First humans appeared in East Europe hundreds of thousands years ago. First pages of their history have been preserved in rock engravings (petroglyphs), or have been buried unearthed for centuries. The advent of the scientific archaeology has changed the situation. Page by page, the archaeologists are reading the book of the history of East Europe, going back into the centuries, finding its traces in new places.

Gradually we have reconstructed the way the prehistoric humans, who just rose from the animal kingdom, lived, and even what they looked like; how they started using first primitive tools for hunting and gathering crops, how slowly, gradually, over the millenia, they mastered working the stone, bronze, and iron, learned how to lit the fire, domesticate animals, and cultivate the soil. We have learnt how they developed language and thought, and how long was the way from the primitive herd to the first tribes that populated those vast areas before the first written sources had shed the light on them.

Old Russia was not the first state in the history of those lands. In the ancient times, in the epoque of the Antiquity, when the main centres of the European culture were concentrated in Greece and Rome, human live depended on climate and natural conditions to a greater degree than now, and that is why state structures started emerging in the south, and gradually moved northwards. That process left the traces of changing cultures in the burial sites and ruins of once thriving cities, in toponyms and unique artifacts made of the bronze, silver and gold, in difficult to decipher inscriptions carved on the rocks, and manuscripts ramshackled from the time to the point that they may fall apart under a careless touch.

Long time peoples of Eurasia were wandering along the vast territories. Archaeologists, from the details of the clothes and tools, as well as linguists, from the names of rivers and settlements, have reconstructed the vigorous process of population. And the key figure of that process was a peasant, a ploughman. It was a rather peaceful process, which brought the culture of land cultivation to the less developed peoples, which sustained on nomadic husbandry, hunting and fishing.

East Slavs, ploughmen settled in the steppes and forests of East Europe since the immemorial times interacted with other peoples succeeding one another. When the Old Russian state emerged from that conglomerate of peoples and tribes, it took a firm position among the leading contemporary states.