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« SLAVIC REVIEW »

PAVEI DOLUKHANOV
University Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

Slavic Review. 2001. No2. (summer). P.426-427.
Stratum: Struktury i katastrofy: Sbomik simvolicheskoi indoewofieiskoi istorii. Ed. M. E. Tkachuk, I. V. Manzura, and L. A. Mosionzhnik. St. Petersburg: "Nestor," 1997. 268 pp. Notes. Bibliography. Illustrations. Figures. Tables. Maps. Paper.

This volume consists of fifteen articles written by prominent archaeologists and linguists from various parts of the former Soviet Union (Caroline Blay is the only contributor from the "distant abroad"). The volume forms an adequate sampling of the present-day state of archaeology in the post-Soviet space, which I view as its main strength.
Artificially centralized Soviet archaeology was primarily designed as an ideological institution. It addressed a concrete political agenda, ranging from "proletarian internationalism" at its initial stage to slightly camouflaged nationalism in post—World War II times (Philip Kohl and Clare Fawcette, eds., Nationalism, Politics and the Practice of Archaeology, 1996). In doing so it relied on the "cultural-ethnic paradigm" inherited from pre-Revolutionary Russia. At the s4 lie time, Marxism remained the principal ideological instrument of Soviet archaeology, although at the later stages, this took the form of lip service (L. S. Klein, Fenomen Sovetskoi arkheologii, 1993).
The collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in the general decline of archaeology, which was particularly obvious in the drastic reduction of field projects and publications. The decentralization was no less remarkable. Fund-raising became more feasible in the provincial areas of Russia and in the newly independent states. The Republic of Moldova offers a good example. A College of Anthropology in Chisinau was highly successful in attracting private donations and developing various archaeological projects. The volume under review was published under the auspices of this college.
The subtitle "Essays on Symbolic Indo-European History" gives but a vague idea about the volume's content. Its main agenda is ethnicity: the reconstruction of past ethnicity through the use of archaeological, linguistic, and ethnographic evidence. Problems related to ethnicity have always been a hot issue in Soviet archaeology. Ethnic issues have become even more sensitive now that conflicts are flaring up in many areas of the former USSR. In the west, by contrast, the concept of ethnicity is being questioned (Marcus Banks, Ethnicity: Anthropological Constructions, 1996).
Not less important, the "cultural-ethnic paradigm" remains the main instrument of research. For writers such as Dmitrii Machinskii, Mark Shchukin, and Mark Tkachuk, the adequacy of "archaeological cultures" and ethnic entities is not a debatable matter. There again lies a profound distinction with the western "post-processual" school, which normally rejects the entire 'cultural-ethnic concept.
Another interesting feature consists of repeated attempts to directly support the evidence of written sources with observable archaeological evidence. I. V. Manzura finds the elements of Vedic mythology in the structure of a Chalcolithic cemetery in Moldova. Machinskii goes still further: based on his free interpretation of the Avesta and the texts of Greek writers, he located the Scythian "sacral centers" in the Minusinsk lowland of southern Siberia. His arguments are circular: in most cases Machinskii refers to his own research.
Viachaslav Ivanov, who jointly with Tamaz Gamkrelidze had advanced a new theory on the origin of Indo-European speech, offers additional arguments supporting his views. Unfortunately, this article has no references at all. N. D. Russev links the establishment of Tatar settlements in Moldova in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries with the outflow of the population from the Golden Horde devastated by the plague. Although this is a promising direction, Russev should be cautioned against relying on a single-factor explanation. The article by Leonid Vishniatskii on the symbolic potentialities of the Neanderthals stands out from the rest of the volume by the scope and solidity of his arguments. In their articles, Caroline Blay, Leo Klein, 0. V. Sharov, A. S. Liberman, R. A. Rabinovich, 0. M. Kozik, and S. V. Dmitriev discuss concrete aspects of Indo-European semantics. In his final article, "Nerusskaia ideia," Tkachuk makes the unorthodox suggestion that Scythia played a special role in the Russians' self-perception as well as in the western vision of Russia.
The general impression one gets on reading the volume is that post-Soviet archaeology is alive and well, developing on the solid foundations of Russian archaeological scholarship. Archaeologists from the former Soviet Union tend to formulate wide-ranging theories, while remaining within the tenets of their cultural and ethnic legacy.

SLAVIC REVIEW 
2001. 
Vol 2. Summer.
p. 426-427.

PAVEI DOLUKHANOV
University a/Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom


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