Zemleprokhodtsy

Zemleprokhodtsy

 

Russian people whose journeys in the 16th and 17th centuries led to the major geographical discoveries in Siberia and the Far East and in adjacent sea waters. These were people from the military service class (cossacks of various ranks), traders, and people engaged in various industries (mainly fur trappers). Many zemleprokhodtsy were also mariners (morekhodtsy), since they journeyed not only on land and rivers but also on the sea (generally close to the shore). As a result of their activities, which were supported and partly authorized by the Russian government and local Siberian authorities, a significant part of Western Siberia up to the Enisei was explored, although not in detail, and annexed to the Russian state by the beginning of the 17th century. In 1610, K. Kurochkin wrote the first description of the Enisei and neighboring regions. In 1633–34, \hezenileprokhmlts\\ headed by I. Rebrov, pushing further eastward, reached the Arctic Ocean by way of the Lena River. In 1648, Popov (F. Alekseev) and Semen Dezhnev made their historic sea voyage around the Chukchi Peninsula, discovering, in fact, the strait separating northeastern Asia and northwestern North America. I. Moskvitin in 1639 was the first European to reach the Sea of Okhotsk and sail along its shores. From 1643 to 1646, V. D. Poiarkov and, from 1649 to 1652, E. P. Khabarov led expeditions along the Amur and in the Amur Region. As a result of all the journeys of the zemleprokhodtsy in the first half of the 17th century, vast parts of Eastern Siberia and the Far East were traversed and explored to some degree. Lake Baikal and the major rivers, along which the zemleprokhodtsy journeyed to the Arctic Ocean, were discovered. Sailing between the mouths of these rivers, the zemleprokhodtsy at different times and in different successions in parts traversed the entire northern sea passage (including the sea route around the Taimyr Peninsula). In the second half of the 17th century, the Kamchatka Peninsula, first described by V. Atlasov following his 1697–99 expedition, was discovered. Information concerning the Chukchi Peninsula was greatly expanded. The zemleprokhodtsy compiled numerous maps and wrote numerous descriptions of the flora and indigenous population of the places visited and, on the basis of oral accounts, described neighboring regions.

REFERENCES

Lebedev, D. M. Geografiia v Rossii XVII veka (dopetrovskoi epokhi). Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.
Otkrytiia russkikh zemleprokhodtsev i poliarnykh morekhodov XVII veka na severo-vostoke Azii: Sb. dokumentov. Moscow, 1951.
Lebedev, D. M., and V. A. Esakov. Russkie geograficheskie otkrytiia i issledovaniia s drevnlkh vremen do 1917 goda. Moscow, 1971.

D. M. LEBEDEV