Libmonster ID: U.S.-1493
Author(s) of the publication: V. A. Yakobson

Igor Mikhailovich Diakonov, one of the world's largest and most authoritative experts on the ancient East, was born on January 12, 1915 (according to Novomustil) and died after a long serious illness on May 2, 1999. Between these two dates-63 years of scientific activity (counting from his first scientific report in 1936) and all the storms of our time centuries. He was born in Petrograd, lived in Leningrad, and died in St. Petersburg. He was born a citizen of the Russian Empire, was a citizen of the Soviet Union, and died a citizen of the Russian Federation. Two world wars, a revolution, bloody repressions, persecution of dissent, flashes of hope and bitter disappointments - all this he experienced together with the country as everyone who had to live long in these times. The result of this long life (except for children, grandchildren, great - grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren) is about three dozen books and more than five hundred articles, as well as many students and admirers in many countries of the world. The word "about" means, firstly, that the works of I. M. Diakonov continue to be published, and secondly, that he did not know the exact number of them (because he never kept an account of them) and bibliographers do not know (because not all of his works are available in libraries). Creating an exhaustive bibliography is a matter of the future. Now it is only possible to briefly describe the main directions of his scientific activity and his monographic works. All the works of Igor Mikhailovich can be divided into three groups: 1) works devoted to political and socio-economic history; 2) works devoted to languages and scripts of the ancient East; 3) translations of written monuments of the ancient East, historical sources and literary monuments (in the latter case, we are talking about artistic translations). All these three groups consist of original monographs and articles (the vast majority of them, both in number and especially in volume), as well as reviews, editing and management of collective works. His almost improbable versatility in our time of narrow specialization, incredible erudition and indefatigable diligence allowed him to study almost simultaneously in different languages, different countries, different historical periods, creating works that have always been a new word in science, attracted the attention of all colleagues and, as a rule, retain their significance and remain desktop for any specialist in this field. the issues raised in them. This is also surprising, considering that in our time of rapid development of Oriental studies, even very good works become obsolete quickly. At the same time, he still managed to study with his graduate students and doctoral students and many "unofficial" students, advise, help with advice and business. It should also be mentioned about his scientific and organizational activities, leadership of the Group of Ancient Oriental Philology of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, leadership of collective works, organization of scientific congresses and conferences, participation in the work of permanent editorial boards, etc. And to all this, we should add his hobby-Pushkin studies, where he also created several works that were highly appreciated by Pushkin artists, as well as his journalistic performances... Now, when you look at the legacy of Igor Mikhailovich, it seems that no one can do this at all, especially considering that only a small part of his works were co-authored.

page 5

If you also take into account the variety of their subjects, you may get the impression that these works were created not by one person, but by an entire scientific institute. Igor Mikhailovich Diakonov was the last of the universal scientists, or perhaps the forerunner of a new synthesis of sciences, the rejection of their excessive fragmentation: after all, this universality was the distinctive feature of all his works. In them, he appears simultaneously as a historian, as a philologist, and as a linguist. Therefore, the attribution of one or another of his works to a particular branch of Oriental studies is largely conditional.

He published his first monograph, "The Development of Land Relations in Assyria" (Leningrad, 1949), shortly after his return from the war. The content of the work is much larger than the dash of its title. In fact, this is the first essay on the socio-economic history of Assyria and its state structure against the background of political history. Thanks to this book, Assyriology, which until now had been primarily a philological science, began to turn into a comprehensive, historical and philological discipline. The book, published 50 years ago, still remains not only a classic, fundamental, but continues to be widely cited. It was the first to formulate the now generally accepted idea of the existence of two economic sectors in ancient Mesopotamia - communal-private and royal-temple, an idea that was developed in further historical research by I. M. Diakonov. The research is based on meticulous work on texts, which is especially difficult at a time when there were no existing large dictionaries. In general, in addition to the content that is still relevant, the book has determined the characteristic of all subsequent monographs of I. M. Diakonov's method: a combination of strict philological acribia and clear logic with bold historical and socio-economic generalizations, which later, as a rule, were confirmed.

These features are also characteristic of the next work by I. M. Dyakonov - "Assyro-Babylonian sources on the history of Urartu", published in VDI in 1951-1952. It is a collection of annotated translations of all the known Mesopotamian sources on the history of Urartu. Its significance for Urarthology is extremely great, and Igor Mikhailovich retained his interest in Urartu for the rest of his life, which was reflected in a number of his subsequent works.

