Culture and the spread of Slavic

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Slavic peoples, along with their Slavic language, spread widely and rapidly in the second half of the first millennium ad to inhabit territory from the Dnepr and Danube in the south to the North Sea and over to the upper Volga in the north. The present discussion locates the origin of the spread (the conventional homeland between the Carpathian Mountains and the Dnepr River) and its early staging areas (on the perimeter of this homeland) and then the demic interactions that occurred as Slavs moved. Although there are differences in the three main directions of spread – to the northwest, to the northeast, and into the Danube basin – in all three directions, Slavs moved and colonized territories they entered, evacuating or absorbing indigenous populations as they expanded. In the process of demic movement Slavs maintained some cultural praxis well after their dispersal from the homeland, both material (agriculture, dwellings, pottery) and social (diffuse settlement and political structure). In contrast to the theory of ethnogenesis, which restricts discussion of a Slavic ethnos to 500 ad at the earliest, I argue that there has been continuity of language and culture from deep prehistoric times through the period of demic and linguistic spread.


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