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ladies and gentlemen welcome to the study of antiquity and the middle ages as always i'm your host nick barksdale and today we are joined by a very special guest some of my
subscribers had told me about a professor that i had to have on my show and so i looked him up his credentials and his area of work and focus is amazing and i
knew we had to have him on this channel and so i reached out he has been so kind and courteous and he has even given us some of his time here today ladies and gentlemen i introduce dr
florin curta dr curta thank you so much for coming on the show today thank you for having me and it's a pleasure i mean i've never used the channel of communication like this so uh bear with me i'll try my best today's
episode is going to be fascinating and it's going to dive into a subject that many of you love including myself and it's not just the history of the slavic peoples
but we're going to go a little bit further back and focus on their origins but before we begin dr kurta for my subscribers who may not be familiar with you and your work
would you tell us a little bit about yourself today so um i have a phd in history from western michigan uni university and two mas one in history from the same university and the other
one in medieval studies from cornell university um i arrived here at the university of florida the campus uh the quad on the campus of which you see right behind me
um in 1999 so i've been teaching here for 20 plus um it's um it has been a uh i mean i i my dissertation was on the
early slugs but it has been a journey in the sense that although i came with certain ideas about research in mind my students challenged me to go way beyond that the first book which was the citation i just mentioned was published
in 2001 under the title uh the making of the slavs and that got the herbert baxter adams prize of the um american historical association in 2003.
i then published a number of books let's say uh on a more broader regional basis uh 2006 south eastern europe um recently 2019
a companion with brill on the whole of eastern europe two volumes i published this year actually although the um the book came out
later last year a sequel so to speak to the first book on the slavs called slavs in the making you see the first book actually got um its focus was more on the
um lower danube region now at the border between romania and balk and bulgaria the further to the north into ukraine and the eastern part of romania the republic of moldova but not not too far to the north so a
lot of the people that actually wrote reviews or talked to me want to know what do i have to say about those uh regions father from the from the danube and father from the raider of the of the byzantine sources early byzantine
sources so the second book which as i said uh was published this year by roblich came out as a response to that as also as a response to critiques about the
the way in which i dealt with the problems of language maybe we're going to have the upward the opportunity to uh discuss more of those issues problem of sources and how how a historian who has to wear many hats
uh can deal with those different kinds of evidence so i i'm a professor of uh medieval history and archaeology at the university of florida i am also the co-editor of two series one at brielle
very successful on um east central and eastern europe in the middle ages 450 to 1450. we just published volume number 75 so it's it's very very successful very
large source it has two purposes number one to actually bring scholars from the region uh who do not necessarily or always write in english to the focus uh to the attention of the
um english-speaking audience either in america or in in england and promote on the same stage a number of young scholars primarily from america who have dealt
with topics related to geographically chronologically with eastern europe in the middle ages the other series of which have been the co-editor is that um milan it's the
uh series as a new trends in the byzantine history so it's actually a a a series focused only on byzantine history whereas the other one is general
for the entire region and to my subscribers before we dive in at the end of this episode don't forget check out the links in the video description below it's going to take you to a variety
of sources to where you can really dive in and take advantage of all the awesome work dr curta has done and what he is currently working on i can't recommend it enough give him all of your support and now
we're gonna go for it when you hear the term slav and especially in reference to late antiquity and the early middle ages based on your knowledge and your research and even your imagination
what comes to your mind actually the word slav as we have it um is a late formation now the earliest uh term that came in the sources is clavin actually in greeks
and slav or slavos is a contraction of that that is attested a little later both first in greek of course and then in latin so uh the first thing that i think of when
i hear this word is the history of the words you know there is what what caused that name to pop up in the sources and when did it and under what circumstances
um there is a very interesting um angle to this problem the naming that is namely that um we don't have any evidence that any particular group of people in other words uh uh
territorially defined precisely right within a certain region at a certain moment in time call themselves by that name linguistically speaking uh the word is clearly not a greek origin at least because that
those two consonants s and l next to each other are very non-greek which is why uh in greek as well as in latin uh between the two consonants there's a c or k as it were
right so sklavenoi uh schlavi right um that's because in greek it would have been almost impossible to pronounce the sla right that's not that's not a sound that sounds from familiar to a greek so that that seems to be a good
indication that the name itself is um when people do this or native origin exactly what it meant in whatever the language from which it was taken it's a huge debate some argue that it
can it came from slavic from a slavic language and it is connected to the word slava glory so those are the glorious ones if you want others claim that in fact the origin is the word slova which means
word so in other words this is the people that speak this language as opposed to the other one there's a there's there's a very interesting theory here namely that um in in slavic language specifically in
the east slavic dialects of the middle ages much later times the speakers of germanic languages specifically germans uh were called nienze which actually means dummies you know there is those are the people
who speak a language you cannot understand a phenomenon very similar to what caused the greeks the ancient greeks to call persians and others barbarians uh varvari actually
means in greek those that mobility you cannot understand what they're saying in other words it's not a language that we people you know we the no not the king group use the problem with this theory um about
names is that actually it's there's no way no no shirt of evidence this is just just just as a credible hypothesis as any other however at much later times right so beginning roughly with the high
middle ages late middle ages and even early modern period certain groups within this vast area in eastern europe uh inhabited by people uh speaking slavic languages took that name and some of them remained
to this day or even were even given to the territories in which those those people live both slovenia and slovakia are called so on the basis of this word a few people know that in the
