Eustachy Tyszkiewicz

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Eustachy Tyszkiewicz

Count Eustachy Tyszkiewicz of Leliwa coat of arms (18 April 1814 in Lahoysk – 25 August 1874 in Vilnius) was a Polish noble from the Tyszkiewicz family. He was an archaeologist and historian of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania and White Ruthenia, then part of the Russian Empire, he was noted as the first archaeologist with academic and systematical approach to studies of in the Belarusian and Lithuanian lands, and had a great influence on the upcoming generations of archaeologists.[1] In 1855, on the basis of his personal collection of archaeological and historical artifacts, he founded the Museum of Antiquities in Vilnius (Vilna, Wilno), which is considered to be the predecessor of the National Museum of Lithuania. Eustachy was a brother of historian Konstanty Tyszkiewicz.


Tyszkiewicz's tomb in the Rasos cemetery

In his memoirs, Tyszkiewicz indicated that he was born in Minsk not in Lahoysk as researchers believe.[2] Tyszkiewicz spent his childhood at the family estate in Lahoysk,[3] he started his studies at the Vilnius Gymnasium [lt; ru], but due to poor health he transferred to Minsk.[4] After the graduation in 1831,[5] he began his career with the government in 1833 at the Chapter of the Orders of Russian Tsars.[6] At the same time, he collected archival information on the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in Moscow and Saint Petersburg,[5] he then held various government jobs at various locations: at the office of the Vilna Governorate-General (1835–1838), the Kraków Governorate (1838–1840), and Little-Russian Governorate-General [ru] (1840), school inspector of the Barysaw District and marshal of nobility (1842–1848), curator of the Minsk Men's Gymnasium [ru] (1848–1854).[5][6] In 1853, he was appointed as supervisor of Vilnius psychiatric hospital, he held the titles of collegiate assessor and kammerjunker. For his service the state he received several awards, including the Order of Saint Stanislaus (2nd class) in 1856 and Order of Saint Anna (2nd class) in 1860.[6]

In May 1855, Tsar Alexander II of Russia approved the Vilnius Archaeological Commission and the Museum of Antiquities; the basis of the initial museum collection was about 6,000 items gifted by Tyszkiewicz – more than half of the items were books, while other items were coins, medals, portraits, engravings, historical artifacts.[7] Tyszkiewicz chaired the commission and curated the museum until it was nationalized and reorganized after the failed Uprising of 1863. After losing his life's work, he retired to the Astravas Manor near Biržai which belonged to his relative Michał Tyszkiewicz.[4] There he studied local history, organized manor's library and archives of the Radziwiłł family, wrote historical studies and compiled primary sources for publication,[3] he returned to Vilnius in 1871, where he died in 1874 and was buried in the Rasos cemetery.[8]

Archaeology and Antiquities Museum[edit]

Tyszkiewicz sits on the left of the main hall of the Museum of Antiquities

Tyszkiewicz is best remembered as the "father of archaeology" in the lands of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania.[9] Starting in 1837, he carried our archaeological excavations Trakai Peninsula Castle but focused on tumuli, he excavated about half a hundred[10] tumuli near Kernavė, Halshany, Barysaw, Kreva, Lida, Lahoysk. He took a systematic approach to discovered artifacts and categorized them according to the three-age system into the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages,[5] he published his first studies in various journals 1837–1841 and a separate monograph, the first book devoted to archaeology in Lithuania, in 1842.[4] It described remains of medieval castles, hill forts, tumuli, bronze and iron artifacts, etc;[11] the publication was well received and acted as a textbook of archaeology for others. It was translated to Russian in 1843 and German 1846.[9] Based on the archaeological findings, he studied the Krivichs, a Slavic tribe, their territory and trade,[12] he systematically analyzed similarities and differences of the tumuli of different regions and tribes.[9] In 1872, he published his third significant work on archaeology in which he outlined the developments over the last few decades.[11]

Tyszkiewicz started making plans for a learned society (in the vacuum created by the closure of Vilnius University in 1832) after moving to Vilnius in 1835. At the suggestion of Theodor Narbut, he also started thinking about a history museum.[4] In 1843, he toured Scandinavian countries, establishing contacts with various historical societies and gathering ideas for the future museum, he purchased a house in Antakalnis and opened a cabinet of antiquities to the public in 1847.[4] He petitioned the Tsarist administration for a permission to open a public museum twice, in 1848 and 1851, but the Museum of Antiquities was approved only in 1855;[13] the Vilnius Archaeological Commission, which Tyszkiewicz chaired, acted as a de facto learned society.[13] The museum was popular and its collections grew tenfold from 6,000 items donated by Tyszkiewicz to more than 67,000 items in 1865.[14] After the failed Uprising of 1863, Tsarist authorities instituted a number of strict Russification policies and nationalized the museum. Many valuable items, particularly those related to the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, were removed to the Rumyantsev Museum in Moscow.[15] Tyszkiewicz formally oversaw the transformation of the museum into a department of the Vilnius Public Library and officially resigned from the museum in September 1867.[13]

