In 2013, the project transformed into Paleoetnology Research Center; in 2015 it passed the state registration as an autonomous non-profit organization and acquired a legal status. Maxim Kryuchkov, specialist in Classical philology, was Director in 2015-2018; in 2018 Denis Pezhemsky, anthropologist and archaeologist, was appointed as Director.
Paleoethnology Research Center (PRC) is an institution with a wide range of goals and objectives. All the activities of the Center develop in two major spheres: first, the academic research in ethnogenesis of different peoples, and secondly, the popularization of scientific knowledge and the creation on its base of various media products from electronic textbooks to popular science and feature films.
Paleoetnology is a scientific direction that had been developing in Russia up to 1930s and represented the first experience of the synthesis of different fields of knowledge about ancient peoples and cultures (archeology, anthropology, ethnography, linguistics). Originating in the second half of the XIXth century in the depths of the French archeology and anthropology, innovative paleoethnology approach was quickly accepted by many European scientific schools in view of the fact that it allowed to see the specific human groups behind the changing of the archaeological cultures and technologies. A distinctive feature of the representatives of this scientific field was attention to the theory and methods of the natural sciences, much of which was borrowed. Stalinist repression put an end to this line of the science development, since it came into irreconcilable contradiction with the Marxist-Leninist ideas of primitive society.
Paleoethnology Research Center is called upon to return to this topic and to restore the interrupted logic of development of the science of ancient peoples. The base of its concepts and theoretical development is the data synthesis of the above-mentioned sciences as well as of genetics, ethnology and paleogeography data. The Center’s daily work is guided by the idea of uniting the specialists from various fields of humanities and natural sciences into the community of scientists engaged in the study of the problems of ancient and modern peoples ethnogenesis.
An important instrument of such an unification is an organization of several lines of scientific conferences, one of which — Indo-European studies: multidisciplinary approach — already has its audience and regular participants. It is supposed to expand cooperation with scientific and educational institutions. The creation of new scientific library serves the same purpose, most of its book collection is exclusive for the Russian library space. All these efforts — it’a an attempt to develop a modern language of interdisciplinary synthesis, to establish a dialogue of various sciences.
ANCIENT EGYPT STUDIES IN PALEOETHNOLOGY RESEARCH CENTER
One of the main fields of activities of the Paleoethnology Research Center is the research of Ancient Egyptian history, archaeology and culture. There is a Department of History and Archaeology of Ancient East in the Center, headed by the senior research associate Alexey Krol, PhD.
The employees of the Paleoethnology Research Center are engaged in the field of history of Egyptology. One of the PRC projects is dedicated to the study of the scientific heritage of the Nubian expedition of the USSR Academy of Sciences, organized back in 1961 within the framework of UNESCO international rescue campaign associated with the construction of Aswan Hydroelectric Dam. On February 16th, 2021 the State Museum of Oriental Art along with Paleoethnology Research Center organized an exhibition “Journey to the Land of Kush. Soviet archaeologists on the banks of the Nile. Work of the USSR Academy of Sciences Nubian expedition 1961-1963”. An exhibition catalogue was published as well.
Opening of the exhibition “Journey to the Land of Kush. Soviet archaeologists on the banks of the Nile. Work of the USSR Academy of Sciences Nubian expedition 1961-1963”
Alexey Krol giving a tour over the exhibition to the Egyptian Ambassador in Moscow Ehab Nasr
Among other Egyptological projects of the Paleoethnology Research Center are studies of the Ancient Egyptian objects which are part of the Russian museums’ collections. Currently the PRC in cooperation with the Perm Art Gallery and the restoration workshop “Phenomenon” LLC is engaged in the study and restoration of the mummies and sarcophagi which are part of the Gallery’s collection. Employees of the Paleoethnology Research Center are conducting anthropological studies of the mummified remains, study the inscriptions and images on the wooden sarcophagi and try to restore how these mummies and sarcophagi did end up in Perm museum.
