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Rus´, Varangians and Birka Warriors
Viking Age remains displaying a number of disthe colonies remained for 200 years. During the mid tinct similarities stand in strategic locations along 8th century a new commodity made its entrance on the the Eastern trade routes from Birka to Kiev. They Eastern trade route – silver. The existence of the early consist of fortified settlements with many Scandinacolonies may partly explain the speed with which the vian features and a considerable military presence. long distance trade contacts were established. Some artefacts obviously associated with warriors’ dress or equipment are so diagnostic in their design From furs to silver that questions about common origin and manufacture have been raised. Who were the bearers of this One of the main reasons for the emerging silver trade equipment and what was the relationship between was the major change in the Middle East that resulted these warriors and the fortified settlements? from the Abbasids seizure of power from the OmmayThree main routes led to the Great Rus’ rivers: along ads in ca. 750. A little more than a decade later the the Neman, along the Dvina or through the Gulf of Fincapital was moved from Damascus to Baghdad and land. The great rivers Dnjepr and Volga could then be reached by following smaller rivers and traversing lakes. The Dnjepr was the route to the Black Sea and Byzantium, while the Volga led to the Caspian Sea and the Arab world (fig. 89). Considerable amounts of archaeological material deriving from East Scandinavia, mainly from the Lake Mälaren Valley, have been discovered in the Russian areas of Eastern Europe – much more than in Western Europe. The pattern of distribution corresponds to the initial stage of the ancient Russian state (9th and 10th centuries), as described in the Russian Primary Chronicle (RPC) (Jansson 2000:128). East Scandinavians settled in the East at about the same time as Danes and Norwegians established themselves in the West. Archaeological evidence shows that Scandinavians reached the area around Lake Ladoga as early as the 6th century. In search of furs Scandinavians founded small colonies along the Baltic coastline, e.g. Grobin and Apoule (Nerman 1958). Contact had thus been made between Baltic people and Scandinavians and Figure 89. The Great Rus´rivers.
the character of the town as a special phenomenon” (Nosov 1994:190). Located in geographically and topographically strategic places, the early towns controlled the waterways and thus the trade routes. The population was polyethnic: a mixture of long-distance merchants, craftsmen, and local fur-traders. Early towns and fortified settlements Some time around 750 the settlement of Staraja Ladoga appeared along the shore of the river Volkhov, less than ten kilometres from Lake Ladoga (fig. 90). Situated closest to Scandinavia it is the earliest known trading post in ancient Russia (Kirpichnikov 1993:36f; Jansson 1997:27f). Staraja Ladoga was probably preceded by a temporary site by Lake Ladoga, used by Scandinavian and Baltic merchants and to some extent even by the local Sopka people (Callmer 1994a: 30; 1994b: 76; Lebedev 1990). Evidence for the presence of Scandinavians and Balts can be seen in the earliest layers of Staraja Ladoga, together with the hand-made pottery of Ladoga type which is typical of the Sopka culture (Davidan 1970:80f; Jansson 1997:30). The foreign objects at Staraja Ladoga are not only of Scandinavian origin. West European and Mediterranean artefacts have been found together with silver dirhams, indicating transit trade (Davidan 1970). Increasing Abbasid trade was probably the reason why the silver dirhams travelled so far north. Furs were the primary trading commodities, and this trade with the nomadic Finno-Ugrian tribes was carried out without extensive raiding or plundering; Staraja Ladoga shows no signs of fortifications during its first 150 years (Franklin & Shepard 1996:14, 19ff). In contrast to Staraja Ladoga the fortifications of the settlement of Rjurikovo Gorodišce was a main feature from the beginning. Founded at the beginning of the 9th century, its topographically significant location in the middle of agrarian settlements enabled it to control the waterways (Kirpichnikov 1993:36f; Noonan 1997:142ff, Melnikova 1996:33). Gorodišce was strategically situated on a major crossroad beside Lake Ilmen at the mouth of the river Volkhov (fig. 90). The early town consisted mainly of an inhabited hill-fort, with some trade and crafts. Most of the Scandinavian
the mint began to strike dirhams in greater quantities than ever before (Noonan 1998:II 202ff; Franklin & Shepherd 1996:10). In 759 trade became possible when the Arabs made peace with the Khazars. In connection to the development in the Caliphate, settlements, ”early towns”, with Scandinavian features evolved along the rivers of ancient Russia. The Scandinavian features, such as rich archaeological finds, show that men, women and children settled in Ancient Russia as early as the Early Viking Age (Stalsberg 1988). In contrast to the usual concept of the background to the formation of an early town, the towns of Northern Russia were founded to serve their own needs. Characteristically, towns developed in densely populated regions, through increasing stability and as a centre in its hinterland; it then acquired functions such as crafts, trade and administration. The towns of North Russia, on the other hand, were founded to fill the need for trading posts and grew during the colonisation of the area. Initially they had no economic hinterlands, but they generated economic importance to the region (Nosov 1994:189). ”The foundation of the town before the formation of its rural surroundings, stresses
but some are also present from the very beginning of the settlement. Even though the first fortifications were smaller in scale and weaker than the remains now suggest. HedenstiernaJonson 2002). form more distinctive groups of artefacts.f. and political and economic contacts of. their existence was an absolute prerequisite for trade at Birka. crafts and strong military activities. Birka may be described as one of several trading places forming a network where intercommunication was a vital necessity (cf. Callmer 1994b: 77). Petrovskoe and Michajlovskoe. Timerëvo. 1988). Jansson 1987:776ff. c.f. where the connection with warriors and warfare is not as apparent. alliances and cultural affiliations to be confidently ascribed (c. Sarskoe hillfort differed from its surrounding Merja settlements through the presence of trade.f. Even though no sword chape with the falcon has been found in the ’Garrison’. however. Stalsberg 1988). As with the early towns in ancient Rus’. The Scandinavian artefacts also include a number of objects connected with warfare and warriors.g. Objects of female character are in a decided majority. and it is clear that Scandinavians had been present from the beginning of the settlement’s or burial ground’s existence. 2002). Situated on an island in Lake Mälaren. although the hill-fort at Birka seems not to have been inhabited (Hedenstierna-Jonson 2000). One particular type of object will be discussed in this paper: the sword-chape with a stylised falcon. During the 9th century Sarskoe evolved into a polyethnic society and the economic and political centre of the Rostov area (Noonan 1997:145). 161 . The Volga route from the Caspian Sea to the Baltic Sea did not exist in full during the 9th century. a number of Finno-Ugrian settlements around the Upper Volga became involved in the silver trade. and their contexts. as warriors have a distinct tendency to stand out as a group. Objects decorated in different styles and with various images. The function and role of these Scandinavians in Rus’ society may be explained in part by the study of specific artefacts connected with or originating from Scandinavia. The distribution of finds and runic inscriptions shows that people from all parts of Eastern Sweden participated in the easterly journeys. Within half a decade of the foundation of Staraja Ladoga. Jansson 1997:39). Its two clearly differentiated functions of war and trade are illustrated by the large number of weapons found there alongside Islamic coins and foreign (e. The recent excavation of the so-called ’Garrison’ in Birka. the other find assemblages show direct parallels with the Rus’ settlements and early towns discussed in this paper.The Martial Society finds date from the 10th century. The only direct central Swedish parallel to the Russian towns was the proto-town of Birka. 