Battle between the Slavs and the Scythians — painting by Viktor Vasnetsov (1881).
Battle between the Slavs and the Scythians — painting by Viktor Vasnetsov (1881).

The early Slavs were a diverse group of tribal societies who lived during the Migration Period and the Early Middle Ages (approximately the 5th to the 10th centuries) in Central and Eastern Europe and established the foundations for the Slavic nations through the Slavic states of the High Middle Ages.[1] The first written use of the name "Slavs" dates to the 6th century, when the Slavic tribes inhabited a large portion of Central and Eastern Europe. By then, the nomadic Iranian ethnic groups living on the Eurasian Steppe (the Scythians, Sarmatians, Alans etc.) had been absorbed by the region's Slavic population.[2][3][4][5] Over the next two centuries, the Slavs expanded southwest toward the Balkans and the Alps and northeast towards the Volga River.[6] The Slavs' original habitation is still a matter of debate, however scholars believe that it was in Eastern Europe[7] with Polesia being the most commonly accepted location.[8]

Beginning in the 7th century, the Slavs gradually Christianized (both Byzantine Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism). By the 12th century, they were the core population of a number of medieval Christian states: East Slavs in the Kievan Rus', South Slavs in the Bulgarian Empire, the Principality of Serbia, the Kingdom of Croatia and the Banate of Bosnia, and West Slavs in the Principality of Nitra, Great Moravia, the Duchy of Bohemia, and the Kingdom of Poland. The oldest known Slavic principality in history was Carantania, established in the 7th century by the Eastern Alpine Slavs, the ancestors of present-day Slovenes. Slavic settlement of the Eastern Alps comprised modern-day Slovenia, Eastern Friul and large parts of modern-day Austria.


Main articles: Vistula Veneti, Spori, Antes (people), Sclaveni, and Wends

Distribution of Venedi (Slavic), Sarmatian (Iranian) and Germanic tribes on the frontier of the Roman empire in 125 AD. Byzantine sources describe the Veneti as the ancestors of the Sclaveni (Slavs).
Distribution of Venedi (Slavic), Sarmatian (Iranian) and Germanic tribes on the frontier of the Roman empire in 125 AD. Byzantine sources describe the Veneti as the ancestors of the Sclaveni (Slavs).

The early Slavs were known to the Roman writers of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD under the name of Veneti.[9] Authors such as Pliny the Elder, Tacitus and Ptolemy described the Veneti as inhabiting the lands east of the Vistula river and along the Venedic Bay (Gdańsk Bay). According to some scholars, possibly the oldest mention of Slavs in almost historical form Slověne is attested in Ptolemy's Geography (2nd century) as Σταυανοί (Stavanoi) and Σουοβηνοί (Souobenoi/Sovobenoi, Suobeni, Suoweni), both listed as Scythian tribes living near Alanians north of Scythia (first roughly between Volga and Ural mountains, second between the Baltic and Black Sea).[10][11]

Later, having split into three groups during the migration period, the early Slavs were known to the Byzantine writers as Veneti, Antes and Sclaveni. The 6th century historian Jordanes referred to the Slavs (Sclaveni) in his 551 work Getica, noting that "although they derive from one nation, now they are known under three names, the Veneti, Antes and Sclaveni" (ab una stirpe exorti, tria nomina ediderunt, id est Veneti, Antes, Sclaveni).[12] Procopius wrote that "the Sclaveni and the Ante actually had a single name in the remote past; for they were both called Sporoi in olden times".[13] Later, in the 8th century during the Early Middle Ages, early Slavs living on the borders of the Carolingian Empire were referred to as Wends (Vender), with the term being a corruption of the earlier Roman-era name.[14][15]

The earliest, archaeological findings connected to the early Slavs are associated with the Zarubintsy, Przeworsk and Chernyakhov cultures from around the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD. However, in many areas, archaeologists face difficulties in distinguishing between Slavic and non-Slavic findings, as in the case of Przeworsk and Chernyakhov, since the cultures were also attributed to Germanic peoples and were not exclusively connected with a single ancient ethnic or linguistic group.[16] Later, beginning in the 6th century, Slavic material cultures included the Prague-Korchak, Penkovka, Ipotești–Cândești, and the Sukow-Dziedzice group cultures. With evidence ranging from fortified settlements (gords), ceramic pots, weapons, jewellery and open abodes.


See also: Lech, Čech, and Rus

Map of the Slavic homeland. Early Slavic artifacts are most often linked to the Przeworsk and Zarubintsy cultures.
Map of the Slavic homeland. Early Slavic artifacts are most often linked to the Przeworsk and Zarubintsy cultures.

The Proto-Slavic homeland is the area of Slavic settlement in Central and Eastern Europe during the first millennium AD, with its precise location debated by archaeologists, ethnographers and historians.[17] Most scholars consider Polesia the homeland of the Slavs.[8] Theories attempting to place Slavic origin in the Near East have been discarded.[17] None of the proposed homelands reaches the Volga River in the east, over the Dinaric Alps in the southwest or the Balkan Mountains in the south, or past Bohemia in the west.[18][19]

Frederik Kortlandt has suggested that the number of candidates for Slavic homeland may rise from a tendency among historians to date "proto-languages farther back in time than is warranted by the linguistic evidence". Although all spoken languages change gradually over time, the absence of written records allows change to be identified by historians only after a population has expanded and separated long enough to develop daughter languages.[20] The existence of an "original home" is sometimes rejected as arbitrary[21] because the earliest origin sources "always speak of origins and beginnings in a manner which presupposes earlier origins and beginnings".[22]

According to historical records, the Slavic homeland would have been somewhere in Central Europe, possibly along the southern shore of the Baltic Sea. The Prague-Penkova-Kolochin complex of cultures of the 6th and the 7th centuries AD is generally accepted to reflect the expansion of Slavic-speakers at the time.[23] Core candidates are cultures within the territories of modern Belarus, Poland and Ukraine. According to the Polish historian Gerard Labuda, the ethnogenesis of Slavic people is the Trzciniec culture[24] from about 1700 to 1200 BC. The Milograd culture hypothesis posits that the pre-Proto-Slavs (or Balto-Slavs) originated in the 7th century BC–1st century AD culture of northwestern Ukraine and southern Belarus. According to the Chernoles culture theory, the pre-Proto-Slavs originated in the 1025–700 BC culture of northwestern Ukraine and the 3rd century BC–1st century AD Zarubintsy culture. According to the Lusatian culture hypothesis, they were present in northeastern Central Europe in the 1300–500 BC culture and the 2nd century BC–4th century AD Przeworsk culture. The Danube basin hypothesis, postulated by Oleg Trubachyov[25] and supported by Florin Curta and Nestor's Chronicle, theorises that the Slavs originated in central and southeastern Europe.[citation needed]

The latest attempt of locating the place of Slavic origin used population genetics and studied the paternal and maternal lineages as well as autosomal DNA of all existing modern Slavic populations. Besides confirming their common origin and medieval expansion, the variance and frequency of the Y-DNA haplogroups R1a and I2 subclades R-M558, R-M458, and I-CTS10228 are in correlation with the spreading of Slavic languages during the medieval ages from Eastern Europe, most probably from the territory of present-day Ukraine (within the area of the middle Dnieper basin) and Southeastern Poland.[26][27][28][29][30][31]


