When, in 1987, on being asked by Prof. L. Alcock, the then President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, to prepare a series of six lectures on the archaeology of the Slavs and to deliver them in Edinburgh as the Rhind Lectures, I was pleased that such an honour was conferred on me. Room was given with respect to individual lecture topics, implicitly allowing me to determine the overall orientation of the series. After discussion with Prof. Alcock, and taking my own experience with this sort of lecture into account, I concluded that a general introduction to the history and current stage of knowledge, of the origin and development of the Slavs and their historical process towards the state would be appropriate both for professionals and amateurs amongst the audience of the Rhind Lectures of 1989/90.
The lectures which follow are focused on some special problems of the early (and partly high) medieval settlement archaeology of Central and Eastern Europe. In the second lecture I will try to adumbrate the general trends in the settlement process of the Slavs. A survey of particular forms of this process (fortified centres and rural habitation sites) follows in the third and fourth lectures. An actual example of investigation of an early medieval rural site in the context of its environment, such as is demanded by the present needs of archaeology, is given in the fifth lecture, and the last lecture deals with the perspectives and objectives of settlement geography - an integral discipline studying patterns and systems of the human settlement process. Thus, the series proceeds from a general synthesis to the consideration of particular aspects which, with allowances made for the contexts of time and space, help to reveal the puzzle called history.