Christian East

Although this overlaps with Byzantium and the Christian Caucasus, it incorporates other territories not so specifically associated with the better known early Christian societies, such as the Copts in Egypt. The journal “Christian East,” published by the Academy of Sciences from 1911, was devoted to “dedicated to the study of Christian culture of the peoples of Asia and Africa.”


No archeological region proved more crucial to Russia’s identity, both politically and culturally. Condemned as “incapable of thought and action” from the turn of the 18th century by such influential historians as Edward Gibbon and Georg Hegel, Byzantium had provided Russia with the Orthodox religion that provided a cornerstone to its 19th-century ideology of “Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality.” Preeminent archeologist Nikodim Kondakov led the way in challenging this image of the empire to which his own was currently laying claim in a nuanced translatio imperii. The journal Византійскій временникъ, ‘Byzantine Chronicle,’ began publication under V. G. Vasil’evskii in 1894.


The Caucasus became absolutely central to the Russian Imperial Imagination.

Classical Antiquity

This includes the predominant ancient civilizations: Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Though less important than the others, Egypt also figures into Russian archeology.


This is central to Russian identity; it provides the connection to Antiquity by its interactions with Greek traders, as it also gives Russians an historical foothold on the Black Sea littoral as they began to claim Scythian ancestory.


Although constructed originally in first centuries of the Christian era, this fortress, excavated first by V. I. Sizov in 1886, returned to prominence under the Ottoman Empire. The ruins left behind pull together the many cultures and confessions of eastern Black Sea littoral. Rebuilt by Genoese traders circa the turn of the 14th century, kale is the Turkish word for fortress, and Mamai refers to the stone babas, or steppe idols associated with the Cumans, or Polovtsi, nomadic tribes who traded with the Italians and others.

Sudak Fortress

A Genoese fortress, on the northern Black Sea littoral. The complex of fortifications in this area dates 6th-16th centuries.

Veselovskii, N. I.

An Orientalist and one of the first Russian archeologists to excavate in Samarkand and other points in Central Asia, Nikolai Ivanovich was one of the most productive and among the most familiar. In addition to Central Asia, he excavated in the Kuban region between the Black Sea and the Caucasus, and excavated the Maikop culture, a major find. He lectured at the Petersburg Archeological Institute, served on the IAK, and published widely. His best-known work was “Mosques of Central Asia” (1905).

Stefani, L. E.

Minister of Education Sergei Uvarov invited the Leipzig-educated Stefani to head the department of classical philology at Dorpat University in 1846. Trained in Greek epigraphy, Stefani moved to St. Petersburg four years later, to the Hermitage, where he studied artefacts sent from the Black Sea littoral. His methodology of not interpreting beyond what was in his hand influenced his students to be scrupulous and careful about what claims they could make.

Stempkovskii, I. A.

Little is known about Ivan Alekseevich before he was appointed adjutant to the Duc de Richelieu, the Frenchman in Russian service as the Governor of New Russia, 1805-1814. When the Duc returned to Paris in 1814 with the victorious Russian army, he stayed on as the Foreign Minister of the restored Bourbon dynasty. Stempkovskii found himself now attached to M. S. Vorontsov, who would become the new Governor-General. Stempkovskii developed a keen interest in archeology, and when in 1828 Vorontsov appointed him mayor of Kerch, the former Greek Panticapaeum, he expanded excavations and built an archeological museum to take full advantage of the wealth of digs in the area. He himself published on the Bosporan Kingdom, and after his premature death, was buried on Mt. Mithridat. He worked closely with Paul Du Brux, and together they opened the Kul-Oba kurgan in 1830.