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// ÑÏá: Ôèëîëîãè÷åñêèé ô-ò ÑÏáÃÓ. 2005. 576 ñ.
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The Gothic Way.
and the culture of the Chernjakhov/Sîntana de Mureş.
This scientific work features yet another attempt to reconstruct the paths and circumstances of the prolonged movements of the Goths throughout Europe. This group of people, which has since disappeared, received its name “Goths” in ancient times. The given scientific work traces the Goths from their birthplace as a people in Scandinavia on their movements southwards and to the last known testimonies of the Goths — in Spain and the Crimea. The author, who is also an archaeologist, saw his goal for this book as being to trace the way in which events from the history of the Goths are revealed by archaeological findings. Events known to us to one extent or another from written works are explored in the book from an archaeological point of view, that is to say by analyzing material changes in Gothic culture as shown by remnants found on the Gothic path.
The structure of the text is reflected by the detailed chapter organization, and there is no need in this abstract to retell the entire contents of the book. We will just mention those places where the ideas and observations of the author are unique and untraditional, or perhaps even arguable.
In order to make a comparison between historical events and changes in material (archaeological) culture, we must first determine, where possible, the absolute (calendar) dates of these changes. But both during typological and correlative methods of archaeological research we receive only comparative (relative) dates. These relative dates still need to be transferred into absolute (calendar) dates. It would be possible to expect that changes in the material culture of the Goths are connected with changes in the political situation in Europe; for example the invasion of the Huns around 375 AD, the advancement of Ostrogoths into Italy in 488, the resettlement of Visigoths to Spain after the battle at Vouillé in 507, and of the Goths-Tetraxits to the Caucuses after the battle in Nedao in 454, etc. But as Hans-Jurgen Eggers explained in 1955: “Sie können es, müssen es aber nicht”. Time and again discrepancies arise between historically and archaeologically established dates. Upon closer look, the borders of phases and stages that were defined for centuries by the work of numerous archaeologists have turned out to be “fluid” or “imprecise” within the limits of one or another time interval. It turns out that these stages and phases overlap one another, and that the borders between them are very floating, depending as they do either on historical foundations or on the intuition of the researcher.
In order to come to a more objective portrayal of the processes of change in material culture of the Goths, the author suggests changing the actual paradigm of
our chronological thought. This change in thought should go from a “square” conception of time, in which there are clear borders between stages and phases, to “rhombic” time, where the stages and phases become partially parallel to one another. It’s natural that any new phenomenon (fashion) happens in the majority of cases within the borders of the previous phenomenon, and that as the most active, new generation becomes its carrier, that this phenomenon becomes more wide-spread, and then begins to die out, being replaced by yet newer cultural phenomena. These processes can be traced in modern life as well. In such a case new possibilities arise to make a different comparison between written sources and archaeology then was done earlier.
The idea of a “rhombic approach” goes through the entire book like a “red thread”. The idea is best expressed in the third chapter entitled “The Problem of Absolute Chronology” (fig. 27-28) and in the part on the later date of Chernjakhov culture in the fifth chapter (fig. 86-87). It is also demonstrated in the series of tables in the appendices N 2-4.
As far as the long-debated question of the exodus of the Goths from Scandinavia goes, the author of this book is not so skeptical as some researchers (such as Hachmann 1970). There probably wasn’t a massive emigration of people from Scandinavia, but the penetration of various groups into the Polish Pomeranian region could obviously have had its place. The monuments constructed here in the first century AD almost completely changed their appearance, while the Wielbark culture was formed (fig. 1), several parts of which could have come from Scandinavia, such as, for example, concentric stone lay-outs on burial mounds (fig. 2--4).
One of the main signs of a new culture in distinction to the prior Oksywie and the neighboring Przeworsk cultures is the complete absence of weapons in burial graves. In such a case the main region from which Scandinavian emigrants could come from would most likely be Western Sweden, in the current-day province of Westergutaland and Boguslan, where burial graves with weapons are rare and stone constructions on burial mounds are common. Since the inhabitants of the Baltic in the 1st century AD didn’t have sails, and transportation could be most easily undertaken using coastal courses along the shore, the Swedish regions named seem to be the most likely starting point for the Goths to come to current-day Polish regions (fig. 12).
