Archeology (археологія; arkheolohiia). Ukrainians have long been interested in their archeological monuments. As early as 1635 Metropolitan Petro Mohyla organized the first archeological excavations in Kyiv. The Church of the Tithes and the Kyivan Cave Monastery were excavated, and the uncovered artifacts were preserved in the Saint Sophia Cathedral.
More extensive archeological research began in the second half of the 18th century. The large Scythian kurhans (burial mounds) and the remains of ancient cities on the northern littoral of the Black Sea (see Ancient states on the northern Black Sea coast) were excavated. In 1763 Aleksei Melgunov opened the Scythian kurhan Lyta Mohyla of the 6th century BC near present-day Kropyvnytskyi. In the first half of the 19th century more systematic excavations of the ancient cities of the Bosporan Kingdom in the Kerch Peninsula, the capital Panticapaeum and Chersonese Taurica near Sevastopol, were begun. Ivan Stempkovsky’s excavation of the large Scythian kurhan Kul Oba near Kerch in 1830 uncovered a royal tomb with finely crafted Greek jewelry (see Greek art). This discovery stimulated the further archeological investigations of Scythian kurhans. The study of Kyiv’s historical-architectural sites began in the early 19th century: the ruins of the Church of the Tithes were investigated, and its floor plan was described by Kindrat Lokhvytsky; in 1832–3 the remains of the Golden Gate of ancient Kyiv were excavated.
The growth in archeological research stimulated the creation of museums. In 1806 a museum was established in Mykolaiv, in 1811 in Teodosiia in the Crimea, in 1825 in Odesa, in 1826 in Kerch, in 1849 in Katerynoslav, in 1890 in Kherson, and in 1899 in Kyiv. In Lviv the museum of the Shevchenko Scientific Society was established in 1893. The Odesa Society of History and Antiquities, founded in 1839, became a center of archeological research and organized excavations throughout Ukraine; in its transactions (Zapiski), various archeological studies were published.
Kyiv was another center for archeological research, which was promoted by the archeographic commissions (1842–72), the Church-Archeological Society of the Kyiv Theological Academy (1872), and the Historical Society of Nestor the Chronicler (1873). The historian Volodymyr Antonovych gave the first lectures on archeology at Kyiv University.
Lviv, with Lviv University and the archeological section of the Shevchenko Scientific Society, and Kharkiv, with Kharkiv University, were less important centers. Some archeological research in Ukraine was conducted by the gubernia archival commissions, the central archeological institutions of Imperial Russia, and the Polish Academy of Learning in Cracow.
Second half of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. In this period the sites of various epochs were excavated. In 1871–3 the Hintsi archeological site, the first Paleolithic site discovered in Ukraine, was excavated in Poltava gubernia by Fedir Kaminsky. These excavations stimulated further research on sites of the Paleolithic Period. Volodymyr Antonovych investigated the Studenytsia archeological site on the Dnister River near Kamianets-Podilskyi in 1881. From 1893 to 1903 Vikentii Khvoika researched the Paleolithic Kyrylivska archeological site in Kyiv. The Mizyn archeological site on the Desna River near Novhorod-Siverskyi was investigated by Fedir Vovk, Petro S. Yefymenko, Levko Chykalenko, and others in 1908–10. In the Crimea the Vovchyi Grot and Siuren camp sites were excavated in 1879–80. In 1913 the site in Hlyniany near Lviv and in 1908–11 and the 1920s the sites of Horodok (Rivne region) were excavated.
Very few Neolithic monuments were discovered in Ukraine during this period. Mykola Biliashivsky explored the dunes of the banks of the Dnipro River around Kyiv in 1887–9. Nikolai Veselovsky discovered the famous Kamiana Mohyla site near Melitopol in 1890. The sites of the Linear Pottery culture were investigated in Galicia: in the village of Torske near Zalishchyky by W. Antoniewicz in 1921, and in the town of Komarno (now Komarne) near Lviv by Yaroslav Pasternak in 1936.
