Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία

Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία
Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία

Δευτέρα, 17 Φεβρουαρίου 2020

The dawn of Greco-roman civilisation in Balkans (Part B) : The mass migration of Slavic tribes in Byzantine lands

The Proto-Slavic homeland is the area of Slavic settlement in Central and Eastern Europe during the first millennium AD. Traditionally, scholars put it in the marshes of Ukraine, alternatively between the Bug and the Dnieper, however, according to F. Curta, the homeland of the southern Slavs mentioned by 6th-century writers was just north of the Lower Danube. Little is known about the Slavs before the 5th century, when they began spreading in all directions. Jordanes, Procopius and other late Roman authors provide the probable earliest references to southern Slavs in the second half of the 6th century. Procopius described the Sclaveni and Antes as two barbarian peoples with the same institutions and customs since ancient times, not ruled by a single leader but living under democracy, while Pseudo-Maurice called them a numerous people, undisciplined, unorganized and leaderless, who did not allow enslavement and conquest, and resistant to hardship, bearing all weathers. They were portrayed by Procopius as unusually tall and strong, of dark skin and "reddish" hair, leading a primitive life and living in scattered huts, often changing their residence. Procopius said they were henotheistic, believing in the god of lightning (Perun), the ruler of all, to whom they sacrificed cattle. They went into battle on foot, charging straight at their enemy, armed with spears and small shields, but they did not wear armour.

The Sclaveni (in Latin) or Sklavenoi (in Greek) were early Slavic tribes that raided, invaded and settled the Balkans in the Early Middle Ages and eventually became known as the ethnogenesis of the South Slavs. They were mentioned by early Byzantine chroniclers as barbarians having appeared at the Byzantine borders along with the Antes (East Slavs), another Slavic group. The Sclaveni were differentiated from the Antes and Wends (West Slavs); however, they were described as kin. Eventually, most South Slavic tribes accepted Byzantine suzerainty, and came under Byzantine cultural influence. The term was widely used as general catch-all term until the emergence of separate tribal names by the 10th century. The Byzantines broadly grouped the numerous Slav tribes living in proximity with the Eastern Roman Empire into two groups: the Sklavenoi and the Antes. The term referred specifically to Slavic mobile military colonists who settled as allies within the territories of the Byzantine Empire. Slavic military settlements appeared in the Peloponnese, Asia Minor, and Italy.

While archaeological evidences for a large scale migration are lacking, most present day historians claim that Slavs invaded and settled the Balkans in the 6th and 7th centuries. According to this dominant narrative, up until the late 560s their activity was raiding, crossing from the Danube, though with limited Slavic settlement mainly through Byzantine foederati colonies. The Danube and Sava frontier was overwhelmed by large-scale Slavic settlement in the late 6th and early 7th century. What is today central Serbia was an important geo-strategical province, through which the Via Militaris crossed. This area was frequently intruded by barbarians in the 5th and 6th centuries. From the Danube, the Slavs commenced raiding the Byzantine Empire from the 520s, on an annual basis, spreading destruction, taking loot and herds of cattle, seizing prisoners and taking fortresses. Often, the Byzantine Empire was stretched defending its rich Asian provinces from Arabs, Persians and others. This meant that even numerically small, disorganised early Slavic raids were capable of causing much disruption, but could not capture the larger, fortified cities.

Daurentius (fl. 577–579), the first Slavic chieftain recorded by name, was sent an Avar embassy requesting his Slavs to accept Avar suzerainty and pay tribute, because the Avars knew that the Slavs had amassed great wealth after repeatedly plundering the Balkans. Daurentius reportedly retorted that "Others do not conquer our land, we conquer theirs [...] so it shall always be for us", and had the envoys slain. Bayan then campaigned (in 578) against Daurentius' people, with aid from the Byzantines, and set fire to many of their settlements, although this did not stop the Slavic raids deep into the Byzantine Empire. In 578, a large army of Sclaveni devastated Thrace and other areas. In the 580s, the Antes were bribed to attack Sclaveni settlements. John of Ephesus noted in 581: "the accursed people of the Slavs set out and plundered all of Greece, the regions surrounding Thessalonica, and Thrace, taking many towns and castles, laying waste, burning, pillaging, and seizing the whole country." However, John exaggerated the intensity of the Slavic incursions since he was influenced by his confinement in Constantinople from 571 up until 579. Moreover, he perceived the Slavs as God's instrument for punishing the persecutors of the Monophysites. By the 580s, as the Slav communities on the Danube became larger and more organised, and as the Avars exerted their influence, raids became larger and resulted in permanent settlement. By 586, they managed to raid the western Peloponnese, Attica, Epirus, leaving only the east part of Peloponnese, which was mountainous and inaccessible. In 586 AD, as many as 100,000 Slav warriors raided Thessaloniki. The final attempt to restore the northern border was from 591 to 605, when the end of conflicts with Persia allowed Emperor Maurice to transfer units to the north. However he was deposed after a military revolt in 602, and the Danubian frontier collapsed one and a half decades later.

