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Geto-Dacians Vlachs and Sclavini

 The Making of the Slavs:
History and Archaeology of the Lower Danube

Region, c. 500-700, by Florin Curta
 Cambridge University Press

This book offers a new approach to the problem of Slavic ethnicity in southeasternThe Making of the Slavs Europe between c. 500 and c. 700, from the perspective of current anthropological theories.

The conceptual emphasis here is on the relation between material culture and ethnicity. The author demonstrates that the history of the Sclavenes and the Antes begins only at around AD 500. He also points to the significance of the archaeological evidence, which suggests that specific artifacts may have been used as identity markers. This evidence also indicates the role of local leaders in building group boundaries and in leading successful raids across the Danube. The names of many powerful leaders appear in written sources, some being styled “kings.” Because of these military and political developments, Byzantine authors began employing names such as Sclavenes and Antes in order to make sense of the process of group identification that was taking place north of the Danube frontier. Slavic ethnicity is therefore shown to be a Byzantine invention.

Florin Curta is Assistant Professor of Medieval History, University of Florida 


 Text at: -


To many, Eastern Europe is nearly synonymous with Slavic Europe.
The equation is certainly not new. To Hegel, the “East of Europe” was the house of the “great Sclavonic nation,” a body of peoples which “has not appeared as an independent element in the series of phases that Reason has assumed in the World”.

1 If necessary, Europe may be divided into western and eastern zones along a number of lines, according to numerous criteria. Historians, however, often work with more than one set of criteria. The debate about the nature of Eastern Europe sprang up in Western historiography in the days of the Cold War, but despite Oskar Halecki’s efforts explicitly to address the question of a specific chronology and history of Eastern Europe, many preferred to write the history of Slavic Europe, rather than that of Eastern Europe.

2 Today, scholarly interest in Eastern Europe focuses especially on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the period of nationalism.
The medieval history of the area is given comparatively less attention, which often amounts to slightly more than total neglect.
For most students in medieval studies, Eastern Europe is marginal and East European topics simply exotica. One reason for this historiographical reticence may be the uneasiness to treat the medieval history of the Slavs as (Western) European history.  Like Settembrini, the Italian humanist of Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain, many still point to the ambiguity of those Slavs, whom the eighteenth- century philosophers already viewed as “Oriental” barbarians.

3 When Slavs come up in works on the medieval history of Europe, they are usually the marginalized, the victims, or the stubborn pagans.
In a recent and brilliant book on the “making of Europe,” the Slavs, like the Irish, appear only as the object of conquest and colonization, which shaped medieval Europe. Like many others in more recent times, the episodic role of the Slavs in the history of Europe is restricted to that of victims of the “occid- entation,” the shift towards the ways and norms of Romano-Germanic civilization.

4 The conceptual division of Europe leaves the Slavs out of the main “core” of European history, though not too far from its advancing frontiers of “progress” and “civilization.” Who were those enigmatic Slavs?
What made them so difficult to represent by the traditional means of Western historiography? If Europe itself was “made” by its conquerors and settlers, who made the Slavs? What were the historical conditions in which this ethnic name was first used and for what purpose?
How was a Slavic ethnicity formed and under what circumstances did the Slavs come into being?
Above all, this book aims to answer some of these questions.
What binds together its many individual arguments is an attempt to explore the nature and construction of the Slavic ethnic identity in the light of the current anthropolog- ical research on ethnicity.
Two kinds of sources are considered for this approach: written and archaeological. This book is in fact a combined product of archaeological experience, mostly gained during field work in Romania, Moldova, Hungary, and Germany, and work with written sources, particularly with those in Greek. I have conducted exhaustive research on most of the topics surveyed in those chapters which deal with the archaeological evidence. Field work in Sighisoara (1986-91) and Tâ rgsor (1986-88) greatly contributed to the stance taken in this book. A study on the Romanian archaeological literature on the subject and two studies of “Slavic” bow fibulae were published separately.

5 A third line of research grew out of a project developed for the American Numismatic Society Summer Seminar in New York (1995).

6 With this variety of sources, I was able to observe the history of the area during the sixth and seventh centuries from a diversity of viewpoints.
Defining this area proved, however, more difficult. Instead of the traditional approach, that of opposing the barbarian Slavs to the civilization of the early Byzantine Empire, I preferred to look at the Danube limes as a complex interface.

Understanding transformation on the Danube frontier required under- standing of almost everything happening both north and south of that frontier.
Geographically, the scope of inquiry is limited to the area comprised between the Carpathian basin, to the west, and the Middle Dnieper region, to the east. To the south, the entire Balkan peninsula is taken into consideration in the discussion of the sixth-century Danube limes and of the Slavic migration. The northern limit was the most difficult to establish, because of both the lack of written sources and a very complicated network of dissemination of “Slavic” brooch patterns, which required familiarity with the archaeological material of sixth- and seventh-century cemeteries in Mazuria. The lens of my research, however, was set both south and east of the Carpathian mountains, in the Lower Danube region, an area now divided between Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine.
My intention with this book is to fashion a plausible synthesis out of quite heterogeneous materials.
Its conclusion is in sharp contradiction with most other works on this topic and may appear therefore as argu- mentative, if not outright revisionist.

Instead of a great flood of Slavs coming out of the Pripet marshes, I envisage a form of group identity, which could arguably be called ethnicity and emerged in response to Justinian’s implementation of a building project on the Danube frontier and in the Balkans.
The Slavs, in other words, did not come from the north, but became Slavs only in contact with the Roman frontier.

Contemporary sources mentioning Sclavenes and Antes, probably in an attempt to make sense of the process of group identification taking place north of the Danube limes, stressed the role of “kings” and chiefs, which may have played an important role in this process.
The first chapter presents the Forschungsstand.
The historiography of the subject is vast and its survey shows why and how a particular approach to the history of the early Slavs was favored by linguistically minded his- torians and archaeologists.
This chapter also explores the impact on the historical research of the “politics of culture,” in particular of those used for the construction of nations as “imagined communities.”
The historiography of the early Slavs is also the story of how the academic discourse used the past to shape the national present.
The chapter is also intended to familiarize the reader with the anthropological model of ethnicity.
The relation between material culture and ethnicity is examined, with a particular emphasis on the notion of style.
Chapters 2 and 3 deal with written sources.
Chapter 2 examines issues of chronology and origin of the data transmitted by these sources, while Chapter 3 focuses on the chronology of Slavic raids.
Chapter 4 considers the archaeological evidence pertaining to the sixth-century Danube limes as well as to its Balkan hinterland.
Special attention is paid to the implementation of Justinian’s building program and to its role in the sub- sequent history of the Balkans, particularly the withdrawal of the Roman armies in the seventh century.
A separate section of this chapter deals with the evidence of sixth- and seventh-century hoards of Byzantine coins in Eastern Europe, which were often used to map the migration of the Slavs.
A new interpretation is advanced, which is based on the exam- ination of the age-structure of hoards.
Chapter 5 presents the archaeological evidence pertaining to the presence of Gepids, Lombards, Avars, and Cutrigurs in the region north of the Danube river.



 The name 'Slav' (which has no Slavic etymology) appears in the form 'Sklavenoi' or 'Sthlavenoi' in Greek and Latin sources, probably not earlier than the mid 6th century.

All attempts to probe deeper into the past, to establish direct links between the Slavs and previous ethnic groups such as the Skythians, have failed, as have attempts to interpret as Slavic some archaeological cultures (e.g., that Cernjachovo) that flourished in the region as the beginning of the first millennium A.D.

Jordanes (Getica 119) distinguishes three tribes ('gentes'), "offshoots of a single origin" -Venethi, Antes (Antae), and Sclaveni (Sklavenoi). He locates the Venethi on the Vistula, the Sklavenoi between the Vistula and the Danube, and the Antae from the Dniester to the Don.

Since the Byzantines of the 6th century were concerned with the topic of the Slavic invasion, they presented them only as potential frontier warriors and not as political, ethnic, racial, or linguistic communities.

Of these three gentes the Byzantines had to deal only with the last two, for the Venethi dwelled from the Eastern Empire.

 Slavo-Byzantine relations can be divided into three periods.

 The first period roughly encompasses the 6th century. The Slavs were firmly entrenched on the left bank of the Danube and from there attacked the northern Balkans (especially in 551/2, 558/9, and 580/1) Harrying expeditions of the Slavs, often in concert with Gotrigurs, were limited in scope. Around 550-60 the Slavs began to winter on Byzantine soil. After 576 they became part of the Avar military force and the latter's design for conquest.

 The second period (ca.590-800) coincides with the first crossing of the Danube in 594 by Maurice, who moved Byzantine military action to Slavic territory.

In two or three decades the Avars transformed the bands of Slavic frontiersmen into shipbuilders and formidable amphibious troops. Already in 593, the Pannonian Sklavenoi built ships for the Avars as well as a bridge over the Sava River. Around 600 the Slavic fleet was in operation in the Aegean; in 623 they attacked Crete and, in 626, formed the backbone of the joint Avar-Persian attack on Constantinople.

It was probably in this period that Slavic became an attractive lingua franca in the area populated by Sklavenoi, Avars, Serbs, Croats, etc.

In this period the Slavs began to settle south of the Danube to form so-called Sklaviniai. There is no archaeological evidence for Slavic penetration of imperial territory before the end of the 6th century. The ceramics and the semisubterranean houses of the 7th century considered by archaeologists to be Slavic are found in Moldavia, on the Lower Danube, and less frequently, in the basin of the Sava. The cartography of these findings allows the hypothesis that Slavic penetration south from the Danube followed two independent routes -via the Lower Danube in the east and from Pannonia in the west.

Traces of Slavic culture in Greece are rare: a Slavic cemetery near Olympia, ceramics in Argos and Tiryns, fibulae from Lakonia and Kechreai, tombs of warriors near the walls of Corinth containing Slavic belt buckles and weapons (K.Kilian, Peloponnesiaka 16 [1985-86] 295-304). It is possible that the majority of the Slavs in this area had undergone (at least partial) hellenization before they formed established settlements.

The Slavs participated in the creation of new political entities in the basin of the Danube.

  • In the former Noricum the realm of Samo emerged (ca.623-58). This had two social strata: the ruling Winidi (Jordanes' Venethi?) and the inferior stratum of the Sclavi, to whom also belonged the Serbi.
  • Even less is known about the polity called "Volhynia", a name that survives in al-Mas`udi and in the Kievan chronicle.
  • The polity created in Moesia ca.680 by the Bulgars of Asparuch appeared much more stable. These Bulgars assumed control of local Sklaviniai (especially those of the "Seven Tribes" and Drogoubitai).

    Now Thessalonike and its environs, rather than the Danube, was the frontier and focus of Slavo-Byzantine relations.

     The third period was initiated by the destruction of the Avar realm by Charmemagne and Franco-Bulgar cooperation in pacifying the region. Two types of Slavs appear soon after 800:

    • mobile military colonists who were ready to settle as allies on any sort of frontier within the Byzantine Empire, especially in the Peloponnesos (Ezeritai and Melingoi), is Asia Minor (especially in Opsikion, Pontos, and Cilicia), and in Italy; and
    • the former Avar military elite and their retainers who were eager to settle and establish their power over semi-independent princes under Frankish or Byzantine sovereignty, for example, in Pannonia or Moravia.

    During this period the Slavs converted to Christianity and the Slavic sacred language (Church Slavonic) was created by Constantine the Philosopher and Methodios. The Slavic lingua franca was elevated (along with Hebrew, Greek, and Latin) to the language of an ecclesiastic rite. Though originally a failure in Moravia where it was introduced, Slavic laid down stronger roots in Bulgaria, whence it expanded to Kievan Rus' and Serbia.

    In the earlier stage, the Slavic rite found the support, albeit reluctant, of the papal court and facilitated the extension of papal jurisdiction over Pannonia, the territory of the former Avar realm and their Sklavenian successors (with Slavic as the current lingua franca): but soon, in neighboring Nitra and in Split, Latin replaced the Slavic tongue in church services. The situation changed dramatically, however, when the rulers of Bulgaria, at the end of the 9th century, abandoned their Bulgaro-Greek bureaucratic bilingualism and turned to the Slavic lingua franca and the Slavic rite for the needs of both church and state.

    In the 9th century the Slavs exerted an influential force on Byzantine territory: at the beginning of the century they besieged Patras, and legend has it that only the supernatural assistance of the apostle Andrew saved the city. After the Byzantine victory the Slavs were placed under the jurisdiction of the metropolis of Patras, and the obligation to accommodate traveling imperial functionaries and ambassadors was imposed on them. Various sources speak of Slav rebellions in the Peloponnesos in the 9th and 10th centuries. The hagiographer of Nikon Ho "Metanoeite" snobbishly represents the Peloponnesian Slavs as robbers and pagans. Still, in the 14th (and probably the 15th) century some Slav groups dwelled on Taygetos: they refused to pay taxes but agreed to serve as soldiers.

    An even more substantial Slav population existed in Macedonia, and the 'practica' of various monasteries on Mt.Athos show that many 'paroikoi' in the 14th and 15th century bore Slavic names.

    Some Slavs became members of the Byzantine elite (especially after Basil II's occupation of Bulgaria) or served as mercenaries.

    Significant traces of Slavic survive in Greek toponyms. The role of the Slavs in Byzantium has, however, been exaggerated by some Russian and Soviet scholars (from V.Vasil'evskij onward) who connected with the Slav penetration the resurgence of Byzantium after the decline of the 7th century, the expansion of the peasant community, and military reform; they considered even the Farmer's Law a document of Slavic customary law.

     After the 9th century Byzantine authors rarely used the term 'Sklavenoi' and its derivatives, and preferred to apply to the Slavs either specific ethnic denominations (Rus', Bulgarians, Chorbatoi, Lechoi, etc.) or antiquarian terms such as Skythians, Sarmatians, Illyrians; they seem to have had no concept of the ethnic unity of the Slavs and had only a very vague idea of the unity of Slavic languages.

