Bibliography of the History and Archaeology of Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages

Cover image BHAE

Edited by: Professor Florin Curta, University of Florida

The Bibliography of the History and Archaeology of Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages is a fundamental source of information for the study of the history and archaeology of medieval East Central and Eastern Europe, an area of great interference and symbiosis of influences from Scandinavia, Western Europe, the steppe lands of Eurasia, as well as Byzantium. The bibliography provides comprehensive coverage of all publications, in all languages, pertaining to this vast area of the European continent and its impact on European history from about 500 to the aftermath of the Mongol invasion of 1241. The bibliography aims to encourage further research, but also to provide guidance through an enormous amount of information available in a variety of languages and a great multitude of publications. It offers search capabilities which are particularly useful for very narrowly defined research goals, thus encouraging comparative work with materials from other parts of Europe.



This work started more than thirty years ago, when I began to think about the connections between archaeological assemblages in Romania and other neighboring countries. Searching library catalogues proved frustrating, as there were no previously cut paths through the vast forests of historical and archaeological literature and, more importantly, no comparative works. A number of bibliographies had been published by that time, each one of them concerned with only one country or, at most with a country (for example, Hungary) and a few regions in the neighboring countries (for example, Transylvania). After 1990, such crucial instruments of research as the International Medieval Bibliography and the bibliographical notes published by Byzantinische Zeitschrift started to include entries on East Central and Eastern Europe, either from “Western” publications or from periodicals and, occasionally, collections of studies published in the region. But their coverage was and remains patchy, with significant holes in the coverage of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic countries. The reason for that is undoubtedly related to the reliance on scholars from the region, who often are themselves unaware of publications in neighboring countries from that same region. Meanwhile, most English-, French- and German-speaking scholars have little understanding of the medieval history of Eastern Europe, and are even less familiar with the enormous quantity of archaeological material that has accumulated in recent decades. Language is often perceived as a barrier to the scholarship, leading to a neglect of the topic. To be sure, as of April 2019, almost a quarter of all titles in the bibliography (24.1 percent) are in Russian. But English (12.3 percent), German (10.2 percent), and French (4.3 percent) titles make up more than another quarter of the entire bibliography. Except Russian (often employed, particularly between 1945 and 1991, as a lingua franca), the proportion of works published in the native languages of the East European scholars remains small: 9.4 percent for Polish, 8.6 for Bulgarian, 6.8 for Hungarian, 5.4 for Czech, 4.2 for Romanian, and under 1 percent each for Albanian, Estonian, and Lithuanian.

The present bibliography is therefore the first serious attempt to address all those problems. Its purpose is to provide a solid basis for the study of the history and archaeology of medieval East Central and Eastern Europe, an area of great interference and symbiosis of influences from Scandinavia, Western Europe, the steppe lands of Eurasia, as well as Byzantium. This bibliography will be a fundamental source of information for anyone interested in the history of a vast area of the European continent and on its impact on European history from about 500 to the aftermath of the Mongol invasion of 1241. The goal is to encourage further research, but also to provide guidance through an enormous amount of information available in some 25 languages and a great multitude of publications, books or periodicals. More importantly, it offers search capabilities that are particularly useful for very narrowly defined research goals, thus encouraging comparative work with materials from other parts of Europe.

The bibliography covers the entire area of Europe between Bohemia to the west and the Ural Mountains to the east, the Baltic Sea and Finland in the north, and the Mediterranean (Ionian Sea and Sea of Crete) to the south. This area includes the territories of 20 modern states. If Europe is imagined as the entire area between the longitudinal boundaries of 10 degrees west and 60 degrees east, then Eastern Europe as understood in this bibliography covers fifty longitude degrees (between 10 and 60 degrees east), or two thirds of the entire continent. No other bibliography exists so far to cover such a large part of the European continent for the early Middle Ages. The chronological framework is equally considerable, namely 750 years. The choice of this time span took into consideration various periodizations in use for the history and archaeology of the region, in relation to which the bibliography is absolutely inclusive. Although the fall of the Hunnic empire and the political and military re-arrangements in the Middle Danube and northern Balkan areas during the second half of the fifth century suggest that AD 500 may be a good breaking point, several items included in this bibliography also cover the late fifth century. Similarly, the devastating effects of the 1241 Mongol invasion over the Rus’ principalities, Poland, and Hungary provide an equally good, conventional end date of the early Middle Ages, even though that date has little or no significance for other parts of the region (e.g., the Balkans, Bohemia, or the Baltic lands) or of the European continent as a whole.

