Archaeological mission "Olbia"

National Museum in Warsaw

On 30th May 2016, the National Museum in Warsaw and the Institute of Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine signed an agreement enabling the start of a three-year archaeological campaign (with a possible extension) on the site of the ancient city of Olbia as part of the Ukrainian “Olbian Archaeological Expedition” headed by Dr. Hab. Alla Buiskikh. 

The first season was devoted to a reconnaissance of the site and conducting the relevant surveys (including geophysical ones) on the area designated for the Polish mission, as agreed with the Ukrainian side. It also marked the beginning of excavation works in the selected location. The area is adjacent to the Ukrainian trench, which has been explored for many years. Consequently, it may be assumed that the long-term results of our excavation works will bring similar results, i.e. uncovering the site of a former Roman fortress which, between 7th and 3rd centuries BC, formed a significant part of the Greek colony. The strategic aim of the mission is to explore the small plateau located in the eastern part of ancient Olbia, about half of which is occupied by the Ukrainian trench. The main task of the Polish mission is to examine the rest of it, which, thanks to a joint analysis of research results in Polish and Ukrainian trenches, should significantly enrich our knowledge about this part of the ancient city in the future. The second and third campaign backed this assumption and brought the first major research success: a confirmation of the hypothesis that until the end of the 4th and perhaps also in the early 5th century, Olbia was inhabited by representatives of the Chernyakhov Culture.

Conservation activities carried out by a separate conservation mission will be conducted in parallel to archaeological excavations, like in the case of excavations at Tyritake in Crimea. Preparatory work took place in 2018, and the mission is scheduled to start working in 2019. It will be aimed at protecting our archaeological activity so as to enable us to present its results to all interested parties, including tourists visiting Olbia.

The model cooperation between Polish and Ukrainian archaeologists, the promising results of the first three missions and an extension of project financing by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage have all contributed to the fact that the solemn signing of an agreement prolonging the NMW’s archaeological mission at Olbia for the coming 6 years will take place on 4th December 2018.

Thereby, the National Museum in Warsaw continues the traditions of over 60 years of its archaeological activity in Ukraine, began by Professor Kazimierz Michałowski in the Crimean Myrmekion and continued first with the archaeological mission at Tyritake in the Crimea, headed by Dr Alfred Twardecki, Curator of the Collection of Ancient and East Christian Art, and now, under the same leadership, in the city of Olbia at the mouth of Dnieper and Boh rivers.

The Polish-Ukrainian archaeological cooperation within our project not only invokes the glorious traditions of previous archaeological expeditions of the NMW, but also creates an opportunity to acquire extremely interesting relics of the Greco-Roman civilization and establish an important research centre devoted to the archaeology and history of the northern coasts of the Black Sea.