The Poseidon Adventure to Yuzhnyi Olenii Ostrov

In late August Rick Schulting attended a workshop held in Petrozavodsk on the shores of Lake Onega in Karelia, NW Russia. The focus of the meeting was recent work carried out on archaeological remains from the island of Yuzhnyi Olenii Ostrov and the surrounding area.  Yuzhnyi Olenii Ostrov is famous for the cemetery of the same name, with over 177 graves dating to the Mesolithic, many with abundant grave offerings. The site forms part of the new Baikal Archaeological Project, offering a comparative perspective from another hunter-gatherer cemetery on a large lake (the second largest in Europe, though nowhere near the size of Baikal).

The highlight of the trip was an excursion to visit the island itself on the good ship Посейдон, which translates as Poseidon – so the trip was immediately dubbed the Poseideon Adventure! Certainly a solid vessel, but not built for speed – the journey to the island took 6 hours each way! Finally arrived and made our way to the island by skiff, well supplied with vodka and pickles. The site was discovered in the early 20th century as a result of limestone quarrying. By the time this ceased many decades ago, the area of the Stone Age cemetery had been well and truly decimated, leaving a large pit where there had been a hill. We toasted the dead and began the long journey back.

The workshop was organised by Kristiina Mannermaa, Alexey Tarasov and Dmitriy Gerasimov (to whom many thanks are due, for taking seriously the idea of visiting the island first mooted following many toasts at an excellent Georgian restaurant in St Petersburg last year), and attended by Ayshin Ghalichi, Wolfgang Haak, Valery Khartanovich, Aivar Kriiska, Aimee Little, Natal’ya Kosorukova, Irina Khrustaleva, Aija Macane, Slava Moiseyev, Kerkko Nordqvist, Johanna Roiha and Alisa Zubova.

Rick and fish photo caption; “Not all fun and games, small perch are being dated to see the extent of the lake’s freshwater reservoir effect!”