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Yuri E. Berezkin

yuri e. berezkin

Doctor of Historical Sciences, Head of American department, Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor of the European University at Saint Petersburg, Department of Anthropology.




Born in 1946 in Leningrad, Dr. Berezkin graduated with distinction in Archeology from the Leningrad State University in 1970. From 1973 to1986, he worked at the Institute of Ethnography (the Leningrad branch) of the Russian Academy of Sciences. From 1987 to 2002, he worked at the Institute of Archaeology RAS, where he conducted field research in Southern Turkmenistan (Neolithic – Middle Bronze Age). From 1992 to 1993, he conducted research as an IREX fellow at the Harvard University, The University of California in Berkley and Fields Museum in Chicago. In 2002, was a visiting scholar at the Dumbarton Oaks Library and Collections, Washington, DC. Since 2003, he has been the head of the American department at the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera).


1990 Doctor of Historical Sciences, The Institute of Ethnography, Moscow. Dissertation title: Early History of South America and the Indian Mythology: From Hunters-Gatherers to Early Agriculturalists

1977 Candidate of Historical Sciences, the Institute of Ethnography, RAS (the Leningrad branch). Dissertation title:  Mochica, Peru: Historical-Ethnographic Reconstruction

1970 Specialist diploma with distinction in Archaeology, the Leningrad State University.


The areal distribution of folklore and mythological motifs as a source of data on ancient migration processes; cultural contacts and interaction spheres; peopling of the New World; pre-state complex societies; iconography of Native American art; archaeology of Near and Middle Asia.


  • 2021-2022 Research topic, “The Old and the New Worlds: the formation and development of ancient societies and populations” (in partnership with Dr. V. Khartanovich and Dr. G. Khlopachev);
  • 2017-2020 Research topic, “The formation of prehistoric and present-day population of Eurasia and America using ethnological, physical anthropological and archaeological data” (in partnership with Dr. V. Khartanovich and Dr. G. Khlopachev);
  • 2014-2016 Research topic, “Ethnic history and cultural heritage of ancient and contemporary peoples of the world” (in partnership with Dr. V. Khartanovich and Dr. G. Khlopachev).