750. Rus’ society (c. The study of this group has been quite enlightening. The warriors acted as a guarantee of calm and order. the main trade route then running along the river Don to the river Oka with only short stretches of the Volga being used (Murašëva 1997:66). has uncovered unique evidence for warriors and warfare (Kitzler 1997. Larsson 1990. The Scandinavian finds in ancient Russia mainly originate from central Sweden. Ribe. showing that a powerful leader ruled the town’s activities. and even to mark their affiliation to a band and/ or a leader by their attire. were chosen as settlements for their strategic significance (Franklin & Shepard 1996:37). and to a lesser extent with Östergötland and Öland (Jansson 1987:785. including Hedeby. The hill-fort and the town rampart manifested political authority. The fortifications also signify that mercenary. Like Staraja Ladoga. the study of which can reflect structures within. Stalsberg 1979. Sarskoe. like Staraja Ladoga. Sarskoe Gorodišce. and grew as the town expanded. The numerous weapons are too general in character for origin. Sweden. There is a marked conformity in the archaeological material from the early town-like settlements of ancient Russia. Birka belonged to a system of trading-places that occurred in the mid 8th-century. The silver dirhams mainly left Moslem territory through the Caucasus. Female dress differed little from that indicated by contemporary grave-goods in central Sweden (c. most probably because female dress was more static and kept its pure Scandinavian character longer than did the more internationally styled male costume. Kirpicnikov 1970. but the closest ties were with the Lake Mälaren region and the Åland islands. and other West European sites (Jansson 1997:29). founded. As at Rjurikovo Gorodišce. Birka was in an ideal position to control the waterways. fortifications were built right from the start. 1997:18. was a fortified settlement inhabited by Finno-Ugrian Merja people since its foundation in the 7th century. well equipped and well-trained warriors lived at Birka in addition to the civilian inhabitants. The presence of professional warriors represents organised power and a strong ruler – a king. Stalsberg 1988:451ff). the hill-fort on the river Sara. Scandinavian) artefacts (Leont’ev 1996:331f. HedenstiernaJonson et al. so that trade and craft could be carried on in peace. all close to Lake Nero. Artefacts corresponding in design and form indicate close contacts between the different sites. The combination of finds and contexts presents a new way of recognising military activity at other sites. 1998. Holmquist Olausson et al.
the Rus’ had formed some sort of elite. Even if the political structure seemed vague to an Arab. and also arms and horses. in his thesis on sword-chapes from 1953. Among the party were men calling themselves Rus’ who had been sent to . where tribute and plunder from conquests made up the economy (Leyser 1982:49. with the style of the weapons and warrior’s equipment indicating a mainly Scandinavian origin. 46. Although the power behind the fortifications in Rus’ is less apparent than at Birka.e. Blöndal 1978:27f). It seems as if. Reuter’s words. Building fortifications was a vital element in the conquest and pacification of new lands. and the Sarskoe fort. i. 50). situated north of Lake Nero.Vladimir area are so evident that they must represent some form of Scandinavian immigration (Jansson 1997:47). In the 19th century they were estimated at c. They also served as bases in border zones.The settlements of Timerëvo. who often waged war against each other. Dominance and defence Most studies of early medieval garrisons and their functions have dealt with Western Europe. Tribute was institutionalised plunder. although only c. difficult to identify the Scandinavians solely by the archaeological finds. not as defensive structures.and 10th. Their basic needs included food and lodgings. but played equally important roles in the silver trade. Paulsen. The presence of falcon chapes in often wealthy graves may thus be interpreted as an expression of organised leadership. The strategic positions of the garrisons and the number of weapons show that there must have been professional warriors of some sort. V. ch. and act as collecting points for tribute. The archaeological complex at Petrovskoe comprises the remains of two settlements and a group of mounds. during which forts were usually built in occupied territory to control the surrounding land. Jansson underlines that the exaction of tribute in the Viking Age cannot be taken as evidence for a united state (Jansson 1997:23). there must have been some kind of overall structure.century developments in Rus’ were in many ways similar to those in Scandinavia. and they acted mainly as bases from which attacks were launched. 90) differed in character from the trading-places. their rewards consisted of luxury goods obtained by tribute and plunder. Jansson (1997:44ff) gives a brief synthesis of different views on the subject. 9). comprises a settlement and a group of a little more than 200 surviving mounds (there were twice as many in the 1930s). the country was divided into several political units led by princely families and chieftains. apart from the chamber-graves. also estimate at c. consisting of a settlement area and a large group of burial mounds. Professional warriors were paid by having their basic needs supplied. The function of the sword scabbard-chape with stylised falcon has been discussed in the light of princely families and their retinues (c. and as such provided a more regular income although plundering remained no less important. discusses the function of chapes as symbols of rank (Paulsen 1953. Kings were seen as providers of opportunities for plunder rather than as distributors of loot (Reuter 1985:79).f. 1000. 140 survive. seeing them as ”warrior-emblems” – symbols of a princely retinue (Kulakow 1985). however. It is. Thus. Murašëva asserts that most researchers believe that the archaeological monuments of the Jaroslavl’ region may have served as centres for tribute-collecting and as military outposts (Murašëva 1997:79). self-reliant and with an appetite for self-enrichment – a loosely knit political organisation resting on the common pursuit of silver (Franklin & 1996:40. The settlements were centres for trade and crafts. 88ff & 1994:33). and that they were among the first inhabitants. where they made their living by trading in slaves and furs. Tribute was. All three complexes were in use from the end of the 9th century to the first half of the 11th century. the ”gilt-edged income of 162 the Franks from warfare” (Reuter 1985:76). with the finds indicating that a considerable part of the population was of Scandinavian origin. At the beginning of the 10th century the Arab writer Ibn Rusta stated that the Rus’ were a people living in a number of towns. in certain areas. all in the Jaroslavl’ area (fig. Petrovskoe and Michajlovskoe. even though Ibn Rusta describes them as mobile. near Michajlovskoe. Jansson believes the 9th. The third complex. Timerëvo is the most extensive archaeological complex. Ambrosiani 2001). 1000 in the 19th century. Kulakow concentrates on the falcon chapes. Parallels can be found in the Saxon wars against Slav territory. to use historian T. and clearly the Rus’ had a political structure by 838–839 when an embassy from the Byzantine Emperor Theophilus visited the court of the Frankish Emperor Louis the Pious. remains from the Frankish and Ottonian empires. these were supplemented by rewards for their actions (cf. but the three settlements are unfortified and their function and role have not yet been satisfactorily explained. This applies to the Viking Age sword-chapes in general. with twelve being chamber-graves. Even if the aspects of dominance and defence of the settlements on the Upper Volga not are as clear as those of the Ottonian Empire. The Scandinavian elements in the Jaroslavl’ . both must have been the vital stimuli for fortification and armament.
