Irkutsk - Fort Ross

Vladimir Svinin

Vladimir Vecheslavovich Svinin was born on April 6, 1936 into a working family in the settlement of Ust-Orda of the Irkutsk District. In 1944 Vladimir started school. He studied on and off, while continuing to work. In 1945 he and his mother moved to Ust-Orda so that he could more seriously pursue his education.

In 1950 an experienced reporter and poet, the already popular story-teller Vasiliy Starodumov was sent to Ust-Orda from Irkutsk. He quickly became Vladimir's mentor, and encouraged him to work in editing. He also organized occasional "literary pages" in the newspaper, on which soon began to appear the poems of Vladimir Svinin.

In 1951 Vladimir began working in the Ust-Orda Regional Studies Museum, where he organized a Regional Studies Circle for school children. It was during this period that Vladimir became acquainted with Irkutsk archaeologist Pavel Pavlovich Khoroshikh, and through him and his students, was able to meet with well known academics within the Soviet Union and abroad, such as A.P. Okladnikov and M.M. Gerasimov.

In 1951, with P.P. Khoroshikh, young Svinin would help to lead an archaeological expedition in the Kuda River valley. From 1952-1954 he participated in various expeditions under the direction of A.P. Okladnikov along the Kuda River and the upper part of the Angara River.

In 1954, after graduating from Ust-Orda High School with a silver medal, Vladimir Svinin was accepted into the History-Philology Faculty of Irkutsk State University and transferred to the Regional Studies Museum of the Irkutsk District in Irkutsk, where he began work with the archaeological fund. Svinin also attended courses in the Department of Buriat Philology, the Geography and Geology Faculties, and listened to a course in anthropology at the Medical Institute. Later, thanks to the support of the museum directors in Irkutsk, Svinin was also able to attend a special course in archaeology at Moscow State University.

In 1955 Vladimir Svinin participated in several archaeological expeditions. He worked with A. P. Okladnikov on the Angarsk Islands, as well as with P.P. Khoroshikh, A.P. Kazantsev and L.N. Ivanyev on various expeditions around Irkutsk. He also was of the staff of a dialectology expedition in the southern part of the Irkutsk District under the direction of E.R. Rigdilon.

In 1956 he served on the staff of the geomorphological expedition, affiliated with IGU (Irkutsk State University), participated in an archaeological expedition to Bratsk with A.P. Okladnikov, and worked in Malta with an archaeological detachment under the direction of M.M. Gerasimov and L.N. Ivanyev.

In 1957, by the order of the academic director of the Bratsk geological-paleontological expedition VCF AN USSR Professor N.A. Florencov and the supervisor of the Malta Archaeological Detachment Professor M.M. Gerasimov, Svinin organized an archaeological detachment of history students from IGU. This group undertook the first archaeological practice exercises affiliated with the University, and served as the stimulus for the development of the Irkutsk School of Archaeological Sciences. Working as the assistant director of the detachment, Svinin also began independent archaeological research of the multi-layered settlement in the estuary of the Belaya River. This research would become the basis of his future thesis work. His work in Malta, research of the Belaya estuary, and study of other monuments from the late Pleistocene and Holocene ages were continued with 1958 and 1959. He completed his graduate thesis in 1959 under the direction of M.M. Gerasimov.

After graduating from IGU in 1959, Vladimir Svinin was faced with the question of what would be his future profession. The graduate had received his diploma, and now found himself unemployed. On the advice of friends, he left his work in the museum, taking a position as locksmith-repairman in the Kuibishev Factory for the Production of Heavy Machinery. Here he participated in the production of machinery and tools for large mining operations, the Bkhulai Factory in India, the Aswan Dam project in Egypt, and factories in Cuba and other foreign countries.

In the summer of 1963 he returned to his work at the Regional Studies Museum of the Irkutsk District, where he occupied the position of chief curator of museum funds. In 1965 Svinin became the director of the museum. During this time he also began lecturing in various institutes of higher learning in Irkutsk, teaching courses at IGU, the Pedagogical Institute, the Hunting Sciences Faculty of the Institute of Agriculture, and the Art and Pedagogical Preparatory Schools.

In 1965 he led the exploration and research of archaeological monuments in the Barguzin Valley, Chivirkuiskii Inlet and along the northern shore of Lake Baikal. In 1966 he explored the southern shore of Baikal. Both of these expeditions were carried out with the support and funding of the government of Buriatia, ASSR.

From 1967-1970, due to the appearance of funding for expedition work, Svinin was able to sponsor a search for archaeological monuments in the territory around Irkutsk, and with the help of students uncovered the mezolithic monuments Tzar-Devitsa and Lisikha while working on a dig on Verkholenskaia Gora.

In 1970 Vladimir Svinin successfully defended his doctorate dissertation "The Archaeology of Lake Baikal". In 1971 he was invited to work at IGU, where he continues to work today.

Vladimir Svinin spent 1974-1975 on sabbaticle in the Mongolian National Republic, teaching at Mongolian National University. During the field seasons of 1974 and 1975 he worked on the staff of various detachments of Soviet-Mongolian joint historical-cultural expeditions AN USSR and AN MNR. Here, he worked on large exploration projects throughout the country, from the western border (at Ulangom) to the eastern one (at Choibolsan). He also participated in uncovering various ancient monuments such as deer stones, tiled graves, the Ulangom grave from the early Iron Age, hun graves along the Hunigola River and on the slopes of Henteya, kereksors, an enclosure from the Kudanskii times, early-Mongolian funeral and sacrifice alters dating from the Middle Ages, ritual complexes, and petrogliphs.

In 1979 he began a major trip through India and Greece for the purpose of becoming acquainted with the original sources of archaeological and historical monuments, and in 1976 and 1983 participated in archaeological digs in the ancient cities around the Black Sea, for the purpose of gaining a better understanding of this era in history.

In 1965 he participated in the organization of the Irkutsk Branch of the Russian Society for the Protection of Historical and Cultural Monuments (VOOPIiK), and from 1966-1968 he was the first secretary of the Society. During the time of his participation, the Society undertook the restoration of historical monuments throughout the city of Irkutsk, such as the Church of the Salvation, The Cathedral of the Appearance of God, the Polish Church, the Trubetskoi House, and the development of the Dekabrist Museum within it, and the selection of land and creation of the Museum of Wooden Architecture at the 42nd Kilometer of the Baikal Road (in the region of the old Taltsi village).

Around 300 works have been published throughout the 47 year creative activity of Vladimir Svinin. Vladimir Svinin is always warm and attentive in his relations with those around him, young or old, the smallest of school children or the grayest of veterans. He can clearly and concisely answer every difficult question about the historical past, and is always willing to offer advice about the not so clear and contradictory present. He has been extraordinarily lucky to work with famous teachers and students, both with shy village educators and scholars known world-wide for their achievements. And due to this luck, and all of the assistance and support that he has been given throughout his life, he now strives to live by the motto "To give back everything to people".

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