The monuments of the Copper Age and Bronze Age in Ukraine were investigated much more extensively. Vikentii Khvoika uncovered early agricultural settlements near the village of Trypillia in Kyiv gubernia and in the 1890s excavated several of them. Later similar settlements of the Trypillian culture, from the Middle Dnipro River to the Carpathian Mountains, were excavated by E. Shtern, A. Spitsyn, Serhii Hamchenko, Mykola Biliashivsky, Fedir Vovk, Raimund Friedrich Kaindl, Oleh Kandyba, and others. In the mid-19th century the excavation of kurhans with the flexed and red-ochred skeletons of the nomadic pastoralists from the Copper-Bronze Age began in the steppe regions near Kherson and Zaporizhia. In 1901–2 Vasilii Gorodtsov excavated the kurhans in the basin of the Donets River and divided the Copper-Bronze Age according to the internal burial construction he discovered into three temporal cultures—the Pit-Grave culture, Catacomb culture, and Timber-Grave culture. Sites of the Copper-Bronze Age were also investigated in Western Ukraine: Markiian Smishko uncovered the funnel-necked vessels of the Hrybovychi culture in the village of Mali Hrybovychi near Lviv in 1933, Adam Kirkor and Gotfryd Ossowski excavated the megalithic Globular Amphora culture in 1877 and 1891 respectively, and T. Sulimirski excavated the Corded-Ware Pottery culture and the Komariv culture near Halych in 1936.
Archeologists devoted significant attention to the Scythians and the Sarmatians. The Scythian ‘royal’ kurhans are noted for their large dimensions and the richness of their funerary contents, which include a large number of Greek artifacts (see Greek art) made from precious metals and of ceramics. The most famous discoveries were the Chortomlyk kurhan near Nikopol, which was excavated by Ivan Zabelin in 1862–3, and the Solokha kurhan in the Melitopol region, which was excavated by Nikolai Veselovsky in 1912–13. Large fortified settlements were excavated: the Bilsk fortified settlement (of the 6th century BC) near Zinkiv, Poltava gubernia, discovered by Vasilii Gorodtsov in 1900, and the Nemyriv fortified settlement (of the 8th–7th century BC) near Vinnytsia, discovered by A. Spitsyn. Fortified settlements in Right-Bank Ukraine were investigated by Vikentii Khvoika and in the lower-Dnipro region by Viktor Hoshkevych.
Much research was also devoted to the cities of classical antiquity in Ukraine (see Ancient states on the northern Black Sea coast). The remains of the Hellenic cities of the Bosporan Kingdom were excavated by J. Blaramberg, P. Diubriuks, and others. Chersonese Taurica was excavated by K. Kostiushko-Valiuzhynych and others; Olbia was excavated by Aleksei Uvarov and B. Farmakovsky; Tyras on the Dnister Estuary and the colony on Berezan Island near the town of Ochakiv were excavated by E. Shtern.
Vikentii Khvoika’s excavation of large burial sites of the Zarubyntsi culture near Pereiaslav and the Cherniakhiv culture in the Kyiv region in 1899–1901 were important. By cross-dating the uncovered remains with imported Greek goods, Khvoika dated them back to the 2nd century BC to 5th century AD and stated that they belonged to the ancient eastern Slavs. Khvoika conducted many excavations of ancient Rus’ sites in Kyiv. He discovered the remains of the stone palaces of the Princely era and a pagan Slavic sacrificial altar near the Church of the Tithes. In 1894 he conducted the Kyselivka excavation in Kyiv. Mykola Biliashivsky investigated Kniazha Hora on the Dnipro River near Kaniv in 1891–3. Khvoika excavated the ancient town of Bilhorod (now the village of Bilohorodka) on the Irpin River near Kyiv in 1909–10. Dimitrii Samokvasov excavated many sites of the Siverianians—kurhans and fortified settlements in Chernihiv gubernia—in the 1870s. Volodymyr Antonovych investigated the sites of the Derevlianians in 1887, and Kateryna Antonovych-Melnyk studied the sites of the Luchanians of Volhynia in 1897–8.
Six Russian archeological congresses took place in Ukraine: in Kyiv in 1874 and 1899, Odesa in 1884, Kharkiv in 1902, Katerynoslav in 1905, and Chernihiv in 1908. The results of archeological studies were published in the congresses’ proceedings (Trudy) and in Kievskaia starina, Arkheologicheskaia letopis’ Iuzhnoi Rossii, Zapiski Imperatorskogo Odesskogo obshchestva istorii i drevnostei, and other journals in Ukraine and Russia.
