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Tatjana Smekalova


Ph.d., associate professor

DNRF's Centre for Black Sea Studies,
University of Aarhus, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
1 January 2007-
Phone: +45  8942 5409

Research profile

Research interests: Magnetic surveying in archaeology; Greek rural settlements in Crimea; Kurgans in the Northern Black Sea area;  production of grain in Crimea in the Late Classical and the Hellenistic period; Greek-Barbarian interrelations; landscape archaeology; using of large scale maps for revealing archaeological sites; economy of the Northern Black Sea region in the Classical and Hellenistic period. Candidate dissertation 1992; thesis: Geophysical methods in field archaeology. Doctoral dissertation 2001; thesis: Problems of the evolution of the composition of coinage alloys of the Northern Black Sea region in 6th cent. B.C. – 4th cent. A.D.

Education: Saint Petersburg State University, Physical Department (Specialty - quantum magnetometry) 1974-1980; Saint Petersburg State University, Historical Department (Specialty - archaeology) 1983-1988

Former position: leader of laboratory at S.- Petersburg State University.


Project description

My main occupation is connected to the DNRFCBSS research activity RA 6B, Communicating power - a study of kurgan burials.

The landscapes of the western and northern Black Sea region are known for their impressive and rich burial mounds, in Russian kurgans, often equipped with amazing gold objects unparalleled in most parts of the contemporary ancient world. Visually, the kurgans dominate the flat steppe country left as they were by the Nomads as eternal markers of their presence in the land. Thousands of these mounds were localised up the rivers of Dnieper and Dniester. To analyze the position of the kurgans in the landscape I use old detail maps, satellite images and aerial photos from the archives. 

In the Black Sea region, it was generally (but not exclusively) the Nomadic elite that were buried under large mounds. This ambiguity of one of the most potent symbols of land possession has never been investigated in the Black Sea region. In previous research, the subject has been addressed either from a Nomadic point of view, e.g. the study of Scythian burial customs, or from a Greek point of view, e.g. the presence of Greek goods such as wine amphorae and drinking equipment in Scythian burials. The proposed study will not focus on individual kurgans, as is normally done, but on the mounds and their presence in the landscape as markers of territory and hence as part of a complicated language of power. The following questions will be addressed: How were the kurgans placed in the landscape and in relation to the Greek poleis? What can be said of the investment of resources by analysing construction and size? What is the chronological relationship between kurgans in clusters? When and why did the kurgans become a part of the burial customs in the necropoleis of the so called Greek poleis? What did it mean to the inhabitants in the Greek polis to have the urban landscape dominated by such prominent features as Barbarian kurgans? Did the associations of the kurgans in the landscape influence Greek sacral activities? Did Greeks attempt to appropriate land marked by Nomadic burial mounds by placing their sanctuaries in the same areas as we see at Djangul’ at the western Crimea?

I also participate in the Džarylgač Survey Project (DSP), which aims at investigating the rural landscape in the hinterland of the ancient settlement of Panskoe at both sides of the Džarylgač Lake. This study will result in better understanding of the use and function of the north-western Crimean landscape in a diachronic perspective from antiquity until early modern times. The methodologies applied are systematic field walking and collecting of surface finds, geoelectrical, geomagnetic and other surface measurements as well as GPS recording (Geographical Positioning System) and trial excavations at selected sites. I was mainly doing magnetic surveying on the possible settlements, Kurgans and other sites in the area.


Recent publications


T. N. Smekalova , O. Voss &  S.L. Smekalov, Magnetic surveying in archaeology. More than 10 years of using the Overhauser GSM-19 gradiometer. Århus, 2008.


M.G. Abramzon, N.A. Frolova, T.N. Smekalova & A.V. Kulikov, The hoard of Bosporan staters of 234-253 A.D. from Kertch (1988), Vestnik drevnej istorii, N 2, 2007, 60-109.

Yu.L. Djukov, T.N. Smekalova A.V. Mel’nikov & N.M. Vecherukhin, Studies of Silver Coins of Alexander of Macedon from the Collection of the State Hermitage, in: Gh. Moucharte, M.B. Borba Florenzano, Fr. de Callatataÿ, P. Marchetti, L. Smolderen & P. Yannopoulos (eds.), Liber amicorum Tony Hackens (Numismatica Lovaniensia, 20). Louvain-la-Neuve, 2007, 87-94.

