“WETLAND ARCHAEOLOGY and Prehistoric Networks in Europe” foreword


Dear Colleagues,




Welcome to Ukraine, welcome to Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, to the

international conference “Wetland Archaeology and Prehistoric Networks in Europe” that will be held in Kyiv and Kaniv from the 15th to the 18th of September 2017. This conference is the final event of the Institutional Partnership Programme (SCOPES) “Network in Eastern European Neolithic and Wetland Archaeology for the improvement of field techniques and dating methods (NEENAWA)”, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). 2017 is the last year of the NEENAWA Project and we are delighted to present some concluding remarks on the scope and achievements of our project:

Konf-rab02Our University is one of the four partners in the NEENAWA Project’s consortium and plays a significant role in fulfilling its goals and tasks, since the SCOPES programme aims at the development and modernization of institutional aspects of research and teaching institutions in Eastern Europe. All efforts and events of the project are directly linked to teaching activities and pursuing its educational objectives. University teachers and students have thus become the main beneficiaries of the project. 

Transformations are taking place in Ukraine in all spheres of life, including science. We are settling down to a course of the innovation and development, increasing information streams and expanding areas of knowledge. All these challenges demand changes in approaches to Higher Education and training specialists-to-be, including researchers. Consequently, today as never before, this scientific and engineering progress and the rapid implementation of science into daily life demand from a young researcher not only good academic training but also practical skills.


The acquisition of knowledge, broadening of outlook and progression of creative thinking are achieved not only by means of generated curriculums and traditional instruction, but also by the active implementation of academic mobility for students and tutors throughout the educational process. For this foundation, a modern student must have the possibility not only take part in research activities in their home country, but also adopt experience and knowledge abroad, using instruments such as Institutional Partnership and Academic Mobility Programs. The NEENAWA Project is precisely this kind of instrument; it gave Ukrainian students opportunities to visit the University of Bern in Switzerland and to take part in scientific workshops and training that were organized in the Countries-Participants of the Project.


The participation of Ukrainian students in the training events organized through the SCOPES project, is targeted at learning new research methods in order to apply them in Ukraine, for their own research projects as well as to set up new professional contacts with their European colleagues. In May 2017 the faculty’s PhD students and teachers went on a study trip to Switzerland. From the 24th to 27th of May 2017 an education seminar “Neolithic Archaeology in Eastern Europe” was organized at the Institute of Archaeological Sciences of the University of Bern. Students and teachers from Macedonia, Ukraine and Switzerland took part in the seminar. Its purpose was to familiarize and interest the students of the University of Bern in the history of the primitive societies of the Neolithic-Eneolithic period of Southeast Europe, which resulted in their reports. The photo-report about the events of the NEENAWA Project with the Ukrainian participants or held in Ukraine is presented below.


Broadly, our project “Network in Eastern European Neolithic and Wetland Archaeology for the improvement of field techniques and dating methods (NEENAWA)” aims at fulfilling the following tasks which meet the goals and objectives of our University, helping to shape a young European researcher-archaeologist and elicit her/his potential. These objectives are to increase mobility, international socialization and scientific cooperation for students and faculty members; to involve Ukrainian students in Neolithic-Bronze Age Archaeology and Underwater Archaeology research; to increase the role of practical skills for archaeology students; to improve existing curricula through the creation of the new module “Wetland Archaeology”; to update and improve the laboratory research facilities of the Department of Archaeology and Museum Studies; and to facilitate access for Ukrainian researchers and students to European scientific information – digital resources.


We wish that young scientists, using acquired skills and knowledge, will broaden their circle of professional contacts, put their creative ideas in to practice for developing a liberal society, and become the most valuable resource for positive changes in the contemporary world.


Changes that occur in the modern world certainly influence the world of scientific thinking. Conversely, the scientific community creates modern approaches to these changes, and attempts to comprehend from a scientific point of view those global processes that are happening on the planet at the moment. The most significant transformations that we are able to place on record are the integration processes which became possible as a result of the dynamic development of the techno – and info-spheres. The transformation of mankind into a single integrated system with universal and common properties is a consequence of this development.