In 602, the Avars attacked the Slavic Antes; this is the last mention of Antes in historical sources. Chatzon led the Slavic attack on Thessaloniki that year. The Slavs asked the Avars for aid, resulting in an unsuccessful siege (617). In 626, Sassanids, Avars and Slavs joined forces and unsuccessfully besieged Constantinople. During the same year of the siege, the Sclaveni used their monoxyla ships in order to transport the 3,000 troops of the allied Sassanids across the Bosphorus which the latter had promised the khagan of the Avars. In 630, Sclaveni attempted to take Thessaloniki again. Traditional historiography, based on DAI, holds that the migration of Croats and Serbs to the Balkans was part of a second Slavic wave, placed during Heraclius' regin. Constans II conquered Sklavinia in 657–658, "capturing many and subduing", and settled captured Slavs in Asia Minor; in 664–65, 5,000 of these joined Abdulreman ibn Khalid. Perbundos, the chieftain of the Rhynchinoi, a powerful tribe near Thessaloniki, planned a siege on Thessaloniki but was imprisoned and eventually executed after escaping prison; the Rhynchinoi, Strymonitai and Sagoudatai Slavic tribes made common cause, rose up and laid siege to Thessaloniki for two years (676–678). Justinian II (r. 685–695) settled as many as 30,000 Slavs from Thrace in Asia Minor, in an attempt to boost military strength. Most of them however, with their leader Neboulos, deserted to the Arabs at the Battle of Sebastopolis in Caucasus in 692. Military campaigns in northern Greece in 758 under Constantine V prompted a relocation of Slavs under Bulgar aggression; again in 783. The Bulgars had by 773 cut off the communication route, the Axios valley in Macedonia, between Serbia and the Byzantines. The Bulgars were defeated in 774, after Emperor Constantine V learnt of their planned raid. In 783, a large Slavic uprising took place in the Byzantine Empire, stretching from Macedonia to the Peloponnese, which was subsequently quelled by Byzantine patrikios Staurakios (fl. 781–800). Dalmatia, inhabited by Slavs in the interior, at this time, had firm relations with Byzantium. In 799, Akameros, a Slavic archon, participated in the conspiracy against Empress Irene of Athens.

Byzantine literary accounts (i.e., John of Ephesus, etc.) mention the Slavs raiding areas of Greece during the 580s. According to later sources such as The Miracles of Saint Demetrius the Drougoubitai, Sagoudatai, Belegezitai, Baiounetai, and Berzetai laid siege to Thessaloniki in 614–616. However, this particular event was actually of local significance. A combined effort of the Avars and Slavs two years later also failed to take the city. In 626, a combined Avar, Bulgar and Slav army besieged Constantinople. The siege was broken, which had repercussions upon the power and prestige of the Avar khanate. Slavic pressure on Thessaloniki ebbed after 617/618, until the Siege of Thessalonica (676–678) by a coalition of Slavic tribes of Rynchinoi, Sagoudatai, Drougoubitai and Stroumanoi attacked. This time, the Belegezites also known as the Velegeziti did not participate and in fact supplied the besieged citizens of Thessaloniki with grain. It seems that the Slavs settled on places of earlier settlements and probably merged later with the local populations of Greek descent to form a mixed Byzantine-Slavic communities. The process was stimulated by the conversion of the Slavic tribes to Orthodox Christianity on the Balkans, during the same period.

Relations between the Slavs and Greeks were probably peaceful apart from the (supposed) initial settlement and intermittent uprisings. Being agriculturalists, the Slavs probably traded with the Greeks inside towns. Furthermore, the Slavs surely did not occupy the whole interior or eliminate the Greek population; Greek villages continued to exist in the interior. Some villages were probably mixed, and a degree of Hellenization of the Slavs by the Greeks of the Peloponnese had already begun during this period. When the Byzantines were not fighting in their eastern territories, they were able to slowly regain imperial control. This was achieved through its theme system, referring to an administrative province on which an army corps was centered, under the control of a strategos ("general"). The theme system first appeared in the early 7th century, during the reign of the Emperor Heraclius, and as the Byzantine Empire recovered, it was imposed on all areas that came under Byzantine control. The first Balkan theme created was that in Thrace, in 680 AD. By 695, a second theme, that of "Hellas" (or "Helladikoi"), was established, probably in eastern central Greece. Subduing the Slavs in these themes was simply a matter of accommodating the needs of the Slavic elites and providing them with incentives for their inclusion into the imperial administration.

From themes in Greece, Byzantine laws and culture flowed into the interior. By the end of the 9th century most of Greece was culturally and administratively Greek again, with the exception of a few small Slavic tribes in the mountains such as the Melingoi and Ezeritai. Although they were to remain relatively autonomous until Frankish Crusadors times, such tribes were the exception rather than the rule. Many Slavs were moved to other parts of the empire, such as Anatolia and made to serve in the military. In return, many Greeks from Sicily and Asia Minor were brought to the interior of Greece, to increase the number of defenders at the Emperor's disposal and dilute the concentration of Slavs. Even non-Greeks were transferred to the Balkans, such as Christian Armenians. As more of the peripheral territories of the Byzantine Empire were lost in the following centuries, e.g., Sicily, southern Italy and Asia Minor, their Greek-speakers made their own way back to Greece. Byzantine imperial rule support Greeks through population transfers and cultural activities of the Church was successful suggests Slavs found themselves in the midst of many Greeks. It is doubtful that such large number could have been transplanted into Greece in the 9th century; thus there surely had been many Greeks remaining in Greece and continuing to speak Greek throughout the period of Slavic migration. The success of suporting Hellenism in Greece also suggests the number of Slavs in Greece was far smaller than the numbers found in the northern Balkans (Illyria - Yugoslavia and Thrace - Bulgaria).

The Slavs, known as the Sklavenoi, migrated in successive waves. Small numbers might have moved down as early as the 3rd century however the bulk of migration did not occur until the 7th century. The Slavs migrated from Central and Eastern Europe and eventually became to be known as South Slavs . Most still remained subjects of the Roman Empire. The local Romans and Romanized remnants of the Iron Age populace of the Balkans began their assimilation into mainly the Slavs and Greeks, however, notable Latin-speaking communities are known to have survived. In literature, these Romance-speakers are known as "Vlachs". In Dacia, Roman colonists and Romanized Dacians retreated in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania after the Roman withdrawal. Archaeological evidence indicate a Romanized population in Transylvania by at least the 8th century. By the 7th and 8th centuries, the Roman Empire existed only south of the Danube River in the form of the Byzantine Empire, with its capital at Constantinople. In this ethnically diverse closing area of the Roman Empire, Vlachs were recognized as those who spoke Latin, the official language of the Byzantine Empire used only in official documents, until the 6th century when it was changed to the more popular Greek. These original Vlachs probably consisted of a variety of ethnic groups (Thracians, Dacians) who shared the commonality of having been assimilated in language and culture of the Roman Empire with the Roman colonists settled in their areas. Anna Comnene relates in Alexiade about Dacians (instead of Vlachs) from Balkans and from the North side of Danube. Romance-speaking populations survived on the Adriatic mainly as Dalmatians , and the Albanians are believed by some to be descending from partially Romanized Illyrians.

