SIMFEROPOL, November 27. /TASS/. Russian archaeologists have launched excavation works at an ancient settlement along the outskirts of Kerch in Crimea at the construction site of a railway link for the Kerch Strait Bridge that will connect the island with mainland Russia.
"The excavation works are being carried out at the scene of a major archaeologic monument (in Kerch). This is the Biely settlement, which is well-known among scientists," Yuri Belik, who heads the archeological effort, was quoted by the Crimean Bridge information center as saying.
The full-fledged operations at the scene began only in 2017 due to the implementation of the project to build a railway connection to the bridge. "We have the opportunity to study this community, where people used to live for several centuries," he said.
The team is working on a territory that stretches over more than 28,000 square meters. Specialists from Kerch, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Voronezh are taking part in the effort.
The archaeologists note that while digging the area they came across "an unusually developed piece of architecture." Three small stone column pillars and parts of a stone plate were found under the rubble of one of the buildings. "We have to find out whether this is a residential facility or a small religious ceremonial building," archaeologist Yevteniya Lyutova said.
The archaeologists, who worked at a depth of up to two meters, have found "basements, parts of walls and houses and buildings from different historical epochs, from ancient times to the end of the 19th century."
Hundreds of findings will be studied in detail, including Turkish clay pipes from the 17th and 18th centuries, jars, jewelry, antique ceramics, everyday items from the bronze age, and religious items, among them Christian crosses and amulets.
The archaeologists have also unearthed "a collection of coins from different countries, which indicated that the settlement had wide trade relations and enjoyed great popularity among merchants who traveled across Crimea."
The 19-km long Kerch Strait Bridge, currently under construction, is set to become Russia’s longest bridge, connecting the Crimean Peninsula to mainland Russia by automobile and railway roads. The new transport hub will help transport 14 million passengers and 13 million tonnes of cargo per year. The bridge will be opened to automobile traffic in 2018 and to railway transportation in 2019.
The overall archeological works will cover more than 600,000 square meters of territory. This is the largest scientific and archeological research effort ever conducted in Russia, the information center stressed.