Ethnic interpretations of «Slavic» archaeological cultures in modern belarusian historiography

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Kostiantyn Ivangorodsky


Introduction. Modern Belarusian researchers analyze the problem of ancient Slavs, primarily as a component of Belarusian ethnogenesis. At the same time, the conceptual and terminological uncertainty of the ethnic content and essence of the «Slavs» concept is still present in such Belarusian specialists’ studios. This situation forces some authors to deny the Belarusian ethnic group Slavic identity and to construct the Baltic ethnicity for them. Most researchers consider the problem of settling the Slavs in the Belarusian territories more considerably. There is a rather broad chronological range of this process from the Bronze Age till the 10 century AD.

The purpose of this article is to analyze ethnic interpretations of several archaeological cultures in the first half of the 1st millennium AD. Concepts are controversial in the research space of contemporary Belarusian historiography. Archeological cultures are defined by specialists and as Slavic, Baltic, and as symbiotic communities, which specifics have already defined the modern Belarusian ethnic identity in the future.

Results. We are talking about the archaeological cultures such as Zarubyntsi, Postzarubinetska, Kolochyn, Bantserovshchyna-Tushemlya, Kyiv and Prague. Only the Prague culture population is clearly defined as purely Slavic by all researchers. Other cultures in the middle 1st millennium on the Belarus territory, in particular Kolochyn and Bantserovshchyna-Tushemlya, have three variants of ethnic interpretation – Slavic, Baltic, Balto-Slavic. It is complicated to define the «ethnic identity» of earlier cultures of the region – Mylograd, Zarubyntsi, Postzarubinetska, Kyiv, Penkiv.

Most of archaeological monuments on the Belarus territory, related to «Slavic question», is still at the initial stage of studying. In Belarusian historiography is still present the inertia to connect all the monuments from the 1st millennium with the Slavic ethnos. The insufficiency of a particular material is often replaced by artificial ethno-historical constructions. The most problematic component in this perspective is no linguistic provenness of relation to the Slavic archeological cultures. Ethnic interpretations of the «Slavic» archaeological cultures in modern Belarus historiography are presented by such scholars as E. Zagarulsky, A. Medvedev, L. Pobol, S. Rassadin, V. Viarhei, G. Shtykhow, A. Egoreychenko, O. Levko, V. Belyavets, O. Makushnikov and others concepts.

Conclusion. Thus has developed the rather difficult situation in regard to the ethnic interpretation of most archeological cultures that took place in the territory of Belarus during the first half of the 1st millennium AD. Some of them are estimated by archaeologists exclusively monoethnically – purely Slavic or Baltic. But some of these interpretations make us to see in such antiquities forms of the Balto-Slavic ethnocultural (sometimes only ethnically) symbiosis, which have created the Belarusian ethnic specificity at the level of modern ethnos.

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