A catalogue of history to be made
Alexander Sadovoy
Professor, Head of the Laboratory of Ethno-Social Research of the Federal Research Centre “Subtropical Scientific Centre” of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Historical Sciences

A catalogue of history to be made

In the year of historical and cultural heritage, not only the recreational sphere, in its usual sense, but also historical and cultural tourism is actively developing in Sochi. A unique catalogue that will collect the information about the heritage sites of the Black Sea region for the first time will help do this. Professor Alexander Sadovoy, Head of the Laboratory of Ethno-Social Research of the Federal Research Centre “Subtropical Scientific Centre” of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Historical Sciences, speaks about why it is necessary to “count” the monuments and when the catalogue should be published.

- What is the purpose of compiling such a catalogue?

- The catalogue that we are going to publish, of course, is of practical value as scientists see this world differently, they and ordinary people can be in the same place but the scientists notice and analyze latent processes that the residents and tourists do not see. Our catalogue will help develop the historical and cultural tourism and make new routes. While working on a project, we use only verified information. Before starting to write about any object, it is necessary to study at least 6-7 documents to make sure the information is relevant. So, it will no longer be possible to fantasize over the material and mythologize historical facts when telling stories about them to vacationers. The main thing is that we will be able to fit the modern aspects into the history. The future readers of this book will be able to get acquainted with the latest scientific discoveries, verified local history information, illustrations from the family archives of some Sochi residents. During the implementation of any projects, new ideas come and relations are established between historians, local history experts, and media representatives. At present, a stable system of scientific and creative interaction has already been established between the Subtropical Scientific Centre (SSC) of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), the Diocese of Sochi and Tuapse, and the Sochi National Park.  

- How many objects of cultural and historical heritage are located in the Black Sea region?

- This list is open. There are over 6,000 objects in the Krasnodar Territory. In the Black Sea region, the list is constantly updated due to discovery of new sites by the archaeologists from the Institute of Archeology, RAS, (Moscow) and Andrey Kizilov, a senior researcher of our laboratory. In recent years, the archaeological excavations of the temple in the village of Veseloye have become the most serious findings. Most of the archaeological sites found on the territory of Sochi were not the objects of excavations. Recreational centres have always been more developed in Sochi, and only recently, before the Winter Olympics, interest in other areas began to grow gradually, and systematic archaeological studies were carried out. Of course, we are far from the Crimea where the study of the ancient heritage has become a tradition since the end of the 19th century.

- Please tell us more about the work on the project.

- Nowadays, we are implementing the first stage of our project - a catalogue of objects of the historical and cultural heritage of the Orthodox Christianity is being compiled starting from the monuments of antiquity and of the Middle Ages to the present. This project includes two of the oldest social institutions existing in Sochi - the Russian Orthodox Church with its history going back more than a thousand years, and the Russian Academy of Sciences having a structural unit in the Black Sea coastal area that appeared over a century ago. For the last three centuries, this region has been a zone of collision of two world religions - the Islam (the Ottoman Empire) and the Orthodox Christianity. Some existing monuments of the Orthodox Christianity date back to the 4th-6th centuries of A.D, and most of them are the objects built in recent decades. This is due to an increasingly active construction of temples, churches, and chapels after the 1990s. This is quite a serious process. The church is not just a building or parishes, it is a certain way of urbanization, the development of culture, crafts, architecture, and the education system. Therefore, last year, the Subtropical Scientific Centre, RAS, together with the Diocese of Sochi and Tuapse, decided to make a compilation of information about the Orthodox Christianity’s monuments in the region from the city of Tuapse to the Abkhazia. The catalogue of the Orthodox Christianity’s monuments will include approximately 30 archaeological objects and more than 100 modern Orthodox Christianity’s objects. The first description was devoted to the history of the Archangel Michael Cathedral. At the request of the Diocese, the material regarding the first church buildings on the territory of the today’s Cathedral was collected. In the coming autumn, we are going to study several temples in the upper reaches of the Mzymta River.

- How are objects described?

- Compiling the catalogue is a combination of field and office work. Studying the data, comparing and analyzing the information is done, of course, in office. But photographing objects, describing them by an architect, obtaining data on the most striking events in the life of parishes - this is a field work. In addition, as I have already emphasized, the information in this catalogue will be verified, and this can only be achieved by studying various sources including the interviews with priests, long-term residents, local history experts, and etc.

- Who works on this project?

- The working group consists of eight people and includes four researchers from the Subtropical Scientific Centre, RAS, and four persons from the Diocese of Sochi and Tuapse. The team of authors will be much wider. In addition to historians, ethnographers, members of the clergy, it is planned to involve soil scientists, ecologists, architects, painters, and others in the implementation of the project. At the next stage, we plan to expand the list of objects of historical and cultural heritage by including other branches of the Christianity and Islam in the catalogue of sacred objects. At the final stage, it will comprise modern objects of historical and cultural heritage, including those created during the preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

- How do you attract the younger generation to work with historical and cultural objects?

- We plan to involve young parishioners in the work on the project to describe the highlights in the life of their parish. There are plans to jointly organize and hold a competition for the best works of young Sochi’s painters and photographers to be used as illustrations. It is planned to conduct roundtable discussions and start summer schools. In the future, the participation of Moscow and Krasnodar archaeologists in excavations and building the expeditionary teams of Sochi schoolchildren and students on this basis. A preliminary agreement on these ways of youth’s participation in the project was given by the experts of the Institute of Archeology, RAS. Unlike other large cities of the Krasnodar Territory and the neighbouring republics, Sochi has a serious problem in attracting students to projects of this kind. This is explained by the fact that despite two universities in Sochi, specialists (masters, graduate students) in history, archeology, and ethnography are not trained in the city. Therefore, we cannot organize a competition for course and diploma projects. Now, one of the ways to attract students and young employees is their participation in creating a database on the historical and cultural heritage of the Sochi Black Sea region. The Institute for Spatial Development of the Regions of the SSC, RAS, ​​is forming a fund of personal collections belonging to the Sochi’s local history experts, specialists, long-term residents.

The project has got off the ground. The family of the famous Sochi local history expert V. I. Voroshilov donated his archive to the fund and it is currently being processed. At the next stage, its digitalization will be carried out, and it is planned to attract students to do this work. The fund also has a number of documents belonging to a famous scholar and an expert in the Russian Caucasian history Leonid Ivanovich Lavrov, Head of the Department of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography named after Peter the Great, RAS (Kunstkamera (Cabinet of Wonder)). In the future, some of the information will be posted on the Internet.

- In what format and when will the catalogue be published?

- The first stage is planned to be completed within three to five years. At the first stage, the catalogue is supposed to be published in two formats: a printed one and a more extended electronic version. The entire project will be completed within 7 to 10 years. The project implementation largely depends on the possibility of attracting specialists, including those from other regions like the Republic of Adygea and Republic of Abkhazia. Intermediate results are planned for publication in the forthcoming periodical “Izvestiya” to be issued by the Subtropical Scientific Centre, RAS. By the end of the year, its first issue is expected based on the materials of the round table “Historical, Cultural and Natural Heritage of the Peoples of the Western Caucasus and the Black Sea Region”. Step by step, each new chapter of the catalogue will be posted on the website of the Diocese of Sochi and Tuapse.