Remains of a shipwreck were found in the Sudak bay, in the Black Sea near the Crimean resort town of Novy Svet. The shipwreck site is located in the western part of the bay at a distance of 50 meters offshore. The group of underwater archaeologists from Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University began exploring this area in 1999. During surveys they discovered an area with the archaeological material preliminarily dating back to the 13th century AD; pottery, glass, worked stones and marble remains of wooden finds of various sizes, iron and bronze tackles, small finds and animal bones. The regular excavations were started in 2003. At that time the Center for Underwater archaeology was founded within Kyiv National University in order to perform underwater archaeology activities in Ukraine and abroad.
During recent excavations the significant collection of archaeological material has been retrieved from the shipwreck site. As it proved the ship was loaded with pithoi, amphorae, table and kitchen ware, glass items as well as glazed pottery.
Amphorae are the most numerous and various group of the ship's cargo. There are 5 types of amphorae in the collection and they have been dated to the 13-14th centuries. Pine cork stoppers sealed the majority of the amphorae and analyses of the residues within reveal that containers contained vegetable oil, oil, grains, incense, pitch or tar. The counterparts/analogues of these types occur in Turkey and the South regions of the Black Sea.
The assemblage of glazed pottery contains approximately 50 intact objects and many more small fragments of various types of bowls, plates, small jars, cups, etc. This collection is unique due to the rare occurrence of similar artifacts in terrestrial archaeological sites, especially in such amount and variety. The vessels were found in certain proportions and types which may indicate sets of table ware, which were brought to the Black Sea for commercial purposes. Specialists have preliminarily localized the production area of the glazed pottery to Byzantine Nykea and have dated most of the glazeware from the 13th to beginning of the 14th century.
Many examples of graffiti were found on walls and handles of amphorae and on the bases on glazeware. Some vessels also were stamped. In addition there have been many signs of fire: a lot of burnt fragments of pottery and wood, melting glaze and metal, wood are wide spread on the all area may indicate a fig fire on site. This fact, plus the narrative sources recorded an Pisan ship burned in a naval battle in front of the Sudak fortress on August 14, 1277, allows us to make the hypothesis that the "Pisa ship" has been discovered near the Sudak fortress in Sudak Bay.
After completing the excavation and gathering all available information, according the narrative and archive documents we will be able to reconstruct the type of a similar ship.
The images of the medieval italian ships on this page were kindly contributed by Axel Nelson, an artists and illustrator of historical ships and events.