Antes


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Antes

 

the name of a group of East Slavic tribes that flourished from the fourth to the seventh century A.D. The name was used by Byzantine writers of the sixth and seventh centuries, but it appears on a Kerch’ inscription of the third century. Basic information on the history of the Antes is contained in the works of sixth- and seventh-century writers—Procopius, Jordanus, Agafius, Menander, Theophylactus, and others. The Antes occupied the forest steppe between the Dnestr and the Dnieper rivers as well as east of the Dnieper. They knew how to till the soil and how to raise livestock on a settled basis. The Antes had already branched out from agriculture into crafts, the extraction and working of iron, a highly developed pottery, making jewelry, working with precious stones and ivory, weaving, and other crafts. In the opinion of some researchers, the Antes had a domestic trade connected with the development of their crafts, as well as a foreign trade (particularly with Rome). Money began to circulate, for which they could have used silver Roman coins.

The rural commune was characteristic of Antes society. Archaeologists have discovered remnants of extensive Antes settlements consisting of a number of separate households in addition to craft workshops. Property stratification among the Antes may be traced by numerous stores of coins and precious articles of clothing. Slaveholding was widely developed. Byzantine historians wrote about the many tens of thousands of military prisoners who were captured by the Antes to be used as slaves, but the form of slave dependence among the Antes was less strict than it was in Byzantium.

In the third and fourth centuries the Antes formed a state. Written sources from the sixth and seventh centuries contain mention of the following Antes political leaders: tsars, such as Bozh, Ardagast, and Piragast; great lords, such as Idarii and Kelagast; generals, such as Khil’budii and Dobrogast; the diplomat Mezhamir; and others. It is assumed that the author of The Tale of Igor’s Campaign knew the name Bozh because he mentions the “time of Bus.”

The Antes had a strong military organization, and in the fourth century they waged a stubborn struggle against the Gothic dominion of Ermanaric. In 385 the Gothic king Vin-itar (Vitimir) strove to subordinate the Antes to his rule but suffered defeat. Later he succeeded in capturing Bozh and executed him together with his sons and 70 lords. Beginning in the sixth century, the Antes, together with the related Sclavenians, made incursions into Byzantine territories in the Balkans. At first these had the character of raids for the capture of prisoners and booty, but even during the war of 550–551, some Antes and Sclavenians remained in the Balkans. From this time on, Slavic colonization of the Balkans developed rapidly. From the end of the sixth century, the Antes waged war against the Avars. The name “Antes” ceased to be mentioned in written sources at the beginning of the seventh century. The Antes’ place was taken by a new union—Rus’, the center of which clearly coincided with the lands earlier developed by the Antes.

REFERENCES

Rybakov, B. A. “Anty i Kievskaia Rus’.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1939, no. 1.
Tret’iakov, P. N. Vostochnoslavianskie plemena, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1953.
Braichevs’kyi, M. Iu. Bilia dzherel slovians’koi derzhavnosti. Kiev, 1964.
Ocherki istorii SSSR, III-IX W. Moscow, 1958.
M. IU. BRAICHEVSKII
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