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Inter Ambo Maria - Between Scandinavia and the Black Sea

Finally, the proceedings of our Black Sea conference - held in Gaspra in the Crimea in November last year - are here! It has turned out to be, if I might say so, an interesting volume, as well as a beautifully crafted book. Here is an excerpt from the foreword by Igor N. Khrapunov and me, and an overview of the different articles in the book.

It is said that the earth’s circle which the human race inhabits is torn across into many bights, so that great seas run into the land from the out-ocean. Thus it is known that a great sea goes in at the Straits of Gibraltar, and up to the land of Jerusalem. From the same sea a long sea-bight stretches towards the north-east, and is called the Black Sea, and divides the three parts of the earth; of which the eastern part is called Asia, and the western is called by some Europa, by some Enea. Northward of the Black Sea lies Swithiod the Great, or the Cold.
In these words the great Icelandic saga writer Snorre Sturluson introduces his Chronicle of the the Kings of Norway in c. 1230. To Snorre and to other saga writers, the significance of Swithiod the Great lay in it being the Urheimat of Odinn and the other Norse gods, whom they believed were real people who had once migrated to Scandinavia from this land far away, and turned themselves into kings and gods in the North. This, of course, is a piece of gelehrte Urgeschichte, and the origins of this euhemeristic legend are to to be found in Medieval scholarly speculative thought, fueled by the faint memory of the lively connections between Scandinavia and the Rus’ kingdom in present day Ukraine and Russia in the Early Viking Age.

But was there ever cultural connections between the Black Sea area and the Baltic-Scandinavian region before this time? To us as archaeologists, the answer must be “yes.” And these connections become visible in the archeological material from AD 200 on.

In October 2010 the conference entitled “Inter Ambo Maria: Contacts between Scandinavia and the Crimea in the Roman Period” was held in the Crimea, in Gaspra village. It was initiated by Vest-Agder County Council (Norway). In cooperation with the “Heritage of Millennia” Non-Profitable Foundation for History and Archaeology, National Taurida University (Simferopol, Ukraine) and Maria Curie-Skłodowska University (Lublin, Poland), Vest-Agder County Council succeeded to invite to the Crimea archaeologists from nine different European countries. The conference resulted in this volume. It presents papers by the participants of the conference and those colleagues who prepared papers, but who for different reasons were not able to make it to Gaspra. Besides that, we publish studies by two young researchers from the Crimea who have got scholarships provided by Vest-Agder County Council.

The theme of the conference was logical. As it was reckoned years ago, the movement of the Goths and other Germanic tribes from Scandinavia and the Baltic area to the Black Sea opened the way for cultural contacts between across Europe. These contacts are reflected in various types of artifacts common to Northern Europe and the Black Sea region. This goes for glass vessels, buckles, shield bosses and grips, details of costume and ornaments. Moreover, there are parallels regarding burial rites known from excavations of Crimean cemeteries on the one hand and Scandinavian burial sites on the other. In recent years, studies have shown that some Germanic artefacts appeared in the Crimea in the first half of the third century AD, or, possibly, even earlier — at any rate, it happened before written sources document the appearance of the Goths. Later on, migrants from Northern Europe took a very active part in ethnic processes in the peninsula. Throughout the Medieval period, used in the Crimea at least to the mid-sixteenth century.

There are distribution maps of several types of artefacts clearly showing a diagonal line with one end in Scandinavia and another end in the Crimea. Specific routes of the German from the Baltic- Scandinavian area to the Black Sea are also reconstructed and demonstrated on maps.

Despite all this, many problems related to contacts between Northern Europe and the Black Sea area remain unstudied or investigated insufficiently. First of all, it is not clear whether the appearance of Germanic artefacts in the Black Sea region is to be interpreted as a result of trade or other kinds of interrelation. The chronology of many types of artefacts needs clarification. There is still no comprehensive analysis of written sources, and no comparison between the written sources and archaeological interpretations. To put it another way, the routes of Germanic migrations to the south are indicated on our maps only as dashed lines, broken in many places.

In order to come closer to the solution of these and other problems, our conference was called and this volume is published.


