Among the spheres of research covered, to a larger or smaller extent, by the Institute’s researchers and lecturers, one could name a number of principal “subject clusters” in which they have achieved considerable success:
- Ancient Near East, Aramaic Studies, Comparative Semitic Studies, languages and folklore of South Arabian peoples
- Comparative-historical linguistics, research in the field of distant language relationship, quantitative methods of genealogical language classification
- Classical philology and history of Graeco-Roman antiquity: languages, literature, mythology, history of kingdoms and peoples
- The Near East in the Hellenistic epoch, sources on the history, culture and religion of the Syro-Palestinian area around the B.C./A.D. transition and during the Middle Ages
- Written heritage of India, Iran, Mongolia and Tibet: Buddhist philology, Persian language and literature, Mongolian chronicles, problems of genre attribution
- The Far East and South-East Asia: history and culture (languages, literatures, folklore and mythological-ritual traditions) of China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand
- Comparative cultural studies in the context of interdisciplinary cooperation
- Classical and Oriental Archaeology
Ancient Near East, Aramaic Studies, Comparative Semitic Studies, languages and folklore of South Arabian peoples
The IOCS researchers and lecturers have been pursuing a wide range of historical, linguistic, literary and folkloristic subjects related to the Near East, especially to the Semitic languages and peoples. Among their most prominent and internationally recognized projects, the following are worthy of note:
– synchronic and historical description of Akkadian (L. Kogan, S. Loesov, I. Arkhipov, E. Markina, R. Nurullin);
– comparative grammar and etymology of the Semitic languages (L. Kogan, M. Bulakh);
– grammar and vocabulary of the Aramaic, including Neo-Aramaic, languages (S. Loesov, A. Lyavdansky, Yu. Furman);
– Ethiosemitic linguistics (L. Kogan, M. Bulakh);
– the language and folklore of the Soqotri (L. Kogan, M. Bulakh, E. Vizirova, D. Cherkashin).
Numerous works covering these topics have been published both in the form of individual books issued by leading European publishers (Oxford University Press, Brill, de Gruyter) and in the most prestigious international journals dedicated to Oriental and African Studies.
Research in this area is characterized by the Institute’s close cooperation with leading Russian and foreign scholars and academic bodies. Thus, field research on the Soqotri language and folklore is carried out under the supervision of and in cooperation with the most prominent Russian Arabist and Islamicist, Academician V. Naumkin, of the Institute for Oriental Studies, RAS. Research in the field of early Mesopotamian economy (E. Markina, E. Vizirova) is conducted in long-term cooperation with the noted Russian historian and specialist in Sumer N. Koslova, the Head of Oriental Department at the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. L. Kogan and R. Nurullin are for many years the leading participants of the “Etymological Dictionary of Akkadian” international project (jointly with the universities of Jena and Leipzig). I. Arkhipov and B. Alexandrov have been long and fruitfully cooperating with the leading French experts in Mesopotamian history, language and culture of the Old Babylonian period. A. Kovalev’s interests are in the field of Presargonic Mesopotamian history (the Protoliterate and Early Dynastic periods), including ancient Mesopotamian warfare and the history of writing.
The primary task of the Moscow Circle for Aramaic Studies, coordinated by S. Loesov, is to write the history of Aramaic languages, that of the Aramaic Verb in particular. S. Loesov and Yu. Furman work on the electronic corpus of a Neo-Aramaic language Ṭuroyo and describe the dialects of this language. A volume which includes Ṭuroyo texts recorded in Tur Abdin in 2018–2019 is currently being prepared for publication. A. Lyavdansky's research is focused on North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic languages. A corpus of texts in the Neo-Aramaic dialect of Urmi Christians is created under his supervision. A. Lyavdansky also prepares a number of Aramaic magical texts for publication.
Yu. Furman works on the "World History" of the East-Syriac author John Bar Penkaye, which she prepares for publication. She also studies the traditions of the East-Syriac exegesis.
The adjacent field of study concerns the Christian, both Syriac and Arabic, Orient researched by N. Seleznyov, a leading expert who publishes, translates and studies the little-known (or totally unknown) writings of the Syro-Arabic Christianity and Islamo-Christian heritage, bringing together specialists in this sphere from different countries in joint projects aimed primarily at publishing the formerly unavailable manuscripts. Together with G. Kessel (the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften and the University of Manchester), N. Seleznyov heads up the “Bibliography of Syriac and Christian Arabic Studies in Russian” project, the results of which are annually published in the international periodical “Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies”.
