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v t e

Map of eastern Europe in 3-4th century CE with archeological cultures identified as Baltic-speaking in purple. Their area extended from the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
to modern Moscow.

During the Migration Period
Migration Period
in 5-6th century CE, the area of archeological cultures identified as Baltic is becoming more fragmented.

By the 7-8th century CE, only Eastern Galindians
Eastern Galindians
remain in the east within the Slavic territory.

The Balts
Balts
or Baltic people (Lithuanian: baltai, Latvian: balti) are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group who speak the Baltic languages, a branch of the Indo-European language family, which was originally spoken by tribes living in area east of Jutland
Jutland
peninsula in the west and Moscow, Oka and Volga
Volga
rivers basins in the east. One of the features of Baltic languages
Baltic languages
is the number of conservative or archaic features retained.[1] Among the Baltic peoples are modern Lithuanians, Latvians
Latvians
(including Latgalians) — all Eastern Balts
Balts
— as well as the Old Prussians, Yotvingians
Yotvingians
and Galindians
Galindians
— the Western Balts — whose languages and cultures are now extinct.

Contents

1 Etymology 2 History

2.1 Origins 2.2 Proto-history 2.3 Middle Ages

3 Baltic peoples 4 See also 5 References

5.1 English language 5.2 Polish language

6 Notes 7 External links

Etymology[edit] German medieval chronicler Adam of Bremen
Adam of Bremen
in the latter part of the 11th century AD was the first writer to use the term Baltic in its modern sense to mean the sea of that name.[2] Although he must have been familiar with the ancient name, Balcia,[3] meaning a supposed island in the Baltic Sea,[2] and although he may have been aware of the Baltic words containing the stem balt-, "white",[4] as "swamp", he reports that he followed the local use of balticus from baelt ("belt") because the sea stretches to the east "in modum baltei" ("in the manner of a belt"). This is the first reference to "the Baltic or Barbarian Sea, a day's journey from Hamburg."[5] The Germanics, however, preferred some form of "East Sea" (in different languages) until after about 1600, when they began to use forms of "Baltic Sea." Around 1840 the German nobles of the Governorate of Livonia
Governorate of Livonia
devised the term "Balts" to mean themselves, the German upper classes of Livonia, excluding the Latvian and Estonian lower classes. They spoke an exclusive dialect, Baltic German. For all practical purposes that was the Baltic language
Baltic language
until 1919.[6][7] Scandinavians begin settling in Western Baltic lands in Lithuania
Lithuania
and Latvia
Latvia
during Vendel Age
Vendel Age
and with interruptions their presence in Baltic lands continued most of Viking Age. In 1845 Georg Heinrich Ferdinand Nesselmann proposed a distinct language group for Latvian and Lithuanian to be called Baltic.[8] It found some credence among linguists but was not generally adopted until the creation of the Baltic states
Baltic states
as part of the settlement of World War I
World War I
in 1919. Gradually the non-Baltic Estonian was excluded from the linguistic meaning of Baltic, as was Livonian, a now extinct[9] Finnic language in present-day Latvia, while Old Prussian — long recognized as close to Lithuanian and Latvian — was added. Estonia
Estonia
and Finland
Finland
(the states of Baltic Finns), however, also became counted among the Baltic states
Baltic states
in the geopolitical sense. (Finland was dropped from this definition after World War II, though Estonia remains within the definition.) History[edit] Origins[edit] The Balts
Balts
or Baltic peoples, defined as speakers of one of the Baltic languages, a branch of the Indo-European language family, are descended from a group of Indo-European tribes who settled the area between the lower Vistula and southeast shore of the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
and upper Daugava and Dnieper rivers. Because the thousands of lakes and swamps in this area contributed to the Balts' geographical isolation, the Baltic languages
Baltic languages
retain a number of conservative or archaic features. It is possible[according to whom?] that around 3,500–2,500 B.C., there was massive migration of peoples representing the Corded Ware culture. They came from the southeast and spread all across Eastern and Central Europe, reaching even southern Finland. It is believed[by whom?] that Corded Ware culture
Corded Ware culture
