significance. In 1849 he participated in suppressing the Hungarian uprising
a favorextended by the tsar to his fellow autocrat, the Austro-Hungarian emperor.In 1850, after almost a decade away, Uslar returned to the Caucasus. He was to remainthere for most of the remaining 25 years of his life, leaving only to spend short periods onhis family estate, usually in the summer. His first assignment was to write another military-statistical description
this time of Yerevan Province in Armenia.
He served in variousplaces in the Caucasus (first Guri, then Kutaisi) and rose in the army hierarchy, reaching therank of major general in 1862.
Uslar’s studies of the history and languages of the Caucasus
In 1858 Uslar was given the task of writing a history of the Caucasus since ancient times. Heworked on this history for many years: it was finally published only after his death. But hismain interest was the languages of the region
an interest that he reconciled with his
official status as a historian by arguing that a people’s language is the most reliable s
ourceof information about its history.
Uslar began his linguistic studies with the West Caucasian group of languages
Circassian,Ubykh and Abkhaz.
However, he made only brief notes about Circassian and Ubykh, whichwere published only after his death. He studied Abkhaz in much greater depth, starting inSukhum in 1861 and continuing in Tiflis (present-day Tbilisi) in 1862.In 1862 Uslar also started to study Kabardinian, but in 1863 he settled in Dagestan, in thevillage of Temir-Khan-Shure (now the town of Buinaksk), and embarked on the study of several Dagestani languages. Over the course of the following decade, he studied insuccession Avar, Lak, Archin, Dargin, Lezgin and Tabasaran.
In 1865 he visited Chechnya andstudied Chechen. In 1868 he was made a corresponding member of the Historical-Philological Division of the Academy of Sciences.
Uslar’s main legacy as a linguist was a series of seven books that systematically described
the Abkhaz, Chechen, Avar, Lak, Dargin, Lezgin, and Tabasaran languages. Each bookcontained an analysis of pronunciation, using an alphabet specially designed for the
language in question, an account of the language’s grammar, vocabulary, and sample texts
in the form of proverbs, songs, and short stories.As a creator of alphabets, Uslar might be compared to the Armenian monk MesropMashtots (c. 361
440), who also specially designed alphabets for a whole series of languages, including Georgian as well as Armenian itself.
Uslar as an educator
Uslar did not just study languages and create alphabets. He also undertook the first effortsto establish schools to spread literacy among the mountain peoples. In all these activities,he relied extensively on local indigenous informants and collaborators, some of whomcontinued his work after he left a given area.
Thus, Uslar’s work on a Kabardinian alphabet was completed by Kazi Atazhukin, who issueda Kabardinian spelling book in 1865. A Chechen spelling book was produced by Uslar’s