History and influence of the Danube delta lobes on the evolution of the ancient harbour of Orgame (Dobrogea, Romania)

Guénaëlle Bony, Christophe Morhange, Nick Marriner, Alexandre Baralis, David Kaniewski, Ingrid Rossignol, Vasilica Lungu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


On the coast of Northern Dobrogea, south of the Danube delta, the Greek settlement of Orgame was founded in the mid 7th c. BC, probably by Milesian colonists. The ancient city was located on the Cape Dolojman which today overlooks a large lagoon complex. We undertook a chronostratigraphic study to: (i) understand coastal changes around Cape Dolojman since ca. 5000yearsBP in connection with the construction of the Danube delta lobes, and (ii) identify potential sediment impacts related to human occupation of the site. Three cores were extracted from the lagoon area. Sedimentological and biological analyses were undertaken to reconstruct the evolution of the coastal palaeoenvironments. The results show a closure of the marine bay around 3500cal. BP and its transformation into a lagoon environment. The first major environmental change was due to the construction of the lobe St. George I and the formation of the barrier Lupilor. Around 2000cal.BP, the formation of an intra-lagoonal lobe, the Dunavatz, led to the gradual transformation of the lagoon into a fluvial-dominated system. Paradoxically, lagoon waters today still wash the ancient Greek harbour environment, which has not been totally infilled by alluvial sediments. To understand this paradox, in a context of coastal progradation, we compared and contrasted the geomorphological data with the nearby city of Istros/Histria, which was already landlocked at this time. The location of these two Greek colonies relative to the coastal sediment cell and barriers partly explains their contrasting palaeoenvironmental evolution. Until 2650cal.BP, the increase in charcoal and organic matter in sedimentary archives is interpreted as an anthropogenic signal for a more extensive use of the vegetation cover following the foundation of the city of Orgame (e.g. for domestic use and funeral rites).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-203
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Ancient harbour
  • Black Sea
  • Coastal barriers
  • Coasts
  • Danube delta
  • Lagoon
  • Orgame
  • Palaeoenvironments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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