Movement took place in this way not once, but obviously many times, and constantly, starting at the beginning of the 1st century AD. In the lower reaches of the Oder River, and the adjoining bank with the island Rügen, even a little earlier than the Wielbark culture was formed, a group of sites named the Gustov group was formed (fig. 7-8). The author is inclined to include these sites in Wielbark culture. In that case the contradiction between the accounts of Tacitus (Tac. Ann. II. 62, 63) about the activities in the 19 year AD of the “young Goth Catualda” and a little later of the formation of the Wielbark culture in Polish Pomerania can be dismissed.
The information derived by Jordanes (Iord. Get. 25, 95) from Gothic “historical songs” about the three boats of King Berig can reflect only one of the episodes of a more long-lasting and wide process of emigration.
In the 1st century AD the first contact between the inhabitants of Central and Northern Europe with the Sarmatians of the Northern Black Sea region took place.
The evidence for such contact are the finds of Central-European shield-bosses in rich Sarmatian burial mounds in the Lower Don area (fig. 15), as well as tamga-signs of the Sarmatian King Farzoi on spears from Poland and Norway (fig. 16: 22, 25), and the distribution there of golden neck rings of the Havor type (fig. 17-[18, 19, 20, 21, 22]-23). Contact between the northern Germans and the Black Sea — Mediterranean Sea ancient world was probably led through the Sarmatians. Master jewelers who left the Black Sea region for Northern Europe created there decorations using filigree methods which had not known been known previously in Northern Europe (fig. 17-[18, 19, 20, 21, 22]-23).
Written sources fix the presence of several groups of Goths on the lower Danube in the interval between 175-238 AD. Several archaeological phenomena have been observed from approximately this same time. Among these phenomena are the discontinuance of burials in Wielbark burial grounds of the Odry-Węsiory type in the central part of Polish Pomerania and the appearance of such burial grounds in the area between the Vistula River and the Western Bug River, as well as further to the South-East in present day Byelorussia and Ukraine (fig. 5, 6). The most furthest southern Wielbark burial grounds have been found in Moldavia on the Middle Dniestr and in Dobrudzha beyond the Danube, while the most eastern have been found along the river Seym in Ukraine (fig. 29, 30).
At the same time, most likely, the emigration of the Goths of King Filimer (five generations after King Berig) to Scythia took place, as described by Jordanes (lord. Get. 26-29). Again, this could have been only one of many such episodes.
The author proposes the idea that the events of the year of 193 AD, when the King of the Bosphorus Sauromat II made a shattering strike against the Sarmatians — Siraks and Scythians, of which we have evidence in his victory sign (KBN N 1237), made the penetration of Goths from the North-West into the Black Sea region easier. The number of Sarmatian burials in the second and third centuries is less than the number in the prior period.
At the same time, on the border between the second and third centuries AD, and most of all in the first half of the third century, synchronously with stages of C1b and C2 of the European chronological system (see appendix 2, table 1), in Ukraine and Moldavia a gradual process of formation of a separate culture which inhabited a large territory began. The culture got the name Chernjakhov/Sîntana de Mureş). It is impossible in principle to establish firm calendar dates for the beginning of this culture since, just as it is impossible to establish calendar dates for separate phases of the evolution of this culture, since these dates can be only relative. It is only clear that the peak of this culture came during the Kosanovo phase of evolution (fig. 32), which is synchronous with the very end of stages of C2 and the beginning of the almost parallel stages C3 and D in the understanding of K. Godłowski (Godłowski 1970) (see appendix 2, table 1). In other words the peak of the Chernjakhov/Sîntana de Mureş culture came at the time after the “Scythian” or “Gothic” wars of the years 248-270, during which the Goths and other northern barbarian groups mercilessly pillaged the Roman provinces of the Balkan Peninsula and Asia Minor (fig. 52).