After 1918. With the founding of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, its archeological institutions became the major center of archeological research. The first was the Commission for the Compilation of the Archeological Map of Ukraine, established in 1919 and later called the Archeological Commission (from 1923, Committee). In 1924 it was succeeded by the All-Ukrainian Archeological Committee (VUAK), which until 1934 co-ordinated expeditions, research, and the protection of archeological monuments in Ukraine. Its archeological research was published in Korotke zvidomlennia VUAK (Kyiv 1926 and 1927), Trypil's'ka kul'tura na Ukraïni (Trypillian Culture in Ukraine, Kyiv 1926), Zapysky VUAK (1930), Khronika arkheolohiï ta mystetstva (3 issues, Kyiv 1930–1), and other publications. In 1934–8 the academy's Institute of the History of Material Culture co-ordinated all archeological research in Ukraine. In 1938 it became the Institute of Archeology of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR and in 2001 the Institute of Archeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, which today co-ordinates all archeological research in Ukraine.
Archeological research is also conducted by the Institute of Ukrainian Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in Lviv, the Odesa Archeological Society, the archeological departments of Kyiv University, Kharkiv University, Odesa University, Chernivtsi University, Uzhhorod National University, Donetsk National University, and other universities, and the historical and archeological museums of Lviv (Lviv Historical Museum), Odesa (Odesa Archeological Museum), Kharkiv (Kharkiv Historical Museum), Dnipro (Dnipropetrovsk National Historical Museum), Uman (Uman Regional Studies Museum), Kerch, Kherson (Kherson Regional Studies Museum), and elsewhere. The Institute of Archeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine also carries out extensive archeological research in Ukraine.
In the last several decades archeology has been viewed as an important part of history, and much attention has been devoted to current theoretical and methodological problems. The rich store of archeological materials that has been gathered by numerous expeditions is an important source for the study of the history of various peoples in Ukraine. Archeological excavations can be conducted only with the approval of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Much archeological research and excavation takes place on the sites of large construction projects, particularly of water reservoirs.
For an understanding of the early stages of social development, it is important to study the settlements and dwellings of Paleolithic man. Many new sites from various stages of the Paleolithic Period have been discovered and investigated in Ukraine, particularly the sites of the Acheulean culture and Mousterian culture. Scholars such as Ivan Pidoplichko, Serhii Bibikov, Mykhailo Rudynsky, Oleksander Chernysh, and Ivan Shovkoplias have explored various upper Paleolithic ethnocultural regions in Ukraine and traced the different origins and development of local Paleolithic cultures.
Much new material on the Mesolithic Period has been found in Ukraine. Various groupings of Mesolithic sites have been defined on the basis of archeological sources. Three large Mesolithic burial sites on the Dnipro River north of Zaporizhia attracted much attention and were investigated by D. Telehin, Oleksander Chernysh, and others.
The Neolithic Period has been studied extensively. The Neolithic cultures in Ukraine developed usually out of autochthonous Mesolithic cultures and were influenced by the Neolithic crop-raising and stock-breeding civilizations of the Balkans of the 6th millennium BC. Archeologists have distinguished two groups of Neolithic tribal cultures, according to their principal occupation; the inhabitants of the southern and southwestern regions of Ukraine engaged mostly in primitive agriculture and cattle raising, while the inhabitants of the forests of Left-Bank Ukraine and Polisia lived by hunting, fishing, and gathering until the end of the Neolithic Period. The archeological evidence shows that the Neolithic tribes in Ukraine had diverse anthropological traits, pottery shapes, tools, and ways of life. Scholars such as Serhii Bibikov, Mykhailo Rudynsky, D. Telehin, and K. Chernysh have attempted to explain the appearance and disappearance of particular tribes, their distribution, cultural ties, and influence.
Sites of the Linear Pottery culture were uncovered on the territories of the Upper and Middle Dnister River Basin and in western Volhynia. Artifacts were excavated near the Nezvysko settlement (K. Chernysh, 1955) and the village of Zveniachyn (Yu. Zakharuk, 1954, 1959; Tatiana Passek, 1963; I. Sveshnikov, 1954, 1956; K. Chernysh, 1955, 1957, 1963) on the right bank of the Dnister River in Ivano-Frankivsk oblast and Chernivtsi oblast.
Much research has been devoted to the monuments of the Trypillian culture, which were produced by the crop-raising, stock-breeding tribes of the Eneolithic Period. These tribes lived on the periphery of the oldest civilization of the Near East and Asia Minor. Noted archeologists in Ukraine and the West studied the rise of the Trypillian culture. In the 1930s and 1940s systematic excavations of Trypillian settlements were conducted at the sites Kolomyishchyna I and Kolomyishchyna II near the village of Khalepia in Kyiv oblast by Sylvester Magura, Tatiana Passek, Ye. Krychevsky, N. Kordysh, and M. Makarevych (see Kolomyishchyna archeological sites), and near the village of Volodymyrivka in Kirovohrad oblast by Tatiana Passek, N. Kordysh, Oleksander Chernysh, and others (see Volodymyrivka archeological site).