Specialists of the Paleoethnology Research Center Alexey Krol, Elena Tolmacheva and Denis Pezhemsky examining the mummies
One of the main goals of the Paleoethnology Research Center is the popularization of the scientific knowledge about Ancient Egypt. In 2021 PRC publishing house published a Russian translation of the book “Magic of the Pyramids. My Adventure in Archaeology” written by the famous Egyptian archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass. The presentation of the book took place in the main hall of the The Library for Foreign Literature. Dr. Hawass personally attended the presentation and gave a lecture on the latest archaeological discoveries in Egypt.
Dr. Zahi Hawass at the presentation of the Russian translation of the book “Magic of the Pyramids. My Adventure in Archaeology”
The Paleoethnology Research Center has organized the academic subdepartment in the Russian Orthodox University dedicated to the Ancient East studies and History of Antiquity. Three students are currently writing their Master’s Degree theses on the history and archaeology of Ancient Egypt.
Students of theAncient East studies and History of Antiquity Department of the Russian Orthodox University during the archaeological training at Spas-Teshilovo site near Moscow
PROJECT ON CONSERVATION AND STUDIES OF THE ANCIENT EGYPTIAN MUMMIES AND SARCOPHAGI FROM THE PERM STATE ART GALLERY
One of the most important Egyptological projects is a large research project that was conducted by the Perm State Art Gallery along with the conservation and restoration workshops “Phenomenon” and the Paleoethnology Research Center.
Specialists of the Paleoethnology Research Center Denis Pezhemsky, Alexey Krol and Elena Tolmacheva examining the mummies
The conservation and restoration workshops of “Phenomenon” have a vast experience in conservation and restoration of the cloth and wooden sarcophagi found during the archaeological excavations in the Graeco-Roman necropolis in the Fayum Oasis, Egypt. The specialists from “Phenomenon” have also conducted restoration of the sarcophagi and mummies from the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts collection.
Mummies in the conservation and restoration workshops of “Phenomenon”
The director of the conservation and restoration workshops of “Phenomenon” Natalia Sinitsyna and the director of the Paleoetnology Research Center Denis Pezhemsky
This particular project is dedicated to a complex research of two mummies buried in wooden sarcophagi. According to the museum documentation and the results of the preliminary analysis these mummies date to the Late Ptolemaic Period – the Roman Period (2nd century BC – 2nd century AD). It is yet not completely clear how these mummies ended up in the collection of the Perm State Art Gallery. Supposedly a Permian merchant had once bought them in Egypt for his home collection in the end of 19th century.
Sarcophagi in process of conservation
Previously these mummies and sarcophagi have not been researched by Egyptologists, aside from a small publication with three black-and-white photos published in the Catalogue of Ancient Egyptian objects from the collections of the former USSR countries. This Catalogue was prepared back in 1991 by the famous Russian Egyptologists O.D. Berlev and S.I.Hodjash. The inscriptions on the cartonnage and the sarcophagi, which are now covered in crust of darkened lacquer and grime, have not been read yet.
Cartonnage of one of the mummies
First the scientists plan to research the materials and ancient technologies used while making the sarcophagi and inscriptions. Based on the data, a unique restoration method will be used for each object. Then the specialists will conduct the restoration of the sarcophagi and mummies. A comprehensive interdisciplinary study of the mummies will be conducted in the process as well. Based on the CT scans, the CPR anthropologists will provide their opinion on the gender, age, diseases of the deceased individuals, and on the possible cause of their death. Important information on the mummification process is likely to be obtained in process, based on the analysis of resins. This research will be conducted by the specialists from the Skolkov Institute of Science and Technology. Scientists plan to reconstruct the appearance of the deceased individuals. The data on tissue histology will make it possible to clarify the information on pathologies and diseases of the deceased.
One of the mummies in its wrappings
Samples for the Radiocarbon dating will be extracted. In accordance with modern methods, the samples of various objects – wood, tissue, bones – will be used in order to exclude the possible inaccuracies. This research will allow to date the mummies and sarcophagi. The scientists will also read the inscriptions on the sarcophagi and cartonnage in order to provide a complete scientific description of the scenes.