The South Slavs (Balkan Slavs) are a subgroup of Slavic peoples who speak the South Slavic languages. They inhabit a contiguous region in the Balkan Peninsula and the eastern Alps, and in the modern era are geographically separated from the body of West Slavic and East Slavic people by the Romanians, Hungarians, and Austrians in between. Most notable are Serbs, Croats and Bulgarians. Southern-Slavic populations are genetically distinct from their northern linguistic relatives due to mixing with ancient indigenous populations of Illyrians, Latin and Greek speaking Thracians and Greeks. By the 580s, as the Slav communities on the Danube became larger and more organized, and as the Avars exerted their influence, raids became larger and resulted in permanent settlement. Most scholars consider the period of 581-584 as the beginning of large scale Slavic settlement in the Balkans. F. Curta points out that evidence of substantial Slavic presence does not appear before the 7th century and remains qualitatively different from the "Slavic culture" found north of the Danube. Byzantine re-assertion of the Danube defence in the mid-6th century and thereby lesser pillage yield amidst external threats resulted in political and military mobilisation and the itinerant form of agriculture may have encouraged micro-regional mobility. 7th-century archaeological sites shows earlier hamlet collections evolving into larger communities with differentiated designated areas (for public feasts, craftmanship, etc.). It has been suggested that the Sclaveni were the ancestors of the Serbo-Croatian group while the Antes were that of the Bulgarian Slavs, with much mixture in the contact zones. The diminished pre-Slavic inhabitants (including also Romanized native peoples) fled Barbarian invasions and sought refuge inside fortified cities and islands, whilst others fled to remote mountains and forests and adopted a transhumant lifestyle. The Romance-speakers within the fortified Dalmatian city-states managed to retain their culture and language for a long time. The numerous Slavs mixed with and assimilated the descendants of the indigenous population (Romanized Thracians and Illyrians and some Greeks). The scattered Slavs in Greece, the Sklavinia, were Hellenized. Romance-speakers lived within the fortified Dalmatian city-states. The migration of Serbs and Croats to the Balkans was part of a second Slavic wave, placed during Byzantine Emperor Heraclius' reign.
Πηγή :

The dawn of Greco-roman civilisation in Balkans (Part A) : The destructive raids of Avar nomads

Starting in the 2nd century BC the rising Roman Empire began annexing the Balkan area, transforming it into one of the Empire's most prosperous and stable regions. To this day, the Roman legacy is clearly visible in the numerous monuments and artifacts scattered throughout the Balkans, and most importantly in the Latin-based languages used by almost 25 million people in the area (the Balkan Romance languages). However, the Roman influence failed to dissolve Greek culture, which maintained a predominant status in the Eastern half of the Empire, and continued to be strong in the southern half of the Balkans. Beginning in the 3rd century AD, Rome's frontiers in the Balkans were weakened because of internal political and economic disorders. During this time, the Balkans, especially Illyricum, grew to greater importance. It became one of the Empire's four prefectures, and many warriors, administrators and emperors arose from the region. Many rulers built their residences in the region. Though the situation had stabilized temporarily by the time of Constantine, waves of non-Roman peoples, most prominently the Thervings, Greuthungs and Huns, began to cross into the territory, first as refugees with imperial permission to take shelter from their foes the Huns, then later as invaders. Turning on their hosts after decades of servitude and simmering hostility, Thervingi under Fritigern and later Visigoths under Alaric I eventually conquered and laid waste the entire Balkan region before moving westward to invade Italy itself. By the end of the Empire the region had become a conduit for invaders to move westward, as well as the scene of treaties and complex political maneuvers by Romans, Goths and Huns, all seeking the best advantage for their peoples amid the shifting and disorderly final decades of Roman imperial power.

The Byzantine Empire was the Greek-speaking, Eastern Roman Empire during the Middle Ages, centered at its capital in Constantinople. During most of its history it controlled provinces in the Balkans and Asia Minor. The Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian for a time retook and restored much of the territory once held by the unified Roman Empire, from Spain and Italy, to Anatolia. Its expert military and diplomatic power ensured inadvertently that Western Europe remained safe from many of the more devastating invasions from eastern peoples, at a time when the still new and fragile Western Christian kingdoms might have had difficulty containing it. The magnitude of influence and contribution the Byzantine Empire made to Europe and Christendom has only begun to be recognised recently. Its rich historiographical tradition preserved ancient knowledge upon which splendid art, architecture, literature and technological achievements were built. This is embodied in the Byzantine version of Christianity, which spread Orthodoxy and eventually led to the creation of the so-called "Byzantine commonwealth" throughout Eastern Europe. Early Byzantine missionary work spread Orthodox Christianity to various Slavic peoples, amongst whom it still is a predominant religion.

Coinciding with the decline of the Roman Empire, many "barbarian" tribes passed through the Balkans, most of whom did not leave any lasting state. During these "Dark Ages", Eastern Europe, like Western Europe, regressed culturally and economically, although enclaves of prosperity and culture persisted along the coastal towns of the Adriatic and the major Greek cities in the south. The local Romans and Romanized remnants of the Iron Age populace of the Balkans began their assimilation into mainly the Slavs and Greeks, however, notable Latin-speaking communities are known to have survived. In literature, these Romance-speakers are known as "Vlachs". In Dacia, Roman colonists and Romanized Dacians retreated in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania after the Roman withdrawal. Archaeological evidence indicate a Romanized population in Transylvania by at least the 8th century. By the 7th and 8th centuries, the Roman Empire existed only south of the Danube River in the form of the Byzantine Empire, with its capital at Constantinople. In this ethnically diverse closing area of the Roman Empire, Vlachs were recognized as those who spoke Latin, the official language of the Byzantine Empire used only in official documents, until the 7th century when it was changed to the more popular Greek.

