— The Department of Ancient Eastern Studies —
When the Leningrad Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies was established in 1956, there was no Department of Ancient Eastern Studies. However, there was a group of scholars of relevant disciplines that included I.M. Diakonoff, I.M. Dunaevskaya, V.A. Livshits, A.G. Perikhanian and S.M. Batsieva (later to become an Arabist).
In 1958, a new sub-division was formed, aimed at historical studies and headed by acad. V.V. Struve.
In 1959, the Department of Ancient Eastern Studies was set up at the Institute’s headquarters in Moscow. A little later, a similar department was established at the Leningrad Branch of the Institute with acad. V.V. Struve as its chairman. The staff of the newly organised Department included all the Assyriologists and some new fellows, such as the Egyptologists I.G. Livshits, O.D. Berlev, Y.J. Perepelkin and an Assyriologist and Iranist M.A. Dandamaev, who were all enrolled by V.V. Struve from the Institute of Histoircal Studies in 1959. In 1959 and at the beginning of the 1960s, the Department acquired with an Iranist I.M. Oransky, the Egyptologists H.A. Kink, I.V. Vinogradov, a Coptologist A.I. Elanskaya, a Papyrologist I.F. Fikhman and the Assyriologists V.A. Jacobson, I.T. Kaneva and G.H.Kaplan.
Gradually, the number of scholars increased to 20 people: historians, philologists, linguists and archaeologists. It is important to note that the Department has always dealt with both a broad time period (from the most ancient periods till the beginning of the common era) and a vast geographic scale (from Egypt and Mesopotamia till Japan, China, Korea and India).
The structure of the Department consisted of two sub-divisions, those of historical and philological studies (the latter ones were mostly carried out by Assyriologists). Historians studied various aspects of political, social, economic, religious and cultural history, paying special attention to the signs of emerging statehood: commune genesis, temple property and agrarian relationships. Philologists and linguists studied Ancient Eastern languages and literatures and published some texts and translations of them.
The Department’s most important projects included research on so-called “thorough” topics, carried out by scholars of various disciplines. For example, the project entitled Ancient Babylonian Cities brought together the forces of I.M. Diakonoff, who studied the city of Ur, N.V. Kozyreva, who studied the city of Larsa, and V.A. Jacobson, who studied certain theoretic and juridical aspects of the city life. A number of collective monographs by M.A. Dandamaev, O.D. Berlev, M.V. Vorobiev, K.V. Vassiliev, I.M. Diakonoff, V.A. Jacobson, I.D. Amusin and I.F. Fikhman reflected important aspects of social and economic relationships.
The following provides a brief description of the academic activities of the Department’s scholars.
As was said, the foundation of the Department was closely connected with the name of Vassily Vassilievich Struve (1959—1965; hereafter the data in brackets indicate years of work at the Department), a famous Egyptologist and Assyriologist, one of the most pre-eminent Orientalists of the 20th century and the patriarch of the Ancient Near East studies in our country. He published hundreds of papers on the history, languages and social institutions of Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Iran. Among all he edited the famous Mathematical Papyrus of the New Kingdom kept at the Moscow Pushkin Museum.
For a long time, V.V. Struve was the only Sumerologist of the Institute and wrote a great number of papers on the history and language of the Sumerians, including a book entitled The Lagash State. His book on the Sumerian onomatology, edited by his pupil G.H. Kaplan, was published posthumously. It is also worth mentioning that he paid much attention to both administrative and teaching activities when at Leningrad State University.
Egyptologic studies were carried out by a number of great scholars. The most senior, Isaak G. Livshits (who worked at the Department from 1959-1966), studied Egyptian religion, which he considered to represent a clue to the mentality of the Ancient Egyptians. The history of Egyptian writing and the issues surrounding its deciphering were another principal object of his research. He translated the most important texts from the epochs of the Middle and New Kingdoms. He also edited texts inscribed on the Old and Middle Egyptian sarcophagi from the V.S. Golenischev collection kept at the Moscow Pushkin Museum.
