The ancient history of Ukraine and its people

Once the historical classic Sergey Solovyev wrote: «the general history, in its true value, is not the collection of private stories of all people and states without general connection, general plan, and overall aim … but its subject is great: it should embrace suddenly and in a full picture all mankind, how it developed, variously improved and, at last, reached a present epoch from the initial, poor infancy». 


S.M.Solovyev's work «The history of Russia since the ancient times».

Thus, it is necessary to begin the historical narration about our past– the past of Ukraine and its people with infantile development. Historical roots of Russian, as well as Ukrainian people, go to the deep past. In the sixth century of our era the history knew three groups of Slavic tribes: Wends, Sklavens and Anths. But it is a question of the sixth century that the given fact is «documented» and thus, the mention is given in the meaning, that those tribes had been living in specified territories for many centuries. And what was earlier? And whether it was "earlier" in our most ancient history? 

Wends – our ancient ancestors
An area of their dwelling

In general, in the relation of "prehistoric background" of Russian Slavic people formation (as the single unit for Russian, Belorussian and Ukrainian people), it is necessary to mark such features, as life branching of Slavic tribes, and «language threshold». But, in this case, it is a question of dialogue language origin for ancestors of east Slavs. Why do I focus my attention to it? Because ancestors of all Slavic people began their historical life with one level, as in the territorial, so in cultural and community aspect. But, not Wends, Anths and Sklavens were the first on the generous Ukrainian land.

But, before that, I would like to pay attention to one historical period which served the catalyst for revision of «Ukrainian trace in the world history». As, one can guess, it is a question about Trypillya culture. As though there was told in modern scientific researches, the origin of the given historical culture, isn't defined till now, though it is known that at the heart of it there were neolytic tribes, which special role belonged to cultures of Boyan, Krish, linearly-tape ceramics, Vinch and Tis. The basic economy branches of the given culture were agriculture and cattle breeding. The name «Trypillya culture» was received in honour of village Trypillya of Kyiv province where in 1897 archeologist Vikenty Hvoyka found out the material rests of neolytic culture (today the village Trypillya is in the structure of Kyiv region, to be exact, in Obuhovsky area that is in forty kilometres from Kyiv).  The high level of economy and developed public relations are characteristic for the given type of culture. At the time of that culture there was a substantial growth of population density in Dneprovsky area, because all Trypillya settlements more often settled down near the water on gentle slopes suitable for agriculture. Instruments of labor and weapon were made of animals' bones, firestone and stone, sometimes from copper. Trypillya inhabitants grew up wheat, oats, millet, peas, barley, beans, grapes, cherry plum, and apricots. They raised cattle, pigs and horses. Trypillya inhabitants hunted by means of bow and arrows. They used it also in dogs hunting. Potter's craft reached the high level. Trypillya ceramics occupied one of foregrounds in Europe in perfection of manufacture and painting. Modern historians define three stages of Trypillya cultural development: early stage - second half of VI — beginning of first half of V millennium BC which basis of dwelling were dugouts and small land pise-walled "platforms"; the Average stage - second half of V millennium BC 3200/3150 BC when the number of settlements on capes were already strengthened by shaft and ditches, the area of settlements extended, sometimes dwellings settled down on the circle, there were first two-storied houses; And the late stage from 3150 to 2650 BC when the territory of Trypillya culture extended at the expense of tribes advancement to the North and East.

Is it possible to say that, in some measure, Trypillya culture became the progenitors of Slavic culture? Such question today faces the majority of historians. The answer is univocal. Certainly, yes. The evidence is the subjects of culture and restored shape of dwellings.


Pysanky, gletchyky, korytsa, and furnishings in the house in the period of Trypillya culture, remind of the recent past of Ukrainian village.

But, if speaking about the most ancient history of Ukraine as a whole it is necessary not to forget about other tribes bordering, both with Trypillya settlements, and with other tribes on the territorial area of modern Ukrainian state. It is a question of the Scythians who left an appreciable trace, as in the history, so in the country landscape (the same Scythian barrows, stone images etc.).