Comparative-historical linguistics, research in the field of distant language relationship, quantitative methods of genealogical language classification
As of today, the IOCS is one of the most noted Russian centres of comparative-historical linguistics, which has been founded by the leading national expert in the field, the corresponding member of the RAS S. Starostin (1953–2005). On the basis of the most recent data and findings, the Institute’s researchers and teachers have been compiling electronic databases, dictionaries of various language families and etymological search engines. The language families in question include Indo-European (V. Dybo, A. Dybo, A. Kassian, E. Armand, I. Yakubovich), Altaic (A. Dybo, O. Mudrak), Uralic (M. Zhivlov), Dravidian (G. Starostin), Paleo-Asiatic (O. Mudrak), Sino-Tibetan (G. Starostin), several African (G. Starostin), Native American (M. Zhivlov), and others. The earliest genetic relationships between these families are being researched as well.
The Institute’s members have single-handedly created “The Tower of Babel” web site which houses the regularly updated etymological databases of Altaic, Caucasian, Sino-Tibetan, Austroasiatic, Dravidian, Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Yeniseian, Khoisan and other languages, as well as publications dealing with them. In 2011, the site introduced the “Global Lexicostatistical Database” project. The site is very popular in academic circles as a reference and information system in comparative linguistics.
Jointly with the international publishing house Gorgias Press, the Institute takes part in the publication of the international Journal of Language Relationship. The Journal’s editorial board includes the biggest experts in comparative linguistics of European and U.S. academic institutions. The “Aspects of Comparative Linguistics” subseries is issued as part of our “Orientalia et Classica” series of monographs and collections.
Our research fellows play the key role in the Russo-American “Evolution of Human Languages” project based at the Santa Fe Institute (New Mexico, USA). The global aim of the project is the creation of a universal comprehensive genetic classification of world languages both on surface and deep, even super-deep, chronological levels, as well as the development of a linguistic methodology that would enable us to produce valid reconstructions of the earliest language states.
The Problems of Studying Distant Language Relationship in Memoriam S. Starostin—The Starostin Colloquia—and the regular meetings of the V. Illich-Svitych Nostratic Seminar are also attended by members of research institutes of the RAS, lecturers of Moscow State University and other educational institutions.
Classical philology and history of Graeco-Roman antiquity: languages, literature, mythology, history of kingdoms and peoples
The study of Graeco-Roman activity, of the heritage of the classical European languages is another permanent sphere engaging the attention of the IOCS (O. Akhunova, N. Braginskaya, V. Mostovaya, D. Torshilov, M. Shumilin). Here research is conducted in the following directions: the history and poetics of classical ancient literature (Homeric epic, the novel of late antiquity, classical Roman poetry), the evolution of folklore motifs and ritual elements in literature and art, Greek proverbs, the history of Graeco-Roman science (e.g., the gradual rationalization of mythology in historical and philosophic thought), the reflection of myths in different literary genres, the results of the linguistic approach to poetic texts, textual criticism of ancient literary works, the theory and practice of translating classical poetry (Catullus, Pindar) into Russian, medieval Latin and Byzantine literature. In compliance with tradition, translatory work, commentary and editorship (Russian editions of Philo of Alexandria, Athenaeus, Plutarch, Titus Livius, Hyginus, Dionysius Scytobrachion, the Hisperica Famina, etc.) occupy a most honorable place in the scholarly activity of classical philologers. They have also taken part in the preparation of textbooks on ancient Greek and classical Greek metrics.
The Institute’s members participate on a regular basis in the organization of Moscow Gasparov Colloquia, as well as in the work of other conferences on Graeco-Roman antiquity, like Moscow “Classical Philology in the Context of World Culture” Colloquia and I. Tronsky Memorial Colloquia in St. Petersburg. The monthly “Contemporary Problems of Classical Studies” seminar functions since 2004, and the students’ academic conference, since 2016.
Our further plans include research into the genre system of ancient Graeco-Roman literature: the genres’ relation to the context of their functioning, the interaction of various genres in the work of the same author. In this connection, of a special interest is the multi-genre nature of Greek lyric poetry—an area in which unexpected findings, contributed for instance by papyrology, are still possible. Another most promising field is the study of common European Latin literature of the Middle Ages and Modern time: virtually unstudied and even hardly systematized, it influenced the emergent national literatures until the 18th century no less than those influenced itself.
The history of the Hellenistic period is the sphere of academic interests of O. Gabelko. The subject of his research includes the Hellenistic states of Asia Minor—the Bithynian, Cappadocian and Pontic kingdoms. Comparison of historical data related to those three monarchies leads one to the conclusion that they had a community of ways of historical evolution—a state caused by a fortunately balanced combination and synthesis within all of them of the Graeco-Macedonian and local (Thracian, Anatolian, Iranian) elements. Theoretical issues of Hellenism (its beginnings and its demise, the “pre-Hellenistic” and “post-Hellenistic” periods, the regional types of the Hellenistic world, the essential nature of Hellenistic monarchies, the evolution of the Greek polis in the post-classical times, etc.) are addressed by O. Gabelko in a large number of works. Another field of his research is the study of history of the Galatians—the Eastern Celts who had, in the course of large-scale migrations and military raids, occupied parts of the Balkans and Asia Minor and created there the “tribal states” of their own. O. Gabelko is also the head of the “Unofficial Names and Nicknames of Political Figures of the Ancient World as a Cultural-Historical and Political Phenomenon” collective project.
The current research interests of A. Belousov are concentrated mainly in the field of Greek and Roman epigraphy (of the northern Black Sea region generally) and papyrology. Other important fields of study for him are the history of ancient Greek literature of the Roman era, the Greek and Roman religions and magic, the pedagogy of classical languages and the history of classical studies in Europe and Russia.
B. Nikolsky’s field of interest is Greek drama. He works on interpretation, edition and commentary of Euripides’ tragedies. He published a book on Euripides’ Hippolytus—Misery and Forgiveness in Euripides: Meaning and Structure in the ‘Hippolytus’ (Swansea, Classical Press of Wales, 2015). His next books are about the relations of Euripides’ plays to contemporary political events and a commented edition of Euripides’ Alcestis.
A. Smorchkov’s subject of research is the history of the Roman republic, the specific traits of its political system, in which religion, law and government structure—the aspects that reflect the spirit of ancient Rome most fully—have become inseparably intertwined. The stability and efficiency of the republican political system makes its study highly relevant to this day—especially in our times of violent political upheavals and drastic change. The religion of the Roman polis—sacerdotal organizations, position and status of temples—occupies a special place among A. Smorchkov’s academic activities.
Scholarly interests of O. Sidorovich are focused on the shaping of the Romans’ vision of their own past, on the interplay of myth and history in the works of Roman authors represented by two distinct genres—annalistic and antiquarian. O. Sidorovich gives her attention primarily to the records of the two main sacerdotal collegia, the pontifices and the augurs, which survived in the works by Titus Livius and Marcus Terentius Varro. The interpretation of cultic vocabulary, the exegesis of the origin and essence of religious rites function, in the works of Roman authors, as the building blocks for the construction of the history of Roman people. Thus cult, ritual and history have become inseparable in their work.
The Institute’s classical historians take part in translation projects aimed at the publication of Graeco-Roman authors in Russian. A. Smorchkov participated in the translation of the “Roman Antiquities” by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, of the Justinian’s Digesta and his Codex Iustinianus. He was also the driving force behind and the actual performer of Russian translation the “Nine Books of Memorable Deeds and Sayings” by Valerius Maximus. Currently, he participates in the translation of the “Institutio Oratoria” by Quintilian.
Since 2009, historians of the IOCS hold the annual inter-university “Miusskaya Square Get-Togethers on Antiquity” academic seminar, participate in “Sergeev Colloquia” at the History Department of Moscow State University, in “Zhebelev Colloquia” at the History Department of St. Petersburg State University, in the annual “Antiquitas Aeterna” conference on classical antiquity based at Lobachevsky University (Nizhny Novgorod).
