Florin Curta (born January 15, 1965) is a Romanian-born American archaeologist and historian who is a Professor of Medieval History and Archaeology at the University of Florida.
|Born||January 15, 1965|
Curta works in the field of the Balkan history and is a Professor of Medieval History and Archaeology at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. Curta's first book, The Making of the Slavs. History and Archaeology of the Lower Danube Region, A.D. 500–700, was named a 2002 Choice Outstanding Academic Title and won the Herbert Baxter Adams Award of the American Historical Association in 2003. Curta is the editor-in-chief of the Brill series East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450–1450. He is a member in the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies, Princeton University (Spring 2007) and a visiting fellow, Corpus Christi College, Oxford University (2015). He attends an Eastern Orthodox Christian parish.
Theories and criticismEdit
Being inspired by Reinhard Wenskus and the Vienna School of History, Curta is known for his usage of post-processual and post-structuralist approach in explaining Slavic ethnogenesis and migrations by, which argues against the mainstream view and primordial culture-historical approach in archaeology and historiography. Curta argues against theories of Slavic mass expansion from the Slavic Urheimat and denies the existence of the Slavic Urheimat. His work rejects ideas of Slavic languages as the unifying element of the Slavs or the adducing of Prague-type ceramics as an archaeological cultural expression of the Early Slavs. Instead, Curta advances an alternative (revisionist) hypothesis which considers the Slavs as an "ethno-political category" invented by the Byzantines which was formed by political instrumentation and interaction on the Roman Danubian frontier where barbarian elite culture flourished.
Curta’s conjectures were met with substantial disagreement and "severe criticism in general and in detail" by other archaeologists, historians, linguists and ethnologists. They noted Curta's arbitrary selection of historical and archaeological data, sites and interpretation of chronologies to support his preconceived conclusions and cultural model which fails to explain the emergence and spread of the Slavs and Slavic culture. Curta has also been criticized for inadequate argumentation and for contradicting information given by Byzantine historiographers such as those by Theophylact Simocatta.
Although Curta's work found support by those who use similar approach, like Walter Pohl and Danijel Dzino, the migrationist model remains as the most acceptable and possible to explain the spread of the Slavs as well as Slavic culture (including language).
- Curta, Florin (1998). Making an Early Medieval Ethnie: The Case of the Early Slavs (Sixth to Seventh Century A.D.). Kalamazoo, Michigan: Western Michigan University. (Doctoral Dissertation)
- Curta, Florin (2001). The Making of the Slavs: History and Archaeology of the Lower Danube Region, c. 500–700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511496295.
- Curta, Florin (2001). "Limes and Cross: The Religious Dimension of the Sixth-century Danube Frontier of the Early Byzantine Empire". Старинар. 51: 45–70.
- Curta, Florin (2006). Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500–1250. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-81539-0.
- Curta, Florin (2011). The Edinburgh History of the Greeks, c. 500 to 1050: The Early Middle Ages. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. doi:10.1515/9780748644896. JSTOR j.ctt1r23dk.
- Curta, Florin (2019). Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages (500–1300). Brill's Companions to European History, vol. 19. Leiden and Boston: Brill.
- Curta, Florin (2020). Slavs in the Making: History, Linguistics, and Archaeology in Eastern Europe (ca. 500-ca. 700). London: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9780203701256. ISBN 9780203701256.
- East Central & Eastern Europe in the Early Middle Ages. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005.
- Borders, Barriers, and Ethnogenesis. Frontiers in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2005.
- The other Europe in the Middle Ages. Avars, Bulgars, Khazars, and Cumans. Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2008.
- Neglected Barbarians. Turnhout: Brepols, 2011.
- with Bogdan-Petru Maleon, The Steppe Lands and the World Beyond Them. Studies in Honor of Victor Spinei on his 70th Birthday. Iași: Editura Universității "Alexandru Ioan Cuza", 2013.
- "Interview with Florin Curta". Medievalists.net. January 2007. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
- "Florin Curta". history.ufl.edu. University of Florida. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
- Holt, Andrew (December 25, 2014). "An Interview with Dr. Florin Curta on Communism, Faith, and Academia". apholt.com.
- Di Hu, "Approaches to the Archaeology of Ethnogenesis: Past and Emergent Perspectives", Journal of Archaeological Research, 21(4), 2013, pp. 389–390
- Johannes Koder, "On the Slavic Immigration in the Byzantine Balkans", Migration Histories of the Medieval Afroeurasian Transition Zone: Aspects of Mobility Between Africa, Asia and Europe, 300–1500 C.E., 2020, pp. 81–100
- Florin Curta, The Early Slavs. Culture and Society in Early Medieval Eastern Europe by Paul M. Barford (review), European Journal of Archaeology, 6(1), 2003, pp. 99–101
- Florin Curta, "The early Slavs in Bohemia and Moravia: a response to my critics", Archeologické rozhledy, 61 (4), 2009, pp. 725–754
- Wolverton, Lisa (2003). "The Making of the Slavs: History and Archeology of the Lower Danube Region ca. 500-700 (review)". Journal of Interdisciplinary History. 34 (1): 92–93. ISSN 1530-9169.
- Felix Biermann, "Kommentar zum Aufsatz von Florin Curta: Utváření Slovanů (se zvláštním zřetelem k Čechám a Moravě) – The Making of the Slavs (with a special emphasis on Bohemia and Moravia)", Archeologické rozhledy, 61 (2), 2009, pp. 337–349
- Boris Todorov, The Making of the Slavs. History and Archaeology of the Lower Danube Region, c. 500–700 by Florin Curta (review), Comitatus, 33, 2002, pp. 178–180
- Paul Stephenson, The Making of the Slavs: History and Archaeology of the Lower Danube Region, c. 500–700 by Florin Curta (review), The International History Review, 24 (3), 2002, pp. 629–631
- Florin Curta, "The Making of the Slavs between ethnogenesis, invention, and migration", Studia Slavica et Balcanica Petropolitana, 2 (4), 2008, pp. 155–172
- Walter Pohl, The Avars: A Steppe Empire in Central Europe, 567–822, Cornell University Press, 2018, pp. 124
- Tomáš Gábriš, Róbert Jáger, "Back to Slavic Legal History? On the Use of Historical Linguistics in the History of Slavic Law", Frühmittelalterliche Studien, 53 (1), 2019, pp. 41–42
- Shuvalov, Petr V. (2008). "Изобретение проблемы (по поводу книги Флорина Курты)". Петербургские славянские и балканские исследования (in Russian) (2): 13–20. ISSN 1995-848X.
- Andrej Pleterski, "The Ethnogenesis of the Slavs, the Methods and the Process", Starohrvatska prosvjeta, 3 (40), 2013, pp. 8–10, 22–25
- Andrej Pleterski, "The Early Slavs in the Eastern Alps and Their Periphery", in The Slavs on the Danube. Homeland Found, Editors-in-Charge Roman A. Rabinovich and Igor O. Gavritukhin, Stratum plus, No. 5, 2015, pp. 232, quote: "Однако под влиянием англосаксонских антропологических теорий возникла и третья концепция, согласно которой славяне в Европе распространялись не как «биологический» феномен, а как культурная модель образа жизни с языковым компонентом данной культурной модели (Barford 2001; Curta 2001; 2008; 2010; 2010а; Dzino 2008; 2009). Недостаток данной концепции состоит в том, что она в основном сосредоточена на механизме передачи культурной модели, и гораздо меньше — на ее происхождении. На другие слабые места в ее аргументации указывает Владимир Сокол — это недостаточное знание адептами концеп1 За дружескую помощь я благодарю Владимира Нартника. №5. 2015 ции конкретных материалов, что приводит к произвольным интерпретационным выводам (Sokol 2011)."
- Belaj, Vitomir; Belaj, Juraj (2018). "Around and below Divuša: The Traces of Perun's Mother Arrival into Our Lands". Zbornik Instituta za arheologiju / Serta Instituti Archaeologici, Vol. 10. Sacralization of Landscape and Sacred Places. Proceedings of the 3rd International Scientific Conference of Mediaeval Archaeology of the Institute of Archaeology. Zagreb: Institute of Archaeology. pp. 75–76. ISBN 978-953-6064-36-6.