Chernjakhov culture was a very distinct phenomenon that was new for its time. The level of civilization of this numerous population surpasses the cultures even of Northern Germany. The Chernjakhov culture peoples produced a mass of wheel-made pottery ceramics that was bigger and better than in other spots in Barbaricum. Many
finds have been made of glass cups and difficult-to-make combs made of horns. The Chernjakhovs’ plowing tools and millstones are also famous. Writing on ceramics and other materials was common, and was done in Greek, Latin, and Runic inscriptions (fig. 57, 58). It’s interesting that the distribution of findings of Greek amphorae coincides unbelievably well with the borders of the Chernjakhov culture. The number of Chernjakhov settlements is very large. About five thousand settlements are known altogether. There are also many large bi-ritual burial grounds in which there are graves with many things such as fibulae, buckles, beads, etc. The main peak of the Chernjakhov culture came at the middle to second half of the 4th century AD.
This situation is explained by the author by the fact that the Chernjakhovs established close and peaceful relations with the Empire. It’s known that in 332 AD the Goths struck a union-feodus with Constantine the Great, thereby pledging not to allow other barbarians to the borders of the Empire, to give recruits to the Roman army, and upon the call of the Emperor, to participate in the Empire’s wars. In return the barbarians received from the Empire payments in silver, as well as food and clothing. Thanks to this help the Chernjakhov culture acquired its wealth and large population. It’s likely that the demographic population explosion took place at this time, and that the Chernjakhov’s got to know the “high technologies” of the age through relations with the Roman Empire.
On the other hand, Chernjakhov culture was obviously both many-sided and multiethnic. Among the carriers of this culture were, quite clearly, carriers of various mobile groups of the comparatively rare post-Zarubintsy population as well as Sarmatians, although the latter’s participation didn’t have a great effect on the external side of the culture. The contribution of emigrants from the North-West of Europe is also clear. Without their participation it would be impossible to imagine the appearance of “long houses”, which combined living quarters, cow and pig-sties, or a workshop under one roof (fig. 65-[66, 67]-68). In the early stages hand-made bowl-shaped ceramics typical of Wielbark culture were well-represented in Chernjakhov ceramic sets. Sometimes pottery bowls also copied Wielbark designs. Besides the carriers of Wielbark culture, other representatives of emigrant groups from the North-West were also present in Chernjakhov culture. The distribution of fibulae of the “Monstruozo” type as well as metal combs (fig. 49--51) are connected by the author to the “Heruli footprint” in the Chernjakhov culture, which passeed off Wielbark culture.
As for the origin of pottery technology, based on the findings available from one of the kilns dug out near the settlement of Lepesovka, where shards of especially unique ceramics were found embedded in the forge, the author suggests that the builders of the pottery kilns were emigrants from the regions of the Roman limes, where similar forms are found. In this connection it’s important to remember the three Moesia legions which took part in the uprising of Marinus Pacatianus in 348. The legions were punished by Decius and left as a group to join the barbarians, thereby inducing the Goth king Ostrogotha to make a new raid against the Empire in 351 (lord. Get. 90, 91; Zos. 1.20,21; Zonar. 12,19). One can’t rule out the possibility that the sources of the Chernjakhov culture of pottery can be found in the more western regions of the Rhine-Danube limes, where old Celtic traditions were saved both in the form of ceramics and in the shape of the kilns. Chernjakhov crockery is one of the manifestations of the unique “Celtic Renaissance”.
The question of glass cups made of extra-thick greenish glass with ground ovals, whose fragments are found in almost every Chernjakhov settlement, is especially interesting. It’s unlikely that the barbarians could have known all the secrets of glass-making. The process was too complicated, and not all necessary ingredients could be found within the borders of Barbaricum. To transport delicate glass vessels which were valued as much as the weight of gold over large distances would have been next to impossible. But if wandering glass masters who came from the ancient world would have had the chance to bring broken glass or specially made examples with them, than all that would be left to do is acquire the technology, which could then be done anywhere. A ball made of dark-green glass found in one of the Chernjakhov settlements in the lower reaches of the Dnepr River (fig. 64, 3) could be one of such examples of the raw material to be used. A map of the distribution of cups shows a diagonal that leads from the Black Sea to Norway (fig. 63). Contact on this trail of movement between Goths and other northern tribes obviously didn’t stop.
