TRACES OF THE ANCIENT PATHS IN THE STEPPE TAVRIA


Keywords: ancient paths, kurhans, steppe, fords-crossings, Muravsky Trail, satellite images.

Abstract

The original appearance of the steppe surface of the southern part of the eastern European plane was transformed by the centuries of the anthropogenic impact. Along with feather grass the traces of the ancient roads have disappeared. However, the satellite images still detect the areas around some kurhans having kept the waggons traces. We can recognize them due to the different color of vegetation as well as by the coloration of the open soil. The antiquity of the roads near kurhans is witnessed by the cases of tracks, covered by the burial mounds, that were erected in the Bronze Age. An additional indicator of the ancient transport network on the maps of the 19th century are wells or groups of pits in the open steppe, the number of which should be associated with the need to water a large number of cattle. The latter occurred during the arrival of a trade caravan or a train of wagons. The kurhans themselves are an ancient form of mass cult buildings in the Eurasian steppe, which have attracted both large main and secondary roads. Powerful tradition of building kurhans, fading and restoring through times, existed from the Eneolithic to the late Middle Ages. The appearance of new mounds or the completion of existing ones periodically renewed the system of landmarks in the monotonous steppe.

The paper provides an overview of previously unknown megastructures near the Scythian giant kurhans of Oguz and Chortomlyk, which in the form of light parallel stripes are recorded on satellite images. These stripes are probably traces of trenches or the foot of stone alleys, that were found to the east of the edge of the Oguz and outreached 800—850 m, and from Chortomlyk — 670 m. A search on various satellite images of the similar light stripes near other kurhans did not yield positive results. However, in the central part of the Dnieper-Molocha steppe region, satellite images luckily detected 19 nodes (intersections) of ancient ways connected to the kurhans’ mounds. Some of these nodes do yet not fit the complete road network of the region. But six of these nodes appear to be in the area of the route of the ancient path, known in the Middle Ages as Muravsky (Murava Route). It leaded from the Don basin, through the left (eastern) part of the basin of the Dnipro River to Crimea through the Isthmus of Perekop. Interestingly, this branch of the Muravsky Trail crosses the Sirogozy ravine between the kurhans of Kozel and Oguz. In previous reconstructions of the transport network, the option of passing this branch in the south of the Oguz, between the giant embankment and Diyiv kurhan, was preferred. The other three intersections lie in the lane of the old Chumaks’ Way or the Crimean Way, marking a forty-kilometer section between kurhans Kozel and Velyka Tsymbalka. From the center of the Tavria Steppe at least four directions of paths emerge towards the ancient Dnipro fords-crossings: Rogachytsia, Lepetych, Cair (Nosakiv) and Kіzikermen (Tavan).

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Published
2021-11-03
How to Cite
Boltryk, Y. V., & Karyaka, O. V. (2021). TRACES OF THE ANCIENT PATHS IN THE STEPPE TAVRIA. Archaeology and Early History of Ukraine, 40(3), 199-214. https://doi.org/10.37445/adiu.2021.03.13