A Reconstruction of the Flora and Vegetation in the Central Area of Early Medieval Kyiv, Ukraine, Based on the Results of Palynological Investigations

by Lyudmila G. Bezusko, Timur V. Bezusko, and Sergei L. Mosyakin

M.G. Kholodny Institute of Botany, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, 2 Tereshchenkivska St., Kyiv (Kiev) 01601 Ukraine;

Published online November 18, 2003


This paper provides a partial reconstruction of the main features of the flora and vegetation of the central area of the city of Kiev (Kyiv in the Ukrainian-based transliteration), Ukraine, in early medieval times. The reconstruction is based on fossil spore and pollen samples. Samples for the spore-pollen analysis were selected in 1998 and 1999 during archaeological investigations on the grounds of St. Michael's Gold-Domed Cathedral and in three adjacent areas in the hilly central part of Kiev. According to archaeological data, the samples were dated to between the 10th and 12th centuries A.D. Analysis of the fossil palynoflora yielded a general list of 102 taxa of different ranks (identified by species, genus, family, or order), 72 of which were herbaceous (62.9% to 82.1% for the four sites). Analysis of the herbaceous pollen on the species level turned up a significant number of weedy flora. The data was used to supplement prior lists of weedy and cultivated plants. A comparison of our species list with diagnostic species of modern syntaxa of ruderal vegetation gives evidence that some synanthropic plant species achieved their community-forming role only during the last millennium. The data collected and analyzed in his paper provide only a fragmentary view of the natural (nonsynanthropic) vegetation that surrounded the ancient city of Kiev. However, it includes new details and paleobotanical information on the anthropic factors influencing the formation of the urban flora and vegetation of ancient Kiev.