Lev Iakovlevich Shternberg

Shternberg, Lev Iakovlevich


(also Sternberg). Born Apr. 21 (May 3), 1861, in Zhitomir; died Aug. 14, 1927, in Du-dergof, now the settlement of Mozhaiskii, Lomonosov Raion, Leningrad Oblast. Soviet ethnographer. Corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1924).

Shternberg became a professor at Leningrad University in 1918. He was exiled to Sakhalin (1889–97) for participation in various activities of the People’s Will. There he studied the ethnography of the Nivkh (Giliak) and found that they had a clan system with a kinship hierarchy and vestiges of group marriage, as noted by Engels (see K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 22, pp. 364–67). Beginning in 1901, he worked in the Museum of Ethnography and Anthropology in Leningrad. Shternberg demonstrated the unity of mankind from the standpoint of evolutionary theory. He regarded ethnography as a science concerned with the culture of primitive peoples and its vestiges. Shternberg made an important contribution to the study of primitive religion (the concepts of supernatural overlords and divine election, outline of the stages of evolution of religions).


Giliaki, orochi, gol’dy, negidal’tsy, ainy. Khabarovsk, 1933.
Pervobytnaia religiia v svete etnografii. Leningrad, 1936.


Pamiati L. Ia. Shternberga, 1861–1927. Leningrad, 1930. (Contains references.)