Valentin V. Sedov. Slavs in Antiquity


In the fust chapter of the book the development of knowledge about the origin and ancient history of Slavs is considered. It begins with the analysis of the Roman and medieval authors’ ideas on the beginning of Slavdom and concludes with the historiographic situation in the late 20th century. The chapter has the following sections; «Ancient Authors about Early Slavs» (p 5); «Notions about Ancient Slavs in the Chronicles and Historical Writings of Middle Ages» (p. 8); «Prom Mavro Orbini to P-J.Safafik» (p. 13); «From PJ.&afafik to L.Niederle» (p. 18); «Lubor Niederle and his Time» (p. 25); «The Investigations of the 20—50-es» (p. 32); «The Last Decades of the 20th Century» (p. 40).

In the chapter «Ethnogenesology of Slavs» (p. 60) the contemporary state of the problem of Slavs’ origin and early history is analysed. The potentialities of different disciplines in the investigation of this problem are appraised: lin-guistics, onomastics, ethnology, archaeology, an-thropology, history, folkloristics. It is beyond doubt that this problem may be solved only by means of cooperation of all these disciplines, two of them being leading today — linguistics (the questions of glottogenesis) and archaeolo¬gy (the study of cultural development of certain population in the concrete territorial and chronological circumstances).

The prehistory of Slavs is characterized in the chapter «Ancient Europeans» (p. 95). It begins with the timepoint of the 2nd millennium B.C. when the Central European community of Urnfleld cultures existed. It is identified with Ancient Europeans of H.Krahe — an ethnolinguistic community, which united a big group of tribes speaking similar ancient Indo- European dialects. In the late 2nd — first half of the 1st millennium B.C. Celts, Italics, Venets, lUirians, Germanians, Western Balts and Slavs appeared from this conglomeration.

The question of Slavs’ formation is considered in details in the next chapter (p. 136). Slavs as a separate ethnos were being formed about the middle of the 1st millennium B.C. on the basis of Lusatian (Lausitz) culture, which belonged to the Central European community of Umfield cultures. Podkloszove Burials cul¬ture (Middle and Upper Vistula with Right- bank Oder) was the first Slavonic one.

The 3rd and the 2nd centuries B.C. are the period of close contacts between Slavs and Celts («Slavs and Celts», p. 149). Celts, that migrated into the Slav territory in contempo¬rary Poiand, influenced upon the development of agriculture, crafts and culture of Slavs great¬ly. The pottery-making, metallurgy and metal¬working which reached the highest level in Southern Poland during Roman epoch, were the heritage of Celts. As a result of contacts between Slavs and Celts the Przeworsk culture appeared.
«Slavs m Przeworsk culture» (p. 166). The territory of Slavs in the late La-Тёпе and Ro¬man time was not isolated. Several migrations of Germanians into the environment of Slavs are observed archaeologically. The territory of Przevorsk culture expands to the south-east (Upper Dniester, Volyn’) and to the south (northern-eastern Slovakia). The two regions of this culture are distinguished — the Vistula region (where Slavs dominated) and the Oder one (where Germanians were also numerous). The Slavonic language underwent some con¬siderable changes in the spheres of phonetics, grammar and vocabulary.
«Zambintsy culture» (p. 201). As far as in the 3rd/2nd centuries B.C. a part .of the po¬pulation of the Podkloszove Burials culture and the Pomorye culture settled in the Pripyat’ basin, Mid die Dnieper and part of Upper Dnieper. As a result of their contacts with the local tribes of Milograd culture and Scythian Forest-Steppe cultures, the Zarybintsy culture was formed. The ethnic identity of its popula¬tion is not clear. Most probably, those people were close both to Slavs and to Western Balts by their language. Later the Zarubintsy popu¬lation moved to the northern regions, mostly to the Desna basin (Pochep culture) and Upper Oka (Moshchiny culture), and some separate groups in the south joined the Chemiakhov culture.

«Migration of Goths to the North Pontic Area» (p. 222). In the last decades of the 2nd century A.D. a movement of a great mass of population from the Lower Vistula region to¬wards south under the leadership of Goths took place. The most part of it settled in Mazovja, Podlasie and Volyn’ (Wielbark culture),, but a part moved further — to the western part of North Pontic Area, where the basis of future Gothia was laid. The second wave of migrants under the leadership of Goths dates back to the middle of the 3rd century. Some large groups of the migrants settled at those times between Dniester and Lower Dnieper, and some little ones — widely within the Chenn- akhov territory.

«Slavs in the Cherniakhov Culture. Forma-tion of Ants» (p. 233) Cherniakhov culture (late 2nd — early 5th centuries A.D.) was a polyethnic conglomeration. The most part of its population were Sarmatians, that settled widely between Lower Danube and Meothida (the Sea of Azov), and Slavs. In the Dniester- Danube region also Gets-Daks and Goths- Gepids tribes lived, belonging to this culture. The formation of Cherniakhov culture was a result of ioteraction of the South-Eastern Prze¬worsk tribes with Sarmatians. Some uniformity of Chemiakhov territory was conditioned by spreading of Roman Provincial Culture. In the region of Podolia and Middle Dnieper a new dialect-tribal formatiqn Ants — was gene¬rated under the circumstances of Slavic-Iranian symbiosis.

«Slavs during the Mig’ration Period» (p. 287). The migration of Germanian tribes towards the borders of Roman Empire and the Huns invasion in late 4th century A.D. changed the cultural situation in South-Eastern Europe con-siderably. The development of Provincial Ro¬man cultures» had been interrupted, the majo¬rity of crafts centres stopped functioning, the period of cultural regress began, and it was strengthened by the unfavourable conditions for the agriculture. A part of Slavic population was forced to leave the Przeworsk and Cherniakhov territories and to move to the other lands.

During the 5th century, as the stabilization of life had begun, the process of formation of the early medieval Slavic cultures took place: Prague-Korchak culture on the basis of Przeworsk remains; Pen’kovka culture on the basis of Podolia-Dnieper variant of Cherniakhov cul¬ture with the participation of northern immi¬grants (the population of Kiev culture); the culture of Pskov Long Barrows; Imen’kovo culture and some other small ones.

Translated by N. Lopatin

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