On the Sixth-century Germanic Finds from the Central Balkan Hill-top Sites
The crisis of the Late Antiqity was reflected in a long-lasting process of the immigration, notably of Germanic groups, into the Empire. Even during Justinian's reign, protection of the weakened Balkan provinces had to rely on Germanic troops. The foederati were chiefly detached in Roman cities and forts along the Danube. The present article discusses a rather small sample of sixth-century Germanic artefacts from the poorly urbanised Central Balkan hinterlands. These finds have traditionally been ascribed to Gepid refugees after their 567 defeat by the Lombards and Avars; however, they could likewise be dated to the first half of the sixth century. Moreover, historical accounts do not provide a solid backing for such an interpretation. Spatial distribution of these finds points to a planned detachment of the Germanic mercenaries. While most of them were to defend the Danube border, some objects of Germanic origin have been found in a newly-built city of Justiniana Prima, a restored cit...y of Justiniana Secunda, and in the regional centre of Gradina on the Jelica Mountain. Several other Germanic finds cluster in the Velika Morava valley. The mercenaries were an important and expensive resource; therefore the finds discussed here should not be attributed to the refugees, but rather seen as reflecting the Byzantine defence strategy. Assessing their ethnic affiliation seems premature, however.
Keywords:spatial distribution / hill-top sites / Germanic finds / ethnic attribution / Central Balkans / 6th century
Source:Stratum Plus, 2020, 5, 91-98
- High Anthropological School University