Department of Caucasus

Contact Information

Postal address: 3, Universitetskaya nab., St.-Petersburg, 199034.

Phone: +7 (812) 328-08-12 (ext. 408)

Department Staff

Yekaterina KAPUSTINA, Head of Department, Cand.Sc.

Makka ALBOGACHIEVA, Senior Researcher, Cand.Sc. (Ingush ethnography and historiography).

Yulia ANDREEVA,  Junior Researcher

Yuri  BOTYAKOV, Senior Researcher, Cand.Sc. (North Caucasian cultures).

Yevgenia ZAKHAROVA, Junior Researcher, Cand.Sc. 

Sergey SHTYRKOV, Senior Researcher, Cand.Sc. (unofficial religiousness in the Caucasus).

History of the Department

The history of the department began in 1936, when the “Cabinet” of Caucasus and the Department of Caucasus were founded within the Academy of Sciences Institute of Anthropology, Archeology and Ethnography (now MAE). In the 1930s certain leading figures such as A.N. Genko (1896–1941) and L.B. Panek (1896-1984) were associated with these units. In the same years, L.I. Lavrov’s scholarly career began.

Caucasian studies at post-war MAE were mostly conducted by Leonid Ivanovich Lavrov (1909-82), who headed the Department for many years and authored fundamental works dealing with the history and ethnography of most peoples of North Caucasus. Other researchers who made significant contributions to Caucasian ethnography were T.D. Ravdonikas and L.I. Smirnova, who focused on ethnic and social history, the evolution of material culture and ideology of this region. In the 1970s and 1980s, Caucasian studies at the Institute of Ethnography Leningrad branch were conducted at the Department of Central Asia, the Caucasus and Kazakhstan. Later the Caucasian Group was formed, and in 2002, the Department of Caucasus headed by Yu.Yu. Karpov.

Main Research Areas

The composite monograph “Severnyj Kavkaz: tradicionnoe sel'skoe soobschestvo - social'nye roli, obschestvennoe mnenie, vlastnye otnosheniya” [North Caucasus: Traditional Rural Society – Social Roles, Public Opinion and Authoritative Relations] is due in 2005. Yu.Yu. Karpov’s book “Mirovozzrencheskie aspekty kul'tury i social'naya praktika narodov Gornogo Dagestana” [Ideological Aspects of Culture and Social Practice in Highland Dagestan] is forthcoming. Also, the department staff is engaged in describing photographic materials and compiling the bibliography of Caucasian ethnology.

Principal Publications

Recent books published by the department are the following:

  • Karpov Yu.Yu. Dzhigit i volk. Muzhskie soyuzy v sotsiokul’turnoi traditsii gortsev Kavkaza [The Dzhigit and the Wolf. Male Unions in the Socio-Cultural Tradition of Caucasian Highlanders]. SPb., DEAN+ADIAM-M. 1996. 312 p.
  • Karpov Yu.Yu. Zhenskoe prostranstvo v kul’ture narodov Kavkaza [Female Space in Caucasian Culture]. SPb., Peterburgskoe vostokovedenie. 2001. 414 p.
  • Botyakov Yu.M. Abreki na Kavkaze. Sotsiokul’turni aspekt yavleniya [Caucasian Abreks: The Socio-Cultural Aspect]. SPb., Peterburgskoe vostokovedenie. 2004. 208 p.
  • Karpov Yu.Yu. (Ed.). Severnyi Kavkaz: Chelovek v sisteme sotsiokul’turnykh svyazei [Northern Caucasus: Man Within the Socio-Cultural Network]. SPb. Peterburgskoe vostokovedenie. 2004. 364 p.
  • G50108ldenstedt I.A.Puteshestvie po Kavkazu v 1770 – 1773 gg. [Travel to Caucasus in 1771 – 1773] (translated by T.K. Shafranovskaya; edited and annotated by Yu.Yu. Karpov). SPb., Peterburgskoe vostokovedenie. 2002. 506 p.
  • Albogachieva M.S.-G. (Ed.). Gazeta “Terskie vedomosti” ob Ingushetii i ingushakh. 1909-1911 [The Paper “Terskie Vedomosti” on Ingushetia and the Ingushes. 1909-1911]. Vol. 1. SPb, Crimea. 2002. 94 p.
  • Albogachieva M.S.-G. (Ed.). Ob Ingeshetii i ingushakh (Sbornik materialov gazety “Terskie vedomosti” za 1868-1878 gg.) [Ingushetia and the Ingushes: Selected Excerpts From “Terskie Vedomosti”, 1868-1878]. Vol. 2. Manas. Spb. Ladoga, Borei-Art. 2003. 208 p.


Caucasian collections of MAE total over 1,000 items.

The earliest ones include Caucasian clothing acquired in 1842–44 by a Czech researcher F.A. Kolenati especially for the Kunstkamera, and a costume of a Megrel prince donated to Nicholas I in 1837 and transferred from the Hermitage to MAE in 1899.

In 1903 the MAE received clothing and weapons of Caucasian peoples such as Georgians, Armenians, Azerbaijani, Kurds, Lazians, Tatars, and Circassians. In 1945–46 E.M. Schilling acquired for the MAE wooden utensils, musical instruments, etc., used by peoples of Dagestan (Avars, Baguls, Tindins, and Archins). Other collections from Dagestan were received in 1980–90.

Photographic and illustrative collections owned by the department and totaling more than 1,500 items include many highly informative specimens. One example is Album Showing Houses, Funerary Constructions, Clothing and Jewelry, received in 1902 from Colonel D.A. Vyrubov, who in 1880–90 was Commander of Nal’chik and then Vladikavkaz Regions. Even though no text is provided, the album is a valuable source in that it shows many Central Caucasian (especially Balkarian) monuments which were partly or completely destroyed in later years.

Other materials relate to expeditions to northwestern Caucasus (E.M. Schilling, 1920), Dagestan and highland Georgia (N.G. Sprintsyn, 1926; A.D. Danilin, 1926; L.B. Panek, 1928; and L.I. Lavrov, 1950). In the early 1980s Yu.Yu. Karpov and A.I. Azarov recorded a unique festival celebrated each year in just one hard-to-reach Dagestanian village, Shaitli. In 2002 Yu.M. Botyakov made a video recording of a wedding ceremony in the Dagestanian village of Bezhta.

In 1978, a catalogue of Caucasian ethnographic collections was published:

  • Ravdonikas T.D., Smirnova L.I. Katalog po narodam Kavkaza [Catalogue of Caucasian Collections] // Material’naya kul’tura I khozyaistvo narodov Kavkaza, Srednei Azii i Kazakhstana (Sbornik MAE. Vol. XXXIV). Leningrad: Nauka. 1978. P. 182–220.