Culture News Science Society, 14/07/2017

Scouts Dig Up 17th Century Fortress

A unique summer camp where children of 12–16 take part in archaeological excavations and self-organize is held near Izium, Kharkiv region July 3–16.

Over 100 children from Western and Eastern parts of Ukraine — from Lviv and Drohobych to Severodonetsk, Luhansk and towns of Kharkiv region — are staying in tents of the Cherkas 2017 National Testing Archaeological Camp (“Cherkas” was one of the ethnonyms for “Ukrainian” in 16–17th centuries).

The camp site is located near Tsareborysivska fortress, a monument of archeology, the remnants of the medieval city of Tsareboris, which was inhabited for two periods in 1599–1612 and in the second half of the 17th century.

The camp participants — children, Plast members, and adults who are professional archaeologists — are involved in excavations in the morning while in the afternoon they have classes in survival skills, handmade workshops, country-specific studies. They also swim in the river, learn maps and tour a vicinity. Among the coaches, there are professional rescuers and four climbers from Turkey.

“This camp is the only one in Ukraine and in the whole world where the archeological expedition is joined with scouting,” proudly says the director of the Sloboda archeological service and the camp commandant Iryna Holubieva. The prominent scientist invented and initiated this unbelievable event a year ago and realized it with enthusiasm and professionalism.

“In addition to their usual scout training children here study Ukrainian history with their own hands!” specifies the archeologist.

Iryna Holubieva has been organizing excavations of Tsareborysivska fortress since 2004 when active exploration of the site started. This year the depth of excavations has been 50 to 60 cm. The archaeological findings include shards, crockery, some ceramic material, coins, and pieces of jewelry. The most valuable items were silver coins of Western European countries and beautiful bronze crosses, says the scientist.

The found material, which archeologists will give to the museums, is important for understanding household and culture of Ukrainians who lived in Cossack period in the 17th century. Current excavations also provided new facts and details on the fortress design and layout.

According to Holubieva, although the day in the camp is planned rigidly from 6 a.m. till 10 p.m., which is physiologically difficult for some children, the tough schedule and adventures make them responsible, disciplined and full of initiative. Plast members have built a huge “brama” (gateway) out of logs without a nail as well. These logs will turn into the closing “vatra” (bonfire) on July 15, the camp’s final night.

Text, photo: Olena Sokolynska