Trypillians and us
There were numerous attempts to establish
ethnic origin of Trypillians, however, till present there are no
established views on this problem.
Mykola SUSLOPAROV, ethno-linguist
Here is the brief historiography of this issue.
In the 90s of the XIXth century the outstanding
archaeologist V.Khvoika expressed the following thought: residents
of the Trypillian settlements, discovered by him, had been the greatest
Slavs ever. He arrived at the conclusion that Middle Naddniprianschyna
had been the ancient motherland of all Slavs.
However, according to the archaeologist P. Tretiakov
"there are serious grounds to believe that the main forebears -
the most ancient Proto-Slavs - were not among the Trypillians, as
V.V.Khvoika thought, but among the Northern farming tribes that
lived in the IVth and IIIrd millennia B.C. in the forested regions
between Middle Dnipro and Oder. As for the lower Danube and Trypillian
tribes, a number of Soviet, Polish and Romanian archaeologists believe
that they are forebears of the Trakian group of tribes that were
different from Slavs but eventually were absorbed by the latter".
The concept of ethnic origin of Trypillians is
looked upon in more detail by T.Passek. Trypillians have been classified
as Proto-Slavs (V.Khvoika) and Trako-Frigians (R.Schtern and others)
and Kelts (K.Schugardt) and, at last, Tocharians (O.Mengin and others).
From the Passek's material, we believe it appropriate
to cite the following: "In the early nineteenth century, not long
after V.V.Khvoika's works were published [...], M.F.Biliashevskyi
in one of his articles dedicated to archaeological excavations in
Trypillia expressed his conviction that V.Khvoika's conclusion as
to the nationality of creators of the Trypilska Culture is wrong.
According to M.F.Biliashevskyi, "culture came from the South across
the Aegean Sea and Sea of Marmara from the Asian coast or across
the Mediterranean Sea from Finikia of Egypt, and the ornamented
ceramics suggest some oriental influence."
O. Spytsyn and V.Horodtsov also insisted on the
oriental origin of the Trypilska Culture. O.Spytsyn believes the
highly developed culture (of Kyiv archaeological sites) to originate
in the Orient, namely, in Asia.
The Soviet period authors also expressed their
opinions about the ethnic origin of Trypillians.
In 1921 academician M.Marr made a brief remark:
"South Caucasus Etruscans, having made a way station in Lido, moved
across the Mediterranean Sea to the Apennine Peninsular, and their
relatives from the Northern Caucasus, Lasgs and Pelasgs moved by
the Northern way, across the Black Sea, or along its Northern coast,
and arrived at the Balkan Peninsular."
Three years later this problem was touched upon
by O.Sobolevskyi in his Russo-Scythian Studies: "If we see the ancient
Pelasgs as ancestors of Kimers and Scythians- Hellenes, of kin to
them (to our point of view), we shall understand a lot in the works
of Gerodotus and Strabon."
A somewhat earlier quotation from the Sobolevskyi's
works reads as follows: "If we recognize Scythians-Hellenes as descendants
of the early Greek colonists, who got mixed with Kimers at their
Dnipro and Dnistro-adjacent territories, we may see the representatives
of the Trypilska Culture as Gerodotus's Kimers."
Both statements of Sobolevskyi are of conditional
nature. To my point of view, Trypillians should be recognized as
ancient Pelasgs (at least partly) - forebears of Kimers - rather
than Kimers themselves. Such assumption better agrees with chronology.
From among the modern foreign authors I would
like to note P.Kechliar (1938, 1943). In his article On Pre-Greek
Strata of Languages and People he singles out the following strata:
1) Anatolian, 2) Danubian or Pelasgo-Etruscan, 3) Greek, 4) Venetian
and 5) Ilirian, which should be distinguished from Venetian. The
scholar believes that "main characteristics of the Ilirian language
- three derivative suffixes of proper names - unite the Pre-Greek
language with the Etruscan language, and both in Italy and Greece
those should be included in the same linguistic stratum; therefore
we may assume that on the territory of the Illirian language there
was a substratum, related to the Etruscan language." It unites the
Etruscan, Tirenian, Pelasgian and Retian languages in one "retro-Tirenian
field of the Proto-Indo- European language."
In his work Kechlar gives the name of Pelasgs
to the most ancient Greek tribe in Hellas.
Now let us summarize all of the above. We have
to state that modern scholars do not recognize Trypillians as Proto-Slavs.
True, there are many grounds to doubt Khvoika's
view. For example, some drawings on the slabs of Kamiana Mohyla
(Stone Grave) may be taken for Keltic inscriptions. However, Kelts
could hardly have been on the territory of Northern Prychornomoria
in the second millennium B.C. At the same time Pokorny views Tocharians
as part of Trako-Frigians. We may add, that one of the Pre-Greek
linguistic and ethnic strata is the Danubian or Pelasgo-Etruscan
I think that any information relating to Pelasgs
of Northern Prychornomoria should not be left unattended. On the
contrary, it should be most carefully examined.
So, as a hypothesis I shall identify Trypillians
The latter, as distinguished from the Pelasgs
of the Greek and Roman Epoch, should be called Proto-Pelasgs. The
correctness of this assumption is to be confirmed, when inscriptions
on the Trypilska Culture items are deciphered.
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