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Coastal geoarchaeology of Kerkinitis (Northwestern Crimea)

Géoarchéologie littorale de Kerkinitis (Crimée nord‑occidentale)
Vadim A. Kutaisov and Tat’jana N. Smekalova
p. 79-89


The coastal landscape in of northwestern Crimea is characterized by numerous salt lakes (locally called limans) separated from the sea by sand barriers. The formation of the lakes was mostly induced by inundation of the lower reaches of fluvial valleys and trough-like kettle holes during the transgression of the Black Sea basin. Lake Sasyk-Sivash formed due to the simultaneous inundation of the coastal area and several radiating ravines (locally called balkas). The lake was possibly not completely separated from the sea during the ancient Greek period. This can explain the existence of six Chersonesean farmhouses and two ancient Greek vineyards on the remotest northern shore of the lake, which is furthest from the sea. Geological coring on the western margin of ancient Kerkinitis revealed lagoonal silts, at a depth of 1.6‑2.0 m. These indicate that the water level of the Black Sea basin near what is now Yevpatoriya was -2 m in the mid-1st millennium BC. The coastline in western Crimea might have been situated 50–100 m offshore from the present one.

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Index terms

Geographical index :

Crimea, Black sea
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Author's notes

These investigations received financial support from the grant # 33.1470.2017.PCh of the Ministry of Science and Education of Russian Federation.



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1 - The coastal lakes
2 - The natural anchorages
3 - Relative sea-level changes

First lines

Northwestern Crimea occupies the area from Lake Bagayly, south of what is now the city of Yevpatoriya, to Lake Bakal and the coast of the Gulf of Karkinit in the north (Fig. 1). In terms of its geological structure, this region coincides with the so-called Tarkhankut Folded Heights of the North-Crimean steppe region. The limits of the latter are at the latitude of Bakal Spit in the north, to Chatyrlyk balka (gully) in the east, to the Outer Ridge of the Crimean Mountains in the south (Fig. 1). The ancient city of Kerkinitis was located on Cape Karantinny in the central area of Yevpatoriya Bay.

Fig. 1 – Geography of Crimea

Fig. 1 – Geography of Crimea

Created from a digital terrain model.

1 - The coastal lakes

A characteristic feature of the coastal landscape in the northwestern Crimea is numerous salt lakes separated from the sea by sand barriers. They can be subdivided into two groups: the Yevpatorian group consisting of 14 lakes and the Tarkhankut group which comprises eight water basins...

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Electronic reference

Vadim A. Kutaisov and Tat’jana N. Smekalova, « Coastal geoarchaeology of Kerkinitis (Northwestern Crimea) », Méditerranée [Online], 126 | 2016, Online since 01 January 2018, connection on 19 January 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/mediterranee.8262

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About the authors

Vadim A. Kutaisov

Institute of Archaeology of Crimea of Russian Academy of Science, Simferopol, Crimea,

Tat’jana N. Smekalova

National Research Center “Kurchatov Institute”, Moscow, Russia; Crimean Federal University, Simferopol, Crimea,

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