MAIASP. 2023. No. 15

Yu.G. Kokorina (Moscow, Russia)

“The digging of the mound is an anatomical preparation” (a newly discovered manual by Ivan E. Zabelin on the excavation of the North Pontic barrows)

DOI: 10.53737/7274.2023.34.89.019

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Pages: 590—603

The activity of the outstanding Russian historian I.E. Zabelin as an archaeologist is evaluated ambiguously in the history of the discipline. The previously unknown record, I.E. Zabelin’s handwritten manual on the excavation of the barrow mounds in the North Pontic Area, provides some new insights on his field research approaches. I.E. Zabelin recommended to take apart the mounds completely, from the top to the bottom, and it was only the modest funding and the lack of time which forced him to dig isolated trenches. I.E. Zabelin insisted that the finds were left in situ and gave some seminal advices on how the chief grave must be found and recovered. The archaeologist demanded to use a compass as well as to be sure to draw a plan and sections of the barrow and mark the location of the finds in the mound. The manual requested that the field journal was necessarily kept to make entries about all the details ever observed, with the descriptions of all the skeletons of humans and horses and the grave goods precisely registered. I.E. Zabelin drawn up his manual while generalizing his own experience of excavating mounds of Scythia and necropoleis of the ancient Greek cities, and he himself followed all the rules he had proposed, as it is evidenced by various archival and published materials. I.E. Zabelin was an attentive and responsible field researcher. Subsequently, it is advisable to use archival materials to analyze I.E. Zabelin’s contribution to archaeological theory and method.

Key words: Russia, 19th century, history of archaeology, Ivan Egorovich Zabelin, the Scythians, classical antiquity, the Bronze Age, archaeological field methods.

Received February 20 2023.

Accepted for publication March 15, 2023.

About the author:

Kokorina Yulia Georgievna (Moscow, Russia). PhD (History), Dr. habil. (Philology), Moscow Polytechnic University.