by Nikolai VEKHOV, Cand. Sc. (Biol.), Likhachev Russian Research Institute of Cultural and Natural Heritage
In 1767 Empress Catherine the Great who took a keen interest in the organization and wealth of her possessions travelled along the Volga from Tver to Simbirsk. The Empress was not only delighted with the beauty of the great river but also went ashore in cities and villages and gathered information on the state of business, trade, factories and crafts. Everything she saw during her trip roused her to conceive a project unprecedented in range of works and involved territory, i.e. to form an authentic presentation of Russia, including geological, mineralogical, animal and plant resources, historical, socio-economic and ethnographic features of different regions.
The Empress ordered to sponsor several expeditions with a view to gather and publish necessary information to realize a grandiose scheme for studies of her state in naturalistic and historical aspects. Only eminent encyclopedic scientists were able to solve such important task. But as Russia lacked its own specialists in this sphere at that time (the national Academy of Sciences was founded just recently, in 1724), the European, mainly German, scientists were invited for participation in the forthcoming project.
The following specialists came from Germany: natural scientists Samuel George Gmelin junior, Johann Anton Guldenstâ;dt and Johann Gottlieb Georgi and also the father of many trends of natural science Peter Simon Pallas, all of them were elected later fellows of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences. Johann Peter Falk, a famous botanist of that time and a disciple of the founder of biological sciences and outstanding biologist Carolus Linnaeus, came from Sweden. The prominent scientists were a base of leadership of field parties, and Pallas headed the whole
project. When they came to the Russian capital, the preparation for its implementation was in full swin ... Читать далее