uh middle ages as late as the 13th century way up in in the north in the northwestern part of present-day russia in the area of the town of novgorod another group slovenes uh leave there so there's a
there's a tendency to see uh the name itself being applied to groups that were right on the boundary between the slavic speaking area and some other area right in other words
an area in which speakers of some other languages lived um in in the case of slovenia and slovakia clearly with the with the germanic or in the case of slovakia with hungarian speakers it's very interesting
in the middle right so let's say in bulgaria in the balkans or in in ukraine uh those are not names that were i mean most of the names that we know from the russian primary chronicles tribes right
have nothing to do with the worst love and in fact the author of the russian primary use of chronicle uses the word as an umbrella term so to to to end up my answer to your question what i think of
uh based on my knowledge and research is equal is an umbrella term not unlike what one might think of the word kels when hearing it that is excellent yeah the whole time you were talking about
that i kept thinking about that exact thing you know we use the term celtic or even you know like native american it encompasses absolutely so many different peoples probably probably the better
even better parallel is what is called today hispanic right in america specifically which is an exonym that means a name given from the outside i don't know if anyone who is called a
hispanic from the outside calling him or herself hispanic on a normal basis because those people among themselves will always be peruvians colombians ecuadorian whatever right in other words they'll tend to go to the identity that is local
if they will take the hispanic identity it will always be in relationship some kind of relationship to the state funding rights you know group identity larger than ecuadorians
or whatever very similar in the case of the slavs it was most likely a name given from the outside probably based on some word or some local name but clearly that went uh out and it was used as an umbrella term for people who
otherwise identified themselves very locally as derevlians or severians or radhimichi or tiversi or you know whatever other tribal names they were there so they were they were slavs from the outside not from the
inside so to speak when it comes to defining slavs from a historical context or even an archaeological one one of my patrons and subscriber alex had asked
how are we able to actually tell let me let me draw a distinction first all right since see there were two angles from which he asked this question he he mentioned historical context archaeological context you can tell from a historical context
to the extent that you have written sources now there there are there are at least two problems right number one uh most of the early sources that we have about the early slabs are not written by
themselves right so you really have to wait quite long depending upon the angle you want to take here uh you can think of the 10th century uh
le tre the royal court in preslav in bulgaria writing under the rule of simeon the great writing as it were translating from greek into orchard slavonic right and as they were writing that they did
mention slavs right they did not they never mentioned it in um they had in mind as a linguistic group in other words to them slavs were those who spoke what we now call orchards right uh or
you can wait for the 12th century 12th century for the last reduction of the russian primary chronicle and there of course the slavs are you know at the beginning and there's even a story it's the only maybe not the only but the first story that we have
about where the slabs came from what's the origin and so on so forth and again it's very interesting that uh the author or the authors i should say of the russian primary chronicle
did not think of the slavs as a unique group they or or initially they thought of it as a as a as a group they then split into different tribes right um so it's very difficult to pinpoint exactly
what specific authors meant by slavs it seems to me if you are um serious about actually looking at the the the primary sources of the region sources it's always a a moving target and there are reasons
for that obviously namely that there is a certain distance between the object described and the author most of those authors do not go in the field to interview people hey are you a slav can you tell me something about yourself there's no such thing
right most of them were writing from the comfort of their of their chairs uh somewhere in constantinople like procopius and giordanes or in a monastery near kiev like uh the authors of the russian primary
economic condition i mentioned to you uh so they would never uh either close either in geographic or in most of the time especially later sources in chronological terms now with archaeology
we run into relating to problem two but of different nature we're running into a theoretical problem regardless of what ethnic group we're talking about here slavs franks celts vikings you name it there is no
such thing no object no pottery no fibula no bracelet made in slavia right so there is no description like that so uh the link between a certain ethnicity and material culture
is always a construct of modern scholars modern archaeologists right to the extent i don't want to discuss right now that it is a valid question some some archaeologists even deny that the ethnicity existed as we know it now in
the middle ages i'm not one of those people right but i i would i would warn a against the quick uh equivalence between any uh objects of material culture and a specific ethnic group that we
nowadays create and most likely people in the past too create ethnic boundaries via material cultures always a function of a certain political context specific circumstances
at the specific moment in time and place so if i may summarize this um the the um definition of slavs will always depend upon the context in other words
i don't i cannot give you an encyclopedia slash dictionary definition slavs means that one two three four right meanings uh there's a multiplicity of meanings precisely because the
word was used in a rather vague way initially and then different authors different moments in time applied it to their specific purposes so you you collect all that information and try to put them
on top of the other there's not much overlap one comes i mean the the tendency ever since the 19th century would say well they all were aware that those people were different because they spoke a different language they recalled slug
the reality is that until the 9th century we have absolutely no idea what was the language that those because people spoke and by the way ultra slavonic is not a language in which somebody would go to the market to buy
bread you know ask for buying a bread or something it's an artificial language created i mean really invented by one man we know the name of that man constantine otherwise known as saints serum right um who
use the most likely that's a theory too use the dialect spoken uh in the hinterland of the city of thessaloniki in northern greece right to create this artificial language into which he translated the liturgical books
uh in order to spread the word of god to people in moravia which is the eastern part of present-day czech republic the same language was then used to uh convert the chris to christianity to the
society in bruce now that itself implies that people in both moravia and ruse understood that language does it mean that their languages their respective language they were
speaking when they were going to the market to buy their bread were similar i would not go there there is no basis for that in other words we don't have any other evidence written of what those languages were so
