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Archaeological evidence suggests that the present day territory of Russia was inhabited since prehistoric times: 1.5-million-year-old Oldowan flint tools were discovered in the Dagestan Akusha region of the north Caucasus, demonstrating the presence of early humans in Russia from a very early time.
The direct ancestors of Russians are the Eastern Slavs and the Finno-Ugric peoples.
The law mandated that if a man was survived by unmarried daughters, the eldest girl would inherit his estate, while the remaining sisters would divide his movable property.
His married daughters would receive nothing, however, since they would have received dowries at the time they married.
Peter the Great ruled Russia from 1682–1725 and in that time brought about many changes to Russian culture, altering the orthodox traditions that had been observed since the fall of the Byzantine Empire.
This law effectively ended the practice of excluding women from inheriting patrimonial estates.
Large cities underwent the westernization process more rapidly and successfully than the outlying rural villages.
Noblewomen, merchant class women, and peasant (serf) women each witnessed Petrine reforms differently.
The constant change in property rights was an important part of the Petrine reforms that women witnessed.
Family as well as marriage disputes often went to the court system because of the confusion about the dowry, and the rights it was supposed to ensure, in the event of a father’s death or in disputed divorces.