Libmonster ID: U.S.-815
Author(s) of the publication: Vyacheslav MOLODIN

by Acad. Vyacheslav MOLODIN, Deputy Director for scientific work of RAS Institute of Archeology and Ethnography Siberian Branch

The peculiarities of the Paleolithic Age, New Stone Age, the Bronze and Iron ages, the Middle Ages, as well as modern ethno-cultural processes in Western and Eastern Siberia, the Far East, Northern Caucasia, countries of the Central Asia, Mongolia, Iran-that is time coverage and geography of expeditions which are regularly organized by the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the RAS, Siberian Branch. Today it is one of the leading institutes not only in our country but in the whole world.


Now it is difficult to imagine that when setting up the Siberian Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences, the institutes pertaining to the humanities were not supposed to be established in its structure. However, already at the end of the 1950s this viewpoint was revised. In 1961, organizer and chairman of the Branch Academician Mikhail Lavrentiev invited from Leningrad outstanding archeologist, historian and ethnographer Alexey Okladnikov (academician since 1968) to work in Novosibirsk who headed here a department of humanitarian researches of the Institute of Economics and Organization of Industrial Production of the Siberian Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences. He had to start literally from scratch solving, above all, the problem of engaging personnel. It was this department that served as a basis to organize in 1966 the Institute of History, Philology and Philosophy. Philologist and ethnographer Valentin Avrorin (a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences since 1964) and philosopher Gennady Svechnikov (a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences since 1970) took part in its establishment together with Okladnikov who was appointed its first director. Both the outstanding, well-known scientists and those who were still to become leaders in specialized units of the Institute worked under their direction. In the following two decades these enthusiasts ensured success of large research programs as the result of which there were published voluminous "History of Siberia", "History of the Peasantry of Siberia", "History of the Russian Literature of Siberia", unique series "Folklore of the Ethnic Groups of Siberia and the Far East" (the first and the last of the above mentioned works were awarded with State Prizes).

Being an archeologist first of all, Okladnikov paid a lot of attention to his favorite science. At the beginning of the 1970s the author of these lines was lucky enough to be his postgraduate student and then his co-worker. I

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remember these years with gratitude towards my teacher, as well as, I dare to claim, his other student Anatoly Derevyanko who at the age of 22 defended a Ph. D. thesis (academician since 1987), and many now well-known archeologists, historians, ethnographers who threw in their lot with study of Siberia and the Far East. At that time the lack of personnel was made up with intensity of work, above all, field one: expeditions lasted for 5 - 6 months a year. The Institute Director served as an example here. The subject of his particular interest in the 1970s was primitive art. His several monographs are dedicated to the rock drawings (petroglyphs) found by Okladnikov in river basins of the Lena, Angara, Tom, in Altai, and Transbaikalia. The most ancient images of Pleistocene* in Asia were found by him in Mongolia (Tsagan-Agui cave). The latter is notable for the fact that the deposits explored here are dated in a gigantic chronological range-from half a million to 30 thousand years ago.

On the initiative of Okladnikov, a humanitarian faculty was set up in Novosibirsk State University. Its graduates became personnel of the Institute of History, Philology and Philosophy in which a large department of archeology had already been established.

After Okladnikov's death in 1981, the Institute was headed by the then young corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences Anatoly Derevyanko. In 1990 he (academician by that time) became Director General of already Joint Institute of History, Philology and Philosophy of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Siberian Branch, a kind of scientific "confederation" composed of four associated members: institutes of history, philology, philosophy and law, archeology and ethnography. In the 1990s, difficult years for the Russian science, due to the efforts of Derevyanko in many respects, they managed not only to keep personnel but also extend the geography of our expeditions. Year 2001 became a milestone for the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography: it separated from the "confederation" and became completely independent.

Let us dwell in detail on some directions of search of our specialists. The main of them relate to the study of ancient history and culture of the nations of Eurasia, taking into consideration paleo-ecological conditions of habitation of human being in Pleistocene and Holocene**. Researches on this fundamental problem are noted for interdisciplinary nature, wide use of computer technologies when processing materials, and extensive international contacts. The comprehensive and integrated study of the historical past of North, Central and East Asia taking into account interrelations between the cultures which existed here with the ones of Europe and America covers a vast period-from the epoch of Homo erectus and time of Homo sapiens formation to the ethnographic present. Also, attention is paid to traditional cultures of indigenous population, Slavic ethnoses and late migrants from the European part of Russia.