all inferences based on language are based on material that survives much much much later times so jumping over centuries it's always a pretty risky business no historian is
happy doing that alex had also asked when it comes to the slavs who were they before they were slavs there were no [ __ ] before the slavs in other words it's almost like saying um
where were the americans before they became american all right let me to give you an example and obviously people would say well i mean most of the settlers came from england but with those who embarked in england
already american i i got that right and is is there an equivalent yeah let me let me let me let me explain my parallel here
that there was somebody before the slavs are first mentioned in the religious sources in the same area living there's no doubt right there's no point to and it would be absurd to deny that
but we don't know how those people call themselves attempts have been made and i will show you probably some images earlier on of um attempts are made to actually uh
link the um vanity mentioned by tacitus so you know roman historian or even uh some of the people mentioned by herodotus right so fifth century bc right
to to the slavs to me i mean as a good as a good historian you have to be to exercise your critical skills and examine any hypothesis on the basis of the evidence that is there both tacitus
and herodotus in my opinion had no clue or no no inclination no desire to actually satisfy the um aspirations nationalist aspirations
of people in the 19th century when those claims were made so the only reason for pushing the antiquity of the slavs before the 6th century their first mention in the regional sources is simply because there sounds like a
competition who's the oldest in europe and that very early on was linked to claim to territory and influence in other words to political power but a historian is not supposed to do that
and as a in fact i would go as far as to say like if if a historian's job is any that could be describing a few words is to actually destroy illusions the illusion
of pushing those loves back into history is just like you know as i mentioned i mean there is no point of linking americans to the english men or women who left england
evidently there is a link between the two evidently there were people in as i mentioned that there's no denying but there's no point in believing that the identity that we call slavic came frozen in times fully fledged from
let's say bronze age all the way to the modern age there's no such thing that would be my history change what do we know about where they actually came from originally as you can tell
the maps that one can find on wikipedia or other um avenues you know to would get quick information seem to rely on a theory according to which
the uh homeland of the slavs the area from which they came from as you mentioned earlier on would be along or on both sides of a river shown here on my map here this is the one just underneath the word slabs
on this map is the river pipette which is right at the border between uh present-day ukraine and belarus the northern border of bella of a ukraine um it's just a you know as an
aside this is the area where chernobyl is that's where the accident uh to place which another side means that not too many excavations will take place in that area for like
2 000 years from now if you think of the radioactivity in the india anyway how did we come up with this in other words uh let me explain why this area of all the regions in
europe or in fact eurasia was cho why why was this area chosen as the as the the source of the slavs um if you if you are examining uh closely what's going on
it's not archaeological evidence nor indeed uh written sources because this area was this is the danube right this is where the byzantine empire was just way too far to the north was outside the radar of i doubt that
anybody in constantinople knew about what the pipet river is where it is and who lived there and they most likely didn't care either so what is what is the evidence the
evidence is linguistic it's a it's a long story to be told but for the purpose of of the answer to this question it is uh on the basis of the examination of
modern slavic languages that this epicenter if i may use that word of the slavic language the spread of the slavic languages was chosen now the problem with linguistic evidence
is that it cannot be dated with any degree of accuracy in the absence of written sources in that freeze so to so to speak those linguistic phenomena like
phonetic changes uh new lexiems and so on and so forth so there is no way to tell actually when this happened uh if it needs this was the the the first um the first home end of the slavs
uh on the basis of language alone one cannot tell this is where archaeologists jumped in all right so because they were the their thinking was influenced already by the theories in linguistic
and historical linguistics they started from the premise that it must be here that the first uh uh culture of the slavs and in the sense of archaeological culture of the slavs must be found
and as you can tell the arrows will show how they spread later on into different areas leaving aside the fact that this actually looks more like a staff uh map of the a map of the general staff of an army or you know something
like that than an archaeological thing by the way um a soviet historian nikolai de javin uh did say that that in fact uh those uh those arrows would describe
both the expansion of the red army during and after world war ii and that of the slavs right but going back to what i was saying a very serious examination of the um
evidence that we have will show that in fact the earliest assemblages the earliest signs of material culture right in an area that we know from the written sources
was inhabited by the slavs is here at the danube at the end of the arrow not at the beginning of the era moreover the archaeological assemblages in this area
are earlier by at least 100 years than anything here in the presumed homeland that's contrary to the idea of a migration obviously
right and there are no signs of a big population leaving this area leaving it empty as it were and moving into all those areas on the contrary as we move from the 5th to the 6th to the 7th century this area here
actually increases in population which again is against the model of a migration from the outside so direct answer to your question where were the earliest laws if one is serious about doing this
proper way the nearest slavs are those of the damage here right lower danube right here at the end of the arrow because this is the area where in fact the the early byzantine sources learned about those people did they live
there from the from the very beginning that's one hypothesis did they come from the outside that's another hypothesis you know there was the one that is shown here on the on those maps not only there is no evidence
historically slash archaeologically speaking for the homeland of the of the slavs being here at the border between present-day ukraine and berlus but there is no evidence of migration either now we can make maybe we're going
to have the oppo the opportunity to see there is evidence of raids of the slavs across the danube into the balkans but at every single event like that mentioned in the sources the authors
uh giving us the stories tell us that the slavins went back home meaning in the lands north of the of the lord they did not settle there in order for the earliest evidence of settlement in the balkans to arrive you have to wait
for the first half of the seventh century so 200 years after the presumed migration boy they moved slow if they moved at all so what's the alternative in my second book and i mentioned in the introduction
there i argued that for languages to spread because remember the initial argument that resulted in the location of the homeland here uh was linguistic in its
nature right so returning to that type category of sources the only way to explain the spread of the slavic languages is not migration
let me explain at no point in history and no point on planet earth a group of people moving over large distances like this will preserve intact the language
in their homeland over 300 years remember what i said that the ultra slavonic created artificially by saint syria on the basis of a dialect in the uh hinterland of
thessaloniki here was used to convert the moravians first in the 9th century and then in the 10th century to convert the ruse here right supposedly that
is an indication that the dialects in all this area were the same it's impossible if one starts from the assumption of migration and it's quite clear why because in in the process of
migration the migrants get in touch with other people speaking other languages and they're not blocking themselves they're not isolating themselves they borrow expressions sounds words and so on
i dare you to claim that the english spoken in oklahoma is the same one that is spoken in yorkshire england or in australia right and you you see what i'm saying right so
there is no way so what other mechanisms are for the linguistic spread that explains the modern dis distribution of uh slavic languages which led to the
uh this theory of where it starts uh one of one of the phenomena that has been studied by linguists recently is what is known as koine the term is greek and it refers to a uh
a a phenomenon where languages that are not necessarily different from each other but they are from the same family merge to create a line of communication that actually
enables people from different languages to communicate among each other linguists clearly say that slavic is very close to the baltic languages like lithuania and latvia nowadays right there's also a very strong iranian
influence and finally there's a strong um dacian you know slash thracian origin so summary the intersection of all those languages
probably a little further south from the prepared region here here's where the slavic language may have come into being but that's not slavic people you see it
it's quite possible that the language spreads without people moving my patron alex lindgren had also asked how did slavic culture and even language
come to spread across eastern europe the slavic what archaeologists call slavic cultures did not actually spread much there has been a tendency to see a slavic culture defined by
specific elements found in archaeological assemblages some have gone for a typical house usually sunken into the floor by about 50 cent centimeters for purposes of insulation
it's warmer it's easier to warm out in the winter and it's obviously cooler in the summer right so those people lived underground so to speak but for the purpose of living well um and you know a lot of people jumped and said well see how
you can find this type of car of houses only in eastern europe in the areas that uh are known to have been inhabited by the slavs actually that's not true um anglo-saxon archaeologists discovered uh
uh in england a number of uh they're called sunken feature buildings that's the technical for it um at mocking for example a well-known and published settlement i i doubt that there were any slabs
living in the area there so it's it's a feature that is not ethnically specific that's what i mean others jump to saying well uh ugly handmade pottery with no decoration whatsoever
the so-called prague type so-called because the first the first uh discoveries were made in the in the in in outskirts of the city of prague in the in at that time czechoslovakia and were
published by a czech archaeologist of ukrainian origin it won borkowski during the war kis is the first book to have made that claim that the specific type of pottery is ethnically
uh attributable to the slops the problem of course is that handmade pottery is not made with the purpose of mine to send a signal hey i'm slav it's made with the purpose of actually
doing some practical stuff holding the milk cooking the soup whatever right and needless to say the proportions and size of all those uh pots were were found in other cultures as well
uh now um the the uh the culture then itself is not specific to only one side in other words clearly there are similarities between sites that the distance from each other within an
area let's say of the size of uh probably half of the state of florida that's that those are modes of thinking that archaeologists in america use using the same way right [Music]
what what is what is the area of the timokuan culture in north central florida right so you can delineate it by mapping on putting on a map all the fines known so far and you sort of draw the line between let me see
this is the area of the team of the timoths it's hard to believe that people that actually share the same material culture actually are of the same ethnic identity for the reasons i mentioned earlier on right so once again my material culture
could spread to people who are not necessarily of the same ethnic but not even speaking the same language right nike shoes are in many places on this planet right they're not
inhabited by people who speak english much less being american right so uh the the the connection between the two is different now with language however this language linguistic spread the issues are a lot
more complicated right one of the phenomena that the linguists have pointed to is the so-called lingua franca that's a phenomenon specific to the middle ages when a number of uh
italian merchants in the city states like general venice and so on that got in touch around the mediterranean sea with groups of people with whom they were trading speaking other languages created a language like snehiro so to speak
which was not italian was not arabic was not this was not that it had a basis as a basis of sort of like a foundation of a romance language italian or something like that but it had so many added features that in fact it was a completely
novel language and it helped community communication for the purpose of trade right um i don't think that's the case with slavic what i explained to you earlier on is rather koine you see it's not something that was
imposed from the outside for the purpose of trade clearly slavi did not come into the area where trade would have been big on the country was rather remote nor was it imposed by an empire or an
economic or an economic power that wanted to rule or govern the area one could make the case however that the koine once formed let's let's play we don't know for sure those
are those those are my ideas my not my hypothesis they were proposed by others but i adopted them but just as good as yours or anybody else's let's say coin was already formed the slavic coin was reformed by 500
right within a a century after that the area that we're talking about here is dominated by a great political power that of the others we're not speaker of slavic right however move another 200 years
later 800 around 800 there is evidence that the others speak slavic does it mean that they have adopted the koine in the same way or probably the koinet had now become
within the avocado a lingua franca like described earlier on there are arguments in favor of both ideas but you can see how we moved away from the model of linguistics spread by means of people
moving we're talking here about political economic and social ways by which a language spreads and as we leave off finding out that very interesting
information on the avar speaking slavic that leads me to ask my next question alex had also asked when it comes to the slavic peoples and slavic culture was it influenced by anyone around them
there is no culture or any people that lives in isolation and definitely this is the case with the slavs as well the earliest influences that we know of even before we can begin to play
with even before we have the first written sources so begin to actually try to figure out okay they place the slots here what material culture has been found in the area can we attribute it to the solids
before even doing that there are clear evidence in the language right or in the languages should i say of multiple inferences i mentioned already a very strong i don't know if it's called an influences did some some
history some linguists who believe that it was actually a single language balto slavic that's split into two baltic on one hand and slavic on the other there's very very strong connection there very strong connection
um there is some there is some germanic influence right uh even the name of the danube in slavic is of germanic origin i mean the slavs learn about the name of the river from the
from speakers of a germanic language there are very strong influences iranian right from iranian languages you know exactly who i mean say iran i don't mean persians
necessary could be a population in the plants such as the sarnations for example we know spoken language um there is there is some influence from turkic languages
probably from the others or hanzo i mean it it's very difficult to pinpoint where those influences came from in specific people that's what i mean and also to date them at what point in time they came in but um it's very interesting uh
there's a there's a very uh new i should say trend in linguistics right now it's called contact linguistic what happens when two languages come in contact with each other and the tendency has been to actually look at what words were borrowed in what
language right so just draw lists of words but the contact situation is could be a lot more interesting from a social point of view hence the new discipline in linguistic
social linguistic think for example of spanglish in america right which is usually perceived from the outside by speakers of english only as a sort of like a weird phenomenon some would go as far as
to say that the speakers of spanglish do not know proper english nothing could be further from truth in fact those are speakers of two languages which map
structures from one language onto the other to create often an almost secret language to communicate only within the group so that outsiders will not understand what they're saying you recognize some words in english
but the rest of them is gibberish you don't have a clue right so uh in many respects i think that's exactly what happened with slavic borrowing words from one language to adapt them to slavic
with maybe not different different meanings but for different circum circumstances it has been shown for example that uh the contact with germanic uh seems to indicate uh very heavy
lexical borrowings so of all the areas of the language the slavs took from the germanic the speakers from germanic words there is evidence of contact i forgot to mention these disabilities of contact
between slavic and romans languages more exactly the romance language is spoken in the area of the lower danube the ancestors were presently romanian okay the influence there
is grammatical morphological not so many words structures right you know the way you you construct the phrase the cases of the nouns and and you know things like that
that would imply a very close connection and you know contexts and on an equal basis but very close quarters think of getting your wife from one group and marrying to the other that kind of stuff
whereas the lexical borrowings from germanic imply a contact that was uh socially inferior superior right exactly how that
played out in history i don't know your imagination is just as good as mine but linguists say that when only lexines are borrowed that's uh that's an indication of the language from which they are borrowed
is the language of the people who are the masters so they're socially and politically superior right um so that the the you know the only the languages will tell you that
there are a number of issues there now in material culture plenty of evidence right um very interesting although the sources tell us that the slavs
usually fought on foot right in the area where the slavs are placed by the written sources there are quite a bit of indications that they raised horses and they probably fought on horseback um
where could that influence come from step people most likely others um there is in fact a clear source uh 7th century uh chronicle attributed because we don't
know the real name of the author in the 19th i think in the 19th century the author was called fredegar but that's not his real name right the chronicle of frederick is put in this way written from a frankish perspective in latin
that tells a story about how the others uh you know spend the winter in slavic villages sleeping with the wives and the daughters of the slavs right in other words clearly in a
situation of abuse you know the others are the masters the slavs are the inferior socially inferior there you know they they cannot actually defend themselves for their sexual abuse right and actually the
source says that the slavs are uh subjected to other uh dues they pay tribute to the hours right and they are called before which actually means that in a situation of battle the others would push them in the front
line to be the sort of like a cannon fodder here we have a clear situation like the one i i i told you now the question is it's there's no evidence in the text i mentioned to you but one would wonder what was the
language in which the others spoke with those slavic women with which with whom they slept you said i'm saying i doubt that the slavic women learned of our language and it's a possibility therefore that the influences
were both ways not just one in other words there is evidence of slavic influence upon germanic languages and definitely there is influence of slavic uh languages upon romans languages romanian is full of
slavic words and in a situation in which uh as i mentioned to you borrowings from one language to the other are adapted to the needs romanians for example did very funny things with slavic laws
for example uh the word for science in russian there is a similar word in romanian no that actually means dummy i guess that's how you get when you study too much
science that's interesting man that would suck dude like you get your uh your hand your family is basically abused you can't do anything about it and then on top of that they make you the cannon fodder of their
army fredegar tells us that they they they rose in rebellion and they defeated the others and created the state that's called the state of samoa the first known state in history slavic non-state in history
the strait i told you was the explanation of why they rose in rebellion and more successful and so so when it comes to all people civilizations cultures everyone loves an origin story that
explains a lot of times often mythically where they came from and so alex and many others had actually asked when i was polling for questions did they have their own origin stories
and if so can you tell us a little bit about what they were the only the the earliest text in orchestra that we have had no such story let's put it this way so uh
the stuff created in the 9th century second half for last third of the 9th century and the 10th century in bulgaria using that language although slavonic invented by constantino no such story as i mentioned
to you the word is mentioned there only as a group of people speaking able to speak this language also slowly uh to express their devotion to god okay
that was just said is an explanation for why there is no origin story early on because the emphasis was on the language therefore it didn't matter where you come from to the extent that you speak the language and you could be an avar for example
that you speak slavic and you receive christianity via that that makes you slap all right so what the origin of the group such as speakers of the language is is obviously
irrelevant here if you look for that specific uh origin story then the first one that we have is in the russian primary chronicle right now what that is is i mean it would be a gross mistake to
call it a genuine sugarcoaxy kind of stuff that the slavs invented because you just read it and you realize that in fact what the author or authors did was to link the slabs to biblical
history they are the descendants of jaffet and they are placed in human history coming down like all the other peoples from the tower of babel and spread of languages and so forth right
and the purpose of the author of uh or the authors of uh those the first part of the russian primary chronicle was not so much to focus on the slavs but to explain why you know coming from this biblical
history they were unable to govern themselves because the purpose of the author was to say look they they got so bad they could not work together there with their neighbors
right with the truths and the others that they had to invite the varangians in vikings and the the purpose of the author is to actually explain why the vikings became the rulers of
those people and eventually changed their language and changed their ways to become slavic that in itself is an origin story but not for the slavs for the rus if you look for other slavic people for example
uh in poland right uh there is no origin story for that there is no there is an origin story for the dynasty ps dynasty they ruled in the middle ages right uh according to an anonym again we don't know who the author was
conventionally known as galossan on he was wrote in the early 12th century but the same time a little later than the uh last version last reduction of the russian primary chronicle uh piast was a peasant who received some
guests that could not get hospitality at the local duke's house so they came into into the peasant house which is sure i don't have much but sit on the table so there's a desire to actually explain the origin of the dynasty not of the
people uh bohemia cosmos of prague again 12th century he again explains the origin of the dynasty the jimmy slits je muslim was a plowman once again uh
modest origin like in poland not no no origin stories in bulgaria no origin stories in serbia and i could go on and on as many of my subscribers know one of my channel favorite topics usually involves
dna and how it helps explain a little bit about the past usually we focus on the ancient world but this one may be a little bit later and so i was wondering in the world of dna studies
has it told us anything about them there has been breakthroughs in the discussion of migrations right not so much with dna analysis as with other forms of
what's called molecular anthropology such as strontium or oxygen isotope analysis on the teeth that you know very simply could tell what
where you drinking water as a kid right and therefore because as a kid you grew up in that area where you came from okay with the groups of population discovered by archaeologists right
that they or others call slavs there are problems one of which is that the dominant uh burial right throughout the early middle ages before christianization before
conversion to christianity was cremation not in emotion dna analysis on cremated remains is not impossible but it's only now that it's very difficult because of the
high temperatures or the messing up all in some sort right needless to say there are problems of contamination for in in cremation that are you know so for the procedural modes are much more complicated issues that's one
two um even four cases other than the slops right where um where uh dna has been used there are two ways to do it
okay um and i'm not i don't know whether you know you insisted upon this because it's a very important thing to understand what the analysis can do and how it works one can compare dna from a modern
population of say bosnia right two uh dna extracted from skeletal materials from a cemetery dated supposedly to the i don't know 10th century elements in the middle ages
okay so compare the dna of a medieval population with the dna of a modern population look if they match wow i mean if if the cemetery happens to be somewhere else let's say in poland the match would mean
that there's a migration or you know something like that if there's none you know you know any interpretation is possible that's one way to do it modern too old okay much more interesting i would say at
least for me way to do it is to compare dna from two old populations cemetery a and cemetery b or even within the same cemetery between individuals buried in different parts of the cemetery
okay the latter away is is very useful because it creates a map of the population in other words unfortunately not that many samples exist for the moment now there's no way
to map the old population within a single chronological segment say the middle ages much less at the the scale of a single century i wish we were there because that would
be very interesting stuff because let me put it this way it will show not necessarily where people come from but what their marital strategies were
there's been a phenomenal book published on a subject completely different from what we talked about here history of florida where i'm based right you probably know that the
native american tribe in florida the the american neighborhood is the seminoles who did not exist as a tribe before contact with the whites okay so the native population of florida at
the moment of contact with the spaniards it's wiped out not by war but by the diseases that the europeans have brought long story short there's a gap of population a demographic collapse florida especially the northern and
central parts were empty of any population around the year 1600s that's when small groups of people moved from southern georgia right usually from i mean linguistically speaking linked to
groups of cree right but mixed up with runaway slaves hence the black seminoles right and and all sorts of other groups right those are isolated one group here one group there and so forth now nobody marries within the
same group for obvious reasons so you need a wife from elsewhere right now most people think that marrying marrying is dictated by um
the language the uh customs the culture in other words you take your wife who is similar to you in culturally speaking as a matter of fact chris stojanowski wrote this book we did a phenomenal
study both archaeology and molecular anthropology came to the conclusion that as a matter of fact it is marriages that created a seminal identity it is by marrying
to outside groups that those groups small groups began to coalesce and formed what we know nowadays as the seminoles now that is where i wish like i could give you an answer about
this laws but we are not there the reason we're not there is that because there is a there is a there's an obsession with comparing modern to old dna and that to me
is a fundamental mistake it may be fashionable it it gets five minutes of attention on tv it gets ancestry.com that kind of stuff right
but uh it is based on a wrong assumption there is no ethnic dna there is no slavic dna frankish dna romanian and so there is no such thing ethnicity is a cultural thing not a biological
thing right moreover if you compare a modern to an old ancient medieval dna you're denying a history of a lot of mixing
could have happened now clearly as i mentioned earlier on if uh the symmetry the modern population dna does not match or matches the sorry matches the dna of the popular old