Specialists of the Paleoethnology Research Center Alexey Krol, Elena Tolmacheva and Denis Pezhemsky examining the mummies
Elena Tolmacheva reading the inscriptions on the sarcophagi
Per completion of the research 3D-models of the sarcophagi and mummies will be made, which will show, how the deceased looked on the day of their burial. All the stages of the project will be photographed and recorded. In the end the Delta Production company will film a documentary on the Perm Mummies research, and the objects will be exhibited in one of the Moscow museums and the Perm State Art Gallery.
Conservation of the sarcophagi
On the night of 27th to 28th April 2021 the Ancient Egyptian Mummies have been transferred to the K.I. Skryabin Moscow State Academy of Veterinary Medicine and Biotechnology for CT scanning. The employees of the Academy have first performed CT scanning of the Ancient Egyptian mummies back in 2017. Those were the mummies from the Egyptian collection of the Lomonosov MSU Anthropology Museum.
CT scanning of the mummies in the K.I. Skryabin Moscow State Academy of Veterinary Medicine and Biotechnology
Twelve samples of various body tissue and linen cloth used for wrapping have been collected for the further research by the director of the Paleoethnological Research Center Denis Pezhemsky and the Skolkov Institute employee Yuri Kostukevich. These samples will be analyzed using mass spectrometry method to study their molecular composition. This will help to determin the composition of the embalming materials.
Yuri Kostukevich Denis Pezhemsky collecting the samples
Recently a comprehensive study of sycamore sarcophagi was conducted, and the vast restoration process is still in progress. The sarcophagi have been dismantled for careful restoration to be assembled at the end of the works.
Conservation of the sarcophagi
The mummies and their wrappings will also be restored using the latest conservation technologies which had been previously tested durung the conservation of Egyptian Mummies from Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.
Conservation of the cartonnage
Anthropologic and anatomo-morphological research of the Perm mummies has only started. At the first stage the scientists have discovered that the mummy from Sarcophagus 1 belonged to an elderly man who was more than 55 years old. His skull shows a trace of trauma or perhaps a successful trepanation, though that could have also been a result of war injury.
The mummy from Sarcophagus 2 belonged to a man who was 35-45 years old. His skull shows a left jugal bone trauma.
Specialists of the Paleoethnology Research Center Elena Tolmacheva and Denis Pezhemsky examining the scull of one of the mummies
Further research will allow to reconstruct the embalming composition. This research will be conducted by the specialists from Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technologies.
The Perm mummies will be a part of an exhibition in the State Museum of Oriental Art that will take place supposedly in Fall 2022.
THE YEAR OF EGYPTIAN CULTURE IN RUSSIA — GRAND OPENING
On February 16th, 2021 the State Museum of Oriental Art hosted the grand opening of the exhibition «Journey to the Land of Kush. Soviet archaeologists on the banks of the Nile». The exhibition was dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Nubian archaeological expedition of the Academy of Sciences of USSR. It was organized by the State Museum of Oriental Art in cooperation with the Paleoethnology Research Center.
The exposition contains photographs and diaries, as well as genuine archaeological finds made in course of excavations of the Nubian expedition of the Academy of Sciences of USSR. These objects form part of the collection of the State Hermitage Museum and Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. Both museums played important part in this event and provided the objects from their collections for the exhibition.
One of the main sources of information while preparing the exhibition was the archive of A. V. Vinogradov, who took part in the expedition. The archive was kindly provided by his daughter E. A. Vinogradova. Also, materials from the archive of B. B. Piotrovsky, head of the expedition, and field materials of two other participants — O. G. Bolshakov and L. A. Petrov — were used in the expedition.
The opening ceremony began with a speech given by the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Russia Mr. Ihab Akhmet Talaat Nasr. In his speech Mr. Ambassador has emphasized the importance of this event in terms of the development of scientific and cultural ties between Egypt and Russia. Konstantin Malofeev, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Paleoethnology Research Center, continued this idea in his welcoming speech, mentioning the facts of fruitful cooperation of public organizations and government institutions in the field of popularizing the history and culture of Egypt.