In 1951, the first result was published, which lasted for many more years of joint work with V. A. Livshits on the famous Parthian (Pahlavi) texts from the Nisa - "Tax Parthian documents from the Nisa". Their next book was published nine years later ("Documents from Nisa. I century BC. e. Preliminary results of the work". Moscow, 1960). And in 1979, another one was published - "Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum "(Pt. I-III. V. II. Parthian Economic Texts from Nisa. Ed.D. N. MacKenzie. Lund Hemphries, 1979). Both co-authors showed their best qualities here and, in particular, the ability to work simultaneously with several unrelated languages and read very difficult writing. The cursive version of the Aramaic script used to write texts from Nisa is extremely difficult to read. The difficulty was compounded by the fact that it was not known in what language these texts were actually written. The co-authors proposed a very non-trivial solution: the texts were written in the Iranian (Parthian) language in Aramaic (i.e. Semitic) heterograms, which were read in Parthian! At first, most experts reacted to the conclusions of the co-authors more than coolly, but now their point of view is generally accepted.

The versatility of Igor Mikhailovich was again clearly manifested in 1952 ,when he (in collaboration with I. M. Dunaevskaya and Ya.M. Magaziner) published in VDI "The Laws of Babylonia, Assyria and the Hittite Kingdom". This publication is a translation, commentary (historical, real and legal) and a comparative study of all the cuneiform legislative monuments known at that time. It is particularly important that this work was undertaken for the first time in the world, and although many new translations and interpretations of these texts have appeared since then, it remains significant to this day.

page 6

In 1956, the "History of the Mussel from the earliest times to the end of the IV century BC" was published. The history of the Mussel is very difficult to study, since the actual written monuments of the Medes have not come down to us. Here we can rely only on the data of archeology and linguistics, as well as on the evidence of Mesopotamian, ancient Babylonian and ancient sources. All these sources were available to Igor Mikhailovich in the original, and he was also able to interpret archaeological sites independently. To this day, Deacon's "History of the Mussel" remains a unique example of a book based solely on first-hand data. Ten years later, it was translated into Persian and published in Iran. The book remains today the most important source of information about the ancient Mussel.

In the future, Igor Mikhailovich publishes a book every two or three years (while still managing to publish a dozen articles annually). Monograph " Social and state system of the ancient Two Rivers. Sumer" (Moscow, 1959) actually marked the beginning of systematic studies of the socio-economic history of Sumer around the world. Even today, researchers draw from it fruitful ideas about the role of the community, land ownership, and the nature of the state in Sumer.

Two years later, readers, experts and non-specialists received a commented translation of the most famous monument of cuneiform literature - " The Epic of Gil-amesh (Who saw everything...) "(Moscow-L., 1961). The translation is made in verse and (for the first time in the world) the size of the original. As you know, the text has come down to us in poor condition and in several versions dating from different periods. Igor Mikhailovich made a bold attempt to create a single text on this basis. Subsequently, he repeatedly supplemented his translation (reprinted many times) with newly published fragments. Despite all the scientific indisputability of this attempt, the translation of I. M. Diakonov was and still is a huge success and revealed another side of Igor Mikhailovich's talent - a poetic talent that will continue to manifest itself in the future. As for Gilgamesh, we can say that it has become an integral part of Russian culture, like other classical translations.

In 1963, Urartian Letters and Documents were published, publishing all known Urartian cuneiform texts on clay tablets. This work immediately promoted I. M. Diakonov to the first ranks of Urarthologists in the world. It provided the first glimpse into the daily life of the Urartians, hitherto known only from archaeological finds.

Igor Mikhailovich intensively studied linguistics. The first result of these studies was the book "Semitic-Hamitic Languages. Classification Experience" (simultaneously published in English). It deals with the macrofamily of languages currently referred to (at the suggestion of I. M. Dyakonov) as Afrasian. In this book, Igor Mikhailovich discusses a number of issues that remain controversial to this day: the division of the macrofamily, the number of independent branches, the origin of the three-consonant root, the possibility and degree of reliability of reconstruction for understanding the primordial history, and the location of the ancestral home of this macrofamily. Initially, Igor Mikhailovich placed this ancestral homeland in Africa, then recognized the hypothesis of an Asian ancestral homeland as more likely, and in recent years he has been thinking about a new original idea (I would like to find these materials in his archive).