     O.Pritsak, Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium (1991), vol.3, p.1916-191




  • Slavic superstratum in Romanian

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ttp://

  • The Slavic influences on Romanian are especially noticeable and can be observed at all linguistic levels: lexis, phonetics, morphology and syntax. This situation is due to the migration of Slavic tribes who traversed the territory of present-day Romania during the early evolution of the language. This process of the introduction of Slavic in Dacia was similar to the appearance of various Germanic dialects in the Western Roman Empire, where Gallic Latin and Northern Italian dialects became strongly germanized. However, due to lower Romance-speaking populace in the East, Slavic remained spoken for much longer and did not die out immediately. This partly explains why spoken Romanian is not intelligible to speakers of Western Romance languages unless they attempt to learn it.

  • And indeed, while Dacia was part of the Roman Empire for less than 2 centuries, various Slavic tribes crossed, ruled and settled the former Roman province from the 6th to the 12th century. Their presence was even stronger in Moldova and Bessarabia, where in the 16th centry Rusyn-speaking Slavs made up at least a third of the population. The Moldavian principality was thus refereed to as Русовлахия (i.e. Russo-Vlahia). It is interesting to note that even though the Slavs migrated from the north, they were assimilated immediately north of the lower Danube. At the same time, they almost completely subsumed the Romanized population (the Vlachs) north and south of Danube.

    Unlike in the West, Dacian Romance-speaking population was rural and did not preserve written Latin language. Therefore, it was the written Old Slavonic that originated around the Byzantine city of Salonika and quickly spread in use as the church language of Vallachia and Moldavia. Modern Romania and Vallachia continue to be surrounded by the Slavic languages (with the exception of Hungarian after the 10th century) and thus have influenced Romanian through centuries of interaction. Interestingly, early Slavic features in Romanian have primarily Balkan (Bulgarian) character.

    Of great importance was the influence of Old Church Slavonic, as it was the liturgical language of the Romanian Orthodox Church (compared to western and central European countries which used Latin) from the Middle Ages, until the 18th century. However, Latin did get an important position in Transylvania before and after the 12th century, a part of the western-styled feudal Kingdom of Hungary at that moment. Proto-Romanian was used for centuries in Dacia and later Romanian was first officially used there after the union of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Transylvania with Rome,[1] giving birth to the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church in 1698 [2] (the most widespread denomination in Transylvania until World War II.[3]) This caused Romanian to lose some of its Slavic borrowings, as the first standardisation (among others the switch to the Latin alphabet) was done by Şcoala Ardeleană, founded in Transylvania.[1] However, the capital of independent Romania (Bucharest) was located in the Eastern part of the country where Hungarian, German, and Latin influences were practically non-existent.

    Two types of Slavic borrowings can be distinguished in Romanian. First came everyday spoken words that describe animals, emotional states, as well as certain grammatical features that appear in both spoken and written Romanian language. These Slavic features were incorporated into Balkan Latin through everyday contact of Romanian speakers with early Slav settlers. Then, with the spread of Orthodox Christianity and the Cyrillic alphabet, literary high-style words of the official Church Slavonic were introduced to supplement Romanian with terms for abstract concepts that were not present in the local Romance dialect. Writing in old Romanian language first appeared in the Cyrillic alphabet (a modified version of the Greek alphabet) in the 16th century and existed in this form in Romania until 1860s. In Moldova the tradition continued until 1990s. The alphabet reform had certain political implications and many peasants resisted it. The switch (as well as the related relatinization) caused additional tension in the unrecognized trilingual republic of Transnistria, which has decided to preserve the age-old tradition of writing in Cyrillic.

    Most Slavic words were acquired through direct everyday contact with Slavic merchants, peasants, soldiers, etc. Due to massive influx of Slavs, much of the original Vlach population, estimated at 1 million people at the end of the Roman rule, became more or less bilingual during the 6th-12th centuries.[citation needed] Apparently, interethnic marriages were very common as Slavs settled among the Romanians and mingled with them very intensely. Indeed, some words describing family relations are Slavic or show heavy Slavic influence: tată < тата "father", nevastă "wife" < невеста, rudă "relatives" < родня; mezin "youngest child" < мезинец; plod "baby", the suffix -că added to Latin root fi- in fiică "daughter" (compare Slavic: дочка), bunică "granny" or maică "mommy". The degree to which Slavic and Romance populations interacted is also illustarted by the fact that practically all words that describe affection are borrowed from Slavic. A direct proof of this is the usage of Slavic particle "da" for affirmation in Romanian, which caused the native sic to shift its meaning to şi (and).

    At least a quarter of the basic spoken Romanian lexis is based on common Slavic roots such as: a iubi "to love", a citi "to read", glas "voice", nevoie "need", cinstit "honest", prieten "friend", trebuie "necessary". This situation is akin to the number and usage of French borrowings in English. Slavic borrowings are especially frequent when strong emotional terms or feelings are involved: silă "compulsion", vină "guilt", jale "sorrow", milă "compassion", boală "illness, disease", iubire "love", dragoste "love", slavă "glory", nădejde "hope", etc. Slavic-derived adjectives and participles seem to have been borrowed in droves and form a whole lexical layer: slab, drag, bolnav, bogat, prost, drăgúţ, cinstit, iscusit, iubit, jalnic, zadarnic, vrednic, obraznic, voinic, groaznic, harnic, straşnic, darnic, milostiv, mucenic, etc.

    Romanian uses numerous Slavic verbs to describe various actions and changes of state: a lovi "to hit", a goni "to chase", a topi "to melt", a găsi "to find", a trezi "to wake up", a pomeni "to mention", etc. Many others borrowings exist in different spheres of life: silă "force", război "war", noroi "dirt", bogăţie "richness", trup "body", plod "fetus", oglindă "mirror", copită "hoof", zori "dawn", zăpadă "snow", ceas "time", nisip "sand", vreme "weather", etc. Compare essentially the same, but less numerous Germanic borrowings in Western Romance languages such as in Spanish: guerra "war" (Slav. război in Romanian), rico "rich" (Slav. bogat), ganso "goose" (Slav. gâscă), buscar "to search" (Slav. a gasi "to find" in Romanian).

    Apparently, until the arrival of Slavs Romance-speaking Vlachs were rural semi-nomadic cattle-breeders[ as most Romanian vocabulary related to cattle and cattle-breeding is of Latin origin. By contrast, most tools and utensils related to agronomy as well as new urban life have Slavic names, most likely as a result of being introduced by the agricultural Slavic population: lopată "spade", daltă "chisel", plug "plough", topor "axe", sită "sieve", nicovală "anvil", coasă "scythe", tocilă "grindstone", greblă "rake", sanie "sleigh", potcoavă "horseshoe", gard "zabor", zabrea "trellis", etc.

    Names of many animals, birds, fish, and plants also made a swift transition from Slavic: vrabie "sparrow" (воробей), lebădă "swan" (лебедь), veveriţă "squirrel" (вевeрица), vidră "otter" (выдра), ştiucă "pike" (щука), rac "crayfish" (рак), păianjen "spider", lobodă "pig-weed", bob "seed, bean" (боб), morcov "carrot" (морковь), sfeclă "beets", hreniţă (хрен) "water cress", râs "lynx", etc.

    Various onomatopoeic verbs and expressions such as a plescăi "splash" (compare Slav. плескать), a şopti "whisper" (compare Slav. шoпот, шептать) a hăui "echo" (эхо), tropot "clatter" (топот), a clocoti "to boil over" (клокотать), etc. are closer to their Slavic rather than Western Romance equivalents (compare Spanish: chapoteo/roción; susurro/murmurro; eco; pataleo/trapa trapa).Certain interjections such as ba! "oh yes!" and iată! "Look!" (< это) are taken from the Old Slavic (mostly Old Bulgarian) language.

    Borrowings from Old Church Slavonic are also very numerous in certain lexical fields and include the following: a izbăvi < избавить "to deliver", veşnic < вечный "forever, perpetual, undying", sfânt < святой "holy, saint", a sluji < сружить "to serve", amvon < омовение "pulpit", rai < рай "paradise", iad < ад "hell", proroc < ророк "prophet", hram < храм "church patron", duhovnic < духовник "confessor", dihanie < дыхание "wild beast, monster".

    Slavic terminology is almost exclusive when used to assign the titles and ranks to medieval nobility (boier, cneaz, rob, slugă, a sluji, etc.). It is also used to describe various concepts of urban life and finances that emerged with the arrival of Slavs: a plăti "pay", târg "market", rând "row", sticlă "glass", etc. Seafaring concepts are no exception: corabie "ship" , lotcă "boat", ostrov "island" and vâslă "oar" all come from their Slavic equivalents virtually unaltered.

    Many Romanian names were also influenced by the use of Slavonic in Church and in administration. Over time, especially after the Latin alphabet was adopted, some Slavic words became archaic, but others such as the affirmative particle da "yes", clearly of Slavic origin, have maintained a widespread use.

    In general, most Slavic borrowings have become well incorporated into Romanian and are no longer perceived as foreign. In fact, many Romanian words occur as a natural combination of Slavic and Romance elements: devreme "early", aşíjderea "likewise", a se îmbolnăvi "to fall ill", a împleti "to weave", a învârti "to turn, rotate", a îmbogăţi "to enrich", nebunie "craziness", răzbunare "revenge", răscruce crossing", bunică "granny", portiţă "wicket", româncă "Romanian woman", evreiesc "Jewish", neaşteptat "unexpected", neruşinat" "unashamed", citire "reading", iubită "girlfriend", iubesc "I love", prostie "foolishness", hulubăríe "dove-cot", slăbiciune "weakness", milos "charitable", etc.

    The indirect Slavic influence on Romanian lexis and expressions is also very important. Many words and expressions were calqued from their Slavic equivalents or created to reproduce the patterns of the Slavic speech. Words such as suflet "soul" copy the logic of the Slavic word душа, and the original Latin anima shifted its meaning to inimă "heart". The development of the Romanian particle şi "and" hints at the usage of the Slavic particle "da" that is often used in both senses ("yes" as well as "and"). Other examples include lună meaning both "month" and "the moon"; "lume" (originally light) used in the sense of the world. Certain expressions such as din topor meaning "unrefined" also tend to be similar to their Slavic equivalents: топорный = грубый.

    Another prominent feature of modern Romanian that has resulted from intense contact with Slavic speakers is the formation of numerals from 11 to 20. For instance, unsprezece "eleven" is based on three components "un+spre+zece" literally "one above ten". Even though the elements themselves are Romance in origin, the model itself is word-by-word imitation of a typical Slavic "один+над+цать" literally "one above ten" and is not found in the West where original whole Latin words were preserved (Spanish: once, doce, quince, veinte).

    As a result of the long tradition of written Church Slavonic, most Slavic borrowings in Romanian are surprisingly well-preserved phonetically and changed little over the centuries. Some phonetic adjustment has taken place in certain cases: ohileti > a ofili, ljubiti> a iubi, protiva > potrivă, podkova > potcoavă. Importantly, many Slavic borrowing changed their original meaning after being incorporated into Romanian speech. Most notable examples are: a găsi "to find" < гасить "to extinguish", a lovi "to strike" < ловить "to catch", clipă "moment" < клепание "rhythmic movement" etc.

    To a significant extent, Slavic speech patterns have also influenced borrowing from other languages. For instance, Latin schola/scola > Slav. школа shkola > modern Rom. şcoală "school". Had the original Latin word been preserved in Dacia, it would have sounded as "scoară".

    Thus, Slavic borrowings in Romanian help reveal the historical development of the language even though it is difficult to determine what was the cause and what was the effect of certain developments. Whatever the cause or effect, the migration of Slavs clearly separated the old Balkan Latin from the Western Romance area. The Old Romanian language emerged. By the 6th century the previously common shift of intervocal l>r (solis>soare); an, am, in, im > ân, în; si>şi etc. stops, as new borrowings from Old Slavonic do not undergo the process: сила > silă instead of the hypothetical "şiră'". New developments such as sv>sf, h>f occur instead.

    Generally, the share of Slavic words differs significantly depending on dialect and style. The number of Slavicisms is higher in border regions with significant Slavic-speaking populations. In spoken Romanian in general their share is around 30% and up to 40% in Moldova, where Russian borrowings and constructions are traditionally commonplace (Compare: "Vreau un holodilnic" instead of "Vreau să cumpăr un frigider"). In literary written Romanian, their share is somewhat lower (around 10%), while Latin-based words represent around 85%, with the remaining 5% being of Greek, Hungarian, and Turkic origin as well as from the Dacian substratum.

    But even in modern literary Romanian, Slavonic influences are evident in phonetics and morphology, heavily influenced by Slavic speakers. Phonetic Slavicisms include the iotization of the initial -e in words such as el, ea, este pronounced as [jel], [ja], [jeste] (compare Spanish: el, ella, estamos, without the Slavic iotization effect) as well as the palatalization of consonants in the plural form: pom-pomi, lup-lupi pronounced as [pomʲ] and [lupʲ] etc. (compare the original Italian sound in lupi). Besides, numerous Slavic prefixes and suffixes such as ne-, -că, -iţă, răs-/răz-, have become an integral part of the Romanian lexis. Especially -că and -iţă are important markers of the feminine gender in Romanian morphology: lup-lupoaică, italian-italiancă, actor-actriţă, etc. Unlike Western Romance languages, Romanian is also quite unusual in the way that its nouns often undergo internal vowel modifications while being inflected: fată-fete, gheaţă-gheţuri, etc. This feature is quite common in the neighboring Slavic languages: лёд-льда, сон-сны, день-дни. These changes indicate that unlike later arriving Hungarians, local Slavs, who settled in the Vlach lands, were also keen on learning Balkan Latin. On the one hand, this process infused Romanian with Slavic features and on the other, led to the eventual assimilation of Slavs north of the Danube.

    Noteworthy, the original Latin sound [h] was lost in early Balkan Latin between the 3rd and 5th centuries A.D., just like in the Western Romance languages: hibernum > Rom. iarnă and Spanish invierno "winter". However, Slavic interference after the 6th century lead to a reintroduction of the Slavic hard h sound into Romanian. Thus, most Romanian words with a letter h are Slavic in origin: hram, hrană, hulubărie, hrean, etc.

    The addition of numerous Slavic verb stems ending in -i ( a iubi, a citi, a goni, a izbi, a răni, a primi, etc.) and -î (a posomorî, a omorî, a târî etc.) has led to a dramatic expansion of this conjugation pattern in Romanian, which is extremely productive: a opri, a zdrobi, a toropi, a osteni, a podi, a vărui, a beli, a cerni, a plesni, a coji, a ţocăi, a născoci, a grohăi, a glumi, a trudi, etc. By contrast, in Western Romance languages, the number of verbs in the original Latin "-i" group shrank over time.