P. Guldager Bilde, P. Attema, T. de Haas, S. Handberg, K. Winther Jacobsen, S. Lancov, T. Smekalova, & V. Stolba, Report on the 2007 season of the Džarylgač Survey Project, in V. Ju. Zuev et al., Bosporskij fenomen: sakral’nyj smysl regiona pamjatnikov, nacho. St Petersburg 2007, 107-118 & 376-377.

T.N. Smekalova, An Old Acquisition of the Royal Collection of Coins and Medals in Copenhagen: ‘Unique’ Variety or Counterfeit?, in: M. Andersen, H.W. Horsnæs & J.Ch. Moesgaard (eds.), Magister Monetae. Studies in Honour of Jørgen Steen Jensen, Publication of the National Museum. Studies in Archaeology and History. Vol. 13. Copenhagen 2007, 21-25.

T.N. Smekalova, New evidences to the question of the land division of the Bosporan towns Kytei, Tiritaka and Nymphphaion. Bosporan Investigations XVI. Simferopol-Kertch 2007, 311-327.

T.N. Smekalova, Russian topographic maps of the 18th-20th centuries as a source for the investigations of archaeological sites of Western and Eastern Crimea. Bosporan Investigations (Bosporskie Issledovanija) XVII. Simferopol-Kertch 2007, 78-111.

T.N. Smekalova, The organization of the agricultural territories in Kertch Coastal areas of the Sea of Asov, Bosporan Aniquities (Bosporskie Drevnosti). Collected articles. Moscow, V. 11, 2007, 292-319.

T.N. Smekalova & V.A. Goroncharovsky. Magnetic survey of Semibratnee fortified site in August of 2006. Bosporan Readings VIII. Kertch 2007, 286-292.

T.N. Smekalova, V.A. Goroncharovsky & Ju. L. Djukov, Magnetometric investigations of Semibratnee fortified site and coins of sindians. IV Russian numismatic conference. Abstracts. St. Petersburg, Publishing House of the State Hermitage. 2007. 34-36

T. Smekalova & O. Voss, Magnetic Surveys of the Archaeological Sites of the Viking and Medieval Ages in Denmark, in: M. Andersen, H.W.Horsnæs & J.Ch. Moesgaard (eds.), Magister Monetae. Studies in Honour of Jørgen Steen Jensen, Publication of the National Museum. Studies in Archaeology and History. Vol. 13. Copenhagen 2007, 255-274.

T.N. Smekalova, V.N. Zinko & A.V. Chudin, Magnetic survey of the settlement Tobechik 9. Bosporan Readings VIII. Kertch. 2007, 293-298

O. Voss, F. O. Nielsen & T.N. Smekalova, Magnetisk kortlægning. Rispebjerg, Bornholm. Danske Museer, årgang 20, nr. 5, 2007, 24-26.


T.N. Smekalova, The comparison of the orthogonal systems of land division on the European Bosporos and Chersonesos (Tarkhankut peninsula), Bosporan Antiquities Vol. 10. Moscow 2006, 389-415.

T.N. Smekalova, M.G. Abramzon, N.A. Frolova, A.V. Kulikov & O.I. Ivanina. Hoards of Ancient coins. Kiev. 2006.

T.N. Smekalova & S.L. Smekalov, Ancient Roads and Land division in the chora of the European Bosporos and Chersonesos on the evidence of air photographs, mapping and surface surveys, in: P. Guldager Bilde & V.F. Stolba (eds.), Surveying the Greek Chora. Black Sea Region in a Comparative Perspective. Aarhus 2006, 207-248.

T.N. Smekalova & S.L. Smekalov, The systems of ancient roads and land division of the European Bosporos towns, Archaeologicheskie Vesti N 13, 2006, 204–226.

T.N. Smekalova, N.M. Vecherukhin, A.V. Melnikov & S.L. Smekalov. GPS for archaeology. Archaeological map of Kertch peninsula. The descriprion of the archaeological sites of Kertch peninsula, in: Published 2006.

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