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Pavel Dolukhanov

1st January 1937 - 6th December 2009

Appreciation by
Geoff Bailey


Pavel Dolukhanov, who was Emeritus Professor of East European Prehistory at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, died on 6 December 2009 at the age of 72. Pavel took his first degrees in the Department of Geography at the Leningrad State University, and spent the earlier part of his professional career as a Senior Researcher at the Institute of Archaeology, USSR Academy of Sciences, Leningrad, then under the all-powerful headship of V.M. Masson (now the Institute for the History of Material Culture, St Petersburg).

In 1989 he left the Soviet Union with his family to seek political asylum in the West, and after brief spells in Rome and the USA was offered a Research Fellowship in 1990 in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, followed by a permanent lecturing position in 1993, promotion to Reader in1995, and a personal chair in 2002. His arrival in Newcastle coincided with renewed interest in research opportunities in Eastern Europe, and saw the development with John Chapman of the Centre for the Archaeology of Central and Eastern Europe (CACEE), which organised a series of successful international conferences bringing together scholars from across old European political barriers.

With his geographer's training Pavel brought a keen eye for ecology and landscape to his archaeological interpretations, and a capacity for wide-ranging synthesis. His archaeological interests spanned the whole spectrum of prehistory from the earliest Stone Age onwards, and from the reconstruction of Quaternary environments and the radiocarbon chronology of Upper Palaeolithic dispersals, to agricultural origins, the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition, and the deep history of language origins and Slav ethnicity.

Much of his major output especially in the earlier part of his career was published in Russian but he first came to the notice of western scholars with his 1984 publication by Duckworth on Ecology and economy in Neolithic Eastern Europe. Many more publications followed, most notably his The early Slavs: Eastern Europe from the initial settlement to the Kievan Rus (Longman, 1996).

His knowledge of languages and his contacts in the former Soviet Union gave Pavel an unrivalled knowledge of archaeology and prehistory across the vast territories of Eastern Europe, a deep sense of scholarship, and a continuing curiosity about the application and implications of new scientific techniques for the long-term history of such an extensive region of the world. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of EU funding, he was able to play a key role in bringing together scholars and scientists from a wide range of disciplines and nationalities, and helped to coordinate a number of new projects that stimulate new field explorations and archaeological discoveries in Russia and the Ukraine.

As a colleague, Pavel was unfailingly good-humoured, bore the increasing demands of University administration with uncomplaining fortitude and gave freely of his knowledge and language skills in the interests of scholarly research and international communication. Teaching undergraduates in the English University system was a novel experience, and one that he later spoke of at the time of his retirement with great warmth as one of the memorable experiences made possible in his adopted home. He continued to travel widely and to be active in research and publication until the last, and his leading role in a number of ongoing international projects will be sorely missed by his many colleagues and collaborators.