chapter  8
12 Pages

: Archaeology in Colonial and Postcolonial USSR

ByPavel Dolukhanov

The aim of this chapter is to examine the history of Soviet archaeological discourse and practice and to provide a discussion of some of the present trends in archaeological narrative in the post-Soviet space. The creation of a new state, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, was proclaimed in January 1924, in the wake of the prolonged civil war and shortly before Lenin’s death. Originally it included four formally independent republics: the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Byelorussia, and Transcaucasian Federation; soon after, the latter was split up into Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan Soviet Republics. In August 1939, preceding the German invasion of Poland and the beginning of World War II, the Soviet government concluded a “non-aggression” pact with Nazi Germany. By virtue of this agreement (which included a secret “Rib-

bentrop-Molotov protocol”), the entire area of Eastern Europe was divided into the German and Soviet spheres of influence. Based on this agreement, in June 1940, the Soviet Union occupied three independent Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), and later that year annexed the province of Besarabia from Romania. After the mock “elections,” all these territories were included into the U.S.S.R. as Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republics. As a result, the area of the U.S.S.R. became nearly equal to that of the Russian Empire. After the war, with the installment of pro-Soviet puppet regimes in Eastern and Central Europe and the communist takeover in China and Vietnam, the Soviet bloc became an empire with a total population approaching 1.5 billion.