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GFC-SMC: Ethnic Identities pt 1

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  • Rick A. Riedlinger
    Ethnic Identities pt 1 Ch 3: Sîntana de Mures/Cernjachov Culture The Goths in the Fourth Century By Peter Heather and John Matthews, 1991 ISBN 0853234264
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 19, 2005
      Ethnic Identities pt 1
      Ch 3: Sîntana de Mures/Cernjachov Culture
      The Goths in the Fourth Century
      By Peter Heather and John Matthews, 1991
      ISBN 0853234264

      There is no longer any real doubt that the Sîntana de Mures/Cernjachov
      Culture reflects in some way the Goths' domination of lands north of the
      Danube and the Black Sea. Uncertainty does remain, however, over the precise
      mixture of races contributing to the Culture.

      The single most striking feature of the whole Culture is its uniformity.
      Apart from a few short-lived local variants, more or less the same physical
      culture has been found in sites and cemeteries all the way from the Danube
      to the Ukraine, and even out on the Steppe. The constituent elements of this
      uniformity, however, have differing origins. Certain elements either clearly
      attest the presence of a Germanic population, or are strongly reminiscent of
      Germanic cultures to the north and west. A spindle-whorl inscribed with
      runes was discovered and other runes have been found on pottery. Runes are
      also inscribed on one of the torques of the Pietroasa treasure. Certain
      types of hand-made pots are paralleled only in Germanic cultures, and combs
      are not found in earlier indigenous cultures of the region, although they
      are common in Germanic ones. The builders of Wohnstallhäuser seem, likewise,
      to have come from the north, and the habit of wearing two brooches
      (fibulae), rather than one, would seem to have originally been Germanic.
      Some types of pendant and amulet are also paralleled only in the north.

      Other characteristic features of the Culture have different antecedents.
      Many of the styles and, above all, the basic techniques used in the
      wheel-made pottery are indigenous to the Carpathian region. Descending from
      La Tène Iron Age cultures, and strongly affected by Roman influence, the
      ceramic wares have little to do with the Germanic north. Grubenhäuser,
      similarly, are strongly attested in earlier cultures of the Carpathian
      region. Some elements of the Culture were also inherited somehow from
      Sarmatian Steppe nomads. Despite the homogeneity of the end result, the
      diverse origins of different elements of the Culture raise the question how
      to measure the contribution to the end result of the different ethnic groups
      from whom these elements originally came.

      The literary sources [say] that Germanic Goths were the main focus of
      fourth-century Roman policy north of the Lower Danube. It was the military
      power of the Goths which was the prime determinant of the political
      geography of this region at the time. It seems likely, therefore, that the
      dominant Goths exploited the agricultural surplus of any indigenous groups
      who lived alongside them. We also have a little evidence that Gothic
      hegemony had to be established by force.

      What was the basic pattern of life? Did the Goths and other peoples live
      side by side in the same villages, using the same cemeteries, or did their
      settlements remain separate? Observations are inconclusive, but do emphasise
      the difficulties of deciding ethnic identities on the basis of material
      objects. This is more than usually applicable here, where a number of
      strands with different origins fused to create a homogeneous culture.
      Whatever the original groups from whom particular cultural elements were
      taken, the homogeneity indicates that all groups within these lands quickly
      adopted much the same material culture. As a result, any attempt to detect
      ethnic identities on the basis of objects is likely to be at best
      inconclusive, and other approaches might produce better results.
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