The academic work of Yury J. Perepelkin reached its climax at the time he worked at the Department (1959—1982). He was a brilliant expert in the Egyptian language, his major interest was in the Amarna epoch (New Kingdom). His two principal monographs — The Revolution of Amenhotp IV consisting of 2 volumes and Kia and Smenkhkare. On the End of the Sun-Worshipping Revolt — made a breakthrough in the Egypt studies. His chapter on Egypt in the History of the Ancient East was the first academic review of Egyptian history after that by B.A. Turaev. A number of his works were published posthumously, most of all thanks to E.S. Bogoslovsky.
Hilda A. Kink (1960-1976) paid much attention to the study of productive forces and relations of production in ancient Egypt, since the development of these factors made possible a shift to the class-based society and the emergence of the state. In her book How the Pyramids Were Built H. Kink scrutinised the sophisticated technological methods developed in Egypt. Her book Artistic Handicraft of the Earliest Egypt and Neighbouring Countries is also worth mentioning.
Works by Oleg D. Berlev (1959-2000) reflected various aspects of the life of the Ancient Egyptians, history and culture of Egypt, first of all those of the Middle Kingdom. The scholar was especially interested in the social and economic relationships with a focus on the working folk of Ancient Egypt. O.D. Berlev brought together and studied a huge number of various texts that allowed him to specify, for the first time, some main categories of the so-called njswt (the king’s slaves). This work resulted in monographs The Working People in the Middle Kingdom Of Egypt and The Social Relationships in the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. The edition of all the epigraphic texts of ancient Egypt kept at the Moscow Pushkin Museum produced by him and S.I. Hodjash is also of great academic significance.
Igor V. Vinogradov (1959-1970) began his scholarly career at the Department before leaving for Leningrad State University. At the Institute, he studied agrarian relationships in the New Kingdom of Egypt on the basis of a number of sources, primarily the Wilbour papyrus.
Eugene S. Bogoslovsky (1968-1990), whose life ended tragically early, nevertheless managed to fulfil many valuable projects. He studied social and economic history, sources and paleography of the ancient Egypt, history and culture of the New Kingdom. In his monographs Servants of Pharaohs, Gods and Private Persons and Craftsmen of Ancient Egypt he scrutinised Egyptian economics and discovered some forms of hitherto unknown exchange relationships and property relationships in Ancient Egypt. Moreover, he published a number of papers on certain monuments of Egyptian culture kept at the Hermitage and the Moscow Pushkin Museum.
Alexander S. Chetverukhin (1971-2006) is an expert in linguistics. He studies the Ancient Egyptian language in many aspects such as vowelization, syntax, morphology, etc. He developed an understanding of Egyptian Grammar on the basis of the Pyramids Texts. He took part in a project entitled Historical-Comparative Vocabulary of Afrasian led by I.M. Diakonoff. He edited some works by both Russian and foreign scholars such as V.V. Struve, P.V. Jernstedt, W. Till and H.-M. Schenke (supplied with his commentaries and addenda).
In 2001, a young Egyptologist Ivan V. Bogdanov joined the Department. He is an expert on the Old Kingdom. After successfully defending his PhD dissertation, he focused on the major aspects of the administrative system of Ancient Egypt.
The Greek and Roman periods and that of Byzantine Egypt have been researched by Papyrologists and Coptologists.
Papers by the Papyrologist Itzhak F. Fikhman (1960-1986) were devoted to studying the relations of production and crafts in the Egyptian cities at the end of the ancient period and the beginning of the Middle Ages. On the basis of Oxyrhynchus Papyrus, he explored the craftwork, development of different forms of slavery, evolution of social relationships. Moreover, he published a number of general papers on Roman and Byzantine Egypt and on documentary Papyrology. In 1986, I.F. Fikhman moved to Israel where he works to this day.
The world famous Coptologist Alla I. Elanskaya (1960-2005) dedicated herself to the study of the Coptic language and literature. Coptic Grammar completed not long before her death proved to be the most important of her academic works. A.I. Elanskaya paid much attention to the publishing of Coptic texts, first of all hagiographic literature, from the collections of the Russian National Library (Saint Petersburg) and the Moscow Pushkin Museum. She compiled a comprehensive catalogue of the Coptic manuscripts kept at the Russian National Library.