The continuation of this work was the book " Languages of Ancient Near Asia "(Moscow, 1967). Here, unlike the previous one, we consider languages that are often unrelated to each other, but were part of the same cultural circle, which forms the basis for their joint consideration. The short but very informative essays are of interest to both linguists and those who want to study any of the languages described in the book. Even today, his work remains the only one of its kind.

Being both a historian and a linguist, Igor Mikhailovich put history first. Linguistics was for him not an end in itself, but a means to better understand written monuments and look beyond them and beyond them in general.

page 7

written history. The monograph "Prehistory of the Armenian people (History of the Armenian Highlands from 1500 to 500 BC Hurrians, Luvians and Proto-Armenians)" (Yerevan, 1968) became an example of such use of linguistics. Such a book could only be written by a person who is equally well versed in both the methods of linguistics and the methods of history. It contains a convincing solution to the very complex and controversial issue of the origin of Armenians. But its significance is even broader, because it proves the heterogeneity of any nation and eliminates any demagoguery about "autochthonous" and "historical rights". All this is especially important in our time, when nationalism is taking on the character of an epidemic. In 1984, a revised and expanded version of this monograph was published in the United States.

The 60s and 80s were marked by a new flourishing of Urarthology and Hurriology. These two languages - Urartian and Hurrian-are close relatives, and their interpretation (especially in the lexical part) is still far from being satisfactory. But significant progress has been made in studying their grammatical structure, as well as their relationships with other languages. And the most important role here was played by the books "Hurrisch und Urartaisch "(Munchen, 1971) and "Hurro-Urartian as an Eastern Caucasian Language" (Mtinchen, 1986) (the latter co - authored with S. A. Starostin). His grammatical ideas and the joint idea with Starostin about the relationship of the Hurrian-Urartian languages with the North-East Caucasian (Nakh-Dagestan) languages are gaining more and more supporters over the years.

A side but important result of these studies was the joint work of I. M. Diakonov and S. M. Kashkai on historical geography- " Geographical Names According to Urartian Texts (Repertoire geographique des textes cuneiformes. Bd 9)" (Wiesbaden, 1981). This is an important part of a multi-volume publication devoted to geographical names found in cuneiform texts.

At the same time, the first two issues of the Comparative Historical Dictionary of Afrasian Languages (Moscow, 1981-1982) were published. This work, initiated and supervised by I. M. Diakonov, was aimed at clarifying the relationships between different branches of the Afrasian language family and reconstructing the Proto-Afrasian state. Unfortunately, due to a number of circumstances, the work was not continued, although the first issues aroused great interest.

In 1983, the first part of the first volume "History of the Ancient East"was published, and in 1988 - the second part. The sections written by I. M. Dyakonov represent a major monograph devoted to the prehistory of Ancient Eastern civilizations and the history of the Two Rivers of the III-II millennium BC. This publication is now the main Russian-language manual on the history of this period. There is a manuscript of the text intended for the next volume, and we would like to hope that the publication will be continued.

The next linguistic work by I. M. Dyakonov, "The Phrygian" (N.Y., 1986) (co - authored with V. Neroznak), contains a new interpretation of the Phrygian language and preliminary translations of inscriptions-the subject of long and heated scientific discussions. The book is a serious contribution to Indo-European studies.

In 1985, a collection of translations of eastern and Western poetry was published, created by Igor Mikhailovich and his older (early deceased) brother Mikhail Mikhailovich. All translations are marked by excellent skill, and the book instantly became a bibliographic rarity.

In 1988, Igor Mikhailovich published the book " Afrasian Languages "(Moscow: Nauka). The ideas expressed in it about the history and composition of this family of languages, about its phonological and morphological systems, and about the problems of reconstructing the proto-Afrasian state make this book a reference book for anyone who deals with these problems.

In many of his works, Igor Mikhailovich emphasized the importance of social psychology for understanding the historical process and ancient mentality. One of the most interesting and most difficult to understand manifestations of social and individual psychology is the myth. It is enough to note the fact that in general-

page 8

there is no accepted theory of myth. In the book" Archaic Myths of the East and West " (Moscow, 1990), Igor Mikhailovich offers his understanding of the essence and role of myth. According to I. M. Diakonov, a myth is a detailed trope, with the help of which a person learns and explains the world when it is impossible to use generalizing concepts and categories. This view, of course, is far from indisputable, but a number of interpretations of certain mythological manifestations contained in the book undoubtedly allow us to understand a lot about them. The book was also published in English translation: "Archaic Myths of the Orient and Occident "(Goteborg, 1993).