After the Second World War field work on the Trypillian culture was concentrated mainly in the Dnister Basin, where about 60 early Trypillian settlements had already been uncovered. They were scattered from the Romanian Carpathian Mountains (the Seret River) to the Boh River Basin, along the upper Dnister River and Prut River. The most studied settlements of the Dnister Basin were Luka-Vrublivetska (Serhii Bibikov, 1956), the Lenkivtsi settlement (K. Chernysh, 1959), Soloncheny (T. Movsha, 1955; Tatiana Passek, 1961), Bernovo-Luka and Holerkany (Tatiana Passek, 1961). In 1952, on the left bank of the Dnister River near the village of Vykhvatnivtsi, Tatiana Passek and K. Chernysh excavated a site of the late Trypillian period containing 61 burials. Much research was done on the tribes of the late Trypillian period who settled eastern Volhynia, the river banks of the Dnipro region, and the steppes northwest of the Black Sea coast in the second half of the 3rd millenium BC. There they came into contact with the tribes of other cultures. Archeologists have defined various tribal groups in this period, when almost all the traits of the Trypillian culture were gradually disappearing (Bibikov, Mykhailo Boltenko, Fedir Vovk, Sylvester Magura, Mykola O. Makarenko, Tatiana Passek, Ivan Pidoplichko, Mykhailo Rudynsky, K. Chernysh, Ivan Shovkoplias, and others.)
In the western part of Lviv oblast and Volhynia oblast, excavations uncovered almost 40 sites of the Funnel-Necked Vessel culture (see Nordic culture) of the mid-4th to the second half of the 3rd millennium BC. The excavation from the 1920s to the 1960s of the graves of pastoral-nomadic tribes of the Pit-Grave culture, which spread from the steppes east of the Volga River and Don River into the steppes of Ukraine and the forest-steppe of Eastern Europe in the 3rd and the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC, as well as the discovery and investigation of the Mykhailivka settlement in Kherson oblast, provided materials for a thorough description of the Pit-Grave culture in the Copper Age and Bronze Age in Ukraine.
From 1947 to 1962 over 20 kurhans were excavated in Ukraine and Belarus. Many tribal settlements of the Middle-Dnipro culture, which at the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC was widespread in the large territory between the Oder River and upper Volga River from the Baltic Sea to the Dnister River, were also uncovered. Many archeologists and linguists believe these tribes were the ancestors of the ancient Slavs, Balts, and Germans. According to these scholars, the Middle-Dnipro culture arose as a result of the assimilation of migrant peoples from the west by the aborigines near the end of the 3rd millennium BC. In Volhynia I. Levytsky investigated the stone burial cists of the Globular Amphora culture, which was contemporaneous with the late Trypillian culture. The appearance of this culture in Ukraine is believed to be the result of migration from the middle and lower Oder Basin, where it originated.
The archeological sites of the pastoral-nomadic Timber-Grave culture have been studied. This culture arose east of the Volga River and spread into the steppes of Ukraine, the Sea of Azov coast, and northwestern Caucasia from the 15th to the 8th century BC. There its tribes gradually forced out or assimilated the indigenous local cultures.
The Komariv culture of the developed Bronze Age (15th–12th century BC) in the middle and upper Dnister River Basin was investigated after the First World War. In the 1930s the kurhans near Komariv had been excavated by T. Sulimirski, in Bilyi Potik near Ternopil by J. Kostrzewski, and in the Nahiriany settlement by Leon Kozłowski and Markiian Smishko. After the Second World War this research was continued by Serhii Bibikov, Vasilii Gorodtsov, B. Grakov, Varvara Illinska, Mykhailo Rudynsky, D. Telehin, Aleksei Terenozhkin, and others. In 1949 O. Lahodovska and I. Sveshnikov excavated the burial sites of this culture near the village of Voitsekhivka in Khmelnytskyi oblast (see Voitsekhivka burial site).
