Ukraine's archaeological treasures: archaeologist and scholars lecture at The Ukrainian Museum
by Marta Baczynsky
NEW YORK - The Ukrainian Museum in New York City is organizing a series of lectures under the broad topic "Recent Archaeological Discoveries: Treasures of Ukraine's Ancient Past."
The lectures, each accompanied by a slide presentation, will be given by archaeologists and art historians: Dr. Adrian O. Mandzy (September 17 and 19), Dr. Olenka Pevny (October 29 and 31), and Dr. Lada Onyshkevych (November 5 and 7).
Excelling in their chosen field, these young professionals are making a mark in the exciting world of archaeological explorations and scholarship, both in Ukraine and in the United States.
Since Ukraine's independence in 1991, there has been much activity in the country pertaining to archaeology, anthropology and the restoration of historical monuments. These activities underscore the abundance and variety of social and cultural ventures that have occurred over thousands of years within the boundaries of modern Ukraine. Of great interest is the social and cultural interplay between developing cultures that had blossomed and died, some that had blended with others on this land, leaving their mark to a greater or lesser degree for scholars to study and decipher.
Friday lectures will be presented in the English-language; Sunday talks will be in the Ukrainian-language.
Dr. Mandzy, historian and archaeologist (Ph. D. in history, York University, North York, Ontario), will describe the project he has organized and headed since 1991 in the first lecture of the series, titled "Footprints into the Past: Archaeological Excavations of the Medieval City of Kamianets-Podilskyi in Ukraine."
The excavations in the old city of Kamianets-Podilskyi, designated as a National Historical Preserve, are conducted in cooperation with the city government and with organizations such as the Kamianets-Podilskyi National Historical-Architectural Preserve, the Lviv Institute of Restoration, the Peter Jacyk Center at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta and St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y. Funding for the project comes from various sources in Ukraine, Canada and the United States.
Kamianets-Podilskyi is first mentioned in Armenian chronicles in the 11th century. It was a regional capital for the Polish frontier (1374-1672) and an important administrative, cultural and economic urban center of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in early modern history. For a time in the late 1600s it was under Ottoman Turkish rule. Through the long period of its growth and development Kamianets-Podilskyi has maintained its vitality and excitement as a city perched on the border between the empires of Europe and Asia, Christianity and Islam, Catholicism and Orthodoxy.
In the introduction to a publication documenting the current excavations in Kamianets-Podilskyi, Dr. Mandzy describes the city as unique because its "three dominant ethnic groups (the indigenous Ukrainians, immigrant Armenians and Polish colonists), maintained their own particular legal representation and courts within its boundaries. Whereas, in almost all other cities the rights and economic opportunities for the Ukrainian citizens were extremely limited, in Kamianets-Podilskyi the Ukrainian community continued to grow and prosper."
In terms of power, the Ukrainians in Kamianets-Podilskyi did quite well. They had their own administration and many of them were in high positions of authority in the city government. Their religious life has also remained on a secure footing, with many Ukrainian Orthodox parishes being founded in the 16th and 17th centuries, while several churches were being rebuilt in stone.
Dr. Mandzy states that based on available records "it is clear that Ukrainians were involved with some of the most exclusive and prosperous of professions. Many of the city's goldsmiths and furriers were Ukrainians, and Ukrainian merchants lived in the most prestigious part of the city."
Dr. Mandzy concludes, "the excavations conducted within the city provide a fascinating view into the daily lives of the people of Kamianets-Podilskyi. Indeed, these excavations have uncovered a unique portrait of a forgotten world. In places where the documentary evidence is missing or incomplete, the archaeological data provides a doorway into the past. Perhaps most importantly, these excavations allow us to discuss and draw conclusions about life within the city with a degree of certainty."
As a supplement to the lecture, a small exhibition of artifacts excavated in Kamianets-Podilskyi will be on view.
The second lecture in the series, "Medieval Kherson: Archaeological Excavations," will feature art historian Dr. Pevny (Ph.D. in history of art, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University) at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Dr. Pevny participated in excavations in Kherson in 1998. She will recount her on-site experiences, as well as trace the history of this important ancient Byzantine city through the archaeological finds.
In 1997 Dr. Pevny was the research assistant for the "Glory of Byzantium" exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum and is the author of the essay an Kyivan Rus', and of 25 entries in the exhibition catalogue.
Dr. Onyshkevych (Ph. D. in art and archaeology of the Mediterranean world, University of Pennsylvania) is an exhibition project assistant at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, specifically for the upcoming exhibition "Scythian Gold: Treasures from Ancient Ukraine." The gallery and the San Antonio Museum of Art in San Antonio, Texas, are organizing this exhibition of 165 Scythian works, most of them discovered in recent years and never before seen in the United States.
The lecture/slide presentation by Dr. Onyshkevych at The Ukrainian Museum will be offered in conjunction with the opening of the Scythian exhibition at the San Antonio Museum on November 7. The archaeologist will discuss the culture, lifestyles, beliefs, history and art of the Scythians, a nomadic people that migrated from Central Asia and settled and controlled the southern Ukrainian steppe in the seventh to third centuries B.C.
The Scythians were fierce warriors, as well as astute businessmen, who left a remarkable legacy of their culture, especially the extraordinary golden artwork found in their burial grounds. The Scythian exhibition will come to New York in the latter part of the year 2000.
For information call The Ukrainian Museum at (212) 228-0110; fax (212) 228-1947; or e-mail UkrMus@aol.com. The museum's website is found at www.brama.com/ukrainian_museum.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, September 12, 1999, No. 37, Vol. LXVII
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