Black Sea

More than simply a catch-all, the “Black Sea” pulls together the multiple civilizations that have populated the littoral, ranging freely from Bolgars on the Danube with the “relatives” on the Volga, to Genoese traders, to the short-lived kingdom of Trabzon.

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.”

Byzantium

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.

Caucasus

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.

Eurasia

This theme addresses the issue of Russia being something unique to the rest of Europe; it overlaps, for example, with the relationship between Greece and Scythia. And as Central Asia becomes absorbed into the empire, Eurasia becomes more important as a cultural as well as political concept. It includes “perednaia Aziia,” a combination of the southern Caucasus, or “zakavkaze,” and northern Asia Minor. The polyglot Khazars also fit here, because they lay between the two civilizations.

Kurgans

Kurgan is a Turkish word for “castle” that translates as “mound,” “tumulus,” or “barrow,” a reference to the particular burial method of building mounds atop pit-graves. Kurgan culture evolved from the fifth millennia BC, from the Northern Pontic and spread across Central Europe, crossing the Dnepr and moving as far as Kazakhstan, home of the Issyk Kurgan. A practice rather than an ethnicity, kurgan culture united many of the peoples who occupied what became the Russian Empire. Scythians ae perhaps the best known who followed these burial practices because of the spectacular golden items found in many of their kurgans. The most culturally advanced kurgans are complex structures with reinforced walls and numerous internal chambers, and many still lie unexcavated across the steppes.

Linguistics

This overlaps somewhat with other categories, such as Manuscripts and paleography, and it specifically addresses the ideas that developed that connected languages to material culture. Another example, is that studies of words, e.g., Bestuzhev-Riumin on dvorianin, meanings that changed over time, fits here. Also, studies of speech, words, and other verbal artefacts that moved across or in-between cultures.

Manuscripts

From the archeological perspective, this includes Chronicles, and is closely associated therefore with the archival commissions and the Muscovy Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs. In the 19th century it was not always possible to separate archeology from archeography, and manuscripts were included as materail culture. It has a strong affilitation with the bent toward archives, written records.

Paleography/Epigraphy

Sreznevskii gave lectures on this at St. Petersburg: Slaviano-russkaia paleografiia XI-XIV vv. Also, F. I. Bulgakov and others. Considers manuscripts up to 17th, so Old Church Slavoinc included, as well as runes. Epigraphy and the translation of inscriptions belongs, such as Latyshev’s work.