Archeology site given World Heritage status after UT professor Joseph Carter’s excavation

Christina Breitbeil

UT classical archaeology professor Joseph Carter returned to Chersonesos, Ukraine, on Friday to celebrate the site’s World Heritage status designation by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. 

Carter, the director of UT’s Institute of Classical Archaeology, has led an excavation at the site since 1994.

The site’s designation was first announced in June after its nomination by the World Heritage Convention. The convention seeks locations around the world that deserve protection because of either physical or cultural significance on an international level. Chersonesos is one of 981 World Heritage sites around the globe in 2013. 

“The Chersonesos site has universal cultural importance for humanity, as it is the birthplace of democracy in Ukraine, which was then the Soviet Union, and the birthplace of Christianity in the Slavic world,” Carter said. “It is one of only two ancient cities in the eastern world with chora, a way of life in the countryside with farms, fields, burials, sanctuaries and that’s what makes it different.”

Carter has been increasing collaboration between the National Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos at Sevastopol, Ukrainian archaeologists and students regarding the excavation and preservation of the Chersonesos site. Among the staff performing conservation training at the site were conservators from the Ransom Center.

“What played a significant role in the site’s World Heritage designation was [Carter’s] interest in building big labs [at Chersonesos] for object conservation and for research of archaeological remains,” said Jim Stroud, associate director for conservation and building management at the Ransom Center. 

Conservators from the Ransom Center went to Chersonesos for two summers to discuss possibilities of establishing conservation training programs at a university level, Stroud said.

In addition to assistance from the Ransom Center, the project in Chersonesos received contributions amounting to more than $12 million from the Packard Humanities Institute, which has offered Carter support throughout the years of his excavation.

Anthropology sophomore Alia Nazir said she was impressed by UT’s involvement in the World Heritage site. 

“I am proud of the University’s pervasive global presence, especially in regards to such a culturally and historically significant site,” Nazir said. “Civilizations, cultures and people can trace their ideological and religious origins back to this place.”