The most pronounced integration processes arise in the fields of technology and science, because the rapid and productive exchange of innovative ideas allows the application of new approaches in various spheres of human life, and indeed is often the key to the quality of this life. Recently, there has been a qualitative leap in all human societies, connected with cardinal changes in the economic sphere, society, science and culture. Traditional hierarchical structures and elites are rapidly losing their monopoly on the means of production, information flow, and energy sources, while in the community, network connections are gaining more weight than administrative subordination. Modern society as an interaction of different-level networks becomes more characteristic in modern science. The concept of the network has become a brand of science, characterizing both the object of research and methodological approaches to the study of specific phenomena. In the modern world, when humanity, as never before feels the scale of global changes in the scientific and technological spheres, the search for examples of global transformations in mankind’s past is of considerable interest.


Humankind is on the eve of significant changes both in the way of life-sustaining activity and in the ideological paradigm. Society naturally focuses its attention on similar transitional periods in History that mark a sharp break with previous traditions, are characterized by technological inventions and demonstrate discreteness in the historical continuity. That is why in contemporary anthropology and archaeology there is a significant revival in the studies of the initial stages of the anthroposociogenesis process, in the issues of the formation of the human mode of behaviour and the emergence of the first civilizational structures in the anthroposphere. The study of these points of bifurcation, qualitative leaps in the development of nature and society is impossible without a system analysis of processes and phenomena, without the holistic and ecological approaches that characterizes modern science.


The process of Neolithization that in some regions of the Oecumene took the character of a “Neolithic revolution” was one of such global processes that influenced the development of all mankind. The Neolithic era should be considered as a significant increase in the capacity to conduct various forms of societies’ life-sustaining activity as a result of the liberation from natural determinism in behaviour after the fundamental changes in the natural environment at the end of the Pleistocene. If the formation of human society and culture took place in the conditions of the last Würm glaciation which stipulated strict dependence on the ways of husbandry of the environment, then a signifycant climate mitigation in the northern hemisphere, almost immediately led to development fanning out in all sectors of life. A vital point in the transformation of human culture, resulting in the formation of modern industrial relations and the active involvement of humanity in the transformational processes of the geosphere and biosphere of the planet is the transition to reproductive forms of economy. The “triggers” to the explosive changes in human life, however, were catastrophic events in the environment at the end of the last glacial period.


The Neolithic is an important archaeological period, belonging to the final stages of the Stone Age. It is a transitional epoch from the early and middle Stone Age – the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic – with an exclusively appropriating form of obtaining means of subsistence compared to the era of early metals. In this period reproduction forms of farming got their widespread distribution, crafts began to be segregated and structurally complex societies formed. The process of Neolithization is understood as the spreading of innovations in the economic, technological and cultural spheres, among which the domestication of plants and animals play a prominent role. This process is also characterized by early forms of farming and cattle breeding, the hereto linked transition to relative sedentism of prehistoric collectives, the emergence of stationary housing construction, various stone and flint processing techniques, and the spread of pottery. A specificity of life activity was reflected in complex world-view ideas and perceptions, which were materialized in vivid art objects and ornamentations.


At this time the southern regions of Eastern Europe experienced a strong influence from the Near Eastern and Balkan centres of Neolithic culture. If in the Near East and the Balkans abrupt changes in the natural conditions quickly caused a reorientation to reproductive economy and related technological inventions, then on the vast plains of Eastern Europe, the process of Neolithization had a wave-like diffusion of innovations in a particular sequence.


The complexity of this process is evidenced by the various concepts and ideas offered by the researchers. The study of the Eastern European Neolithic is impossible without the involvement of data on the territory of Ukraine, since Ukraine occupies a large part of the European continent. Due to a number of famous scientists of the twentieth century it became possible to discover and study Ukrainian Neolithic sites. M.O. Makarenko, M.Ya.  Rudinsky, V.M.  Danilenko and D.Ya. Telegin should be mentioned among many others who laid the groundwork for the modern periodization scheme of the development of culture in the early Holocene and gave a volumetric analysis of the outstanding complexes of the Neolithic period in Eastern Europe.


The development of technological approaches in the analysis of material cultural remains, along with the experimental and traceology methods for the interpretation of artefacts and their functions was a significant contribution to the understanding of Neolithization process in Eastern Europe. The comprehensive application of absolute and relative dating methods became a great impulse to create cultural and chronological schemes of the development of the Neolithic within the territory of Ukraine. Radiocarbon dating is still the most important method among others, both for archaeology and for the application of related disciplines such as paleobotany and archeozoology. Application of the geomagnetic survey methods allowed to understand the patterns of settlement strictures belonged to ancient farmers. The possibility of access to information from neighbouring regions also has great value.


