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Middle Dniestr Valley Survey Project

Sunset view of the Dniestr reservoir lake.


Along the Middle Dniestr river we are conducting fieldwork between the towns of Chotyn and Novodnistrovsk. This area overlaps with the location of the well-known sites of Molodova I and V and Korman IV. Many of the old sites, e.g. Moldova I and Korman IV, are nowadays flooded by the Dniestr reservoir lake. Our work focuses on surveys to discover new archaeological sites from the Middle and Upper Pleistocene along the Dniestr reservoir lake. 

 

Satellite image showing the location of our survey area in the Middle Dniestr valley. The towns of Chotyn and Novodnistrovsk are located on the left and right end of the satellite image, respectively. 

 

dneisyr lake

View of the Dniestr reservoir lake. On the right typical thick loess-palaeosol exposures are visible. 

 

Shore

View of the Dniestr reservoir lake.


Transport

The NEMO-ADAP project team is surveying the shores of the Dniestr reservoir lake. The changing water table creates new exposures in loess slopes of the valley making new archaeological site visible. We conduct our surveys using a boat to access these exposures. Site locations are recorded using hand-held GNSS units (using both GPS and GLONASS signals). 

Surveys have revealed 13 sites spanning the Middle Palaeolithic to the Late Upper Palaeolithic (roughly 180,000 to 12,000 years ago). Interesting among them are the sites Neporotovo 7 (Middle Palaeolithic) and Korman 9 (Late Upper Palaeolithic) where the NEMO-ADAP project team conducted test excavations in 2013 and 2014. Sites include small surface scatters of artefacts as well as multi-layered sites. 

 

 

Fieldwork at Neporotovo 7

NPR-viewfromlake1

Excavation in progress at Neporotovo 7 (August 2014).


Neporotovo 7 is a Middle Palaeolithic site with more than three archaeological horizons. It was discovered in 2012 during our survey and we conducted further test-excavations in 2013. In July and August 2014 we carried out larger excavations of the upper three horizons. The lithic collections include a Levallois component. At least one of the horizons shows similarities to the Middle Palaeolithic horizons of the famous site Molodova V. Faunal remains are only preserved in the lowermost horizon and include Bos/Bison remains. Excavations at Neporotovo 7 resulted in a collection of about 1000 lithic artefacts, the majority is piece-plotted with a total station. 

 

NPR-lithics1                          Chris excavating

 

For geological fieldwork we cleaned many sections along the shoreline to document the lateral variability of the loess-palaeosol deposits. We documented several sections, studied the stratigraphy and sedimentary dynamics, and collected samples for environmental reconstruction (pollen and soil micromorphology analyses) and dating (radiocarbon and OSL analyses). The samples are currently being processed. 

 

 NPR-viewfromlake2

Lateral loess-palaeosol exposures at Neporotovo 7 (August 2014).

 

 

Fieldwork at Korman 9

The site Korman 9 was discovered by our team during the 2012 survey season and subsequently excavated in 2013. The three to four metres thick loess exposure comprises three late Upper Palaeolithic horizons. In contrast to Neporotovo 7 bone preservation at Korman 9 is good, resulting in a large faunal assemblage. Species identified include Bos sp., Equus sp., Rangifer tarandus, as well as carnivore and bird remains. Lithic assemblage comprises more than 650 objects and indicates an Epi-Gravettian occupation of the site. Most of the assemblage is made on dark brownish to blackish fine-grained chert of most probable local sources. 


Loess Dniester

The site Korman 9 during excavation in July/August 2013. Clearly visible are the two trenches excavated by the NEMO-ADAP team. 


Measuring points at Korman9

Excavations at Korman 9 in July/August 2013.


We excavated a combustion structure with red baking of the underlying sediment indicating high fire temperature. Thick ash and charcoal layers were documented. The entire content of the combustion structure was floated to recover plant macro-remains. To better understand the formation of the deposits we collected numerous soil micromorpohology samples, conducted a fabric analysis on all elongated objects (using total station measurements) and employed a detailed analysis of the sedimentary dynamics by two experienced Quaternary geologists. We also collected pollen samples for environmental reconstruction. They are currently processed at the University of Kiev. 


Profile charcoal

Korman 9: Combustion feature in section view. Two of the soil micro morphology sample locations are marked (scale 10cm). 


The excavation utilised a total station to document all archaeological finds > 10mm and all sample locations precisely in the local excavation co-ordinate system. Additionally, we documented all sections in detailed drawings (M 1:10) as well as photographs. Photographs are used to calculate 3D models of the excavated surfaces using surface-in-motion algorithms. 

 

Pia total station

The NEMO-ADAP project Leica total station with a Trimble Recon data collector in use at Korman 9, July 2013.

 

dneistr sunset

Sunset on the Dniestr reservoir lake, August 2014.

All photographs ©NEMO-ADAP Project unless otherwise stated.