Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg 2023

Archaeology and the Challenge of Continuity: East-Central Europe during the Age of Migrations

From the book Digging Politics

  • Emily Hanscam


Since the late nineteenth century, archaeological research on the ancient past in East-Central Europe has been impacted by the hunt for peoples assumed to be the one true ancestral population, continuously occupying the territory of the modern nation-state. In Romania, we see this with a myth of origin founded on the idea of firstly Roman, then Dacian, and finally Daco- Roman continuity, arguing that modern Romanians are directly descended from a population known from Antiquity. In Bulgaria and Hungary, we see myths of origin linked to the Bulgars and Magyars, respectively, deriving a national identity from the peoples who entered the region in Late Antiquity and the Early Medieval Period. These myths and the study of the past form a symbiotic relationship, creating and sustaining each other. This chapter focuses on Romania to illustrate how a regionally diverse past has been co-opted into a narrative supporting one nation’s myth of origin. Using the same archaeological evidence from the region of modern Romania, I consider how we might construct archaeological narratives that give a similar sense of ‘deep’ belonging without supporting narratives of mythical autochthonous continuity.

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston
Downloaded on 25.9.2023 from
Scroll to top button