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Polyane

POLYANE

Polyane is one of the Eastern Slavic tribes that inhabited the Kievan Rus state, as noted in the Russian Primary Chronicle.

According to the Russian Primary Chronicle, the Polyane occupied the middle Dnieper River region: Kiev, the capital of the Rus state, as well as Vyshgorod, Vasilev, and Belgorod. The Polyane received their name (meaning "people of the field") on account of their settlement in the open terrain of the middle Dnieper. With its chernozem soils, the middle Dnieper was ideal for agriculture, the primary economy of the Polyane. Archaeologists believe that the Polyane belonged to a larger group of Slavs, known as Duledy, who migrated east from southeastern Europe sometime during the sixth to seventh centuries. By the eighth to ninth centuries, the Polyane settled both sides of the middle Dnieper and came to form their own ethnic identity. During the ninth century, the middle Dnieper was under the control of the Khazar state, to which the Polyane paid tribute in furs. Kiev itself functioned as the western-most military outpost and a commercial center for the Khazars. During the late ninth century, the Rus prince Oleg (legendary reign 880913) allegedly incorporated the middle Dnieper and the Polyane into the expanding Rus state, although evidence suggests that it was Grand Prince Igor (r. 924945) who brought the two under Rus control around 930. While predominantly Slavic, the Polyane appear to have had Iranian, Turkic, and Finno-Baltic ethnic elements. Evidence for this is found through archaeological and linguistic studies of the Polyane and from Chronicle descriptions of their pre-Christian religious practices.

See also: igor; khazars; kievan rus; oleg; primarychronicle; vikings

bibliography

Golb, Norman, and Pritsak, Omeljan. (1982). Khazarian Hebrew Document of the Tenth Century. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

The Russian Primary Chronicle. (1973). Tr. and ed. Samuel Hazzard Cross and Olgerd P. Sherbowitz-Wetzor. Cambridge, MA: Mediaeval Academy of America.

Roman K. Kovalev

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