Archaeology and Ethnos: methodological aspects of the reconstruction of Slavic ethnogenesis

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Kostiantyn Ivangorodsky


Abstract. Introduction. Contemporary historiography in Eastern Europe is still held captive by a significant number of historical myths. One of them is as if the real existence from the Bronze Age of the so-called «ethnos of Slavs». In the article are analyzed the methodological aspects of the Slavic ethnogenesis reconstruction proposed by contemporary archaeologists within post-Soviet historiography.

Purpose. One factor in the extension of the Soviet scientific tradition today is the reluctance of a large part of scholars to rethink the methodological and theoretical foundations of such ethnohistorical reconstructions. We are trying to show this inertia of archeologists in today’s futile attempts to reconstruct the «ethnogenesis of Slavs».

Results. It has been determined the weak level of modern understanding by archeologists of the phenomenon of polydisciplinarity and impossibility to applicate the integrated approach in the field of Slavs ethnogenesis at the present stage. It has been described the incorrectness of the methods in archaeological study in modern Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian historiography. It is noted that archaeological culture never reflects the ethnic identity of fossil antiquities in a wide range. Thatїs why, the verification of the ethnohistorical past by means of archaeological materials and techniques is inaccurate and most likely wrong. The methodological arsenal of archaeology is quite vulnerable and cannot give clear, consistent conclusions about the ethnic identity of the members of particular archaeological cultures.

The greatest theoretical problem of archeology is the still unexplained correlation of concepts and phenomena such as «archeological culture» and «ethnos». Attempts to impose an archeological culture on a particular ethnic group are also unjustified. The methodological problem remains the disregarding of living culture specifics by archaeologists (so-called «ethnoarchaeology»). The attitude towards this feature of contemporary East-Slavic historiographies by Western experts and archeologists has also been analysed. Their concepts can significantly improve the heuristic possibilities of Eastern European historiographies in exploring the ethnic past Eastern Slavs communities.

Conclusion. Contemporary archeology should change its attitude to methodological and theoretical orientations as soon as possible, in particular in an interdisciplinary format.

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