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Rostovtzeff and the classical origins of Eurasianism

Meyer, Hans-Caspar (2009) Rostovtzeff and the classical origins of Eurasianism. Anabases: Traditions et réception de l'Antiquité 9 , pp. 185-197. ISSN 1774-4296.

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This article places M. I. Rostovtzeff’s work on northern Black Sea archaeology in the intellectual and political context of pre-Revolutionary Russia and seeks to bring out the possibilities his synthesis offered to Russian self-identification and historiography, Eurasianist in particular. The central thesis of his writings on the subject is traced to his religious interpretations of figured scenes on classical Greco-Scythian metalwork (notably the Karagodeuashkh rhyton) which allowed him to connect material culture with Iranian political concepts and demonstrate historical continuities between ancient and modern monarchies in Russian lands. The study explains Rostovtzeff’s understanding of cultural interaction between Iranians and Greeks as a Russian response to the scholarly tradition of J. G. Droysen and F. Cumont, concerned with establishing the origins of Christian modernity in the Hellenistic “fusion” of Orient and Occident. It is argued that Rostovtzeff was right in placing cross-cultural elite collaboration at the core of ancient state formation in the northern Black Sea region, but wrong in identifying normative preconditions for civilization in Russian lands. The latter aspect of his work was compatible with imperial interests at either end of the political spectrum and ensured Rostovtzeff’s continued influence among émigré intellectuals of different calibre and conviction.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): northern Black Sea archaeology, Greco-Scythian metalwork, Eurasianism, Hellenism, Vernadsky George Vladimirovich, Droysen Johann Gustav, Cumont Franz, Rostovtzeff Mikhail
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2010 14:54
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2013 11:01

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