The author relates without extra skepticism to the accounts of Jordanes about the campaigns of the Goth king Hermanaricus against the Venetae and “arctoi gentes” (Iord. Get. 111, 19). In his time attacks on the Empire were impossible due to a peaceful agreement, and the energy of his subjects, who were used to living in a state of war, demanded movement. This energy could be directed to the North with the object of controlling the territory of the “fur trail” leading to the shores of the Kama River. The distribution of several items (fig. 77-[78, 79, 80, 81]-82) seems to support this idea, although a reconstruction of the exact events remains very hypothetical.
The situation in Eastern and Central Europe changed very much in connection with the unexpected invasion of the Huns somewhere between the years 369 to 376. Hermanaricus died during fighting with the Huns, and his co-ruler and head of the Visigoths, Athanaricus, also suffered from an invasion of the Huns, and was forced to retreat to “Caucaland”, which in all likelihood was in the Carpathian mountains or Transylvania. The major part of Athanaricus’ subjects, led by Fritigemus, begged the Emperor Valens to be allowed to settle down on the territory of the Empire and cross the Danube. The origin of the civil strife can be found among the Ostrogoths who were the heirs of Hermanaricus and who stayed within the power of the Huns. Some of the episodes of their history are reflected in Germanic sagas.
When relating these and following events, the author provides in particular his explanation of the battle near Adrianopol in 378 (fig. 89-90) as well as his supposition that the gold medalions of the treasure of Szilagysomlýo in Transylvania, eight of which are stamped with the Emperor Valens or are copies of his stamp, could belong to Fritigemus (fig. 120-130). It is known from the message of Zosim (Zos. VI, 34) that upon fleeing to “Caucaland” Athanaricus was expelled later by Alatheus, Saphrax, and Fritigemus, heroes of the battle near Adrianopol. As for the famous treasure from Petrosa (fig. 124-[125, 126]-127), near to Bucharest, the author believes that it’s possible to return to the old idea of Alexander Odobescu that this treasure belonged to Athanaricus or that it in any case belonged to his period of time.
Here the author proceeds from earlier proclaimed ideas (Shchukin, Bazhan 1994) about the chronology and origin of jewelry works of polychrome style and cloisonné technology so characteristic for the time of the Great Migration. In archaeological and historical writing the opinion (which isn’t without logic) ruled for a long time
that the appearance of gold works strewn with garnets was connected with the intrusion of the Huns. At Atilla’s headquarters on the Middle Danube such decorations were made and were brought by the Huns around Europe, which means that they are no older than the middle of the 5th century. This stereotypical thinking aided a somewhat subconscious highness of the chronological system made for Eastern Europe by A.K. Ambroz. But a whole set of contradictions arose: garnet-gold works made before 433 are known, the year when the Huns took Pannonia, as well as earlier than 445, when Attila, having killed his brother Bleda, became the leader of the Western part of the vast Hun powers. Technical research done by Biergit Arrhenius shows that the technology of the cloisonné, at least in its best examples, was too complicated for the barbarians-Huns and demanded “high technologies”. Thus the author suggests that the origins of this technology should be searched for in the Eastern Mediterranean region and in upper Asia, especially in Iberia (present day Georgia), Syria, and Constantinople, and to connect the renaissance of such technology with the domestic and foreign politics of the Sassanians and the Roman Empire from 260 onwards (fig. 112).
The author’s observations about the epoch of the Great Migration of nations from Wolfshaim in Southern Germany deserves the reader’s special interest. Wolfshaim is the origin of details in the belts, sword-belts or bridles in the polychrome style with the Persian inscription of Ardashir. Upon closer study of the freshly-stamped gold coin of Emperor Valens using a binocular magnifying glass, one can see on the reverse side scratches which, if one wishes, can be taken as runic signs (fig. 113).
In his description of the international culture of the epoch of the Great Migration of peoples the author uses the almost commonly accepted terms and chronological determinations of Jaroslav Tejral and Volker Bierbrauer. The D stage of the common European chronological system, which was indivisible during Godłowski’s time, and strectched from the middle of 4th to the middle of 5th is today subdivided into phase D1 or the Villafontana horizon, phase D2 or the Untrsiebenbrunn horizion, phase D2/D3 and phase D3 (See appendix 2-3, table I). The author introduces some objective changes into the chronological determinations of these phases, basing the changes on his own accepted method of “rhombic thought”, to which Jaroslav Tejral was also close in his own calculations (See appendix 3, table VIII).