    Certain indirect sentence structures, such as mi-e bine, mi-e frig (literally "to me is cold"), are also Slavic-influenced (compare мне холодно). In the West, direct constructions are used instead: Spanish estoy bien. Preservation of cases and neutral gender has also occurred under Slavic influence and is not observed in modern Western Romance. The natural tendency of late Latin was to drop all noun cases and get rid of neutral gender that was redistributed between masculine and feminine (as in all modern Western Romance languages). Slavic languages have kept Romanian from losing these features. Moreover, Romanian developed a Slavic-influenced vocative case ending in -o: Fetiţo!, Mamo! (compare with Slavic Мамо!).

    The sustainability of the Slavic elements in Romanian is also evident in the toponymics of Romania and Moldova. Despite the fact that Roman Dacia was the core of the ancient empire's influence, Romance population fled the original Roman cities after the fall of the Roman Empire and quickly shifted to semi-nomadic cattle-breeding. As a result, no original Roman placenames survived to the north of the Danube. Newly-founded settlements were largely a result of Slavic, and later Hungarian activities. Numerous Slavic placenames are found to these days throughout Romania and Moldova: Cernavodă, Prilog, Dumbrava, Bistriţa, Talna, Rus, Bistra, Glod, Ruscova, Straja, Putna, Hulub, Bâc, Tecuci, Potcoava, Corabia, Lipova, Holod, Topila, Ostrovu, etc.


    1. ^ a b P.S. Florentin Crihălmeanu in Formula AS: "După unirea cu Roma, «boscorodirea», specifică epocii de dominaţie slavonă, va fi înlocuită cu slujba în limba română (curăţată pe cât posibil de impurităţile slavone, prin osârdia extraordinară a latiniştilor Şcolii Ardelene)."
    2. ^ History of the Romanian Church United with Rome
    3. ^ The census in 1930 recorded a Greek-Catholic relative majority (31.1% of the population), whereas Orthodox Church came only second (27.8% of the population).



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SECTION II – Pottery references

             SECTION II is dedicated to the pottery references, which does not mean “analogies”, but the “corpus” of pottery that might have had a role in the genesis of the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti Culture, or that could have had an influence of any kind in the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti milieu. The term „Corpus” here does not mean “all of it”, but some important “control groups” used as terms of comparison. For comparison on consider an historical perspective (pottery older than the half of the fifth Century, from Wallachia) and a geographic perspective (pottery from neighboured territories, from V to VII Centuries).


Chapter 4 takes a historical perspective, analysing the so-called Daco-Roman[1] from the time of Roman province of Dacia and pottery made in the Roman tradition. The brief presentations bring into the discussion elements such as the techniques of manufacture and the relationships between firing, decorative types, statistics concerning function, typical and average dimensions, relative analogies (see above, chapter 1). We may summarise the results as follows: pottery

            In the Chilia-Militari Culture[2] (BICHIR 1984) one may point out the complete separation of morphological groups comprised by wheel-made ceramics and hand-made ceramics, the relatively close match with the Roman capacities system, the relative lack of matches with the typologies constructed for Roman Oltenia (western Wallachia; see POPILIAN 1976), the high frequency of miniature vessels (a character that seems to be inherited in the sixth century); the analogies with sixth-century forms are few (p. 58-60).

            The Dacian pottery from the Locusteni necropolis[3] also has few analogies in the rest of the „control groups” (only 30% of the morphological types have relative analogies with other types from database), but they are interesting, one in Roman Oltenia (showing the process of the mixing of forms), but the others are from further away, at Târgşor (see Map 2, on plate XII), Bacău (see Map 1, on plate XI) and even from Slovakia. Similar, the Dacian pottery from Soporu de Câmpie necropolis (central Transylvania) has distant connections, in space and time, proving the role of Dacian culture in the formation of the culture of this part of Europe (p. 60-61).

            Hand-made pottery from east-Carpathian area (BICHIR 1967), a tradition to be linked with the Carpi, has a distinctive character: it is the tallest shape in this part of Europe. This character will be inherited too, and will be recognized easily, including in Muntenia (Wallachia), three or four centuries later (p. 61).

            The pottery of the Sarmatian control-group comes from Basarabia and south Ukraine (GROSU 1995) and, in spite of the early chronology (first and second centuries AD), it is well integrated with the rest of the “control groups” (almost half of the Sarmatian morphological types has an analogy). The Sarmatian pottery’s main election (= the most common analogy) goes for Penkovka culture (in the same geographical area, but five centuries later!). On the other hand, there was an obvious difference between this control-group and what is considered to be Sarmatian pottery in southern-eastern Romania, the former has no foot, which is extremely characteristic for the latter. Pottery specialists for the Roman period seem to have a new problem to solve (p. 62).

            The early Roman pottery control-group from Oltenia (POPILIAN 1967) has the best integration in the database, 85% of shapes having analogies in other cultures. The fact confirms in a mathematical manner the parental role of Roman culture in the creation of later European cultures. The most astonishing analogies – at least at first sight – are those that refer to the Slavic world. One fifth of the Roman morphological groups from Oltenia (second to third centuries AD) seem to be related to Slavic groups from VI-VIII centuries, one of them being the most frequent shape in Slovakia. Without a control group for Middle Danube early Roman pottery, the situation suggests the importance of the connections of Roman Oltenia with the western Roman world (p. 63-64).

            The integration ratio for the Cherniakhov type from Wallachia (more exactly the Mogoşani necropolis, DIACONU G 1969) though less than the Roman ratio mentioned above is nevertheless quite high (65%). One fifth of the morphological groups match early Roman shapes, one tenth could be paralleled in late Roman sites, also, but only one tenth looks similar to Chilia-Militari pottery (that is relatively few). More than half of the forms could be found in sixth century settlements from Wallachia. In the Slavic world there are “addressed” only Penkovka elements, that is pretty normal, but still interesting (p. 65-66).

            With an integration ratio of only 50%, the Cireşanu cultural aspect[4]TEODORESCU & 1993 and 1993 b) seems to be an isolated society with few descendants. This conclusion may be amended when the important sixth century settlements from Prahova County will be published. The cultural aspect of Cireşanu seems to be different from the Cherniakhov culture, not only in chronological terms, but also by content (p. 67-68). (


            Chapter 5 provides a spatial (or geographic) perspective, showing cultures more or less contemporary with the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti pottery, which is our main subject. The material is grouped in several cultural categories: late Roman pottery, vessels from “peripheral areas” (Moldavia and Transylvania), hand-made ceramics from the Roman environment, and, finally, early Slavic pottery.

            The pottery from late Roman cities has faint morphological connections with the ceramic shapes produced on the Romanian Plain at the same time. The possible links – around one sixth of the forms – are due to the common history (i.e. early Roman pottery) and less to active economic exchange. This statistic is similar for the analysis of decoration (p. 69-70).

            The western connections of the Roman enclave in southern Oltenia are confirmed in the late Roman pottery. Sucidava-Celei is only about 100 km west of Iatrus, yet the pottery (especially the decoration) looks quite different. This demonstrates the influential of the administrative affiliation (the former was in Illyricum, the latter in Thracia; p. 70-71).

            The cultural diversity of Bucovina[5] seems to be a case of geographical determinism (which operates in our days too). The analysis proved that things are mixed-up to a degree that is hard to imagine in such a tiny territory (about 200 square km). Every settlement studied is a particular case, and there are five!

            Botoşana (TEODOR D 1984) is a singular case for settlements, where there seems to be a complete cultural split between manufacturing techniques. The wheel-made ceramics are linked to the Roman tradition, not only by technology, but also by form. All hand-made ceramics that have analogies refer to Slavic pottery. However, there are morphological groups for which there are no analogies found, which could represent a local tradition, unknown in the Slavic world (heavily present in the database). The wheel-made ceramics could not be anything else but the products of specialized potters (itinerants, maybe); the hand-made pottery cannot have been produced by anybody but the local inhabitants, apparently Slavs. Nevertheless, there is a third element here: two hand-made pot are incised, on the shoulder, with cross sign (in wet clay). This is unknown in Slavic settlements, but extremely common eastward and southward of the Carpathian Mountains. That will be our first cultural integration model, the Botoşana model (p. 71-73).

            Dolheştii Mari settlement, in despite of the extremely poor number of analyzable shapes (ANDRONIC 1995), gives little space for doubt that we have there a Slavic community, without interferences from ancient local populations. The pottery looks very primitive and couldn’t be dated beyond the sixth century (p. 73).

            In contrast, a site like Suceava-Şipot (TEODOR D 1994 and pots from National Museum of History’s inventory, not published) which has become a veritable paradigm for Slavic populations in northern Moldavia (MATEI M 1959), reveals the most diversified “genetic characters” (Carpic, Sarmatian, Roman), but not Slavic. In fact the pottery makes a case for a model of isolation, autarchy, although the chronology of the settlement in the Slavic migration period is certain (p. 73-74). This diversity of situations will be confirmed in sites from northern Bucovina (Rashkov and Codîn, discussed later, in the context of Slavic culture, as they are usually known).

            From here we travel south along the Siret River in Moldavia. The Izvoare-Bahna settlement (MITREA 1998; for position see the map 1 on plate XI) is another “specific case”. On the one hand there is a settlement level from the beginning of the sixth century (the chronology proposed by the excavator – eighth Century - has been revised), with a such a “Romanized” aspect that is hard to find parallels in central Wallachia; on the other hand, there is another horizon (we are talking here in “horizontal stratigraphy”), extremely different, similar to Dolheştii Mari. This second horizon could be dated to around the end of the sixth century It is interesting to note here that the huts of both horizons are constructed in an identical manner (p. 77). If we accept the hypothesis that the women are the producers of household-made pottery, but the men are the house-builders, than what we have here is not a “military occupation”, but an exchange of matrimonial services, with all its implications, as one kind or another of military and political integration (federalization). This would be only one of the possibilities. In fact, we have no direct proof that the Slavs made the migration with their homeland families.

            Going further south, in central Moldavia, we find the Bacău settlement (MITREA 1980). The pottery from Bacău is an outstanding testimony of the resistance of the local Carpic groups to all foreign influences, both Roman as well as Slavic (p. 78).

            Compared with Moldavia, Transylvania (inside the arc of the Carpathian Mountains!) looks peaceful and conservative, so far as it is possible to understand anything from three sites. The inhumation cemetery from Noşlac (RUSU 1962) represents another case for an ethno-cultural splitting; each major pottery type comes from a different culture: one is a very well known Gepidic ceramic type (relatively fine, grey, with a very low body diameter); a second one is a relic from the Sântana de Mureş-Cherniakhov culture (grey, sandy, Roman shape); the third type (the less numerous) shows a Roman experience, through well formed shape. Despite the problems with the morphology of these vessels, this third type has been considered Slavic without any explanation, only because the pots had been made by hand (p. 79). It is worth recalling the fact that there is not a single Slavic necropolis, big or little, inside the Carpathian mountains, dated to the sixth century or the most part of the next.

            The main archaeological problem in the First Settlement at Bratei (BÂRZU 1995) is the changing of cultural horizon between levels B and C (somewhere in the second part of sixth century), understood by the author of the monographic paper as a replacement of population (the C population would be a migratory one, with a low material culture). The fact may be kept as a plausible hypothesis, but I think that the alteration of life standards is due to other factors: the first is a cooling of the climate, which forced the construction of sunken-floored huts (the phenomena can be observed over wide areas in the fifth to sixth centuries AD); the second is the decline of Gepidic authority and the end of the organized production of Germanic pottery, at least in southern Transylvania. What can be seen in the field is the disappearance of grey pots and a rapid decline in the ratio between wheel-made and hand-made pottery, right at the time when – “strange” coincidence! – this disease was spreading almost everywhere in Europe (p. 79-80). There is however no difference in the handmade pottery from phases B and C of the settlement.

            The Second Settlement at Bratei (ZAHARIA 1995) begins its life around the final part of the sixth century and functions, episodically, about one century. This is one of the very few settlements that show the process of adopting the slow wheel, after a complete but short decline in the standards of pottery manufacture. The interference of some Slavic groups, at the end of the sixth century, can’t be excluded, but the arguments are very thin. What is for sure is that pots of the second part of the seventh century, saw the return of well designed shapes, as in the best days of Justinian, but now made on the slow wheel (p. 81). The nearest Slavic settlement known lies on the Someş Plain, more then 300 km to the north-west (STANCIU 1999).

            In Roman territory the changes in the pottery reflect the changing world. We see strange objects appearing: hand-made pots or vessels turned on a slow wheel, all of them ugly and distorted. There are two cases, in the same area, in the Lower Danube.

            The first case is the Roman fortress of Capidava, from which came, recently, a significant assemblage of hand-made pots (two of them possibly made sloppily by slow-wheel), with a very secure context, dated to the sixth decade of the sixth century (OPRIŞ 2000). The cultural distribution of shapes reflects the heterogeneous structure of the Roman army at that time, nevertheless – statistically - the local tradition and Roman forms predominate. The use of archaic methods for forming ceramics in a Roman garrison (the vessels were found in a military storeroom) does not reveal the barbarization or the Roman army (that happened two centuries earlier), but a deep financial crisis of the Empire, unable to feed the soldiers (p. 81-82). That was the beginning of the end.

            After the collapse, other people became the rulers of the Roman land. The second case is the Garvăn-Popina cultural group, developed mainly by new-comers, the Slavs. Bulgarian archaeologist proclaimed, so many times, that the Slavic archaeological remains dated from the end of the sixth century (for ex. VĂŽAROVA 1965, 1986). A new study by a Bulgarian archaeologist, taking as a starting point exactly the morphological arguments (the RUSANOVA “school”), contests the identity of this material as the pottery of the Slavic “homeland”, and proposes a chronology after the middle of the seventh century (KOLEVA 1992). The conclusions of the younger Bulgarian scientist are closer to reality. The formal analyses indicate local influences, a Roman inheritance, analogies with Wallachia, but three morphological types were isolated as a foreign experience, and they could have a very exactly homeland address: the stronghold Chotomel, in northern Ukraine. The chronology of the Garvăn-Popina group could be lowered to the first half of the seventh century. I see the metamorphose of Slavic pottery into a kind of (bad) Roman pottery being possible in a shorter time, because it was not made by the Slavs but by a submitted hand of work, originated to the Lower Danube (p. 83).