The Pannonian Avars (Abaroi or Varchonitai Βαρχονίτες, Varchonítes, or Pseudo-Avars in Byzantine sources) were an alliance of several groups of Eurasian nomads. They are probably best known for their invasions and destruction in the Avar–Byzantine wars from 568 to 626. The name Pannonian Avars (after the area in which they eventually settled) is used to distinguish them from the Avars of the Caucasus, a separate people with whom the Pannonian Avars might or might not have had links. They established the Avar Khaganate, which spanned the Pannonian Basin and considerable areas of Central and Eastern Europe from the late 6th to the early 9th century. Although the name Avar first appeared in the mid-5th century, the Pannonian Avars entered the historical scene in the mid-6th century, on the Pontic-Caspian steppe as a people who wished to escape the rule of the Göktürks. The earliest clear reference to the Avar ethnonym comes from Priscus the Rhetor (died after 472 AD). Priscus recounts that, c. 463, the Šaragurs, Onogurs and Ogurs were attacked by the Sabirs, who had been attacked by the Avars. In turn, the Avars had been driven off by people fleeing "man-eating griffins" coming from "the ocean". The next author to discuss the Avars, Menander Protector, appeared during the 6th century, and wrote of Göktürk embassies to Constantinople in 565 and 568 AD. The Turks appeared angry at the Byzantines for having made an alliance with the Avars, whom the Turks saw as their subjects and slaves. Turxanthos, a Turk prince, calls the Avars "Varchonites" and "escaped slaves of the Turks", who numbered "about 20 thousand".

In 557 the Avars sent an embassy to Constantinople, marking their first contact with the Byzantine Empire, presumably from the northern Caucasus. In exchange for gold, they agreed to subjugate the "unruly gentes" on behalf of the Byzantines. They conquered and incorporated various nomadic tribes, Kutrigurs and Sabirs, and defeated the Antes. By 562 the Avars controlled the lower Danube basin and the steppes north of the Black Sea. By the time they arrived in the Balkans, the Avars formed a heterogeneous group of about 20,000 horsemen. After the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I bought them off, they pushed northwestwards into Germania. However, Frankish opposition halted the Avars' expansion in that direction. Seeking rich pastoral lands, the Avars initially demanded land south of the Danube River in present-day Bulgaria, but the Byzantines refused, using their contacts with the Göktürks as a threat against Avar aggression. The Avars turned their attention to the Carpathian Plain and to the natural defenses it afforded. However, the Carpathian basin was then occupied by the Gepids. In 567 the Avars formed an alliance with the Lombards, enemies of the Gepids, and together they destroyed much of the Gepid Kingdom. The Avars then persuaded the Lombards to move into northern Italy, an invasion that marked the last Germanic mass-movement in the Migration Period. Continuing their successful policy of turning the various barbarians against each other, the Byzantines persuaded the Avars to attack the Sclavenes in Scythia Minor (modern Dobruja), a land rich with goods. After devastating much of the Sclavenes' land, the Avars returned to Pannonia after many of the Khagan's subjects deserted to the Byzantine Emperor.

By about 580, the Avar Khagan Bayan I had established supremacy over most of the Slavic, Bulgar and Germanic tribes living in Pannonia and the Carpathian Basin. When the Byzantine Empire was unable to pay subsidies or hire Avar mercenaries, the Avars raided their Balkan territories. According to Menander, Bayan commanded an army of 10,000 Kutrigur Bulgars and sacked Dalmatia in 568, effectively cutting the Byzantine terrestrial link with North Italy and Western Europe. The Avar–Byzantine wars were a series of conflicts between the Byzantine Empire and the Avar Khaganate. The conflicts were initiated in 568, after the Avars arrived in Pannonia, and claimed all the former land of the Gepids and Lombards as their own. This led to them attempting to seize the city of Sirmium from Byzantium, which had previously retaken it from the Gepids, without success. Most of their future conflicts came as a result of raids by the Avars, or their subject Slavs, into the Balkan provinces of the Byzantine Empire. The Avars usually raided the Balkans when the Byzantine Empire was distracted elsewhere, typically in its frequent wars with the Sassanid Empire in the East. As a result, they often raided with impunity for long periods of time, before Byzantine troops could be freed from other fronts to be sent on punitive expeditions. This happened during the 580s and 590s, where Byzantium was initially distracted in the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 572–591, but then followed up by a series of successful campaigns that pushed the Avars back.

In 599 Byzantine generals Priscus and Comentiolus led their troops downstream to Viminacium, and crossed the river Danube. Once on the north bank, they defeated the Avars in the Battles of Viminacium. This battle was significant, as it was the first time the Avars suffered a major defeat in their home territory (mainly Hungary), and also led to the deaths of several of Bayan's sons, leader of Avars. After the battle, Priscus led his forces north into the Pannonian plain, engaging and defeating the Avars deep within their heartland. Comentiolus meanwhile remained near the Danube, to guard it. Priscus devastated the lands east of the river Tisza, inflicting heavy casualties on the Avars and Gepids, and defeating them in two further battles on the banks of the Tisza. In autumn 599, Comentiolus reopened the Gates of Trajan, which had not been used by the Byzantines for decades. In 601 Peter led troops to the banks of the Tisza, to defend the Danube cataracts, which were vital to the Byzantine Danube fleet's access to the cities of Sirmium and Singidunum. The next year, in 602, the Slavic Antes began to invade the Avars' land,  were already on the brink of collapse due to the uprisings of several Avar tribes, one of whom even defected to the Byzantines.

