The entrance to the Department of History’s office in Sidney Smith Hall

The Refugium in Eurasian History and its Spatiality

Start Date and Time:

Thursday, October 17, 2019, 5:00PM

End Date and Time:

Thursday, October 17, 2019, 7:00PM


Victor Ostapchuk

Seminar in Ottoman and Turkish Studies

Abstract: The term refugium—yet to be properly defined—has been used by scholars to denote areas where safety from enemies owing to remoteness or difficulty of access provided long-term security that allowed for polity-formation (no connection to refugium as a medieval village fortification). Often a degree of sacredness is said to have been ascribed to refugia by their possessors. Examples of refugia on the Eurasian steppe: north of the Göbi Desert for the Asiatic Huns (Hiung-nu), Rouran (“Avars”), and Gök Türks; Yeti-su/Semirechye (Lake Balkash basin) for the West Türk Qaganate; Blue Forest on the Samara River (Ukraine) for Qipchaqs/Polovtsians; Burqan Qaldun Mountain for the Mongols of Chinggis Khan. Other possible refugia: the lower Dnieper River below its rapids (Zaporozhia) where the genesis of Ukrainian cossackdom occurred; Scandinavia (“Scandza Island”) for the Goths; Gerrhus for the Scythians. This seminar will survey the sources and spaces, query the reality of refugia as opposed to simple refuges, and explore aspects of spatiality.


  • Department of History
  • Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations
  • Centre for European Russian and Eurasian Studies

Contact Information

Victor Ostapchuk

Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations


Sidney Smith 2098, 100 St George St, Toronto, ON M5S 3G3 view full map




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Arkhangai province, Mongolia