            The early Slavic pottery is the subject of a large sub-chapter (§ 5.3.). This contains studies of pottery groups from Bohemia, Slovakia, south Poland, settlements in northern Bucovina (Rashkov and Kodîn) and material of the Penkovka cultural group. Objections could be raised about the “national” structure of the material; the modern nations are however the products of their own geography, of deeper and ancient connections, not only of modern events. The analysis showed that each territory has its own well defined profile. The Slavic morphology sequence (see Appendices, section V, D.1.) is a unique classification of all early Slavic territories (or those considered as most likely to have been early Slavic) providing a direct comparison between all shapes recorded in the database. The “singularity ratio” (meaning morphological groups that can’t be found in other territories; see Appendices, section V, D.2., table 1, column 4) is high on the periphery of the Slavic world (Bohemia, Ukraine, Penkovka group, figures upper than 40%) and low (less than 5%) or null in the central territories like Slovakia and south Poland (p. 85).

            This geographical determinism means that usually neighbouring territories have a closer morphological connection. Not always, of course. The Bohemian pot shapes (BORKOWSKI 1940) seem more related to southern Poland than western Slovakia (an interesting hint for historians). But the whole western part of the Slavic area is dominated by one single morphological group (named CSV_08A, in our classification; see Appendices, section V, D.1., sixth row), constituting more than a quarter of all material. This shape has good analogies in early Roman Empire pottery (see the drawing of the average ratios of this group), and makes the common denominator for all Slavic western territories (!). Other extremely diverse influences, like German or Penkovka, are present too (p. 85-86).

            Slovakia (FUSEK 1994) seems to be the centre of the Roman influence. The CSV_08A group (named also “the western Slavic pot”) here made up 37% of all pots. The relationship between Slavic territories and the western (Roman) world can be expressed in simple mathematical terms; for instance, the rim angle averages for all pots before year 600 are as follows: 94o for Ukraine, 96o for Poland, 98o for Slovakia and Bohemia. Therefore, to speak about a “Prague culture” in generic terms, extending from Ukraine to Bohemia, means to lose sight of the specific regional traits, to fail in decoding historical processes if the starting point is a raw definition like “all hand-made pottery is the Prague type”. Slovakia is also the place where, in the last third of the sixth century, vessel formation with the slow wheel begins process that is growing up to generalization in the second half of seventh century, one century earlier than in Poland and two centuries earlier than in Ukraine. The Middle Danube is the territory from which the slow wheel technique spreads also to the Roman land, in Illyricum. At the same time with this technological “revolution”, the shapes are refined, taking as “target” the same Roman pot, which is the single true “model” to follow. In the second part of the seventh century, in the Slovakian sites, the rim angle average rises up to 115o, that is quite a “Roman” character. At this time, the earlier ethnic patterns are going to be removed by a new “European” culture (p. 87).

            The morphological domination of Roman-like pottery in Slovakia is a fact that does not lead to the conclusion that the population was not quite Slavic, at least for seventh century, but emphasizes both the importance of the historical background (Celtic, Dacian, Roman, German) and the cultural environment.

            From Poland (PARCZEWSKI 1993) two areas are selected for study: the South Polish Area (Krakow and its hinterland) and the southeastern area of Poland (Lublin and the San valley). The north half of Poland is excluded from comparison, to avoiding the mixed-up Slavic-Germanic ceramics. The most evident links of the shapes of Polish vessels are with the pottery from western Slovakia and Bohemia (in this order), but references to Penkovka morphological groups are frequent too. The analogies for central Ukraine are far weaker. Here we came to a theoretical problem: the ethnogenesis of the Slavic has to be pushed back several centuries, because a single “origin centre” can’t be indicated for the fifth to sixth centuries. We have to presume an older “antecedent” for both Polish and Ukraine vessels, if any, speaking here strictly from pottery perspective (p. 90)[6]. The incidence of central Ukraine (Korchak type) influence is more obvious in southeastern Poland, as expected. The analysis delivered clear morphological comparative definitions for a “Polish type” (“Krakow”) and Korchak type, so that they can’t be confused. The difference is made by the height of the body diameter, taller for Korchak type (p. 91; see graph 17 from Appendices, section IV, J.5.).

            Even if Ukraine could be the homeland of the Slavic forefathers (GIMBUTAS 1971), its position in the sixth century is rather marginal, and not only on the map, but in the Slavic ceramic morphology sequence too. A quarter of the vessels of Korchak type (RUSANOVA 1973, all from sixth- seventh centuries) have no analogies in the rest of the Slavic world, and without the help of the Rashkov settlements – this result would be much worst. The analogies for South-Poland stops to 16% from shapes, and those with the Penkovka culture (so near-by in geographical terms) falls to 8% (p. 92). The pottery from central and north Ukraine is unusually homogenous, that means, in historical terms, a closed environment, far from great population movements[7]. The morphological characters of early shapes are very precise: poor angles (rim, shoulder, tangents), modestly modulated shapes, a wide aperture and a very tall belly diameter (p. 93).

            The best analogies of the Korchak pot type are connected with the Rashkov settlements from northern Bucovina (BARAN 1988). It is interesting to note that the vice-versa is not true. The paradox is due to an increased diversity in the sites from the upper Dniestr. The most frequent analogies for Rashkov (“Raşcov” in Romanian orthography) relate to the neighbouring Slavic areas of southeastern Poland (36,8%), and then, in order of decreasing similarity, western Slovakia, central Ukraine, Bohemia, Penkovka area and, at the end, the nearby site of Codîn (5,3%, p. 94). Rashkov is the most cosmopolitan (or, simply, culturally blended) social environment from the entire Slavic world, as much as studied. Its affiliation to the primordial Slavic culture seems pretty certain, but the facies is absolutely original, with a background where the Carpi-population, and probably Sarmatians had an important place. The pottery of Rashkov has its own specific character in the Slavic world. On the one hand, the structure of the foot of the vessel (frequently present, short, with an enlarged lower part), that is nowhere found in the same manner (see Appendices, section IV, K.8., graph 5). On the other hand, the average vessel capacity is lower than in all the Slavic world, matching instead the figures for settlements from Moldavia and Wallachia; that figure (2.342 litres, see Appendices, section IV, K.9, table)[8] is 58% of the average capacity of vessels from south Poland and only 52% of vessels of Korchak type (p. 94).

            The capacity system seems to be the only similarity between the Rashkov and Codîn settlements (RUSANOVA & 1984). In spite the relatively small distance between them (less than 100 km), the two groups of settlements are quite different; there is nothing here comparable to Rashkov’s “cosmopolitan” shapes. Codîn is a dead-end for the main stream of migration, aside, hidden in the hills, closed and conservative. Codîn area inherited the traditions of the Carpathian Barrows Culture and maintains a strong local tradition that can be seen in spite of the degradation of pottery-make skills. The analogies are connected almost only to the original Carpathian Barrows Culture area, 39% of the shapes been met in Poland (both areas with the same figure). Only 11% of the shapes could be found in Rashkov too, and the rest of Slavic world is just absent (p. 96)[9]. I included the Codîn settlements in the Slavic morphology sequence only because other scholars do so. In fact, we should talk about Codîn cultural aspect, as a successor of the culture of the ancient populations from that area.

            The Rashkov and Codîn settlements complete the amazing mosaic-like cultural landscape of Bucovina, where all sites are so very different. Bucovina is a cultural diversity paradigm, thus we had to develop to subject much more than first thought.

            The Slavic morphology sequence is ended by another cultural horizon that interacted with the Slavic world, but it is doubtful whether it was a Slavic culture. This Penkovka culture (RUSANOVA 1976, 1978) is usually attributed to the Antesthat could have had Slavic elements too, north of the Black See (TEODOR D 1994; CORMAN 1996). The integration ratio in Slavic morphology sequence is only 42%[10], which speaks for itself. The cultural group originated (at least its pottery did) in primitive elements from the Cherniakhov culture substratum (mostly Sarmatian, p. 98). This common term (Cherniakhov) with outside eastern and southern Carpathian Mountains cultures makes pot-by-pot comparison inoperative for non-biconical forms (the usual, but not exclusive form for Penkovka ceramics). By the way, the pot-by-pot comparison is generally not a recommended method for studying shapes. tribes, that is – beyond the simple name – a large nomadic confederation

 [1] Basic, that is a pottery made in Dacian tradition, with influences from Roman potters practice.

[2] Central Wallachia, II-III C. AD

[3] Roman Oltenia, II-III C; in the incineration necropolis one can find Roman ceramics mixed with Dacian ceramics.

[4] An isolated cultural group from northern Muntenia, in the time of the Hunic Empire.

[5] This is in north-western part of Moldavia, near the Carpathian Mountains, western from Siret river, from Suceava river in South to Nistru in North.

[6] After I concluded this work I red a book appeared approximately in the same time (CURTA 2001). According to this, there is less a “material history” together than the spreading of a “lingua franca” (Old Slavic) in Barbaricum; this hypothesis explains better the mismatching morphology between western and eastern areas of presumable Slav ethnicity emergence.

[7] And everyone could continue: how could this population be a significant part of the great invasions from Lower Danube?

[8] The first table, of the „Average dimensions”; from left to right, the columns are: (1) the lot; (2) Capacity (only entire shapes); (3) upper capacity (upper belly diameter); (4) ratio upper capacity/ total capacity; (5) deduced capacity (all entire- and half- pots); (6) rim diameter; (7) base diameter; (8) height

[9] In the analysis have been considered only the pots related with dwellings dated by author at the and of fifth and in the sixth century. The seventh and eighth centuries pottery gets closer and closer by what is generally considered as Slavic pottery. The goal of this study was to establish if the Codîn community/ communities was/ were already Slav (as pottery tradition) in the time of great invasions.

[10] The figure is complementary of that of the last row, fourth column.

SECTION III - The main sites of the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture


            SECTION III is dedicated to the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture[1] sites. The section is structured in five chapters, for five areas: (1) western Muntenia[2], (2) central Muntenia, (3) “marginal” sites from Muntenia, (4) Oltenia and (5) south Transylvania. One of the answers we are looking for is if the last two in the list are constitutive parts of the culture under study, or not. The presentation progresses area by area and site by site. It was not intended as an exhaustive debate, the elements discussed being those that could promote a chronological and cultural judgment.

            Chapter 6 deals with sites (settlements only) from western Muntenia. The eponymous site at Ipoteşti (ROMAN & 1978, published many years after its discovery) was investigated under rescue condition, producing two huts and another half, but it was impossible to reconstruct the entire shape of any of them. The importance this site was given in the 1960s and after that is out of proportions. The early chronology initially proposed, at the end of the fifth century, is acceptable only because there is not very much to discuss. Comparing Ipoteşti with recent discoveries, we could try to say that does not represent the earlierSlavic pans”, usually well represented in early horizon, on sites east or west of Ipoteşti[3] (p. 103). stage of the culture. The main points of definition are an excessively sandy pottery, fired in oxidising conditions but turning grey, with relatively large vessels. The pottery is 90% fast-wheel formed. The decoration could be absent, or it’s very simple, with straight incisions, or with so-called “not intentional decorations” (horizontal discontinued traces). This description partially matches other early settlements. It is surprising to note the absence of “

            The group of settlements from Dulceanca (FERCHE 1974, 1986, 1992; see Map 2) has produced the most significant chronological sequence in western Muntenia, for the sixth century. Those three settlements, threaded along the Burdea river, seem to be the habitat of the same community, without important external influences, creating conditions for serial analyses that could throw light on the main stream of pottery evolution. The pottery statistical output suggested two settlement episodes at Dulceanca I (FERCHE 1974), respectively surface cottages (Dulceanca I a) and “huts” (Dulceanca I b). The “sunken-floored” houses are not deep (40-50 cm. lower than the ancient soil), in this geographical area, therefore the name “hut” is not a proper one, or, at least, not the best description. The settlements on the Romanian Plain were used for short periods of time (around 5 years or less), a fact that results from the absence of a continuous anthropic layer in the soil and the almost general lack of storage (/rubbish) pits. The exceptions are few, like the Dulceanca IV settlement, where 5 pits were found (FERCHE 1992), and that could be understood as signifying living longer in the same place, in some peaceful years (of which there were not very many in the sixth century). Occasionally those pits can be found inside some huts, interpreted as storage pits in the “distributor” house, that provides a clue about social organization. A chronological scheme has been proposed: Dulceanca IV-II-Ia-Ib, between the second/third and sixth/seventh decades of the sixth century. The study of the pottery shows that the following processes occur on the sixth century: diminishing number of pans; the average capacity of vessels decreases; decoration is frequent and is extending on the middle and lower pot’s body, but losing quality; decreasing to disappearance for Roman imports; decreasing of live resources; the functional shapes are going poorest (the “pot” became almost an exclusive form; p. 104-108)[4].

            There are briefly discussed some situations encountered on sites (like Olteni, Sfinţeşti, Copăceanca, Lăceni) from the same area, less studied but important for following the rise of the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture. The recent excavations at Copăceanca-Vârcan gave a chance to hypothesis about the lack of settlements (but not of inhabitants!) for most of the fifth century; the local communities turned to nomad life in the period of the domination of the area by the Huns. The conversion back to “permanent” settlements took time, going through improvised cottages in the river meadows (like Copăceanca-Cotu lui Pantilie, Lăceni, Olteni), and finally, turned back to the river terraces, in the “normal” place and the usual archaeological “look” (p. 108-110).

            Chapter 7 deals with the most important settlements researched in the Bucharest area, dealt with separately due to the quantity of archaeological inventory and the quality of publication.