Since the Untrsiebenbrunn border chronologically precedes the penetration of the Huns into Central Europe and only somewhat “connects” to it, the author is inclined to ascribe the formation of its appearance not so much to the Huns as to the Goths and Alans who were driven away by the Huns. In particular the Alans employed barbarian culture and barbarian fashion on works of polychrome style, as well as on mirrors with a central lug, and onto numerous golden buttons, plaits, and buckles, which decorated either clothing or funeral cerements, and on small golden clasps, which were probably used on shoes, made in cloisonné technique. Such a selection or at least a part of it is found in the burial places of the Untersiebenbrunn in Austria (fig. 104-[105, 106, 107]-108), Airan in Normandy, and in other places, all the way to North Africa, which the Huns never reached (fig. 109, 110).
On the other hand, groupings of the Alans during the epoch of the Great Migration of peoples are represented almost everywhere, including Gaul, Spain, North Africa, Italy, and the lower Danube. But nowhere, unlike other barbarians, did the Alans
strive for isolation, or to make their own state, and were always part of unions with other peoples, such as the Vandals, Suebians, Visigoths, and the Empire.
For this reason the assumption is made that the Alans of this epoch of emigration of peoples, like during the preceding period of the distribution of the turquoise-gold style, were not their own race or ethnicity, but rather a military-social aristocratic layer, a corporation of the type of later knights’ orders. Alans did not form there own state, but they incorporated themselves into the ranks of various barbarian kingdoms, and the Empire. Women-priests could also enter into this corporation. In such a case the archaeological situation of the first half of the 5th century becomes more or less explainable.
After having retold in a short form the order of political events in Europe from the battle of Adrianople to the crash of the Visigothic Toulusa kingdom in Gaul in 507 and of the Ostrogothic kingdom of the inheritors of Theoderic the Great in Italy in 552 (See chapters VI-VIII), the author moves to a question which has tormented historians and archaeologists for a long time: in which way are these events affirmed by archaeological materials? The author arrives at the almost inconsolable conclusion for archaeologists that there is no accurate correspondence between events and findings, even in places where the Goths were known to have been present and where they played a very important political role. It’s likely that their presence was too short each time for a specific, localized archaeological expression of their culture to take shape.
In the Balkans the wanderings of the Visigoths of Alaricus went on for about 30 years (counting from 376 to 408), but the Visigoths never did settle down there. Ostrogoths, who were under the control of the Huns, lived on the middle Danube for about 20 years (433 to 454), and then lived just as independently in southern Pannonia (from 454 to 474). In Italy the power of Theoderic the Great and his heirs lasted for about 40 years (from 493 to 552). These periods were all to short for a specific archaeologically expressed culture to take shape. Even in southern Gaul, where the Visigoths lived for 97 years from 410 to 507, this people didn’t achieve its own culture. If it weren’t for written accounts we would know nothing about these peoples. We don’t know about their settlements or about their burial sites. Only various accidental findings, separate burial sites and treasures mark the archaeological path of the movement and settlements of the Goths in the lower Danube area to the Pyrenees. It’s hard to differentiate in the middle Danube area between the cultural types of the Huns and those of the actual Ostrogoths and other Germanic peoples, who were the subjects of Attila. In Italy the Goths of Theoderic were almost indifferentiable (in their material culture) from the Scyri and other Germanic peoples, who arrived here 17 years earlier with Odoacer as their head in 476.
The situation can also be explained by the fact that having become a federation of the Empire, and formally a main part of the Empire’s army, as well as having been transformed from an ethnicity in the full sense of the word to a “people-army” in the words of Herwig Wolfram, the Goths had the right to take quarters in cities and villas, among the local population, which was more numerous, and thus didn’t form their own settlements and burial sites.
