«Dark Ages» of Golden Horde at Southern Rus Lands: Historical and Archaeological Context

  • Oleksandr P. Motsia Institute of Archaeology, the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
Keywords: Golden Horde people, Ulus of Jochi, South Rus lands, material culture, the peasants and the nomads, international contacts.

Abstract

The historic period between the 1240s and the 1360s in homeland history is a time of the Eastern Slavs’ subjection to the Mongol and Tatar conquerors at the south of former Kyiv Rus. It is often called the «Dark Ages»; and there is comparatively few information about it in the written sources of that time. However, in view of intensive accumulation of archaeological information in recent decades, the situation has significantly changed.

First of all, it concerns migration of new ethnic groups into the lands of the Black Sea north region from the eastern regions: the Volga River region, the Northern Caucasus, an other regions which already have got into dependence on the Mongols and Tatars. There were also micro migrations among the autochthons, namely, the Eastern Slavs who earlier lived on the Ancient Rus state territory.

Significant for these centuries was the formation of the relations on the trade routes with traffic guaranteed by the Ghengizids, the Great Ghengiz Khan’s relatives. The descendants of his eldest son were his representatives in Ulus of Jochi. One of the results of this fact was appearance of so-called steppe cities, urban centres absolutely untypical for other nomad societies. Besides, such contacts are evidenced also by numerous elements of also untypical for these places features of material culture (ceramics and other crafts, coins, and other artefacts).

The Slavs contacted with the newcomers, but probably in most cases these interrelations were peaceful. It is evidenced by the lack of fortifications at the Slavs’ sites, as well as by mixed anthropological structure of the population in various regions of the modern Ukrainian territory. It also should be noted that Ancient Rus lands did not indirectly formed Ulus of Jochi, but were under the conquerors’ control.

As a whole, the «Dark Ages» being studied in more detail at an up to date scientific level appear to be not so «dark», though acquiring the further study.

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2017-06-22
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