Viking Rus: Studies on the Presence of Scandinavians in Eastern Europe

Viking Rus: Studies on the Presence of Scandinavians in Eastern Europe

Viking Rus: Studies on the Presence of Scandinavians in Eastern Europe

Viking Rus: Studies on the Presence of Scandinavians in Eastern Europe

Synopsis

This volume deals with one of the most controversial issues in writings about early medieval history: the presence of Scandinavians, known as Rus, and their impact on Eastern Europe during the Viking Age. These studies give for the first time an extensive and detailed picture of the Norse population in the East by using, besides written narratives, a wide range of archaeological sources. The seven chapters survey the background, then depict the first Norse centres and sites of Norse colonists in the north-western Russia; further chapters contain information about the great number of settlements in the Volga region and, finally describe the activities of a group of Rus that resulted in creation of the principality of Kiev. With the help of numerous illustrations the contents of the book clarify many problems and support the conclusion that in the East real Norse societies existed that were an important and natural part of the Scandinavian värld.

Excerpt

The debates on the subjects concerning Russia—the country of the Rurikids princes, the Moscovite tsars, the socialist Soviets, and postcommunist Russian Federation—are never tepid. One of such topics, the beginnings of the first state of East Slavs, the Kievan State, has for a long time been among those which has been debated in the most heated fashion. the main reason is a dispute about one issue: how extensive was the participation of Scandinavians in the creation of this state? It is not the sole purpose of the present book to offer an answer to this question; this will be attempted but as a side effect of the main purpose: to make a presentation of Norse settlements in Eastern Europe between the mid eighth to the late tenth century.

When in 1985 I attended the 5th Congress of Slav Archaeology in Kiev it was my first visit to the land of the Rus. To see Kiev and Chernigov was a great experience, just as was, ten years later, my visit in Gnëzdovo. It was in Kiev that I met for the first time the Russian scholars researching early history of Rus: Danil A. Avdusin, Elena A. Melnikova, Vladimir J. Petrukhin, Tamara A. Pushkina; later I encountered the Leningrad/St Petersburg archaeologists Evgenii N. Nosov, Evgenii A. Rjabinin, and many others: All of them have had their place in making of this book.

Writing a book is a job that needs a suitable place with computers, e-mail, xerox machines, library, coffee maker and pleasant company. I was privileged to have such a place in one of historical houses of Uppsala, in the Dekanhus: for making this possible I would like to thank professor Ola Kyhlberg.

The unrewarding task of transforming my English into publishable text was undertaken by Paul Barford.

This book is intended to be the first volume of two concerning Central East Europe during the first millennium A.D. the Berit Wallenberg Foundation in Stockholm has my grateful thanks for its long, patient and generous financing of the project and this book.

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