The exhibition curator A. A. Krol, the head of the Ancient East Department of the State Hermitage A. O. Bolshakov, the director of the State Museum of Oriental Art A. V. Sedov, the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Russia Mr. Ihab Akhmet Talaat Nasr, the Cultural Counselor and Director of the Egyptian Cultural Office in Moscow Mohamed El-Gebaly, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Paleoethnology Research Center Konstantin Malofeev on the opening ceremony
A. V. Sedov, PhD, the director of the State Museum of Oriental Art, in his speech has drawn the audience’s attention to the importance of the exhibition opening in terms of development of international scientific relations. He has also spoken about the continuity of Russian and Soviet archaeology traditions, about the friendly and truly scientific aura in the team in course of preparations of the exhibition.
A. A. Krol, the exhibition curator, senior researcher at the Paleoethnology Research Center and Research Institute and Museum of Anthropology of the Moscow State University elaborated on the concept of the exhibition, emphasizing the everyday life of the expedition reflected in many objects of the exhibition. Mr. Krol tried to illuminate not just the scientific achievements, but also the people who stood behind those achievements. Photographs and documents of the Soviet archaeologists — the brilliant team gathered by B. B. Piotrovsky — are the jewels of the exhibition.
Photographs of the everyday life of the expedition
The head of the Ancient East Department of the State Hermitage A. O. Bolshakov, PhD, and Deputy Head of the Department of Archaeology of MSU E. A. Vinogradova, have also given speech. The very fact that fathers of Mr. Bolshakov and Ms. Vinogradova had participated in the expedition is truly remarkable, as it testifies to the continuity of the generational development of the traditions in Russian oriental studies and archaeology.
A short documentary «Chronicles of the Nubian expedition 2021», created by the Delta Production company with the support of «History of the Homeland» fund, tells about the expedition. The documentary used numerous archive materials, provided by the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute for Material Culture (RAS) and RAS Archive.
Also, the exhibition curator has prepared a catalogue based on the archive data with numerous illustrations. This is the first attempt to study the legacy of the Nubian expedition of the USSR Academy of Sciences.
The catalogue of the exhibition
The Nubian Expedition of the Academy of Sciences of USSR
The Nubian Expedition was organized back in 1961 as part of the international rescue campaign within the framework of UNESCO associated with the Aswan Hydroelectric Dam. The expedition worked during two seasons: December 1961 — March 1962, and December 1962 — April 1963. Numerous sites dated from the Upper Paleolithic era to the New Kingdom period were found. An archaeological complex that has no analogies in Egyptian and Nubian archaeology, associated with Group A in the town of Khor-Daud, dated back to the 3rd millennium BC, was investigated. The functional purpose of this complex is still subject to debates. Burial grounds dated to Middle Kingdom and Roman era were also excavated.
The archaeological expedition worked in Northern Nubia at the mouth of Wadi Al-Allaqi, as well as in the Wadi itself. In the ancient times and Middle Ages the Wadi was a route for expeditions that traveled to the Nubian desert to get stone and gold, and also for the merchants’ caravans. Here, at two sites, more than 200 Ancient Egyptian inscriptions were discovered and studied. They mainly date to the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties and mention many Egyptian officials and nobles who carried instructions of their rulers in these distant lands.
The Nubian campaign, carried out within the framework of UNESCO, has become the organization’s largest project in terms of timeframe and costs. This was a great example of uniting of nations aimed at solving the humanitarian task of salvaging ancient monuments. For our country, which pursued an active foreign policy in the Middle East and Africa, the Nubian expedition became the first archaeological mission in the region. After that Soviet archaeologists started the long-term works in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.
DR ZAHI HAWASS HAS VISITED MOSCOW
From June 28th to June 30th, 2021 famous Egyptian archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass visited Moscow by invitation of the Paleoethnology Research Center, with the support of the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in the Russian Federation.
This was not the first time Dr. Hawass visited Russia. In September, 2015 he had already visited Moscow, also by invitation of the PRC, and it was then that our renounced guest got acquainted with the activities of the Center. That visit had also marked the beginning of the long-term cooperation.
On June 29th a special event was held at the Library of Foreign Literature. At the presentation of the Russian translation of Dr. Hawass’ book “Magic of the Pyramids. My Adventures in Archaeology”, published by PRC, the author of the book gave a lecture, in which he spoke about the latest archaeological discoveries, as well as about his life as archaeologist and researcher of antiquities.
