Contested ruins: Nationalism, emotions, and archaeology at Armenian Ani, 1892–1918

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The article analyzes the politics of archaeological research in late imperial Russia and addresses the problem of conflict and engagement between academic research, nationalist policies, and popular imagination. It tells the story of Nikolai Marr’s archaeological excavations in Armenia, and describes his attempts at de-heroicization and denationalization of the history of the city of Ani, a medieval capital of Armenia. The materiality of Ani’s history uncovered in the process of excavations attested to the cosmopolitan spirit of the city’s material culture. However, the epistemological principles of Marr’s work that defied the possibility of the “national” attribution of artifacts, and his interpretation of Ani’s “natural” rise and decay were out of tune with the dominant emotional atmosphere, as well as the popular narratives of the Christian Ani’s tragic demise after barbarian invasions. His scholarly position also contradicted the project’s reliance on the financial and political support of the Armenian community.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)69-101
Number of pages33
JournalAb Imperio
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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