Rus Articles Journal

Orbeli of

Iosif Abgarovich Orbeli (Ovsep Orbeli) (8 on March (20), 1887, Kutaisi - on February 2, 1961, Leningrad) - the outstanding scientist, the academician of Academy of Sciences of the USSR, the academician of AN of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic and its first president, in 1934-1951 - the director of the Hermitage. Comes from the Armenian princely family of Orbeli - Orbelyan , governors of Syunik and Bzhni. On the maternal line belongs to an ancient Armenian princely family of Argutinsky - Dolgorukiy . Brother of world famous scientific of Ruben and Leon Orbeli`s .


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on July 16, 1916 the outstanding orientalist Nicolay Mar and it 29 - the summer colleague Iosif Orbeli were forced to leave the ancient Armenian city Wang. Already throughout nearly ten field seasons this powerful archaeological tandem carried out excavation on lands of historical Armenia and managed to save up the richest scientific material. The field season of 1916 began late: global wars always introduce the amendments in the schedule of the planned local works. Nevertheless, already on June 11 scientists started the research Top - cancer - Calais and the Vansky rock. However for the thirty fifth day, in connection with approach of the Turkish troops, they together with parts of the Russian army will be forced to leave the city.

Earlier Iosif Orbeli also had an opportunity to come across repeatedly traces of systematic destruction of monuments of the Armenian history and culture. As nobody else, it perfectly knew that developed by the authorities Big Ports “Military Strategy“ special point assumed elimination in the territory of the empire of monuments of any other ethnocultural presence alien to the Turkish spirit. And perhaps first of all - Armenian. Then he also understood: detection under a thick layer of the earth of a new monument of national history is able to nullify all efforts of several Turkish regiments. It is, in fact, the same war.

In the middle of 1916 the heavy wagon train of the Russian army the slow course receded to the Caucasus. Iznemozhenny soldiers were expected there by “summer apartments“ and the moderate mode. Unlike the military anticipating rather quiet life, Iosif Orbeli was excited to a limit: he clearly represented process of destruction of the hill which is just surveyed by it and even saw a face of the Turkish officer - the coordinator of the plan of elimination. “To dig out a monument no wonder, - the shown heroism degraded for in soldiers the former captain Andreyev interrupted thoughts of the archeologist. - But how to keep it?“ “And it is right, - Iosif thought about himself. - And revolution can quite be carried out in twenty minutes too, but how to keep its value?“

it prepared For this day all the conscious life. To performance from the highest stands, to it - the outstanding scientist with a world name, to the honorary and full member of many international academies, the director of the well-known Hermitage, the founder and the first president of the Armenian Academy of Sciences - it would seem, not to get used. Already for three decades he sits at presidiums of the most influential scientific forums, sometimes even tiresome, however his tomorrow`s speech is something another: it really prepares for it as the most diligent entrant in the world. Sums up all the passable way and tries to transfer the evil which is saved up during longer time to the course of the short convicting speech. It, undoubtedly, prepared for this day all the conscious life.

It began at Iosif Orbeli very early when 9 - the summer offspring of the well-known Armenian sort stepped over a threshold of the Third man`s gymnasium of Tiflis in 1896. By this time the boy already owned Armenian, Georgian, Russian and Tatar languages. In a gymnasium it will be trained also Greek and Latin. However, and it to it is not enough: houses he in parallel takes a full course of real school and joins chemistry, physics, other natural sciences. In traditions of surnames of the Armenian intellectuals Iosif is obliged to seize also crafts: it overcomes courses of joiner`s business, the cabinetmaker, bricklayer and typographical typesetter. On July 26, 1904 Iosif Orbeli is enlisted on the historian - philological faculty of the St. Petersburg university. A bit later he will get acquainted with Nicolay Mar.

The thought of the degraded captain will accompany the scientist all subsequent life: “Iosif Abgarovich, not only in entrenchments and trenches, but also in science it is necessary to be the gunner. It is necessary to be ready to endow itself for the sake of busy height“.

October, 1932. Narkomvneshtorg the USSR “for ensuring inflow to the country of large money supply, necessary for economic needs“ carries out through subordinated antiquarian department the state project on sale at the western auctions of archaeological values of the Hermitage. The list of the exhibits which are subject to carrying out is already signed. “ Over my dead body! - in rage the employee of East department of the Hermitage Iosif Orbeli cries out. - You can shoot me here, but so far I am living, to it not to happen! You immediately have to leave from here; we already open a window leaf - when such guests leave, there is a smell of hoofs “. He will be at war with uncompromising stand of the gunner further for protection of “history borders“, and this his mission will receive the fullest embodiment during blockade by nazis of Leningrad when Iosif Orbeli at the price of the lost health and sight rescues an exposition of the great museum. However, fighting spirit of the scientist and his permanentnayagotovnost to upholding of cultural heritage it was known both to, and after war.

Quarrel with “the classic of antiquity“ Faddei Zelinsky is remarkable: the last afforded very unflattering review of east mythology, having hinted that fans of the Mitre prefer a manure stench to aroma of an antique rose. “ Professor, you insulted, however, I will follow your example, - young Orbeli parried. - And you remember, than the Athenian girls were engaged during panafineysky games? “ Venerable Faddei Zelinsky was forced to interrupt lecture. Boris Piotrovsky will quote somehow lines from the well-known anthem of staff of East department of the Hermitage: “ Are distributed furious trills, and the beard blackens in the distance. It, truly, storms Orbeli, and all disappear without trace!

Iosif Orbeli`s Family was really outstanding. Iosif Argutinsky, the Catholicos of all Armenians, was his ancestor on the maternal line. Iosif`s grandfather wrote works on stories of the Armenian church on a grapara. And his brothers became great scientists: Ruben was a founder of underwater archeology, and Leon - the author of evolutionary physiology, the new direction in science .

On the Nuremberg process he really prepared for the convicting speech of the main witness of cultural crimes of nazis all the life. This day the Hermitage which interests it as the director of the museum had to represent was associated in Iosif Orbeli`s consciousness with thickness of the layers of world culture lost forever. His speech about crimes in Peterhof, Pavlovsk, Pushkin and, of course, the Hermitage left nobody indifferent. Lawyers, certainly, tried to challenge Orbeli`s testimonies: Whether “Knowledge of the witness of artillery that he could judge premeditation of these firings are rather big? “

“of Ya was never a gunner, but in the Hermitage thirty shells, and got to the nearby bridge only one, - the witness parried. - Premeditation of firing and the choice of the purpose, thus, it is obvious. In these limits I am a gunner! “.


From the book “100 most great Armenians of the 20th century“.

2007, Moscow.