Main articles: History of Proto-Slavic and Proto-Balto-Slavic language

Slavic language distribution, with the Prague-Penkov-Kolochin complex in pink, and the area of Slavic river names in red.[32]
Slavic language distribution, with the Prague-Penkov-Kolochin complex in pink, and the area of Slavic river names in red.[32]

Proto-Slavic began to evolve from Proto-Indo-European,[33] the reconstructed language from which originated a number of languages spoken in Eurasia.[34][35] The Slavic languages share a number of features with the Baltic languages (including the use of genitive case for the objects of negative sentences, Proto-Indo-European and other labialized velars), which may indicate a common Proto-Balto-Slavic phase in the development of those two linguistic branches of Indo-European.[34][35] Frederik Kortlandt places the territory of the common language near the Indo-European homeland: "The Indo-Europeans who remained after the migrations became speakers of Balto-Slavic".[36] However, "geographical contiguity, parallel development and interaction" may explain the existence of the characteristics of both language groups.[35]

Proto-Slavic developed into a separate language during the first half of the 2nd millennium BC.[33] The Proto-Slavic vocabulary, which was inherited by its daughter languages, described its speakers' physical and social environment, feelings and needs.[37][38] Proto-Slavic had words for family connections, including svekry ("husband's mother"), and zъly ("sister-in-law").[39] The inherited Common Slavic vocabulary lacks detailed terminology for physical surface features that are peculiar to mountains or the steppe, the sea, coastal features, littoral flora or fauna or saltwater fish.[40]

Proto-Slavic hydronyms have been preserved between the source of the Vistula and the middle basin of the Dnieper.[41] Its northern regions adjoin territory in which river names of Baltic origin (Daugava, Neman and others) abound.[42][43] On the south and east, it borders the area of Iranian river names (including the Dniester, the Dnieper and the Don).[44] A connection between Proto-Slavic and Iranian languages is also demonstrated by the earliest layer of loanwords in the former;[37] the Proto-Slavic words for god (*bogъ), demon (*divъ), house (*xata), axe (*toporъ) and dog (*sobaka) are of Scythian origin.[45] The Iranian dialects of the Scythians and the Sarmatians influenced Slavic vocabulary during the millennium of contact between them and early Proto-Slavic.[46]

A longer, more intensive connection between Proto-Slavic and the Germanic languages can be assumed from the number of Germanic loanwords, such as *duma ("thought"), *kupiti ("to buy"), *mĕčь ("sword"), *šelmъ ("helmet") and *xъlmъ ("hill").[47] The Common Slavic words for beech, larch and yew were also borrowed from Germanic, which led Polish botanist Józef Rostafiński to place the Slavic homeland in the Pripet Marshes, which lacks those plants.[48] Germanic languages were a mediator between Common Slavic and other languages; the Proto-Slavic word for emperor (*cĕsar'ь) was transmitted from Latin through a Germanic language, and the Common Slavic word for church (*crъky) came from Greek.[47]

Common Slavic dialects before the 4th century AD cannot be detected since all of the daughter languages emerged from later variants.[49] Tonal word stress (a 9th-century AD change) is present in all Slavic languages, and Proto-Slavic reflects the language that was probably spoken at the end of the 1st millennium AD.[49]


Further information: Baltic Slavic piracy, Slavic migrations to the Balkans, Maurice's Balkan campaigns, Strategicon of Maurice, Limes Saxoniae, and Sorbian March

The origin and migration of Slavs in Europe in the 5th to the 10th centuries AD: .mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}  Original Slavic homeland (modern-day southeastern Poland, northwestern Ukraine and southern Belarus)   Expansion of the Slavic migration in Europe
The origin and migration of Slavs in Europe in the 5th to the 10th centuries AD:
  Original Slavic homeland (modern-day southeastern Poland, northwestern Ukraine and southern Belarus)
  Expansion of the Slavic migration in Europe
Southeastern Europe in 520, showing the Byzantine Empire under Justin I and the Ostrogothic Kingdom with Migration Period peoples along their borders.
Southeastern Europe in 520, showing the Byzantine Empire under Justin I and the Ostrogothic Kingdom with Migration Period peoples along their borders.

Jordanes, Procopius and other Late Roman authors provide the probable earliest references to the southern Slavs in the second half of the 6th century AD.[50] Jordanes completed his Gothic History, an abridgement of Cassiodorus's longer work, in Constantinople in 550 or 551.[51][52] He also used additional sources: books, maps or oral tradition.[53]

Jordanes wrote that the Venethi, Sclavenes and Antes were ethnonyms that referred to the same group.[54] His claim was accepted more than a millennium later by Wawrzyniec Surowiecki, Pavel Jozef Šafárik and other historians,[55] who searched the Slavic Urheimat in the lands that the Venethi (a people named in Tacitus's Germania)[56] lived during the last decades of the 1st century AD.[57] Pliny the Elder wrote that the territory extending from the Vistula to Aeningia (probably Feningia, or Finland), was inhabited by the Sarmati, Wends, Sciri and Hirri.[58]

Procopius completed his three works on Emperor Justinian I's reign (Buildings, History of the Wars, and Secret History) during the 550s.[59][60] Each book contains detailed information on raids by Sclavenes and Antes on the Eastern Roman Empire,[61] and the History of the Wars has a comprehensive description of their beliefs, customs and dwellings.[62][63] Although not an eyewitness, Procopius had contacts among the Sclavene mercenaries who were fighting on the Roman side in Italy.[62]

Agreeing with Jordanes's report, Procopius wrote that the Sclavenes and Antes spoke the same languages but traced their common origin not to the Venethi but to a people he called "Sporoi".[64] Sporoi ("seeds" in Greek; compare "spores") is equivalent to the Latin semnones and germani ("germs" or "seedlings"), and the German linguist Jacob Grimm believed that Suebi meant "Slav".[65] Jordanes and Procopius called the Suebi "Suavi". The end of the Bavarian Geographer's list of Slavic tribes contains a note: "Suevi are not born, they are sown (seminati)".[66] The language spoken by Tacitus's Suevi is unknown. In his description of the emigration (c. 512) of the Heruli to Scandinavia, Procopius places the Slavs in Central Europe.[citation needed]

A similar description of the Sclavenes and Antes is found in the Strategikon of Maurice, a military handbook written between 592 and 602 and attributed to Emperor Maurice.[67] Its author, an experienced officer, participated in the Eastern Roman campaigns against the Sclavenes on the lower Danube at the end of the century.[68] A military staff member was also the source of Theophylact Simocatta's narrative of the same campaigns.[69]

Although Martin of Braga was the first western author to refer to a people known as "Sclavus" before 580, Jonas of Bobbio included the earliest lengthy record of the nearby Slavs in his Life of Saint Columbanus (written between 639 and 643).[70] Jonas referred to the Slavs as "Veneti" and noted that they were also known as "Sclavi".[71]

Western authors, including Fredegar and Boniface, preserved the term "Venethi".[72] The Franks (in the Life of Saint Martinus, the Chronicle of Fredegar and Gregory of Tours), Lombards (Paul the Deacon) and Anglo-Saxons (Widsith) referred to Slavs in the Elbe-Saale region and Pomerania as "Wenden" or "Winden" (see Wends). The Franks and the Bavarians of Styria and Carinthia called their Slavic neighbours "Windische".[citation needed]

