Alexander Mervart

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Alexander Mikhailovich Mervart (Russian: Александр Михайлович Мерварт; real first name was Gustav Hermann Christian Meerwarth) (1884 - 1932) was a Russian indologist, ethnographer, linguist and the first Russian dravidologist.

In 1913, Mervart was appointed head of the Indian department at the Museum of Anthropology & Ethnography. In 1914-1918, he and his wife explored much of the territory of South India and Ceylon, and visited Malaya, Singapore and Indonesia. As a result of this expedition, Mervart managed to assemble a large and unique collection of artefacts and objects of folk art from all over South and Southeast Asia. Upon his return to Leningrad, Mervart became the keeper of the Museum of Anthropology & Ethnography (1924-1930) and a teacher at the Leningrad State University, where he would be the first one in Russia to introduce the course of the Tamil language to the curriculum. In 1926-1929, Mervart published around 20 scientific works (including two monographs) and numerous articles. In December 1929 he was arrested on trumped-up charges in the Academics' Case, accused of espionage and sentenced to five years of imprisonment by the OGPU Collegium. Alexander Mervart was sent to the Ukhtinsko-Pechorsky Labor Camp, where he would soon die.