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GFC-SMC: Ethnic Identities pt 2

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  • Rick A. Riedlinger
    Ethnic Identities pt 2 The Goths in the Fourth Century CH 3 Sîntana de Mures/Cernjachov By Peter Heather and John Matthews, 1991 ISBN 0853234264 Stepping
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 21, 2005
      Ethnic Identities pt 2

      The Goths in the Fourth Century
      CH 3 Sîntana de Mures/Cernjachov
      By Peter Heather and John Matthews, 1991
      ISBN 0853234264

      Stepping outside the archaeological evidence for a moment, we know
      that ethnic groups of the migration period could on occasion absorb
      outsiders. Priscus, for instance, met a Greek merchant who had become
      to all intents and purposes a Hun and the Strategicon of Maurice
      reports that the Slavs gave released prisoners a chance to stay with
      them as full members of the tribal group. The question to ask of the
      evidence, then, is whether, and to what degree, this occurred within
      the Gothic realms of the fourth century.

      Again, there is no clear answer, but some observations are worth
      making. As we have seen, there is a little evidence for small numbers
      of Germanic outsiders on certain sites, who then quickly disappear
      from the archaeological record. These, it seems likely, represent
      heterogeneous Germanic groups who were absorbed into Gothic tribal
      units. The same process is perhaps also suggested by occasional finds
      of Sarmatian burials. Important evidence of a different kind,
      however, has emerged from three sites in the eastern Carpathian area
      of Romania. Excavations have been able to show that on these sites -
      Costisa-Manoaia, Botosana-Suceava, and Dodesti-Vaslui - settlement
      was continuous from the period of the Sîntana de Mures/Cernjachov
      Culture (or even before in the case of Dodesti- Vaslui) right through
      the Migration Period into the Middle Ages proper. There are also
      clear links between these and related sites and others in western
      Romania (the so-called Bratei Culture). This would suggest that an
      indigenous Daco-Getan population lived in and around the Carpathians
      before, during, and after the period of our Culture. This conclusion,
      should further research maintain it, has obvious relevance for the
      question that concerns us here. If a distinct local population
      remained in the area beyond the period of the Sîntana de Mures/
      Cernjachov Culture, this would suggest strongly that these groups had
      not become inextricably mixed up with the Goths, most of whom, as we
      know from literary and archaeological evidence, left for areas
      further west in the course of the Migration Period. This is what we
      might expect if the locals were subservient to the militarily
      dominant Goths; in such a situation, full intermingling is hard to

      [Note: This may be the place to mention the so-called 'Crimean
      Goths', recorded from the ninth down to the late eighteenth century
      and described in 1562 by the Flemish scholar-diplomat Ogier Ghislain
      de Busbecq: cf. MacDonald Stearns, Jr., Crimean Gothic: analysis and
      etymology of the Corpus (1978) ISBN 0915838451]

      The question is far from resolved, and much will no doubt emerge from
      future excavations. We can conclude, however, that the Sîntana de
      Mures/Cernjachov Culture was both homogeneous, and at the same time
      the product of a number of different ethnic and cultural strands.
      These strands reflect the involvement of different peoples, but there
      is no easy correspondence between material objects and ethnic
      identity in the fully-developed Culture. The Goths were militarily
      and therefore politically dominant, and may well have absorbed some
      outsiders. At the same time, the exercise of domination is likely to
      have kept superior and inferior distinct, and there is evidence of a
      indigenous population not absorbed by the Goths. The Sîntana de
      Mures/Cernjachov Culture is a synthesis, but its physical remains do
      not prove that its constituent groups mingled inextricably, nor even
      that they lived side by side in the same villages.
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