News that a Dutch court has decided to turn over Crimea’s Scythian gold collection to Ukraine has many outraged. Since the Euromaidan occurred in Kiev, and at a point of the forthcoming civil unrest, a priceless museum exhibit of Scythian antiquities on exhibit in Amsterdam has remained there since the Ukraine-Russia divide. Now Crimeans fear their precious artifacts may never be returned to the museums from whence they came.
When Ukraine’s current regime took office in Kiev, after having toppled former President Viktor Yanukovych, the artifact on display in Amsterdam became a central point of contention in between Kiev and Crimea, and later Russia. The Kiev authorities demanded the artifacts be kept in Ukraine proper, while citizens and officials in Crimea and Russia demanded their return to the state museums in Crimea. On hearing of the Holland decision, the Director of Crimea’s Central Museum of Tavrida Andrei Malygin told the national TV broadcaster Rossiya 24.
“This decision may have dire consequences as far as cooperation between Russian museums and their foreign counterparts goes, this situation is unlikely to build confidence between museums.”
The map above reveals the true nature of the artifacts found in Crimea, and the geography herewith bears witness to the Crimean claims. While the Scythians did at one time maintain a massive empire that was loosely defined from Persia to as far west as the Carpathians or Hungary, the Royal Scythians were far more confined. It was Herodotus who mentioned them with regard to guarding the golden hordes of ancient Scythia.
Malygin along with other legal experts expressed how unprecedented the decision is, calling the move a gross violation. Earlier on Wednesday, the Amsterdam District Court ruled that the Scythian gold should be returned to Ukraine because the artifacts are part of Ukraine’s cultural heritage. I originally covered the Scythian gold situation at the time the civil unrest began, and this sort of machination is just what my colleagues in Crimea were afraid of back then. These golden artifacts in question are from burial sites withing Crimea, and everything to do with the geography where they were found.This article of my own about the so-called “Scythian Naples” outside Simferopol in Crimea is evidence of my contention.
The fact is the Kievan Rus’ of whom Ukrainians, Russians, and Belarusians claim ancestry from did not exist before the 9th century AD. As far as ownership of Crimea and its heirlooms is concerned, a dozen empires and two dozens peoples have ruled the peninsula over the centuries. Crimea has been ruled by the ancient Greeks, the Persians, the Romans, the Byzantine Empire, the Crimean Goths, the Genoese and the Ottoman Empire, invading the Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, Goths, Alans, Bulgars, Huns, Khazars, Kipchaks, and the Golden Horde. Before Crimea was ever even Russian, it was a Turkic vassal state of the Ottoman Empire from 1478 to 1774.
As far as ownership of Crimea and its heirlooms is concerned, a dozen empires and two dozens peoples have ruled the peninsula over the centuries. Crimea has been ruled by the ancient Greeks, the Persians, the Romans, the Byzantine Empire, the Crimean Goths, the Genoese and the Ottoman Empire, invading the Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, Goths, Alans, Bulgars, Huns, Khazars, Kipchaks, and the Golden Horde. Before Crimea was ever even Russian, it was a Turkic vassal state of the Ottoman Empire from 1478 to 1774. The history of these priceless artifacts bridges any and all modern governments actually. The people of Crimea, however they choose to call themselves, are the inheritors of Scythian burial items found on their soil. This is plainly obvious to most.
Without delving into the biggest history lesson of all time, the legality aspect of this situation turns to what these museum curators now argue over, the inter-museum agreements which allowed these precious artifacts to be shared in the first place. The government of Ukraine at the time was not the arbiter of exhibitions in Berlin and Amsterdam, but the Crimea museums and their counterparts were.
The artifacts being held at the Amsterdam University archaeological museum (the Allard Pierson Museum) for more than two years now are far more closely tied to Crimea, Russia, and the Caucasus, than to Kiev. The politicizing of the artifacts is what we are looking at now. The Crimean museums claim their right to the collection on the grounds that all the exhibits were found on Crimea’s territory which is by far more relevant.
The exhibition “The Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea” opened in Germany in mid-2013 and then moved to the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam in early February 2014. The artifacts from five Crimean museums include a ceremonial gold helmet and jewels. Now the Crimean officials will have to file an appeal in order to prevent the artifacts from traveling to Kiev.