He was a member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, Imperial Russian Archaeological Society, Royal Society of Northern Antiquities in Kopenhagen, Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities in Stockholm, and Royal Archaeological Institute in London.[12][16]

Selected works[edit]

Tyszkiewicz published several works, including:[5]

  • On archaeology:
    • A Look at the Sources of Local Archaeology (Rzut oka na źródła archeologii krajowej, 1842)
    • Archaeological Research of Art, Craft, and Other Old Objects in Ancient Lithuania and Lithuanian Rus (Badania archeologiczne nad zabytkami przedmiotów sztuk i rzemiosł w dawnej Litwie i Rusi Litewskiej, 1850)
    • Archaeology in Lithuania (Archeologja na Litwie, 1872)[11]
  • On ethnography:
    • Two-volume travel impressions Letters about Sweden (Listy o Szwecji, 1846)
    • Scenes of Home Living in Lithuania (Obrazy domowego pożycia na Litwie, 1865)
  • On local history:
    • Description of Barysaw Powiat (Opisanie powiatu borysowskiego..., 1847)
    • Biržai: A Glance at the History of the City, Castle, and Majorat (Birże: rzut oka na przeszlośc miasta, zamku i ordynacii, 1869)
    • Sources for the History of Courland and Semigallia (Źródła do dziejów Kurlandii i Semigalii..., 1870)


  1. ^ Venclova, Tomas (2006). Vilniaus vardai. Vilnius: R. Paknio leidykla. p. 174. ISBN 9986-830-96-6.
  2. ^ Pajedaitė, Ingrida (2014-12-02). "Kilmė". Eustachijaus Tiškevičiaus rankraštinio palikimo atodangos (in Lithuanian). Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b Klimka, Libertas (2014). "200 metų, kai gimė Eustachijus Tiškevičius (1814–1873)" (PDF). Gimtasai kraštas (in Lithuanian): 107–108. ISSN 2029-0101.
  4. ^ a b c d e Griškaitė, Reda (August 2014). "Paveldo kolekcininkas". IQ (in Lithuanian). pp. 94–97. ISSN 2029-4417.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Eustachijus Tiškevičius". Visuotinė lietuvių enciklopedija (in Lithuanian). Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos centras. 2013-06-03.
  6. ^ a b c Ruzas, Vincas; Sinčiuk, Ivan (2014). "Eustachijaus Tiškevičiaus apdovanojimo dokumentai". In Būčys, Žygintas; Griškaitė, Reda (eds.). Eustachijus Tiškevičius: darbai ir kontekstai (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Lietuvos nacionalinis muziejus. pp. 291–292, 298, 301, 305. ISBN 978-609-8039-55-9.
  7. ^ "Vilniaus senienų muziejus". Visuotinė lietuvių enciklopedija (in Lithuanian). Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos centras. 2014-06-26.
  8. ^ Pajedaitė, Ingrida (2014-12-02). "Biografija". Eustachijaus Tiškevičiaus rankraštinio palikimo atodangos (in Lithuanian). Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Kuncevičius, Albinas; Poškienė, Justina (2017). "Žvilgsnis į Lietuvos archeologijos paveldo apsaugos ištakas". Archaeologia Lituana (in Lithuanian). 18: 34–35. doi:10.15388/ArchLit.2017.18.11712. ISSN 1392-6748.
  10. ^ Keršytė, Nastazija (2007). "Eustachijus Tiškevičius ir lietuvių etnologija". Kultūrologija (in Lithuanian). 15: 47. ISSN 1822-2242.
  11. ^ a b c Tarasenka, Petras (1928). Lietuvos archeologijos medžiaga (PDF). Švietimo ministerijos Knygų leidimo komisijos leidinys (in Lithuanian). Kaunas. pp. 11, 22. OCLC 864220046.
  12. ^ a b "Eustachy Tyszkiewicz". Virtual Museum of Logoysk. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  13. ^ a b c Aleksandravičius, Egidijus (1984). "Caro valdžios požiūris į Vilniaus archeologijos komisiją (1855-1865)" (PDF). Lietuvos TSR Mokslų Akademijos darbai. A serija (in Lithuanian). 4 (89): 103, 105–109. ISSN 0131-3843.
  14. ^ Keršytė, Nastazija (2010). "Vilniaus senienų ir Lietuvos nacionalinis muziejai. Tradicijos ir pokyčiai". Kultūrologija (in Lithuanian). 18: 204–206. ISSN 1822-2242.
  15. ^ Mulevičiūtė, Jolita (2003). "Uždrausti paminklai: Vilniaus senienų muziejaus reorganizavimas ir jo padariniai" (PDF). Lietuvos istorijos metraštis (in Lithuanian). 2: 52–53. ISSN 0202-3342.
  16. ^ Pajedaitė, Ingrida (2014-12-02). "Tarptautinis pripažinimas". Eustachijaus Tiškevičiaus rankraštinio palikimo atodangos (in Lithuanian). Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 16 November 2018.