The Ancient Slavs: Settlement and Society

By Martin Gojda | Go to book overview

4
The evolution of Czech and Moravian village spatial arrangement: the socio- economic explanation

The development of the spatial arrangement of rural sites is to the fore among those medievalists who deal with the problems of country settlement. In the changes in the layouts of habitation units and their economic hinterland certain tendencies deriving from several causes can be seen. Historians and archaeologists tend to see rural habitation sites in the context of the environmental conditions and economic and social developments, while ethnographers have stressed the decisive role of ethnic factors in certain types of community arrangements. If we try to evaluate the present state of research into this problem in our country (apart from Slovakia) it is possible to say that most evidence has been gained by excavations in Moravia (the sites of the Hillfort period and some completely excavated medieval villages; an intensive surface survey in several areas together with certain special methodologies). In Bohemia, on the other hand, outstanding results on the shifts of settlement units during the Middle Ages have been achieved by means of the so-called mosaic strategy (in addition, a few deserted villages have been partly excavated); in the methodology of the surface survey very good results came from geodetic-topographic surveys of some of the deserted villages.

Since the end of C5 in the west Slavic territory of Central Europe rural sites appear of variable extension, but strikingly similar to the earliest east Slavic (mostly Ukrainian) rural communities both in terms of the resemblance and spatial arrangement of residential units in them, and in terms of the material culture. From west Slavic country we know mostly about the

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