Struve, Vasilii Vasilevich

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Struve, Vasilii Vasil’evich


Born Jan. 21 (Feb. 2), 1889, in St. Petersburg; died Sept. 15, 1965, in Leningrad. Soviet Orientalist; founder of the Soviet school of specialists in the history of the ancient Orient. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1935).

In 1911, Struve graduated from the University of St. Petersburg, where he was a student of B. A. Turaev and P. K. Kokov-tsov. He also studied in Berlin under A. Erman. Struve’s teaching career at Leningrad University began in 1916 and spanned almost 50 years. From 1919 to 1933 he headed the Egyptian division of the Hermitage, and from 1937 to 1940 he was director of the Institute of Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Struve was director of the academy’s Institute of Oriental Studies from 1941 to 1950; in 1959 he became head of the institute’s ancient Oriental division. He was a member of many Soviet and foreign scholarly organizations, including the International Association of Egyptologists (Copenhagen).

Struve belonged to a progressive group of Russian scholars whose research became based on Marxism-Leninism after the victory of the October Revolution of 1917. He was the first to study the socioeconomic structures of ancient Oriental societies and to define them as early slaveholding societies, basing this conclusion on his exhaustive study of Sumerian society.

Struve’s chief works deal with the history and culture of ancient and Hellenistic Egypt, Sumeria, Babylonia, Assyria, Ugarit, Urartu, Iran, Palestine, Asia Minor, the Northern Black Sea, and Middle Asia. He was the author of A History of the Ancient Orient (Moscow, 1941). Struve combined careful study of factual material with a broad and keen understanding of historical epochs and their role in the history of various peoples. He published the texts of several Egyptian writings of major importance, whose originals are in museums in the USSR. Examples are the Moscow Papyrus, dealing with mathematics, and a number of demotic Egyptian documents.

Struve was the editor of several scholarly periodicals and historical works of joint authorship. He was instrumental in the publication of the Soviet Historical Encyclopedia and was a member of its chief editorial board. He aided in the preparation of many Soviet encyclopedic publications. Struve was awarded the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, and several medals.


“Tvorcheskii put’ akad. V. V. Struve.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1959, no. 1.
Ol’derogge, D. A., and V. V. Matveev. “V. V. Struve.” Sovetskaia etnografiia, 1966, no. 2.
V. V. Struve: Bibliograficheskaia spravka. Moscow, 1959.
“Spisok trudov V. V. Struve.” In the collection Drevnii mir. Mos cow, 1962. Pages 9–22.


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