* Pleistocene is the lower section of geological Quarternary period. It is characterized by general cooling of the Earth climate and periodic appearance of vast areas of glaciation in mid-latitudes. Its duration was 1.8 mln - 11.5 thous. years ago. - Ed.

** Holocene (post-glacial era) is the upper section of uncompleted Quarternary period which began approximately 9,600 years B.C. and lasted up till the present. - Ed.

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Appearance of human being of modern type on the Earth is one of the most speculative themes in the world science. Archeology makes its contribution in its solution. Our researches on the problem "Anthropogenesis and problems of mankind formation, development of Eurasia by human being" cover its vast territory from the Urals to the Far East, Mongolian Altai, Central and Southern Gobi, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Northern Caucasia. Annually the Institute expeditionary units explore dozens of paleolithic* sites most of which are new for science. The comprehensive analysis of obtained materials allows to define the time, ways and stages of settlement of these lands, evolution of culture, economic activities and environment of the primitive man. Thus, the excavations of multi-layer paleolithic monuments in Altai gave fundamentally new results: it was established that the primitive man had settled Southern Siberia about 800 thous. years ago; 50 - 45 thous. years ago a transition from middle to the upper Paleolithic Age was finished, that is to the culture of people of modern physical type. Intensive researches of Ancient Stone Age were carried out in other regions of North Asia: in Kuznetsk Basin, in the river basins of the Ob, Yenisei, Angara and Amur.

When studying ancient monuments of Primorye and Priamurye, there were obtained the data relating to the most important problem of definition of the upper chronological border of the Far Eastern Paleolith. In the process of the excavations of multi-layer late paleolithic objects in the river basin of the Zeya and monument Gassya in the Nizhny Amur the development of culture

* The Paleolithic Age is the most ancient period of the Stone Age: it lasted from the appearance of the human being (more than 2 mln years ago) approximately up to 10 thousand years B.C. - Ed.

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of late Paleolithic Age and transition to the New Stone Age* was traced: there appear ground stone instruments, arrow heads. The ceramics found in this settlement and other Amur monuments dated by the 11th-10th century B.C. directly relate to the important problem of the human being' adaptation to natural and climatic conditions which were changed at the end of Pleistocene- the beginning of Holocene. Transition to sedentary life, development of natural raw material resources by the primitive men and invention of the first artificial material-ceramics-are fundamentally significant. The ceramics found in Priamurye is the most ancient in the world.

* The New Stone Age is a period (about 8 - 3 thous. years B.C.) of transition from adopting economy (gathering, hunting) to productive economy (agriculture, cattle breeding). - Ed.

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The joint study of the most ancient sites and natural complex let define the nature of the main paleographic events of Pleistocene, develop a fundamental diagram of paleoclimatic rhythms and landscape changes in North and Central Asia and against this background set up the main directions of paleolithic cultures development. The concept of influence of natural conditions on the human being's adaptation to the environment during hundreds of thousands of years is created together with experts in the area of natural science-geologists, paleozoologists, paleobotanists, paleoclimatologists and some others. These results are of both fundamental and purely applied importance.

In South Daghestan there was found the ancient paleolithic complex of working up stone instruments (it is about 800 thous. years old)-one of the most ancient evidence of stay of people in the Caucasus. In grotto Obi-Rakhmat (Uzbekistan) the discovery of the bone remains of ancient man who lived 50 thousand years ago (that is relating to the period of Homo sapiens formation) became a scientific sensation. It was established that the time and nature of emergence of the upper paleolithic features in the ancient culture of Central Asia are close to the ones in the Middle East, Central Europe and North Asia.

Employees of our sector of the Stone Age archeology carry out equally significant works in the regions of Siberia and the Russian Far East. Chronological schemes of historical and cultural processes which took place in antiquity are suggested for a number of areas. One of them is developed for Gorny Altai where dozens of laminated and well-dated multi-layer monuments of the Paleolithic Age were discovered. Here there was found site Karama (one of the most ancient in Russia) on the materials of which the development of pebble industry (manufacture of instruments out of pebble) was established; it is 600 - 800 thous. years old and has analogues in the paleolith of Central Asia. The middle paleolithic stage of ancient Stone Age in Altai is presented by findings from Denisov and Okladnikov caves. Odontologic materials (teeth) are collected here showing the existence of representatives of early Homo sapiens in the region, which confirms an opportunity of their origin in this part of Asia. According to the materials of multi-layer monuments of paleolith of Altai, the environment of middle and upper Pleistocene is reconstructed under the conditions of cooling, warming, humidifying and aridization (aridity) of climate, periodic development of forest and forest-steppe vegetation and occurrence of seismic processes. There was developed a correlation diagram of mechanisms and forms of cultural adaptation to natural fluctuations for the middle and upper paleolith, reflecting change of used raw material and material culture with successive development of landscape zones and varying biological resources.

