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The Novae Mission

Dr hab. Olena Klenina did not think that she would emigrate from her native Sevastopol to Poznań. Today at AMU she manages the Novae Expedition Center of the Faculty of History and conducts archaeological missions in ancient cities.

Collaboration between dr hab. Olena Klenina and AMU started by accident. Trained as an archaeologist and historian of antiquity, she worked for 30 years in the Taurisian National Reserve in Sevastopol, which was a closed city until 1998. In the 1990s, the Ukrainian researcher met prof. Tadeusz Sarnowski from the University of Warsaw, who researched Novae, a Roman legionary camp and an early Byzantine city in northern Bulgaria. The scientist invited her to participate in his mission. On the spot, she met scientists from the Adam Mickiewicz University, whose area was adjacent to a section of the University of Warsaw.

- It turned out that archaeologists from Poznań had discovered large amounts of vascular ceramics over the years, but they lacked a specialist for its scientific development, and so they offered me to switch to the AMU mission. Our cooperation began in 1997 - recalls dr hab. Klenina.

It is worth noting that the Interdisciplinary Archaeological Expedition of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Novae has been created and led by prof. Stefan Parnicki-Pudełko since 1970. In 1988, Dr Andrzej Biernacki took over its management.

- Dr Biernacki, of whom I am a student, believed that we should look more broadly, not only focus research on one subject. The ancient world is very vast, certain phenomena occur not only in Novae, but also in other areas, and it is worth studying them, for example, comparatively. I invited dr. Biernacki, to get acquainted with our materials from the Taurica Chersonesos, which gave rise to many years of Polish-Ukrainian archaeological research - explains Dr Olena Klenina.

In this ancient city in Crimea, among others, 11 early Byzantine churches from the 5th-6th centuries AD, over two thousand fragments of marble details and elements have been collected since 1827. Dr. Biernacki and Dr. hab. Olena Klenina worked with this extensive material for 4 years. A three-volume monograph was published in 2004.

Unfortunately, the research was interrupted by the occupation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, which also left its mark on the life of Olena Klenina.

- I never thought that I would emigrate from Sevastopol. It was not an easy decision, because I had left my whole life there. I did it because I couldn't accept what had happened.

The researcher got two job offers - at the Adam Mickiewicz University and at the University of Valencia. She chose a Polish university, where, thanks to the kindness of the then rector prof. Bronisław Marciniak, she was given the opportunity to continue her scientific work. In Poznań, she obtained her habilitation and from 2020, by the decision of the rector, prof. Andrzej Lesicki, she is the head of the Novae Expedition Center at the Faculty of History.

Several unique complexes of buildings have been discovered in Novae - baths in the legionary camp, one of the largest in the Lower Danube Limes and a unique armamentarium, which is a  military arsenal.

- The Armamentarium is a gigantic structure measuring 45 x 45 meters, used to store artillery. Its remains are located at a depth of 6 meters. Now we just need to convince the decision-makers that it is worth financing the discovery of the entire facility, the first so well-preserved in all provinces of the Roman Empire. The research so far has been very fruitful and arouses great interest in the scientific world.

Research in Novae provides source materials for interdisciplinary research carried out by, among others historians, geologists, physicists, chemists from AMU. This fruitful cooperation is also one of a kind opportunity for students and young scientists not only from AMU but also from Wrocław University of Science and Technology

Dr hab. Olena Klenina does not limit her research activity to Novae only. Since 2018, she has been managing a Polish-Georgian project concerning the ancient city of Nekresi lying within the borders of the ancient Kingdom of Iberia (today's Georgia). Research interrupted by a pandemic will resume next year. Intensive study work is carried out all the time, both in the field of Novae, Nekresi and Taurisian Chersonesos.