Antes

Antes (Greek: Antae; Ukrainian: Анти; Anty). The name used by the Gothic historian Jordanes and by Byzantine writers of the 6th-7th century—Agthias, Procopius, Menander, Theophylactus, and others—for the east Slavic tribes of the fourth–seventh centuries. Scholars disagree on the origin and meaning of this term, which was first used in the 3rd century. Aleksei Shakhmatov argued that the name designated all the East Slavic tribes, while others held that it designated only their southern part. In the 4th–7th century the Antes formed a large tribal alliance that covered the territories between the Dniper River and the Dnister River and in some periods extended throughout most of the forest-steppe belt from the Carpathian Mountains and the lower Danube River to the Sea of Azov.

Agriculture was the Antes' main occupation, in which they used the iron plow. The skilled trades, particularly pottery and ironworking, were highly developed among them. There is evidence that they also engaged in internal and foreign trade, especially with the Roman Empire, and that they used Roman silver coins. The basic unit of Antes society was the village commune. With time, individual land use, private land control, and farms appeared. Slavery was widely practiced; Byzantine historians wrote that the Antes took tens of thousands of war captives and turned them into slaves.

The tribal alliance of the Antes was extensive enough to support a large military force. Some sources mention the figure of 100,000 warriors, but this is probably an exaggeration. The alliance was led by princes and the tribal oligarchy. Jordanes and Byzantine sources of the 6th–7th century mention such princes as Bozh (Boz), Ardagast, and Teiragast and the generals Chilbudins and Dobrogast.

In the 4th century the Antes came into conflict with the Goths, who wanted to establish hegemony over Eastern Europe. After several defeats the Gothic king Vinitharius captured, in 385, Prince Bozh of the Antes, his sons, and 70 nobles. All of them were executed. The invasion of the Huns, however, prevented the Goths from establishing a firm rule over the Antes. In the 6th century the Antes, together with the closely related Sclavini, began to attack the Balkan parts of the Byzantine Empire. At first they were interested only in booty and slaves, but by the second half of the 6th century the Antes began to settle in these lands. The Antes resettled so quickly that by the end of the 6th century the territories of contemporary Bulgaria and Yugoslavia were Slavicized.

From the end of the 6th century the Antes fought stubbornly against the Avars, who established their khaganate in Eastern Europe. This war led to the disintegration of the tribal alliance and the disappearance of the Antes as a political force. From the beginning of the 7th century Byzantine writers no longer mention the Antes.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Rybakov, B. ‘Anty i Kievskaia Rus',’ Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1939, no. 1
Tret'iakov, P. Vostochnoslavianskie plemena (Moscow 1953)
Braichevs'kyi, M. Bilia dzherel slov'ians'koï derzhavnosti (Kyiv 1964)
Petrov, V. Etnohenez slov'ian (Kyiv 1972)
Mishko, S. Narys rann'oï istoriï Rusy-Ukraïny, ed O. Dombrovs'kyi (New York–Toronto–Munich 1981)

Arkadii Zhukovsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]




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