peoples were Indo-European ancestors of many Europeans, including Balts. It is thought[by whom?] that those Indo-European newcomers were quite numerous and in the Eastern Baltic assimilated earlier indigenous cultures (Europidic cultures – Narva culture and Neman culture). Over time the new people formed the Baltic peoples and they spread in the area from the Baltic sea in the west to the Volga
Volga
in the east.[citation needed] Some of the major authorities on Balts, such as Būga, Vasmer, Toporov and Trubachov,[citation needed] in conducting etymological studies of eastern European river names, were able to identify in certain regions names of specifically Baltic provenance, which most likely indicate where the Balts
Balts
lived in prehistoric times. This information is summarized and synthesized by Marija Gimbutas
Marija Gimbutas
in The Balts
Balts
(1963) to obtain a likely proto-Baltic homeland. Its borders are approximately: from a line on the Pomeranian coast eastward to include or nearly include the present-day sites of Berlin, Warsaw, Kiev, and Kursk, northward through Moscow
Moscow
to the River Berzha, westward in an irregular line to the coast of the Gulf of Riga, north of Riga. Proto-history[edit] A possible early reference to a Baltic people occurs in 98 CE, when Tacitus
Tacitus
names a tribe living near the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
(Mare Svebicum) as the Aesti
Aesti
(Aestiorum gentes) and describes them as amber gatherers. However, it is not clear if the Aesti
Aesti
mentioned by Tacitus
Tacitus
were: (1) a (now-extinct) Baltic people (possibly synonymous with the Brus/Prūsa), or; (2) a Finno-Ugric people
Finno-Ugric people
(e.g. modern Estonians). The Aesti
Aesti
appear to have inhabited the Sambian peninsula (in or near the present Kaliningrad Oblast.[citation needed] Over time, the area of Baltic habitation shrank, due to assimilation by other groups, and invasions. According to one of the theories which has gained considerable traction over the years, one of the western Baltic tribes, the Galindians, Galindae, or Goliad, migrated to the Eastern end of Baltic realm around the 4th century CE, and settled around modern day Moscow, Russia.[citation needed] Finally, according to Slavic chronicles of the time, they warred with Slavs, and perhaps, were defeated and assimilated some time in the 11th to 13th centuries.[citation needed] Balts
Balts
became differentiated into Western and Eastern Balts
Balts
in the late centuries BCE. The eastern Baltic region was inhabited by ancestors of the Western Balts: Brus/Prūsa ("Old Prussians"), Sudovians/Jotvingians, Scalvians, Nadruvians, and Curonians. The Eastern Balts, including the hypothesised Dniepr Balts, were living in modern-day Belarus, Ukraine
Ukraine
and Russia. Subsequent Germanic and Gothic domination in the first half of the first millennium CE in Northern and Eastern Europe, as well as later Slavic expansion, caused large migrations of the Balts
Balts
— first, the Galindae
Galindae
or Galindians
Galindians
towards the east, and later, Eastern Balts towards the west — until, in the 13th and 14th centuries, they reached the general area that the present-day Balts
Balts
inhabit. Many other Eastern and Southern Balts
Balts
either assimilated with other Balts, or Slavs
Slavs
in the 4th–7th centuries and were gradually slavicized.[citation needed] Middle Ages[edit] In the 12th and the 13th centuries, internal struggles, as well as invasions by Ruthenians
Ruthenians
and Poles
Poles
and later the expansion of the Teutonic Order
Teutonic Order
resulted in an almost complete annihilation of the Galindians, Curonians, and Yotvingians.[citation needed] Gradually Old Prussians became Germanized or some Lithuanized during period from the 15th to the 17th centuries, especially after the Reformation in Prussia.[citation needed] The cultures of the Lithuanians
Lithuanians
and Latgalians/ Latvians
Latvians
survived and became the ancestors of the populations of the modern countries of Latvia
Latvia
and Lithuania. Old Prussian
Old Prussian
was closely related to the other extinct Western Baltic languages, Curonian, Galindian and Sudovian. It is more distantly related to the surviving Eastern Baltic
Eastern Baltic
languages, Lithuanian and Latvian. Compare the Prussian word seme (zemē),[10] the Latvian zeme, the Lithuanian žemė (land in English). Old Prussian
Old Prussian
contained a few borrowings specifically from Gothic (e.g., Old Prussian
Old Prussian
ylo "awl," as with Lithuanian ýla, Latvian īlens) and even North Germanic. Baltic peoples[edit]

Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE. The Eastern Balts are shown in brown hues while the Western Balts
Balts
are shown in green. The boundaries are approximate.