The bibliography has over 60,000 entries —books, articles, chapters in collections of studies, as well as theses and dissertations. Also included were online articles, as well as regional bibliographies. Almost half of all titles (49.7 percent) are articles published in periodicals, with only 8.3 percent being monographs. The earliest publications listed are from the second half of the 18th century, with the latest published in the current year. The last few decades have witnessed an accelerated pace of publication. In fact, more than half of all entries (56.2 percent) are of titles published after 1989, which strongly suggests an explosion of interest after the end of the Iron Curtain.

The final product was organized with an eye to an optimal balance between user-friendliness and a sufficiently comprehensive coverage to convey the most important low and high points of literature regarding medieval Eastern Europe. The bibliography is meant to serve two different types of users: researchers looking for works on their subjects of interest, and librarians and bibliographers looking for information on specific titles, even superseded ones. In that respect, there are two underlying assumptions: that users prefer to be made aware of an item’s existence, even if it is not presently available; that such an item, once identified, will eventually become available through the efforts of enterprising librarians and publishers. Moreover, the method of selection that I have adopted could be described as follows: accurate listing of items based, where possible, on autopsy of the original document; reliance on illustration as much as text, especially for archaeological publications; full and detailed indices allowing fast and accurate access to the contents of the bibliography. Each entry has a number of keywords (there are over 5,000 different keywords in the entire bibliography) allowing both general and very precise searches. For example, the entry for Francesco dall' Aglio, "The Bulgarian Siege of Thessaloniki in 1207: between history and hagiography," Eurasian Studies Yearbook 1, no. 2 (2002), pp. 278-79 has the following keywords: Bulgaria; sources, written; history; Greece; 1200-1300.

Both “Bulgaria” and “Greece” are keywords establishing the geographic focus of the item, in terms of the present-day political geography of the area (although “Bulgaria” is also employed for the medieval state(s) by that name). The keyword “1200-1300” shows the chronological emphasis of the entry, in this case the 13th century. Similar keywords exist for all the centuries between 500 and 1250, as well as for pairs of centuries (e.g., “550-650” for the 6th to the 7th century). “Sources, written” is a generic keyword, but more specific keywords exist for, e.g., Procopius of Caesarea, the Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja, the Russian Primary Chronicle, or Gallus Anonymus. The degree of detail for other entries can be far greater. For example, the entry for Kazimierz Godłowski, Frühe Slawen in Mitteleuropa (Neumünster: Wachholtz, 2005) has the following keywords: Procopius of Caesarea; ethnogenesis; ethnicity; 450-550; 550-650; Poland; Bohemia; Jordanes; Ukraine; Germany; agriculture; assimilation, ethnic; archaeological culture, Zarubinec; ethnogenesis; fibula, crossbow; fibula, 3 knobs, Vyškov type; fibula, iron; fibula, bent stem, iron; handmade pottery/pot/Prague type; numismatics; hoard, coins; AV Anastasius (in hoard); AV Justin I (in hoard); AV Justinian (in hoard); Slavs; 550-650; Slovakia; cultural traditions, Sântana de Mureş-Chernyakhov; cultural traditions, Dacian; Moravia; linguistics; place names; historiography; pollen analysis; migration (concept, theory); pottery typology; cemetery, cremation; cremation, urn; cremation, pit; archaeological culture, Kiev; archaeological culture, Sukow; handmade pottery/Zhytomyr-Korchak type; Lombards; Gepids; hoard, jewelry; spur, inward hooks; bow fibula, rectangular headplate, silver; archaeological culture, Kolochin; archaeological culture, Penkivka; Balts; archaeological culture, long barrows; archaeological culture, Tushemlia; Martin of Braga; Prussia, Eastern; Belarus; Russia.

