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Original people of the Slavs - descent and origin

Where is the origin of the Slavs?

In the lively and by no means concluded discussion about the origin of the Slavs, two completely different research approaches face each other. Based on the basic assumption that the Slavs “have to come from somewhere”, the classical conception is based on the immigration of one or more homogeneous “ancient Slavic” groups, whose identity and origin they seek to determine (“Urheimat”). According to an older model, homogeneous associations should have immigrated, while according to a modified thesis, the Slavic peoples only formed on the migration or at the place of arrival as part of an ethnogenesis from the migrating Proto-Slavs. According to another theory, the Slavs as an ethno-political category are a Byzantine discovery in the form of a foreign name, i.e. a categorization from outside.

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Who were the primeval Slavs?

While the linguistics in connection with prehistory at least roughly outlines the seats of the early Slavs and the character of their language, attempts to develop a "Slavic" religion, social order or material culture are to be regarded as having failed; on the contrary, the regional differences were probably too great, especially since the Slavs in their early days were mostly under the political rule of e.g. the Avars and Goths, by whom it can be shown that they were strongly influenced at all levels.

As a result of the prehistoric migrations of the Proto-Indo-Europeans from their original homeland between the Don and the Volga to the west, the first half of the second millennium BC BC introduced the ethnogenesis of the Slavs as a regional development, not in isolation from the other Indo-Europeans, but with them. These were especially the Balts, with whom the Slavs lived in settlement neighborhoods for centuries. The Eastern Slavs had been in contact with the Finno-Ugric peoples (Uralis) for more than a millennium and a half. The separation of the Slavic languages ​​into an eastern (Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian etc.), southern (Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian, Bulgarian etc.) and western (Polish, Sorbian, Czech etc.) branch goes back to the 6th and 7th centuries AD. BC back.

The oldest historical records of the Slavs' residential areas come from the 1st half of the 1st millennium AD. At that time, the Slavs still settled in an area that comprised the central and western parts of Ukraine and neighboring parts of Poland. The oldest Slavic water names have been preserved in that original Slavic homeland. Slavic tribes lived there partly in community or in the vicinity of Germanic peoples. The Goths, who at that time relocated their residences from the lower Vistula towards the Black Sea coast, temporarily appeared as the ruling elite of the Slavs. Influences can also be seen from the steppe nomads from the southern Russian steppe, namely the Scythians, Sarmatians and Alans. Presumably, Slavic troop contingents under the leadership of the Huns fought against the Western and Eastern Roman Empire. For the formation of the Slavic language (topogenesis) an area between the middle Vistula or Bug and the middle Dnieper could be worked out with some probability. However, it was not only the migration of the bearers of this language, but also the assimilation of people of different origins that led to the "Slavization" of East Central and Eastern Europe.

From around 500 onwards, a tremendous expansion process unfolded, which made Slavic-speaking groups the predominant force in large parts of the area between the Elbe and Volga.

Not long before the Slavic languages ​​were split up into their various branches, there must have been a split between the Slavic and Baltic-speaking populations. Both had previously spoken a variant of the even older, closely related Indo-European dialects. The archaeological evidence paints a similar picture.

More or less immediately after the collapse of Germanic Europe, Slavic-speaking groups began to appear in historical accounts. Around 500 AD they had reached the eastern Roman border in the south and east of the Carpathian Mountains and were attacking there.

The first direct contact between the Roman Empire and the Slavs occurs at the beginning of the 6th century AD. Central here was the Danube border, which the Eastern Roman Empire was able to hold until the end of the 6th century. The Slavs hibernated for the first time in the winter of 550/551 on the soil of the Eastern Roman Empire, but increased migration only began in the early 580s.

The new contacts with the Eastern Roman Empire accelerated the development processes among the Slavs involved enormously. In addition, there were subsidy payments and wealth from looted property as they had not known it before. This promoted their militarization and the formation of larger political structures. This, in turn, allowed them to maximize the benefits they derived from their new relationship with the Byzantine territories. When Germanic Europe collapsed around 550, the Slavic-speaking groups had already become the barbaric “others” that afflicted the Eastern Roman civilization in southeastern Europe.

The former imperial territories ruled by Slavs, the Sklaviniai, were gradually removed from Constantinople; in the north-west, for example in Dalmatia, they formed the starting point for the formation of states in the High Middle Ages (Serbia); in the north-east, the southern expansion of the Bulgarian Empire was a prerequisite for the first Slavic-Byzantine synthesis, which would also shape Serbia and Russia culturally. Since then, the Slavic world has belonged to two cultural zones, Byzantine Orthodoxy and Central European Catholicism. In the areas where the Slavic settlements have continuously developed, many older tribal groups have, over time, been ethnic amalgamated with other groups. In the context of such ethnic equalization processes, the modern Slavic peoples hived off. In some areas with a Slavic majority population, there was even an assimilation of non-Slavic ethnic groups, such as the Proto-Bulgarians in Bulgaria and the Finnish-Ugric peoples, the Merier and Muromer, whose settlement area was overpopulated by Russians in the Middle Ages. The situation was different in Central Europe, where Slavic tribal groups advanced as far as the Elbe and even beyond in the early Middle Ages.

Who were the Elbe Slavs?

Since the middle of the 6th century, West Slavic groups penetrated in several waves of immigration into what is now Germany.

From the end of the 6th century and in the course of the 7th century, the Lusatian tribes and the forerunners of the Wilzen immigrated to the territory of the later former GDR. Since the 7th century, several tribal associations have developed from the various immigrants, in particular the Milzener and Lusitzi in Lausitz, the Heveller an der Havel in today's Brandenburg and the Wilzen / Liutizen in Western Pomerania and northern Brandenburg, as well as the Abodrites in Mecklenburg. The Rugans lived somewhat isolated on Rügen and on the adjacent mainland. The Wagrier (Waigri) settled further to the west in eastern Holstein (as far as Schwentine on the Kiel Fjord) and the Drewaner in Lüneburg. The Slavic associations in north-east Germany are grouped under the term Wenden, Polaben or Elbe Slavs.

The Elbe was the natural border up to which the Slavs came near the west in the course of their medieval expansion. In the course of time, a peaceful coexistence between Elbe Slavs and Saxons developed on the middle Elbe. On the lower Elbe, on the other hand, the Slavs and Saxons were hostile to each other for centuries. Since the second half of the 10th century, the Saxon-Elbe-Slavic contacts to the German-Slavic relations continued.

Until the 12th century, German dukes and princes in the German-Slavic contact zone saw their primary task in subjugating and Christianizing the Slavs (in the Middle Ages by the Germans generally called "Wends") east of the Elbe.

In the course of the later German settlement in the east, most of the small Slavic peoples between the Elbe and Oder were assimilated. The Sorbs are the only ethnic group in the region that has retained their ethnic identity to this day. The submerged peoples include the Rugians, Pomorans and Dadosans, as well as Elbe Slavs such as the Obodrites and Lutizen and the Polabians, first mentioned in the 11th century, who lived in the Lüchow-Dannenberg and Wustrow districts in the Wendland region of Lüneburg until the beginning of the 18th century have preserved their native culture and language. Thereafter, this local population of Slavic descent assimilated to the surrounding German majority population.

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This is how the DNA origin analysis works

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