Archaeological Fund is one of the first structural divisions of the Museum established by the name of “Archaeological section” in 1920 (the head was Yevgeni Pakhomov). During the years of 1924-30, “Archaeology” subdivision operated under the department of History-Ethnography (Ishag Jafarzadeh had been its conservator since 1926). The department of History-Ethnography was dissolved by forming “the department of material culture of Azerbaijan” (scientific leader was A.R.Zifeldt-Simumyagi) as a result of reconstruction implemented in the Museum in 1930-31; with the intention of founding Historical-Archaeological museum in the Palace of Khan (the Shirvanshahs), it was given an order on submitting archaeological materials particularly historical exhibits of the 16th -19th centuries to the Central Institution for Conservation of Monuments of Azerbaijan. In the consequence of the structural change carried out to incorporate the Museum to the Azerbaijani branch of the Academy of Sciences of the Union in 1936, the division of “History of Feudalism in Azerbaijan” under the leadership of V.N. Leviatov was formed and after a while, archaeological collection was gathered in the established Archaeological Fund. Since then, the Archaeological Fund had been under the historical departments of the Museum and has been continuing its activity as an independent scientific-fund department since 2009.
Since the day of establishment, its major areas of activity are the study of the history, archaeological and cultural heritage of Azerbaijan and conservation of examples of material culture constituting this heritage in the frame of existing requirements. Beginning from the 1920s, employees of the department had actively participated in the field researching in different regions of Azerbaijan and broke new grounds in this direction. Thus, since there was not an institution to engage in archaeological research in 1920, the Museum took over this work and organized the first archaeological expedition to the Palace of the Shirvanshahs in July of the same year. The first official archaeological expedition was sent to Elisabethpol Ueyzd in 1921 and the excavations were carried out in 7 kurgans located in 3 villages of the ueyzd. The initial excavations commenced to be implemented on the site named Shamir-valley in Nuzgar village (present-day Shamkir region) of Elisabethpol Ueyzd on 1 June. The research started in 1921 was also continued in 1922. This time, the expedition investigated the sites of “Hasan hill”, “Khanlar hill” and “Gala” and registered the kurgans situated in these areas.
Another expedition was arranged to the regions of Azerbaijan in the middle of the 1920s. The expedition conducted by D.Sharifov executed archaeological researches in Nukha Ueyzd (present-day Sheki)- ancient city of Gabala in1925, in Yaloylutepe and mountainous part of Elisabethpol Ueyzd- Chovdar in 1926. The findings of those expeditions organized in the 1920s are still the most precious examples of the Archaeological Fund. V. Leviatov, A. Nuriyev, N.K. Minkevich, G. Ione, I. Sheblykin and others took part in the archaeological research carried out under the leadership of I. Jafarzadeh in Ancient Ganja in 1938 and gathered many materials concerning the 12th-13th centuries. Four settlements, 23 pottery kilns, 5 kurgans, more than 200 underground burials and over 300 jug burials, including other burial monuments: catacomb burials, stone box graves regarding different periods of history were investigated during the large-scale stationary archaeological excavations conducted under the leadership of archaeologist Saleh Gaziyev in Mingachevir during 1946-1953. In general, the archaeological excavations were perfomed in 3500 square meters area in Mingachevir and greater than 20 thousand examples of material culture were found. Thousands of discovered examples of material culture are presently preserved in the Archaeological Fund.
In the 1950-60s, G.Abilova and Sh. Sadikhzadeh made archaeological visits to regions with the purpose of studying archaeological heritage of Azerbaijan especially the monuments of Late Bronze-Early Iron Ages. During the archaeological investigations, numerous material samples of Khojaly-Gadabay culture were discovered and handed over to the Archaeological Fund for permenant preservation.
Another archaeological expedition under the Musuem was arranged during the years of 1968-1987. That expedition led by V.A.Kvachidze conducted underwater archaeological researches mainly in the Caspian Sea. The expedition’s findings, which are scientifically significant for the history of Azerbaijan, are kept in the Archaeological Fund.
At the present time, the number of examples of material culture being preserved in the Fund is more than 50 thousand. Most of them are the archaeological materials of the excavations carried out in Mingachevir, Nakhchivan, Karabagh, Qazakh, Beylagan, Absheron, Mughan, Ganja and other regions. There are also many findings accidentally uncovered in the Fund and the most valuable example is “Dolanlar” collection. A small part of the Fund’s materials consists of replicas and the examples of material culture obtained from personal collections. Those materials with various composition and usage purposes concerning the period from the Stone Age till the 19th century reflect economy, occupation, domestic life, religious and philosophical outlook, cultural and commercial relations, and martial work of our ancestors.
The archaeological samples were placed in the Fund and Electronic Database was formed based on necessary information about them. Electronic certification of the Fund’s materials has been started since 2008. This is being implemented in the special certification program created on the local network of the Museum. 25 % of the Fund’s materials have already been certificated electronically.
The materials of the Archaeological Fund distinguished by their various contents and shapes have drawn the attention of researchers and became their research object. Up to now, a number of scientific-research works, brochures, booklets including the album of “Jug burials of Mingachevir” (“Mingəçevir küp qəbirləri”) (1960), “Ancient Azerbaijani adornments” (“Qədim Azərbaycan bəzəkləri”) (1971), “Atlantis of the Caspian Sea” (“Xəzər Atlantidası”) (2009), “Anthropomorphic terracottas of Azerbaijan” (“Azərbaycanın antropomorf terrakotları”) (2010), “Artistic metal of Shirvan” (“Şirvanın bədii metalı”) (2012) and “Glazed vessels with zoomorphic description” (“Zoomorf təsvirli şirli qablar”) (2016), “Davud bey Sharifov” (“Davud bəy Şərifov”) (2016) and “Weapons of Ancient and Medieval periods of Azerbaijan” (“Azərbaycanın qədim və orta əsr silahları”) (2018) book-albums, “Remnants of Caspian Atlantis” (“Xəzər Atlantidasının yadigarları”) (2020) and “Magical lamp” (“Sehirli çıraq”) (2020) booklets have been published, “The National Museum of History of Azerbaijan and our archaeological heritage” (“Milli Azərbaycan Tarixi Muzeyi və arxeoloji irsimiz”) and “Ceramics of Ancient period of Azerbaijan-oenochoes” (“Azərbaycanın antik dövr keramikası-oynoxoyyalar”) book-albums, “Faience toys” (“Saxsı oyuncaqlar”) and “Misteroius potteries of Azerbaijan-spheroconuses” (“Azərbaycanın sirli saxsıları-sferokonuslar”) catalogs have been prepared for publication. The Fund’s materials are the main source base of all the above-mentioned publications.
The Fund was headed by Y.Pakhamov, I.Jafarzadeh, V.Leviatov, S.Gaziyev, M.Huseynova, Sh.Sadikhzade, G.Aghayev, F.Khalili in different years. The current head of scientific-fund department is PhD in History, Nasir Guluzade.