Finds with Scandinavian parallels from Sarskoe on the Volga route. Blöndal 1978:32). its wealth of archaeological evidence suggests some sort of politico-military organisation. Treadgold 1989:133f).950.The Martial Society Constantinople by their leader. and both Magyars and Khazars were hostile to the Rus’ at the time of the embassy to Constantinople. In the same year. 163 . As the Khazars evidently were on friendly terms with Byzantium. Treadgold (1989:133) considers that the centre of the new Rus’ power was somewhere along the central Dnjepr. 182–184. As the Magyars had been living close to the Byzantines and the Khazars for some time.f. the chaganus or khagan. the fortifications in the Crimea and in Sarkel were provoked either by the Magyars or the Rus’ (DAI ch. in the territory nearest to the Rus’. a Frankish chronicle written in 839). Treadgold concludes that it was against the Rus’ that the fortifications were built (Treadgold 1989:135. but there are no archaeological indications of any organised Rus’ activity in the Dnjepr region until the end of the 9th century (see below). the most obvious manifestation of this being Figure 91. This indicates that the Rus’ by then had formed a political-military organisation strong enough to pose a threat to Byzantium. Fortified from its foundation. Emperor Theophilus created a new military province known as ”Climata”. compiled c. 182–184). The new province included a permanent garrison of 2. 42. where was home? The historian W. with its strategic position controlling the expanding silver trade along the Volga route.000 men. an indication that the number of Scandinavians along the Eastern routes had increased. Intensified trade From the mid 9th century Rus’ began to have a visible impact on other peoples. Apparently the Rus’ were not on friendly terms with the Magyars and the Khazars as they took a detour to the Frankish court instead of travelling home along the Dnjepr. The question is. As described in Constantine Porphyrogenitus’s De administrando Imperio (DAI). a Khazar title-meaning ruler (described in the Annals of St Bertin. the Magyars and the Khazars. 182–184).42. and the new ruler knew the importance of being on good terms with the Byzantines. According to DAI the Khazars sent an embassy of their own to Emperor Theophilus requesting help in building and fortifying their city of Sarkel on the River Don (DAI ch. it was a military measure to ensure control over the Crimea (DAI ch.42. or there about. is a more likely candidate. c. The early town of Gorodišce. The purpose behind the Rus’ diplomatic journey to Byzantium may have been to announce the foundation of a new power.
arrowheads. The remains consist of a large burial ground with numerous weapon-graves dating from the mid 9th century to the end of the 11th century (Nerman 1936. by the Swedish archaeologist Birger Nerman among others. Cherson in the Crimea was a large emporium with traders from different regions. chaos followed the irruption. Situated on the . During the 10th century this trade route became the main channel for silver. 164 The trade in silver increased markedly during the early 10th century. Traders and warriors from other areas inhabited the camp. Chosen for its strategic significance the site enabled Wiskiauten’s inhabitants to control access to the Curonian Lagoon (Kuršskij Zaliv) and thus the mouth of the river Neman that led to the great Russian rivers of Pripjat and Dnjepr (fig. The Sarskoe fortified settlement was enlarged with a temporary military camp (garrison) on the opposite bank of the river. of the nomadic Pechenegs and new routes and opportunities opened up for those willing to take the risk (RPC for the year 915. The attack on Byzantium could only have been mounted by a large number of Rus’ joining forces. 1932). The participants in the raid acquired great fortunes through plunder. 97). 92). One of the more important is the rather extensive burial ground at Linkuhnen where about 50 graves with numerous weapons have been excavated (Engel 1931. The Dnepr was at the time not yet a Rus’ base. even though the raid itself was not entirely successful. the Rus’ raid on Constantinople in 860 (Franklin & 1996:50). AD 900. 91) (Leont’ev 1996. and several sites with Scandinavian remains stand along the river Neman. 880 or possibly even earlier. although it was not as prosperous as any of the great emporia on the coast of the Caspian Sea. Androschuk 1999:138. The struggle for control of the waterways is evident. The increase in traffic along the northern riverways is underlined by the development of the settlement Gnëzdovo. This is where some type of politico-military structure seems to have been established. There may be some truth in the Primary Chronicle’s account of strife between the Rus’ leaders at the end of the 9th century. From the end of the 9th century the Volga Bulgars formed a military power blocking expansion down the Volga (Franklin & Shepard 1996:71). an area formerly controlled by the Khazars. Building a garrison in the Wiskiauten area indicates that there was an increasing interest in travelling to the Black Sea. but even then it is hard to believe that they sailed south without the aid and co-operation from people more familiar with the rivers.Figure 92. On the steppes north of the Black Sea. the Rus’ started to travel the route to the Black Sea. and it left its mark on the settlements around the Upper Volga. Jansson 1997:39). and from then onwards numerous datable objects of Scandinavian origin are present in Gorodišce. close to modern Smolensk (fig. in the mid 9th-century indicates the increasing importance of a new waterway leading to Ancient Russia. Staraja Ladoga was fortified during this period. Thus it is likely that the politico-military organisation based in the Lake Ilmen region supported the attack in some way. von zur Mühlen 1975).g. Timerëvo and the other Upper Volga sites. Franklin & Shepard 1996:91.6). e. even if the chaganus himself did not initiate it. The artefacts have a uniquely military and strongly male character. The foundation of a settlement by Wiskiauten. c. with parallels in the finds from the Birka garrison. Nerman described Wiskiauten as a garrison with trade features and the most important Scandinavian foothold in the South Baltic. Kaliningrad. It has been identified with Miliniska. mail shirts and lamellar armour (fig. called a ’town’ of the Rus’ by Constantine VII (DAI ch. 9. Archaeological excavations in the area took place in the early 20th century. including that of the Volga-Rus’ in the Bulgars’ market on the Volga. 90). The Rus’ turn South From c. even beyond the borders of Ancient Russia.
