavation. Apart from exploring the intact layer in the above-mentioned sector, archaeologists also began to mechanically explore the modern excavation of unidentified origin (possibly a World War II trench). The object resembled an elongated rectangular. Its fill was removed using the stratigraphic method, and the negative was documented. It occupied a large area of sectors 1 and 4. Another modern excavation located within sectors 1, 2, 4 and 5 was also explored in the area. Unfortunately, this excavation made it much more difficult to interpret the structures and layers located in sector 5. In the northern part of the sector, it was possible to notice three very fragmentarily preserved bonded sections of masonry, marked with nos. 33, 34 and 35. They most likely comprised walls B and C in building complex V.

In sector 1, exploration began of the clean layers of room A in building complex V. The research was very limited – it was stopped after excavating ca. 20 cm. This room is located to the west of wall no. 1, which most likely served as its eastern wall. A large boulder of unknown origin was discovered inside the room.

Sector 19

Research in sector 19 began before 20 July 2011, and was initially conducted under the direct supervision of Victor Zinko. Work in the sector was aimed at referring to layers uncovered and explored in sector 20 in the previous year. After the arrival of the Polish mission, it turned out that the scope of sector 19 was wrongly outlined, as a result of which the western border of the trench had to be corrected, encroaching upon sectors 22 and 23.

In the course of exploration carried out by the Ukrainian side, the further part of the defensive wall coping no. 7 was revealed.

The Polish contribution to researching the area began with the stratigraphic removal of the remains of the backfill of Prof. Gaydukevich’s trench. A layer of dried brick rubble was uncovered directly underneath it, with a noticeable part of a light-grey ceiling. Unfortunately, the majority of the pit was disturbed during Prof. Gaydukevich’s research. The preserved layer of dried brick was precisely cleaned, documented and explored further in order to capture the layer of ash underneath. Directly underneath it was another layer of dried brick rubble from the previous phase of usage of defensive wall no. 7. This layer was also excavated down to the level of traces of another fire. Once this charred layer was documented, the exploration of another – already third – layer of dried brick rubble began. The expectation was to find another charred layer directly underneath it, covering the coping of wall no. 26, which constituted the external wall of room A in building complex III dated to the Archaic period (and already discovered in sector 20 in the 2010 field season). However, this layer proved to be very fragmentarily preserved, very hard and difficult to explore. Its emergence had to be associated with the destruction of room A in building complex III. When the further part of wall no. 26 was discovered, the decision was made to separately collect material from the inside and outside of room A. In the course of further research, an entirely new wall (no. 43) was discovered, perpendicularly adjacent to wall no. 26. Without a doubt, wall no. 43 was chronologically later than wall no. 26, and was added to it. At the current stage it is impossible to unambiguously ascertain what function it performed, though it appears to have served as the wall of another building.

Conservation works

The 2011 field season was the first to include conservation works performed on a larger scale. The 2010 reconnaissance conducted by Andrzej Karolczak, conservator from the Ancient Art Conservation Workshop, served as the basis to formulate conservation tasks and objectives for the future. The main ones were: a) protecting the trench against atmospheric phenomena (heavy rains, snow and falling temperatures between November and May), and b) preparing a detailed management plan of the trench after the completion of archaeological works in its excavated part. In order to fulfil these tasks, the National Museum in Warsaw concluded a cooperation agreement with the Warsaw University of Technology.

As a result, all conservation activities were carried out by the conservation mission organized by the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the Warsaw University of Technology headed by Dr. Wojciech Terlikowski. The mission operated between 15 and 24 August 2011. At the same time, based on the cooperation agreement for the 2011 field season, the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the Warsaw University of Technology provided surveying services within trench XXVII for the duration of the archaeological mission (18 July – 24 August 2011). Between 18 July and 31 July 2011, surveying, measuring and drawing activities (documentation drawings in electronic form) were carried out by students from the Faculty of Civil Engineering – Beata Kutera and Krzysztof Fedor, and between 1 August and the end of the mission – by members of the conservation mission.