medieval population saying at a remote location there the immediate thing is oh migration but there is no way to tell when that migration happened remember what i said about linguistic facts they cannot be dated in the absence of written sources the same
happens to haplogroups there is no date on the habits the the only dating if you read the literature you will see that most of the authors trying to put those things in a chronological order
when when they come to a time to a timeline they usually use sources from the outside not from internally they say okay this must have happened when procopius was saying such and such or when the material culture
archaeological culture such and such spread in the territory in other words they they bring outside evidence to mix with this to explain their own their own facts they cannot date those things by themselves and in themselves
and without that you there is no trust i cannot trust information that is made up in this way if you know what i'm saying and now let's talk outside sources when it comes to people who would have seen these people or
heard of them at least whether they be byzantine or frankish latin whoever what did they have to say about the slavic peoples very good question
uh the earliest uh author to write about them is pro copious of caesarea uh in the mid 6th century right um there are others who claim that
jordanis is the first other that uh pseudo uh uh cesarios in a dialogue but you know chronologically speaking pro corpus is the first what was he interested in
warfare he wanted to understand them as fighters because they caused problems to the empire but he like many educated byzantines at that time believed
that the customs the way people behave laws and so forth was determined by the climb climate we'll say nowadays under which you leave he thought that the world was divided into
slices right called climbs that's the theory of climbs tell me under what climb you leave and i'm going to tell you uh i'm going to predict what kind of culture and what kind of behavior you have that's why the byzantines were scornful
towards people from the north because they thought they were coming from an area that did not have much sun so therefore their brains were mushy they were very violent they were very brave but they were stupid they could not understand much that's what the
business thought and that's why they also they also left the area because being stupid and not having much to do in the cold there they they they have sex and they they bred and you know lots of people overpopulation you gotta get out that's
the theory that giordano's pro corpus contemporary used to explain the migration of the gods right so the slavs were the slums were in a similar package so to speak
because most businesses were not interested in specificity of those people they're they're all the same you know all they're coming from the same area because they looked look at them with that sense of superiority the civilized man the educated man
towards the end of the sixth century we have a better example of this in a treatise uh written again we don't know the author uh the title of the it's it's a manual it's a manual called strategy
uh in which in greek it's translated loosely military manual it's a manual for uh officers high-ranking officers in the byzantine army how to fight with different groups of people
and there's a substantial chapter on the slavs very interesting most likely based on observations of somebody who had been in emperor morris's armies that crossed the danube and waged war within slavic territories
right there because it's full of details that it for us is fantastic for example he says those people are not hungry they have plenty of food which they store underground their wives sacrifice
themselves of their husband's death satie like in india they are you know when it when they take prisoners they're not treating them badly so don't don't be afraid you know some of those prisoners even
decide to stay among them that's how nice they are treated as prisoners there so all those snippets of information they give us there clearly all the examples that i gave you are from the point of view of a military
man i want to know about the enemy details that will help me defeat him right so there is no those sources cannot answer questions such as what was the language disposal
absolutely no interest in that were they related uh by customs or culture to other people no interest in that absolutely there is a classification that the byzantine authors made the slavs are not
like the franks why because to to the to the byzantine mind the franks are fighting in a certain way and by the way the franks and the slavs are not like the others the others are different
too why because they fight on horseback right so different ways to approach this from a military point of view it is only late very late that you see an interest in the slavs
as a linguistic group it's only late that you see when i say late after the 10th century 12 13 14th century sources begin to actually give us detail about language differences between czechs and poles
russians ukrainians much much later and so on so forth but in the early times no i'm going to ask an additional follow-up question right now so we've covered you know especially how the byzantines saw them
were there any similar views even if just combat that was expressed by let's say sources in western europe yeah i mentioned frederick earlier on um in the process of so remember the
slavs revolted against the others right he actually calls the uh the sons born out of the sex that the others had with the slavic women he calls them wends not slavs
and that seems to have been the the way in which to this day uh in germany uh in certain areas in austria in dialect that's the way to call the slavic neighbors vendish
right wentz and he says that those ones were extremely good military speaking so much so that king dagobah king of the franks sent an army against samo their ruler and was beaten so again he wants to
explain how was that possible unlike pro copious and starting manual there are no details about wives and things like that it's mostly about samoa right about the ruler in other words the franks tend
to attribute any merits not to the population but to the head to the king to the ruler to the chieftain early sources in latin writing about the slavs are also some of the letters written by pope
gregory the great around year 600 and those are snippets in correspondence between him as a pope and other bishops right and he says oh by the way i heard that the slavs invaded such and such so those are not
clearly no information then again from a military point of view but mostly in terms of move away they're coming that kind of stuff finally uh there is uh evidence in later centuries right
of an interest in the slavs we have to wait for the ninth century for a catalogue of slavic tribes with a number of towns meaning fortresses a catalogue that was probably drafted involved in bavaria
in the 9th century there's also like an area to for future expansion right so if we go into area x how many how many tribes do we do we expect to see there five and how
many fortresses now there's how many fortresses we have to besiege conquer and so forth but that again is nine centuries very late in many cases many throughout history culture society civilizations
are usually very spiritual religiously connected what do we know about the religions of the slavic peoples before christianity excellent question we know a bit
but again those informations are problematic pro procopius mentioned that they have a god of the of the thunder right to whom they sacrifice cattle um they also worship
divinities of the waters like you know spirits of the waters your lakes and rivers and things like that um the problem with that uh it's not much information but the problem with that is that it looks suspiciously like
