2008 | 53 | 1 | 63-72
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TRANSITION FROM LATE ANTIQUITY TO THE EARLY MIDDLE AGES IN POLISH TERRITORIES - INTRODUCTORY REMARKS (Okres przejsciowy miedzy pózna starozytnoscia a wczesnym sredniowieczem na ziemiach polskich - wprowadzenie)

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The author stress some essential points: (1) Are history, politics and ideology so close that complete impartiality is a pipe dream? (2) Interpretations and overinterpretations. Many approaches to the ethnic interpretation of archaeological cultures are ballasted by ideology, politics and nationalisms. In Germany it was a result of the rejection at the turn of the 19th and 20th C. of the R. Virchow's concept of 'Urgeschichte' as a section of anthropology, in favour of G. Kossinna's 'Vorgeschichte' - the narrow, descriptive, idiographic and provincial approach. One of the creators of Polish archaeology was J. Kostrzewski, the student of Kossinna. Retaining Kossinna's methodological approach he concentrated on the Slavs. Traces of 'Kossinna's syndrome' revived in Poland many years later and has become the underlying cause of polemics, bringing a deep division in archaeological milieux. Critics have formulated objections: the three-way identification between linguistic communities, social units and archaeological cultures; models of linguistic diffusion, based on migrations, are doubtful for migrations would require explaining rather than being an explanation; not all the processes are taken into consideration and analysed.The question of the creation of a 'false reality' didn't become a subject of discussion and was avoided. This suggests that the idea of falsification has not yet reached scholar communities researching the social past. Historical reality is polythetic, thus only a polythetic and not the monothetic model is the proper framework for dividing source material. (3) Ethnological data are an indispensable supplement of the ethnic interpretation of archaeological records. One of postulates is a critical analysis of the relationship between archaeology, linguistics, anthropology and sociology. C. Renfrew (2001) shows a vicious circle of reasoning. Archaeologists invoke authorities in linguistics to substantiate the premises of their interpretation of fossil cultures. Linguistics turn selectively to archaeological sources seeking for confirmation of their startlingly divergent deductions. There is the dilemma to choose between model of a 'cradle of dispersion' or idea of an original linguistic continuity, e.g. Bantu languages over an extensive area. (4) New cognitive perspectives for the study of ethnogenetic processes seem to appear. C. Renfrew (1993, 2000) stresses advances in studies bear upon the nature of our collective identities which allow us to understand better the origins of different kinds of diversity. Cultural diversity studied by processual archaeologists is attempting not merely to describe but also to explain. Genetic diversity has become the object of investigations of archaeogenetics (Renfrew, Boyle eds 2000). Study of linguistic diversity offers a much less simplistic view of the formation and evolution of languages, which is applicable not only to the Indoeuropean world (Klein 2004). Summing up: archaeogenetics, modern linguistics, and processual archaeology offer a methodology and an opportunity to new study of ethnogenetic processes, which should not be alien to the study of the ethno- and topogenesis of the Slavs.
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  • Stanislaw Tabaczynski, Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii PAN, al. Solidarnosci 105, 00-140 Warszawa, Poland
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