The unknown author of the Chronicle of Fredegar used the word "Venedi" (and variants) to refer to a group of Slavs who were subjugated by the Avars.[71] In the chronicle, "Venedi" formed a state that emerged from a revolt[71] led by the Frankish merchant Samo against the Avars around 623.[73] A change in terminology, the replacement of Slavic tribal names for the collective "Sclavenes" and "Antes", occurred at the end of the century;[74] the first tribal names were recorded in the second book of the Miracles of Saint Demetrius, around 690.[75] The unknown "Bavarian Geographer" listed Slavic tribes in the Frankish Empire around 840,[61] and a detailed description of 10th-century tribes in the Balkan Peninsula was compiled under the auspices of Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus in Constantinople around 950.[76]


7th-century Slavic cultures (the Prague-Penkov-Kolochin complex). The Prague and the Mogilla cultures reflect the separation of the early Western Slavs (the Sukow-Dziedzice group in the northwest may be the earliest Slavic expansion to the Baltic Sea); the Kolochin culture represents the early East Slavs; the Penkovka culture and its southwestward extension, the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture, demonstrate early Slavic expansion into the Balkans, which would later result in the separation of the South Slavs, associated with the Antes people of Byzantine historiography. In the Carpathian basin, the Eurasian Avars began to be Slavicized during the Slavic settlement of the Eastern Alps.
7th-century Slavic cultures (the Prague-Penkov-Kolochin complex). The Prague and the Mogilla cultures reflect the separation of the early Western Slavs (the Sukow-Dziedzice group in the northwest may be the earliest Slavic expansion to the Baltic Sea); the Kolochin culture represents the early East Slavs; the Penkovka culture and its southwestward extension, the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture, demonstrate early Slavic expansion into the Balkans, which would later result in the separation of the South Slavs, associated with the Antes people of Byzantine historiography. In the Carpathian basin, the Eurasian Avars began to be Slavicized during the Slavic settlement of the Eastern Alps.
Slavic ceramic pottery vessel, c. 8th century AD
Slavic ceramic pottery vessel, c. 8th century AD
Slavic fibula brooch, c. 7th century AD
Slavic fibula brooch, c. 7th century AD

In the archaeological literature, attempts have been made to assign an early Slavic character to several cultures in a number of time periods and regions.[77] The Prague-Korchak cultural horizon encompasses postulated early Slavic cultures from the Elbe to the Dniester, in contrast with the Dniester-to-Dnieper Prague-Penkovka.[78] "Prague culture" in a narrow sense,[78] refers to western Slavic material grouped around Bohemia, Moravia and western Slovakia, distinct from the Mogilla (southern Poland) and Korchak (central Ukraine and southern Belarus) groups further east. The Prague and Mogilla groups are seen as the archaeological reflection of the 6th-century Western Slavs.[79]

The 2nd-to-5th-century Chernyakhov culture encompassed modern Ukraine, Moldova and Wallachia. Chernyakov finds include polished black-pottery vessels, fine metal ornaments and iron tools.[80] Soviet scholars, such as Boris Rybakov, saw it as the archaeological reflection of the proto-Slavs.[81] The Chernyakov zone is now seen as representing the cultural interaction of several peoples, one of which was rooted in Scytho-Sarmatian traditions, which were modified by Germanic elements that were introduced by the Goths.[80][82] The semi-subterranean dwelling with a corner hearth later became typical of early Slavic sites,[83] with Volodymir Baran calling it a Slavic "ethnic badge".[83] In the Carpathian foothills of Podolia, at the northwestern fringes of the Chernyakov zone, the Slavs gradually became a culturally-unified people; the multiethnic environment of the Chernyakhov zone presented a "need for self-identification in order to manifest their differentiation from other groups".[84]

The Przeworsk culture, northwest of the Chernyakov zone, extended from the Dniester to the Tisza valley and north to the Vistula and Oder.[85] It was an amalgam of local cultures, most with roots in earlier traditions modified by influences from the (Celtic) La Tène culture, (Germanic) Jastorf culture beyond the Oder and the Bell-Grave culture of the Polish plain. The Venethi may have played a part; other groups included the Vandals, Burgundians and Sarmatians.[85] East of the Przeworsk zone was the Zarubinets culture, which is sometimes considered part of the Przeworsk complex.[86] Early Slavic hydronyms are found in the area occupied by the Zarubinets culture,[86] and Irena Rusinova proposed that the most prototypical examples of Prague-type pottery later originated there.[83] The Zarubinets culture is identified as proto-Slavic[87] or an ethnically-mixed community that became Slavicized.[78]

With increasing age, the confidence with which archaeological connections can be made to known historic groups lessens.[88] The Chernoles culture has been seen as a stage in the evolution of the Slavs,[86] and Marija Gimbutas identified it as the proto-Slavic homeland.[89] According to many pre-historians, ethnic labels are inappropriate for European Iron Age peoples.[90]

The Globular Amphora culture stretched from the middle Dnieper to the Elbe during the late 4th and early 3rd millennia BC. It has been suggested as the locus of a Germano-Balto-Slavic continuum (the Germanic substrate hypothesis), but the identification of its bearers as Indo-Europeans is uncertain. The area of the culture contains a number of tumuli, which are typical of Indo-Europeans.[citation needed]

The 8th-to-3rd-century BC Chernoles culture, sometimes associated with Herodotus' "Scythian farmers", is "sometimes portrayed as either a state in the development of the Slavic languages or at least some form of late Indo-European ancestral to the evolution of the Slavic stock".[91] The Milograd culture (700 BC–100 AD), centred roughly in today's Belarus and north of the Chernoles culture, has also been proposed as ancestral for the Slavs or the Balts. The ethnic composition of the Przeworsk culture (2nd century BC to 4th century AD), associated with the Lugii) of central and southern Poland, northern Slovakia and Ukraine, including the Zarubintsy culture (2nd century BC to 2nd century AD and connected with the Bastarnae tribe) and the Oksywie culture are other candidates.[citation needed]

Southern Ukraine is known to have been inhabited by Scythian and Sarmatian tribes before the Goths. Early Slavic stone stelae that are found in the middle Dniester region are markedly different from the Scythian and Sarmatian stelae of the Crimea.[citation needed]

The Wielbark culture displaced the eastern Oksywie culture during the 1st century AD. Although the 2nd-to-5th-century Chernyakhov culture triggered the decline of the late Sarmatian culture from the 2nd to the 4th centuries, the western part of the Przeworsk culture remained intact until the 4th century and the Kiev culture flourished from the 2nd to the 5th centuries and is recognised as the predecessor of the 6th- and 7th-century Prague-Korchak and Pen'kovo cultures, the first archaeological cultures that are identified as Slavic. Although Proto-Slavic probably reached its final stage in the Kiev area, the scientific community disagrees on the Kiev culture's predecessors. Some scholars trace them from the Ruthenian Milograd culture, others from the Ukrainian Chernoles and Zarubintsy cultures and still others from the Polish Przeworsk culture.[citation needed]