In the later stages of her life A.I. Elanskaya explored some Early Christian Coptic texts (Papyrus Berolinensis No 8502, Codex Askewianus) and manuscripts from Nag Hammadi. In 1984, at the Third International Congress of Coptic Studies A.I. Elanskaya was chosen as the honorary president of the International Association for Сoptic Studies.
Svetlana I. Marakhonova (from 1983) first studied the collection of Coptic manuscripts from Nag Hammadi. She has prepared a monograph in which she covers the history of its discovery and gives a description of the uncovered documents. In recent years, she has studied the history of Christian Coptic monasteries located in Egypt.
Assyriology has been another important discipline developed at the Department. The group of Assyriologists was led by Igor M. Diakonoff (1953-1999) who explored the history of Ancient Near East in various aspects (political, economic, cultural) and was an expert in almost all the languages that existed in this region. His papers on both historical and linguistic matters may be defined as perfect. Moreover, he published a number of brilliant translations from Akkadian literature such as that of The Gilgamesh Epic. I.M. Diakonoff established an entire school of Assyriological studies, so that all experts in this area who work at our Institute may be called his pupils. He was a member of the British Academy and a number of other foreign academic societies.
Irina M. Dunaevskaya (1957-1980) studied languages of Ancient Asia Minor such as Hattic (non-Indo-European), Hittite (Indo-European) and Luwian (both cunieform and hieroglyfic). She translated a number of monographs on the theory and history of writing. Some of her translations have recently been republished.
Irina T. Kaneva (from 1960) is an expert on the Sumerian language and grammar. Her years of academic activity resulted in the monograph entitled The Sumerian Language, which represents the first comprehensive Sumerian Grammar published in Russia (issued twice – in 1996 and 2006).
Vladimir A. Jacobson (from 1961) studies the history of the State and Law, political history and history of Mesopotamian culture, and the general theory of history. He has published a range of papers on these subjects. In addition, he is the author of many translations from Akkadian.
Golda H. Kaplan (from 1964) is a linguist. She researches Akkadian, especially its system of verb tenses. Her principal ideas can be found in the monograph Use of aspect-tense verbal forms in Akkadian texts of the Hammurapi period (1792-1750 B.C.) published in English in 2002. She wrote also The Sketches On Akkadian Grammar, the most detailed study guide on Akkadian in Russia.
Nelli V. Kozyreva (1968-1998) studied the social and economic history of Ancient Mesopotamia of the Old Babylonian period. She scrutinised several thousand cuneiform documents from the 2nd millenium BC and reconstructed various aspects of economic life of the city of Larsa and its suburbs. Her ideas were reflected in the monograph Ancient Larsa.
Nadezhda O. Chekhovich (from 1978) is the youngest pupil of I.M. Diakonoff at the Department. Her work is focused on the economic life of Mesopotamian temples in the 1st millennium BC, the religion of Mesopotamia and its depiction in the royal inscriptions and other texts. She is now preparing the edition of the collection of cuneiform documents from the Neo-Babylonian and Late Babylonian periods kept at the State Hermitage.
Anait G. Perikhanian (1959—1991) was another member of the group led by I.M. Diakonoff. She explored texts from Armenia, Iran and Asia Minor, focusing on different problems of social and economic relationships, legal practice and history.
Magomed A. Dandamaev, the well-known expert on the history of Ancient Iran and Mesopotamia, the corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (from 1997), has worked at the Department since 1959. He has published 11 monographs that give a full picture of the economic life, social structure and institutes, politics and culture of Near Eastern countries during the 1st millennium BC. He explored a great number of sources in different languages, especially tens of thousands of cuneiform documents from many Babylonian archives. M.A. Dandamaev was awarded the State Prize of the USSR and a Prize from the French Academy of Belles Lettres. He is a member of a number of foreign academic societies. M.A. Dandamaev was the chairman of the Department of Ancient Eastern Studies from 1967 to 1998.
Along with M.A. Dandamaev, the Department has had a number of Iranists.
Joseph M. Oransky (1959—1977) developed a historical-comparative Grammar of Iranian languages, explored Indo-Aryan dialect and folklore of Parya in Central Asia and worked on Tajik dialects. His brilliant monograph The Introduction To Iranian Philology is still of great importance and was re-published several times.
Vladimir A. Livshits (1959—2007) studied first Grammar and history of the Afghan languages, history of Persian and Tajik, and historical-comparative grammar of Iranian languages. Then his academic interest shifted to the study of Parthian and epigraphs, the origin of ancient Turkic writing and the history of Sogdian, Khorezmian, Baktrian and relevant epigraphs. He published many epigraphic texts in a number of issues such as Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum.
V.A. Livshits was one of the teachers of Ivan M. Steblin-Kamensky (1971-1981), whose PhD thesis The Historical Phonetics of the Vakhan Language he supervised. Later, I.M. Steblin-Kamensky compiled a dictionary of Vakhan. By that time, he had completed his project Historical Lexicology of Pamir Languages: Names of Cultivated Plants. In cooperation with A.M.Grünberg, he prepared some other books such as The Vakhan Language, Tales And Legends Of Pamir, Tales And Legends of Sistan. In 1981, he left for Leningrad/Saint Petersburg State University, the Department of Asian and African Studies.
Another pupil of V.A. Livshits, Pavel B. Lurye, who studies the history of the Iranian languages with focus on Sogdian, started to work at the Department in 2003. At the moment, he is under academic training in Austria with the assumption that he will write a monograph on Sogdian anthroponimics.
Inna N. Medvedskaya (from 1972, head of the Department since 1999) wrote her PhD thesis on the history of Iranian tribes, which she defended in 1978 and then published in English in 1982 and in Persian in 2005. Later on, the scope of her studies grew wider and included chronology of certain Iranian archaeological sites from the 1st millennium BC, historical geography of Iran of the same period, chronology of the Scythian antiquities and finally the history of Median Kingdom.
Hebraic studies were carried out by Joseph D. Amusin (1960-1984), the great expert on manuscripts and documents found on the coast of the Dead Sea (Khirbet Qumran and Wadi Murabba’at). He is the author of significant monographs such as The Manuscripts of the Dead Sea and The Qumran Community and a number of papers on various aspects of the history and ideology of the Qumran community. His works helped to date the Qumran manuscripts and contributed much to our knowledge of the social structure and ideology of the Qumran community.
M.M. Elizarova (1965—1975), a pupil of J.D. Amusin, published the monograph The Egyptian Community of Therapeutics in which she treated the ideology of the community in connection with social, religious and philosophic trends of the Hellinistic and Roman periods, the forerunners of Christianity. Unfortunately, she died an early death.
In the mid-1990s, Igor R. Tantlevsky, who carried on Hebraic studies, worked at the Department for a few years (1990-1997). His general academic interest has been on the Hellenistic Near East, with a focus on research into the Qumran manuscripts and Biblical Apocrypha. The history of ancient Israel and Judea has also been his area of study.
Meir N. Zislin (1955—1984) was another expert on Biblical texts, his general discipline being Semitic philology. In 1984 he moved to Israel.
Marat M. Yunusov (from 2000) has similar academic interests. He studies the history and mythology of the cities of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Serguei R. Tokhtasyev (from 1985) is an Antiquity scholar by his educational background. He mastered a number of Ancient Eastern languages such as Persian, Aramaic, Hebrew, etc. Using them, he is able to study onomastics of Ancient Near East as well as the political history of Caucasus and the Black Sea Coast.
The other regions of Ancient Orient were explored by K.V. Vassiliev, M.V. Vorobiev and V.I. Kalyanov.
Kim V. Vassiliev (1960—1987) studied the history of Ancient China. Thus, he translated the Chinese text of Stratagems of the Warring States (Zhan guo tze) and examined it thoroughly, the monograph being published in 1968. In the 1980s, he served as the chairman of the Department for several years.
Mikhail V. Vorobiev (1965—1995) is a well-known expert on the ancient history of Japan, China and Korea, from archaeological matters to aspects of legal practice.
Vladimir I. Kalyanov (1968—1985) was an expert on literature in Sanskrit. Mahabharata, the great epic of India, was his principal object of study and he has translated a number of books of this huge epic poem.
Dr S.I. Marakhonova
(Translated by A.Zorin; proofread by J.Young)