            For the Ciurel settlement, the statistical out-put didn’t find differences to confirm a chronological gap between the southern group of huts (B1A and B2A) and the northern one (eight huts, from B1 to B8), as proposed (FERCHE 1979). The morphological groups distribution evidence drove to the conclusion that there were in reality, two settlement episodes, each led by one of the southern huts. The eccentric position of those huts, added to the richer inventory, allows us to conclude that these were the houses of the community’s leaders (p. 113-114). In the past Ciurel was supposed to be the paradigm of a Roman-Slavic synthesis, and was promoted to the dignity of naming a “Ciurel Culture”[5]. Nothing could be more false! The pottery from the Ciurel settlements has nothing in common with Slavic morphology. It is true that the Ciurel pottery is exceptional in the Dâmboviţa river valley, setting it outside the neighbouring context. The tiny dimensions of the pots (unusual for Slavic ceramics!) suggests a late chronology, perhaps in the third quarter of the sixth century.

            The Soldat Ghivan site (FERCHE & 1981) is in effect a single period settlement (with two linked phazes). The site was dated to the second part of the sixth century, due to a bow “Slav” fibula. The dimensions of vessels, larger than Ciurel, and the more careful forming of shapes, together suggest an earlier dating, as low as possible[6], probably in the middle of the sixth century (p. 115-116).

            The settlement at Căţelu Nou has been reported as a multistrata one (with a continuous anthropic deposit), that was intriguing regarding the primitive pottery discovered (LEAHU 1963, 1965). A closer look leads to the conclusion that the mentioned layer was belonging to an older settlement (Chilia-Militari type?), together with three of the huts dated to the sixth century (p. 118-119). Even so, with the very few from the few (only three huts instead of six), the settlement stays interesting. The hand-made pottery from both horizons (third century and sixth century) has a similar appearance, with an unusual height, illustrating the presence in the area of a population that is for sure descendant of the Carpi.

            If the facts from Căţelu Nou are too confusing to draw firm conclusions, the appearance of the same facies on both Străuleşti settlements (see Map 3) made me define a Străuleşti cultural horizon, that means a former Carpi population, with a very diluted “Romanized” character (p. 121). The Străuleşti-Lunca settlement looks older, due to its position in the Colentina-river meadow, a good ratio of forming vessels (about half is fast wheel made, that is the best for central Muntenia, until now), functionally more diverse forms (as long that is possible to conclude from the confused report, CONSTANTINIU 1963). The Străuleşti-Măicăneşti settlement (CONSTANTINIU 1965 a), from Colentina’s terrace, brought to light two coins of from Justinian (539 and 545, conforming to OBERLÄNDER 2000), found lying on the layer (the fourth century layer!), not in a secure context. If the dating “by coin” could be pushed far in the second part of the sixth century, the pottery evidence does not support a late chronology. The existence of some large storage jars suggests a healthy community, which does not suffer from lack of food supplies. This situation does not match the picture of a land disturbed by unceasing wars from the last part of the century. The losses of coins could have happened after the settlement had been abandoned (p. 119).

            A lot of other sites from the Bucharest area (especially north of the city) have interesting elements, but the way they have been published made them almost unusable. Băneasa-La Stejar (CONSTANTINIU 1965) was a rescue excavation carried out in a very difficult situation[7]. The settlement had at least three settlement episodes, with big storage jars, but with a morphology less taller, making it different from the Străuleşti cultural horizon, in spite of the proximity of the sites (p. 123; see also Map 3). The settlement at Militari-Câmpul lui Boja produced two late-Roman fibulae, suggesting not only an early chronology (in the sixth century)[8], but also a privileged relationship with the Empire. From an extended excavation there are published a pair of ceramic vessels, so we don’t have any material for discussion. One keeps hoping for the publication of the sixth century settlement, which could be connected with the Ciurel settlements (the two points are only about one km. apart). Finally, Lunca-Bârzeşti could be the single settlement from central Muntenia with predominance of wheel made pottery; excavated in rescue condition and published only in summary (SANDU 1992), this site adds to the list of lost opportunities. The same goes for Bălăceanca, which is unpublished (p. 125).

            Chapter 8 concerns the “marginal” sites. This “marginality” is a geographic one (extremely southern, eastern and northern areas of the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture) and a facies one (the most “unique”, or “extreme”).

            In the extreme south, on the right bank of the Argeş creek, there is the only one small area regularly inhabited within a zone 30 km from the Danube, along the Roman frontier. There are the settlements from Cătălui (probably from the first part of the sixth century), Şuviţa Hotarului and Radovanu. The last is not lasting to the seventh century, as thought (COMŞA 1975) and is a typical sixth century settlement (from the existing data no more can be said). The Şuviţa Hotarului site is one of the few settlements that can almost surely be dated to the seventh century, being part of the final horizon of the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture, defined by the relative exclusivity of the hand-made pottery, the absence of “Slavic pans” and the restrained dimensions of the pots (DAMIAN O 1996). This last “rule” is broken to “Şuviţa Hotarului”, thus I thought that from of all those studied this is the latest settlement of the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture (probably the second quarter of the seventh century; p. 128-129).

            In the extreme east of the settlements around Bucharest and also at the upper chronological extremity, there is the settlement from Vadu Anei (TEODOR E 2000 a). Fast-wheel-made pottery is absent, and one single sherd is from a slow wheel vessel, undecorated. This characteristics and the geographic position, extremely exposed (on the eastern bank of Pasărea river, see Map 3) made me consider that the settlement should be dated after the Slavs migration, which has a post-quem of 615 (p. 130-132). Both Şuviţa Hotarului and Vadu Anei are the last vital signs of the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture, marking the deepest crisis of local society. The influences of the Slavs on this final stage can’t be excluded, but can’t be sustained either (the morphology and the pots dimensions argue against it).

            The most important archaeological site from the eastern extremity of the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture is the great cremation necropolis at Sărata MonteoruNESTOR & 1955 to 1961). The morphological analysis of 11 entire pots produced results that took everybody by surprise, including the author of this work. Not only do we have there well-made fast-wheel-made vessels, with a post-Roman appearance (first morphological group on Sărata, the type CR_14B in the general taxonomy; see figure 116), with a shape copied by some hand-made products (the imitations of the craftsman’s products in the domestic production is general in all Ipoteşti-Cândeşti sites), but other morphological groups have no obvious analogies in the Slavic world (p. 132-133)! So, the great “Slavic necropolis” has no Slavic pottery![9] . Taking into account the fact that at least the cremations in urns (more than 200) are certainly Slav’s graves we conclude that the pottery was made not by Slavic warriors themselves, but by a subject population. The much larger number of graves with the cremated remains put directly in the pit (more than 1200) suggests the dimensions of this subject population (without excluding the possibility of the presence of Baltic elements, that had the same funerary rite; p. 133-134). (

            In the same area there are also some inhumation graves (Cricov-Ceptura to the south-west and Pruneni to the north-east). The distance from those inhumation graves to the great incineration graveyard gives a suggestion about the territorial range of the Sărata-Monteoru confederation: about 25 km. in radius. The ethno-cultural attributes of the inhumation graves are not clear, but the most likely possibility indicates the Antes people (p. 135).

            The second eponymous settlement of the studied culture, Cândeşti, is still unpublished, after 40 years. Victor TEODORESCU (1964, 1971) has considered the settlement as the final stage of the culture, dated to the last part of the seventh century. Today we cannot accept not only such a late chronology, but also the idea of the final stage. The careful forming of the pots (as appears from the few published), the predominance of the fast-wheel-made vessels (conforming to the digger’s text, but also from “unofficial sources”), the short distance to Sărata Monteoru, all suggest a date in the first half of the sixth century, before the Slavs came (p. 135).

            The sites in the Budureasca valley did not have much more luck. After about 30 years of research we have positive information only about a few pots. I was able to supplement the published assemblage with some vessels exhibited in Ploieşti Museum. The actual level of information does not permit site-by-site analyses, as desired. I had to do a global analysis, with all the risks that entails. In the group of pots there are certainly some early vessels (possibly very early, datable to the fifth century), and late vessels (uncertain how late, but no more than the beginning of the seventh century). The isolated position of the Budureasca valley resulted in a technological ration in the favour of hand-made vessels; was the site too far for pot-makers to reach? The paradox is that the vessel morphology does not reflect the isolated position; this is one of the most “associative” site I know, with analogies all over the Romanian Plain, including Oltenia! The thesis of “long lasting living” (TEODORESCU & 1993 a) is not acceptable, the valley looking more like a refuge place, sheltering diverse communities. This hypothesis is the only one that explains such a morphological diversity (p. 136-137).

            The settlements from Târgşor are also unpublished; I write “settlements” because there are at least two, of different chronology. The pottery is defined by crushed sherds in the clay paste (very easy visible) and a morphology that follows the big jugs of former centuries (without neck and turned off rim) and the absence of pans (although the settlements are not late). All these particular aspects are the content of the Târgşor cultural horizon. The considerable dimensions of the vessels (see figure 31), the technological ratio (with wheel-made ceramics well represented), and the simplicity of the decoration together suggest a relatively early chronology (p. 138-140).

            Şirna is another case where the work began some decades ago, but the publication work is delayed. The short annual reports present certain points of interest, beginning with metallurgical furnaces (the same type was used for seven centuries, from the third to the tenth centuries), the two or three levels of Ipoteşti-Cândeşti occupation (including overlapped contexts). The most interesting aspect regarding the birth of the culture we are investigating. In at least one context degenerative pottery of Sântana-Cherniakhov type is mixed with lots of primitive hand-made ceramics, oxidised (red) type, Ipoteşti-Cândeşti like pottery, and “Slavic” pans. This aspect, dated in all probability to the middle of the fifth century, is vital for understanding the transition from grey pottery to red (or brown) pottery[10]. We will have to await the publication before speaking of the Şirna cultural horizon.

            Another sub-Carpathian site that has been publishing only in the part is Băleni (MUSCĂ & 1980). In this settlement there are also more settlement episodes (at least three, on layers evidence), with extremely interesting separate pottery facieses. Unfortunately, there is nothing else to add than regret that such interesting research has still not been finalized properly (p. 142). As everyone can see, all northern Romanian Plain seems struck by the curse of silence. It is obvious only that this area is something else as the southern plain, but, unfortunately, we can’t tell how much. At a global level, we may say however that the Roman influence was lower in the northern area.

            Chapter 9 reviews the archaeological sites from Oltenia (western Wallachia; see Map 2), for the same span of time. The affiliation of this region to the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture was, until few years ago, a speculative subject. The detailed publication of the archaeological research from Gropşani (POPILIAN & 1998) put an end to uncertainty. Those two settlements, enclosing three settlement phases of the same community, together describe a major part of the first half of evolution for the culture we are studying here. One of these episodes, named the “Gropşani A aspect”, can be defined as almost exclusively fast-wheel vessels, associated with manually formed pans (a lot of them! the story of the “Slavic pan” ends here!). The other two episodes, similar in description, have a relative domination of hand-made pottery, in the same association with hand-made pans, and are together named “Gropşani B aspect”. The author of this work had reservations about the most credible sequence but finally accepted the hypothesis of the sequence from A to B sequence (p. 146). But we’ll have to come back to this issue...

            The second “key-site” in Oltenia is Vadu Codrii (NICA & 1994 and my own excavations after that). Based on the reports of the stratigraphy, there were established no less than five functional phases, of two cultural aspects; the first facies associates fast-wheel-made vessels of top quality (as good as Roman) with the worst hand-made pottery I ever saw and also a single sherd of a clay pan. The second facies is represented exclusively by hand-made pots, of the same kind. Beyond the manufacturing skills, the hand-made shapes from Vadu Codrii are the same as those from Gropşani . These sites taken together thus give us four cultural facies that covers the whole history of the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti Culture, from the late fifth century to the late sixth century, and together make a valuable control-group, not only for Oltenia, but also for the entire cultural area. The final facies from Vadu Codrii is associated with the discoveries from Vadu Anei and Şuviţa Hotarului (see the previous chapter), describing the last, degenerative stage of Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture, named the Vadu Codrii cultural horizon, taking its name from the first site of this horizon to be discovered and published (p. 148-149).

            Following this, some “troublesome sites” are discussed. These are published too briefly for a detailed (and useful) analysis. In the Făcăi settlement (TOROPU & 1971) have been identified intrusive items from the Târgşor cultural horizon (see previous chapter). The fact was also noticed for the Vadu Codrii settlement. The coincidence made me ask if we have there a refugee population from northern Muntenia (p. 150). Another important discovery signalled by Octavian TOROPU (& 1976) is the pottery kiln from Mărăcinele, considered by the researcher as belonging to the “Dridu” culture (eighth to tenth centuries). I think that there are good arguments (based on pottery and the presence of the tiles in the kiln) to step back the object in the Justinian years, probably in the first decade. This would be the first professional potter’s kiln (with a perforated grille and median wall), known for the sixth century north of the Danube. The existence of such an installation would explain the differences between the quality of Oltenia’s professional ceramics and the similar material from Muntenia (inferior on firing), and suggests some organization of handicrafts and consequently political control (the military authority from Sucidava, or a local chief).

            In the final part of the chapter are brief discussions of some situations at sites along the Danube, up to the Iron Gates. On Ostrovu Mare Island there were identified settlement traces from the late Roman Empire, at several points (864.5 fluvial km, Prundu Deiului, 873 fluvial km, Vadu Morii). The houses are half buried in the sandy soil (therefore badly preserved), most of them with an oven made of Roman bricks. This detail is important because, on the one hand, the archaeological reports on the pottery evidence are poor, on the other hand, there are many analogies for Roman brick ovens from Dacia Ripensis and Oltenia, beginning from the second century. The Prundu Deiului hut is dating in IV C, but all other are dating, large, in sixth (VII?) C. The “cremation cemetery” at Vadu Morii (BORONEANŢ & 1978) is, in fact, a settlement, and the five “ritual hearths” found there are just brick ovens from the huts (p. 153).

            The only cremation cemetery in the area is that at Balta Verde. Its full extent is unknown; only two graves have been discovered in 1934, and since then no further investigations have taken place. The report (BERCIU & 1956) is in addition confused and it is impossible to determine whether these are urned cremations or just pit graves (the latter seems more plausible). The attribution of this site to the Slavs was only due to the epidemic of such cultural attributions that affected Romanian archaeology in the 1950s, although there are few pointers to this in the funerary rite or in the associated material (most of sherds are fast-wheel made; p. 154).