According to the mainstream and culture-historical viewpoint which emphasizes the primordial model of ethnogenesis, the Slavic homeland in the forest steppe enabled them to preserve their ethnic identity, language except for phonetic and some lexical constituents, and their patrilineal, agricultural customs.[92] However, it was a "complex process that involved Scythian, Zarubintsy, and Cherniakhovo influences on at least two groups of Indo-European population living in the middle Dnieper; southeast Poland; and the area in-between, along the Pripiat' and the Bug".[78] After a millennium, when the Hunnic Empire collapsed and the Avars arrived shortly afterwards, an eastern-Slavic culture re-emerged and spread rapidly in south and central-eastern Europe bringing their customs and language.[78] Russian archaeologist Valentin Sedov, using the Herderian concept of nationhood,[93] proposed that the Venethi were the proto-Slavic bearers of the Przeworsk culture. Their expansion began during the second century AD, and they occupied a large area of eastern Europe between the Vistula and the middle Dnieper. The Venethi slowly expanded south and east by the fourth century, assimilating the neighbouring Zarubinec culture (which Sedov considered partly Baltic) and continuing southeast to become part of the Chernyakhov culture. The Antes separated themselves from the Venethi by 300 (followed by the Sclaveni by 500) in the areas of the Prague-Penkovka and Prague-Korchak cultures, respectively.[94] Paul Barford suggested that Slavic groups might have existed in a wide area of central-eastern Europe (in the Chernyakov and Zarubintsy-Przeworsk cultural zones) before the documented Slavic migrations from the sixth to the ninth centuries. Serving as auxiliaries in the Sarmatian, Goth and Hun armies, small numbers of Slavic speakers might have reached the Balkans before the sixth century.[95] According to Marija Gimbutas, "[n]either Bulgars nor Avars colonized the Balkan Peninsula; after storming Thrace, Illyria and Greece they went back to their territory north of the Danube. It was the Slavs who did the colonizing ... entire families or even whole tribes infiltrated lands. As an agricultural people, they constantly sought an outlet for the population surplus. Suppressed for over a millennium by foreign rule of Scythians, Sarmatians and Goths, they had been restricted to a small territory; now the barriers were down and they poured out".[96] In addition to their demographic growth, the depopulation of central-eastern Europe due, in part, to Germanic emigration, the lack of Roman imperial defenses on the frontiers which were decimated after centuries of conflicts and especially the Plague of Justinian, and the Late Antique Little Ice Age (536-660 CE) encouraged Slavic expansion and settlement to the west and the south of the Carpathian Mountains.[78][97][98] The migrationist model remains the most acceptable and logical explanation of the spread of Slavs and Slavic culture (including language).[99][100][101][102][103]

According to the processual viewpoint which emphasizes the culture-social model of ethnogenesis, there is "no need to explain culture change exclusively in terms of migration and population replacement".[104] It argues that the Slavic expansion was primarily "a linguistic spread".[105] One of the theories used to explain language replacement is that a dominant Slavic elite diaspora managed to spread, conquer and slavicize various communities.[106][107][108][109] A more extreme hypothesis is argued by Florin Curta who considers that the Slavs as an "ethno-political category" were invented by an external source - the Byzantines - through political instrumentation and interaction on the Roman frontiers where a barbarian elite culture flourished.[110][111] Horace Lunt attributes the spread of Slavic to the "success and mobility of the Slavic 'special border guards' of the Avar khanate",[112] who used it as a lingua franca in the Avar Khaganate. According to Lunt, only as a lingua franca could Slavic supplant other languages and dialects whilst remaining relatively uniform. Although it could explain the formation of regional Slavic groups in the Balkans, the Eastern Alps and the Morava-Danube basin, Lunt's theory does not account for the spread of Slavic to the Baltic region and the territory of the Eastern Slavs, which are areas with no historical links to the Pannonian Avars.[113] A concept related to elite dominance is the notion of system collapse, in which a power vacuum created by the fall of the Hun and Roman Empires allowed a minority group to impose their customs and language.[106] However, Michel Kazanski concludes that although both "the movement of the populations of the Slavic cultural model and the diffusion of this model amid non-Slavic populations [occurred] (...) a pure diffusion of the Slavic model would hardly be possible, in any case in which a long period of time when the populations of different cultural traditions lived close to one another is assumed. Moreover, archaeologists researching Slavic antiquities do not accept the ideas produced by the "diffusionists," because most of the champions of the diffusion model know the specific archaeological materials poorly, so their works leave room for a number of arbitrary interpretations".[103]


Depiction of an early Slav as a personification of "Sclavinia", from Otto's Gospel Book, 990 AD

In the Chronica Slavorum, Helmold writes on the Wends "These men have blue eyes, ruddy faces, and long hair.[114] Ibrahim Ibn Ya’qub mentioned the Slavs were bearded. [115]Procopius described the Slavs as "exceptionally tall and stalwart men, while their bodies and hair are neither very fair or very blonde, nor indeed do they incline entirely to the dark type, but they are slightly ruddy in color... they are neither dishonorable nor spiteful, but simple in their ways, like the Huns".[116] Jordanes wrote "...all of them are tall and very strong... their skin and hair are neither very dark nor light, but are ruddy of face".[117] Ibrahim Ibn Ya’qub wrote: "They wear ample robes, although the ends of their sleeves are narrow."[118] Procopious wrote that the men also wear a kind of breeches pulled up to the waist.[116]

Theophylact Simocatta, wrote about the Slavs that "The Emperor was with great curiosity listening to stories about this tribe, he has welcomed these newcomers from the land of barbarians, and after being amazed by their height and mighty stature, he sent these men to Heraclea." Hisham ibn al-Kalbi, described the slavs as "...a numerous nation, fair-haired and of ruddy complexion.", and Al-Baladuri, made reference to the Slavs, writing "If the Prince so willed, outside of his doors would be black Sudanians or ruddy Slavs.[119]


Example of early Slavic armour
Example of early Slavic armour

Early Slavic society was a typical decentralised tribal society of Iron Age Europe and was organised into local chiefdoms. A slow consolidation occurred between the 7th and the 9th, when the previously-uniform Slavic cultural area evolved into discrete zones. Slavic groups were influenced by neighbouring cultures like Byzantium, the Khazars, the Vikings and the Carolingians and influenced their neighbours in return.[120]

Differences in status gradually developed in the chiefdoms, which led to the development of centralized socio-political organisations. The first centralized organisations may have been temporary pantribal warrior associations, the greatest evidence being in the Danubian area, where barbarian groups organised around military chiefs to raid Byzantine territory and to defend themselves against the Pannonian Avars.[121] Social stratification gradually developed in the form of fortified, hereditary chiefdoms, which were first seen in the West Slavs areas. The chief was supported by a retinue of warriors, who owed their position to him. As chiefdoms became powerful and expanded, centres of subsidiary power ruled by lesser chiefs were created, and the line between powerful chiefdoms and centralised medieval states is blurred. By the mid-9th century, the Slavic elite had become sophisticated; it wore luxurious clothing, rode horses, hunted with falcons and travelled with retinues of soldiers.[122] These chiefs were often at war with one another.[123]


Further information: Gord (archaeology)

Reconstruction of a Slavic hilltop Grod in Birów, Poland
Reconstruction of a Slavic hilltop Grod in Birów, Poland
Reconstruction of a Slavic settlement in Torgelow, Germany
Reconstruction of a Slavic settlement in Torgelow, Germany

