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Book: Case Studies in the Silk Roads Archaeology

Chapter: 3. Searching for Ancestry along the Silk Roads: The Zichy Collection of the Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.42850


In 1895 Count Jenő Zichy led his first expedition to the Caucasus aiming to trace the ancient Magyars’ routes. This first journey was followed by two others, in 1896 and 1897- 1898. The wealthy and influential politician not only sponsored and organized the expeditions but also escorted his team personally and collected more than 3000 ancient objects from different historical periods. Despite the historical value of these finds, the entire collection was never evaluated from an archaeological point of view. These objects were only partly analyzed and published, mainly by Béla Pósta, the archaeologist of the 3rd expedition, in the late 19th and early 20th century. However, items collected during the 3rd expedition, especially nomadic objects from Inner Asia and Siberia were never investigated, and the collection in its entirety was never exhibited in public. Although Count Zichy’s expeditions are recognized as examples of the most significant scientific travels of their age, personal narratives and details of the birth of Hungary’s first Caucasian archaeological collection are less known. Therefore, by introducing long-forgotten excerpts from the diaries of participants in the first and the last expeditions, the paper aims to give a deeper insight of these arduous journeys through land and sea. Moreover, it also intends to familiarize the international public with this valuable archaeological collection and to present some of the most emblematic finds.

Chapter Contributors

  • Krisztina Kinga Hoppál ( - kkhoppal) 'Eötvös Loránd University Budapest'
  • Marina Kuznetsova-Fetisova ( - mfetisova) 'Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences'