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The beginning of the soviet theoretical archaeology: theoretical studies at the Institute of archaeology AS UkrSSR in the 1960s

Sergii Paliienko

Abstract: The article is dedicated to an exploration of archaeological theory issues at the Institute of archaeology AS UkrSSR in the 1960s. This period is one of the worst studied in the history of Soviet archaeology. But it was the time when in the USSR archaeological researches reached the summit, quantitative methods and methods of natural sciences were applied and interest in theoretical issues had grown in archaeology. Now there are a lot of publications dedicated to theoretical discussions between archaeologists from Leningrad but the same researches about Kyiv scholars are still unknown. The archaeological theory includes both generalizations made on the basis of archaeological sources and archaeological methodology. The article emphasizes the history of methodology studies at the IA AS UkrSSR during the mentioned period. The research is based on evidence from the annual reports on a work of the Institute from the Scientific archive of the Institute of Archaeology NASU. According to the documents the theory was mentioned in the early 1950s because of publication of new J. V. Stalin’s works. However, that time as well as at the beginning of the next decade, when works started under three volumes of “The Archaeology of the UkrSSR”, it was written that attention to theoretical issues was focused at the Institute, not enough. At the IA AS UkrSSR discussions on archaeological methodology started in the 1960s when papers on theoretical issues, applying cybernetic, methods of natural sciences and statistical methods into archaeology were regularly presented at sessions of the Academic council. Yu. N. Zakharuk was the most active employee of the Institute who worked in this field. In addition to presentation of papers at conferences, and sessions of the Academic council and publications, he was an executor of the scheduled work ‘Methodological and methodic issues of archaeological science’ in 1968–1970. Also it was planed to publish a book on theoretical issues. In other words, the IA AS UkrSSR was the first archaeological establishment in the USSR where the work on archaeological methodology was scheduled. According to circumstances this work had not been completely finished but the Ukrainian scholar was invited to hold the position of deputy director at the Institute of Archaeology AS USSR in Moscow. Despite a skeptical attitude to the theory among most Soviet archaeologists Yu. N. Zakharuk was able to intensify the work on theoretical issues in Soviet archaeology. A separate theoretical session, which was organized by him at the Plenum of the IA AS USSR in Moscow in 1972, might be considered as an initialization of theoretical archaeology as a new sub-discipline in the USSR.
Keywords: archaeological / archaeologists / UkrSSR / theoretical issues / Soviet archaeology / theory / natural sciences / methods of natural

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