The Soviet‑Yemen complex expedition (SOYCE)


In 2007, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Soviet‑Yemen complex expedition (SOYCE). Scholars from different fields — archaeologists and specialists on Arabic culture, ethnographers and anthropologists, epigraphists and geomorphologists, paleobotanists and linguists, specialists on the history of architecture and philologists, and employees of the most important academic, museum and university centres of the USSR carried out a grandiose programme within the framework of the expedition to make a comprehensive study — from ancient times to the present day — of South Yemen, and above all of one of the most important historical and cultural areas of the Arabic East — Hadramawt.

From the very beginning, the expedition was conceived as one of the most important humanitarian missions of the Academy of Sciences. Thanks to the work of its employees, important evidence was discovered of intensive settlement of these territories at all stages of human history, and it was proved that in the south of Arabia all the stages of the Stone Age were represented, from the early Palaeolithic to the Neolithic. Study was made of the features of a civilization which became the connecting link between the main centres of antiquity, a key intermediary in the exchange of the achievements of material and religious culture, and an important element in the sea route from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. Research was conducted which discovered important features of folk culture and art, and the architecture of the inhabitants of the country. It is also important that in the course of work by the expedition, a large group of Yemen specialists was trained, who continue to work successfully today. The results of the studies found reflection in a whole series of fundamental scholarly publications. Items gathered during the expedition trips and found in digs have been displayed in both Yemen and Russia, and in a number of major European museums. Today, the baton of SOYCE studies is carried on by the Russian archaeological mission in the Republic of Yemen. Scholarship has no borders, and the participants of the expedition are now working actively in a series of foreign projects connected with the study of the history, culture and ethnography of Yemen.

We are glad to welcome visitors of this exhibition dedicated to the 25th anniversary of SOYCE and the memory of Pyotr Afanasevich Gryaznevich, a person without whose enormous knowledge and energy this expedition would have remained a dream. For us, the Yemen expedition is not just about scholarly materials, the works written and the dissertations defended on their basis. It is a part of our lives, and we are proud of it. We are all the children of SOYCE.

Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the State Hermitage


Alexander Sedov, director of the State Museum of Art of Peoples of the East


Yury Chistov, director of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences