The Quantitative Analysis of Materials from the General Land Survey of the Russian Empire: The ‘Bear’ Angle
This article analyses data about the Russian bear from the Economic Notes to the plans of the General Land Survey of the Russian Empire. Despite the official symbol of the Russian Empire being the double-headed eagle, the bear was perceived as the country’s main symbol as early as the formation of the Russian state. The purpose of this article is to find out how common bears were in the Russian Empire between the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries. The quantitative analysis of data from the General Land Survey is based on the method of continuous sampling, which allows the author to include information about animals from the Complete and Cameral Economic Notes to the General Land Survey. The author refers to the Economic Notes for eight uyezds and three provinces. The study covers both old and new lands of the Russian state. The analysis makes it possible to conclude that between the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries, the Russian bear was not equally common in every region. It was found mainly in the forests of the historical core of the Russian state. But the bear was not a predominant species. Overall, according to the Cameral and Complete Economic Notes covering four St Petersburg uyezds and Novgorod province, there were 15 animal species in this territory, while there were 11 species in four uyezds of Taurida province. Continuous processing of the Economic Notes makes it possible to identify previously unknown mentions of moose, lynx, ferrets, and badgers in Luga district, St Petersburg province. Wild horses, camels, wild boars, and otters were described in Economic Notes in Dnipro district, Taurida province. However, the most common animals in these territories were hares, as well as smaller predators like foxes and wolves. The analysis of quantitative indicators helps to establish that the bear did not become the personification of the Russian state because of its predominance. Instead, this was due to the remarkable characteristics and qualities that made the animal stand out.
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