The conservation activities included inspection and macroscopic research, supporting and securing the structure of antique walls discovered by the archaeological mission of the NMW, securing the walls of the trenches, draining as well as research and work on protecting wall elements against water.

The most important activities included securing the walls of the trench using mesh reinforced with anchor plates, digging a drainage ditch around the trench and securing fragments of walls no. 1, 20, 40 and structures located west of wall no. 7. The reprofiling of existing wall fragments was made using the anastylosis method, preserving the original location of the main wall elements (stones), which implies the original nature of bonded masonry. Cement mortar (made more plastic with the addition of lime), which was previously used in trench XXVII, and cement clay mortar were used as binder. The use of cement mortar resulted from the previous practice of masonry works in trench XXVII, the low water absorbance of the mortar – and consequently its high resistance to atmospheric factors, including water – and the impossibility to use a trass mortar. In order to limit the shrinking of the mortar, it was used in short stretches of the wall and small quantities.

Material was also gathered to prepare a comprehensive plan of securing the trench and making it safely available to visitors.


While discussing the preliminary results obtained by the Polish Archaeological Mission in Tyritake in the 2011 field season, one should first of all mention the discoveries made in sectors 13 and 14, where it was possible to ascertain that the rooms of building complex II had formed part of a Late Antique kitchen. This is indicated by the stone table with handmade cooking vessels on top of it, the stone stove with a brick interior and the partially preserved storage amphora. The large dimensions and rich equipment of the kitchen, which most likely also encompassed parts of building complex I, justify – in spite of certain reservations – the hypothesis of its public purpose. In other words, we might be dealing with the remains of a public eating place – an equivalent of a modern fast-food bar.

Also interesting are the fragments of a wine press found within building complex VI. At this stage of research, this structure cannot be clearly identified as the place of wine production, though that option seems possible. Unfortunately, structures that have been found here so far are only fragmentarily preserved, which makes it difficult to interpret them unambiguously. Further exploration of the area will hopefully yield some more specific answers.

The most homogenous contexts were found in sector 19 in the form of layers of dried brick rubble interlaced with layers of charred material. They may be associated with specific time-frames of destruction that affected Tyritake in the late sixth and early fifth century BC. It is worth noting that an entirely new wall was revealed near the northern edge of the sector. Moreover, exploration yielded rich finds, including the body of a black-figured vessel with a representation of a marching hoplite. The research results greatly broadened our knowledge about the scope of Tyritake in the Archaic period – the town stretched beyond the previously assumed area. Owing to precise exploration of the remains in sector 19, we are currently able to retrace the earliest fortifications from the turn of the fifth century BC (clay brick wall on a stone underpinning) and provide a more precise chronology of events, such as dating the layers of two fires from the late sixth century BC and the 480s BC. This puts an end to 70 years of academic disputes on the matter.

This season, the number of discrete artefacts surpassed 250 – the greatest number of finds since the National Museum in Warsaw began excavations in the area. The most notable examples include fragments of black-figured and Ionian painted pottery from the late sixth century BC and flint objects, including the tip of a knife or a spearhead, which testify to ongoing settlement in the Tyritake area since Neolithic.

It should also be stressed that no conservation work of that scale has been carried out before on neighbouring archaeological sites. This contributes to implementing new standards, technologies and good conservation practices in Ukraine.

Not only did the 2011 season bring some very interesting finds, but it also whet our appetite for even more exciting results in the future. It also contributed to strengthening the Crimean society’s perception of the National Museum in Warsaw as a solid partner in the effort to save the common heritage of European culture (Greek colonies). This was reflected both in media accounts and the reactions of inhabitants of Crimea visiting the 'Polish trench’ in Tyritake.

More detailed information on the project is available on the website, which has recently also been made available in Ukrainian:

Warsaw, 27 September 2011

Alfred Twardecki