ALIMOV D.E. The Danube Homeland of the Slavs in the Tale of Bygone Years: A Problem of Interpretation


Denis E. Alimov

Candidate of Sciences (History), Associate Professor,

Department of Slavic and Balkan Studies, Saint Petersburg State University,

Universitetskaya Emb., 7/9, 199034 Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. The article discusses the image of the ancestral homeland of the Slavs as described in the early 12th century Old-Russian chronicle known as the “Tale of Bygone Years.”

Methods and materials. The focus of the article is on the concept of the Danube Slavic land, which, according to the chronicle, was the ancient homeland of the Slavs. In order to elucidate this concept, the author uses elements of historical-semantic analysis of the text and compares its information with data from other sources relevant for the study of this topic.

Analysis. Taking into account the heterogeneity of knowledge underlying the chronicle ethnogenetic construction, the author identifies various elements of this knowledge.

Results. The author comes to the conclusion that the image of the Danube homeland of the Slavs was not a bookish construction but a reflection of the ethnic realities of the early Middle Ages, when the Carpathian basin was the core area of the Slavic ethnic identity. According to the author, the formation of the idea that the Middle Danube Slavic land was the primary homeland of the Slavs was also the result of the perception of the Slavs as autochthonous inhabitants of Illyricum and Pannonia, which existed in Rome in the time of the Pannonian diocese of Methodius and probably influenced the formation of Slavic ethnogenetic legends through Cyril’s and Methodius’s cultural and ideological legacy.

Key words: Tale of Bygone Years, Slavs, Slavic identity, Illyricum, Pannonia.

Citation. Alimov D.E. The Danube Homeland of the Slavs in the Tale of Bygone Years: A Problem of Interpretation. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2023, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 202-213. (in Russian). DOI:

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The Danube Homeland of the Slavs in the Tale of Bygone Years: A Problem of Interpretation by Alimov D.E. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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