By Oksana Zakydalsky
In Toronto on November 29, 2008, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), in partnership with the National Museum of the History of Ukraine (Kyiv) and with the collaboration of the Institute of Archaeology in Ukraine, will mount a major exhibition - “Ancient Ukraine: Mysteries of the Trypillian Culture.”
During the great age of archaeological discoveries –
Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries - that unearthed Troy, Mycenae, Knossos and the
many civilizations of Mesopotamia, an unexpected discovery in 1896 was made in
Ukraine in the Village of Trypillia, south of Kyiv. Ukrainian archaeologist
Vikenty Khvoika found the remains of a prehistoric people who, between 5000 BC
and 2750 BC, had prevailed on the forest-steppe region of
The Trypillians were farmers and herders who excelled in
the making of ceramics and who were builders of city-like agglomerations, the earliest
The exhibit will be comprised of six sections beginning with Discovery, which will include original reports and drawings made by Vikenty Khvoika and objects he unearthed, to present to the viewer the archaeologist’s mind at work, trying to make sense of a lost society.
The second section – titled A People of the Copper Age – will place the Trypillians in their historical context and will show that they shared much with other Copper-Age peoples but in some respects they were atypical – their pottery was especially fine, their civilization lasted for an unusually long time and they built extraordinary “giant settlements”.
The third section Economy will highlight how the Trypillians lived peacefully and
thrived on the fertile soil and benign climate of southern
It is to these settlements that the fourth section will
be devoted. The settlements were discovered only in the 1970s and, according to
scholars, appear to be the earliest quasi-cities built in
As the Trypillians burnt their towns, they left some of their possessions. These material remains, especially their outstanding ceramics which were better able to survive the flames, will form the fifth section of the exhibition – Art and Belief. Their intriguing anthropomorphic figurines, with a marked preponderance of female figurines, are also objects that give rise to speculation. Were they figurines of the female deity - the Great Mother Goddess?
Finally, the last section will highlight the mysteries that still linger about the Trypillian culture – their relations seem to have been peaceful, yet they mysteriously disappeared. What happened to them? Did they assimilate with their neighbours – those belonging to a Bronze-Age horse riding people with a pastoral culture? Was it due to the climate, which became dryer as forest-steppe gave way to steppe?
To support the exhibition, a formal gala dinner is
planned for November 27, 2008. The