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Stratum plus. 2001-2002. №5

V. V. Sedov (Moscow, Russia)

The Main Issues in Study of the Tušemlja Culture

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Pages: 431-437

The article is dedicated to the main stages and debatable issues in study of the Tušemlja culture. The most debatable issue is the question of its ethnic origin. Thus, its first researcher P.N. Tretyakov initially attested it as an East-Baltic culture, later to change his mind and classify it as a Slavic or Slavic-Baltic culture. Yet later he made another suggestion that the Slavs and the Balts had alternating habitats in Smolensk area along the Dnieper, while the East-Baltic population inhabited the northern areas in the upper flow of the Dnieper and the Dvina rivers. The second half of the XX c. brought about significant contributions to the study of the Tušemlja culture, namely owing to the works of E.A. Schmidt. This researcher supports the hypothesis of the East-Baltic origin of the Tušemlja bearers. The same point of view is shared by I.P. Rusanova, V.B. Perkhavko, A.M. Medvedev, A.G. Mitrofanov. Another group of researchers develops a thesis, according to which the descendents of the Zarubinetsk population penetrated into the Upper Dnieper – Dvina area already in the third fourth of the I millennium A.D. Another version under consideration is that the emergence of the Tušemlja culture was conditioned by an interaction of the local early Iron Age antiquities with the antiquities of Kiev type brought here by the migrants who moved up-stream along the Dnieper (N.V. Lopatin, A.G. Furasiev). In V.I. Shadyro’s opinion, spread of post-Zarubinetsk elements on this territory led to emergence of the Tušemlja culture, still Baltic in its background. As for Slavicisation, it took place as late as in IX c., marked by spread of the early Russian long barrows. G.V. Shtykhov, however, believes that the Baltic-Slavic symbiosis took place as early as in V-VII cc. and led to assimilation of the local Balts.
The Tušemlja culture was formed in the late IV – early V c. and survived until VII c., and on some sites possibly until VIII c. Formation of this culture was not a simple evolution of the local antiquities of the early Iron Age. The life in the town dies out, with population concentrating on the open settlements, the economy is primarily based on agriculture and cattle-breeding. As time passed, there appeared new fortifications, new groups of artefacts got spread in this region. Substrata of the Tušemlja culture were the Dnieper-Dvina (the Dnieper Balts) and the culture of scratched pottery (the middle Balts – the main ancestors of the early Medieval Letto-Lithuanian tribes). The beginnings of the Tušemlja culture coincide with the intensive migration of the middle-European population into vast spaces of the forested area of the East-European plain. So far this area has yielded over 100 sites dated by the middle of I millennium A.D. with artefacts of the middle-European types, previously unknown on these territories. Among these articles, there are iron spurs and bits; blades; tweezers; Â-shaped grooved buckles; some types of beads; the middle-European types of weapons and agricultural tools.
The migrants were moving from the basin of the Vistula, through the Mazur Lakes region and the Middle Neman further to the east and north-east. It is dated by the late IV – early V c. and coincides with the time the provincial Roman culture stopped existing in the basins of the Vistula and the Oder, and is conditioned, besides, by sharp climatic changes, unfavourable for agriculture. With the aboriginal tribes interacting with the foreigners, the area saw emergence of new cultural phenomena, including the Tušemlja culture. It were mainly the Slavic farmers, small groups of Germans and Western Balts which settled in the East-European area. The VIII c. saw new groups of populations penetrating into the northern areas of the Tušemlja culture, bringing the rite of burial in long barrows. They were replaced by the culture of the Smolensk-Polotsk long barrows, later to turn into the early Russian culture of the Smolensk-Polotsk Krivichi.


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