By Tetyana Boychenko and Roman Feshchenko - Kyiv Post
Archaeologists retrieved a rare treasure in November from the bottom of Ukraine’s Dnipro River near the city of Zaporizhya.
After raging wars some 300 years ago, a Kozak (Cossack) boat rested, waiting to be discovered under water off Ukraine’s largest island and historical stronghold Khortytsya.
Historians regale in the new finding, claiming it to be the only well-preserved artifact of 18th century Ukrainian shipbuilding. Sediment apparently helped preserve much of the boat’s structure, making it much more than a retrieved pile of wood.
The story of Ukraine’s first freedom fighters, which can be traced behind the water-soaked beams and masts, is what makes this find truly special.
The boat is like a time capsule representing an important part of Ukraine’s history. Historians think the boat participated in the 1735-1739 Russian war against the Turks and most likely was part of the Dnipro Flotilla.
It was discovered at Zaporizka Sich, a fort compound established by Ukrainian Kozak warriors in the 16th century on the Dnipro islands.
It was a place where enslaved peasants could find shelter and join the free-spirited warriors. Fighting Turks, Poles and Russians in different times, this group of Ukrainian diehards eventually grew into a strong republic – a prototype of the independent Ukrainian state.
The reason for unleashing the war in which the boat allegedly took part were numerous attacks by Crimean Tatars, the Ottoman Empire vassals, against left-bank Ukraine, which was then controlled by the Russian Empire.
The war was also a part of Russia’s campaign to gain access to the Black Sea.
Cossack vessels were the main force to resist Turkish galleys in the Black Sea.
With a capacity to carry up to 40 people on board, it is 17 meters long and 3.4 meters wide.