Rostovtzeff, Michael Ivanovich

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Rostovtzeff, Michael Ivanovich

Michael Ivanovich Rostovtzeff (rŏstŏv´tsĕf), 1870–1952, American historian, b. Kiev, Ukraine. He studied at the Univ. of St. Petersburg where he was professor of Latin and of Roman history from 1898 to 1918. He emigrated to the United States during the Russian Revolution, taught ancient history at the Univ. of Wisconsin (1920–25), and was appointed (1925) Sterling professor of ancient history and archaeology at Yale. From 1939 to 1944, when he received emeritus status, Rostovtzeff was director of archaeological studies at Yale. One of the most distinguished modern scholars of ancient history, Rostovtzeff won his chief reputation through his Social and Economic History of the Roman Empire (1926) and A History of the Ancient World (Vol. I, The Orient and Greece, 1926; Vol. II, Rome, 1927). The first of these was a pioneering effort in its application of the most recent archaeological research to an aspect of Roman history that until then had been neglected. These are admirable condensations and place the cultural, economic, and social aspects of ancient life on the same level of importance as political and military events. The work has taken its place among the chief modern contributions to Roman historiography, as has his parallel study A Social and Economic History of the Hellenistic World (1941). Among Rostovtzeff's other works in English are A Large Estate in Egypt in the Third Century BC (1922) and Iranians and Greeks in South Russia (1922).

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