After being beaten back by the Byzantines under Murice, the Avars shifted their focus to Italy, establishing diplomatic contact in 603, and attempting an invasion of North Italy in 610. The Balkan frontier was largely pacified, for the first time since the reign of Anastasius I (r. 491–518). Maurice planned to repopulate the devastated lands which the Byzantines had recovered by settling Armenian peasants, as well as romanizing the Slav settlers already in the area. Maurice also planned to lead further campaigns against the Avar Khaganate, so as to either destroy them or force them into submission. However Emperor Maurice was overthrown in 602 by Phocas, as his army rebelled at the endless Balkan campaigning. Phocas promptly scrapped those plans. Phocas maintained the security of the Balkans during his reign from 602 to 610, although he did withdraw some forces from the Balkans in 605, in order to use them in the ongoing Byzantine-Sassanid War of 602–628. There is no archaeological evidence of Slav or Avar incursions during this time. While the lack of Byzantine action encouraged the Avars, they did not attack Byzantine territory until c. 615, when Emperor Heraclius (r. 610–641) withdrew his troops stationed in the Balkans in order to fight the Persian advance in the East.

The Avars, who were likely encouraged by their successful campaigns against the Lombards in 610 and the Franks in 611, resumed their incursions some time after 612. By 614, with the Persian capture of Jerusalem, it became clear to the Avars and their Slav subjects that retaliation from the Byzantines was extremely unlikely. Chronicles of the 610s record wholesale pillaging, with cities such as Justiniana Prima and Salona succumbing. The cities of Naissus and Serdica were captured in 615, and the cities of Novae and Justiniana Prima were destroyed in 613 and 615, respectively. The Slavs also raided in the Aegean, as far as Crete, in 623. During this time period, there were three separate sieges of Thessalonica: in 604, 615, and 617. In 623 the Byzantine emperor Heraclius journeyed into Thrace in an attempt to agree peace with the Avar Khagan face to face. Instead the Byzantines were ambushed, with Heraclius narrowly escaping and most of his bodyguard and retainers being killed or captured. The Avar raids continued, culminating in the Siege of Constantinople in 626, where the Avars were finally defeated.

The Persian king Khosrau II, after suffering reverses through Heraclius' campaigns in the Persian rear, resolved to launch a decisive strike. While general Shahin Vahmanzadegan was sent to stop Heraclius with 50,000 men, Shahrbaraz was given command of a smaller army and ordered to slip by Heraclius' flank, and march for Chalcedon, a Persian base across the Bosporus from Constantinople. Khosrau II also made contact with the Khagan of the Avars to allow for a coordinated attack on Constantinople, the Persians on the Asiatic side, and the Avars from the European side. The Avar army approached Constantinople from Thrace and destroyed the Aqueduct of Valens. Because the Byzantine navy controlled the Bosporus strait, the Persians could not send troops to the European side to aid the Avars, which deprived the Avars of the Persian expertise in siege warfare. Byzantine naval superiority also made communication between the two forces difficult. 

Constantinople's defenders were under the command of Patriarch Sergius and the patrician Bonus. On 29 June 626, the Avars and Persians began a coordinated assault upon the walls. The Byzantine defenders had 12,000 well-trained cavalry troops, who were likely dismounted, facing roughly 80,000 Avars and Sclaveni (Slavs). Because the Persian base in Chalcedon had been established for many years, it was not immediately obvious that a siege would take place. It only became obvious to the Byzantines after the Avars began to move heavy siege equipment towards the Theodosian Walls. Although the walls were continuously bombarded for a month, morale was high in the city; Patriarch Sergius bolstered morale by leading processions along the tops of the walls, carrying the Blachernitissa icon of the Virgin Mary. The peasantry around Constantinople were rallied by this religious zeal, especially because both forces attacking Constantinople were heathens. On August 7, a fleet of Persian rafts ferrying troops across the Bosporus to the European side were surrounded and destroyed by the Byzantine fleet. The Sclaveni then attempted to attack the Sea Walls from across the Golden Horn, while the Avars attacked the land walls. However, the Sclaveni boats were rammed and destroyed by the galleys of Bonus, and the Avar land assaults on August 6th and 7th were repelled. The news that the Emperor's brother Theodore had decisively defeated Shahin arrived, leading the Avars to retreat to the Balkan hinterland within two days. They would never seriously threaten Constantinople again. Even though the Persian army of Shahrbaraz still remained at Chalcedon, the threat to Constantinople was over, as the Persians could not use artillery from their side of the Bosporus. In thanks for the lifting of the siege and the supposed divine protection granted by the Virgin Mary, the celebrated Akathist Hymn was written by an unknown author, possibly Patriarch Sergius or George of Pisidia.

In the 630s, Samo, the ruler of the first historically known Slavic polity known as Samo's Tribal Union or Samo's realm, increased his authority over lands to the north and west of the Khaganate at the expense of the Avars, ruling until his death in 658. The Chronicle of Fredegar recorded that during Samo's rebellion in 631AD, 9,000 Bulgars led by Alciocus left Pannonia to modern-day Bavaria where Dagobert I massacred most of them. The remaining 700 joined the Wends. At about the time of Samo's realm, the Kubrat of the Dulo clan led a successful uprising to end Avar authority over the Pannonian Plain; he established what the Byzantines used to call Patria Onoguria, "the homeland of Onogurs". The civil war, possibly a succession struggle in Onoguria between the joint Kutrigur and Utigur forces, raged from 631 to 632. The power of the Avars' Kutrigur forces was shattered and the Avars came under the control of Patria Onoguria. Also at the same time, according to Constantine VII's work De Administrando Imperio (10th century), a group of Croats separated from the White Croats who lived in White Croatia and arrived by their own will, or were called by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius (610-641), to fight and defeat the Avars after which they eventually organized their own principality in Dalmatia. After failing to capture Constantinople, the Avars rapidly began to decline before disintegrating entirely, due to both internal power struggles, and conflicts with the Bulgars and Sclaveni. After their hegemony over various tribal peoples collapsed, their land was further reduced by the Bulgars around 680, leaving behind a rump state which remained until their conquest by Charlemagne, starting in 790 and ending in 803.
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Κυριακή, 2 Φεβρουαρίου 2020

