Anuchin, Dmitrii Nikolaevich

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Anuchin, Dmitrii Nikolaevich

(b. St. Petersburg, Russia, 8 September 1843; d. Moscow, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, 4 June 1923)

geography, anthropology, ethnography.

Anuchin’s father was a soldier; his mother, the daughter of a peasant. He studied at the Physics and Mathematics Faculty of Moscow University, where Darwin’s concept of evolution and the mutual influence of natural phenomena were advocated and became the basis for his scientific research.

Anuchin was attracted to anthropology and ethnography, and after graduating from the university he became secretary of the Society for the Acclimatization of Animals and Plants. He published his first scientific papers on observations of several little-studied animals. During the 1870’s he worked seriously on anthropological and ethnographical problems, publishing papers on anthropomorphic monkeys and lower forms of man, and on the ethnography of Siberia; he also prepared his master’s dissertation. In recognition of his work, Moscow University invited Anuchin to head the department of anthropology, and in 1876 he was sent to Paris and other European university cities. For more than two years he studied museums of anthropology, listened to the lectures of leading scientists, and worked in their laboratories. He also organized the Russian section of the World Anthropological Exhibition held in Paris in 1878.

In the school year 1879–1880 Anuchin instituted Russia’s first elective course in physical anthropology. In January 1881 he defended his master’s dissertation, “O nekotorykh anomalijakh chelovecheskogo cherepa i preimushchestvenno ob ikh rasprostranenii po rasam” (“On Several Anomalies of the Human Cranium, Primarily on Their Prevalence According to Race”). From 1884 on, he headed the newly organized department of geography and ethnography, where he gave the first Russian lecture course on the history of geography; he also taught several courses in physical geography and specific geography (of Russia and Asia, among other areas). His study of the geographical distribution of Russia’s male population according to height (1889), a notable contribution to science, led Moscow University to award him the doctor of geography, honoris causa.

In 1890 Anuchin was elected president of the Society of Lovers of Natural Science, Anthropology, and Ethnography, in which he brought together the few influences in Moscow making for geographical research. In the same year he organized an expedition to study the upper reaches of the Dnieper, Western Dvina, and Volga rivers. The results of his orographical investigations and his study of the lakes of the area were highly valued by Russian and foreign scholars.

Anuchin achieved wide fame as the founder and editor of the journal Zemlevedenie (“Geography”). The publication of this journal (from 1894 on) and the activities of the geographic section of the Society of Lovers of Natural Science made Moscow the second most important center of geographic thought in Russia. Since Anuchin had created an important school of geography, he was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg in 1896; two years later he became an honored member.

After the October Revolution, Anuchin continued to work fruitfully, devoting all his strength and knowledge to the construction of the new society. He participated in the establishment of the government, especially in Gosplan (State Planning Committee of the U.S.S.R.). Upon Lenin’s recommendation, Anuchin’s services were enlisted in the compilation and editing of the first Soviet world atlas, the Atlas mira.

Anuchin often participated in international congresses of geography, anthropology, and archaeology. His name was immortalized in the names of geo—graphical features—for example, a glacier on Novaya Zemlya, a mountain in the northern Urals, and an island and strait in the Malaya Kuril’skaya (Lesser Kurile Islands)—and in the establishment of the D. N. Anuchin Prize for the best scientific work in geography, awarded by Moscow University. He was a materialist and a convinced Darwinist, and the methodological principles of these philosophies permeated all his work, both theoretical and practical.

Anuchin understood the science of geography in a broad sense. As early as 1885 he considered it an independent branch of knowledge, on the boundary between natural science and the humanities. He classified it as follows:

I. General geography.

A. Geography of inorganic nature (physical geography).

1. Meteorology (climatology).

2. Hydrography (oceanography).

3. Orography.

B. Geography of organic nature (biogeography).

1. Geography of plants.

2. Geography of animals.

C. Anthropogeography.

II. Specific geography (geography of countries).

Anuchin was a critic of the ideas of Humboldt and Karl Ritter, the most eminent geographers of the first half of the nineteenth century. He noted that Humboldt’s ideas were more advanced than Ritter’s and pointed out the weakness of Ritter’s methodological views, which were theologically oriented.

Reevaluating and defining his views on the nature and problems of geography more precisely, Anuchin stood fast by his early positions. He was sympathetic to Richtofen’s views and criticized G. Gerland’s views as one-sided and as reducing geography to geophysics. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Hettner won many followers for his theory that geography was a chronological science “of the expanse of the earth’s surface according to its material composition.” According to Hettner, questions of the essence of objects and phenomena, as well as questions of development, were alien to the science of geography. Anuchin’s theoretical views were the direct opposite of Hettner’s:

The subject of geography has remained the same for all times: our planet, the earth, and its relation to the other heavenly bodies, but more importantly, the earth in and of itself, especially its surface, which serves as the arena of various cosmic and telluric forces, as the result of which her atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and pediosphere, as well as—one can express it thusly—her biosphere and anthroposphere were established [Geograficheskie raboty, pp. 291–292].

Emphasizing the constant changes in the earth’s surface. Anuchin wrote, “a proper understanding of a country’s surface forms, its landscapes, and its phenomena of life can be obtained only by means of an inquiry into its past and the study of those processes which elicited the consequent transformation” (ibid., p. 314).

Thus, Anuchin believed that geography should concern the surface of the earth, with its inorganic nature and its variegated animal world (including man), and the relationship between them. Geography should analyze the phenomena of the surface of the earth, compare their alterations, place them within a system, and strive for an explanation of the connection between them and an elucidation of their origin. He considered the historically established separation of geography into general and specific spheres as the basis for its further development.

Anuchin’s basic works in general geography—including “Rel’ef poverkhnosti Evropejskoj Rossii” (“Surface Relief of European Russia,” 1895), “Sushcha” (“Land,” 1895), and Verkhnevolzhskie ozera i verkhov’ja Zapadnoj Dviny (“The Upper Volga Lakes and the Upper Reaches of the Western Dvina,” 1897)—played and important role in the development of geomorphology and hydrology. In studying the surface of the earth. Anuchin started from the basic methodological principle of geomorphology—the present relief of the earth is the result of endogenous and exogenous forces over a long period of time. Accordingly, he opposed the theory that mountains were formed as the result of the cooling of the earth. Anuchin considered the endogenic forces of the earth as the basic and decisive factor in the formation of mountains. He placed the origin of the internal energy of the earth “in the pressure of strata and especially in radioactive substances, which are capable of giving off heat” (Lektsii po fizicheskoj geografii, p. 33). In addition, he recognized the significant role of exogenous forces in relief formation. Anuchin distinguished three basic relief types on the basis of geological structures and the degree of erosion of a mountainous terrain: mountains, hills, and plains; in each of these categories he distinguished the different surface forms. He was thus the first to formulate the basic elements of modern orography.

Anuchin had many valuable ideas in hydrology, especially in limnology. He viewed lakes as a complex element of the landscape and therefore thoroughly studied their surrounding territory. He did not accept Forel’s hypothesis of the autonomy of lakes as absolute; rather, he developed another aspect of the study of lakes—the view that lakes were related to other geographical conditions. Anuchin associated lake formation with the genesis of hollows in the watershed areas of Russia’s plain that have a moraine-hilly surface.

Anuchin analyzed the distribution of lakes and the genesis of lake beds; he also classified lakes and noted their tendency to decrease in size and disappear. But, most important, he paved the way for his many students and is rightly acclaimed as one of the founders of limnology in Russia. From the end of the nineteenth century, the lakes of European Russia, central Asia, and Siberia were systematically studied by his followers. The classic publication on the investigation of lakes was L. C. Berg’s monograph Aral’skoe more (“The Aral Sea,” 1908).

Having accepted the advanced anthropological ideas of scientists in France and other countries, Anuchin developed them further and created a school of Russian anthropologists. He conceived of anthropology as a vast complex of knowledge about man—his physical nature and his daily life and activity, both modern and past, especially the prehistoric. The origin of man, with which his first studies on anthropoid apes (1874) were concerned, was included by Anuchin within the realm of anthropology. These ideas were later generalized in his “Proiskhozhdenie cheloveka” (“The Origin of Man,” 1922).

Anuchin’s studies of man’s racial types were also significant. He though that all human physical types (races) were essentially transitions from some types toward others: “Mankind represents properly one form.... In other words, all mankind proceeds from the same ancestors, whose descendants only gradually formed different races” (“O zadachakh i metodakh antropologii,” p. 69). Anuchin decisively rejected the view that the human races originated from distinct apelike ancestors. He wrote several fundamental works on the physical types of various nationalities, among them a monograph on the Ainu people (1876).

Anuchin’s works on ethnography were distinguished by originality and strict adherence to scientific method. Such works as the comparative study of bows and arrows (1881), “Sani, Lad’ja i koni, kak prinadlezhnosti pokhoronnogo objrada” (“Sleighs, Large Boats, and Horeses as Appurtenances of Funeral Rites,” 1890), and ’K istorii oznakomlenija s Sibir;ju do Ermaka” (“Toward the History of the Acquaintance with Siberia Before Ermak,” 1890) are regarded as models of scientifc creativity. Anuchin was also interested in the origin of domestic animals as the basis of one of the most important branches of agricultural economics.

Anuchin did work in the history of science, writing original studies of Lomonosov, Darwin, Humboldt, Miklukho-Maklaja, and others. He published approximately a thousand papers.


