THE SLAVS AND SLAVDOM
Where did they come from? What is their racial identity? How did they shape their own history and their social institutions? Answers to these and a whole host of related questions have been sought by interdisciplinary Slavonic studies. Although the beginnings of the Slavs (who at some point in their development started calling themselves Slovenes/Sloviens, which the Romans transcribed as Sclavini, Sclavi, Slavi1) seemed to have been irretrievably lost in the remote past of their prehistoric development, piece by piece the mosaic of scattered knowledge has been gathered up and put together. Isolated references across historic records have shed new light on their early history. The missing information has been supplemented by linguistic research and particularly by the 'silent and anonymous' artifacts unearthed during archeological explorations.
Two scholarly theories, and various modifications thereof, have in the last two centuries sought to substantiate the arrival of the Slavic tribes at a point in time which is illuminated by written evidence and distinguished by the massive migratory waves of contemporary tribes. These massive population shifts occurred in the Fifth Century AD. An indigenous theory argues that the Slavic tribes had permanently inhabited the same territory subsequently attested as theirs in historic annals along with their tribal names. The migratory theory of the Slavs' origins claims that the initial homeland of the Early Slavs must have been somewhere either north or north-east of the Carpathian Mountains,2 whence they spread to colonize the lands historically accorded the Slavonic nations. Another theory appears to adopt a conventional approach in building its case, i.e., some kind of original homeland—migratory movements—historic advent of the Slavs. It seems sensible to suggest that one may not entirely agree with or outright reject the inferences of either theory. It may well be that the truth resides somewhere in between.