The Near East in the Hellenistic epoch, sources on the history, culture and religion of the Syro-Palestinian area around the B.C./A.D. transition and during the Middle Ages
Due to the efforts of the classical historian and cultural researcher N. Braginskaya, the Biblical and Hebrew scholar M. Seleznev and their colleagues, the Institute now has a school of comparative studies into the Greek texts of the Hellenistic and Roman East Mediterranean. The written heritage of that area—ancient novels, early Christian lives, Apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, and other works chronologically fitting within the span between the Old and New Testaments—are of enormous significance for the study of the cultural context in which the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Septuagint have emerged and functioned.
M. Seleznev, the author of new translations of books of the Old Testament is engaged, together with a team of his coworkers and students, in comparison of the Hebrew Biblical texts with their Greek counterparts. They also study how the concepts and realia of the Biblical world were conveyed in the Hellenistic universe, and the part this encounter of cultures played in the future of Christianity and Western culture at large.
The encounter of the classical world with the Near East is the subject of the well-known joint publication by a team of scholars and their disciples headed by N. Braginskaya—the three-volume chrestomathy “Greek and Roman Authors on the Hebrews and Judaism”. The volume “The Four Books of the Maccabees” published in Moscow and Jerusalem, in which commentaries, research articles and other materials exceed the translated manuscript proper tenfold, is a serious contribution to the field both nationally and worldwide. This edition was also prepared under N. Braginskaya’s supervision. Graduate theses of our classical students are of significance as well: for instance, the degree work by R. Nakipov (N. Braginskaya’s disciple) dealing with “Daphnis and Chloe” novel revealed the presence in the core of the Greek book of the oldest mythologeme known from Gilgamesh epic, but unattested in classical sources with the exception of this novel.
Given the seventy-year hiatus in the functioning of academic Biblical and Christian Studies in Russia, the comparative research of these specialists and their students appears to be extremely important for restoring Russian Biblical Studies to “competitive shape”.
The seminars supervised by M. Seleznev, N. Braginskaya and A. Shmaina-Velikanova have been spreading the influence of their academic schools beyond the confines of a single educational institution. The noted historian and expert on hagiography A. Vinogradov took an active part in the publishing of the Judeo-Hellenistic novel “Joseph and Aseneth”, in critically editing, commenting and studying “Galaction and Episteme”, a Christian book continuing the tradition of the Graeco-Roman novel. The young participants of the seminars spread the texts studied and the knowledge acquired there to other universities and colleges. The issues researched there become the subject of international conferences. Many publications in the field are collective, since they are the result of the seminars. The numerous publications of researchers belonging to this “academic cluster” place the authors among the most fruitful national specialists in the humanities.
Written heritage of India, Iran, Mongolia and Tibet: Buddhist philology, Persian language and literature, Mongolian chronicles, problems of genre attribution
Research into Buddhist philology (M. Rusanov, N. Alexandrova, D. Komissarov) is an important branch in this field. Works of the Buddhist canon are treated not only as a source on philosophy and history of religion. They are studied as literary texts, their genre affiliation, structural features and poetics being the primary object of research. The Buddhist philology team carries out comparative study of early Buddhist scriptures in Indic languages, as well as in Chinese and Tibetan. Detailed comparative analysis provides insight into the issues connected with the forming of the Buddhist doctrine and hagiography. As part of the seminar studying the biographical genre of Buddhist literature, we have prepared the first volume of translation of the Sanskrit and Chinese versions of the Lalitavistara—a most important Mahayana scripture—for print. The study of this text is going on. A large number of articles on the subject has been published in Russian academic journals and collections.
The coverage of the texts we study has been gradually expanding. Currently, we are preparing a translation of the Lokanuvartana-sutra, a text crucial for the Mahayana concept of the Buddha (N. Alexandrova, M. Rusanov), as well as of the Buddha’s early biographies that have survived in Chinese renderings.
The academic interests of E. Nikitenko include the autobiographical and biographical narrative in Persian literature and the emergence and evolution of the smaller genres of Persian romantic love epic. She is also engaged in the preparation of a bio-bibliographical dictionary of the Iranian 20th and 21st-century writers whose works have been translated into Russian and published.
E. Armand’s scholarly interests are focused on the general and particular problems of the history of the Persian language and theoretical grammar of contemporary Persian.
N. Chalisova addresses the issues having to do with the study of Persian poetry and poetics. Her commented translations of the classic Iranian students of poetry, Rashid al-Din Watwat, Shams-ye Qais al-Razi, and of the prominent poets who wrote in Persian, Jalal al-Din Rumi, Nizami Ganjevi, Hafiz Shirazi (the projects headed by her and completed jointly with M. Rusanov, N. Prigarina, L. Lahuti), became the basis for Iranian Studies. Together with E. Armand, N. Chalisova is working on a Classical Persian textbook. This book will include a grammatical description of Persian phonetics, morphology and syntax, plus texts in Classical Persian. In accordance with the authors’ design, it will enable students to read and understand both prosaic and poetic texts in Modern (Classical) Persian.
The IOCS conducts research in the sphere of classical Mongolian and Tibetan studies. Currently, this area is covered by scholarly works and academic activities of A. Tsendina, L. Skorodumova, Ya. Leman, and A. Solovyova, and the Institute is going to develop it. The Mongol-Tibetan branch of the Institute’s research activity is concerned, on the one hand, with the evolution of the written tradition of the Mongolians and the Tibetans at large (this entails enormous corpora of Buddhist, historical, astrological, medical, etc. texts) and, on the other hand, with purely literary issues—the evolution of genres, their specific traits, the stylistics of various works, the role of translations (from Sanskrit in the case of Tibetan and from Tibetan in the case of Mongolian) in the shaping of literary language, the role of Buddhist literature, on the one hand, and of folklore, on the other, in the emergence of diverse literary traditions.
A. Tsendina’s scholarly interests lie in the sphere of study of historical, literary, linguistic and ritual Mongolian and Tibetan records. It is due to her efforts that such unique Mongolian chronicles as the “Yellow History” (the 17th to early 18th century) and the “History of Erdene Zuu” (early 19th century) were brought to the academic notice. Problems related to the Indo-Tibetan-Mongolian literary contacts are discussed in a number of works studying how the “Seventy Tales of the Parrot”, the “Legends of Gerger Khan” and other Indian motifs that came to the Mongols primarily via the Buddhist Tibetan culture became disseminated among them.
L. Skorodumova researches into problems of the study of the Mongolian language and literature. She is the author of cutting-edge textbooks and methods that deal with mastering both modern Mongolian and the traditional Mongolian writing system professionally. L. Skorodumova has published a large number of works in literary history covering various genres of Mongolian literature. As a result of her efforts as a translator, novels by the noted Mongolian historian and novelist Vanchinbalyn Injinash and works by other authors have been translated into Russian. L. Skorodumova is also a leading expert on contemporary Mongolian literature.
Ya. Leman’s sphere of research concerns problems of scholarly translation from Mongolian, issues of literary history and Buddhist studies. Ya. Leman is one of the recognized authorities on the life and work of an outstanding Mongolian figure of the 19th century—the monk and poet D. Ravjaa.
The principal scholarly interests of A. Solovyova lie in the field of Mongolian folklore, including its current forms, popular religion, cultural anthropology of Mongolian peoples and contemporary mythical-ritual traditions of Mongolia.
The Far East and South-East Asia: history and culture (languages, literatures, folklore and mythological-ritual traditions) of China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand
Sinological studies are pursued in the IOCS along several lines.
Along with teaching Sinology students the full course in Chinese literature, which spans chronologically its entire existence, the Institute tackles some individual facets of Chinese belles-lettres. Thus, I. Smirnov has for more than fifteen years been studying Chinese poetry and poetics, in particular the role of diverse collections of poetry (thematic, chronological, etc.) in the history of Chinese poetry; the significance of such anthologies, taken together with their forewords and afterwords, for literary criticism; as well as the importance of translating poetic anthologies into Russian in their entirety rather than picking individual verse for rendering. He has translated the entire corpus of Ming poetry (the 14th–17th centuries). A cluster of relevant issues is addressed in I. Smirnov’s monograph “Chinese Poetry in Researches, Notes, Translations, Interpretations” and in several articles.