Fundamentally new data have been obtained for the last ten years with relation to study of ancient history of Western Siberia plain. Thanks to broad-scale excavations in settlements, sites of ancient settlements, burial grounds, an integral concept of development of cultures of forest-steppe Baraba (inter-stream area of the Ob and Irtysh) from the era of paleometal to the late Middle Ages is suggested.

As to the recent expeditions relating to study of the Stone Age, I shall name one: in 2006, the expedition headed by Director of our Institute Anatoly Derevyanko discovered about 40 sites of ancient man in Northern Iran, including early paleolith.


Pazyryk culture is named after the place of its discovery-natural boundary Pazyryk (Ulagan region of the Republic Altai) (it is similar to the culture of the Scythians-their tribes settled near the Black Sea in the 7th-8th centuries B.C.).

Well-known Pazyryk felts (4th-3rd century B.C.): A - male headwear-helmets; B - fragment of saddle cover.

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Speaking about the first written evidence, Gorny Altai was mentioned already in the 5th century B.C. in one of the books by Herodotus as a habitat of "griffins watching over gold". It is curious that the images of fantastic creatures resembling griffins were discovered in the course of archeological excavations in this area ... two and a half thousand years after they had been mentioned by ancient Greek historian. Most burial mounds with burial places of the 5th-3rd centuries B.C. were robbed even in antiquity. However, some part of their contents survived and was nicely preserved thanks to lenses of artificial permafrost created in the cists. Therefore, the excavations carried out at the end of the 1920s by national archeologist Mikhail Gryaznov and then in the second half of the 1940s by Professor Sergey Rudenko proved to be extremely successful. We carried out a number of archeological excavations in Gorny Altai in the first half of the 1990s, having concentrated, mainly, on the study of the burial mounds located on Ukok plateau (it is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List).

We managed to develop chronostratigraphy of this region from the end of the upper paleolith till ethnographic time, open and examine burial complexes with permafrost, containing the samples of highly artistic goods made of wood, felt and fabric, for a short period of time by the strength of two groups.

Two mummies-a noble lady and soldier of Scythian time (2.5 thous. years ago)-well-preserved in their tombs attracted the attention of world public. The analysis of these impressive findings gave an opportunity to start historical, cultural and social reconstruction which can be assessed as unique as far as their significance for world historical science is concerned*.

Researches of Pazyryk culture were continued at the beginning of the century which came. In 2006, Russian-German-Mongolian archeological expedition managed to discover a very rich, in terms of information content, permafrost burial place in the mountains of Mongolian Altai. For example, a Scythian bow together with wooden arrows, which had been preserved safe and sound, fell into the scientists' hands for the first time. This burial place did not only give the scientists unique physical evidence of the insufficiently explored boundary of Scythian and Hun times (the 3rd century B.C.), but also allowed the community of humanitarian and natural disciplines to become apparent in full. Thus, when looking for a burial mound for future excavations, Novosibirsk geophysics helped us a lot. Already in the course of works we managed to take the samples of fossil ice for future microbiological research and the ones of wood, which had been nicely preserved, fordendrological research.

Since 1997 the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences has conducted a contest of interdisciplinary integration programs developed in the course of

* Academician Vyacheslav Molodin and Natalya Polosmak, Dr. Sc. (Hist.), are awarded with RF State Prize in the field of science and technology for 2004 for a cycle of these works. - Ed.

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world priorities or new fields of knowledge, as well as projects which have a serious scientific reserve letting obtain a fundamentally new result in a short time. Multidisciplinary researches, that is involvement in projects of institutes of different scientific directions, is a compulsory condition. The employees of our Institute take part in several such programs.

