Architecture

This refers primarily to religious structures, beginning with the Church of the Tithes, or Desitinnaia tserkov in Kiev. Construction began in 989 to celebrate Vladimir’s baptism to Christianity, and the controversies that erupted over its excavation in the 1840s launched the debate about whether old churches should be restored to their original forms or consistently “updated,” as they had been in the past. This also includes Catholic and Uniate churches “restored” to Orthodoxy in the NW Region, and also the Christian East, the churches in the Caucasus.

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.”

Cimmerian Bosporus

Various political incarnations, 438 BC to 380 CE. With its capital at Panticapaeum, it was alternately a Greek post and a client state of the Roman Empire. Best known king, Mithridates VI who tried to take on the Romans in 63 CE, and committed suicide after this failure.

Scythia

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.

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.

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.

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.

Numismatics

This is were it all began, with antiquarians collecting coins. P. S. Savelev pressed the archeology over the numismatics in organizing the Russian Archeological Society. Coins became much more than collectors’ items, though, transforming into indicators of economic contacts and the evolution of states. By 1902 archeologists were producing maps of where different types of coins had been found.

Orthodoxy

Although a broad theme, this incorporates the shift toward saving religious artefacts and restoring churches in ways that connect Orthodoxy with colonization.