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Here is something tangentially related I read today: the changing view on the origins of the Hungarian tribes. The standard view (which was based mostly on written records and linguistics) was a wandering that took centuries and had four stations:

  1. "Magna Hungarica": an area between the Volga river and the southern end of the Urals, on the edge of the steppes. The proto-Hungarians must have moved here roughly two millennia ago, after the separation of the Ugrian branch of the Finno-Ugric language family. Here they slowly turned into a horse-riding nomadic people. Hungarian-speakers would survive here until the Mongol Invasion.
  2. "Levedia": around 750, part of the proto-Hungarians moved further south to the area north of the Caucasus mountains, and became subjects of the Khazar Kaganate and mixed with its Turkic population.
  3. "Etelköz": around 800, the proto-Hungarians moved further west, to the area that is now south-west Ukraine.
  4. Hungary: in 896, the entire Hungarian tribal alliance crossed the mountains into the Carpathian Basin, settled there and abandoned nomadic lifestyle over the next century.

Archaeological evidence discovered or widely publicised over the last two decades indicates a much faster wandering with only three stages:
  • The style of late-9th-century burial artefacts found in the areas long suspected as Magna Hungarica and Etelköz as well as Hungary is practically identical;
  • the same style is, however, totally absent at all of the earlier suspected locations of Levedia, which is now thought to have been a misinterpretation of a sub-area of Etelköz;
  • Etelköz was settled by this culture only around 840-850 (around the same time Byzantine sources first mention Hungarians);
  • in Hungary the first burials of this culture appeared around 860 already.

The elimination of Levedia leaves the linguistic problem of how and when the many proto-Turk words got into modern Hungarian. The most likely answer is the assimilation of Turkic populations in 10th-century (pre-Christian) Hungary. Now it would be nice if official national schoolbook history would start to treat assimilated populations as ancestors, but fat chance of that happening under any stripe of nationalists.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Mar 15th, 2015 at 02:18:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have also wondered about the relationship between the Hungarians and the various peoples-languages around the Baltic. There was such diversity in 1,000AD.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Mar 15th, 2015 at 02:30:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a so-called Baltic language family, which includes Latvian and Lithuanian (and mostly extinct other dialects like the pre-German original Prussian). This is thought to be related most closely to the Slavic family (though, again, the notion of a simple family tree ignores mixing). The main languages further north (Estonian, Finnish) are of the Finnie branch of the Finno-Ugric language family, thought to be the result of a wantering from the Urals across the far north. Though, again, there was probably substantial mixing, which is undeniable in the case of the also Finno-Ugric Sami [Lapps] whose genetic analysis shows a strong local component with at least 5,000 years of separate history.

BTW, Ukrainian nationalists like to emphasize that the Muscovite Rus assimilated a significant Finno-Ugric population, thus they believe Ukrainians as successors to the population of the Kievan Rus are more properly Slavic than Russians. (Which is also funny, considering all the nomadic people moving through the are of modern Ukraine from east to west who mixed with the Slavs there.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Mar 15th, 2015 at 04:03:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, from the age of the Scythians to that of the Mongols, the greatest diversity was doubtless among the nomadic people of the central Eurasian steppes: a succession of short-lived tribes moving great distances, changing alliances and marrying all over the place (also by robbing women), taking along the language and traditions of all the more settled people along its boundaries. There are literally dozens of these that reached Europe but quickly disappeared as a distinct group (like the Huns, the Avars, the Alans, the Pechenegs or the Cumans) for which historians' ideas of origins are at best speculative, but who are present among the ancestors of modern Europeans.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Mar 15th, 2015 at 04:33:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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