Gnëzdovo served as an important trading and political centre. Neighbouring Cernigov. including many chamber-graves. Gnëzdovo has revealed the greatest quantity of Scandinavian objects found in Russia and the Ukraine (fig. 94). The changing times were also reflected in Kiev and its surroundings. A permanent garrison manned by mainly Scandinavian warriors controlled the trade route between the Dnjepr and the Western Dvina. probably served as a religious centre and princely residence. It consisted of an impressive hill-fort. The foundation of the settlement at Šestovica at the beginning of the 10th century and the development of Cernigov provided new bases for the Rus’. Finds with Scandinavian parallels from Gnëzdovo on the Dnjepr route. Most of the coins found in the graves date from the 10th century. 93) (Mühle 1991). Figure 93. 2001). very similar to Birka. The many Scandinavian grave-goods suggest that Šestovica was a camp for Scandinavian warriors and traders (fig. where the earlier graves also contain numerous Scandinavian finds. continuing into the 10th century. pogost (Androschuk 2000. Šestovica consisted of two hill-forts and a settlement with burial grounds. surrounded by a settlement and burial grounds containing more than 3000 mounds.The Martial Society junction of the rivers Dnjepr and Dvina. with a thick culture layer. and provided the base from which tributes were taken from the surrounding local inhabitants. it was only then that there were sufficient travellers to make it worthwhile for people to settle there and make a living. 165 . Gnëzdovo seems to have developed during the late 9th century.
The opening of the link between Dnjepr and Constantinople was a remarkable undertaking and must have necessitated a considerable degree of organisation. The Dnjepr-Rus’ seem to have been more reliant on tribute-gathering than the Northern Rus’. as did the Khazars. Itil. with the women in Gnëzdovo wearing the same types of jewellery as the women in Birka. well equipped to stand up to raids from the nomads. The settlements near Cernigov show males with plentiful weaponry and elaborate horse-gear. they would have had to co-operate with the better-organised groups of Slavs. People and goods travelled to and fro between Scandinavia and the Greek lands. The Organisation of the Dnjepr-Rus’ The Dnjepr-Rus’ were ruled by an elite headed by a paramount prince with hereditary authority. The emporia around the Baltic share identical styles of ornaments such as belt-mounts. Treaties with Byzantium Trade was presumably the reason for Rus’ presence on the Dnjepr. other sources state 911. RPC for the years 907 and 912. who appear to have been more incor- .Figure 94. In return they could offer the Slavs protection against the Pechenegs. developed in the Kiev area. Franklin & Shepard 1996:109). Vasiliev 1952:320). even though there was rivalry between the Khazar authorities and DnjeprRus’ regarding tributes and the right to use certain trade routes.42. who may have been related to the chaganus in Gorodišce. Regular exaction of tribute seems to have been very important for the Rus’ settlements in the South. with connections with the Byzantine markets and with trading posts supplying Moslem silver. In the 10th century Khazar leaders employed Rus’ mercenaries in their capital. A trading community. and weapons such as swords. but their well-equipped warriors and their treaties with Byzantium suggest that soon some kind of politico-military organisation emerged. following an attack by the Rus’ prince Oleg. This attack is not mentioned in equivalent Byzantine records. Finds with Scandinavian parallels from Šestovica on the Dnjepr route. a treaty was signed between the Byzantine Emperor and the Rus’ in 907. right from the start. but peace was achieved and a new treaty signed in 912 (following the version of the Russian Primary Chronicle cited in this article. all following their prince when gathering tribute (DAI ch.9). but also hint at the possibility of the Rus’ staying to serve the Emperor. the Dnepr-Rus’ acted as a collective. The treaties deal with conditions for everyday trade in Constantinople. At first the Rus’ may have acted independently. which may be compared to West Euro166 pean conditions at the time. According to the Primary Chronicle. According to Constantine Porphyrogenitus. Contacts between Scandinavia and the Kiev area were so close that changes in dress and equipment followed the same fashions. Byzantine privileges gave the Dnjepr-Rus’ the right to stay in Constantinople waiting for profitable trading transactions. If the Rus’ ruling the South wanted to use the same methods of exaction of tribute. Blöndal 1978:36. Khazars and Dnjepr-Rus’ also engaged in direct trade (DAI ch.
battle-axes. so the reasons for the 941 assaults seem to have been different from those behind the attack in 860. the graves contained both weapons and scales and weights. The wealthier inhabitants in the Jaroslavl’ area were well armed. Gräslund 1989:162). Vasiliev 52:320ff). Even though the chaganus in Gorodišce had a large band of warriors. and the chamber-graves in Cernigov and the Kiev area suggest that the base in question could have been there. Rimbert mentions merchants as inhabitants of Birka in addition to the ordinary people (Rimbert ch. some had both a sword and weights in their graves. These merchants are usually identified with the people buried in the rich Birka graves. Prince Igor’s retainers are said to have been discontented with their poverty. considerable weaponry and the Khazars’ former tribute arrangements. 19). with a high military presence. with a marked increase in volume of trade and a greater emphasis on trade in slaves. Nevertheless. They were wealthy magnates with high status. Constantine Porphyrogenitus describe a base for tribute-gathering where the male inhabitants were professional warriors earning their living by serving their leader (DAI ch. Through self-discipline. Even in these cemeteries. The Birka graves show the same tendency. This time the attackers were not just a leaderless horde but a disciplined army with a powerful leader in prince Igor. The alliance was. Franklin & Shepard 1996:130). bows and arrows are quite frequently found in Staraja Ladoga and Gorodišce. In Šestovica the chamber-graves are evidence of an armed elite. 167 . led by prince Igor (RPC for the years 914–945. The leader of the Dnjepr Rus was a warlord. The Dnjepr-Rus’ need for profit of trade and good relations to Byzantium was thus crucial. Contemporary settlements on the Upper Volga became heavily fortified. scales and weights and weaponry indicate that these merchants also may have been royal retainers (Jansson 1997:18. The Rus’ were again defeated and they consequently turned towards the Caspian Sea in search of booty with which to reward the retinue (RPC for the year 941. 750 & 944). Luxury articles imported from Byzantium were used as status symbols by selected families and as gifts to allies and the retinue. probably with a political motivation. In other words. suggesting a society organised for warfare. The warrior and the armed merchant The Rus’ settlements on the Volga do not seem to have contained the same type of militarised elite as those of the Dnjepr Rus. organised weaponry and virtually continuous warrior life were closely connected to trade. Part of the produce was exacted as tribute. imported goods etc). The combination of wealth (splendid dress. middle and later 10th-century weapons such as swords. They did not ”close ranks to form a tighter organisation. Perhaps. which contrasted with the wealth of the wellarmed and well-dressed retainers of Igor’s commander. The historical sources make no mention of plundering or looting. The treaties with Byzantium and Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus give the impression that the Rus were ruled by a collective consisting of several princes or chieftains who led their retinues (druzhina) on winter journeys to collect tribute.2 & 9). he remained more of a figurehead. It is noteworthy that falcon chapes and Eastern coins. This number includes some of the wealthiest burials in Birka. A few selected bands of Rus’ formed an essentially voluntary alliance in order to take full advantage of the opportunities of self-enrichment offered by the new waterways. which demanded weapons. also. In 941 Constantinople is attacked by Rus’ in greater numbers than in the attack of 860. weights and purses. The raid was more of a naval campaign. Sveneld (RPC for the year 945). the Rus’ themselves did not have to practise agriculture. At Birka there are 26 graves that include various types of weaponry together with trade-associated objects such as scales. scales and/or weights were found in three of the richest graves (643. the Rus’ could obtain produce and necessities from the Dnjepr-Slavs in exchange for protection against nomads. and maintaining trading connections with Byzantium was the main if not only reason for his position. the Finno-Ugrians” (Franklin & Shepard 1996:132). but the greatest changes in the 10th century are to be seen in trading patterns. according to the Primary Chronicle. however. the scales and weights in rich graves are indicators that the interred had either controlled merchants or maintained them in his service. or to intensify exploitation of. Trade with Byzantium again expanded. but the people buried in the chamber-graves may have been an exception. either to defend themselves against. A new treaty with Byzantium was concluded in 944 and it is clear that silk was the main object of interest to the Rus’ (RPC for the year 944). The differences in structure and way of life may reflect the surrounding societies: the ”sedentary and agrarian way of life of the Slavs in comparison with that of the nomadic Finno-Ugrians in the Volga basin” (Franklin & Shepard 1996:120).The Martial Society porated in society and where there are visible evidence of women and children. Thus. and from the 940s onwards Moslem sources referred to the Black Sea as the ’Sea of the Rus’ (Masudi 62:164).
