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.

Ethnography

This category largely belongs to Dmitri Anuchin and those who worked with him. Primarily an anthropologist avant la lettre, Anuchin was prominet on several faculties and societies because he understood archeology to be an assimilation of the social sciences, derived from material culture. And it also refers to Alexei Uvarov’s work with tribes, especially the Meriane and Finno-Ugric. Craniology was important, too, in first congresses. Scythia and Kurgans belong as subthemes because these also prompted questions of ethnography. Folklore also belongs here, because they understood it as ethnographic.

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.

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.

Mongols

The Mongol Conquest, circa 1240-1480. During these years, the Russian principalities were absorbed into the Qipchak Khanate, but retained a high degree of cultural and religious independence. Novgorod, for example, remained its own entity; all paid tribute to the khan in Sarai.

Muscovy

This refers to Medieval Russia, from when the Mongol conquest ended Rus, until the rise of Peter the Great ended the time frame for archeology. However, it covers more of a geographical than a temporal space. During much of this time Ukraine was not a part of Muscovy, and is treated separately at the archeological congresses.

Orthodoxy

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

Rus

This theme connects Kiev, Novgorod, and pre-Mongol, and therefore pre-Muscovite Russia. It includes the controversial “calling of the Varangians,” a theme especially popular at the 8th Congress in Muscovy in 1890.

Slavophilia

As Slavophilism morphed into pan-Slavism in the 19th century, it spilled over into archeology. This registered in the development of specific branches of Slavic or Russian archeology in many of the professional societies; Russian here included Little Russia and White Russia. When the Archeological Institute opened in Constantinople in 1894, direcotr Fedor Uspenskii focused on Serbia and Bulgaria, Slavic territories in the Ottoman Empire.

Gnezdovo Kurgans

In 1867 workers building the Orel-Vitebsk railroad found a cache of silver jewelry, in what turned into a major discovery of a settlement from 10th-century Rus. Of particular interest to archeologists is material about Scandanavian burial customs. Sizov raised controversies when he presented on the kleima – or seals on a number of the clay implements, suggesting a developed cultural identity. Systematic excavations have been conducted since; when the Germans occupied Smolensk during World War II, they sent artefacts back to Berlin.