1. Original Works. Anuchin’s writings include “Antropomorfnye obez’jany i nizshie tipy chelovechestva” (“Anthropoid Apes and Lower Types of Man”), in Priroda, no. 1 (1874), 185–280; no. 3 (1874), 220–276; no. 4 (1874), 81–141; “Materialy dlja antropologli Vostochnoj Azii. Plemja Anjov” (“Materials for the Anthropology of Eastern Asia. The Ainu Tribe”), in lzvêstīya Imperatorskago obshchestva lyubiteleí estestvoznanīya, antropologīi i étnografīi. Trudy antropologicheskago otdela, 20 , no. 2 (1876), 79–204; Antropologija, ee zjdachi i methody (“Anthropology, Its Problems and Methods”; Moscow, 1879); “O nekotorykh anomalijakh chelovecheskogo cherepa i preimushchestvenno ob ikh rasprostranenii po rasam” (“On Several Anomalies of the Human Cranium, Primarily on Their Prevalence According to Race”)in lzvěsīya Imperatorskago obshchestava lyubiteleī estestvozanīya, antropologīi i étnografii. Trudy antropologicheskago otdela, 6 (1880); Kurs lektsij po istorii zemlevedija (“Lecture Course on the History of Geography”; Moscow, 1885); Kurs lektsij po obshchej geografii (“Lecture Course in General Geography”; Moscow, 1887); O geoegraficheskom raspredelenii rosta muzhskogo naselenija Rossii (“On the Geographic Distribution of the Height of Russia’s Male Population”; St. Petersburg, 1889); “Rel’ef poverkhnosti Evropejskoj Rossii v posledovatel’nom razvitii o nem predstavlenii” (“The Surface Relief of European Russia in the Chronological Development of Its Mapping”), in Zemlevedenie, 2 no. 1 (1895), 77–126, and no. 4 (1895), 65–124, also in Rel’ef Evropejskoj chasti SSSR (see below), pp. 35–147; Verkhnecolzhskie ozera i verkhov’ja Zapadnoj Dviny. Rekognostsirovki i issledovanija 1894–1895 gg. (“The Upper Volga Lakes and the Upper Reaches of the Western Dvina. Reconnaissance and Study in 1894–1895”; Moscow, 1897); “O zadachkh i metodakh antropologii” (“On the Problems and Methods of Anthropology”), in Russkij antropologicheskij zhurnal, 9 , no. 1 (1902), 62–88; Japonija i japontsy (“Japan and the Japanese”; Moscow, 1907); “Proiskhozdhenie cheloveka i ego istoricheskie predke” (“The Origin of Man and His Historical Predecessors”), in Itogi nauki vteorii i pratike, VI (Moscow, 1912), 691–784; Lektsii po fizicheskoj geograafii (“Lectures on Physical Geography”; Moscow, 1916); Proiskhozhdenie cheloveka (“The Origin of Man”; Moscow, 1922; 3rd ed., MoscowLeningrad, 1927); Rel’ef Evropejskoj chasti SSSR (“Relief of the European Sector of the U.S.S.R.”; Moscow, 1948), written with A.A. Borzov; lzbrannye grograficheskie raboty (“Selected Geographical Works”), L. S. Berg, gen. ed. (Moscow, 1949); O ljudjakh russkoj nauki i kul’tury (“On Men of Russian Sciences and Culture”; Moscow, 1950, 1952); Geograficheskie raboty (“Geographical Works”), A. A. Grigor’ev, ed. (Moscow, 1954), with bibliography; and Ljudi zarubezhoj nauki i kul’tury (“Men of Foreign Science and Culture”; Moscow, 1960).

II. Secondary Literature. Works on Anuchin are V. V. Bogdanov, D. N. Anuchin. Antropolog i geograf (“D. N. Anuchin, Anthropologist and Geographer”; Moscow, 1941), with bibliography; Sbornik v chest semidesjatiletija prof. D. N. Anuchina (“Collection in Honor of the Seventieth Birthday of Professor D. N. Anuchin”; Moscow, 1913); V. A. Esakov, D. N. Anuchin i sozdanie russkoj universitetskoj gegraficheskoj shkoly (“D. N. Anuchin and the Creation of the Russian University School of Geography”; Moscow, 1955); A. A. Grigor’ev, “D. N. Anuchin,” in Ljudi russkoj nauki (“Men of Russian Science”) I (Moscow-Leningrad, 1948), 599–605; 2nd ed., II (1962), 508–515; G. V. Karpov, Put’ uchenogo (“The Path of a Scientist”; Moscow, 1958); Pamjati D . N. Anuchina (1843–1923) (“In Memory of D. N. Anuchin [1843–1923]”) in Trudy Institutaėtnografii imeni N. N. Miklukho–Maklaja. Akademiya nauk SSR, n. s 1 (1947); and A. I. Solov’ev, “D. N. Anuchin, ego osnovnye geograficheskie idei i ego rol’v razvitii russkoj geogragfii” (“D. N. Anuchin, His Basic Geographical Ideas and his Role in the Development of Russian Geography”)in Voprosy geografii, 9 (1948), 9–28.

V. A. Esakov