Nevertheless, during the time of the Great Migration the barbarians who arrived on the territory of the Empire were different in their culture and dress from the local
inhabitants. The barbarians wore decorations with precious and half-precious stones, which was prohibited to citizens of the Empire by the “law against luxury”. To wear things with stones was only a prerogative of Emperors and their surroundings.
Barbarian women wore dresses which were fastened on the shoulders by a pair of big, if not at times huge double-lamellar silver fibulae, which, in their typological development, went back to the small double-lamellar fibulae of the Chernjakhov culture. Sometimes these women’s fibulae were made using cloisonné techniques in the shape of a predatory bird. Towards the end of the period, in the 6th century, these women’s fibulae were forced out by the new fashion for double-lamellar “finger-like” fibulae with Kerbschnitt carved ornaments, which also looked quite extravagant. The belt was fastened with a large clasp made in the cloisonné technique or Kerbschnitt. It’s not out of the question that a large part of such decorations was made in the Empire by special workshops known as barbaricatii, and which worked on orders of the barbarians. The Empire was forced to deal with the presence in the state of a barbarian sector of society. Things of the types mentioned above were well-known from the Caucasus to the Atlantic, and Goths probably played an important role in the distribution of the fashion for such ornaments. If one likes, it’s possible, with some subjectivity, to name this fashion “Gothic”.
Things of this fashion are quite well-represented in Spain, where, after the year 507, the Toledo Visigothic state was formed. On this territory of Spain the Visigoths managed to make and create their own Visigothic culture in their 264 years of existence, right until 711 when the Arabs invaded (fig. 142-149). Archaeologists have dug up a large number of large burials of the time with many finds of “Gothic fashion”. These digs include Duraton, Castiltierra, and others, and each includes several hundred burials. The author supports the idea of Patrick Périn and Michel Kazanski that the “Danube fashion” could have been brought into southern Gaul and Spain by the Ostrogoths of King Vidimir, who, having left lands given to them in the south of Pannonia, tried to resettle in Italy in 476, but were destroyed. The captured Ostrogoths were transferred to the Visigoths, and were resettled among them.
The culture of the Spanish Visigoths is also analyzed in the book. The author pays attention to the incredible fact that in many burial sites, for example Castiltierra, there are large amounts of amber beads (fig. 149), more, in fact, than anywhere in Western and Southern Europe. Amber could be brought to Spain in such quantities only from the coasts of the Baltic Sea.
The fact that inhabitants of Spain had contact with peoples of North-Eastem Europe even in the 4th and 5th centuries is also explained by the amazing find in the Leningrad Oblast of Russia, in the village of Turovo, near the town of Luga. This find features a one-edged dagger with a fine bronze handle (fig. 150). Analogous daggers are known only in Spain (fig. 151, 152).
It’s quite difficult to archaeologically determine the dates when the Goths were in the Crimea. The Goths were without doubt present in the Crimea, and in 488 they refused to go with Theoderic to Italy. The Goths could have entered the Crimea in the middle of the 3rd century during their sea raids in Asia Minor. It’s known that the inhabitants of the Bosphorus gave the Goths their boats for the purpose of raiding others (Zos. I, 32, 2). In the middle of the second half of the 3rd century the archaeological situation changed in the Crimea. At this time “later Scythian” burials
and sites of ancient settlements ceased their existence. Burials of a new type appeared — Druzhnoe, Neiszatz, Chernaya Rechka, and others for example. Colleagues from the Crimea consider these burials to be of the Alan type, comparing, as right they are, the similarity of the these materials with those of the Caucasus or even more Eastern territories, although there are no written records which can fix the presence of the Alans in the Crimea until the 13th century. These burial sites also have several elements of North-Western cultures, such as tied-up fibulas, Chernjakhov ceramic pottery, and other things. It’s not out of the question that the Goths, Herules, and other participants of “Scythian wars” of the middle of the 3 century were combined into the new environment of the Crimea in some way, however they were called. Emigrants from the north did not determine the form of the culture of the region however.