One should mention L. Stezhenskaya’s studies on poetics of the medieval Chinese literature and particularly her study and translation of a highly important poetic work of the Far Eastern literary tradition: Liu Xie’s treatise “Wen Xin Diao Long” (see her publications in: Openwork Thought of Chinese Literature: Liu Xie’s Literary Conception on selected chapters. Moscow, IFES RAS, 2015, in Russian). L. Stezhenskaya has also been studying the Classic “Shujing” in co-authorship with V. Mayorov for a long time, and the full Russian translation of this canonical text was published with her participation: The Esteemed Book: Ancient Chinese texts and [Russian] translation of Shangshu (Shujing) and Shorter Preface (Shuxu). Moscow, 2014, in Russian.
A large research team has gradually assembled for the study of the complex topic “Asian Languages and Folklore Traditions”. The aspects under study are linguistics, anthropology and folklore traditions of China, including today’s mythical-ritual notions, practices and folklore traditions of the Chinese and the lesser peoples, current urban legends, etc.
Among the major fields of research are:
– comparative study of the mythical-ritual traditions and religious life of South and North China (O. Mazo, A. Starostina, A. Solovyova);
– study of contemporary urban legends (A. Starostina, A. Solovyova);
– the language and folklore of the Mongolian ethnicities (I. Gruntov, O. Mazo, A. Solovyova).
To provide data for all of the above fields, special expeditions work, gathering unique materials and checking the acquired information. By now, the team has compiled collections of data on the history of temple complexes, on the shaping and functioning of temple communities. It collected samples of narrative tradition having to do with local temples, worshiped deities, spirits and saints, data on the folklore traditions of Beijing, Baoding, Macau, on the language and folklore of Hailar District (Inner Mongolia, the PRC).
Based on the data they have obtained and the written sources, the team is engaged in the creation of a database of Chinese mythological and religious characters. Description of the vocabulary and grammar of the contemporary Mongolian languages of China and elaboration and updating of their existing classification is being carried out as well.
The participants of the working team readily take part in international academic conferences and seminars in Russia and abroad, regularly publish their works in national and foreign journals and collections on the subject. The “Spirits and Ghosts in Chinese Culture” seminar, also attended by students and invited experts, is held since 2014.
Japanese Studies are represented by A. Meshcheryakov’s team: A. Belyaev. Yu. Magera, A. Os’kina, S. Rodin, E. Sakharova, M. Toropygina, A. Fedorova. They are the organizers and participants of the annual international academic conference “The History and Culture of Japan”—the most representative and authoritative forum of Japanologists in Russia. The conference is held since 1998. Its work also entails cooperation and coordination of Japanese Studies in Russia reflected in the annually published “The History and Culture of Japan” collections, issued as part of the Orientalia et Classica series. Besides, the above-mentioned researchers are the organizers and participants of the permanent “Seminaru” seminar, which is held twice a month since 2016. Scholars, lecturers and students from Moscow and other cities participate in its work.
The sphere of academic interests of the Japanese Studies group embraces a wide range of issues related to the history and culture of Japan and neighboring countries. Based on the analysis of written records and visual sources, the team examines the problems bearing on the identification of specifics of Japan’s historical path and its distinctive cultural traits. All this allows them to teach a large variety of subjects covering the very diverse aspects of Japanese Studies.
The Institute’s Korean Studies division focuses its academic interests on the medieval Korea of Joseon (Choson) period: various aspects of the history of the Korean language, theoretical grammar and Korean material culture. The Korean research team includes promising scholars, permanent participators of international conferences and members of major academic associations: E. Brechalova (the Association of Korean Language Teachers of Russian Universities), N. Chesnokova (the Association for Korean Studies in Europe—AKSE), E.Logunova (a member and academic consultant of the Korean Studies Graduate Students Convention—KSGSC), A. Artemova (KSGSC member). The Korean specialization is supervised by E. Kondratyeva, an AKSE member and the head of the Association of Korean Language Teachers of Russian Universities.
Aside from theoretical research in the area of historical grammar of Middle Korean and commented translations of medieval literary works of the 15th century performed by E. Kondratyeva (the “Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven”, the “Worin Seokbo”, etc.), the IOCS specialists are assiduously working on a grammatical description of Modern Korean. E. Logunova, the author of many academic contributions and the leading European specialist in Korean grammar of the 18th–19th centuries, is currently working, together with E. Brechalova, on a description of the Korean language used in medieval novels. In addition, the IOCS historical linguists study medieval bilingual textbooks used for the study of foreign languages in Korea—the “Nogolde” (“The Old Chinaman”, a 15th-century Chinese language textbook), the “Chhophe Sino” (a Japanese primer of the 17th–18th centuries), and others.