            The huts from Insula Banului (DIACONU P & 1967) are extremely similar to those from Ostrovu Mare, but look later, and may be dated to the seventh century. Of the arguments advanced by the authors, one may retain those concerning the ratio of pottery manufacturing techniques (most of it hand-made, the rest – slow-wheel ceramics) though not those concerning the brick ovens, because it is not necessary to demolish a fortress to build an oven, and the considered lack of compatibility between a border fortress and the humble hut – it’s far to be a certitude for late sixth century. It is interesting to note the remark that the major political changes of the beginning of seventh century did not produce any changes in house and fireplace construction on, at least, that Danube island. Other neighbouring discoveries, like Ostrovu Şimian or Şviniţa not only do not prove the existence of an emigrated population, or “ethnical synthesis” etc. (COMŞA M 1974), but proves nothing at all, because the elements that could lead to an identification are missing. The single remarkable fact is the relatively high density of population on the Danube islands, both before and after the migration of the Slavs. The strategic importance of the Iron Gates can’t be underestimated, but the role of “military key-point” is doubtful. In comparison with the Danube left bank, below the Argeş River, and the whole area of the eastern Romanian Plain (in which, except some coin-hoards, there is nothing at all), the Iron Gates looks crowded. Even if around year 600 the region of the Iron Gates became a trouble-spot – as historical sources inform us – before and after that heroic episode the area was almost peaceful (regarding the circumstances; p. 155).

            Chapter 10 deals with the settlements from Bratei (southern Transylvania), trying to answer the question if, beginning with the last third of the sixth century, its pottery vessels are the products of a migratory people (not named, but Slavs, BÂRZU 1995) or of another migrated people, coming from the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti area. In one word: neither! The similarities with pottery from the South Carpathians are real, but on the basis of a common historical background, and not due to a population movement (p. 155; see also summary for the chapter 5).

 1] The culture was fully defined in 1964 (TEODORESCU 1964; see also TEODORESCU 1971, both in Romanian), and never critically revised since. It’s chronology begins with the end of V C. and it’s suppose to cover the seventh century. too. It defines a local Romanized material culture, in the area of central and western Muntenia, with Slavic influences, in specially in its eastern part and for the late episode of evolution. One can meet the “Ipoteşti-Ciurel-Cândeşti” (or just “Ciurel”) form, which moves the accent on Slavic contribution.

[2] We will follow, from this point, the Romanian denominatives “Muntenia” (Wallachia eastern from Olt river, known also as “Great Wallachia”) and “Oltenia” (Wallachia western from Olt river, known as “Little Wallachia”), which are more accurately descriptive.

[3] Diggings from 2001 (in western Muntenia too) confirms the existence of an early horizon without the pans.

[4] See also TEODOR E 2000, that is a study for Dulceanca settlements, with a large summary in English.

[5] A very recent position was taken (DIACONU P 2000) to defend the concept.

[6] The traditional point of view, in Romanian archaeology (not sustained by foreign scholars), is that bow fibulae could not be dated earlier that the second half of the century. A recent discovery (summer 2001, Copăceanca-Cotu lui Pantilie), put a bow fibula in a straight early Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture (defined by the good pottery, fast wheel made). The dating for Soldat Ghivan could be that way descended in the first half of the sixth century.

[7] The story of Băneasa-La Stejar is an emblem of “socialist democracy”. A communist “responsible” needed once – long time ago – some earth for arranging a park. He looked on the map, pointed the edge of the city and cried out: Bring the Machines! Men and machines worked hard, night and day, and pulled out lots of soil and sherds. After a while, the archaeologists came to “rescue” a massacred moon-like terrace.

[8] Digging from the campaigns 2001 and 2002 uncovered two dwellings dating around the middle of the fifth century, that makes from Militari site a very important one for understanding genesis of Ipoteşti-Cândeşti Culture.

[9]  Take note that the necropolis is not integrally published and a lot of shapes couldn’t be analyzed.

[10]  This strange facies, half Cerniakhov, half Ipoteşti-Cândeşti, was recently confirmed in two huts uncovered in the campaigns 2001 and 2002, on Militari settlement (Bucharest). Thanks to dr. Mircea Negru for allowed me to see the pottery.






SECTION IV - Ipoteşti-Cândeşti pottery


            SECTION IV takes a global look at the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti pottery, discussing, chapter by chapter, the fabrication, the decoration, the morphology, the capacity and the function.

            Chapter 11 is dedicated to the fabrics and begins with the issue of clay paste content. The old scheme with two major areas (“Cândeşti” – with crushed sherds – and “Ipoteşti” – without crushed sherds) is replaced with a more refined scale: Târşor cultural horizon – with crushed sherds in the paste, frequent and large sized (up to 1 cm. or more) as a general rule (most common in northern Muntenia); Străuleşti cultural horizon – with crushed sherds in the paste, incidentally present and small dimensions, sometimes slip treatment (most common in central Muntenia); Dulceanca cultural horizon – without crushed sherds, sometimes excessively sandy (western Muntenia, especially early settlements), usually with slip treatment (p. 162-164). It should be noted that these fabric types are connected with old practices in the same area. The fabrics of vessels from Oltenia are similar to those of western Muntenia, but some crushed sherds inclusions are mentioned there. The pottery handicraft from the former centuries did not have this additive, the earliest horizon from the fifth century seemingly did not either, its appearance probably being due to migrated elements (shapes resembling to Târgşor cultural horizon have been already identified in Vadu Codrii and Făcăi settlements). The schemes presented above are susceptible of improvement and detailing, if more attention will in future be paid to the manufacturing techniques in archaeological reports. It should be mentioned here that study of methods of fabrication can provide important arguments in global judgment of the sites, as it happened in the case of the Gropşani site, turning upside down the chronological terms, in a new order: Gropşani B (without crushed sherds) – Gropşani A (with some, incidentally, crushed sherds in pots paste; p. 165).

            Now we come to forming techniques. Here we reject “refinements” like “hand-made pottery retouched on the wheel”, “slower fast wheel” or “enhanced slow wheel” which mean nothing more than funny ways to described uncertain facts. Here we use instead relatively abstract notions as “fast-wheel” (for that with continuous spinning) and “slow-wheel” (for discontinuous movement, “come-and-go” type). The effective use of one tool or another is only presumed, the objective observation consists of determining the presence or absence of wheel marks or the evaluation of symmetry. For the sixth century the use of the slow wheel is doubtful. At the level of actual data (pathetically low) I guess that the “slow-wheel” pottery of the sixth century has a poor sorting of pebbles in the clay which renders the shaping of vessels on a fast wheel impossible; this is probably the reason why this type of pottery was not often decorated, or is very simply decorated (it’s not easy to make nice incisions on rocky fabric!). Resuming, the “speed” of the wheel that can be used depends on the raw material (a comparison with eighth century slow-wheel forming and decoration is instructive). The fact remains to be confirmed by attentive observations in the future.

            The evolution of the pottery of the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture demonstrates a general tendency from a high ratio of fast-wheel pottery (as in previous cultures) to the exclusive use of hand-made ceramics; this final point is an expression of deep local social crisis, but also the disintegration of the system of organization of handicrafts over a wider region. The development is not a linear progression, and not homogenous in all micro-regions. At sites of the same period, the frequency of use of the potter’s wheel decreases from west to east and from south to north. The technical involution is only a key-word to keep in mind; in fact, the involution is not a continuous process. The final part of the fifth century is a period of convalescence for both society and handicraft organization. The peak of the pottery production is presumed to be contemporary with the short period of monetary circulation bloom from the third decade of the sixth century (OBERLÄNDER 2000). This is followed by a new crisis, until the final ruin of the pottery production, in the late sixth century. The process of adopting the slow-wheel, in the domestic craft practice, takes another century. The general cause of all these facts is too obvious to be written (p. 167-168).

            A particular aspect of the manufacture of pottery is the thickness of the pot walls (taken as a relative dimension, depending on general dimensions of the vessel). In the last half a century it has been repetitively asserted, hundreds of times, that Slavic pottery is badly shaped, awkwardly formed (in the opinion of Romanian archaeologists, of course), the thicker walls were therefore adopted as an “identification tip”. It now seems that – based on averages of hundreds of measurements, for each cultural group – that what we have heard so many times is nothing other than a scientific myth. The figures for Slavic pottery look better than Ipoteşti-Cândeşti pottery, especially for the thickness at the foot of the vessels (p. 168-169).

            For the sixth century, in Muntenia, we “know” of more pottery-kilns. We have scant information about some of them (Budureasca, Dămăroaia), while others are of doubtful functionality (Băleni, Sf. Ioan cel Nou, including the “enhanced” type from Radovanu). Stays on consideration the kiln from Dulceanca, that is not good but not bad, in comparison with other cultures, less barbarian (for example Getic culture, v. TROHANI 2000). To these should be added the Mărăcinele kiln, from Oltenia (see again chapter 9), that is a professional installation, of – almost – Roman standards. There are no pottery firing pits, but some domestic ovens (especially the type with “chimney”) could have been used not only for cooking food, but for pottery firing too (p. 169-170).

            I think that the study of pottery kilns is important but not a priority. The main source for technological issue is the most frequent archaeological find: potsherds. An attentive look at these objects (colour, hardness, composition, etc) and laboratory analyses could say exactly enough what kind of installation was used. The Compass System doesn’t record the type of firing (oxidized/ reduced), considering it redundant, but the colour. The author recommends the use of the general colours (“yellowish”, “reddish”, “brown”), at least in one database field. A detailed investigation could require also the recording of precise shades, as possible on fresh broken sherds; that would be an additional field in the database. In the evolution of the pottery of the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti Culture, there is a very visible trend from reddish-grey to brick-red (in cases where the best technical condition has been achieved), and turning to brown towards the end. These differences have no cultural meaning and reflect only the variability of the technological conditions of the pottery fabrication (p. 171).

            Chapter 12 is concerned with decorative techniques and patterns. The hand-made pottery is usually not decorated, only about 10% (or less) being the exception. The variability of decoration on wheel-made ceramics is more important, seeming to be connected to fabric quality; therefore, only 30-40% of the material from early and late periods are decorated, and up to 80% for the pottery from settlements dated to the middle of the period (p. 173-174).

            For the early sites the decoration of wheel-made pottery is characterised by simplicity (horizontal incisions, most usual with a single point tool, on the shoulder); the “involuntary” decoration is another early character. In the better days of Ipoteşti-Cândeşti pottery, the incision became larger and deeper, and, accidentally, one can see horizontal “ribs”, as a sign of influence from the area to the south of the Danube. At the same time, however, appears a trend towards crowding decoration, by adding new registers and a second pattern (the wavy line). This is no longer an influence from the neighbouring but closed Roman region, but rather increasing influence from the middle Danube region (Illyria). In the second phase of evolution, one notices the abandonment of large incisions in favour of a tool with multiple points (like a narrow comb; the object type itself however has never been found), and also the crowding and disorganization of registers. These middle Danubian influences are far more important in western parts of Wallachia. The association wave next to straight-line (in repeated registers) seems to be almost the only pattern in the Iron Gates area. Unfortunately, in the pottery reports from the Iron Gates region, we have more pottery descriptions than drawings (p. 175-177). This pattern is decreases in frequency from west to east, but is occasionally met in the Bucharest area.

            Almost half of the decorated hand-made pottery follows – as good as possible – the decoration themes from the wheel-made pottery. It need not be said how ugly these imitations are… Among the remaining examples, the most frequent decoration consists of finger or thumb-prints on the rim (less typical are knife-cuts on the rim). This pattern appears from the early settlements, including on wheel-made pottery. In order of frequency comes next the crosses on wet clay (sometimes as crux gammata) The pattern is rare but is nowhere absent in extensive excavations. The significance of this sign in relation to Christianity is uncertain (for the gammata version it is out of question), but it is a fact that this pattern occurs all over the area north of the Lower Danube, but not in the homeland of the Slavs (see also the topography of the bronze crucifixes and the crucifix moulds). Finally, a category of decoration is made by signs that have been interpreted as writing (though never been read). It seems that these signs are a magical imitation of writing (p. 179-181).

            Chapter 13 alphanumeric morphology – brings into the focus three sets of facts: angularity, rim morphology and base morphology.

            Angularity of vessel form is associated with professional pot making, on high-speed spinning wheel and with a fine fabric. Therefore, the angular forms are absent in pottery production from societies that never had such traditions. The most frequent angularities are the nervures (see illustration, k and k1), the arch breakings (discontinuities; see illustration, a and b) and the sills (see illustration, e and f), often marking the line between the body and the neck of the vessel. This kind of shaping is usual on pottery from the Chilia-Militari culture, Sântana-Cherniakhov culture or on Roman pottery. In the settlements from the Romanian Plain, of the sixth century, only 5,4% of the vessels would maintain the tradition of advanced shaping. A significant group of these are hand-made vessels (obviously, a difficult task with often pitiful results), which is a testimony to old cultural patterns (p. 183-184).

            The main conclusion of the study of rim morphology is a great disappointment. The rim cross-sections are less relevant than the archaeologist would wish to have us believe. The morphological variability is high, the rim shapes being more a “personal signature” than a cultural mark. The disappointment is linked to the limited ability to demonstrate any typological developments or demonstrate the identity of a particular area. This does not mean that the major cultural identities could not be observed with the help of rim morphology (but it would be easier with other methods). Some regional characters could however be mentioned. In comparison with sites in western Wallachia, the rim morphology from sites near Bucharest is simpler, which matches the simplicity of decoration. Some cases recall more sophisticated antecedents (or just contemporary analogies?), such as the “S” shaped rim, associated usually to the lids (but these are almost completely absent; p. 185-186).

            The comparison between south-Carpathian and central Ukrainian rim morphology for hand-made pottery demonstrates important differences; the first area is characterised by externally thickened rims, „S” shaped ones and those slightly bevelled, while the latter area by a more frequent occurrence of the “cut-up” ends (rectangular rims). More perceptible differences occur in the so-called (in the Compass System) “rim district” (or “the dial” of the rim; see the theoretical illustration and statistical report; p. 187-188).

            The study of the type of shaping of the base of the vessel concludes that the so-called “ogival base” is not a Slavic character (as has repeatedly been suggested); on the contrary, the thick base looking like an ogive (upside down) is a quite local tradition, and appears also on the wheel-made pottery. This is not a characteristic inherited from the Romans, but is an old Getic practice. The most common bottoms have a flat exterior, with extremely few exceptions (that have a concave exterior, like late Roman pottery). Adding these facts to the observations made for decorative patterns, supports the hypothesis that the potters had few connections with the traditions from south of the Danube (p. 188-189).