In recent years, a number of sites which belong to different agricultural communities of Neo-Chalcolithic time have been investigated in the south-western part of Ukraine and in Moldova. They all are located in the basins of the Bug, Dniester and Prut Rivers and demonstrate different variants of economic and cultural development in a particular region. Neolithic settlements include Sakarovka in Moldova, YosypivkaI (the Upper Dniester), DobriankaI-III, Pugach and Gard (Pobuzhye), Romankiv (the Middle Dnieper), etc. Important conclusions were drawn from the studies of Trypillya settlements of Taliyanky, Maidanets’ke, BernashivkaI, Ozheve-Ostriv, etc. The peculiarity of studying these sites is the high methodological level of research, resulting in obtaining considerable series of various categories of material culture, including pottery, lithic, bone and antler products. It makes possible to conduct a comparative analysis of the .int assemblages from the mentioned and other sites and to trace similar and distinctive features in the processing technology for such important Stone Age material. Studying Neolithic sites using up-to-date techniques has largely shed light on the features of each specific cultural phenomenon and raised questions about the polivariant development of the Early Holocene communities, and about the necessity of taking into account environmental, economic, social, migration and ideological factors in the development of cultural complexes. Most of the modern research of Neo-Chalcolithic sites is the result of international cooperation between Ukrainian and European scientists.


Theodore Vovk (Volkov) (1847-1918), a Ukrainian scholar of anthropology and archaeology, deeply understood the importance of scientific integration. His work as an anthropologist and pre-historian linked the centres of Ukraine, the Balkans, Western Europe and Russia. Representing national archaeology in the academic societies in European countries, he established the school of paleoethnology on the territory of the former Russian Empire, initiating schools for the study of prehistory in St. Petersburg and Kiev. He understood the paleoethnological direction itself as a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the monuments of the past. This approach was characterized by the application of a number of natural and humanitarian disciplines in order to reproduce the ways of life of the earliest epochs.


The current state of Ukrainian archaeology should be described as an integration stage, which is characterized by the representation of the achievements of national science in the world on the one hand and the adaptation of world experience for a more complete coverage of past phenomena on the other hand. In the context of the crisis of traditional scientific institutions and outdated approaches, modern research increasingly acquires a networked character, which manifests itself in the cooperation of specialists from different scientific fields and institutions when investigating a specific scientific problem. The consequence of these changes, which one can see in our country during the last several years, is a process of cultural integration of Ukraine into the European space, which is maintained by varied programs of scientific and cultural cooperation. For the modern Ukrainian humanitarian sphere, we have issues which are connected with the unification of methodology, modernization of approaches and the inclusion of the scientific achievements of our country into European scientific heritage.


Our Project “Network in Eastern European Neolithic and Wetland Archaeology for the Improvement of Field Methods and Dating Methods” (NEENAWA) of the SCOPES Institutional Partnership Program, funded by the Swiss Science Foundation, is the first step towards establishing ground for cooperation on the study of the Neolithic in Eastern Europe. The name of our conference “Wetland Archaeology and Prehistoric Networks in Europe” is symbolic within the framework of this project.


Due to the initiative of Department of Archaeology and Museum Studies and Centre for Underwater Archaeology of the Faculty of History and the Centre for Paleoethnological Research, the Scientific Committee of the conference was created in which scientists from Switzerland, Macedonia, Russia and Ukraine were included. Specialists from international university centres and scientific establishments (Switzerland, Macedonia, Greece, Poland, Russia, Latvia, Belarus, etc.) and representatives of the Institute of Archaeology of NAS of Ukraine, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, B. Hrinchenko University of Kyiv, Institute of Zoology of NAS of Ukraine, National Natural History Museum of NAS of Ukraine, universities of Odesa, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, etc. were invited to take part in the conference. The conference will highlight the results of archaeological investigations of national and foreign scientists, including the results of international cooperation based on archaeological localities within Ukraine.


The conference itself will be an exceptional opportunity to create a system of information and experience exchange, in research about European prehistoric sites, to introduce up-to-date methodologies of fixation and description of archaeological material and to promote Ukrainian archaeological heritage in the European system of research. An important value is the participation of Swiss, Macedonian, Russian and Ukrainian students in this event that will help to develop their knowledge about current theoretical and practical scientific research and promote their international mobility during their academic experience.



Pavlo Shydlovskyi and Yana Morozova