Given that Godłowski’s book is a collection of studies he published over the years in different periodicals, the geographical coverage is greater than in dall'Aglio’s article: there are separate entries for Russia, Poland, Germany, and Bohemia, but also for regions, such as Eastern Prussia (and also for Silesia, Transylvania, Moldavia, Moldova, Walachia, or Pomerania). Furthermore, ethnic groups such as Lombards, Slavs, or Gepids appear prominently in this book, along with such archaeological cultures as Kiev or Sukow. No less than four types of fibulae, spurs, and different forms of cremation are also discussed in this book and indexed accordingly. To distinguish between different types of artifacts, illustrations have been added to particular key words, to allow for quick identification. Finally, entries for pottery have detailed keywords with ceramic descriptors, e.g., “wheel-made pottery/coarse, sand/reddish/pot/diameter above/combed decoration.” Those two examples show the extreme versatility of this bibliography, which was made possible by the use of keywords of various degrees of specificity to fit specific needs of specific researchers.

All books and all separately listed sections of books and extracts from periodical publications are listed under the author’s name as the main entry. Where there are two or more authors for a single entry, the order is that used on the title page. Names of all authors appear as indicated on the majority of publications. Where different spellings (or different alphabets) are used, the preferred form is that of the key publications. When a book is part of a numbered series, that information is recorded in the entry as well. Page numbers are indicated both for the body of the text and for summaries, if included. Titles are transcribed as they appear on the title page, with adjustments to punctuation and capitalization. All titles include the diacritics of the respective languages. The transliteration of titles in Cyrillic follows a modified version of the Library of Congress system. Translations are available for all titles in languages other than English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish. When between brackets, those are my translations, when without brackets, those are the translations provided in the publication’s summary (and in the language chosen for that summary).

Multiple sources have been used to prepare this bibliography. A large number of items included herein are held in the libraries in Oxford and Cambridge, Chişinău, Bucharest, Budapest, Szeged, and Sofia, Institut für Vor- und Frühgeschichte in Munich, at Dumbarton Oaks, Princeton University, University of Notre Dame, as well as in several annual bibliographies, both in print and online. Despite their obvious utility, online library catalogues are hampered by several deficiencies. With their limited number of subject categories per item and the often non-intuitive wording of the subject categories themselves, such catalogues are not very useful for subject searches. More importantly, library catalogues omit virtually the entire universe of periodical articles and inclusions in multi-author volumes. There are many online indices of periodical articles and inclusions, but their coverage is inadequate for research on medieval Eastern Europe. For the vast majority of the items included in this bibliography, I had to rely on autopsy, either in the holding library or via Interlibrary Loan. The latter was particularly important for identifying wrong citations. When information was doubtful or obviously wrong, an authoritative control search was performed in WorldCat (, the world’s largest network of library content and services to eliminate errors or mistakes so far as possible.

I wish to thank the following persons and institutions: the staff of the University of Florida Interlibrary Loan office, to whom I especially grateful, for without their help many entries in this bibliography would not have been completed; the library staff at Western Michigan University, Princeton University, the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame, Dumbarton Oaks, Institut für Vor- und Frühgeschichte in Munich; Ivan Biliarski, Audronė Bliujienė, Ádám Bollók, Andrzej Buko, Danijel Dzino, Jelena Erdeljan, David Kalhous, Jan Klápště, Alexandru Madgearu, Sławomir Moździoch, Victor Spinei, Iurie Stamati, Tsvetelin Stepanov, Ivan Stevović, Bartek Szmoniewski, Ioan Tentiuc, Ioan Marian Ţiplic, Trpimir Vedriš, and Mladen Zagarčanin. I owe a special debt of gratitude to Kate Hammond, without whom the online publication of this bibliography would not have been possible.

Florin Curta
April 2019