912). the retainers or mercenaries who participated in tribute-gathering and raiding. underlines the likelihood that the bearing of arms and frequent trading-expeditions were closely linked (RPC for the years 907. of weapons. The fellowship of prince Igor mentioned above fits well into this picture. The remains of this aristocracy can be found in Gnëzdovo and Šestovica. Balts.000 men to Basil’s aid.The clause in the treaty with Byzantium stating that weapons had to be left behind when trading in Constantinople. represent an aristocracy. with Vladimir sending 6. ch. In Gnëzdovo both the trading aristocracy and the warrior elite seem to have existed side by side. The term could have been used when referring to mercantile fellowships. or the threat of use. weaponry and burial-rites of the Rus’ equate with the finds from Birka. This development does not occur before the 10th century. The contents of the chamber-graves suggest that great wealth was closely allied with the use. begging the question as to whether there is a difference between them. therefore. The emphasis falls on warfare and mercenaries in foreign armies. to some degree. while the wealthy chambergraves in Timerëvo and Birka. Although the Byzantines had employed small groups of Rus’ mercenaries for expeditions since 911. The rune-stones only represent a limited group in society and their purposes to travel east. and also to the soldiers of Southern Russia (Blöndal 1978. Constantine Porphyrogenitus implies that the military manpower of the Dnepr-Rus’ was very limited and that they could not go off on raids or campaigns while providing their settlements with sufficient protection against the nomads (DAI ch. thus had none of the associated distractions and responsibilities. The Varangians were an important part of the Byzantine army even though they were foreign mercenaries. This culture. The Dnjepr-Rus’ can be said to have formed some kind of warrior-elite. and the inscriptions give the picture ”that central Sweden’s most important export during the 11th century was battle-worthy men” (Larsson 1990:134). Its garrison housed Scandinavian warriors who controlled the passage between the Dnjepr and the Western Dvina and exacted tribute from the surrounding area. by Emperor Basil II the Bulgar-Slayer (963–1025) (Treadgold 1992:112. 11th century The 11th century presents a new source of information on the Eastern voyages – the rune-stones. The Rus’ culture was maintained throughout a vast area through its exceptionally close contacts (HedenstiernaJonson 2001:71f). Varangians would then be the selected group of warriors serving in the prince’s retinue. but to split them up in many places. Arab descriptions of the costume. albeit quite heavily armed. and not to let a single one return (c. As they were frequently replenished with new recruits it was easy to keep them in training. Vasiliev 1952:323).f. This force arrived in Constantinople in winter 987–988 (Blöndal 1978:43. but the elite warriors of the Dnjepr-Rus lived an itinerant life. Rune-stones mentioning travels are earlier than the generality of rune-stones. Neither Russian nor foreign sources mention women in connection to the Varangian troops although Arab sources describe women in Rus’ society. 1). The important role played by the Varangians in the domestic politics and administration of the Kiev princes was further strengthened during the 10th century when power was being consolidated. The stones give the impression that the Eastern travellers were part of a landed aristocracy – clans or families with a tradition of foreign voyages and warring activities (Larsson 1990:133). Changing times. Blöndal considers that the most probable interpretation is ”men who plight each other troth. They held no lands of their own. and they generally remained loyal to the emperors who paid them (Treadgold 1995:116). The Rus’ and the Varangians may. One revolt closely followed by another caused Emperor Basil to appeal for help to the Kiev Prince Vladimir and they consequently formed an alliance. leaving few and fragmented traces behind them. Vladimir may have been anxious to rid himself of the ever more demanding Varangian mercenaries. when carrying arms seem to have become a symbol of high status. have been two different groups in Scandinavian ”warrior society”. Gnëzdovo and Šestovica (Androschuk 2000). RPC for the year 980). 168 The name Rus’ could then have been used as a general term for those who were part of the culture originally formed by Scandinavians and. involved life in fortified settlements and trade in silver and slaves. who enter a fellowship”(Blöndal 1978:4).2). and re- . Varangians and Rus’ The Russian Primary Chronicle refers to Scandinavians as both Rus’ and Varangians. the famous Varangian Guard was formed later. for instance. for he warned the Byzantine emperor not to keep the Varangian troops in the city. which extended from Birka in the West to Sarskoe in the East and Kiev in the South. 1995:79). The settlement was a rich trading and administrative centre associated with the Dnjepr-route (Melnikova 1996:36f).
