Various distant outskirts of Russia very often followed a specific path in their development, in no way resembling the culture of the Central Russia. One of such areas, where special cultural and natural environments existed, was the southern province located in the Delta of the Volga River – the Astrakhan province. Early in the Middle Ages this territory became a part of highly developed and powerful states – the Khazar Khaganate, the Golden Horde, and the Astrakhan Khanate were situated here. It was during this period that the main alimentary complex of the region was formed, which was a combination of the three main household types: cattle-breeding, fishing, and agriculture. This complex has survived to a large extent until the present day. The annexation of the Astrakhan Khanate by Russia in 1556 did little to change this configuration. The native inhabitants of these regions returned to their usual occupation, while the newly arrived peoples followed the same industries that had been familiar to them in their former homeland: gardening, fishing, or cattle breeding. The multinational character of the region's population led to a flexible system of economic relations and complementarity. As a result, there was an active cultural interchange between all the peoples of the region, which also influenced the alimentary landscape (foodscape).
The history of this foodscape can be divided into three major periods, which differ from each other in the specifics of their character. They are largely dependent on socio-political changes in Russia as a whole, which also stimulated serious cultural and social shifts in the region. This article is devoted mainly to the analysis of the formation of the first period of the alimentary landscape in the region. It lasted from the accession of the Astrakhan khanate to the First World War and the October Revolution of 1917.
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