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English Scholars Want to Tell the World About Ukraine

04 December, 00:00
Kyiv has hosted an international conference dedicated to the seventy-first anniversary of the Olvia Historical Preserve. Olvia was an Ancient Greek polis. Despite its uniqueness, Olvia, as well as many other ancient sites in Ukraine, is threatened with a danger of complete disappearance from the world archeological maps. Treasure hunting excavations and lack of funds for conservation and restoration could completely destroy the unique site, which few other countries can match. In his interview with The Day, Britain’s Exeter University Professor and representative of the British Academy of Science David BRAUND, who specializes in Ukraine’s history, spoke about what attracts foreign scientists in Ukraine and what are the prospects for Ukrainian archeology.

The northern Black Sea region was of great importance to the entire ancient world. In the whole region of Greek and Roman settlement there are practically no sites comparable to those located on the territory of Ukraine, which are very unique. Artifacts that have been found here (gold and silver objects) are absolutely unique. There is nothing similar anywhere else. There might be some similarities with gold found in Southern Siberia, but only a resemblance; there are no other such things anywhere else in the world.

How do you like working in Ukraine?

In the context of the changes taking place in Ukraine it has become easier for us to work and contact our Ukrainian scholars. We hold joint conferences and exchange information. In former times, whenever I tried to come to the Crimea, they wouldn’t let me, explaining with reference to the military bases placed there, etc. Now I had absolutely no problems with visiting the ancient monuments in the Crimea. People are now more open and prepared to cooperate. They showed me collections, which, I’m sure no one in England has seen.

What do you expect from your cooperation with Ukrainian scholars?

From the Ukrainian side we expect consulting on excavations, their methods, and comparing finds, because Ukrainian archeologists know about these monuments better than anyone else. Besides, we won’t be able to correlate our finds and discoveries with the general context of archeology and history without help from our Ukrainian colleagues. Due to the closed nature of your society for the last hundred years, people in Great Britain, and, I’m sure, in the West as a whole, know very little about these monuments. That is why we would like to tell the world about them, using our Ukrainian colleagues’ knowledge and experience.

How would you define the role and place of Ukrainian archeology and history in the world context?

Ukrainian archaeology and history could occupy one of the top places in world classical studies. However, for a long time it remained for us a blank space on maps of the Ancient World. Completely understanding the meaning of the Northern Black Sea Region for world classical studies, we had no chance to explore it deeply because of its closed nature. Now we are trying to reconsider its role in world history, coming to results that seem to be unexpected: it is possible that the Northern Black Sea Region was not only an agricultural products supplier but a kind of intellectual resource for the Ancient World.

Is there any threat that due to inadequate financing Ukraine’s unique archeological monuments could be lost?

It is clear that studying Ukraine’s archeological treasures and monuments must be done. However, your state is also encountering many other important problems that require immediate solution. It is very difficult to speak about the need for wide-ranging conservation and proceeding with excavations at all your unique monuments. Thus it is necessary to set priorities, the sites that require urgent attention from the state, and prevent them from being lost.

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