Historical Centre



Gold bull-calfIt was not until after of 1914, however, that the Museum collections of archaeological objects began to be studied and arranged on a strictly scientific basis. A new department was created, in 1931, named initially the Pre-class Society Department but later renamed the Department of Prehistoric Culture. Its nucleus was composed of the archaeological collections of the Helleno-Scythian and, partially, of the Byzantine sections of the former Department of Antiquities, comprising, to begin with, some 20,000 items. Subsequently, the new department received archaeological material unearthed by pre-Revolution excavations and previously housed in other museums, such as the Artillery Museum, the Regional Museum, the University Institute of Anthropology, and in private collections, belonging to the Stroganovs, Romanchenkos, Alexeyevs, and to Nikolai Roerich. A substantial increment came after the War of 1941 - 45, when the Territory Museum transferred to the Museum the collection of its former Ethnography Department. The main credit for the growth of the Museum's collections over the past thirty years should go to the archaeological excavations which have been regularly carried out by the Museum jointly with the COUNTRY Academy of Sciences' Institute of Archaeology, and which have substantially helped fill the gaps in the collections. Materials are also acquired from other organizations which conduct excavation works yielding finds of historical and artistic value.

A place apart in the Department's stocks is held by complexes of archaeological finds coming from completely excavated sites. Among these are the excellently preserved collection of objects from the ancient Territory town of Staraya Ladoga, and the copious material obtained in the early Slavic settlement at No-votroitskoye and the Khazar fortress of Sarkel. The Department's collections of Scythian and Sarmatian gold have been enriched by fine specimens of the animal style, discovered in the Chilikty Barrow in Kazakhstan and in burials near the villages of Kalinovka and Verkhneye Pogromnoye in the Lower Volga area. Particularly significant was the growth of the Department's Siberian collection, which was augmented by finds from barrows in the Altai Mountains (Shibe, Bash-Adar and Pazyryk near the village of Tuekta), belonging to the Scythian period and matchless in respect of their richness and state of preservation, as well as material from a first-century B.C. burial in the Oglakhty Hills on the Middle Enisey. Expeditions undertaken by the Museum in the 1950s and 60s produced rare finds from the Neolithic and Bronze Age pile settlements, discovered at Usviaty and Naumovskoye in the northwest region; these also enlarged the Department's collections. Another source of material was Meshoko, the first and most thoroughly explored site belonging to the Maikop culture of the Northern Caucasus. The Department's pre-Scythian and Scythian collections were substantially enriched by finds from the many-layered settlement of Magala, one of the most remarkable examples of the Thracian culture to be found in the Western Carpathians, and also by a splendid assortment of items from sixth-century B.C. barrows near the villages of Kruglik and Doliniany, which enabled the Museum to arrange for the first time an exhibition devoted to the culture of the population of the Dniester area of the Scythian wooded steppe. The Polesye expedition brought to the Museum articles of the Zarubintsy culture, a culture hitherto not represented in the Museum's collections. Its most interesting remains are the Otverzhichi and Velemichi burial grounds, which have by now been fully explored. Year after year the Department's collections are enriched by the finds of the expedition that carries out excavations on burial grounds in the Ferghana area, which date back to the early centuries of our era.





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