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21 Jun. 2023

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Why is Scythian gold important for the world's cultural heritage and Ukraine in particular?

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Why is Scythian gold important for the world's cultural heritage and Ukraine in particular?

On June 21, 1971, a unique royal jewelry, the Golden Pectoral, was found in the Scythian mound of Tolstaya Grave. Find out why the struggle for Scythian gold is still going on in the world and why the victory in court is important for Ukraine

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In mid-June, Ukraine celebrates the anniversary of the discovery of a unique artifact, the Golden Pectoral. This breastplate of the Scythian king is not only a historical and cultural heritage of the country, but also has a sacred and spiritual meaning for the Ukrainian people. Today, the jewelry is kept in the Treasury of the National Museum of History of Ukraine in Kyiv and belongs to the Historical Fund of Precious Metals and Stones of the state. 


It is also symbolic that the discovery of this artifact was concealed until the head of the archaeological expedition, Borys Mozolevsky, brought the pectoral to Kyiv. He carried the jewelry from the Dnipro region on his person, under a thick vest, all in order to hide the artifact from the moscow Soviet authorities.


However, the Golden Pectoral is not the only archaeological treasure of the Scythian era that has sacred significance for Ukraine. And the main event of the last month for the cultural heritage of the state was the final decision of the Dutch court to return the Crimean treasures to Ukraine. It should be noted that the fate of the Scythian gold had been decided for 9 years.


What are Crimean treasures and why did Ukraine fight for Scythian gold in court?


The beginning of this story dates back to 2013, when a collection for the European exhibition "Crimea - Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea" was formed from the exhibits of the Kyiv Museum of Historical Values and 4 other museums located in Crimea. The collection consisted of 584 exhibits (over 2,000 items), the total value of which was estimated at approximately 1 million euros.


In July 2013, the Crimean treasures traveled to Europe, and the first destination of the collection was the Rhineland Museum in Germany. It was there that the Scythian gold met the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity, and in early 2014, according to a pre-arranged agreement, the collection was transported to Amsterdam. The exhibition at the Allard Pearson Museum was to run until the end of August 2014. 


So, while the Crimean treasures were on display in the Netherlands, russia illegally seized and annexed the peninsula, where a significant part of the collection was supposed to return. Moreover, as early as March 2014, russia announced its intention to take the Ukrainian exhibits that remained in Crimean museums to the Hermitage. Therefore, Ukraine began the process of transferring the Crimean exhibits to the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine in absentia to prevent the theft of the state's cultural heritage.




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Amsterdam was also concerned about the situation, because under the terms of the agreement, the exhibits were to be returned directly to the museums from which they came, but Crimea had already been annexed by russia, and the collection was documented to belong to Ukraine. 

However, the Netherlands Museum could not resolve this issue on its own, and therefore in August 2014 it issued a press release stating that it could not accept demands for the return of the exhibits from either the Crimean museums or Kyiv, as the transfer of the collection to either side would lead to a conflict that would jeopardize the Allard Pearson Museum. That is why the issue of returning the Scythian gold was referred to the court.


Trial and victory in the case of Crimean treasures


Obviously, for Ukraine, the issue of returning the collection was fundamental and unquestionable, because its exhibits are the historical and cultural heritage of the Ukrainian people and state. Moreover, even in the courtroom, russia did not hesitate to use putin's narrative that Crimea was allegedly a gift from Khrushchev to Ukraine, and therefore it has no moral right to possess the collection.

We wrote more about the myths promoted by the russian authorities about the history and culture of Ukraine here.


That is why the final decision to return the Crimean treasures to Kyiv, announced by the highest court in the Netherlands on June 9, 2023, was significant and even symbolic for Ukraine. After all, for many centuries, russia has been trying to suppress Ukrainian identity and destroy not only its cultural heritage, but also Ukrainians as a nation. 

And today, russia continues to pursue its imperial ambitions through horrific terrorist attacks, the murder of civilians and the illegal export of Ukrainian children, which, by the way, has been recognized as genocide in the world, and the actual theft of Ukraine's cultural heritage.


Therefore, we believe that the world must work together to get rid of russia, because the terrorist country does not see any value in human lives and poses a threat to international security.


We remind you! The terrorist attack on the Kakhovka Dam threatened the existence of dozens of cultural, archaeological and historical monuments, as well as protected areas in Ukraine. Read more about what national values russia destroyed by blowing up the dam in our previous article.


Photo: Allard Pearson Museum




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