The domain of research conducted by N. Chesnokova, the leading IOCS expert in Korean history, concerns the Late Joseon period. As the translator of the “T’aengniji” (“Description of the Selected Villages”, 1751), N. Chesnokova devotes a large number of scholarly and popular articles to the philosophy, history and geopolitical problems of Korea during that period, basing her conclusions on the data of this unique source.
Material culture of medieval Korea—especially calligraphy and works in hanmun—forms another promising area of study. This direction is pursued by A. Artemova, a creative researcher and participant of numerous projects, international conferences and seminars.
– languages and folklore of the South-East Asian peoples (I. Samarina, Sengtian Bandasak, N. Krayevskaya), including field and lexicographical work;
– the ethnology of South-East Asia (Yu. Minina, N. Krayevskaya, Sengtian Bandasak);
– the art and culture of South-East Asia (N. Kraevskaya).
In its research of the South-East Asian area, the team works in close cooperation with leading Russian and foreign (primarily Vietnamese and Cambodian) scholars from various organizations. Thus the field work in the sphere of Tai-Kadai and Vietic languages of Vietnam, which is directed by I.Samarina, is carried out jointly with scholars of the Vietnamese Institute of Lexicography and the Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences (VASS). The IOCS students majoring in Vietnamese participated in one of the expeditions. They also take an active part in processing the data obtained in the field. The results of the team’s research have been published in the form of the monograph “The Gelao Languages: Materials for a Comparative Dictionary of the Kadai Languages”. Since 2012, joint Russo-Vietnamese field research into the relict Vietic languages of Central Vietnam is carried out. Monographs containing linguistic descriptions of these languages and field data (dictionaries, grammatical and folklore materials) are in the works.
Lao Studies are represented at the IOCS primarily by lexicography. Principal work in this are is done by Sengtian Bandasak (as a native speaker, among other things), one of the compilers of the Russian-Lao Dictionary (2004). The team is planning to create a multimedia multi-language dictionary covering the Vietnamese, Khmer, Lao and Thai languages. In addition, it has been conducting experimental phonetic research on the tonal systems of Lao dialects (I. Samarina, Sengtian Bandasak).
Yu. Minina studies material culture of the peoples of Vietnam—first and foremost, the Vietnamese national dress. Besides, she takes part in lexicographical projects.
N. Krayevskaya is a recognized expert on the contemporary visual arts of Vietnam. She often acts as a curator of prestigious artistic exhibitions displaying the works of Vietnamese artists in different countries of the world. Her articles are published by leading journals dealing with the art of South-East Asia. N. Krayevskaya heads the “The Cultural-Linguistic Picture of the World as Seen by the Tai People, Based on the Analysis of the Language of Folkloric Texts and the Weaving Patterns” Russo-Vietnamese project, a venture which I. Samarina collaborates in as well. A book is in preparation, which will include the texts of Tai folklore gathered in the course of field work.
Since 2015, the Assistant Director of the Institute for Linguistic Studies, RAS, heads linguistic and ethnological field research (that he has initiated) on the Bahnaric peoples of Cambodia. Researchers from Moscow and St. Petersburg—among them, I. Samarina and M. Stanyukovich, Head of the Department of Australia, Oceania and Indonesia at Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera, St. Petersburg)—take part in this joint effort.
Comparative cultural studies in the context of interdisciplinary cooperation
Comparative cultural studies is an area that unites philologers, historians, students of religion and art historians—experts on various languages of Asia and Africa, cultures of the Arabo-Islamic world, medieval Syria and Mesopotamia, Iran, India, China and Japan. Headed by N. Chalisova, this team of scholars includes N. Alexandrova, M. Alontsev, O. Bessmertnaya, E. Diakonova, A. Zhuravsky, D. Komissarov, E. Komissaruk, A. Meshcheryakov, E. Nikitenko, N. Seleznyov, I. Smirnov. The specialist in Arabo-Muslim philosophy, Academician A. Smirnov (RAS), plays a significant part in the theoretic interpretation of the team’s efforts and results. Among the permanent contributors of the team’s academic projects, we also ought to mention the expert in Tamil literature A. Dubyansky, the student of Japanese folklore, mythology and poetics, Professor emerita of Kobe Foreign Languages Institute (Japan) L. Ermakova, the Iranian languages specialist and translator of Persian literary works L. Lahuti, the Indologist studying Sanskrit texts N. Korneeva and others.