Dr. Hawass’ great career was marked by outstanding discoveries. For many people he became a real symbol of Egypt, just like the Great Pyramids and the Sphynx. Dr. Hawass, who graduated with his PhD degree from the University of Pennsylvania (USA), is widely known as the former Minister of Antiquities and the General Director of the Giza Plateau, and also as the head of excavations in Saqqara, el-Bahariya oasis, and the Valley of the Kings. Amidst his greatest discoveries are the workers’ necropolis in Giza and the Valley of the Golden Mummies in Bahariya. Dr. Hawass discovered two previously unknown Old Kingdom pyramids – the one next to the Great Pyramid of Khufu in Giza, and another one in Saqqara which belonged to one of pharaoh’s Teti’s queens. In Saqqara Dr. Hawass conducted the second research of queen Huit’s pyramid (6th Dynasty), as well as the second pyramid that, according to the Egyptologist, has belonged to one of the queens of the 5th Dynasty. He led the search for the tomb of Queen Cleopatra and Mark Anthony at the Ptolemaic temple in Taposiris Magna near Alexandria. He also researched the so-called “secret doors” in the Pyramid of Khufu.
One of Dr. Hawass’ most significant research projects is the Egyptian Mummes’ Project, which uses natural science techniques such as computed tomography and DNA analysis to answer controversial questions surrounding the royal mummies. Among his important discoveries during the project are the identification of Queen Hatshepsut’s mummy, clarification of the genealogy of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, and solving the mystery of Ramses’ III murder.
Dr. Hawass has always been deeply concerned with the preservation and protection of Egyptian monuments, so he was the head of the restoration project of the Great Sphynx, Serapeum, and the pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara. He has initiated the construction of 19 new museums in Egypt, including the Grand Egyptian Museum and the Museum of Egyptian Civilization.
He holds a lot of rewards and honorary degrees and participated in various media projects dedicated to the popularization of Egyptology worldwide. Recently he has got an honorary PhD degree from the Russian State University of Humanities.
As of now Dr. Hawass is the head of several Egyptian archaeological expeditions, continues publishing new books and giving lectures all around the world.
His visit to Moscow was not only limited to the lectures and book presentation. He participated in several working meetings, including an interview on Tsargrad TV Channel and a meeting with Olga Lubimova, the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation. During the meeting both sides discussed prospects for further cooperation between Russia and Egypt in the field of culture, as well as specific projects that could contribute to the development of connections between our countries.
Dr. Zahi Hawass meets with Olga Lubimova, the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation
SEMINAR "ANCIENT EGYPT: ARCHAEOLOGY, HISTORY, AND CULTURE"
One of the goals of our scientific and educational seminar is to popularize strictly scientific knowledge about Ancient Egypt, its history and culture.
After one-time lectures and spontaneous discussions and conversations this seminar has brought together people who are passionate about Ancient Egyptian history, archaeology, language, and spiritual culture. This is more than just a cycle of lectures. The program also implies self-education, and seminars that are dedicated to a specific topic, most often a sensitive and up-do-date issue, built into the framework of the general course.
Elena Tolmacheva giving a lecture within the freamework of the seminar
Egyptology, like any other scientific field, has many approaches, where there is room for various hypotheses and interpretations. For a person, who is passionate about Egypt, and yet unprepared, its often difficult to navigate through the vast sea of books, articles, Internet publications and other printed and non-printed materials. We try to shed light on various scientific hypotheses, and to teach a systematic approach to studying Ancient Egypt, starting from the most ancient historical periods. In course of the seminars we pay a lot of attention to Egyptian archaeology, the main milestones of its history, and review of the latest discoveries.
Members of the seminar
The organizers of the seminar have a goal to give comprehensive information on the history, archaeology and various aspects of Ancient Egyptian culture, transparently and yet without too much simplification.
The seminar is headed by Elena Tolmacheva, PhD, and Alexey Krol, PhD.
Photos: K. Samursky, A. Krol, A. Mukhin, A. Kar
Paleoethnology Research Center
P.O.B. 46 (а/я 46)
109012 Moscow, Russia