The lexical content of the living culture of the ancient Slavs before their separation refutes Curta's conclusions. As if Curta before our eyes were writing a new historiographic myth about them (Belaj, V., Belaj, J. 2018). Negative answers to such considerations were not in short supply either. Suffice it to mention the 2009 and 2013 works by the Ljubljana scholar Andrej Pleterski, and the 2010 work by the Ukrainian scholar Maksim Žih. The latter mocked Curta: "in summary, we could say that F. Curta's works are frequently structured on the principle leading "from (an a priori) concept towards sources". We may add that Curta's way of thinking is suspiciously similar to the stadial theory of the Soviet scholar Nicholas Yakovlevich Marr9 (see: Belaj, V., Belaj, J. 2018) ... In addition to the fact that Curta's conclusions cannot withstand a logical critique, they are also based only on selected evidential material he necessitated in order to infer the conclusions he had already made in advance.
- Rejzek, Jiří (October 19–22, 2017), "Linguistic comments to Curta's making of the Slavs", Language contact and the Early Slavs (PDF), Prague: Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague, retrieved August 10, 2022,
The controversial and provocative Curta's view of the Slavic ethnogenesis has been challenged by several historians and archeologists. As far as I know, linguistic arguments have not been used in the discussion too much, even though the new theory gave rise to several linguistic issues. If the Slavs "were made" by the Byzantines from different ethnic groups on the border of the empire, how to explain the affinity of Slavic and Baltic languages? Why should the Proto-Slavic serve as lingua franca in the Avar khaganate? Is it possible that the speakers of Proto-Slavic came from "nowhere"? How to explain the early presence of the Slavs and Slavic in Poland, Ukraine and Russia, far from the Byzantine Empire and out of range of the Avar khaganate?
- Danijel Dzino, Becoming Slav, Becoming Croat: Identity Transformations in Post-Roman and Early Medieval Dalmatia, BRILL, 2010, pp. 93–94
- Lindstedt, Jouko (October 19–22, 2017), "How the early Slavs existed: A short essay on ontology and methodology", Language contact and the Early Slavs (PDF), Prague: Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague, retrieved August 10, 2022,
Despite Florin Curta (2015) declaring the prehistoric Slavs as a "fairy tale", they certainly existed at least in a linguistic sense: the Slavic language family is unexplainable without an earlier protolanguage, this Proto-Slavic must have had speakers, and "Slav" is the name that mediaeval sources mainly propose as the designation of those ... but there is also no reason to argue that they are totally unrelated groups of people. Linguistics shows the spread of the Slavic language in Eastern Europe in the second half of the first millennium CE; history and archaeology tell us about at least some major migrations in this same period of worsening living conditions (due to the Late Antique Little Ice Age and Justinian’s Plague); population genetics shows the relatively recent common ancestry of most of the population in this area. These are distinct stories, but not unrelated stories, and the challenge is to construct an integrated view of the early speakers of Slavic on their basis, not to bury the Slavs under ontological doubts and methodological scruples.
- Michel Kazanski, "Archaeology of the Slavic Migrations", in: Encyclopedia of Slavic Languages and Linguistics Online, Editor-in-Chief Marc L. Greenberg, BRILL, 2020, quote: "There are two specific aspects of the archaeology of Slavic migrations: the movement of the populations of the Slavic cultural model and the diffusion of this model amid non-Slavic populations. Certainly, both phenomena occurred; however, a pure diffusion of the Slavic model would hardly be possible, in any case in which a long period of time when the populations of different cultural traditions lived close to one another is assumed. Moreover, archaeologists researching Slavic antiquities do not accept the ideas produced by the "diffusionists," because most of the champions of the diffusion model know the specific archaeological materials poorly, so their works leave room for a number of arbitrary interpretations (for details, see Pleterski 2015: 232)."