COMMUN POTTERY IN
FROM THE END OF THE FIFTH
TO THE MIDDLE OF THE SEVENTH CENTURIES AD
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
For the military balance in the Balkans, throughout the
sixth century, the
More than that, the sclaveni invasion of 527 never
took place. For the Roman authorities on the
The great invasion of the Cutrigours from 559, on the
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 Ipoteºti-Cândeºti culture, but with its
collapse. Archaeologically can be attested only
the group (tribe? confederation?) from
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
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 Ipoteºti-Cândeºti 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
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 Sãrata 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
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 ªirna settlement is an interesting subject, but since it has not been fully published, there is nothing else to add. ªtefan 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 Ipoteºti-Cândeºti 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
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).
further – Conclusions
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