The largest in Ukraine collection of antiquities of northern Black Sea region. One of the four world museums displaying the first golden coin made in Kievan Rus’. Unique Scythian gold collection.
How did it start? The fact that the Black Sea lands were populated by different tribes since prehistoric times was well-known among Odessites, who lived in the city since its early days. Enchanting tall tales about the Scythian gold, legends of the flourishing Greek colonies and ancient Slavic settlements filled the air, making curious locals look, or to be exact, dig around in search of antiquities.
An Odessite, who was very much interested in the region’s history and archeology, was Ivan Blaramberg. His passion to research and describe collections of ancient coins, Greek vases and other precious artifacts led to the opening of Odessa’s first Archeology museum in 1825. That was really amazing! The 31-year old city got a real archeology museum! The museum was called the “Museum of Antiques” and its first location was Blaramberg’s private house. Having changed several addresses, the museum in 1883 was moved to a newly built magnificent building, which it shared with the city’s library. Later the library moved to a new location and the archeology museum occupied the whole mansion.
Currently the Odessa Archeology museum features ten halls with over 200,000 artifacts discovered during archeological excavations north of the Black Sea. Burial items and bones of ancient Slavic tribes, ornaments and bronze tools found in the areas of the Scythian and Sarmatian settlements, artifacts of ancient Greek colonies located in Odessa’s region, in the Dnieper delta and in Crimea.
A real gem in the museum’s collection is the “Golden storehouse”. Hidden behind the metal doors, the exhibition room looks like a big safebox, packed with precious items: golden and silver ornaments, coins, jewelry and burial items, which belonged to the Scythian, Sarmatian, Gunnic and Slavic peoples.
A truly unique item displayed in the “Golden storehouse” is the first golden coin made by Prince Vladimir of Kievan Rus’ at the end of X – early Xl centuries. Eleven of such coins have been ever found and are now featured in the four museums in the world, including the Hermitage in St Petersburg and the Odessa’s Archeology museum.
I bet you’ve never heard of coins called “kiziki”, which are an ancient analog of a globally accepted currency, such as US dollar or Euro bills nowadays. Made of a mix of silver and gold in the V-Vl centuries BC, “kiziki” were a widely accepted currency in Asia. Sixty three “kiziki” coins were found in Odessa’s region and now make a highlight of the “Golden storehouse” exhibit.
You know where a word “ruble”, which is the name of Russian currency now, comes from? If not, then you’ll find an answer to this question in the museum J.
You’ll see 200-gram silver hryvnas, which were made in the Xl and Xll centuries.
Later people started cutting the big hryvnas into small pieces, the cutting process was called with the Russian word “ rubit’ ”, which gave the name to the currency “ruble”.
The tour of the Odessa’s Archeology museum makes for a fascinating journey into the history of the Black Sea northern coastline. Don’t fret, it won’t take long, just a couple of hours, as the size of the museum can’t be compared to that of the Louvre or the Metropolitan. With the guided tour it will take you about two hours, but you’ll definitely see a lot of amazing artifacts and hear a bunch of interesting stories. A tour and a visit to the museum can be arranged daily, Tuesday to Sunday, except for Monday, which is a day off. To book a private English language tour, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.