In 1990, the monograph "People and Cities of Ur" (series "Culture of the Peoples of the East", issue 2) was published. It is interesting and valuable because it covers the daily economic, religious and cultural life of a large Mesopotamian city in the first half of the XX century BC. e. After conducting a huge study of the archaeological data found in Ur with the expedition of L. Woolley, I. M. Diakonov managed to compile family archives that sometimes cover more than one generation, and even establish the "addresses" of these families. The city of Ur appears in the book as a living reality, which makes it extremely interesting for both specialists and the general reader.

The following year, I. M. Diakonov's work on linguistics, Proto - Afrasian and Old Akkadian, was published, which took an entire issue in the Journal of Afro-Asian Linguistics (1991). Here Igor Mikhailovich addresses the problem of phonetics of the Akkadian language -the oldest (along with Egyptian) written recorded Afrasian language. Cuneiform, originally invented for the Sumerian language, is not able to adequately convey Akkadian phonetics, as a result of which the current pronunciation of Akkadian words is largely conditional. Comparing different spellings of the same words, as well as using data from other Afrasian languages, Igor Mikhailovich proposed a reconstruction of the real phonetic composition of the Old Akkadian language and determining the place of this language among Semitic and Afrasian languages.

Returning to his historical studies, Igor Mikhailovich publishes the book " Ways of History: from the oldest man to our days "(Moscow, 1994). It is the result of Igor Mikhailovich's theoretical reflections on the historical process. As you know, there are now two main approaches to the study of history: stadium and civilizational, and the second is now more fashionable, although both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. Igor Mikhailovich adheres to the stadium approach, dividing the entire history of mankind into eight phases. The transition from one phase to another is accompanied by fundamental changes in social psychology and in the entire system of values. According to I. M. Dyakonov, an important role is also played by improving the means of violence, both technical, organizational and psychological. The book attracted great attention all over the world, and in 1999 (after the author's death) its English translation was published by Cambridge University Press (England). The translation was made by the author himself, and he made some changes and clarifications to the book, so that this translation should be considered the final version of "Paths of History".

The last work published during the lifetime of Igor Mikhailovich was the book "The Old Testament. The lamentation of Jeremiah. Ecclesiastes. The Song of Songs "(Moscow, 1998; co-authored with L. Kogan). It contains translations (the size of the original) with a detailed commentary of the three books of the Old Testament listed above. In the Lamentation of Jeremiah, it was possible to reproduce even such a feature of the original as the acrostic. This book, like many other works by Igor Mikhailovich, will bring pleasure to both specialists and the general reader. There is also a high symbolism in the fact that it is this work that sums up a long and beautiful life at this very time, which ended simultaneously with the epoch and itself formed an epoch: it contains the love of youth, the wisdom of a man who has lived for a long time and thought a lot, and sorrow for the disasters that have befallen the country and the people.

It is impossible to describe at least briefly the articles of Igor Mikhailovich.

page 9

it can also be roughly divided into the same three groups. It is important to note that almost all of them (starting with the very first one) retain their significance and now, almost no serious Oriental work in the world can do without reference to them (as well as to his monographs). And so, apparently, it will be for a long time. In the humanities, there is no "Citation Index", but even with the naked eye, it is clear that Igor Mikhailovich is the most cited humanitarian. And this is explained, as already mentioned, by his incredible versatility and high quality of his work.

It is also important to note his tireless organizational work. On his initiative and under his leadership (together with V. D. Neronova and I. S. Sventsitskaya), three editions of the collective work "History of the Ancient World" were published (the total circulation is almost 150 thousand copies). This is the first Russian-language work of this type. From similar works already existing in the world (such as "Cambridge Ancient History") it is distinguished by its conceptual unity and accessibility of presentation with highly scientific content. All these qualities make it useful and interesting for the broadest reader-from schoolchildren to history teachers.

Not being engaged in political activities, Igor Mikhailovich, however, was not above making publicistic speeches. He wrote about the problems of ethics, about the anti-human nature of racism, and denounced any attempts to" scientifically " justify racial, national or religious discord, or any kind of xenophobia.