AIBABIN A. The Elements of Scandinavian Beast Style of the Brooches from Luchistoye (Айбабин А. Элементы скандинавского звериного стиля на фибулах из Лучистого)

BITNER-WRУBLEWSKA A. East European Enamelled Ornaments and the Character of Contacts between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea (Битнер-Врублевская А. Восточноевропейские украшения с эмалями и характер контактов между Балтийским и Черным морями)

DROBERJAR E. On Certain Amulet Pendants in the Shape of Miniature Pots, Occurring between the Black Sea Region (Pontus Euxinus) and Scandinavia (Дроберьяр Э. О некоторых подвесках-амулетах в виде миниатюрных горшков, встречающихся между Причерноморьем (Pontus Euxinus) и Скандинавией)

DUSHENKO A. The Finds of Composite Single-Sided Combs of Scandinavian Look in the Territory of Mangup (Душенко А. Находки составных односторонних гребней скандинавского облика на территории Мангупа)

GAVRITUKHIN I. Cut Glass Beakers within the Context of Studies in the Connections between the South of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia in the Late Period of Roman Influence and the Great Migration Periods (Гавритухин И. Стеклянные шлифованные кубки в контексте изучения связей юга Восточной Европы и Скандинавии в конце эпохи римских влияний и в эпоху Великого переселения народов)

GUNDERSEN I. M. Aspects of Interregional Impulses: Germanic princely graves in the Early Roman period (Гундерсен И. Направления межрегиональных импульсов: германские княжеские могилы в рннеримское время)

ISTVÁNOVITS E., KULCSÁR V. From the Crimea to Scandinavia via the Great Hungarian Plain: traces of Germanic-Sarmatian contacts on the basis of finds of spherical pendants and of other phenomena (Иштванович Э., Кульчар В. Из Крыма в Скандинавию через Большую Венгерскую низменность: следы сармато-германских контактов на основании находок сферических подвесок-амулетов и других явлений)

KAZANSKI M. Kishpek, Ekazhevo and Varpelev: on the problem of Pontic-Scandinavian relations in the Late Roman period (Казанский М. Кишпек, Экажево и Варпелев: к вопросу о понто-скандинавских связях в позднеримское время)

KHRAPUNOV I. The Northern Barbarians in the Crimea: a history of the investigation (Храпунов И. Северные варвары в Крыму: история исследования)

LEVADA M. To Europe via the Crimea: on possible migration routes of the northern people in the Great Migration period (Левада М. Через Крым в Европу: о возможных направлениях передвижения северных народов в эпоху Великого переселения народов)

LUND HANSEN U. Contacts during the Third to Fifth Century AD between South Scandinavia and the Black Sea Illustrated by Late Roman Glass and Jewellery (Лунн-Хансен У. Контакты между южной Скандинавией и Причерноморьем в III — IV вв. н.э. на примере позднеримского стекла и украшений)

MĄCZYŃSKA M., URBANIAK A., JAKUBCZYK I. The Early Mediaeval Cemetery of Almalyk-Dere near the Foot of Mangup (Мончинська М., Урбаняк А., Якубчик И. Раннесредневековый могильник Алмалык-Дере у подножия Мангупа)

MAGOMEDOV B. The Chernyakhov People’s Contacts with Scandinavia and the Crimea (Магомедов Б. Контакты населения черняховской культуры со Скандинавией и Крымом)

MARTENS J. Diadems? In search for the date, use and origin of the riveted neck-rings from Scandinavia (Мартенс Е. Диадемы? В поисках датировки, назначения и происхождения клёпаных гривен из Скандинавии)

QUAST D. The Links between the Crimea and Scandinavia: some jewellery from the third century AD princely graves in an international context (Кваст Д. Связи между Крымом и Скандинавией: некоторые украшения из княжеских могил III в. н.э. в международном контексте)

SHABANOV S. Glass Beakers with Polished Ovals from the Late Roman Period in the Crimea (Шабанов С. Стеклянные кубки со шлифованными овалами позднеримского времени из Крыма)

STYLEGAR F. -A. Weapon graves in Roman and Migration period Norway (AD 1–550) (Стюлегар Ф. -А. Погребения с оружием в Норвегии римского времени и эпохи Великого переселения народов (1-550 гг.н.э.)

VASIL’YEV A. Druzhnoye and Thorsberg: some aspects of the study of belt sets from the Late Roman period Contributors (Васильев А. Некоторые вопросы изучения ременных гарнитур позднеримского времени)


Helene sa…
Ser ut som en svært interessant bok; er alle bidragene skrevet på engelsk?
Og så ser jeg frem til din anmeldelse av Lotte Hedeagers nye bok.
Kommer nok en melding av Lottes bok, ja. Setter selv stor pris på den "glemte" Niels Lukman, men tror kanskje at hun går en del lenger enn jeg vil gjøre...
Det er parallell russisk og engelsk tekst gjennom hele boken, Helene.
Bindegal sa…
Et spændende emne! An exciting topic!
Hello! Can you, please, advise, from where this book can be purchased? Did the trading route go through Narva river? Thank you.
You can order the book here:

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