The map of Scythian, Sarmatian lands and Bospor kingdoms.

And if till the certain time Scythian tribes were perceived only from the point of view of nomadic way of life, in due course, even that point of view suffered serious transformations. Under the influence of many cultures, including Trypillya culture, Scythians in due course, settled and became grain-growers and cattlemen (as Ukraine was granary in those days so it remained, as it is confirmed by history). The further moving of Scythians was not casual – from Black Sea Coast to the bottom current of Dnepro (modern Kherson, Mykolaiv, Odessa, Zaporizhzhia regions, Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and also the part of the Dnipropetrovsk and Kirovograd regions).

dsgsaScythian warriors

Scythian barrows today are not only an ornament of Ukrainian forest-steppe zone, but also history carriers.

One more branch of ethnic history and creation of cultural and community heritage of Ukraine, were Sarmatians. In particular East, i.e. the Iranian direction was the first impact of Asia Minor (and, in due course all Asia) on the development of East Slavic tribes. The matter is that there is no general opinion till now, considering ethnic origin of Scythians, Sarmatians, that without any doubt are considered as Iranians. Like early Scythians, they were nomadic people. The first reminders about Sarmatians "arrival" to the modern East Ukrainian earths (modern Donbass and Priazovye), refer to the third century BC. 


Sarmatians. This reproduction reminds well-known picture of artist Vasnetsov, but the fourth one is a kind of "superfluous" there.

But, already then, southern, east and southeast territories of modern Ukraine, became the fierce field of fight. And if to speak about struggle of Scythians against Sarmatians we shouldn't forget about the period of sovereignty of Greece on Taurida lands. Uneasy period of struggle between Scythians and Sarmatians (the third and second centuries BC) "painfully touched" the life of Greek Taurida cities. Slowly handing over positions under the pressure of Sarmatians, the part of Scythians ran to Taurida, where they mixed up with a local tribe of Tauris to become Tavro-Scythians. By the end of the second century BC Tavro-Scythians had been compelled to recognize the higher authority of Sarmatian Roksolana tribe (modern historians don't exclude that well-known in due course Roksolana, was the distant descendant of the given tribe).Independence of Chersonese and Panticapaeum, as well as Greek cities of Taurida, was under the serious threat then. And the threat was real not only for inhabitants, but also for culture of those antique states, which was showed subsequently.

Independence of Chersonese and Panticapaeum, as well as the Greek cities of Taurida, was under the serious threat then. And the threat was real not only for inhabitants, but also for culture of those antique states, that, as a whole, was subsequently showed.

The map of Greek cities-colonies (with the reference to modern cartography)


That map in a reproductive kind under the maps of ancient founders


Ancient Chersonese, the witness of many tragic stories and its "pearl" - Vladimirsky cathedral.

Incapable Greeks of Taurida, most likely, not interested to rely on their own forces, who were exclusively engaged in agriculture, had to search for the help in other corners. The Pontiysky kingdom on southern coast of Black sea, both in Crimea, and in Asia Minor was the nearest force they could think about. In the third and second centuries BC that kingdom was only one of minor states of the Near East. Its fast ascension began in the end of the second century BC with tsar Mitridata's VI coming on a throne (with precisely established date - 113 BC. The new tsar was the person of mighty vital forces and big ambitions, who put the ultimate - world monarchy creation. Tavrida's request for help (sometimes there is a term «Tavria's») Greeks perfectly coincided with his plans of control expansion over northern coast of Black sea for the access to huge resources of modern territories of Southern Ukraine and Russia.


