by Nikolai VEKHOV, Cand. Sc. (Biology), D. Likhachyov Russian Institute of Cultural and Natural Heritage, Ministry of Culture and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation
One of the first who explored the nature, traditional culture and life of indigenous population of the Ob river valley (Western Siberia) was Ivan Polyakov, curator of the Zoological Museum of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, who traveled there in 1876. The data collected by him are interesting for the modern reader, as they characterize this northern region when it was virtually intact, before its active industrial development.
Many travelers had visited Siberia and the Far East by the mid - 19th century. They described the mainland, external borders, and the wealth of remote territories of our country. However, at that time only the regions lying beyond the Angara and Lena rivers till latitude 55 - 60° North and the southern part of the Transbaikal region were more or less studied from scientific viewpoint and fit for settlement. Many other regions beyond the Urals remained unexplored. Therefore, any studies (moreover, those sanctioned by the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences), aimed at collection of reliable data on these lands, became an event of exceptional importance.
We shall dwell on the voyage of Ivan Polyakov to the area called the Ostyak territory (at that time it was possible to get there only by water - the Irtysh and Ob rivers). Let us note that the Russian Geographic Society, which he represented, was in its heyday during the second half of the 19th century, had sufficient finances at its disposal, and sponsored many expeditions which brought fame to Russia due to great discoveries. Few scientists were entrusted to carry out an independent research using the money of this authoritative scientific organization. Ivan Polyakov was an experienced traveler - he visited the Upper Volga regions, Don and Ob rivers, the Urals, Altai, and Cauca ... Read more