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More on Ancient Cossack vessel raised from bottom of Dnipro at Khortytsia

Archaeologists retrieved a rare treasure in November from the bottom of Ukraine’s Dnipro River near the city of Zaporizhya.

Fragments of the retrieved 18th century Kozak boat seen in Zaporizhya on Nov. 18. (UNIAN) After raging wars some 300 years ago, a Kozak (Cossack) boat rested, waiting to be discovered under water off Ukraine’s largest island and historical stronghold Khortytsya.

Historians regale in the new finding, claiming it to be the only well-preserved artifact of 18th century Ukrainian shipbuilding. Sediment apparently helped preserve much of the boat’s structure, making it much more than a retrieved pile of wood. The story of Ukraine’s first freedom fighters, which can be traced behind the water-soaked beams and masts, is what makes this find truly special.

The boat is like a time capsule representing an important part of Ukraine’s history. Historians think the boat participated in the 1735-1739 Russian war against the Turks and most likely was part of the Dnipro Flotilla.

It was discovered at Zaporizka Sich, a fort compound established by Ukrainian Kozak warriors in the 16th century on the Dnipro islands. It was a place where enslaved peasants could find shelter and join the free-spirited warriors. Fighting Turks, Poles and Russians in different times, this group of Ukrainian diehards eventually grew into a strong republic – a prototype of the independent Ukrainian state.

The reason for unleashing the war in which the boat allegedly took part were numerous attacks by Crimean Tatars, the Ottoman Empire vassals, against left-bank Ukraine, which was then controlled by the Russian Empire. The war was also a part of Russia’s campaign to gain access to the Black Sea.

Khortytsya island (UNIAN)Cossack vessels were the main force to resist Turkish galleys in the Black Sea. With a capacity to carry up to 40 people onboard, it is 17 meters long and 3.4 meters wide.

Valeriy Nefyodov, the chief nautical archeologist who commanded the boat’s retrieval, believes such vessels gave rise to modern marine infantry. “Due to its small size, high speed and maneuverability, such boats served as tactical and strategic vessels,” said Nefyodov. “It is no wonder why they gained numerous victories over Turkish ships.”

After the war, the Dnipro flotilla, which included more than 300 ships back then, was disbanded.

All the Kozak vessels returned to the northern part of Khortytsya Island, where they were based. “As no one looked after the ships, they started to sink,” Denysenko says.

When archaeologists retrieved the wreck, they were impressed with its craftsmanship.

They called it “The Oak” because of the type of wood used to make its hull and sheathing. The wreck itself does not resemble much of a boat today, but after some restoration works it will join other Kozak-related discoveries in the museum on Khortytsya Island. There are more than 60 other archeological sightseeing attractions on the island along with nice parks and recreation sites.

Authors: Tetyana Boychenko & Roman Feshchenko | Source: The Kyiv Post [December 02, 2010]


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