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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a special historical discipline that develops the theory and practice of publishing written historical sources—preparing for publication, finding and collecting historical documents, working out publishing methods, developing rules for the scholarly and critical publication of sources, and so forth.

Archaeography is closely related to such fields as philology, source studies, paleography, textual criticism, diplomatics, and archival research. Western European historical scholarship does not customarily treat archaeography as a separate, independent, historical discipline. The term “archaeography” is not even used; in many respects archaeography is combined with paleography.

Prerevolutionary Russia and the USSR. The origin of archaeography as a scientific discipline, which was caused by the needs of historical studies, dates from the first half of the 18th century in Russia, when V. N. Tatishchev prepared the first publication of the Russian Code and Code of Law of 1550. During the second half of the 18th century, the Academy of Sciences began publishing the chronicles. Of great importance to the development of archaeography was the work of the Society of History and Russian Antiquities (founded in 1804) affiliated with Moscow University, the Commission for the Publication of State Documents and Treaties (founded in 1811), the Archaeographic Commission (founded in 1834), and the Russian Historical Society (founded in 1866). The experience gained by archaeography from publishing prerevolutionary Russian sources was generalized in the Rules for Publishing a Collection of Documents of the College of Economics (1922), which was developed by A. S. Lappo-Danilevskii. Prerevolutionary ar-chaeographers put into scholarly circulation numerous sources, which was highly significant for historical scholarship. Considerable roles in the growth of archaeography during the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries were played by P. M. Stroev, 1.1. Berednikov, N. V. Kalachov, A. A. Shakhmatov, D. Ia. Samokvasov, S. B. Veselovskii, D. F. Maslovskii, and A. Z. Myshlaevskii, among others. However, prerevolutionary Russian archaeographers, being limited by a gentry and later by a bourgeois ideology, published almost no materials on the class struggle of the toilers, Russia’s economic growth, the revolutionary movement, the history of the non-Russian peoples, and the like. Few documents were published on modern history.

Soviet archaeography, guided by Marxist-Leninist methodology, has concentrated its major attention on publishing sources on the history of the toiling masses, the country’s economic growth, the class struggle, and the liberation and revolutionary movements, as well as the history of the peoples of the USSR. Soviet archaeographers devote considerable attention to the publication of sources dealing with recent and current history. Of special importance is the publication of works by the founders of Marxism-Leninism and of documents on the history of the CPSU and the construction of socialism. The planning of publishing activities is characteristic of Soviet archaeography. This is done in the USSR by the Institute of Marxism-Leninism under the Central Committee of the CPSU, the institutes of history of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, and the Main Archival Administration of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. A large number of documents are published by archives, museums, and other scholarly institutions, as well as by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR. Documents are often published in historical journals. A broad scope of ar-chaeographic work has been attained in Union and autonomous republics and in krais and oblasts. The training of archaeographical specialists is concentrated in the Historical Archive Institute in Moscow. The standardized Rules for Publishing Historical Documents (1955) and Rules for Publishing Documents of the Soviet Period (1960) have been created. Among the multivolume works published during the years of Soviet rule are International Relations During the Epoch of Imperialism; Serf Manufacture in Russia; The Decembrist Uprising; The Labor Movement in Russia During the XIX Century; The Revolution of 1905–1907 in Russia; The Great October Socialist Revolution: Documents and Materials; The CPSU in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences, and Plenary Meetings of the Central Committee; and Decrees of the Soviet Government; and many others. Among the largest publications of sources from the feudal period are a new, scholarly edition of the Russian Code, A Complete Collection of Russian Chronicles (vols. 25–30), Acts of the Socioeconomic History of Northeast Rus’, and Letters and Papers of Emperor Peter the Great (vols. 7–11). In the development of Soviet archaeography important roles have been played by A. I. Andreev, S. N. Valk, B. D. Grekov, D. S. Likhachev, V. V. Maksakov, A. N. Nasonov, A. A. Novosel’skii, M. N. Tikhomirov, N. V. Ustiugov, L. V. Cherepnin, and others.

Foreign countries. In Western Europe, 15th- and 16th-century humanists began the systematic checking and comparison of written sources and their collection and publication (printing was invented in the middle of the 15th century). During the 17th century the Maurists (J. Mabillon and others) laid the foundations for diplomatics and paleography. The first to develop and expound the basic principles of dating and critically checking manuscripts, the Maurists carried out large-scale publication of sources on church history and the Middle Ages in France. An important stage in the organization of the scholarly publication of historical texts and in developing rules for the critical publication of sources was the activity of the Society for the Study of Early German History, established in Germany in 1819. This group began the monumental serial publication of Monumenta Germaniae historica. Serial publications were also inaugurated in other countries; examples are Collection of Unpublished Documents Relating to the History of France (beginning in 1835, under the leadership of F. Guizot) in France; Landmarks in the History of the Fatherland (beginning in 1836) and Sources of Italian History (beginning in 1887) in Italy; British Medieval Writers (1858–96) as well as materials discovered in 1838 in the State Public Archive in England; the serial publication Monumenta Hungariae historica in Hungary; and the Monumenta Poloniae historica (beginning in 1864) in Poland.

In the USA the publication of historical sources, primarily relating to the history of the American Revolution, began on a more or less large scale during the 1830’s. It was carried out by various state historical societies, individual historians, and also the federal government—for example, the multiserial publication State Documents of America. The quality of these publications and organization of publishing activities did not at first measure up to the best Western European standards.

In Asian countries the scholarly principles of publication were first put into practice between 1920 and 1940 (earlier—from the end of the 19th century—in Japan). Before this time scholarly work on the publication of Oriental historical documents was carried out primarily by Western European scholars. Important centers were such universities as Leiden, Paris, Oxford, Cambridge, and Leipzig. Universities, archives, and historical societies became the national centers of publication of sources in Oriental countries.

The theory and practice of publishing historical sources were developed in bourgeois source study primarily from medieval history sources. The same tendency prevailed in the training of archaeographic specialists—for example, in the École des Chartes founded in 1821 in Paris. Publications of an official character dominate 19th- and 20th-century history; they are prepared by state institutions—for example, ministries of foreign affairs and state archives. The substance of publishing activities is, on the whole, determined by the general methodological principles of bourgeois historical scholarship.

In foreign socialist countries the general trend and organization of archaeographical work is determined by the tasks of Marxist historical science. In contrast to bourgeois archaeography, the archaeography of these countries gives much attention to publications devoted to the history of the masses and to workers’, democratic, and national liberation movements, as well as to the publication of recent and current sources. Publishing activities are planned and carried out by the academies of sciences, national archives, institutes of Party history, and similar organizations.

Publishing techniques are of particularly high quality in France, Belgium, the Federal Republic of Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and the USA and, of the foreign socialist countries, Poland and the German Democratic Republic.


Valk, S. N. Sovetskaia arkheografiia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
Sofinov, P. G. lz istorii russkoi dorevoliutsionnoi arkheografii. Moscow, 1957.
Seleznev, M. S. Predmet i voprosy metodologii sovetskoi arkheografii. Moscow, 1959.
Metodicheskoe posobie po arkheografii. Moscow, 1958.
Istoriia sovetskoi arkheografii, issues 1–6. Moscow, 1966–67.
Liublinskaia, A. D. Istochnikovedenie istorii srednikh vekov. Leningrad, 1955.
Arkheograficheskii ezhegodnik. . . , 1958—.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.