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Ancient Byzantine church dug up in Crimean kids' summer camp

Judging by the ceramics, the church basement dates back to the sixth century

YALTA, April 21. /TASS/. A unique Byzantine basilica that dates back to the sixth century has been discovered in the Artek international children’s center, in Crimea, the camp’s Director General Alexey Kasprzhak said at the Yalta International Economic Forum.

"Excavation work on the center’s territory produced a unique historic monument - the foundation of a Byzantine basilica. The archaeological team date it to the sixth century and describe it as the most important Christian monument to be discovered in Crimea in recent history," he added.

Kasprzhak said that archaeologists have continued excavations on another large archaeological find - an ancient Crimean Tatar cemetery - that is partly located on the territory of the children’s center. They have mapped the borders of the burial ground and continued research on the site.

"The unearthed ancient monuments will be carefully preserved as Crimea’s cultural heritage," Artek’s director general stressed.

Excavations in Artek

The Artek children’s center is undergoing an archaeological excavation project for the first time in 91 years. The digs started as part of a program to reconstruct Artek and build the Solnechy children’s camp that would accommodate 1,000 children. The Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Tauride Archaeological Society are supervising the excavation project.

Senior research scientist, Anna Mastykova said that, judging by the ceramics, the church basement dates back to the sixth century. The diggings will be completed on May 11, 2017.

"No objects will be built on the church ruins. The basilica will probably become a museum. Conservation and restoration experts will come here for further studies, and the church will be prepared for visitors," Mastykova pointed out.

The Yalta International Economic Forum opened yesterday and will run until April 22, with more than 1,500 visitors from 46 countries participating. It is the third time, the economic forum is being held. In 2016, over 12 investment agreements for a total amount of 70 bln rubles were clinched. The forum also developed mechanisms that protect foreign investors willing to work in Crimea from the western sanctions. TASS is the forum’s strategic media partner.