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Stratum plus. 1999. № 5

M. B. Shchukin (St.-Petersburg, Russia)

The Forgotten Bastarnae

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Pages: 75-90

The article is dedicated to analysis of origin and fate of the Bastarnae’ tribe. The first part of the work determines the range of written and epigraphic records about Bastarnae and reviews chronology of the historical events connected with their activity. The first one to mention the name of this nation was Pompeius Trogus in 229‐233 B. C. Yet he was not specific in locating the ‘movement’ of the Bastarnae marked by him. Messages left by Demetrios from Callatis, Titus Livius, Paulus Orosius, Appian and Strabo allow a better localisation of various groups of the Bastarnae in Northern Black Sea region in II‐I centuries B. C.: from the mouth of Danube and Eastern Carpathian region to the Dnieper River. Their localisation somewhat changes at the end of B. C. – beginning of A. D. according to the written records. Tacitus, Plinius, later Ptolemaeus and others placed the Bastarnae in the Northern Carpathian region. The ancient authors ethnically identify the Bastarnae with Celts, Germans, Thracians and even Sarmatians. The second half of the work analyses a possibility to archaeologically identify the Bastarnae of II‐I centuries B. C. Parallels are drawn between Poianesti‐Lucaseuca and Zarubintsy cultures and the Bastarnae. The image of both the cultures differs very much of the local ones, finding at the same time direct analogues in the cultures of Elbe‐Oder region. The Poianesti‐Lucaseuca sites cease  in the middle of the I century B.C., probably due to Eastern raids of Getic king Burebista. Only a few sites of the same culture (Bucovina and Middle Dniester regions) continued existing in I century A. D. (Bernaseuca, Velikaya Slobodka, Rudi). Zarubintsy culture stopped developing approximately  in the middle of the I century A. D. Its fall is explained by the activity of Sarmatians who penetrated into the Ukrainian forest and steppe regions. Affected by such circumstances, Zarubintsy culture is transformed into post‐Zarubintsy culture situated outside of its previous areal (Desna river, Bryansk woods, left tributaries of the Dnieper – Seim and Lovati, Smolensk and Upper Lovati regions). Most likely the Northern‐Eastern part of this new cultural formation of the Bastarnae was called later the Venedi by Plinius’ and Tacitus’ informants. At the same time, part of Zarubintsy population migrates to the West, to the region of the Upper Dniester and Western Boug, where Zubra group of sites is formed. This very group which existed till the III century A. D. can be related to the “late Bastarnae” mentioned in the epitaph of Plautius Silvanus and later among the members of Goth raids of 248 and 269 years. Further forced migration of one hundred thousand Bastarnae (280) into the Roman Empire possibly did not consume the demographic potential of the “great nation” and the remaining Bastarnae participated in a complicated ethnogenesis of the early medieval peoples, Slavs first of all.


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