            Chapter 14 is dedicated to numeric morphological analyses. The procedure has as a starting point with a “cascade classification” of all known shapes (including some half preserved shapes, possible to classify), that begins with a site (and site phase) typology, after that the typological averages are used to construct a regional classification that includes all pots from the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti area (p. 191-192).

            This regional (and cultural) taxonomy is used, further, for making a sites serial table. The table is headed by the Gropşani settlements, followed by the Dulceanca settlements, Soldat Ghivan, Ciurel, Budureasca, Vadu Codrii, Străuleşti, Sărata Monteoru, Căţelu Nou, Târgşor and Băleni. Excepting the leading settlements (Gropşani), all other positions taken by sites in the table are determined strictly by the morphological types it produced and by the rule of smallest difference. One’s first observation is the excellent homogeneity of the Gropşani pottery, all shapes belonging to only 6 morphological groups (or subgroups, this doesn’t matter here). These 6 groups represent only 13,3% of the serial entities (45 groups or subgroups), but contain one third of all Ipoteşti-Cândeşti pottery. These six groups are well represented in other settlements too (Dulceanca, Ciurel, Soldat Ghivan, Vadu Codrii, and, less, Budureasca). With one single type exception (CR_18, absent in Muntenia), the morphological groups from Gropşani all have Roman analogies. This is why the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture can’t be discussed today without sites in Oltenia; these groups are dominant (as number of pots) and provide the dominant character for the whole culture (p. 193).

            Things look similar for the next group of forms (8), which are dominant at Dulceanca (but are absent to Gropşani). The statistic weight for those groups is also beyond average (17,8% of groups, representing 26,8% of pots). The analogies are going also to Soldat Ghivan, Ciurel and Budureasca, with the addition of Străuleşti. Those eight groups have not a homogenous cultural description; three of them seem to have a Roman origin (following the automatic analogies and the relative analogies), another three have a Getic-Sarmatian origin (an indistinct category, because in the sixth century the distinction between Getic and Sarmatian original elements is almost impossible to determine), the other two groups belonging to the Târgşor cultural horizon (supposing a movement of population, as already mentioned for Oltenia). Over all (Gropşani leaded types and Dulceanca leaded types, see table), the pottery from the settlements from Dulceanca has as a dominant character a Roman morphology (about two thirds), and other ancient local elements (Getic, probably) as a secondary character (p. 196-198).

            The morphology inherited from the Romans is diluted the further we move east. At the Soldat Ghivan site – a settlement still with nice forms – the Roman morphology declines to two fifths of the assemblage, the same as for Carpic background shapes (Străuleşti cultural horizon), the last fifth belonging to Getic-Sarmatian look-alikes. The settlement at Ciurel seems to be culturally isolated, the morphologic types frequently having no analogies. Even the groups with supposed Roman origins look degenerated (not all but most), without direct analogies, making together a strange majority. The Getic-Sarmatian component forms a low percentage, and the post Carpic morphology is simply absent, in spite of close proximity of the Străuleşti and Soldat Ghivan settlements. The lot of classified shapes from Ciurel is the largest, for the Romanian Plain, but the “singularity rate” (see table; on the second column – the number of classified shapes; on the fourth column – the singularity rate) is the highest (one third of morphological groups fails to find an analogy whatever in the Romanian cultural landscape or Slavic world). The better morphological analogies of Ciurel go for Dulceanca II, thus not mean a western history for the Ciurel community (the decorative patterns are not matched). The situation from Ciurel suggests that the post-Carpic elements have their southern “border” between Colentina and Dâmboviţa rivers (see map 3); this conclusion has to be checked on other sites (Militari perhaps, if ever published; p. 199-200). It should be noted that in the third century the situation was exactly the same (BICHIR 1973, 1984).

            Budureasca has a perfect balance between supposed Roman, Getic-Sarmatian and post-Carpic cultural elements. This kind of mixture is unique in Muntenia. There is also a Kolocin-like shape (parallels from the middle Dniepr river). The analogies address all major studied regions: Oltenia, Dulceanca, Bucharest sites, Sărata Monteoru (p. 201). The refugee syntheses hypothesis seems the most obvious explanation, for the Budureasca valley it is the only explanation for such a wide cultural spectrum in such isolated settlements.

            The Măicăneşti, Lunca and Căţelu Nou settlements make together the Străuleşti cultural horizon. The basic character is a blend of post-Carpic shapes (tall, made exclusively by hand), Getic-Sarmatian shapes (tall also, but not so tall, made sometimes by wheel), and a tiny, sporadic presence of Roman-type products. The post-Carpic shapes are the most particular (and peculiar), and could occur in other sites too (Soldat Ghivan, Budureasca, etc). In this cultural horizon, the “Romanized culture” is reflected in some “imported” pots. The Roman shapes are not cultural assimilated, because there are no replicas on hand-made pottery (p. 201-202).

            We have already had occasion to describe the mixed-up situation at Sărata Monteoru. The analogies address a lot of sites from Muntenia, but the ratios are poor (under 20%; p. 202). Anticipating here the final conclusions, the pottery from the famous necropolis can be ascribed neither to Slavic primitive world nor the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture. The origins have perhaps to be sought in southern Moldavia, but due to the poor state of research we have little comparative data from this area. It is worth noting as an anecdotal fact that the “Slavic” pottery from Ciurel has no connections whatever with the reputedly “Slavic” pottery from Sărata Monteoru.

            One last subchapter deals with a direct comparison of the morphological types from Romanian Plain (noted CR*) with those made in the Slavic world (noted CSV*). Some experiments have been carried out. The first is the resuming of “cascade” classification (third stage), using the CR and CSV types for building up a new taxonomy. The procedure is “blind” (we can see the clusters but we don’t know the content; exemple, see graphs 1 and 2) and produces new typological groups, named “inter-cultural types”. The goal is to bring out analogies, the possible influences (or just the morphological resemblance). The main conclusion from this experiment is that the two series do not have very much in common. From over one hundred entities, “identity problems”[1] were found only for 13 of them (10 from Romanian Plain sites, 3 from the Slavic world). For neighbouring territories, similar pottery shapes does not imply, mechanically, the direct influence, and even less a migration. Nevertheless, a detailed analyses brought up some morphological groups from the Romanian Plain for which the direct influence of Slav ceramics can’t be excluded: the group CR_07B (rare: one pot at Străuleşti and one from Budureasca), the intricate group CR_14B (three hand-made pots from Sărata Monteoru, but another one fast wheel pot; it cannot be excluded that the potter could have followed a model demanded by the client, hand-made originally), the group CR_25 (one pot, also Sărata Monteoru); to this should be added the CR_21 shape, that belongs to the Kolocin culture, perhaps an indicator of part of the bow-wave of a Slav migration. Between Slav ceramic groups with “identity problems” one may also count the most important of all, CSV_08A, so-called Slavic western pot (its resemblance to Roman types has already been explained), the CSV_10D type (isolated, only Slovakia, post-Roman shape) and the CSV_13 type (an isolated pot from Hucea, Basarabia, representing probably micro-regional experiences; p. 205-206).

            Chapter 15 considers the capacity of vessels produced in the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture. At the outset it should be mentioned that the current practice, that is classifying the vessel size based upon general dimensions (height, but mostly rim diameter), it is an illusion (vessels with the same rim diameter could have very different capacities). The users of the pots were concerned about the shape, colour and maybe water and fire resistance, and the capacity, rather than absolute dimensions. The aim of this study was to determine the average dimensions (including capacity) for each settlement (level or phase) and a comparison of these values between cultures. As a secondary aim, we have to determine whether the capacity figures are compatible with the idea of a system of capacities.

            Hypothetically, the morphological groups should be specialized for diverse activities (cooking, storing water, milk, cereals, etc); the hypotheses has been proved convincing only for Gropşani settlements, that became a reference for the whole culture. Thus, the pots from three morphological groups cluster around Roman standards for solids (grains, respectively the modius[2], semi-modius and a quarter-modius), two groups clustered around Roman standards for liquids (congius[3], half-congius and three congius), and two other groups suggesting the existence of another measure, around 5 litres (and a fraction). We don’t know the name and the utility of such a measure, but some tests made on Roman assemblages, as a comparison, confirm the clustering tendencies around 5 litres (and multiples; for example – Capidava, graph 9, groups marked for 4.28 l. and 5.6 l.; p. 208-209). The study for half preserved forms, including those not classified morphologically, was necessary to complete the data about capacities used in Gropşani vessels, finding absent measures on the entire-shape range. The study of half preserved shapes was helpful including for the most numerous lots, as Ciurel (compare graph 1, with entire-shapes capacities, and graph 2, with “deduced capacities”; this last concept is based on known upper capacity and on the solidarity between the members of the same morphological type, meaning that the ratio of the upper capacity on total capacity is considered to be a constant figure).

            In pottery assemblages from Muntenia the specialization of the morphological groups in capacity classes of the same kind (solids, liquids or 5 litre measures) could not be revealed. Unless they seem to produce further ceramics with (some) control about capacity (including hand-made pottery), the inhabitants of Muntenia lost the adapted shapes for each activity (theoretically, a specific pot shape should have a specific function, like in the Roman culture). This is an aspect connected with the losing of cultural content (or barbarisation) and the simplification of the functional range of shapes. It cannot be excluded that the measure of the ceramics – that can’t be recognized just by looking the shape – was marked directly on the pot, one way or another, using a light paint. Repeated tries to “unlock” the functional code (at the decoration level, or at the rim morphology level) haven’t produced any result (p. 211). It is obvious on the other hand that some social events (like distribution of supplies) required that at least some ceramics (especially large vessels) would correspond to some measurement.

            The capacities classes frequency table (p. 212) shows the differences between the Slavic world and Ipoteşti-Cândeşti sites (the latter with a preference for small pots). The same table shows the differences between early and late sites; the first have a wider range of options, with a relatively balanced ratios between middle-large ceramics (6, 8 litres) and middle-small and small recipients (3.2 litres or less); the last lacks the large pots (excepting storage jars) and using only small pots instead. The result is that the site (level or phase) averages are decreasing. In a sociological view, we could say that the diminishing of the resources (see the dominance of the small pots) led to their concentration (see the storage jars) to allow the community to survive (p. 213).

            The chapter is concluded with two tables (for hand-made pottery and wheel-made pottery)[4] that bring together rim diameter averages and half (upper) capacities from Romanian Plain sites and some referential figures for other cultures (in Antiquity or Slavs). Some conclusions became obvious: the capacity averages for Ipoteşti-Cândeşti vessels are only two thirds of those in the Slavic world; for a change, the hand-made pottery assemblage from Capidava (sixth century) fits Romanian Plain settlements all along comparison terms (rim diameter, upper capacity, upper height ratio to general height); the two major technical types (wheel-made and hand-made) of Ipoteşti-Cândeşti pottery have similar proportions and dimensions, which suggests the cultural identity (it should not be forgotten that these are statistics showing global trends, missing the details). Due to the dimensions decreasing through the sixth century (as a general trend), these two tables gives some suggestions for the chronological sequence, beginning with Ipoteşti and Gropşani and ending with Şuviţa Hotarului, Vadu Anei and Vadu Codrii (p. 214).

            A serious debate about the capacity classes of the ceramic containers leads, sooner or later, to an evaluation of the social resources, demographical trends, supplies management. We have to deal than with storage pits (including those inside huts), and some special facilities, like “chimney” ovens (usable for drying cereals), subjects that ends with the same conclusion: the communal resources are severely diminishing in the second part of the sixth century.

            The section on the pottery ends with the issue of the function of vessels (chapter 16). As a theoretical aim, the classification of the recipients as plate, dishbowl and so on should be the result of some morphological definitions, inside well-designed limits. In practice, the objects are given names by archaeologists directly from intuition and personal background. The result is that the attempts to statistically compare site inventories using a report using these names produces only confusion. The numeric morphology is the single proper answer to get back the order and a real meaning of words. The ceramic vessel’s function can’t be the beginning of the pottery study – as usually happens – but it’s end, because a functional judgment depends on all other data (fabrics, decoration, morphology, capacity; p. 218). or

            The functionality issue for the early middle ages is the most blurred of all. The more or less absence of classical shapes (pitcher, jug, bowl, etc) makes the recognition of functions difficult. A more detailed study is performed only for the Dulceanca settlements; the situation for all other settlements – which seems very similar – is globally analysed.

            In the Chilia-Militari culture (second to third centuries in central Muntenia) the ratio of handless pots in pottery inventories is between 47% and 57%. Later, in the Cireşanu cultural horizon (northern Muntenia, end of fourth century and the beginning of the next) the figures rise to 67-71%. For the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture the ratio is usually between 70% and 90%. The simplification of the functionality range – reflecting social crises and a growing poverty – is thus an older historical process, but became most marked in the sixth century The handless pot ratio is “only” 70% in Gropşani B level (see table)[5] and Dulceanca IV (the earliest in their areas), but grows to 76,5% for Dulceanca II and 82% in Gropşani level A (the one with the predominance of the wheel-made pottery!); the ratio is around 80% for Soldat Ghivan and Ciurel level B (the earliest of two), and, closer to the end of the sixth century, rises up to 87% in Ciurel level A and over 88% in Dulceanca I. For Vadu Codrii cultural horizon settlements, the handless pot seems to become the exclusive ceramic object! (p. 227).

            The pans present a quite surprising evolution. The peak of the frequency is just in the beginning, in the Gropşani settlements (level B, that would be chronologically the first), where 22% of the ceramic inventory consist of pans (a unique frequency, never seen in the Slavic world or elsewhere). In the rest of the sites, the occurrence of the object is from 4 to 10%, with a decreasing trend towards the final stage of the culture (1% for Dulceanca I). So far, not a single clay pan has been found in an assemblage of the Vadu Codrii cultural horizon. The scheme is not always respected however; there are some relatively early settlements that have no pans (Ipoteşti, Copăceanca, Târgşor). The frequency of the pans in the Slavic world is only incidental in the sixth century, increasing in the seventh century. The origin of the pans is not a simple issue, because there are early pans (beginning of the sixth century or earlier) in both central Ukraine and on the Romanian Plain. The evolution, for a change, is quite different: in decreasing for Romanian Plain (where they are absent for VII century and next), in progress for Slavic settlements, for the next centuries (p. 227).