The pre-Scythian cultures in Ukraine have been increasingly studied, particularly in the last few decades. A Cimmerian steppe culture connected with the Timber-Grave culture has been discovered. Linguistic studies have led to the conclusion that the Cimmerians were an Iranian people. Sites of the Chornyi Lis culture, which is believed to be descended from the autochthonous inhabitants of the Bronze Age, have been discovered in the forest-steppe region between the Dnipro River and Dnister River. Tribes of the Thracian Hallstatt culture (closely linked to the ancient Thracians) lived in the middle Dnister region and west of it. The Scythians, Iranian tribespeople who came from Central Asia, partly destroyed the ethnocultural base and changed the composition of the population. In the steppes of Ukraine the pastoral crop-raising economy was replaced by pastoral-nomadic livestock breeding.
Numerous archeological expeditions have investigated the sites of the Scythian culture. Kurhans, fortifications, and settlements have been excavated on the right bank of the Dnipro River. The large royal tombs in Ukraine—Haimanova Mohyla, excavated by V. Bidzilia in 1967–70, and Tovsta Mohyla, excavated by Borys Mozolevsky in 1971—contained unique articles of Scythian and Hellenic manufacture and have become famous around the world (see Scythian art). Monuments of settled life, such as the large Kamianka fortified settlement near Kamianka-Dniprovska, have been studied. Over 50 settlements on the Dnipro-Boh Estuary have been discovered. Several local Scythian cultural groups have been identified in Left-Bank Ukraine. Excavations of large Scythian fortified settlements, such as the Bilsk fortified settlement in Poltava oblast and the Nemyriv fortified settlement in Vinnytsia oblast, have been conducted. Neapolis, the capital of the Scythian state of the 3rd century BC, now near Simferopol, was extensively excavated by P. Shults and A. Karasev in 1948–50.
The ethnogenesis of the Eastern Slavs and their early history continue to be important archeological problems. The Zarubyntsi culture and Cherniakhiv culture of the Iron Age, which are closely linked to the unresolved question of the origin of the Slavs, continue to be studied.
Extensive excavations of the monuments of the medieval period were conducted in Kyiv: near the Church of the Tithes and Saint Michael’s Cathedral of the Vydubychi Monastery, and on Kyselivka Hill. Such towns of ancient Rus’ as Chernihiv, Pereiaslav, Bilhorod, Liubech, Vyshhorod, Putyvl, and the princely Halych have been investigated. Ancient fortified settlements have been excavated: in Shestovytsia (see Shestovytsia fortified settlement and burial site) near Chernihiv, Raiky near Berdychiv (see Raiky fortified settlement), Donets near Kharkiv, Kolodiazhyn near Zhytomyr, the settlement near Shepetivka, and others. The monuments of Kyivan Rus’ have been studied by such archeologists as Mikhail Karger, Teodosii Molchanivsky, Yaroslav Pasternak, Vasyl Dovzhenok, V. Bohusevych, D. Blifeld, V. Honcharov, M. Artamonov, Mykola O. Makarenko, Viktor Petrov, Mykhailo Rudynsky, Markiian Smishko, P. Tretiakov, Ivan Shovkoplias, Mykhailo Boltenko, Yurii Asieiev, Boris Rybakov, and others.
Excavations of ancient states on the northern Black Sea coast—Chersonese Taurica, Panticapaeum, Olbia, Phanagoria, Tanais—have been continued and have provided new data about the history and culture of these cities as well as their influence on the Scythians, Sarmatians, Taurians, and other tribes with which they traded (V. Haidukevych, Serhii Dlozhevsky, Mikhail Rostovtsev, B. Farmakovsky).
Many monographs, periodicals, collections, and twelve scholarly conferences have been devoted to the new discoveries. The Institute of Archeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine has published since 1971 the journal Arkheolohiia; other periodicals, such as Arkheolohichni pam’iatky URSR (13 vols, 1949–63), and Kratkie soobshcheniia Instituta arkheologiia AN USSR (12 vols, 1952–62), are no longer published. More recent periodicals include Arkheolohiia і davnia istoriia Ukraїny (2009–, 21 volumes to date) and the yearbook Kam’iana doba Ukraїny (2002–16, 16 volumes, since 2017 a quarterly). The collective work Arkheolohiia Ukraïns’koï RSR (Archeology of the Ukrainian SSR, 3 vols) was published in 1971–5. More recent collective monographs include Davnia istoriia Ukraїny (The Old History of Ukraine, 3 vols, 1997–2000) and Etnichna istoriia davnioї Ukraїny (The Ethnic History of Old Ukraine, 2002).
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[This article was updated in 2017.]