The sword-chapes in this paper belong to the latter (fig. for a short synthesis of different views on the subject see Jansson 1996:25f). Timerëvo gave way to Jaroslavl’ and Sarskoe to Rostov (opposed by Leont’ev. Gnëzdovo was replaced by Smolensk. and it seems to have been a general phenomenon (Andrén 1989). see Jansson 1997:41). which probably was the intention when the chapes were 169 . The differences in style and composition are too obvious. Birka was succeeded by Sigtuna and Hedeby supplanted by Schleswig. no inscription mentions this. One of the most renowned Varangian warriors was Harald Sigurdarson. The archaeological evidence from previous centuries indicates that the Scandinavians travelling into ancient Russia came mainly from the Lake Mälaren region. The most prominent of the campaigns was the Ingvar expedition of 1036. the late 9th century or early 10th century saw a new use for the stylised image. Larsson 1990:106ff). The emerging new towns were based on the economy of their hinterlands and demanded a more stabilised state structure. Returning to the falcon-motif. ”The towns shifted because their functions and social structure changed and they became the strongholds of Christian states” (Nosov 1994:192. Falcon sword-chapes and other artefacts Sword-chapes form an interesting group of artefacts as they are quite limited in numbers. in which a large number of men from Central Sweden participated in the Rus’ Prince Jaroslavl’s battles outside Kiev against the Pechenegs (RPC for the year 1036. Although these inscriptions are thought to commemorate men who served in the Varangian Guard. in accordance with Paulsen 1953. The proto-towns of the 8th–10th centuries were dependent on external ties. It is not possible to treat the sword-chapes with bird-motifs as a united group and search for a common origin.The Martial Society Figure 95. their main interests being trade and craft. after Arne 1913. 95). The establishment of Christian kingdoms was partly responsible for this. The spread of Christianity was closely linked to the new development. also known as the Valleberga-type. Rjurikovo Gorodišce by Novgorod. The image has been called the ”Birka-falcon”. but the terminology is well established and I will continue to use it in this paper. who later became King Harald Hardrada of Norway (Blöndal 1978. At the end of the 10th century and the beginning of the 11th century most of the sites described above disappeared or were replaced by new towns. Ch. It is not certain that the bird on the swordshapes is a falcon at all. This seems to have at least partly changed in the 11th century. For example. Scandinavian-Varangian sword-chapes. Paulsen (1953) divided the chapes decorated with birds into two types: the Scandinavian type. The settled Scandinavians assimilated with the other ethnic groups and are no longer recognisable as Scandinavians in the archaeological material. from trade to mercenary activities. rather. and widely distributed. 4). and the ScandinavianVarangian type. for there is written evidence that other Scandinavian areas were represented in the Byzantine Emperors’ Varangian Guards. strikingly homogeneous with only a handful of designs. In its new form it became the official symbol of the Rurikid dynasty the origins of which have been hotly debated recently (see below). ferences to Greece and Byzantium are concentrated to rune-stones in the Lake Mälaren region. The same changes occurred in Sweden and Northern Europe. It seems probable that the purposes behind the Eastern travels changed during the 11th century. they reflect the continuous wars against Byzantium during the 11th century (Lindkvist 1988:43f). as the majority of finds have been made there. which are still inhabited today.
have been found in Novgorod and Sarskoe. perhaps symbolising a group of people who identified with it in some way. The surface of the key has been measured using laser-scanner equipment. was a representation of nobility for the aristocratic circles of the Early Middle Ages. mainly in Uppland. with a closer resemblance to the chapes of Paulsen’s Scandinavian type than to the falcon-chapes of Scandinavian-Varangian type (Paulsen 1953 Ch. Their bones have been found in high status graves from the Viking Age. Another stone (Antuna. The Rurikid falcon Figure 96. Lindberger 2001:36f). The falcon. have been found (fig. Similar keys have been found in Hitis. Arnö sn. An equally important and interesting consideration is the export of live birds of prey from Northern Europe to the courts of the Continent and England (ÅkerströmHougen 1981:284. as on the sword-chapes. and during the Middle Ages the hunting motif. but this bird forms part of the band containing the runic inscription and resembles the more usual rune-stone dragon. Uppland. This type of chape is more or less unique. Norway) the bird is viewed from the back. Olsen 1941:150. but the inscription is not contemporary with the bird (Christiansen 1997. It was probably also part of the trade to the East. closely connected with the princes of Kiev (Hrushevsky 1997:197f. Sweden. found its way into Scandinavia. and depictions of birds on the Gotlandic picture-stones (Ambrosiani 2001:12ff). Thunmark-Nylén 1995). particularly in the Vendel Period. Keys of the same shape and general design. Bronzed key from Birka´s Garrison. The chape is of a type not found in Paulsen’s work. a popular motif in almost every culture. Its closest parallels are the bronze-brooches in the shape of a falcon found during the same excavations. 1). The bird is usually depicted from the side and is commonly part of a hunting scene (for a comprehensive list see Åkerström Hougen 1981:276ff).designed. Leont’ev 1996). c. Attempts to find the origin of the schematic falconmotif can easily reach unworkable proportions as birds are. Uppland. with outspread wings and the head turned to the side. Some bronze keys also display the schematic falcon. 96) (Westerholm 2001:7f). with the motif being regarded as a secondary feature. birds of prey were a popular motif. Sweden) is carved with a bird viewed from above. The Alstad stone is the only known Norwegian example with an inscription mentioning travels in the East. 170 The connection between the stylised falcon on the sword chapes and bird-like symbols of the Rurikid princes of Rus’ has been much discussed. 152ff). 292). Westerholm´s seminar paper (Westerholm 2001. Special notice should be taken of the swordchape found in Birka’s Black Earth during the excavations of 1990–1995 (Ambrosiani 2001). It may be more fruitful to concentrate on the artefacts themselves. Both types are generally attributed to the 10th century (Edgren 1999:9ff. These keys have a close connection to the warrior elite of Birka as have been shown in M. which was closely connected to nobility and chivalric ideals. Falconry was practised in Byzantium and the Caliphate in the East. most recent- . but without the falcons. In two cases (the Väppeby stone. Opland. as a hunter and bird of prey. and always have been. Finland and on Gotland (Edgren 1999. In Scandinavia. A small group of falcons or other birds of prey decorate Scandinavian rune-stones. and among the Franks and the Friesians in the West (Åkerström-Hougen 1981:274f). as falconry was popular at the Oriental courts and.f. later. Sweden and the Alstad stone. For further details see Westerholm 2001. Eds sn. In Birka’s Garrison ten bronzed keys decorated with three superimposed falcons. Ambrosiani 2001:19).
Figure 98. and replaced the image of Christ on the reverse of the coin (Lindberger 2001:64. Edberg 2001 and Lindberger 2001. The seal of prince Svyatoslav (d. bird motifs were a relatively common feature on coins during the Early Middle Ages. The design of the ’bi- Figure 99. The obverse of the earliest Vladimir coins carries the emblem of the Rurikid family beside the enthroned prince.century pendants show the emblem (fig. albeit on a small scale (Lindberger 2001:60). the discussion on the falcon-motif and its origin has concentrated on the bird-like two-pronged (’bident’) and three-pronged (’trident’) emblems on Early Russian coins. Khazarian “tamga” symbols. but all three motifs spring from an archetype of North European origin (Kulakow 1985). Earlier studies include the works of Kulakow 1985 and Melnikova 1996. ly by Ambrosiani 2001. Kulakow maintains that the development of the princely emblem is paralleled by the falcon-motif on the sword shapes. Their role is uncertain. As Lindberger (2001) has shown. The emblem is more closely related to the falcon-motif on the Scandinavian-type chapes. with both German and English coins showing a stylistic resemblance to the falcon on the chapes. Pritsak 1998:71ff). after Melnikova 1996. All have been found in the coastal regions of the Baltic Sea (Lindberger 2001:60f). On the next issue the emblem was transformed into a ’trident’ resembling a bird diving on its prey. 972) depicts the earliest known official version of the Rurikid family emblem (fig. Coins were minted on Russian territory at the beginning of the 10th century. Even so. 74ff. 97). Rispling has categorized these early coins as ’Christian’ Islamic imitations. Grafitti on Islamic coins. even though the ’bident’ emblem had by then been known for at least a century. after Edberg 2001. The seal of prince Svyatoslav. and the Primary Chronicle notes that princely envoys to Byzantium owned gold seals whereas merchants had silver ones (Lindberger 2001:70. 171 . and they distinguish themselves iconographically from the Islamic coins that they otherwise were imitating (Rispling 1987). By this date seals had been in use for some time. after Edberg 2001. 98) (Edberg 2001. RPC for the year 945). the reverse shows Christos Pantokrator. Melnikova 1996:87). Both obverse and reverse carry small Christian crosses.The Martial Society Figure 97. It appears as graffiti on Islamic dirhams as early as the 880s and a number of 10th. and some also have a picture of a bird’s head. but they may have been used as seals. Lindberger 2001:72.and 11th. Prince Vladimir (980–1015) was the first to mint true Russian coins.
