Ossovskii epitomizes the fluidity of imperial borders in matters of archeological excavations. Ethnically Polish from Zhitomir, he was forced to quit his studies and fight on the Russian side during the Crimean War. He got pulled into archeology by way of studying the geology of Volhynia, where he sat on the local Statistical Committee. He then moved to Krakow, Galicia, to excavate at the invitation of Polish archeologists; his background in geology took him to the Stone Age. After 18 years in Galicia, he returned to Russia, to excavate in Siberia.