Κέρος : Το Αιγαιοπελαγιτικο νησί με την προϊστορική πυραμίδα

Η Κέρος είναι νησί των Κυκλάδων, το οποίο βρίσκεται νοτιοανατολικά της Νάξου, νότια του Κουφονησίου (2 ν.μ.) και βορειοδυτικά της Αμοργού με ιδιαίτερο αρχαιολογικό ενδιαφέρον. Ορεινή, άγονη, χωρίς πηγές πόσιμου νερού και χωρίς δυνατότητες εύκολης πρόσβασης, διαθέτει ως κυριότερο πέτρωμα το μάρμαρο και μάλιστα το λευκό και λεπτόκοκκο επικρατεί των άλλων. Η επιφάνειά της εκτιμάται στα 15,042 τ.χλμ. ενώ έχει μήκος ακτών 27 χιλιόμετρα. Κατά τον Μεσαίωνα η Κέρος χρησιμοποιήθηκε ως ορμητήριο πειρατών ενώ στα νεότερα χρόνια και ως το 1952 αποτελούσε ιδιοκτησία της μονής της Παναγίας Χοζοβιώτισσας της Αμοργού και εν συνεχεία περιήλθε στη Γεωργική Υπηρεσία. Τμήματα της έκτασής της δημοπρατούνται ως κτηνοτροφικοί κλήροι σε τακτά χρονικά διαστήματα σε βοσκούς. Σήμερα ανήκει στην Αμοργό και από το 1992 είναι κηρυγμένος αρχαιολογικός χώρος. Μαζί με το Κουφονήσι, την Ηρακλειά και τη Σχοινούσα λόγω της ποικιλία των μεσογειακών οικοσυστημάτων που τα χαρακτηρίζουν, τη σημασία που έχουν για τα μεταναστευτικά πουλιά και ενδημικά είδη καθώς και για τη πλούσια θαλάσσια ζωή έχει χαρακτηριστεί ως βιότοπος CORINE. Η Κέρος από το 1968 είναι ακατοίκητη.

Η Κέρος στην αρχαιότητα ονομαζόταν Κάρος, Κέρεια ή Κερία, με την πρώτη αναφορά του ονόματός του να γίνεται το 425 π.X. σε μια επιγραφή με τα ονόματα των φορολογουμένων συμμάχων της Αθηναϊκής δημοκρατίας. Στα δυτικά του νησιού και στην τοποθεσία Κάβος Δασκαλιού έχει εντοπιστεί πλήθος αρχαιολογικών ευρημάτων που χρονολογούνται από την εποχή του Κυκλαδικού πολιτισμού, μεταξύ αυτών και πολλά κυκλαδικά ειδώλια, κάτι που κάνει τους ερευνητές να υποθέτουν ότι στο νησί υπήρχε κατά την Πρωτοκυκλαδική εποχή λατρευτικό κέντρο παρόμοιας εμβέλειας με το Ιερό του Απόλλωνος στη Δήλο στα κλασικά χρόνια. Σημαντικά θεωρούνται ο "Αρπιστής" και "ο Αυλητής" που εκτίθενται στο Εθνικό Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο της Αθήνας καθώς και το επιβλητικό ειδώλιο (ύψους 1,40 μ.) της "Μεγάλης Μητέρας". Στην απέναντι νησίδα Δασκαλιό έχει εντοπιστεί εκτεταμένος οχυρωμένος οικισμός της ίδιας εποχής. Λόγω του πολιτιστικού της πλούτου αυτού έχει λεηλατηθεί επανειλημμένα κατά το παρελθόν από λαθρανασκαφείς αρχαιοκάπηλους. Από εκεί προέρχεται ο λεγόμενος «Θησαυρός της Κέρου», παλαιότερα στην συλλογή Ερλενμαγερ και σήμερα, το μεγαλύτερο τμήμα του, στο Μουσείο Κυκλαδικής Τέχνης. Συστηματικές ανασκαφές διενεργήθηκαν από την Αρχαιολογική Υπηρεσία το 1963, το 1967. Ευρήματα από την Κέρο εκτίθενται στο Μουσείο της Νάξου.

Πριν από τουλάχιστον 4.000 χρόνια, κατασκευαστές σκάλισαν όλη την επιφάνεια του Δασκαλιού, του αρχαίου φυσικού ακρωτηρίου της νήσου Κέρου, που έχει σχήμα πυραμίδας. Το διαμόρφωσαν σε επίπεδα, που κάλυψαν με 1.000 τόνους ειδικής εισαγόμενης αστραφτερής πέτρας για να δώσουν την εμφάνιση μιας τεράστιας βαθμιδωτής πυραμίδας, η οποία ανυψωνόταν στο Αιγαίο, σχηματίζοντας την πιο επιβλητική ανθρωπογενή δομή σε όλο το αρχιπέλαγος των Κυκλάδων.  Είχε τη μορφή πυραμίδας, όμως δεν ήταν ένα κτίριο, επομένως, δεν είχε την αποστολή των αιγυπτιακών πυραμίδων. Αυτό δεν αφαιρεί τίποτα από τη τεράστια σημασία του ευρήματος. Πολλώ μάλλον που κάτω από την επιφάνεια των επιπέδων βρισκόταν κάτι εξίσου μοναδικό: Αρχαιολόγοι από τρεις διαφορετικές χώρες, που συμμετέχουν σε μια εν εξελίξει ανασκαφή, ανακάλυψαν στοιχεία από ένα συγκρότημα αποστραγγιστικών σηράγγων -οι οποίες κατασκευάστηκαν 1.000 χρόνια πριν από τις διάσημες υδραυλικές εγκαταστάσεις του Μινωικού παλατιού της Κνωσού-, καθώς και ίχνη εξελιγμένης μεταλλουργίας. Πριν από 4.500 χρόνια, η Κέρος και η μικρή βραχονησίδα δίπλα της που ονομάζεται Δασκαλιό, ενώνονταν με ένα μικρό πέρασμα. Στο Δασκαλιό κατά την 3η χιλιετία π.Χ. ήταν ένα σημαντικότατο ιερό, όπου πραγματοποιούνταν σύνθετες τελετουργίες. Όπως αρχίζει να διακρίνεται μέσα από τα νέφη μιας εποχής κατά την οποία δεν υπήρχαν γραπτές πηγές, ίσως αυτό το ιερό αποτελεί μέρος της έμπνευσης μιας βασικής πτυχής της ελληνικής θρησκείας: την ιδέα ότι οι κορυφές των βουνών ήταν οι κατοικίες των θεών. Το κτιριακό συγκρότημα που ανακαλύφθηκε στη βραχονησίδα, κάποτε συνδεδεμένη με το κυκλαδίτικο νησάκι της Κέρου με μια στενή λωρίδα γης, «αλλάζει την αντίληψη των αρχαιολόγων για την προϊστορική Ελλάδα», σημειώνει η βρετανική εφημερίδα Independent σε άρθρο της.