  • 2021-2023, Russian Science Foundation, “Plots and Motifs of the Ancient Near Eastern Literatures in a Comparative-Historical Perspective” (no. 21-18-00232);
  • 2018-2020, Russian Science Foundation, “Borders and contacts: Cross-cultural interactions in the Old World in the light of the data on areal distribution of folklore and mythological motifs” (no. 18-18-00361);
  • 2017-2019, Russian Fund for Basic Research, “Sociolinguistic research of the Koraput Munda languages and development of a multimedia corpus of texts exemplifying different social” conditions of language usage (no. 17-34-00018);
  • 2014-2016, Russian Science Foundation, “Stories Retold During Millennia: Reconstruction of the Dynamics of the Global Distribution of Replicated Elements of Oral Narratives” (no. 14-18-03384);
  • 2014-2016, Russian Fund for Basic Research, “Steps and Factors of the Formation of Folklore-Mythological Traditions of Western Eurasia” (no. 14-06-00247);
  • 2011-2013, Russian Fund for Basic Research, “Dynamics of Centralization – Decentralization of the Traditional Sociopolitical Systems of the Old and New World (A Study of Archaeological, Historical, and Ethnographic Data)” (no. 11-06-00441);
  • 2009-2011, Special Program for Fundamental Research of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences, "Historical-cultural heritage and spiritual values of Russia: The earliest population of Siberia and migrations of man to the New World: a case of interdisciplinary research (archaeological, physical anthropological, ethnographic, folklore and linguistic data)”;
  • 2008, Russian Fund of Humanities and Saint Petersburg Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences: "Siberia and the First Americans" (preparation of the collective monograph);
  • 2007-2008, INTAS: “A reconstruction of Prehistoric Eurasian Mythological Motif Complexes and their Most Ancient Distribution in Connection with Genetic Data“(no. 05-10000008-7922);
  • 2006-2008, Program for Fundamental Research of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences "Adaptation of Peoples and Cultures to the Environmental Change, Social and Technological Transformations: The Most Ancient Migrations and the Sets of Folklore-Mithological Motifs: Origins, Contacts and Environment as Factors to Influence the Formation of Regional Mythologies”;
  • 2007-2009, Russian Fund of Fundamental Research, “Myths and languages: Language Relations and Linguistic Borders as Factors in Formation of Regional Sets of Folklore-Mythological Vomplexes” (no. 07-06-00441-а);
  • 2004-2006, Russian Fund of Fundamental Research, “Myths and Genes: Reconstruction of the Ancient Motif Fund on the Basis of the Comparative Analysis of the Areal Distribution of the Genetic Lines and Folklore-Mythological Motifs” (no. 04-06-80238);
  • 2003-2005, Program of Fundamental Research of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences "Ethnocultural Interaction in Eurasia": “Eurasian Homeland of American Natives (analysis of the areal distribution of folklore-mythological motifs)”;
  • 2004, Saint Petersburg Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, “Eurasian Homeland of American Natives: Systematization, Analysis and Interpretation of the Areal Distribution of the Folklore-Mythological Motifs in the New and Old Worlds”;
  • 1997-1999, Russian Fund of Fundamental Research, “Early Forms of Art. An Encyclopedic Dictionary” (no.97-04-96348);
  • 1997–1998, Russian Fund of Humanities, “Processing of the Excavated Materials of Ilgynly-depe Chalcolithic Settlement, Southern Turkmenistan” (97-01-00283);
  • 1997–1998, Russian Fund of Humanities, “Preparation and Computer Processing of the Database of the North American Indians Mythological Themes” (no. 97-01-00085);
  • 1994–1995, Cultural Initiative (J. Soros Fund), preparation of the Catalogue of South and Central American Mythological Themes;
  • 1992-1993, International Research and Exchange Board (IREX) fellowship.