Main article: List of ancient Baltic peoples and tribes Modern Baltic peoples

Eastern Baltic
Eastern Baltic
peoples

Latvians

Latgalians

Lithuanians

Aukštaitians
Aukštaitians
("highlanders") Samogitians
Samogitians
("lowlanders")

See also[edit]

Latvia
Latvia
portal Lithuania
Lithuania
portal

Aesti Neuri Eastern Baltic
Eastern Baltic
languages Western Baltic languages

References[edit] English language[edit]

Bojtár, Endre (1999). Foreword to the Past: A Cultural History of the Baltic People. Budapest and New York: Central European University Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-963-9116-42-9.  Gimbutas, Marija (1963). The Balts. London: Thames & Hudson.  "Lithuanians". 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica (1 ed.). 1911. 

Polish language[edit]

"Bałtowie". Encyklopedia Internetowa PWN (in Polish). Archived from the original on April 26, 2005. Retrieved May 25, 2005.  Antoniewicz, Jerzy; Aleksander Gieysztor
Aleksander Gieysztor
(1979). Bałtowie zachodni w V w. p. n. e. – V w. n. e. : terytorium, podstawy gospodarcze i społeczne plemion prusko-jaćwieskich i letto-litewskich (in Polish). Olsztyn-Białystok: Pojezierze. ISBN 83-7002-001-1.  Kosman, Marceli (1981). Zmierzch Perkuna czyli ostatni poganie nad Bałtykiem (in Polish). Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza.  "Bałtowie". Wielka Encyklopedia PWN (in Polish) (1 ed.). 2001.  Okulicz-Kozaryn, Łucja (1983). Życie codzienne Prusów i Jaćwięgów w wiekach średnich (in Polish). Warsaw: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy.  Čepiene, Irena (2000). Historia litewskiej kultury etnicznej (in Polish). Kaunas, "Šviesa". ISBN 5-430-02902-5. 

Notes[edit]

^ Bojtár page 18. ^ a b Bojtár page 9. ^ Balcia, Abalcia, Abalus, Basilia, Balisia. The linguistic problem with these names is that Balcia cannot become Baltia by known rule. ^ Latvian: balti; Lithuanian: baltai; Latgalian: bolti, lit. "white". ^ Bojtár cites Bremensis I,60 and IV,10. ^ Bojtár page 10. ^ Butler, Ralph (1919). The New Eastern Europe. London: Longmans, Green and Co. pp. 3, 21, 22, 23, 24.  ^ Schmalstieg, William R. (Fall 1987). "A. Sabaliauskas. Mes Baltai (We Balts)". Lituanus. Lituanus Foundation Incorporated. 33 (3). Archived from the original on 7 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-06.  Book
Book
review. ^ "Death of a language: last ever speaker of Livonian passes away aged 103". June 5, 2013.  ^ Mikkels Klussis. Bāziscas prûsiskai-laîtawiskas wirdeîns per tālaisin laksikis rekreaciônin Donelaitis.vdu.lt (Lithuanian version of Donelaitis.vdu.lt).

External links[edit]

Gimbutas, Marija (1963). The Balts. London, New York: Thames & Hudson, Gabriella. Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-06.  E-book of the original. Baranauskas, Tomas (2003). "Forum of Lithuanian History". Historija.net. Archived from the original on 6 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-06.  Sabaliauskas, Algirdas (1998). "We, the Balts". Postilla 400. Samogitian Cultural Association. Archived from the original on 2008-04-02. Retrieved 2008-09-05.  Straižys, Vytautas; Libertas Klimka (1997). "The Cosmology of ancient Balts". www.astro.lt. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 

v t e

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