i.and 10th century fortified settlement or early town in the Rus’ area. Cemeteries containing a number of falcon sword-chapes comprise Birka (3 examples). ”there is good evidence of the existence of the so-called ’retainers’-culture’ also in rural environments in Rus’ and Scandinavia” (Jansson 1997:51). dent’ is not reminiscent of the schematised falcon on the chapes.e. Similarity to the Scandinavian depictions of birds cannot be overlooked entirely. their pattern of distribution is identical to the distribution of the sites and regions. Nonetheless. as in the case of the Rurikid emblem. and its connections with the realm of the Rus’ remain highly uncertain. the distribution-pattern has stayed essentially the same. Kazakevicius 1990. The birds on Gotlandic picturestones and the unique scabbard-chape found in Birka’s Black Earth mentioned above closely resemble some of the later Rurikid family emblems (fig. As Pritsak points out. spearheads. but the chapes have been found in virtually every 9th. Kulakow dates the finds from the Baltic States to the beginning of the 11th century (see below). shields and so forth. Some areas stand out in the distribution. Significantly. the garrison sites at Birka and Šestovica strengthen this argument. This is a good example of Jansson’s statement. political and social development of Ancient Russia (figs. The many weapons found in the environs of Wiskiauten suggest that there was probably a garrison there also. and although the location is rural the grave-goods do not reflect a truly rural milieu. and there are other models closer to hand. 100) (Pritsak 1998:78f). passing the Åland Island (fig. Much as in the Rus’ use of the Khazar title Chaganus or Khagan. 172 101 and 102). There are. Rurikid family emblems. The burial grounds may indicate places where warriors were stationed or settled on a more permanent basis. Style and iconography can be used as tools for and expressions of power. Pattern of distribution and context Finds of sword-chapes with stylised falcons are concentrated on the Eastern trade routes along the Baltic and Eastern rivers. a few exceptions. Khazar symbols could have enhanced the legitimacy of the Rus’ princes. The largest ”new” group is made up of the chapes from the area of the south Baltic. 99). the graves at Hedesunda are richly furnished with weapons. after Edberg 2001. 1992). Šestovica (4 examples). Where the context is known. 89). The fact that many falcon chapes have been found in graves indicates that they were personal belongings deposited .Figure 100. from where Paulsen lists none Apals & Apala 1992. The existence of a garrison does not guarantee the presence of a troop of ”falcon chape warriors”. In many cases the burial even includes a horse and or equestrian equipment. although it has not yet been located. Wiskiauten (3 examples) and Paragaudis (3 examples) whereas the region in which most chapes have been found is the Šilale district of Lithuania. Perhaps the Rurikid family emblem should be interpreted as a combination of the Khazar and the Rus’ symbols of power. which played key roles in the general economic. strength and victory. The abundance of falcon chapes in Lithuania may indicate that the type was in use longer there than elsewhere. the ’bident’ and ’trident’ emblems of the Rus’ rulers have direct parallels in Khazar material and he considers the ’trident’ to be a Khazar ’tamga’ symbol which was adopted by the Rus’ branch of the dynasty as a symbol of the ruler’s victory and glory (fig. The homogeneity in design of the chapes and the other grave-goods indicates that their owners belonged to a select group. Hedesunda in Gästrikland was neither a trading post nor an early town. Latvia and Lithuania. the falcon swordchapes have been found in burials with various weapons such as swords. Hedesunda and the neighbouring Hamrånga are both situated along the waterways leading Eastward. It is interesting that although the number of chapes of Scandinavian-Varangian type has more than doubled since Paulsen made his compilation in 1953. of course.
for example. there are no signs of extensive copying or chapes found in disparate contexts. So they may have been manufactured at. but it is unlikely that Birka was the centre for the entire manufactured output. Staraja Ladoga. Even though the chapes must have been quite easy to copy. As warriors grew ever more professional. The only fragment of a mould for a falcon chape was found in Birka’s Black Earth (Strömberg 1951). The Scandinavian-Varangian type is quite plain in design. shape and treatment of the bird. possibly indicating that they were not personal possessions but. as only two of the six so far discovered in graves were found in connection to swords (Kazakevicius 1992:94).The Martial Society Figure 101. to follow their owner to the grave. Production Although all the falcon sword-chapes are of the same general design. such as the group with anthropomorphic figures (see Hedenstierna-Jonson 2002). Birka. a sign of authority or function. there are significant differences in size. the only feature being the stylised bird with outspread wings. The Lithuanian falcon sword-chapes diverge from the general picture. not the number of swordchapes in each location. Both Paulsen (1953:33) and Strömberg 173 . Gorodišce and Gnëzdovo. Dating The date of the falcon sword-chapes has been much disputed. Distribution-pattern of falcon sword-chapes. or perhaps even laws prohibiting manufacture and usage of symbolic official objects outside the selected group. production of their weapons and other equipment became centralised on specific workshops (Olausson 2000:137). rather. The distribution pattern and the slight differences in the chapes suggest that they were made in different pla- ces but derived from a centralised model. Chapes with anthropomorphic figures are more often found in settlements or hoards than in graves. The sword-chapes very probably reflect the same process. and the possession of one probably indicated the owner’s elevated status. The map only shows different locations. It is possible that there has been some kind of social control. Comparison may be made to the distribution pattern and context of other sword-chapes.