Mitridat Mountain in Kerch and the rests of Pontiysky kingdom luxury …

With a control establishment over Taurida,  Mitridat, according to Solovyev's and some other historians' words, was involved in the network of confused diplomatic intrigues of Mediterranean world as soon Mitridat entered the desperate struggle against Rome. Alas, in the struggle against Rome on Taurida lands, it suffered defeat. As a result – the Pontiysky kingdom turned to a small islet on modern Kerch peninsula and received the new name – the Bosporsky kingdom. All political structure of Bosporsky kingdom had undergone radical changes. The former democratic institutes disappeared, having left not numerous traces. Chersonese which received certain "autonomy" both from Rome, and from Bospor was the unique source of «Bospor democracy» in the Roman sovereignty. Rome took up the protection of Chersonese against its enemies. When the pressure of nomads became menacing, the Roman fleet used port of Chersonese as the base for galleys (probably it is necessary to remind that ancient Chersonese toda is a nice Sevastopol, and the history repeats again and again). If in Ukrainian society it is usual to consider Chersonese as a place of Christianity origin, Chersonese of that time (i.e. BC) was used by the Roman administration during its struggle against Christianity as the place of deportation of some outstanding Christian leaders, and thanks to it, by the time of Christianity development  there had been a strong Christian community in the city. Directly as in the history of revolutionary movement in Russia – where revolutionaries were banished, there they created a «revolution staff». Here the paradoxes of history from the most ancient times up to nowadays …. It is not the sensational opening that struggle of the Roman empire against Christianity and Gunnys penetration became the reasons of Great Rome falling, including and the modern Ukrainian lands.

 Gunnys' intrusion was the event of extreme importance (if such definition is permissible) for the history of ancient Ukrainian lands, which happened about 370 AD. Consequences of that intrusion were catastrophic, especially, for «Sacred empire». 


Plunder of Roman country house by Gunns


Intrusion of Gunns who, as well as migration of Sarmatians, liquidation of Scythians (as the nation), Bosporsky kingdom, outcome of Greeks and Romans, was caused not so by aggressive foreign policy (in modern understanding of this term), but by means of ethnic shifts in average Eurasia, that had far-reaching historical consequences for further development of both Eurasia, Europe, and Ukrainian lands. Gunns began «great resettlement of people» (in a German variant, it was called «Volkerwanderung»). Alans were the first, who tested consequences of Gunns' impact, and geruls, burgunds and gots followed them. Deviation of those people before coming Gynns turned to the movement of other German tribes from their own places and as all of them during that time had approached to the borders of Roman Empire, the last one appeared bent or even broken off in some places.

Some Germen were admitted in empire borders peacefully on conditions that they would help to protect imperial borders from other "barbarous" tribes approaching from East or North. In other cases they had forced the way through in the Roman provinces. And besides, the territory of modern Ukraine, together with the Balkans, became that place where the destiny of the future Europe dared. Germen, Gunns, and in due course Goths having seen strong and nice ancient Slavs in a newly appeared tribe, involved the whole Slavic tribes in their armies. At first they defined a role of auxiliary divisions for them, and then, put forward in the basic fighting usages. But the history testifies that any aggressive socioeconomic structure cannot exist for a definitely long period. So it occurred with Gunnsky Empire which, as a result, if speaking our modern language had broken up on some nomad camps because of «inner-party dismantling. From Pannonia its horde extended on the East to the Black Sea and Azov steppes where they became gradually known as Bulgary, having created Bulgarsky kingdom. Thanks to this historic fact, i.e. easing of Gunnys' power, newly appeared Slavic tribes on the boundary of epoch, both Anths, and Sklavens, appeared and showed as independent force.


The map of Gunnsky Rift Empire and origin of Slavic settlement in southeast Europe. The map was taken from German sources.

Thus, thanks to "coincidence of circumstances" on open spaces of present Ukraine, southern part of Belarus and southwest Russia, there was a new socioeconomic and national formation where Slavs became its centre of a unification. And already closer to the beginning of the third century AD (further the term AD won't be mentioned any more) on open spaces from Carpathians to the bend of Don mass land development by the slavic tribes began, Kiev Russia was the top of their power. But it will be already discussed in the following section.


The dwelling map of ancient Slavic tribes on the boundary of epoch.


The beginning of Slavic tribes division on "territorially-national" regions.

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Anths’ leader                                                                                              Fraternisation of Scythian and Anth
Reproduction of Lugansk artist Andrey Klimenko 
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