The Russian view of a 'peripheral' region : Nikodim P. Kondakov and the Southern Caucasus

Title: The Russian view of a 'peripheral' region : Nikodim P. Kondakov and the Southern Caucasus
Variant title:
  • Ruský pohled na 'periferii' : Nikodim P. Kondakov a Jižní Kavkaz
Author: Foletti, Ivan
Source document: Convivium. 2016, vol. 3, iss. Supplementum, pp. 20-35
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
Summary language
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Because of the late nineteenth-century studies of Russian scholars, our understanding of medieval Caucasus seems to be largely determined by the Russian imperial aspiration during the reign of Alexander III (1881–1894) and Nicolas I (1894–1917). For these tsars, the Caucasus was, before all, a uniform region with no distinction between Armenia and Georgia. Following this idea, scholars like Nikodim P. Kondakov (1844–1925) or Dimitrij Bakradze (1826–1890) presented the medieval region as a homogenous phenomenon, regardless of the cultural and political reality of the Middle Ages. Through the imperial glance, the Caucasus was just the periphery of an international empire. In the same way, the medieval artistic cultures of the southern Caucasus were presented by the aforementioned scholars as a cultural periphery of the Byzantine world. Despite of the incredible quality of Georgian enamels or of the Armenian architecture, the art of this region was thus considered provincial. The large reception of the nineteenth-century Russian historiography, pioneering under many other aspects, had and always maintains a huge impact on the present vision of the medieval Caucasian cultures.