Η πυραμιδωτή κατασκευή αποτέλεσε ένα έργο τεράστιας κλίμακας για την εποχή του. Οι αρχαιολόγοι σήμερα πιστεύουν ότι, για να κατασκευαστεί το κτιριακό συγκρότημα, οι άνθρωποι της πρώιμης Εποχής του Χαλκού πραγματοποίησαν τουλάχιστον 3.500 ναυτικά ταξίδια για να μεταφέρουν από 7.000 ως 10.000 τόνους αστραφτερού λευκού μαρμάρου από τη Νάξο. Κάθε ταξίδι επιστροφής θα απαιτούσε έως και 24 μέλη του πληρώματος να κωπηλατούν επί πέντε ώρες περίπου. «Είναι μακράν η μεγαλύτερη προϊστορική ναυτική επιχείρηση μεταφοράς που ήρθε ποτέ στο φως οπουδήποτε στον κόσμο», αναφέρει, σύμφωνα με την Independent, o Δρ. Τζούλιαν Γουάιτράιτ (Julian Whitewright), αρχαιολόγος, ειδικός σε ναυτικά θέματα, καθηγητής στο Πανεπιστήμιο του Σαουθάμπτον. «Αποδεικνύει πολύ καθαρά πόσο σημαντική, αλλά και πόσο αναπόσπαστο κομμάτι της κουλτούρας αυτών των ανθρώπων της πρώιμης Εποχής του Χαλκού ήταν η ναυσιπλοΐα», προσθέτει. Σύμφωνα με το άρθρο, τα ταξίδια, συνολικά γύρω στα 45.000 μίλια, επέτρεψαν στους αρχιτέκτονες να κατασκευάσουν αυτό που πιστεύεται ότι ήταν ένα τεράστιο θρησκευτικό ιερό. Σύμφωνα με τις πρώτες εκτιμήσεις, αποτελείται από περισσότερα από 60 μαρμάρινα κτίρια τα οποία οικοδομήθηκαν ειδικά για να ακτινοβολούν στον ήλιο. Επιπλέον, οι αρχιτέκτονες διαμόρφωσαν στο επικλινές έδαφος του νησιού, γνωστό τους τελευταίους αιώνες ως Δασκαλιό, γύρω στα χίλια μέτρα τεχνητό περιβάλλον, διανεμημένο σε έξι αναβαθμίδες. Αυτά τα πλατιά επίπεδα, περίπου έξι μέτρων, έχουν κατασκευαστεί ειδικά για να φιλοξενήσουν όλα τα κτίρια. Η κορυφή, που δεν είχε αρχικά οικοδομηθεί, είχε μια μικρή μάλλον ιερή ανοιχτή περιοχή πιθανόν για την κατάθεση αναθηματικών προσφορών.

«Η έρευνά μας αλλάζει την κατανόησή μας για τον πολιτισμό της πρώιμης Εποχής του Χαλκού και υποδεικνύει ότι αυτοί οι πρώιμοι Έλληνες ήταν πολύ πιο οργανωμένοι, τεχνικά και πολιτικά πιο προηγμένοι από ό,τι προηγουμένως είχε θεωρηθεί», λέει, σύμφωνα πάντα με την Indepedent, o Μάικλ Μπόιντ, συν-διευθυντής των ερευνών από το Πανεπιστήμιο του Κέιμπριτζ. Ο λόρδος Κόλιν Ρένφριου, συν-διευθυντής της ανασκαφής, στο Δασκαλιό λέει πως παρατηρείται μια σειρά εξελιγμένων αρχιτεκτονικών τεχνικών που χρησιμοποιούνταν με έναν καλά προγραμματισμένο τρόπο, όπως αυτό μαρτυρείται από την ύπαρξη τεράστιων εισόδων, λίθινων κλιμάκων και ενός πολύπλοκου συστήματος αποστραγγιστικών αγωγών που καλύπτουν όλο το νησί. Σύμφωνα με αυτή την ανάγνωση, τα παραπάνω φαίνεται να υποδηλώνουν την ύπαρξη ενός εξειδικευμένου αρχιτέκτονα καθώς και ενός κεντρικού μηχανισμού σχεδιασμού και εκτέλεσης ενός οικοδομικού προγράμματος, το οποίο θα μπορούσε να συγκριθεί μόνο με εκείνο της Κνωσού στην Κρήτη κατά την ίδια περίοδο. Η εισαγωγή μαρμάρου από τη Νάξο είναι μόνο μια ένδειξη των ναυτικών ικανοτήτων των κατοίκων του Δασκαλιού. Επιπλέον, τα πολλά εργαλεία από οψιανό, ηφαιστειακό γυαλί εισηγμένο από τη Μήλο, επιβεβαιώνουν το γεγονός ότι οι νησιώτες ήταν δεινοί ναυτικοί. Επίσης, όλα τα όστρακα κεραμικής τα οποία βρέθηκαν (101.313 στο σύνολο) ήταν εισηγμένα, υποδεικνύοντας την ύπαρξη ενός τεράστιου θαλάσσιου δικτύου που εκτεινόταν όχι μόνο σ' ολόκληρο το κυκλαδικό αρχιπέλαγος αλλά και πέραν αυτού. Αλλά ίσως το πιο αξιοσημείωτο απ' όλα τα υλικά εισαγωγής, ήταν η πρώτη ύλη για κατεργασία μετάλλων. Μεταξύ των πιο σημαντικών ευρημάτων που βρέθηκαν είναι οι εγκαταστάσεις για τη χύτευση χάλκινων τεχνουργημάτων, όπως πελέκεις, σμίλες και περόνες, καθώς και αιχμές δοράτων και εγχειρίδια. Ίχνη σκωρίας, τα οποία βρέθηκαν σε όστρακα κεραμικής σε πολλές περιοχές της θέσης, επιβεβαιώνουν το γεγονός ότι μεταλλουργικές εργασίες λάμβαναν χώρα σε πολλά σημεία του οικισμού. Στο Aνω Κουφονήσι λειτουργεί μια εξαιρετική έκθεση με αρχαιολογικό υλικό από την Κέρο και το Δασκαλιό και τίτλο «δες ΑΠΕΝΑΝΤΙ», που θα περιμένει τους επισκέπτες μέχρι τα μέσα Σεπτεμβρίου.

