Caucasus

The Caucasus became absolutely central to the Russian Imperial Imagination.

Ukraine/Little Russia

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.

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.

Stone Age

This is problematic for Russia, in that Alexei Uvarov was the first to write a history of the Stone Age, but he did so on precious little evidence. He believed that peoples came out of Asia through the Caucasus to Northern Europe, but as the papers at the 5th Congress in Tiflis pointed out, such evidence depends largely on speculation. Then the evidence seems to have jumped quickly to “metal,” but basically unclear.