Nikolskii, Mikhail Vasilevich

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Nikol’skii, Mikhail Vasil’evich


Born in 1848; died July 2 (15), 1917. Russian historian. Founder of Assyrian studies in Russia, Semitist, Sumerologist, and Urartian scholar. Received honorary doctorate in universal history in 1908.

Nikol’skii graduated from the Moscow Divinity School. In 1887 he organized the Oriental Commission of the Imperial Moscow Archaeological Society and took an active part in its scientific work. In 1893, Nikol’skii and A. A. Ivanovskii headed an archaeological expedition to Transcaucasia during which Nikol’skii made exact copies of many Urartian inscriptions from the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. He translated and published Sumerian sale and purchase accounts dating from the third millennium B.C. (about 900 clay tablets from Lagash, Umma, and elsewhere). These accounts became the basis for the study of the economy and social relations of ancient Mesopotamia. Nikol’skii was the first to compare Sumerian cuneiform with more ancient pictographs. While noting the dominant role of Babylonian culture in the societies of Mesopotamia in the second millennium B.C. and of Aramaic culture in the first millennium B.C., Nikol’skii also recognized the distinctive nature of the Urartian and other ancient cultures.


“Klinoobraznye nadpisi Zakavkaz’ia.” Materialy po arkheologii Kavkaza, vol. 5. Moscow, 1896.
Dokumenty khoziaistvennoi otchetnosti drevneishei epokhi Khaldei iz sobraniia N. P. Likhacheva, parts 1–2. St. Petersburg-Moscow, 1908–15.


Lipin, L. A. “M. V. Nikol’skii—otets russkoi assiriologicheskoi nauki.” Uch. zap. LGU, no. 179. Seriia vostokoved. nauk, 1954, issue 4.
Reder, D. G. “Nauchnaia publitsisticheskaia deiatel’nost’ M. V. Nikol’skogo.” In Ocherki po islorii russkogo vostokovedeniia, collection 3. Moscow, 1960.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.