A new massive stage of the destruction and plundering of the Crimea’s cultural heritage of by the invaders began in 2016 and was associated with the construction of the ‘Tavrida highway’, which crosses the peninsula for 310 kilometers. The “Road Service” of the “Republic of Crimea” has already reported that more than a hundred archaeological monuments of various eras were found in the construction area of the ‘Tavrida highway’, among which there is an ancient man’s site. And according to Tatyana Umrikhina, “General Director of the State Budgetary Institution” “East Crimean Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve”, several “amazing crypts” were opened in the course of “joint work of road workers and archaeologists” on the territory of Kerch [1]. Mrs. Umrikhina does not explain what is the “awesomeness” of those openings, perhaps the fact that the crypts allegedly “were empty and did not contain artifacts”. This partially justifies the lack of accurate information on the number of archaeological finds allegedly “transferred to the Crimean museums”. Attempts to calculate the damage from illegal excavations were carried out by Andrey Chvalyuk, Candidate of Legal Sciences.

According to the available information, more than a million finds were found only during the construction of the “Crimean Bridge” crossing the Kerch Strait [2]. To find out the exact number of items received in the “museum collections”, and ideally, to trace the dynamics of their growth, it would be possible to study the site of the “Central Museum of Taurida”. However, this institution and other “museums of the Crimean cities” controlled by the Russian invaders, for example, the “Alushta Museum of History and Local Lore”, which were attached in the form of “departments” to the “Central Museum of Taurida” after the events of 2014, seem to “do not have the money to pay hosting”, because their “official sites” do not work [3]. Therefore, we will focus on the materials of the Russia-controlled media.

And let’s start with an interview with Andrey Malgin, the “director of the Central Museum of Tavrida”, a famous and ardent fighter for the “Russian world”. “As the Tavrida highway deeper into the peninsula is being built, I think a number of museums will receive interesting finds, and we will try to make them available to the public right away, without putting them on the back burner. According to the law, in those places where archaeological expeditions work, and the replenishment of nearby museums is carried out, provided that they have the right to keep especially valuable things. And we hear that this or that museum was blessed with the transfer of some things” [4]. As you can see, Andrei Malygin used the most vague formulations “this or that”, “some”. And this is not without reason, because I was probably aware that ceramics would enter the “Crimean museums” at best. This is what happened in 2017.

Then the “Feodosia Museum of Antiquities” held an exhibition of about 300 exhibits that were discovered during the construction of the ‘Tavrida highway’ and the ‘Kuban-Crimea gas pipeline’. The exposition was dominated by Greek amphorae and pottery [5]. The exposition “FSB of Russia against “black archeology ”, held in the same year in the “Central Museum of Taurida” was more valuable, if we take the cost on the black market as a basis. The exhibition presented more than 200 archaeological finds, mainly from late antiquity (II century BC – IV century AD): gold and silver jewelry, coins, glass and ceramic dishes, bronze and stone products. All these artifacts were seized by officers of the “Crimean Directorate” of the FSB of Russia “during operational-search measures to counter illegal archaeological activities” [6].

It is noteworthy that all reports about searches and, allegedly, transfers to museums of artifacts date back to 2017 in Crimea. Although the construction of the ‘Tavrida highway’ is still ongoing, the Russian authorities are openly recruiting “volunteers to help in archaeological work in Crimea”. This is supported by the “Millennium Heritage” Foundation and is directly funded by the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin [2]. On the Russian site “Open Archeology”, under the auspices of the “Crimean Youth Field Archaeological School”, they regularly look for volunteers to participate in projects to plunder the cultural heritage of Crimea. And there are many who want to “touch the Crimean antiquities in a real archaeological expedition”. Places in expeditions are filled instantly [7]. Earlier, the Russia-controlled Crimean media already reported that archaeologists from Europe, for example, about one Swiss, were involved in individual excavations of the ‘Tavrida highway’ [8]. The identity of this character, as well as his archaeological education or strong ties with the scientific community, were not disclosed. I would not be surprised if this Swiss has a Russian surname and, until recently, was the proud owner of Russian citizenship.

The massive use of random people in archaeological excavations, the total excavated area of which exceeds 60 hectares, leads to the fact that many antiquities fall into the wrong hands. For example, last week “an attempt to take 84 antiques from Crimea was suppressed” [9]. Bronze mirrors, bracelets, pendants, arrowheads and other antique items – all of this was still in the Crimean land recently, but it was appropriated by the “volunteers”, invited by the aggressor State. This means that the inhabitants of the occupied peninsula are waiting for another “bright exposition” from the FSB of Russia, in the place of which it is time to think about creating their own archaeological museum.

Currently, at least 29 Russian-controlled archaeological groups are involved in illegal excavations. [2] And the number of active “black archaeologists” defies even a rough calculation. Any attempts to monitor the quality of the excavations by the official Ukrainian authorities were blocked by the Russian “administration” in the Crimea. This means that the plundering of the cultural heritage of the Crimea by the Russian invaders will continue.

Sources:

1. https://taurica.net/270284-V-Kerchi-predstavyat-drevniiy-sklep-naiydennyiy-pri-stroitel-stve-trassy-Tavridy.html

2. https://ru.krymr.com/a/krym-arkheologiya-rossiya-maroderstvo/31344208.html

3. https://mkult.rk.gov.ru/ru/structure/222

4. https://taurica.net/273666-Naiydennye-na-raskopkah-v-Krymu-predmety-popolnyayut-muzei-poluostrova-Mal-gin.html

5. https://taurica.net/270488-V-Feodosii-vystavyat-okolo-300-cennyh-arheologicheskih-nahodok-sdelannyh-pri-stroitel-stve-trassy-Tavrida.html

6. https://taurica.net/273659-V-stolice-Kryma-pokazhut-Dostoyanie-Respubliki-iz-yatoe-FSB-u-chernyh-arheologov.html

7. https://xn--80aajhqhktebqcvc2c9e6cj.xn--p1ai/

8. https://taurica.net/270304-Tat-yana-Umrihina-Na-meste-raskopok-trassy-Tavrida-uzhe-individual-no-rabotaet-odin-shveiycarec.html

9. https://vesti-k.ru/news/2021/08/23/ukrainec-pytalsya-vyvezti-iz-kryma-starinnye-artefakty/