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Rybakov held a chair in Russian history at the Moscow University since 1939, was a deputy dean of the university in 1952-54, and administered the Russian History Institute for 40 years. His first groundbreaking monograph was the Handicrafts of Ancient Rus (1948), which sought to demonstrate the economic superiority of Kievan Rus to contemporary Western Europe.
Rybakov led important excavations in Moscow, Novgorod, Zvenigorod, Chernigov, Pereyaslav, Tmutarakan and Putivl and published his findings in numerous monographs, including Antiquities of Chernigov (1949), The Chronicles and Bylinas of Ancient Rus (1963), The First Centuries of Russian history (1964), The Tale of Igor's Campaign and Its Contemporaries (1971), Muscovite Maps of the 15th and early 16th Centuries (1974), and Herodotus' Scythia (1979). In the latter book he viewed the Scythians described by Herodotus as ancestors of modern Slavic nations.
Ancient Slavic Paganism (1981) and Ancient Paganism of Rus (1987) are probably the best known of Rybakov's writings outside the former Soviet Union.
Honours and awards
- Hero of Socialist Labour (1978)
- Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 3rd class (31 May 1998) - for services to the state, his great personal contribution to the development of national science and training of scientific personnel
- Three Orders of Lenin
- Order of the October Revolution
- Order of the Red Banner of Labour
- Order of the Badge of Honour (1953)
- Lenin Prize (1976)
- Stalin Prize, twice (1949, 1952)
- Medal "In Commemoration of the 1500th Anniversary of Kiev" (1982)
- Grekov award
- Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences
- Honorary member of the Czechoslovak, Polish and Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
- Emeritus Professor of Moscow University
- Doctor of Historical Sciences, Moscow State University
- Honorary doctor of the Jagiellonian University in Cracow