The principal fields of study are:
– philological translation of texts as a tool of “cultural translation”: the study and commented translations of the crucial writings of Oriental cultures;
– research into the problems of inter-cultural translation, development of adequate methodological means;
– the location of borrowed elements of culture as a linguistic and cultural issue in the interdisciplinary context.
The methodological point of departure for the studies in this sphere is the concept of culture as a special formation whose individual constituents are in harmony with one another and cannot be accidental. General questions arising in the course of research are formulated as follows: “How can we expose and describe in our language the unique quality of another culture, overcoming the fact that the needed terms are irreducible to one another?”; “How can we trace the processes and reveal the factors of mutual influence and transformation of cultures?” Thus, the principal issues addressed in the studies of this academic community in the vein of interdisciplinary cooperation reside in the sphere of describing the uniqueness of cultures and their interaction.
The aforementioned research team which develops the complex theme “Asian Languages and Folklore Traditions” also works in the context of comparative cultural studies.
Classical and Oriental Archaeology
The scientific activities of the Centre for Classical and Oriental Archaeology are mainly related to the problems of ethnic, political, economic and cultural interactions of different societies within Classical and Oriental civilizations. These issues are studied on the base of complex analysis of sources having a various nature—archaeological (including visual art), written (narrative and epigraphic), linguistic, etc. Scientific projects of the Centre are implemented at three levels: field research, laboratory processing of the materials obtained, and synthesis research. Students and post-graduate students are expected to participate in all projects.
Archaeological field work provides new materials (archaeological as well as epigraphic) for the synthesis research. The expeditions are also sites for testing the results of such research. In addition, they are the base for a field practice of students and postgraduates of the Center. Currently, it is possible to participate in the international archaeological expedition in Agrigento (Italy), Olbia (Ukraine), Taman Peninsula (Russia), Eastern Black Sea region (Abkhazia, Georgia), on the settlement of Dzhankent (Aral Sea region, Kazakhstan). With the development of the center's activities, the field work’s locations and the number of expeditions evidently will expand, including the foreign ones.
The area of scientific interests of A. Ivantchik, Head of CCOA, is Greek and Latin epigraphy, ancient history and archeology of the Black Sea region, Asia Minor and the steppes of Eurasia, ancient Greek colonization, classical literary tradition about the East, ancient ethnography. He took part in several archaeological expeditions in Southern Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Greece, was the Head of International archaeological research project in Celaenae—Apamea Kibotos (Turkey, province of Afyonkarahisar). At present, he supervises a Russian part of the International expedition in Agrigento (Italy) and archaeological project “Eastern Black Sea region in antiquity” (Abkhazia, Georgia). Head of the international project “Corpus of Greek and Latin inscriptions of the Northern Black Sea region” (IOSPE).
The history of archeology and historical concepts, study of ethnic processes and social structure of the early medieval societies of Europe, the Northern Black Sea, the North Caucasus and Central Asia are in the center of attention of Heirich Härke. He supervises a project “Trade, urbanization and state formation on the northern Silk Road: the early medieval town of Dzhankent (Aral Sea region, Kazakhstan)” supported by DFG Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft).
V. Mordvintseva studies cultural transformations on the material of archaeological sources. The main database of her research is ancient and “barbarian” sites of Eastern Europe. Comparing archaeological complexes and individual artifacts, she uses their information potential (in particular, cross-polity exchanges) with the help of GIS-methods, network perspective, core and periphery approach, and specially developed author’s research techniques.
The early medieval history and archeology of Eurasia, Byzantium, and the North Caucasus is the main sphere of scientific activity of I. A. Arzhantseva. The subjects of her work also include history of science, natural science methods in archaeology (geoarchaeology), history and archaeology of the Alans, Christianization of the North Caucasus, trade relations between the Caucasus, Byzantium and the East. Head of the archaeological expedition at the fortified settlement of Dzhankent (Aral Sea region, Kazakhstan)
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