Soviet Archaeology: Trends, Schools, and History

In Soviet Archaeology: Trends, Schools, and History the Russian archaeologist Leo Klejn examines the peculiar phenomenon which was Soviet archaeology, showing where it differs from Western archaeology and the archaeology of pre-revolutionary Russia, and where it reveals similarities. In this revised and expanded volume, he asks whether Soviet archaeology can be regarded as Marxist, and, if so, whether Marxism was to Russian archaeology a help or a hindrance at that time. Were the writings of Soviet archaeologists mere propaganda, driving their own political agenda, or can they be read as objective studies of our past? Klejn shows that Soviet archaeology was no monolithic bloc, though Soviet ideologists attempted to present it as such. Rather it was divided into competing schools and trends and, even beneath the veil of Marxist ideology, was often closely related to movements current in Western archaeology. Inside the system, however, the slightest deviation from the Party line was regarded as hostile, those guilty being often dismissed from their posts and condemned to life imprisonment in the Gulag, or even to death. As an archaeologist working during the turbulent years of Soviet rule, Klejn presents an account which is at once scholarly and vivid. He traces the history of archaeology in Russia from 1917 to 1991 and through the years which followed, recounting the lives and fates of prominent Soviet archaeologists in graphic descriptions with accompanying illustrations.