Στην ανασκαφή της Κέρου χρησιμοποιήθηκαν πρωτοποριακές μέθοδοι καταγραφής από τους αρχαιολόγους. Μέσω της εξειδικευμένης εφαρμογής «iDig», τα ανασκαφικά δεδομένα και τα αποτελέσματα εργαστηριακής μελέτης καταγράφονταν ψηφιακά, ώστε τα μέλη της ανασκαφικής ομάδας να έχουν πρόσβαση σε όλες τις διαθέσιμες πληροφορίες σε πραγματικό χρόνο. «Η ανασκαφή της Κέρου είναι μία από τις λίγες ψηφιακές ανασκαφές παγκοσμίως. Η τεχνολογία βοήθησε τόσο στην άμεση καταγραφή των ευρημάτων, τον συντονισμό των 50 και πλέον μελών της ανασκαφικής ομάδας. H ψηφιακή καταγραφή συμβάλλει επίσης και στην ταχύτερη δημοσίευση των ευρημάτων», ανέφερε ο συνδιευθυντής του προγράμματος, Dr. Michael Boyd, Senior Research Associate του βρετανικού πανεπιστημίου. Για την απρόσκοπτη εργασία των αρχαιολόγων και της ομάδας ανασκαφών, η COSMOTE ενίσχυσε τις δυνατότητες του δικτύου COSMOTE 4G στην περιοχή, ώστε να παρέχει γρήγορες ταχύτητες Internet και αδιάλειπτη συνδεσιμότητα, μέσα από το μεγαλύτερο 4G δίκτυο της χώρας. Επιπλέον, παρείχε τον απαιτούμενο τεχνολογικό εξοπλισμό για τις καθημερινές ανάγκες καταγραφής και τεκμηρίωσης της αρχαιολογικής ομάδας.

«Η εμπειρία από τη συμμετοχή μας σε ένα επιστημονικό πρόγραμμα παγκόσμιας σπουδαιότητας ήταν συγκλονιστική. Είναι τιμή μας που στηρίξαμε με το δίκτυο και τις υποδομές μας, τις έρευνες και το έργο ανασκαφής αυτής της εξαιρετικής ομάδας αρχαιολόγων. Το Πρόγραμμα Ανασκαφών της Κέρου είναι το καλύτερο παράδειγμα του πώς η χρήση της ψηφιακής τεχνολογίας μπορεί να συμβάλλει στην ανάδειξη της ελληνικής πολιτιστικής κληρονομιάς διεθνώς», σημειώνει η Executive Director Εταιρικής Επικοινωνίας του Ομίλου ΟΤΕ, κα Ντέπη Τζιμέα. Το υπέροχο γαλάζιο του Αιγαίου στα Κουφονήσια μοιάζει με ένα επίγειο παράδεισο στην καρδιά των Κυκλάδων, ωστόσο αποδείχθηκε ότι είναι κάτι πολύ μεγαλύτερο, αφού εκεί ήταν κρυμμένο ένα μυστικό που ανατρέπει τα δεδομένα για την προϊστορική Ελλάδα. Στα νησιά της Κέρου και του Δασκαλιού η αρχαιολογική έρευνα εντόπισε το αρχαιότερο νησιωτικό ιερό. Τι ήταν αυτό που έκανε τους ανθρώπους πριν από 4.500 χρόνια να πηγαίνουν στον Κάβο της Κέρου. Γιατί ταξίδευαν από τα νησιά και την ηπειρωτική χώρα για να εναποθέσουν εκεί τα ήδη σπασμένα ειδώλια; Πόσο σημαντικό ήταν να συμμετέχουν στις τελετουργίες του νησιού; Ποια θεότητα λάτρευαν; Οπως ανέφερε και ο καθηγητής Ρένφριου το πρωί της Κυριακής 14 Ιούλιου σε δημοσιογράφους στο Κουφονήσι «η σημασία του νησιωτικού ιερού της Κέρου ως το πρώτο σημαντικό θρησκευτικό κέντρο στο Αιγαίο της Εποχής του Χαλκού ενισχύεται από τα ευρήματα στην εγκατάσταση του Δασκαλιού. Οι κύριες τελετουργικές εναποθέσεις σπασμένων μαρμάρινων ειδωλίων και αγγείων, καθώς και κεραμικών αγγείων πραγματοποιούνταν στον Κάβο της Κέρου. Ήταν σαφώς το σημαντικότερο τελετουργικό κέντρο των Κυκλάδων στο κέντρο του Αιγαίου από τις αρχές της 3ης χιλιετίας π. Χ., αναμφισβήτητα κάπου 500 χρόνια νωρίτερα από οποιοδήποτε άλλο τελετουργικό κέντρο στο προϊστορικό Αιγαίο».
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