a an attempt to map onto the slavs a mode of thinking that is basically greek in other words he thinks of the slavs oh they have a god like the ancient greeks
right zeus the god of the thunder he does not see the slavic religion as it is he translates it so to speak for his audience who cannot understand what the slavs are doing unless you explain them in the
terms of the books that they read right which are about ancient greece very similar phenomenon later much later on in the 10th and 11th century in the northern part of europe in the area of present-day northern
germany and poland where there is a an attempt by the uh saxon uh expansion german right holy german empire moving eastwards right to convert those people all of whom spoke slavic and we have some very
interesting accounts tomorrow uh uh helmholtz of bozo uh a number of other other all of whom when
they described for example a temple which certainly existed on the island of rugen of the german coast in the baltic sea they describe it in the terms of a greek ancient greek temple
what can you do with that information i mean not much right now from an archaeological point of view we know however a few things for example there is clear evidence there's a very good book coming out of kiev of all places on magic
in early slavic religion which is based exclusively on on archaeology right uh under the hearth under the uh oven of any house there's a little pot
with some seeds inside always millet always minute right um there is a an animal or two under the foundation or not foundation so no foundation right underneath so the before you
dig up the whole the pit for the house there's another pit underneath one of the walls where an animal is this skeleton of a little animal is deposed there so there may be a sacrificial of some kind um you know and as
you know on a number of sites there are small statues made of clay some of them in the form of an animal like a cow or a horse some of them in the form of humans that were found
what exactly their role is we don't know there are a number of hordes that have been found especially in the middle uh the upper area are presented in ukraine south and north of kiev on both sides of the you know
uh left bank and right banking ukraine uh that contain uh small plaques made of metal in the form of dancing man right so these men you know with their hands up like this and you know with this leg
spread probably dancing what is the significance of that it's difficult to tell in other words the evidence uh that we have the one not the written one which has problems
but the evidence seems to point out to i guess the word that i would use here is animistic right so in other words there are spirits everywhere there's no systematized religion don't think of it as a
like christianity with the central god with institutions priests and so on and so forth the earliest we hear about slavic priests in the pre-christian era is the 10th century so it's late
and it's most likely as a reaction to what they were so they were seeing in christianity another imitating that right not genuinely such and as we approach the end of this episode i want to talk about legacy
from the time that they appear and they create their societies they stratify so on and so forth what legacy do they create that'll stretch on from the middle ages
even to today the most important one is the language and let me explain it's not just the surviving slavic languages that thing that constantine serial
central did in the 860s in the in the 60s of the 9th century was an enormously influential thing uh because it created a language not
only for those people to express their devotion to god liturgical books and whatnot but it created a premise for a for an original an absolute extraordinary different
culture of europe so uh in the middle ages uh from a cultural point of view uh those people express themselves not just in a different language but express ideas that's very specific
there is no parallel for example for harabras uh on the ladders and treaties on defending the glycolytic alphabet you don't you don't get any any anybody writing a defense of the
latin alphabet in the west similarly you don't get a sermon on law and grace in which i guess you get a number of sermons on contrasting the new the old to the new testament and
grace but you know in the process of doing that future metropolitan of kiev hilarion plays the ruse in history right so he used that to sort of create the path for the ruse to enter
biblical history i already mentioned the authors of the russian primary chronicle doing exactly the same to place the slavs in history so all in all this actually created an extraordinary um extraordinary rich
and diverse environment right um i mentioned glad golitic the alphabet that kharabra defended in the 10th century with his on the letters that alphabet survived well into the
16th century in croatia of all places there is a croatian glagolitism now croatians were catholic and they had to fight for the preservation of the of the right to preserve that language
to to serve in the church and to write that language with that alphabet when pope of the pope of the pope uh forbade them to do so and in the era
of uh rise to nationalism in the 19th century that played an enormous role to them uh defining themselves as a star um in bulgaria for example uh the
uh the this extraordinary effort of translations in the 10th century took place at the royal court of press lab on the cement and the use of bulgaria of ultra slavonic for expressing a number of fight of ideas
fertilized generation after in others at every single moment in the history of literature and general culture in bulgaria they look back at the 10th century as a sort of like a point of view of inspiration of to where to go from um
there is even music in those bands in those in those countries that actually you know model their music so to speak or use themes inspired by the middle ages uh especially this creation of slavic of
slavic culture um in the catholic countries that you used in the slavic catholic countries that used the landing alpha pollen bohemia croatia i already mentioned but in
poland for example one of the most interesting aspect you mentioned legacy right one of the most interesting aspects of this is the uh the uh the fact that christianity
actually won in poland so late like even by the 13th century parts of poland especially the northeast were not christianized yet right so in the 19th century um
any effort to rediscover an identity that was national meant at the same time trying to see what's underneath the catholic layer what's underneath the uh because christianity overlapped was superposed over something
that apparently survived um in bohemia right the uh the the story of jerusalem the plowman and so forth is perceived as a purely uh uh should i say slavic stuff
and you know that created the mindset right we slabs are not aristocrats and so we're down to earth people plumbing you know in other words it's it's it created a mindset the model of of casting yourself
in the world socially speaking as somebody who actually has modest roots but can accomplish extraordinary feats ladies and gentlemen thank you for joining us tonight at the study of antiquity in the middle ages as we were
joined by a phenomenal guest dr curtis who led us through a wonderful story spanning hundreds of years and it's fascinating i cannot thank him
enough and honestly again check out the links in the video description below support his work and really take advantage of the awesome mind that he has that helps me and you better
understand the subjects that we all love dr kurta thank you so much for coming on the show today thank you for having me it was a [Music]
pleasure you
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