Questions about where the Slavs came from, when and where the Slavic people arose, excite people who want to know their roots. Science studies the ethnogenesis of the Slavic tribes, based on archaeological, linguistic and other discoveries, but does not give an unambiguous answer to many difficult questions. There are different, sometimes opposing points of view of scientists, but even the authors themselves doubt their reliability due to the lack of source material.
The first information about the Slavs
It is known for certain where the first information about the Slavs came from. Written evidence of the existence of Slavic tribes dates back to the 1st millennium BC. These data deserve the trust of scientists, as they were found in the sources of Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Arab civilizations that already had their own written language. The appearance of the Slavs on the world stage takes place in the 5th century AD. e.
The modern peoples inhabiting Eastern Europe were once a single community, which is usually called the Proto-Slavs. They, in turn, in the II century. BC e stood out from an even more ancientIndo-European community. Therefore, scientists refer all languages of the Slavic group to this language family.
However, despite the similarity of languages and culture, there are big differences between the Slavic peoples. So say anthropologists. So are we from the same tribe?
Where is the habitat of the Slavs?
According to scientists, in ancient times there was a certain community, ethnic group. These people lived in a small area. But experts cannot name the address of this place, tell mankind where the Slavs came from in the history of European states. Rather, they cannot agree on this issue.
But they are unanimous in that the Slavic peoples took part in the mass migration of the population, which took place in the world later, in the 5th-7th centuries, and was called the Great Migration of Peoples. The Slavs settled in three directions: in the south, on the Balkan Peninsula; in the western, to the rivers Oder and Elbe; in the east, along the East European Plain. But where?
On the modern map of Europe you can find a historical region called Galicia. Today, part of it is located on the territory of Poland, and the other - in Ukraine. The name of the area gave scientists the opportunity to assume that the Gauls (Celts) used to live here. In this case, the region of the initial residence of the Slavs may be the north of Czechoslovakia.
And yet where did the Slavs come from? The description of their habitat in the III-IV centuries, unfortunately, remains at the level of hypotheses and theories. Sources of information for this timealmost not. Archeology is also unable to shed light on this period of time. Experts are trying to see the Slavs in the carriers of different cultures. But even in this there is a lot of controversy even for the professionals themselves. For example, the Chernyakhov culture belonged to the Slavic culture for a long time, and many scientific conclusions were made on this basis. Now more and more experts are inclined to believe that this culture was formed by several ethnic groups at once with a predominance of Iranians.
Scientists have made attempts to determine the place of residence of the Slavs by analyzing their vocabulary. The most reliable could be the definition of where the Slavs came from, according to the names of the trees. The absence of the names of beech and fir in the Slavic lexicon, that is, the ignorance of such plants, indicates, according to scientists, the possible places for the formation of an ethnic group in the north of Ukraine or the south of Belarus. Again, reference is made to the fact that the boundaries of these trees may have changed over the centuries.
The Great Migration
The Huns, a nomadic warlike tribe moving across the territory of the Far East and Mongolia, have been conducting hostilities with the Chinese for a long time. Having suffered a crushing defeat in the 2nd century BC, they rushed to the west. Their path ran through the populated areas of Central Asia and Kazakhstan. They entered into battles with the tribes inhabiting those places, dragging along the way from Mongolia to the Volga the peoples of a different ethnic group, primarily the Ugric and Iranian tribes. This mass approached Europe, no longer being ethnically homogeneous.
Tribal UnionAlans, who lived at that time on the Volga, put up a powerful resistance to the advancing force. Also a nomadic people, hardened in battles, they stopped the movement of the Huns, delaying them for two centuries. However, at the end of the 4th century, the Alans were defeated and the Huns cleared the way to Europe.
Wild warlike tribes crossed the Volga and rushed to the Don, to the habitats of the tribes of the Chernyakhov culture, causing them horror. On the way, they defeated the country of the Alans and Goths, some of which went to Ciscaucasia, and some rushed to the west with a mass of winners.
The result of the Hun invasion
As a result of this historical event, there was a significant displacement of the population, a mixture of ethnic groups and a shift in traditional habitats. With such a change in landmarks, scientists do not undertake to formulate reliably and briefly where the Slavs came from.
Most of all, migration affected the steppe and forest-steppe regions. Presumably, the Slavs who retreated to the east peacefully assimilated the peoples of other tribes, including local Iranians. The mass of people of complex ethnic composition, fleeing from the Huns, in the 5th century came to the middle Dnieper. Scientists support this theory by the appearance in these places of a settlement called Kyiv, which means “town” in one of the Iranian dialects.
Then the Slavs crossed the Dnieper and advanced into the basin of the Desna River, which was called the Slavic name "Right". You can try to trace where and how the Slavs appeared in these places, by the names of the rivers. In the south, large rivers did not change their names, leaving the old, Iranian names. Don is simpleriver, the Dnieper is a deep river, Ross is a bright river, etc. But in the north-west of Ukraine and almost throughout Belarus, the rivers bear purely Slavic names: Berezina, Teterev, Goryn, etc. Undoubtedly, this is evidence of living in these places of the ancient Slavs. But it is very difficult to determine where the Slavs came from here, to establish the route of their movement. All assumptions are based on very controversial material.
Expansion of Slavic territory
The Huns were not interested in where the Slavs came from in these parts, and where they retreat under the onslaught of the nomads. They did not seek to destroy the Slavic tribes, their enemies were the Germans and Iranians. Taking advantage of the current situation, the Slavs, who had previously occupied a very small territory, significantly expanded their habitat. By the 5th century, the movement of the Slavs to the west continues, where they push the Germans further and further to the Elbe. At the same time, the colonization of the Balkans took place, where the local tribes of the Illyrians, Dalmatians and Thracians were assimilated quite quickly and peacefully. We can quite confidently talk about a similar movement of the Slavs in an easterly direction. This gives some idea of where the Slavs came from in Russian lands, Ukraine and Belarus.
Already a century later, with the local population of Greeks, Volohs and Albanians remaining in the Balkans, the Slavs are increasingly playing the main role in political life. Now their movement towards Byzantium was directed both from the Balkans and from the lower reaches of the Danube.
There is another opinion of a number of experts,who, when asked where the Slavs came from, briefly answer: “Nowhere. They have always lived on the East European Plain.” Like other theories, this one is supported by unconvincing arguments.
And yet we will assume that the once united Proto-Slavs were divided into three groups in the 6th-8th centuries: southern, western and eastern Slavs under the onslaught of a migratory mass of people of a mixed ethnic group. Their destinies will continue to touch and influence each other, but now each branch will have its own history.
Principles of the settlement of the Slavs in the East
Starting from the 6th-7th centuries, there is more documentary evidence about the Proto-Slavs, and therefore more reliable information that specialists are working on. Since that time, science knows where the Eastern Slavs came from. They, leaving the Huns, settled the territory of Eastern Europe: from Ladoga to the Black Sea coast, from the Carpathian Mountains to the Volga region. Historians count the ranges of thirteen tribes in this territory. These are Vyatichi, Radimichi, Polans, Polochans, Volhynians, Ilmen Slovenes, Dregovichi, Drevlyans, Ulichi, Tivertsy, Northerners, Krivichi and Dulebs.
Where did the Eastern Slavs come from in the Russian lands, it can be seen from the settlement map, but I would like to pay attention to the specifics of the choice of settlement sites. Obviously, geographical and ethnic principles of settlement took place here.
The lifestyle of the Eastern Slavs. Management Issues
In the V-VII centuries, the Slavs still lived in the conditions of the tribal system. All members of the community were related by blood. V. O.Klyuchevsky wrote that the tribal union rested on two pillars: on the power of the tribal foreman and the inseparability of tribal property. Important issues were decided by the people's assembly, veche.
Gradually tribal relations began to disintegrate, the family becomes the main economic unit. Neighborhood communities are being formed. The family property included a house, livestock, inventory. And meadows, water, forests and land remained the property of the community. A division into free Slavs and slaves began to take place, which became captured captives.
With the emergence of cities, armed squads appeared. There were cases that they seized power in those settlements that they were supposed to protect, and became princes. There was a merger with tribal power, as well as a stratification of the ancient Slavic society, classes were formed, the ruling elite. Power eventually became hereditary.
Classes of the Slavs
The main occupation of the ancient Slavs was agriculture, which eventually became more perfect. Improved tools. But agricultural labor was not the only one.
The inhabitants of the plains raised cattle and poultry. Great attention was paid to horse breeding. Horses and oxen were the main draft force.
Slavs hunted. They hunted elk, deer, and other game. There was a fur-bearing animal trade. In the warm season, the Slavs were engaged in beekeeping. Honey, wax and other products were used for food, and in addition, they were valued in exchange. Gradually, an individual family could already do without the help of the community - soprivate property was born.
Crafts developed, first necessary for doing business. Then the possibilities of artisans expanded, they moved more and more away from agricultural labor. Masters began to settle in places where it was easier to sell their work. These were settlements on trade routes.
Trade relations were of great importance in the development of ancient Slavic society. It was in the VIII-IX century that the path “from the Varangians to the Greeks” was born, on the path of which large cities arose. But he wasn't the only one. The Slavs also mastered other trade routes.
Religion of the Eastern Slavs
Eastern Slavs professed a pagan religion. They revered the power of nature, prayed to many Gods, made sacrifices, erected idols.
Slavs believed in brownies, goblin, mermaids. To protect themselves and their home from evil spirits, they made amulets.
Slavic holidays were also associated with nature. They celebrated the turn of the sun for the summer, the farewell to winter, the meeting of spring. Observance of traditions and rituals was considered mandatory, and some of this has survived to this day.
For example, the image of the Snow Maiden, who comes to us on winter holidays. But it was not invented by modern authors, but by our ancient ancestors. Where did the Snow Maiden come from in the pagan culture of the Slavs? From the northern regions of Russia, where in winter they built amulets from ice. A young girl melts with the arrival of heat, but other charms appear in the house until next winter.