150th Anniversary of the Imperial Archaeological Committee Foundation
21 November 2009, the exhibition dedicated to 150th anniversary of the Imperial Archaeological Committee foundation opened at the Anteroom (Room 192).
The remains of distant olden times - burial mounds,
In the second half of the 18th century during the epoch of Empress Catherine II
large territories of the northern Black Sea steppes, the lower Dniepr
region, the Crimea and the Kuban region were annexed to Russia. These
events apart from the most important political and economic consequences
for the history of Russia also marked the beginning of Russian archaeology
as a science. First excavations of ancient burial mounds and antique
The statement draft on the Imperial Archaeological Committee was approved by Emperor Alexander II on February 2, 1859. The first chairman of the Imperial Archaeological Committee was Sergey Stroganov, who developed the statement draft. Already in 1859 the first Committee’s own excavations started near Kerch, the Taman Peninsula and in the Dniepr region. With the lapse of time geography of archaeological works expanded, members of the Committee were working in Kuban region, on the Don, in Siberia, Central Asia and in the northern provinces of Russia. Excavation materials were sent to the Imperial Hermitage and to Kerch Archaeological Museum or were passed on to other museums.
This is how unique excavation materials of burial mounds of the Bronze
Age at the Caucasus (the Maikop culture burial mound), burial mounds of the Scythian
Dniepr region and Kuban region (Geremesov, Krasnokutsky,
Chertomlyksky, Oguz, Solokha, Kelermesky and Ulsky burial mounds), of the
The Archaeological Committee published annual reports about its activities as well as published 37 volumes of Materials on Archaeology of Russia and separate publications.
Originally the Committee was located at the Stroganov Palace in two small rooms. In 1859 the Committee started to pass some of archaeological collections, which were stored at the Academy of Science, to the Imperial Hermitage. Special exhibition of items from the Siberian collection of Peter the Great and from the excavations of the Scythian burial mound ’Litoi Kurgan’ close to Saint Elizabeth fortress of General Aleksey Melgunov was organized in 1859 by order of Emperor Alexander II and ‘at the choice of the Chairman of the Archaeological committee’. By order of Alexander II these collections were also taken from the Academy of Science and given for storage to the Hermitage. And such exhibitions of archaeological monuments were later on organized for all Russian emperors regularly
In 1882 Alexander Vasilchikov, director of the Hermitage, was appointed Chairman of the Committee, and the next year the Archaeological Committee moved to the premises of the New Hermitage. In 1886 Count Alexander Bobrinsky became the chairman of the Committee. In 1889 the Committee gained ’the exclusive right for execution of and permission for, for archaeological purpose, excavations in the Empire on state and public lands’, as well as the right for ’restoration of monuments of antiquity’. This is when the Committee really became the central archaeological institution in Russia. In 1889 the Archaeological Committee moved to the premises on the ground floor of the Old Hermitage at the corner of Dvortsovaya Naberezhnaya and Zimnyaya Kanavka where it stayed until the summer of 1919 when its functions were transferred to the established Russian Academy for the History of Material Culture.
The exhibition presents 13 articles from the collection of the Department of Archaeology of Eastern Europe and Siberia, Department of Antiquity and the Oriental Department of the State Hermitage - world famous findings that came to the museum from the Imperial Archaeological Committee.
Yuri Piotrovsky, senior researcher, deputy head of the Department of Archaeology of Eastern Europe and Siberia, is a curator of the exhibition.