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Unique cultural heritage sites destroyed by Kakhovka flooding

Tuesday, 6 June 2023, 15:10

On 6 June, the Russian occupiers blew up the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP). The flooding has already caused irreparable damage to unique cultural monuments and to the Nyzhniodniprovskyi (Lower Dnipro) National Nature Park, and many valuable sites such as Scythian and Cossack kurgans (burial mounds) are in danger.

Ukrainska Pravda.Zhyttia asked the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy for a comment regarding its assessment of the damage caused to cultural and historical sites by the blowing up of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant. The Ministry said that it was examining the information and would report on the result of its analysis shortly.

Ukrainska Pravda. Zhyttia talked to historian Dr Svitlana Biliaieva, who led research into the Tiahynka fortress, a unique 14-15th-century architectural monument located in the village of Tiahynka, Beryslavskyi district, in Kherson Oblast.


Now the fortress has been flooded.

"This is a unique monument of Ukrainian, Lithuanian and Crimean Tatar cultural heritage. I spoke about it the other day at a conference in Lithuania. But today it is completely flooded, and before that the occupiers bombed and mined it," Biliaieva said.

The archaeologist believes the scale of destruction could increase as the flooding of the area continues.

"The area must be very badly flooded. The authorities said that Tiahynka was already completely flooded this morning. Tiahynka is exactly where the fortress is located; it stands almost on the shore. If the water goes further, many different monuments may be affected. The Nova Kakhovka area is unique, and there are wonderful monuments from different periods: Scythian, Bronze Age, mediaeval," the archaeologist says.

A preserved part of the Tiahynka fortress: a decorative insert with Seljuk ornament. 
Photo: http:

In addition to the Tiahynka fortress which the archaeologist has researched, there are also endangered monuments in the oblast that scientists have only just begun to study.

"Now they are all suffering from water. There are still remains in Burhunka [a village in Beryslavskyi district, Kherson Oblast. Its official foundation date is 1779, but historians believe that even in princely times, and then in Lithuanian times, the fortified city of Burhun was here – ed.]. There are sites in the village of Vesele [such as the Vytov Tower, from the period of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania - ed.]. I don't know what condition they are in now, because it’s been impossible to go there, and now these monuments are threatened with destruction," Biliaieva commented.

A photo of the participants in an expedition led by Svitlana Biliaieva. The researchers continued the excavations of the Tiahynka fortress, a landmark of national importance, in July and August 2020. Photo: http: vgosau.kiev.uaA photo of the participants in an expedition led by Svitlana Biliaieva. The researchers continued the excavations of the Tiahynka fortress, a landmark of national importance, in July and August 2020. 
Photo: http:

Earlier, valuable archaeological finds from Kherson Oblast were stolen from the Kherson Museum of Local History by the occupiers. Now some of the rescued artefacts are being shown at an exhibition at the Archaeological Museum in Kyiv. The exhibition presents unique objects related to the history of Ukraine, Lithuania and the Crimean Khanate.

The artefacts were taken out of Kherson a week before Russia’s full-scale invasion began.

"The director was a collaborator who gave valuable objects that were in the Kherson museum to the Russian occupiers. So it's good that we saved some of them before then because we moved them to Kyiv for an exhibition at the Museum of Natural History," Biliaieva says.

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