Vikentiy Khvoika

In front of the Trypillian Culture Museum near village of Trypillia, 50 km south of Kyiv, Ukraine,stands a very modest monument, which is dedicated to Vikentiy Khvoika.  Let us start our tour of our website with a short biography of this remarkable man - Vikentiy Khvoika, archaeologist, who discovered and gave the name to the Trypillian culture approximately 100 years ago.


Vikentiy Khvoika was born in 1850 in a small village named Semyn, located on the river Elbe (now in Czechia) into an old nobleman family. In 1876 he moved to Kyiv, Ukraine, where he began to grow millet and hops. He achieved great success in this occupation and even wrote some scientific works about it. He received awards and decorations at exhibitions in Romny, Kharkiv and Paris (1889).

In 1893 V. Khvoika developed an interest and became actively engaged in archaeology. He conducted his first excavation in the Kyrylivski hills of Kyiv where he discovered a Paleolithic encampment with mammoth bones. This Neolithic settlement of a Bronze Age later was classified as belonging to a Trypillian culture. His following excavations (1896-99) near the small town of Trypillia, near Kyiv, were marked by the discovery of a new culture, which he named the Trypillian Civilization after the town. Mr. Khvoika reported this discovery to the 11th Congress of Archaeologists in 1897, which is now considered the official date of the discovery of the Trypillian culture. Initially, scientists regarded the Trypillian culture to be part of the autochthonous culture of ancient Aryans or Slavs, dating back to the 4th-3rd millennium BC. Other scientists maintain that Trypillia is a distinct culture. This debate has continued into present with the understanding that Aryans, Slavs and Trypillians may have common roots or are closely connected.

Vikentiy Khvoika continued his excavations in 1899-1900 near the villages of Romashky and Cherniakhiv in the Kyiv region. There he discovered burial grounds from the 3rd-4th centuries, which belonged to another distinct and previously unknown archeological culture. This society existed during Roman times, later was named the Cherniakhiv culture.

During the same time period, his excavations of burial grounds near the village of Zarubyntsi brought about a discovery of yet another culture, which received the name - Zarubynetska. This culture is considered now to be an early Slavic culture.

Additionally, Vikentiy Khvoika investigated burial mounds in and around Kyiv. These sites date from the Bronze and Early Iron Ages. He performed excavations in the center of Kyiv in 1907-08 and discovered ancient foundations, a pagan sanctuary, and a mass grave of Kyivites who died during the Mongol invasion in 1240 A.D.

During the last years of his life, this extraordinary scientist devoted his efforts to the archeological investigations of an ancient Rus city around the town of Bilohorodka near Kyiv.

Vikentiy Khvoika played an important role as a founder of the Museum of Antiquities and Arts in Kyiv (currently the National Museum of History of Ukraine), which opened in 1899. He was the first curator of its archaeological department. This museum still preserves items discovered during this scientist's excavations.

Vikentiy Khvoika was a full member of 11 scientific societies, among which were the: Moscow Imperial Archaeological Society, Odesa Imperial Society of History and Antiquities, Kyiv Society for Protection of Monuments of Antiquity and Arts. He was also a member and employee of the Russian Archaeological Institute in Constantinople. He published twenty works, which constitute most of Vikentiy Khvoika's creative heritage. He is the author of the following treatises: The Stone Age of Middle Prydniprovia; Burial Fields in Middle Prydniprovia; The 1901 Excavations of Trypillian Culture; Townships of Middle Prydniprovia; The Beginning of Arable Farming and Bronze Age in Middle Prydniprovia; The Funeral Rite with Incineration and its Ancientness; Ancient Residents of Middle Prydniprovia and Their Culture in Prehistoric Times (Based on Excavations).

The scientific heritage of Vikentiy Khvoika's work is immense. His archeological discoveries and his research have become the foundation for further studies of Ukraine's prehistoric past, starting with the Stone Age up to the times of Kyivan Rus.