  • 2022. Electronic Analytical Catalogue of Folklore and Mythological Motifs: Thematic Classification and Areal Distribution (ca. 70,000 text abstracts). Co-authored with Evgeny Duvakin.
  • 2021. “Borderlines and contacts: patterns of area distribution of folklore and mythological motifs in Eurasia” [Granitsy i kontakty: modeli raspredeleniya fol’klornyh motivov v Evrazii], Etnografia 3(13): 6-23. (In Russian).
  • 2021. “Big history and big data in mythology and folklore” [Makro-istoria i bol’shiye dannye v mifilogii i fol’klore], Steps. The Journal of the School of Advanced Studies in the Humanities 7(2): 28-52. (In Russian).
  • 2020. “East Slavic folklore in Eurasian context” [Vostochnoslavyanskiy fol’klor v yevraziyskom kontekste ], Slavianovedenie 6: 41-55. (In Russian).
  • 2019. “Athabaskan – Siberian folklore links: in search of Na-Dene origins,” Folklore 130(1): 31-47.
  • 2018. “Manifestation of Worldviews in Traditional Narratives: A Reconstruction of Global Tendencies in the Dispersal and Chronology of the Emergence of Mythological Motifs,” Archaeology, Anthropology & Ethnography of Eurasia 46(2): 140-148.
  • 2017. The Birth of the Starry Sky. Ideas about the night luminaries in historical dynamics [Rozhdeniye zvezdnogo neba. Predstavleniya o nochnyh svetilah v istoricheskoy dinamike]. Saint Petersburg: Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. (In Russian with English abstract, content and captions for illustrations), 316 p. ISBN 978-5-88431-326-2.
  • 2016. “Motifs of Soqotri Narratives: Towards a Comparative-Typological Analysis,” Aula Orientalis 34(2): 201-243. Co-authored withD. Cherkashin, L. Kogan, V. Naumkin.
  • 2016. “The captive khan and the clever daughter-in-law, Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore 64: 33-56. Co-authored withEvgeny Duvakin.
  • 2016. “Buried in a head: African and Asian parallels to Aesop’s fable,” Folklore 127(1): 91-102. Co-authored withEvgeny Duvakin.
  • 2016. “Children pursued by an ogre. Western and Eastern Eurasian borrowings in the 20th century Quechua narratives,” Latin American Indian Literatures Journal 30(2): 185-215.
  • 2016. “Peopling of the New World in light of the data on distribution of folklore motifs,” Maths Meets Myths: Quantitative Approaches to Ancient Narratives (Understanding Complex Systems). Edited by Ralph Kenna, Máirín Mac Carron, and Pádraig Mac Carron. SpringerVerlag: 71-89.
  • 2015.  Peopling of the New World: A Multidisciplinary Study [Zaseleniye Chelovekom Novogo Sveta: Opyt Kompleksnogo Issledovaniya]. Saint Petersburg: Nestor-Istoria. 680 p. (In Russian) ISBN 978-5-4469-0650-5. Co-authored with Vasil’ev A.A., Kozintsev A.G., Peiros I.I., Slobodin S.B., & Tabarev A.V.
  • 2015. “Spread of folklore motifs as a proxy for information exchange: contact zones and borderlines in Eurasia,” Trames. Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences 19(1): 3-13.
  • 2014. “Serpent that closed sources of water and Serpent that devours nestlings of giant bird: assessment of the age of the dragon-fighting myths in Eurasia,” Aramazd: Armenian Journal of Near Eastern Studies. Vol. 8, issues 1-2: 186-193.
  • 2014. “Variations in development of socio-political complexity before the emergence of states and in the research approaches,” Forum for Anthropology and Culture 20: 187-217.
  • 2014. “World distribution of zoomorphic protagonists of the trickster tales,” Route de la soie dans la mythologie. Edited by  Chiwaki Shinoda. Chiba: Librarie Rakuro: 447-458.
  • 2014. “The dog, the horse and the creation of man,” Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore 56: 25-46.
  • 2013. Africa, Migrations, Mythology. Areal Patterns of the Folklore Motifs in the Historical Perspective [Afrika, migratsii, mifologia. Areal'noe raspredelenie fol'klornyh motivov v istoricheskoi perspektive]. Saint Petersburg: Nauka. 319 p. (In Russian).
  • 2013. Between the Community and the State. Middle-range Societies of Nuclear America and the Near East in Historical Dynamics [Mezhdu obschinoi i gosudarstvom. Srednemasshtabnye obschestva] Saint Petersburg: Museum of Anthropology & Ethnography. 255 p. (In Russian).
  • 2012. “Siberian – South Asian folklore parallels and the mythology of the Eurasian Steppe,” Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia. 2012. No. 4(52). P. 144-155.
  • 2010. “From Africa and back: some areal patterns of mythological motifs,” Mother Tongue, Journal of the Association for the Study of Language In Prehistory. Fifteen Anniversary Issue. Vol. 15. P. 1-67.
  • 2010. “The Pleiades as openings, the Milky Way as the path of birds and the girl on the Moon: cultural links across Northern Eurasia,” Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore) 44: 7-34.
  • 2010. “Selecting separate episodes of the peopling of the New World: Beringian–Subarctic–Eastern North American folklore links,” Anthropological Papers of the University of Alaska. Special issue: The Dene-Yeniseian Connection: Bridging Asia and North America (James Kari and Ben A. Potter) 5 (1-2): 257-276.
  • 2007. “‘Earth-diver’ and  ‘emergence from under the earth’: cosmological tales as an evidence in favor of the heterogenic origins of American Indians,” Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia. 4 (32): 110-123.
  • 2007. Myths Colonize the Americas. Areal Distribution of Folklore Motifs and Early Migrations to the New World [Mify Zaseliayut Ameriku. Areal'noe Raspredelenie Fol'klornyh Motivov i Rannie Migratsii v Novy Svet]. Moscow: O.G.I. [United Humanitarian Publishing House]. 359 p.