Nikolskon Saljuschik Timerevo Sarskoe Beloozero Staraja Ladoga Wladimir Birka Birka Birka Birka Birka Birka Birka Hedesunda Fro. Strömberg 1951 Ambrosiani 1973 Ambrosiani 1973. Arne 1913 settlement grave 11 grave 135 hill-fort grave 27 grave 25 stray find stray find stray find grave 59 grave 96 grave grave 4 stray find Norway Poland by the city rampart Kaliningrad Russia Sweden Wiskiauten Wiskiauten Wiskiauten Mochovoje Rzevskoe Linkuhnen Gnezdovo Gnezdovo Gnezdovo Gorodische Gorka. Gudai Maele. Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Latvia Priekulu Priekulu Lithuania Silale Silale Silale Silale Silale Silale Silale Kaisiadorys Panevezys Akmene Hordaland S Tröndelag Flatow Brodno Stare Wolin Kaliningrad Kaliningrad Kaliningrad Zelenogradsk Kaliningrad Kaliningrad Smolensk Smolensk Smolensk Ladoga Ladoga Ladoga Jaroslav Jaroslav Vologda Ladoga Uppland Uppland Uppland Uppland Uppland Uppland Uppland Gästrikland Gästrikland Öland Sealand Sealand Saarema Åland Aura Bretagne Tissö Tissö Tönja. Ambrosiani 2001 Ambrosiani 2001 Holmquist Olausson 1993 Arne 1913 Paulsen 1953. Enjosova 1994 Enjosova 1994 Enjosova 1994 Enjosova 1994 Paulsen 1953. Enjosova 1994 Arbman 1943. Malvik Skietz settlement settlement settlement grave-mound Jörgensen oral Jörgensen oral Nerman 1930. Paulsen 1953 Arbman 1943. Enjosova 1994 Paulsen 1953 Kulakow 1985 von zur Mühlen 1975 Enjosova 1994 Enjosova 1994 Kulakow 1985. Paulsen 1953 Arbman 1943. Långlöt grave 143 grave 3 grave 174 grave 92 grave 93 kurgan 73 kurgan 85 central hill-fort kurgan 27 stray find in cultural layer the hill-fort grave 944 (chamber-grave) grave 643 (chamber-grave) grave 750 (chamber-grave) Black-Earth. Enjosova 1994 Kazakevicius 1992 Kazakevicius 1992 Kazakevicius 1992 Kazakevicius 1992 Kazakevicius 1992 Kazakevicius 1992 Kazakevicius 1992 Kazakevicius 1992 Kazakevicius 1992 Kazakevicius 1992 Grieg 1913 Paulsen 1953 Paulsen 1953. Enjosova 1994 Androschuk oral Tallgren 1916. Nerman 1930 Enjosova 1994 Enjosova 1994 Enjosova 1994 Enjosova 1994 Arne 1913. Jankuhn 1943 Jankuhn 1943 Apala & Apals 1992 Apala & Apals 1992 Apala & Apals 1992 Apala & Apals 1992. mould Black-Earth Black-Earth Black-Earth.Figure 102. Paulsen 1953 Kivikoski 1951 Kivikoski 1939 Renaud 2000 Strömberg 1951. grave-field 174 . Hamrånga Åstad. Finding-locations and contexts of falcon sword-shapes. fragm. Enjosova 1994 Arne 1913. Paulsen 1953 Arne 1913. Gjerstad S Forbord. Valjala Saltvik Pitkismäki Ile de Groix Hedeby Hedeby Araisi Gugeri Gugeri Asote Paragaudis Paragaudis Paragaudis Zasinas Zasinas Zasinas Upyna Dovainonys Rimaisiai Pavirvyte.
They founded early towns and settlements with an autonomous existence. Arabs. which did not include Finno-Ugrians. and if it were of any significance. Although there is no direct dating evidence for the falcon chape found on the terrace by the town rampart of Birka. Grave 643 contained an Islamic coin that is difficult to date but which must have been issued in either 900 or 851/852 (Arbman 1943:221. Nerman 1930 Androschuk oral Enjosova 1994. The latest coin in Grave 750 is an Islamic dirham of 909/10 or 911/12. They did not grow out of their hinterland but began to create their own economic hinterlands. To summarise. Their common trait was associated with proto-urban settlements with trade and warfare as two distinct features. perhaps leading to the formation of a separate culture – that of the Rus’. The need to weld together a heterogeneous group by emphasising common features may well have kept the Rus’ culture unified. As they by this time were second or third generation Rus’ there were few if any rea- 175 . Bingsarve Sednev Sestovitsa Sestovitsa Sestovitsa Sestovitsa kurgan 3 kurgan 46 kurgan 83 kurgan 110 kurgan 58 hill-fort Thunmark Nylén 1995. only two of the chapes discovered in Lithuanian graves were associated with swords.The Martial Society Ukraine Gotland Gotland Gotland Gotland Cernigov Cernigov Cernigov Cernigov Cernigov Kiev Kiev Gnezdovo? Cernigov? Näs Roma Visby??? Levide. The settlements. with emphasis in the first half of the 10th century. the most likely date for the chapes is probably the first half of the 10th century. Two Latvian falcon chapes can be dated to the end of the 10th and the beginning of the 11th century (Apala & Apals 1992). Symbols came to play an even more important part than they did in a homogeneous society. Balts and Scandinavians. They were a non-agrarian society. This Rus’ culture would have been polyethnic. keys and mounts. The assimilation of the Scandinavians into the Rus’ society was at this point probably fully effected and they are no longer visible in the archaeological material. the falcon sword-chapes were probably in use from the end of the 9th century to the beginning of the 11th century. Pechenegs. Thus. The sword of Petersen type H found in Grave 944 led Nerman to date the burial to 850–950 (Nerman 1930:96 note 1). Paulsen 1953 Paulsen 1953 Arne 1913. with Strömberg stating that they were a short-lived item of fashion. Khazarians. Kulakow (1985:54) has dated the East European falcon sword-chapes to the end of the 9th century and the Baltic finds to the beginning of the 11th century. Defining the Rus’ may most easily be done by defining what they were not. The use of style and iconography as seen in the falcon-motif on sword-chapes. The 11th century brought with it the establishment of the Christian state. 271). The Latvia and Lithuanian hill-forts generally date from a period later than that which may be inferred from their finds and similar finds in other places. such as Slavs. The population and the material culture of the towns and settlements were more polyethnic than those of agrarian centres (Nosov 1994). Arne 1913 Paulsen 1953 Paulsen 1953 Thunmark Nylén 1995. Volga-Bulgars or Greeks. Enjosova 1994 Arne 1913 Paulsen 1953 (1951:238) attributed the Scandinavian-Varangian group to the second half of the 10th century. its context indicates 920±60 (Holmquist Olausson 1993:103. Conclusions The common features of early towns and fortified settlements stretching from Birka in the North West to Šestovica in the South East has led to questions about the nature of their inhabitants and their inter-relationships. shows a deliberate attempt to declare official affiliation to a society or group. The Birka connection and the numerous Scandinavian artefacts give at least some idea of the origins of the people. 108). The difficulties encountered in trying to distinguish Scandinavian features from others pose the question of what really was Scandinavian and what was Rus’. formed by the assimilation of different people. early towns and burial grounds should rather be seen as signs of lively trade and close cultural connections. This does not accord with the dating of the graves at Birka in which the chapes have been found. As noted above. but they are both attributed to the 10th century (Kazakevicius 1992:94). Androschuk 1999 Enjosova 1994 Androschuk oral Enjosova 1994.
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