This book offers a new approach to the problem of Slavic ethnicity in southeastern Europe between c. 500 and c. 700, from the perspective of current anthropological theories.
The conceptual emphasis here is on the relation between material culture and ethnicity. The author demonstrates that the history of the Sclavenes and the Antes begins only at around AD 500. He also points to the significance of the archaeological evidence, which suggests that specific artifacts may have been used as identity markers. This evidence also indicates the role of local leaders in building group boundaries and in leading successful raids across the Danube. The names of many powerful leaders appear in written sources, some being styled “kings. ” Because of these military and political developments, Byzantine authors began employing names such as Sclavenes and Antes in order to make sense of the process of group identification that was taking place north of the Danube frontier. Slavic ethnicity is therefore shown to be a Byzantine invention.
FLORIN CURTA is Assistant Professor of Medieval History, University of Florida