The main objective of the project "Paleogenetic analysis of genofond of the ancient population of Siberia" is development of the ethnocultural concept of origin, development and historical fate of bearers of Pazyryk culture who settled Gorny Altai in the era of the early Iron Age* based on molecular and genetic, anthropological analysis of biological objects and osteologic material. As a result, the employees of Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the RAS Siberian Branch obtained DNA chains of the bearers of Pazyryk culture, their genetic linkage with modern Samodi ethnic groups of Western Siberia was revealed, and levels of this linkage with other nations of Eurasia were determined.

In the course of implementation of the program "Physical and chemical research on unique archeological findings of Pazyryk culture of Gorny Altai (6th-2nd centuries B.C.), reconstruction of ancient technologies and world outlook", there was used the widest complex of complementary analytical methods of research of organic materials, ceramics, articles of metal, and mummies. The obtained information about chemical composition and structure of findings allowed to form more credible hypotheses about possible ancient technologies of manufacture of different things and world outlook of the Pazyryks. For example, their secret of a embalming method was revealed. Also, we managed to establish that they had used a natural mineral dye of blue color-vivianite, created ointments on a fatty base using polysynthetic dyes to protect facial skin under the extreme conditions of uplands, tattoo and paint face. The work to implement interdisciplinary programs is carried out in cooperation with the specialists from academic institutes of Novosibirsk and Moscow, as well as the leading scientific centers of Switzerland, Germany, Great Britain and Japan.


Indigenous people of Siberia, Slavic population and late migrants are the subject of study of the Institute ethnographic subdivision. Great attention is paid to exploration of the versions of adaptation of the Russian settlers in Siberia, the peculiarities of their material and spiritual culture. The conclusions touching upon historical aspects of distribution of Slavic cultures, establishment of the Russian administrative and political system in

* Iron Age is a period in the mankind development which started with distribution of iron metallurgy, manufacture of instruments of it. It replaced the Bronze Age at the beginning of the 1st millennium В. С. - Ed.

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Siberia, interrelations with native environment are very important. Assessment of modern state of inter-ethnical relations of the ethnic groups of Siberia and opportunities of their tolerant existence under the conditions of post-Soviet Russia is of applied importance. Modern processes in the environment of indigenous small ethnic groups of Siberia are studied within the framework of the program "Ethnocultural Interrelation of the Nations of Eurasia". Monitoring and analysis of demographic, ethnocultural, and language situation is carried out in cooperation with the Institutes of Cytology and Genetics, Economics and Organization of Industrial Production, Philosophy and Law of the RAS Siberian Branch and chair of genetics of Kemerovo State University.

The materials collected in numerous ethnographic and archeological expeditions supplemented collections of the two museums which work as a part of the Institute. There had been only regional museum of local lore, history and economy in Novosibirsk for a long time. The situation dramatically changed in the 1960s thanks to the activity of Okladnikov. In 1968 on his initiative the Museum of History and Culture of the Ethnic Groups of Siberia and the Far East was created as one of the subdivisions of the Institute of History, Philology and Philosophy. One can say that formation of funds and exposition started literally from scratch. However, active expeditionary work at that time by the academician and his pupils promoted quick stocking of the collection with unique exhibits. Presently, their number amounts to several dozens of thousands.

Starting with the 1970s, the museum collections have become a part of national and foreign exhibitions, while the museum itself-an original visiting card of humanitarian profile of the Siberian science. Pride of the sector of museum technologies and restoration is the Open-Air Museum of History and Architecture set up in 1971 also on the initiative of Okladnikov. Its central exhibit is a masterpiece of the Russian wooden architecture Spasso-Preobrazhenskaya church of Zashiversky prison of the Indigirka River (Yakutia). Petroglyph compositions of neolithic era from the lower Amur, anthropomorphous Stellas of the Bronze Age from the middle Yenisei River, deer stones of Scythian time from Transbaikalye and Altai form a part of the exposition of ancient monumental art of Siberia. The Museum has one of the largest collections of ancient Turkic sculptures from different regions of North and Central Asia.

I can't help mentioning an experience level of our restorers. If earlier we had to appeal to our colleagues from Switzerland and Germany in the issues of restoration of, for example, cloth, now there is no need in this. Foreign specialists visiting the Institute mark a high level of the restoration works carried out here.


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Vyacheslav MOLODIN, FROM THE DEPTHS OF THE MILLENNIA // New-York: Libmonster (LIBMONSTER.COM). Updated: 25.09.2018. URL: (date of access: 21.07.2024).

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