The world of the ancient Slavs

Zdeněk Váňa





Very few Western publications have appeared that give clear information on the earliest history of the Slavs and their culture. The English reader has at his disposal only Francis Dvornik's book The Slavs: Their Early History and Civilisation (Boston 1956), which analyses written records with special regard to the beginnings of Christianity and church history. Then there is the book by Marija Gimbutas The Slavs (London 1971), which is limited to a survey of archeological cultures on the territory of the early Slavs from the Iron Age to the period of migration in the sixth and seventh centuries.


In French there exists only the Manuel de l'antiquité slave I, II (Paris 1923, 1926) by Lubor Niederle, a work that was pioneering in its time but is today rather out of date.


German literature is in a slightly better position, mainly thanks to the work of Witold Hensel Die Slawen im friihen Mittelalter (Berlin 1965), which is, in fact, a translation of a Polish publication and gives a systematic survey of material culture without regard to historical development. A modest contribution is the author's Einfuhrung in die Frühgeschichte der Slawen (Neumünster 1970), which gives selected chapters on this topic. Other works in German are devoted exclusively to specific problems or individual Slav regions.


This publication started as a Czech edition (Prague 1977) and was revised and adapted both in text and illustrations. Its aim is to outline in a brief informative survey the beginnings and cultural forms of the Slavs from their ethnogenesis until the emergence of the first states and nations. In view of the considerable progress made by archeological research in recent decades, these finds are given a prominent place but are set in the context of historical development, including other fields of research. Stress is placed on the pictorial documentation, including reconstructions in the form of drawings, which should give a closer insight into the life of the vanished world of the ancient Slavs.


The author wishes to acknowledge his gratitude for the selection and loan of illustrations to


these institutions and individuals: Archeologický ústav Nitra; Arkheologicheski institut i muzey Sofiya; Arheološki muzej Zagreb; Bulharské kulturní středisko Praha; Ermitazh Leningrad; Kreis-Heimatmuseum Brandenburg; Kreis-Heimatmuseum Neuruppin; Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte Halle; Magyar Nemzeti Muzeum Budapest; Märkisches Museum Berlin; Moravské muzeum Brno; Museum für Ur- und Frühgeschichte Potsdam; Museum für Ur- und Frühgeschichte Schwerin; Muzeum Archeologiczne Poznań; Muzeum Archeologiczne Wroclaw; Národné muzeum Bratislava; Národní muzeum Praha; Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne Warsawa; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; Zentralinstitut für Alte Geschichte und Archäologie Berlin; Dr. M. Beranová, Prague; Dr. Z. Čilinská, Nitra; Dr. B. Dostál, Brno; Dr. M. Holeček, Prague; Dr. K. Reichertová, Prague; Prof. Dr. V. Hrubý, Brno; Dr. H. Keiling, Schwerin; Dr. Ľ. Kraskovská, Bratislava, Dr. B. Krüger, Berlin; Dr. B. Nechvátal, Prague; Dr. I. Pleinerová, Prague; A. Popov, Prague; Dr. A. Točík, Nitra; Dr. R. Turek, Prague; Dr. B. Tykva, Prague. The author is especially grateful to Dr. M. Beranová and Dr. R. Turek for very valuable comments on the text.






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