by Larisa PAVLINSKAYA, Cand. Sc. (Hist.), Head of the Department of Ethnography of Siberia, RAS Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography named after Peter the Great
The Age of Enlightenment begun in Russia in the 18th century was a period of formation of science in the country, which reached the level of developed European states in the course of the century. Such rapid rise was mostly preconditioned by the policy implemented by the Emperor Peter I, who was eager to make Russia one of the advanced European countries. Establishment of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1724 was one of the most important achievements of Peter I: for several decades it headed scientific, cultural, educational, and even political development of the Russian Empire.
The Academy moved to a building on the bank of the Neva River in St. Petersburg constructed specially for this institution in 1728. The building also hosted the first State Museum of Natural Sciences and History Kunstkammer with a library and an observatory. Pursuing the objective of making our country a part of the European world as soon as possible, the emperor invited well-known scientists, architects, and artists from Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Italy with the intent to form basics of a new culture and make a new capital--St. Petersburg--its symbol. Speaking of exact and natural sciences, including profane art, the reforms implemented by Peter the Great played a key role. In terms of ethnography, not only the reforms, but also the nature of our country, uniting peoples of Slavonic, Finno-Ugric, Turkic, Tunguso-Manchurian, Paleoasian, and Mongolian linguistic communities in one territory, was of great importance.
This ethnic peculiarity was a reason of rapid development of ethnographic studies, which in the 18th century by its scale and methodology left behind in many ways the European countries. As centralized governing of the vast territory of the Empire, by that time already includin ... Читать далее