            There is no entire amphora discovered in a sixth century settlement from the Romanian Plain. Fragments however have been found in secondary position, which means that supplies were hidden outside the settlements. The peak of these imports is recorded for an early stage (Dulceanca IV) and does not match the peak of the local pottery production (in the next generation, for Gropşani A and Dulceanca II; p. 228)

            One can say very little about other functional forms (bowls, jugs, lids, even one lighter – most of them made by hand!) except that they are incidentally present, but never absent from a micro-region. The absence of one or another from one specific location looks more due to random factors (for example in cases perhaps where not all sherds were picked up…). Their occasional occurrence suggests that the names that attribute a function to them are dubious, because the type of distribution makes it more likely that these objects had cultic (religious or magic) functions (p. 229).

            A very characteristic element of the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture is the miniature pot (6 cm height or less). Always made by hand, the frequency of this vessel type on sites on the Romanian Plain is sensitive higher than in the Slavic settlements. These little recipients are inherited from the previous Chilia-Militari and Cherniakhov cultures. Regarding the history of the objects, at least some of them had symbolic functions (p. 229).


further – Section V

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the Romanian version general index

the Romanian version for Section IV

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[1] The “identity problem” issue is the result of a frequently association with shapes came from other cultural horizons; each graph from that sub-section provided a table of “characters” for each entity, using 5 “descriptors”: specificity (S), exclusivity (E), Romanian Plain (A), Slavic area (B), and “mixed-up” (absent from the table). In the end, for each entity resulted a concatenated line, like “SA; SA; SB; SA; SA”; the example gave would be “normal” for a type known for Romanian Plain, but would be a “identity problem” for a Slavic type (see table; bold for “identity problems”).

[2] 8,732 l.

[3] 3,275 l.

[4] For the both tables, the first column is the name for a culture or site/level (in parentheses the ratio upper height/height as a cultural average), the second column is the rim diameter, the third column mean the number of pots measured for rim diameter, the fourth column is the upper capacity (from belly diameter to the neck diameter) and the last is the number of pots with known upper diameter.

[5] From up to down: amphora, jug, lid, bowl, cup, handless pot, handle pot, lighter, retort (small), pan, pitcher, provision jar.







SECTION V – Other domains of research


            SECTION V is preparing the final conclusions by confronting the pottery research results with information provided by other historical and archaeological fields of research, and it is structured in two chapters.

            Chapter 17 summarises the literary historical sources. Without the intention and illusion of challenging specialist researchers in the field, I have tried an “archaeological” reading of the sources, with limited and strictly defined targets: the identification of the migrating peoples and the location of their attack bases on the Lower Danube, throughout the sixth century. The goal was to establish an “archaeological expectation”, and to confront it with the facts from the field. The detailed text commentaries are to be found in the second volume, section VI (Romanian only). The chapter summarised here creates only the general historical frame and draws the conclusions of the enterprise. We will concentrate here on the last part.

            For the military balance in the Balkans, throughout the sixth century, the Lower Danube represents a secondary front (that doesn’t mean “unimportant”). The main front – the “key-point” – is Sirmium and the Lower Sava river, due to the vulnerability of the position (the limes could be attacked from the right bank of Danube) with access to both the major strategic areas, in western or eastern Peninsula. By contrast, the Lower Danube limes was a strongly fortified position, the last that would be abandoned. The belief that the most part of barbarian attacks had as a starting point the crossings over the Lower Danube is only the result of a superficial reading. For example, one invasion ascribed systematically to the sclaveni from the Lower Danube, in the year 517, is now understood as a Gepid raid started in the Middle Danube area (p. 235, 238).

            More than that, the sclaveni invasion of 527 never took place. For the Roman authorities on the Lower Danube some troubles began in 528, and in the next seven years they had to respond to limited plunder expeditions, probably commanded by the Cutrigours tribes. Massive attacks, in both the strategic areas (Middle and Lower Danube), occurred in 539-540 and 544 (see the synoptic table), the first to debilitate the Roman possession. The first appearance of the Slavs in the Balkans as an independent military force occurred in 546 (limited raiding), but again in 550 (the first major military strike). This could be the historical moment in which we may presume a massive Slavic presence in the Lower Danube area, and a long-term settlement of the sclaveni warriors in the proximity of the Roman limes. From the same time (548-552) we may presume a Slavic colonization in Tisza and Middle Danube Plain, under the authority of the Gepids or Longobards (p. 236, 238).

            The great invasion of the Cutrigours from 559, on the Lower Danube, is the first strategic blow that weakens the Roman defensive system in an unrecoverable manner; a lot of fortresses are abandoned, and the later rebuilding never brought back as high a degree of urbanism or security. The Avars flood in the Danube basin (562) is another key episode, which changes the balance of force for a long time and will produce the collapse of the limes. The main stages are 567 (the Avars became masters in the Middle Danube Plain), 582 (the Avars take Sirmium, the gateway to the Balkans), the long campaigns of 584-587 (planning to systematically ruin the defensive points of the limes, from west to east), the unceasing wars after 592, pathetically ended with the 602 rebellion (that is not due to the military situation which was, strangely enough, good - but to a collapse of the finance system. Opposed to the general opinion, I think that the Sclaveni tribes of the Romanian Plain were politically independent of the Avar Kaghan, in spite of the punishment campaigns from 579, until the last years of sixth century (p. 237).

            If there is no “nomadic problem” for the archaeological research of the Romanian Plain of the sixth century, there is a “Slavic problem”, because the Slavs are responsible for a lot of archaeological remains (for some authors – all of them). The “archaeological expectation”, established reading the sources, refers to the fifth decade as the moment of an important Slavic settlement in the area. The Slavic migration has nothing to do with the genesis and development of the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture, but with its collapse. Archaeologically can be attested only the group (tribe? confederation?) from Buzău county. The historical sources indicate at least four distinctive groups, but only for the last decades of the sixth century The numeric development of Slavs occurred, probably, after 562 (pushed by Avars; lately MADGEARU 1997, but the theory is older), but the stages of this increase cannot yet be followed archaeologically. There were probably other migration waves. The greatest part of this population crossed the Danube later than 613-614, therefore the maximum density of Slavs in the Romanian Plain occurred for about a quarter century (c. 590 – c. 613). The archaeological evidence of this fact is rather disappointing (p. 238-239).

            Chapter 18 continues to comparison of the pottery study conclusions with other fields of research. The first subchapter is dedicated to numismatic studies, based on a brand new synthesis (OBERLÄNDER 2000). The main conclusion is the qualitative distinction between Oltenia and Muntenia. From the point of view of monetary flow, Oltenia has a very similar situation to Dacia diocese (south of the Danube), especially beginning with the second decade of the sixth century; Oltenia – or at least the southern part – is therefore an integrated part of the Roman Empire. The situation is less due to economical exchange, but to the presence of garrisons (the emissions of Constantinople are more frequently here than in Balkan provinces; p. 242). By contrary, Muntenia is a “barbarian” territory, because the monetary flows (see the synoptic table for monetary flow, after OBERLÄNDER 2000) weaker and incidental, and the fluctuations are unconnected to the trends known from the Empire and Oltenia (p. 244). This difference can be illustrated by the study of the pottery, but not in the same way. The status of Oltenia as a part of the Empire is shown by the numismatic evidence. The pottery study demonstrates more the recourse to old-fashioned (Early Roman) shapes. But both lead to the conclusion about the Roman character of sixth century Oltenia.

            The peak of gold coins discoveries in Oltenia dates from 527-537, which is reflecting the effort of rebuilding the limes. Around this decade we should link the peak of the handicraft activities, including that of potters. Decreasing monetary levels are recorded in connection with invasions of 544, 559, 578, 581-584, 586-587; other military events, less known from literary sources, seem to have taken place in 589/590, 593/594 and 597/598. These decreases usually anticipate the invasions in the Empire, therefore we understand that, although Oltenia was never the main target, it never escaped the attention of the invaders, which wanted to prevent side-actions (p. 243). The numismatic evidence from Oltenia shed light also on the situation in Muntenia, which was a passage territory for all these events. The year 544 seems to be the beginning of the involution of the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture. The multiplying attacks after 578 explains, clearly enough, the process of abandonment of settlements (at least in the archaeologically attested “classic” form), and the disintegration of the handicraft pottery framework. There is a relative parallelism between monetary fluxes and settlement density, only relative because we can’t imagine a demographical progress similar to the fast monetary fluxes blooming, for the beginning of the century, neither such a brutal decline – for the end (p. 243).

            The hoards buried in Oltenia around 680 proved that the deposit processes started around 650, in the so-called populus sclavenii, federated with the Byzantine Empire (and paid by them, p. 244). The history of most of the seventh century can’t be represented with archaeological facts, and we should give more considerations for the reasons of this…

            Briefly reviewing the situation in Muntenia, the peak of the bronze coins circulation is dated to between 532-537, supposing more than military raids (thus an economic relationship). Very soon, however, the long interruption between 545-553 warning about the brutal end of the process. Ernest Oberländer thinks that this is the historical moment of Slavs colonization of the territory (p. 245). The outstanding coincidence of conclusions of three independent studies (Madgearu for inventory analyses of Sărata Monteoru, Oberländer on coin distributions and myself for historical sources investigation) makes me hope that we are nearby the truth. After 553, the penetration of coins in Muntenia is incidental. The rarity of gold and silver discoveries proves that the strategic role of Muntenia was inferior to Moldavia or Transylvania, and the presumption of a significant mass of Slavs does not correspond to the facts (p. 244). The monetary hoards are composed by bronze coins. Except the Troianul (Teleorman county) hoard, the other three hoards have been found near the Danube bank, on the edges of the Bărăgan Plain, in a region completely deserted of settlements (see Map 2). These hoards are “imports” (south-Danube accumulations), brought to the left bank by robbery and buried on retorting actions. The absolute value of those hoards is much less important than the evidence of the literary sources (p. 245).

            The second – and the last – subchapter looks at the “collateral archaeological evidence”, giving short commentaries about houses and habitation types, metal inventories, physical anthropology and funerary rituals.

            The habitation patterns are far from a simple issue. I have already pointed out that I am not denying the presence of Slavic people on the Romanian Plain, especially eastward and from the fifth decade of the sixth century, but I deny the presumption that this population lived, at the time of migration, in an identical way of life as in the fatherland villages (against: STANCIU 1999). This conclusion is the result of the failure to identify a single settlement (or settlement horizon) in Muntenia that could be ascribed to the Slavs through the ceramic inventory. The debate about house fitting and the cultural determination is not ready to bring persuasive arguments (p. 247-248).

            The inventory of metal work is huge, but very few things could lead to credible historic progress. The continuity of metallurgical practice in the Şirna settlement is an interesting subject, but since it has not been fully published, there is nothing else to add. Ştefan OLTEANU’s studies (1997) on plough irons should be developed with a comparison with the similar tools from early Slav areas (p. 249). About the armament, it is enough to say that there is very little of this in Muntenia, for the fifth to seventh centuries. The long period of usage of several types of arrows, over wide regions, gives no chronological or cultural hint for Ipoteşti-Cândeşti settlements.

            The clothes ornaments and accessories seem, instead, to be able to bring new information. This sort of material is far from having that level of chronological accuracy as has been pretended (and even less for cultural ascription), but the domain itself is interesting, representing the counterpart of pottery studies, for an historical sociology. The conclusions from the two fields of research seem opposed, but I think that they can shed new light one each other. I used as an example a short debate about Pietroasele type fibulae (CURTA & 1995). The equal distribution of this type (originated in the middle Dniepr region) all over the Romanian Plain, in spite the lack of pottery with affinities on the Dniepr, suggesting the symbolic character of such accessories and shows the institutional relationship between migratory people and local inhabitants (p. 250).

            The last field of comparison is the anthropology. The field is “frozen” in Romanian archaeology (at least for early middle age), but some studies in neighbouring countries could provide interesting suggestions. The anthropological research on Avar period cemeteries (LIPTÀK 1983) confirms, on the one hand, the mosaic-like ethnical structure of nomad empires, very close to what the literary sources tell us, and brings, on the other hand, the missing elements, like the existence of a perhaps Romanized population (not Asiatic, not German and not Slavic…), either as a “pannonian inheritance”, or due to Roman captives from later times. The second interesting conclusion is the anthropological non-identity of male and female series, that suggesting that military agreements were sealed by matrimonial exchanges, that is crucial for the understanding of acculturation processes (p. 252). Similar realities emerge from the anthropological studies made for northeastern Bulgaria (BOEV & 1987). The funerary rituals for the same area (STANILOV 1987) confirms the cultural diversity in proto-Bulgarian society. The ethnic identity of the persons buried by the incineration rite with the cremated remains left directly in the pit remains an unresolved issue, Bulgarian scholars couldn’t make their minds up between Bulgarians and Slavs. In my opinion these graves (almost half of the cremations) can’t be assigned to either Bulgarians or Slavs, but to a Romanized population (some of them originated north of the Danube; but where are the Christian tombs in the seventh and eighth centuries?) or to a Baltic population eventually brought by Slavs in migration. The Baltic presence is difficult to illustrate (the Budureasca pot is not enough), so I think the most part of these archaeological monuments are to be assigned to local elements, more or less Romanized, in a submitted position (they are associated in both Bulgarian and Slavs necropolis). This is the single hypothesis that explains the quick metamorphosis of the Slavic pottery into the Roman shapes. It is difficult to decide whether this population came from the north or south of the Danube. I guess that most of them should be of an origin north of the Danube, representing the Slav warriors’ families (“gained” near the Danube, not brought from faraway), or other submitted elements; the direct analogies between Capidava pottery (most of it not Slavic) and the Garvăn-Popina shapes make me think also that some Roman people survived (but only to serve the new power!). It is possible to suppose that after the collapse of Roman authority the former Roman citizens abandoned the Christian beliefs, or at least the burial practices recommended by the Church (p. 253).

            This ethnic “symbiosis” aspects (KRANDŽALOV 1965, in other terms) does not concern the history of the Romanians, but that of the Bulgarians. The historical episodes that determined the ethnical syntheses of the Romanian people seem to happen later (p. 254).