An entire epoch has ended in our science. A man of great talents, great diligence and great decency has left us. We were orphaned, and the "invisible college" that Igor Mikhailovich was the natural head of for so many years was closed. He was very famous all over the world, was a member of many foreign academies and scientific societies, although he was never elected to either the USSR Academy of Sciences or the Russian Academy of Sciences. However, he treated the ranks and ranks ironically. It is not yet possible to assess the scale of the loss that has befallen us. Neither one of us, nor all of us put together, can replace him alone. We can only try to ensure that the "thin thread of knowledge" (his own words) is not interrupted and is continued. He will continue to help us do this with his works and his unique, priceless library, which he bequeathed to the Group of Ancient Oriental Philology of the St. Petersburg branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

IGOR MIKHAILOVICH DIAKONOFF (A Review of His Scholarly Work) V.A. Jakobson

The article gives a brief review of scholarly work by I.M. Diakonoff, a major scholar and a great expert in Ancient Orient. His rare universatility, erudition and infatigable creativity enabled him to publish some 30 books (all of them described in this article) and more than 500 papers in the period from 1938 to 1998. His works may de divided into 3 groups: (1) social and economic history; (2) works on languages and literatures of Ancient Orient; (3) translations of historical and literary sources. He wrote books on the history of Assyria, Babylonia, Sumer, Urartu, Parthia, Armenia and on the languages of Near East and Central Asia. He also published his translation of the Tale of Gilgamesh, the book "Archaic Myths of East and West" and the book "Old Testament. Lamentations of Jeremiah. Ecclesiastes. Song of Songs".

Theoretical reflections upon historical process were summarized in his monograph "The Ways of History: from the Primitive Man to Our Days" (1994).


Permanent link to this publication:

Similar publications: LUnited States LWorld Y G


Ann JacksonContacts and other materials (articles, photo, files etc)

Author's official page at Libmonster:

Find other author's materials at: Libmonster (all the World)GoogleYandex

Permanent link for scientific papers (for citations):

V. A. Yakobson, IGOR MIKHAILOVICH DIAKONOV. (Scientific biography) // New-York: Libmonster (LIBMONSTER.COM). Updated: 17.06.2024. URL: (date of access: 25.07.2024).

Publication author(s) - V. A. Yakobson:

V. A. Yakobson → other publications, search: Libmonster USALibmonster WorldGoogleYandex


Reviews of professional authors
Order by: 
Per page: 
  • There are no comments yet
Related topics
Ann Jackson
Chicago, United States
67 views rating
17.06.2024 (38 days ago)
0 subscribers
0 votes
Related Articles
an hour ago · From Ann Jackson
2 hours ago · From Ann Jackson
3 hours ago · From Ann Jackson
5 hours ago · From Ann Jackson
Catalog: Science Economics 
5 days ago · From Ann Jackson
5 days ago · From Ann Jackson
5 days ago · From Ann Jackson
Progress Sums: 1,2,3,4,5..., -1,-2,-3,-4,-5... It can be found using the formula: Sn=(n²a₁+n)/2. Progress Sum: 1,3,6,10,15..., -1,-3,-6,-10,-15... It can be found using the formula: Sn= ((n+a₁)³-(n+a₁))/6. Progress Sum: 1,4,9,16,25..., -1,-4,-9,-16,-25... It can be found using the formula: Sn= a₁(n+a₁)(n²a₁+0.5n)/3. (Where n - is the number of summable terms, a₁ - is the first term of the progression).
Catalog: Mathematics 
6 days ago · From Andrei Verner
To the 80th anniversary of YEVGENY MAKSIMOVICH PRIMAKOV
Catalog: Science History Philosophy 
6 days ago · From Ann Jackson
6 days ago · From Ann Jackson

New publications:

Popular with readers:

News from other countries:

LIBMONSTER.COM - U.S. Digital Library

Create your author's collection of articles, books, author's works, biographies, photographic documents, files. Save forever your author's legacy in digital form. Click here to register as an author.
Library Partners

IGOR MIKHAILOVICH DIAKONOV. (Scientific biography)

Editorial Contacts
Chat for Authors: U.S. LIVE: We are in social networks:

About · News · For Advertisers

U.S. Digital Library ® All rights reserved.
2014-2024, LIBMONSTER.COM is a part of Libmonster, international library network (open map)
Keeping the heritage of the United States of America


US-Great Britain Sweden Serbia
Russia Belarus Ukraine Kazakhstan Moldova Tajikistan Estonia Russia-2 Belarus-2

Create and store your author's collection at Libmonster: articles, books, studies. Libmonster will spread your heritage all over the world (through a network of affiliates, partner libraries, search engines, social networks). You will be able to share a link to your profile with colleagues, students, readers and other interested parties, in order to acquaint them with your copyright heritage. Once you register, you have more than 100 tools at your disposal to build your own author collection. It's free: it was, it is, and it always will be.

Download app for Android