More hope for finding traces of the presence of the Goths is placed by Crimean colleagues on several findings present on several of the above-mentioned burial sites based on rites of corpse-burning, which was completely unknown to the inhabitants of the Crimea of earlier times. In this connection two small burial sites have special interest; Harax near to Yalta, and on the mountain of Chatyr-Dag near Alushta. Here corpse-incinerations of two types are definitely found. One type is found in simple, shallow holes, and the other in stone boxes with the amphora as the urn. These findings are dated using the further findings of many coins of the epoch of Tetrarchy, in other words on the border of the 3rd and 4th centuries. Weapons and agricultural tools like sickles and hammers were often put into these graves (fig. 154-162).
As Michel Kazanski noted (Kazanski 1991, p. 478) such a combination of a stone box, urn with incinerated remains, and weapons and tools is known in only one place in Europe, which is on graves in southern Norway, in the region of Oslo. It’s clear that in this case we are dealing with a group of Germanic peoples, emigrants from the north, who, having become a federation of the Empire and having been placed in the epoch of Tetrarchy in strategically important points, controlled paths along the southern shore of Crimea. If they, in the understanding of the Greeks, were Goths, then they are an entirely different group than those Goths who appeared in the Black Sea region with Filimer as their head, and who had Wielbark traditions. The upper chronological border of these graves is not very clear.
A set of formerly “alanic” burial sites, which appeared at the beginning of the 4th century, such as Luchistoe, Skalistoe, Suuk-Su, and others, demonstrate the amazing similarity between findings of the middle Danube, Italy, southern Gaul, and Spain. These findings include paired double-lamellar silver fibulas, which were then replaced by bronze gold-plaited five-fingered Kerbschnitt clasps, massive silver buckles with the shape of a of the head of a predatory bird on the facing, and earrings with large octaedric beads, decorated with colorful stones (fig. 167-172). These very burials are originally linked by researchers to those Goths who made up the federations of the Empire, and whose presence in Crimea was fixed using the written works of Procopius of Cesarea (Proc. Bell. Got. VII. 1-5; Proc. Aed. III, VII, 35), who lived in the epoch of Justinian (537-565) and was a great political leader of the time.
Having carefully read the text of Procopius, the author suggests his own hypothesis of the events that took place. After the last battle in Mons Lactaris in 552 those Goths who were still alive asked the Byzantine commander Narses to allow them to
leave Italy together with their families and possessions (Proc. Bell. Got. VII, 35). It’s not excluded a part of these troops moved to the Crimea, where their kinsman were, who had refused in their day to go with Theoderic to Italy. Fugitives from the west could bring or intensify the unique “Gothic tone” of the culture of the inhabitants of mountainous Crimea.
As far as events which took place in Crimea in the 4th to 6th centuries are concerned, the author refers with some skepticism to later testimonies of the Byzantinian Emperor Constantinus Porphyrogenetus. While the latter’s accounts may have some value, their source, for sure, isn’t very trustworthy.
Describing as he does the later fate of the Goth inhabitants of the Crimea, the author most of all follows the fundamental works of A.A. Vasiliev (Vasiliev 1936) and R.-H. Beyer (Beyer 2001). References about a particular “Goth Kingdom” in mountainous Crimea are quite common on the pages of sources from the 8th to the 15th centuries. Such a kingdom was referred as an autonomous kingdom, then as a part of the Khazar caganat, then as a part of the “Golden Horde”, then later as part of the Byzantinian Empire. The kingdom had difficult relations with Kiev, then with Muscovite Rus, the Genoese colonies in the Crimea and with the Moldovian state of Stefan-del-Mare.
An end to the autonomy and independence of the “Gothic kingdom” was placed by the invasion of the Turks-Osmans, who seized a large part of the Crimea in 1457 and cut off a large part of the local population. Later, in 1560, the ambassador of the Austrian Emperor in Istanbul met with people from Crimea who still remembered Goth language. The ambassador even made, then later published a dictionary with 80 Gothic words. Finally in 1799, after the seizure of the Crimea, Catherine the Great moved the remainder of the Christian population of peninsula to Mariupol on the northern bank of the Sea of Azov by writing a special decree about their transferal. It’s possible that among these Mariupol Greeks there were heirs of the Gothic population of the Crimea, although we can’t know this for sure. This was the final stage of the “Gothic Path”.