A review of Russian research, technology and application on cutting and excavation of earth materials has been initiated. The data base is composed of ten books and monographs, mostly dating from the 1960's, that recently have been translated into English. Several of these are textbooks that are intended for advanced study on the design and operation of equipment for construction, mining, and agriculture. Most of the documents include summaries of the precursor technical work in the Soviet Union. This portion of the review outlines the fundamental concepts of soil cutting and excavation mechanics upon which subsequent analysis procedures are based.