Interview with Professor Zelenko
Professor Sergei Zelenko, senior researcher at the Kyiv National University and a head of the Center for Underwater Archaeology (CUA), took time out to speak with Hillary Smith about the Black Sea Shipwreck Research Project and the nature of the Novy Svet excavation site.
When did you start working on the project and how did you find out about the Pisa wreck site?
The project in Novy Svet was started in 1998, when remains of the Pisa Wreck and possibly another 11th century Byzantine shipwreck were discovered there. The Byzantine shipwreck is not mentioned in any historical record and perhaps lies deeper in the seafloor.
What have been your most important discoveries so far?
Our Center for Underwater Archaeology (CUA), based out of the University of Kiev's History Department, has been functional since 1991, when we led an survey of the Crimean Coast from Alushta to Kotebel. The earlier work of the CUA led to the identification of the Scythian-Tauric port of Aphineon and the ancient port of Lampas.
Do you know how much longer it will take to fully excavate the archaeological site at Novy Svet?
Right now our team is small and we do not have many resources available to us. If we had a larger group who could work for 3-4 months out of the year possibly in 4-5 years we could most likely find the wooden hull remains from the from the Pisa ship. With even more time we could find the other Byzantine shipwreck as well.
How do you integrate your on-site research here, specifically Pisa wreck, into the classroom in Kiev?
We had an exhibition of all findings from the Pisa ship at the Taras Shevchenko University of Kiev. This information was also used in history classes and classes taught in the Underwater Archaeology Department.
Do you have other ideas for projects in the Crimea or elsewhere?
A project I am working on parallel to this one is an interesting discovery at Cape Meganom of two Italian Galleys that were sunk in battle in 1331. Some of the amphorae we have been finding in Novy Svet are from the same time and we may be able to make a connection between the two sites.
Do you enjoy working with international students?
Yes, they are all very hard working, intelligent, and important components to the expedition.
What are your plans for the future of the project?
We hope to be able to expand our program to further facilitate the discovery of the wrecks.