Russian Home Search E-mail Map

Department of Caucasus

Contact Information

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

Phone: (812) 328-41-81

Head of Department

Yuri KARPOV, D.Sc.

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.

Department Staff

Karpov Yuri, Head of Department, D.Sc. (traditional social institutes, ideological aspects of culture, modern ethno-social processes in the Caucasus).

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

Shtyrkov Sergey, Research Assistant, Cand.Sc. (unofficial religiousness in the Caucasus).

Albogachieva Makka, Senior Assistant (Ingush ethnography and historiography).

Radetskaya Kseniya, Senior Assistant (human life in the context of traditional North Caucasian culture).

Kapustina Ekaterina, Senior Assistant (cooperations in Caucasian economic and social life).

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.


MAE specialists conducted annual field studies in the Caucasus until the early 1990s. After a break, the work was resumed in areas such as Dagestan, Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia, and North Ossetia. In all these, valuable field materials were collected including artifacts, photographs, video recordings, etc.


The Department of Caucasus, in cooperation with that of Central Asia, has been sponsoring (since 1976) annual conferences on Central Asia and Caucasus, currently known as Lavrov Lectures. They are attended by ethnographers, historians, archeologists, and Orientalists specializing in Caucasus and Central Asia and working in St.-Petersburg, Moscow and the Caucasian republics. Abstracts have been published since 1978. The most recent collections are these:

  • Karpov Yu.Yu., Kurylev V.P. (Ed.) Lavrovskie (sredneaziatsko-kavkazskie) chteniya. 2000 – 2001 gg. Kratkoe soderzhanie dokladov [Lavrov Lectures on Central Asia and Caucasus: 2000 – 2001. Abstracts of Papers]. SPB., MAE RAN. 2002. 196 p.
  • Kurylev V.P. (Ed.) Lavrovskie (sredneaziatsko-kavkazskie) chteniya. 2002 – 2003 gg. Kratkoe soderzhanie dokladov [Lavrov Lectures on Central Asia and Caucasus: 2002 – 2003. Abstracts of Papers]. SPb., MAE RAN. 2003. 188 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.


The department has no permanent exposition. Sections illustrating Caucasian cultures can be viewed at the Russian Ethnographical Museum.

In 2004 the department staff members in cooperation with the Regional Public Foundation “Caucasian World” designed an exhibition titled “Caucasian Women in Photographs, Painting, Sculpture and Graphics”, which was a hit in Moscow (June 2004) and is now being demonstrated in Caucasian cities.