Early Slavic settlements were no bigger than 0.5 to 2 hectares (1.2 to 4.9 acres). Settlements were often temporary, perhaps reflected their itinerant form of agriculture,[124] and were often along rivers. They were characterised by sunken buildings, known as Grubenhäuser in German or poluzemlianki in Russian. Built over a rectangular pit, they varied from 4 to 20 m2 (43 to 215 sq ft) in area and could accommodate a typical nuclear family. Each house had a stone or clay oven in a corner (a defining feature of Eastern European dwellings), and a settlement had a population of fifty to seventy.[125] Settlements had a central, open area in which communal activities and ceremonies were conducted, and they were divided into production and settlement zones.[126]

The Slavs also built underground shelters roofed with wood to keep out the cold during winter.[127]

Log cabin saunas were also used as recorded by Ibrahim Ibn Ya’qub: “They have no baths but they use log cabins in which gaps are stuffed with something that appears on their trees and looks like seaweed – they call it mech (original mh = moss)… In one corner they put up a stone stove and above it they open up a hole to let the smoke from the stove escape. When the stove is good and hot, they close up the opening and close the door of the hut. Inside are vessels with water and they pour out of them water onto the hot stove and steam comes from it. Each of them has in his hand a tuft of grass with which they make air circulate and draw it to themselves. Then their pores open up and the unneeded substances from their bodies come out…”[128]

Fortified strongholds (grods) appeared in significant numbers during the 9th century, especially the Western Slavic territories, and were often found in the centre of a group of settlements. The South Slavs did not form enclosed strongholds but lived in open, rural settlements that were adopted from the social models of the indigenous populations they encountered.[citation needed]

The Slavs preferred to live in hard to reach places to avoid attack, as recorded in Maurice's Strategikon: “They live among nearly impenetrable forests, rivers, lakes, and marshes, and have made the exits from their settlements branch outing many directions because of the dangers they might face."[123]

Food and Agriculture

early slavic pottery
early slavic pottery

The Slavs practiced hunting, farming, herding and beekeeping. They often settled in valley bottoms with rich soil, along rivers to provide water for livestock. [129][page needed] The early Slavs also had knowledge of crop rotation and developed a new sort of plow known as the moldboard plow, this plough was very efficient in breaking up the clay full soil of northern europe, and it helped drastically increase the Slavic population.[130]Other tools, common throughout the rest of Europe were also used, such as iron hoes, sickles, wooden spades and others. Some were made from wood. Selective breeding was also done.

When crops were ripe they were cut with sickles and threshing was then done with a wooden flail. The grain was then milled by stone querns, which were very valuable and difficult to come by. Cereal crops, wheat, millet and barley were common as they could thrive in even poor soil. Vegetables were grown in gardens, onions, carrots, radishes, turnip, parsnip, cucumber, pumpkins, cabbage, pea and beans were all grown. Herbs were mostly garlic and parsnip, hops were also grown for making beer. Fruit trees were cultivated in orchards, including cherry, apple, pear, plums and peaches. Walnuts were also loved.

Animal were tended, not only for meat, leather or milk but also to fertilize the soil. Several breeds of cattle were bred and kept in large herds, as draught animals and for meat, female cattle provided milk. Pigs were prized for their meat. Goats and sheep were more rare but still bred. Horses were very rarely eaten, mostly used as draught or riding animals. Fowl were also kept, especially ducks and geese.

Animals in the forest were hunted, prey included boar, deer, hare, elk and occasionally bear. Beavers and marten were trapped for their fur.[129][page needed]

“They sow during two seasons of the year, in summer and in spring, and harvest two crops. Their principal crop is millet... They refrain from eating chicken, asserting that it exacerbates erysipelas, but they eat beef and goose, both of which agree with them...Their drinks and wine are made out of honey.”[131] -Ibrahim Ibn Ya’qub

"They have a sort of wooden box, provided with holes, in which bees live and make their honey; in their language they are called the ulishaj. They collect around ten jars of honey from each box. They herd pigs as if they were sheep...They drink mead”[132] -Ibn Rusta


Most of the knowledge we have on Early Slavic clothing comes from iconographic sources and cemeteries. Although clothing differed according to region, season of year and social status, a general picture can be reconstructed.

Men wore long sleeved tunics made of linen or wool, extending to about the knee, under these breeches were worn. wool cloaks were sometimes worn over the tunic, fastened at the right shoulder leaving the right arm free. Cloaks were occasionally also made of leather, and lined with fir or other material. Hats and mittens were worn for the winter, some trimmed with fur. Leather boots and shoes were also worn by both men and women, as well as a belt carrying a knife and whetstone for sharpening.

Some women wore long patterned dresses, made from linen, sometimes with an apron tied over the dress. Dresses or tunic were sometimes made from one piece. Unmarried women wore their hair braided or loose, but covered it after they were wedded. Ornaments and jewelry such as beads and earrings and twisted wire bracelets were also worn, especially by wealthier women.

Slavic attire was influenced by neighbouring peoples such as the Vikings and Franks.[129][page needed]

Musical Instruments and Burial Practices

The Slavs had many musical instruments as recorded:

“They have different kinds of lutes, pan pipes and flutes a cubit long. Their lutes have eight strings. They drink mead. They play their instruments during the incineration of their dead and claim that their rejoicing attests the mercy of the Lord to the dead.”[133] -Ibn Rusta

"They have different kinds of wind and string instruments. They have a wind instrument more than two cubits long, and an eight-stringed instrument whose sounding board is flat, not convex."[134] -Ibrahim Ibn Ya’qub

Theophylact Simocatta mentioned of Slavs bearing lyres: "Lyres were their baggage"[135]

The Slavs burned their dead: "They burn their dead...The day after the funeral of a man, after he has been burned, they collect the ashes and put them in an urn, which is buried on a hill. After a year, they place twenty hives, more or less, on the hill. The family gathers and eats and drinks there and then everyone goes home."[136] -Ibn Rusta

Tribal and territorial organisation

Main article: List of ancient Slavic peoples and tribes

There is no indication of Slavic chiefs in any of the Slavic raids before AD 560, when Pseudo-Caesarius's writings mentioned their chiefs but described the Slavs as living by their own law and without the rule of anyone.[137]

The Sclaveni and the Antes were reported to have lived under a democracy for a long time.[138] The 6th-century historian Procopius, who was in contact with Slavic mercenaries,[139] reported, "For these nations, the Sclaveni and the Antes, are not governed by one man, but from ancient times have lived in democracy, and consequently everything which involves their welfare, whether for good or for ill, is referred to the people".[140] The 6th-century Strategikon of Maurice is considered an eyewitness of the Slavs and recommended the Roman generals to use any possible means to prevent the Sclaveni from uniting "under one ruler" and added that "the Sclaveni and Antes were both independent, absolutely refused to be enslaved or governed, least of all in their own land".[141]

Settlements were not uniformly distributed but were in clusters separated by areas of lower settlement density.[142] The clusters resulted from the expansion of single settlements, and the "settlement cells" were linked by familial or clan relationships. Settlement cells were the basis of the simplest form of territorial organization, known as a župa in South Slavic and opole in Polish. According to the Primary Chronicle, "The men of the Polanie lived each with his own clan in his own place". Several župas, encompassing individual clan territories, formed the known tribes: "The complex processes initiated by the Slav expansion and subsequent demographic and ethnic consolidation culminated in the formation of tribal groups, which later coalesced to create state which form the framework of the ethnic make-up of modern eastern Europe".[143]

Reconstruction of a Slavic gatehouse in Thunau am Kamp, Austria. The site excavated in the 1980s dates back to the era of the Great Moravian Empire in the 9th and 10th centuries.
Reconstruction of a Slavic gatehouse in Thunau am Kamp, Austria. The site excavated in the 1980s dates back to the era of the Great Moravian Empire in the 9th and 10th centuries.

The root of many tribal names denotes the territory in which they inhabited, such as the Milczanie (who lived in areas with mělloess), Moravians (along the Morava), Diokletians (near the former Roman city of Doclea) and Severiani (northerners). Other names have more general meanings, such as the Polanes (pola; field) and Drevlyans (drevo; tree). Others appear to have a non-Slavic (possibly Iranian) root, such as the Antes and Croats. Some geographically-distant tribes appear to share names. The Dregoviti appear north of the Pripyat River and in the Vardar valley, the Croats in Galicia and northern Dalmatia and the Obodrites near Lübeck and their further south in Pannonia. The root Slav was retained in the modern names of the Slovenes, Slovaks and Slavonians. There is little evidence of migratory links between tribes sharing the same name. The common names may reflect names given the tribes by historians or a common tongue as a distinction between Slavs (slovo; word, letter) and others, Nemci (mutes) being a Slavic name for "Germans".[citation needed]


Capturing wives and exogamy were traditions among the tribes and continued until the early medieval era. However, on some occasions in Bohemia and Ukraine, it was women who chose the spouse.[144] Fornication had a sentence in Pagan Slavs that was described as capital punishment by travelers, Ibn-Fadlan: "Men and women go to the river and bathe together naked... but they do not fornicate and if anyone would be guilty of it, no matter who is he and she... he and she would be pinked by pole-axe... then they hang out each part both of them on a tree", Gardizi: "If someone makes fornication, he or she would be killed, without accepting any apologies".[145]

The byzantine Emperor Maurice wrote: "Their women are more sensitive than any others in the world. When , for example, their husband dies, many look upon it as their own death and freely smother themselves, not wanting to continue their lives as widows.”[123]


Early Slavic axe, arrow and spearheads along with shield bosses
Early Slavic axe, arrow and spearheads along with shield bosses

Our understanding of Early Slavic warfare is based on both the writings of ancient authors and archeological discoveries.[146]

Slavic armaments were mainly wooden shields, spears, javelins, as well as bows and arrows, but slings and axes were also used. Swords and body armour were rare before the 8th century, being used mostly by the chiefs and warrior elites. Shields came in both small and large sizes, and were often circular in shape and covered in leather. [147]Arrowheads were sometimes dipped in effective poison.[148] Spears and javelins were the most common, and were very effective, being used by most nations of the time.[149]

"When they enter battle, the majority of them charge against their enemy on foot carrying small shields and spears in their hands."[150]-Procopius “They are armed with javelins, two to each man. Some of them with large but heavy shields. In addition, they use wooden bows with arrows smeared with a poisonous drug which is very effective."[151] -Emperor Maurice "Their arms are javelins, lances and shields"[152] -Ibn Rusta

Early barbarian warrior bands, typically numbering 200 or less, were intended for fast penetration into enemy territory and an equally-quick withdrawal. [153]The Slavs favoured ambush and guerrilla tactics, preferring to fight in dense woodland or marsh.[154] However, victories in the open, sieges and hand to hand fighting were also achieved.[155]They often attacked their enemy's flank, and were cunning in devising stratagems.[156] The Slavs also used siege engines, such as siege towers and ladders as described by Procopius and St. Demetrius. Maurice wrote: "They make effective use of ambushes, sudden attacks, and raids, devising many different methods by night and by day.”[157]

Although the Slavs fought mostly on foot, they were also proficient cavalry fighters as historical sources mentioned. Procopius wrote that Slav and "Hun" horsemen were Byzantine mercenaries.[158] In their dealings with the Sarmatians and Huns, the Slavs may have become skilled horsemen, an explanation for their expansion.[159][page needed] According to the Strategikon (XI.4.I-45), prisoners were not kept permanently, but after a set period of time would be let loose and allowed to leave or stay among the people as friends. A tribe that disrespected a guest would be attacked by a neighbouring tribe for their dishonour.[160]

Warfare changed and in later periods the early Slavs were better equipped, with swords and body armour more common than before.[161]


Main articles: Slavic mythology, List of Slavic mythological figures, and Christianization of the Slavs

Svetovid, a Slavic deity of war, fertility and abundance
Svetovid, a Slavic deity of war, fertility and abundance

Little is known about Slavic religion before the Christianization of Bulgaria and of Kievan Rus. After Christianization, Slavic authorities destroyed many records of the old religion. Some evidence remains in apocryphal and devotional texts,[162] the etymology of Slavic religious terms[163] and the Primary Chronicle.[164]

Early Slavic religion was relatively uniform:[165] animistic, anthropomorphic[166] and inspired by nature.[167] The Slavs developed cults around natural objects, such as springs, trees or stones, out of respect for the spirit (or demon) within.[168] Slavic pre-Christian religion was originally polytheistic, with no organised pantheon.[169] Although the earliest Slavs seemed to have a weak concept of God, the concept evolved[170] into a form of monotheism in which a "supreme god [ruled] in heaven over the others".[171] There is no evidence of a belief in fate[172] or predestination.[173]

Pre-Christian Slavic spirits and demons could be entities in their own right or spirits of the dead and were associated with home or nature. Forest spirits, entities in their own right, were venerated as the counterparts of home spirits, which were usually related to ancestors.[174] Demons and spirits were good or evil, which suggests that the Slavs had a dualistic cosmology and are known to have revered them with sacrifices and gifts.[175]

Slavic paganism was syncretistic[176] and combined and shared with other religions, including Germanic paganism.[177] Linguistic evidence indicates that part of Slavic paganism developed when the Balts and Slavs shared a common language[165] since pre-Christian Slavic beliefs contained elements also found in Baltic religions. After the Slavic and the Baltic languages diverged, the early Slavs interacted with Iranian peoples and incorporated elements of Iranian spirituality. Early Iranian and Slavic supreme gods were considered givers of wealth, unlike the supreme thunder gods of other European religions. Both Slavs and Iranians had demons, with names from similar linguistic roots (Iranian Daêva and Slavic Divŭ) and a concept of dualism: good and evil.[171][178]

Although evidence of pre-Christian Slavic worship is scarce (suggesting that it was aniconic), religious sites and idols are most plentiful in Ukraine and Poland. Slavic temples and indoor places of worship are rare since outdoor places of worship are more common, especially in Kievan Rus'. The outdoor cultic sites were often on hills and included ringed ditches.[179] Indoor shrines existed: "Early Russian sources... refer to pagan shrines or altars known as kapishcha" and were small, enclosed structures with an altar inside. One was found in Kiev, surrounded by the bones of sacrificed animals.[180] Pagan temples were documented as destroyed during Christianization.[181]

Baška tablet found in Croatia and inscribed in Church Slavonic, records King Zvonimir's donation of land to a Benedictine abbey, c. 1100
Baška tablet found in Croatia and inscribed in Church Slavonic, records King Zvonimir's donation of land to a Benedictine abbey, c. 1100

Records of pre-Christian Slavic priests, like the pagan temples, appeared later.[181] Although no early evidence of Slavic pre-Christian priests has been found, the prevalence of sorcerers and magicians after Christianization suggests that the pre-Christian Slavs had religious leaders.[182] Slavic pagan priests were believed to commune with the gods, to predict the future[173] and to prepare for religious rituals. The pagan priests, or magicians (known as volkhvy by the Rus' people),[164] resisted Christianity[183] after Christianization. The Primary Chronicle describes a campaign against Christianity in 1071 during a famine. The volkhvy were well-received nearly 100 years after Christianization, which suggested that pagan priests had an esteemed position in 1071 and in pre-Christian times.[184]

Although the Slavic funeral pyre was seen as a means of freeing the soul from the body rapidly, visibly and publicly,[185][failed verification] archaeological evidence suggests that the South Slavs quickly adopted the burial practices of their post-Roman Balkan neighbours.[citation needed]

Later history


See also: Saints Cyril and Methodius

Fresco of Saints Cyril and Methodius, both Byzantine Christian missionaries to the Southern Slavs.
Fresco of Saints Cyril and Methodius, both Byzantine Christian missionaries to the Southern Slavs.
Page of the Gospel of Mark from Codex Zographensis, an Old Church Slavonic manuscript written in Glagolitic script.
Page of the Gospel of Mark from Codex Zographensis, an Old Church Slavonic manuscript written in Glagolitic script.

Christianization began in the 7th century and was not completed until the second half of the 12 century. Later, as the Empire of Constantinople ("Byzantium") reclaimed some of the areas of the Balkans occupied by Slavs ("Byzantine Reconquista"), slight parts population of Slavs were Hellenised, including conversion to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, for example under the reign of Nicephorus I (802-811). However, the most significant missionary work was in the mid-ninth century. The Christianization of Bulgaria was made official in 864, during the reign of Knyaz Boris I during shifting political alliances both with the Byzantine Empire and the kingdom of the East Franks and the communication with the Pope. Because of the Bulgarian Empire's strategic position, the Greek East and the Latin West wanted their people to adhere to their liturgies and to ally with them politically. After overtures from each side, Boris aligned with Constantinople and secured an autocephalous Bulgarian national church in 870, the first for the Slavs. In 918/919, the Bulgarian Patriarchate became the fifth autocephalous Eastern Orthodox patriarchate, after the patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. That status was officially recognised by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 927.[186] The Bulgarian Empire developed into the cultural and literary centre of Slavic Europe. The development of the Cyrillic script at the Preslav Literary School, which was declared official in Bulgaria in 893, was also declared the official liturgy in Old Church Slavonic, also called Old Bulgarian.[187][188][189]

Although there is some evidence of early Christianization of the East Slavs, Kievan Rus' either remained largely pagan or relapsed into paganism before the baptism of Vladimir the Great in the 980s. The Christianization of Poland began with the Catholic baptism of King Mieszko I in 966. Slavic paganism persisted into the 12th century in Pomerania, which began to be Christianized after the creation of the Duchy of Pomerania as part of the Holy Roman Empire in 1121. The process was mostly completed by the Wendish Crusade in 1147. The final stronghold of Slavic paganism was the Rani, with a temple to their god Svetovid on Cape Arkona, which was taken in a campaign by Valdemar I of Denmark in 1168.[citation needed]

Medieval states

Map of Europe in 814 showing the distribution of the Slavic tribes and the First Bulgarian Empire in relation to the Carolingian Empire and the Byzantine Empire.
Map of Europe in 814 showing the distribution of the Slavic tribes and the First Bulgarian Empire in relation to the Carolingian Empire and the Byzantine Empire.

After Christianisation, the Slavs established a number of kingdoms, or feudal principalities, which persisted throughout the High Middle Ages. The First Bulgarian Empire was founded in 681 as an alliance between the ruling Bulgars and the numerous Slavs in Lower Moesia. Not long after the Slavic incursion, Scythia Minor was once again invaded, this time by the Bulgars, under Khan Asparukh.[190] Their horde was a remnant of Old Great Bulgaria, an extinct tribal confederacy that was north of the Black Sea in what is now Ukraine. Asparukh attacked Byzantine territories in Eastern Moesia and conquered its Slavic tribes in 680.[191] A peace treaty with the Byzantine Empire was signed in 681 and marked the foundation of the First Bulgarian Empire. The minority Bulgars formed a close-knit ruling caste.[192] The South Slavs consolidated also the Grand Principality of Serbia. The Kingdom of Croatia was established between the Kupa, the Una and Adriatic Seas, without Istria and major Dalmatian coastal centers. Banate of Bosnia emerged from the 10th century by merging localities called župas, which were remnants of Early Christianity ecclesiastical divisions.[193][194] Duklja similarly started emerging in the south.[195] The West Slavs were distributed in Samo's Empire, which was the first Slavic state to form in the west, followed by the Great Moravia and, after its decline, the Kingdom of Poland, the Obotritic confederation (now eastern Germany) the Principality of Nitra (modern Slovakia) a vassal of the Kingdom of Hungary, and the Duchy of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). After the 1054 death of Yaroslav the Wise and the breakup of Kievan Rus', the East Slavs fragmented into a number of principalities from which Muscovy would emerge after 1300 as the most powerful one. The western principalities of the former Kievan Rus' were absorbed by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.[citation needed]

Slavic studies

The debate between proponents of autochthonism and allochthonism began in 1745, when Johann Christoph de Jordan published De Originibus Slavicis. The 19th-century Slovak philologist and poet Pavel Jozef Šafárik, whose theory was founded on Jordanes' Getica, has influenced generations of scholars. Jordanes equated the Sclavenes, the Antes and the Venethi (or Venedi) based on earlier sources such as Pliny the Elder, Tacitus and Ptolemy. Šafárik's legacy was his vision of a Slavic history and the use of linguistics for its study.[196] The Polish scholar Tadeusz Wojciechowski (1839–1919) was the first to use place names to study Slavic history and was followed by A. L. Pogodin and the botanist J. Rostafinski. The first scholar to introduce archaeological data into the discourse on the early Slavs, Lubor Niederle (1865–1944), endorsed Rostafinski's theory in his multi-volume Antiquities of the Slavs. Vykentyi V. Khvoika (1850–1914), a Ukrainian archaeologist of Czech origin, linked the Slavs with the Neolithic Cucuteni culture. A. A. Spicyn (1858–1931) attributed finds of silver and bronze in central and southern Ukraine to the Antes. Czech archaeologist Ivan Borkovsky (1897–1976) postulated the existence of a Slavic "Prague type" of pottery. Boris Rybakov has linked Spicyn's "Antian antiquities" with Chernyakhov culture remains excavated by Khvoika and theorised that the former should be attributed to the Slavs.[196] The debate became politically charged during the 19th century, particularly in connection with the partitions of Poland and the German Drang nach Osten, and the question of whether Germanic or Slavic peoples were indigenous east of the Oder was used to pursue both German and Polish claims to the region.[citation needed]

Some modern scholars debate the meaning and the usage of the term "Slav" depending on the context in which it is used. The word can refer to a culture (or cultures) living north of the River Danube, east of the River Elbe, and west of the River Vistula during the 530s CE.[197] "Slav" is also an identifier for the ethnic group shared by the cultures[198] and denotes any language with linguistic ties to the modern Slavic language family, which may have no connection to either a common culture or a shared ethnicity.[199] Despite the concepts of "Slav", such scholars argue that it is unclear whether any of the descriptions add to an accurate representation of the group's history. Historians such as George Vernadsky, Florin Curta and Michael Karpovich have questioned how, why and to what degree, the Slavs were a cohesive society between the 6th and the 9th centuries.[196][200] The Austrian historian Walter Pohl wrote, "Apparently ethnicity operated on at least two levels: the 'common Slavic' identity, and the identity of single Slavic groups, tribes, or peoples of different sizes that gradually developed, very often taking their name from the territory they lived in. These regional ethnogeneses inspired by Slavic tradition incorporated considerable remnants of Roman and Germanic population ready enough to give up ethnic identities that had lost their cohesion".[109]



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  27. ^ Underhill, Peter A. (2015), "The phylogenetic and geographic structure of Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a", European Journal of Human Genetics, 23 (1): 124–131, doi:10.1038/ejhg.2014.50, PMC 4266736, PMID 24667786, R1a-M458 exceeds 20% in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Western Belarus. The lineage averages 11–15% across Russia and Ukraine and occurs at 7% or less elsewhere (Figure 2d). Unlike hg R1a-M458, the R1a-M558 clade is also common in the Volga-Uralic populations. R1a-M558 occurs at 10–33% in parts of Russia, exceeds 26% in Poland and Western Belarus, and varies between 10 and 23% in the Ukraine, whereas it drops 10-fold lower in Western Europe. In general, both R1a-M458 and R1a-M558 occur at low but informative frequencies in Balkan populations with known Slavonic heritage.
  28. ^ Pamjav, Horolma; Fehér, Tibor; Németh, Endre; Koppány Csáji, László (2019). Genetika és őstörténet (in Hungarian). Napkút Kiadó. p. 58. ISBN 978-963-263-855-3. Az I2-CTS10228 (köznevén „dinári-kárpáti") alcsoport legkorábbi közös őse 2200 évvel ezelőttre tehető, így esetében nem arról van szó, hogy a mezolit népesség Kelet-Európában ilyen mértékben fennmaradt volna, hanem arról, hogy egy, a mezolit csoportoktól származó szűk család az európai vaskorban sikeresen integrálódott egy olyan társadalomba, amely hamarosan erőteljes demográfiai expanzióba kezdett. Ez is mutatja, hogy nem feltétlenül népek, mintsem családok sikerével, nemzetségek elterjedésével is számolnunk kell, és ezt a jelenlegi etnikai identitással összefüggésbe hozni lehetetlen. A csoport elterjedése alapján valószínűsíthető, hogy a szláv népek migrációjában vett részt, így válva az R1a-t követően a második legdominánsabb csoporttá a mai Kelet-Európában. Nyugat-Európából viszont teljes mértékben hiányzik, kivéve a kora középkorban szláv nyelvet beszélő keletnémet területeket.
  29. ^ Fóthi, E.; Gonzalez, A.; Fehér, T.; et al. (2020), "Genetic analysis of male Hungarian Conquerors: European and Asian paternal lineages of the conquering Hungarian tribes", Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 12 (1), doi:10.1007/s12520-019-00996-0, Based on SNP analysis, the CTS10228 group is 2200 ± 300 years old. The group’s demographic expansion may have begun in Southeast Poland around that time, as carriers of the oldest subgroup are found there today. The group cannot solely be tied to the Slavs, because the proto-Slavic period was later, around 300–500 CE... The SNP-based age of the Eastern European CTS10228 branch is 2200 ± 300 years old. The carriers of the most ancient subgroup live in Southeast Poland, and it is likely that the rapid demographic expansion which brought the marker to other regions in Europe began there. The largest demographic explosion occurred in the Balkans, where the subgroup is dominant in 50.5% of Croatians, 30.1% of Serbs, 31.4% of Montenegrins, and in about 20% of Albanians and Greeks. As a result, this subgroup is often called Dinaric. It is interesting that while it is dominant among modern Balkan peoples, this subgroup has not been present yet during the Roman period, as it is almost absent in Italy as well (see Online Resource 5; ESM_5).
  30. ^ Kushniarevich, Alena; Kassian, Alexei (2020), "Genetics and Slavic languages", in Marc L. Greenberg (ed.), Encyclopedia of Slavic Languages and Linguistics Online, Brill, doi:10.1163/2589-6229_ESLO_COM_032367, retrieved 10 December 2020, The geographic distributions of the major eastern European NRY haplogroups (R1a-Z282, I2a-P37) overlap with the area occupied by the present-day Slavs to a great extent, and it might be tempting to consider both haplogroups as Slavic-specic patrilineal lineages ... Altogether, long genomic segments distribution in eastern Europe, where Slavs predominate today but are not an exclusive linguistic group, are compatible with actual movements of people across this region, presumably within historical time
  31. ^ Jiří Macháček, Robert Nedoma, Petr Dresler. Ilektra Schulz, Elias Lagonik, Stephen M. Johnson, Ludmila Kaňáková, Alena Slámová, Bastien Llamas, Daniel Wegmann, Zuzana Hofmanová, "Runes from Lány (Czech Republic) - The oldest inscription among Slavs. A new standard for multidisciplinary analysis of runic bones", Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 127, March 2021, quote: "At the continental scale, modern Slavic speakers were found to share more haplotypes among each other than with other Europeans. This was initially also interpreted as evidence for a demic expansion (Hellenthal et al., 2014; Ralph and Coop, 2013), but might be equally consistent with low population size (Al-Asadi et al., 2019; Ringbauer et al., 2017). Nevertheless, in some regions, a physical replacement of the population after the Migration Period is more obvious. In Northern Germany (Schleswig-Holstein), for instance, the Angles, Jutes and other Germanic tribes initially inhabiting the region left during the Migration Period (Brugmann, 2011), as confirmed by ancient DNA research for their migration to the British Isles (Schiffels et al., 2016). As confirmed by palaeobotany and archaeology (Wieckowska et al., 2012; Wiethold, 1998), the region remained not or only sparsely occupied for at least 200 years, after which it was settled by various groups. Some of those are connected with Slavs based on archaeological finds and written records of later periods, as well as linguistic (toponomastic) evidence (Herrmann, 1985)."
  32. ^ Mallory & Adams 1997.
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  40. ^ cf. Novotná & Blažek:2007 with references.[full citation needed] "Classical glottochronology" conducted by Czech Slavist M. Čejka in 1974 dates the Balto-Slavic split to 910±340 BC, Sergei Starostin in 1994 dates it to the 1210s BC and "recalibrated glottochronology" conducted by Novotná & Blažek dates it to 1400–1340 BC. That agrees well with Trziniec-Komarov culture, localised from Silesia to Central Ukraine, which is dated to 1500–1200 BC.
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