The origin of Slovenes:
Veneti - Early ancestors of SlovenesIt has long been the official and established view of historians that Slovenes migrated to the lands in the heart of Europe, which they still occupy today, as part of the great west- and southwards movement by the Slavs during the 6th century. The arrival of these tribes on the borders of the Byzantine empire was dramatic and well recorded by the historians of the day. The arrival of Slovenes, the Slavic people who had settled furthest west, reaching as far as the hinterland of Venice was not recorded at all.
The most recent and compelling hypothesis, which makes an impressive attempt to explain the origins of Slovenian people, is the combined effort and complementary research by three authors, Jožko Šavli, Matej Bor and Ivan Tomažič. The book was published in the eighties in Slovenian, English and German translations, with the English title Veneti. First Builders of European Community.
The work is distinguished by the freshness and the originality of approach, freedom from political bias and preconceived ideas, the linguistic and topographical data collected, persuasive arguments, and the highlighting of the Venetic origin theory by the use of contemporary historical sources.
LOOMSONG A song at the Loom
Very interesting and entertaining is the inscription on a clay loom weight. Venetologists do not know where to begin, and yet on the basis of the Ateste grammar tablets, it is totally understandable.
On this weight made of clay there are two beautiful verses:
O PATE SPEŠ TI TAKOAUJI
LOV(E) KLOKATU, APAJA VOLTIOM
Sede ob petljeh speš ti tkaje,
Klekelj love, viteze opevajoč.
Between the warps with speedy bobbins,
You weave, and sing your songs of knights.
Jožko Šavli maintains that the West Slavs are indigenous to Central Europe and that it was the Slavic Veneti or Wends who were the first disseminators of a major cultural complex in central Europe - the Urnfeld culture. He postulates that in a migration originating circa 1200 BC, they spread over a large area of the continent, (map) including present-day Austria, Slovenia, eastern Switzerland and northern Italy. The basis for this are historical records of contemporary historians, supported by the evidence of place names.
Šavli argues firstly that the name Venet or Wend - still used by the northern neighbours in reference to Slovenes - is a shortened version of slo-venets. The change is explained by the fact that Latin did not have the consonantal group sl. He further argues that no records mention the arrival of Slovenes in the territory. Instead all the records of the 6th century indicate that the territory is an established "provincia" or "marca, which indicates, according to Šavli, a defined geographic area, with a set form of government, a distinct internal organization, and not, as it is alleged, a tribe of extended families.
Šavli goes on to the contemporary records referring to the territory of the present-day Slovenia at its centre. In the earlier records it is referred to as Noricum - not unusual to give Latin names to provinces, says Šavli - but increasingly in the 6th century there are references variously to "marca Winidorum", "Sclaborum provincia" (sclavi - Slavs; the consonantal grouping scl is usual in Latin, therefore the addition of c), "termini Venetiorum qui et Sclavi dicuntur" (the lands of Veneti, who also call themselves Slavs - c.612) or "Sclavos coinomento Vinedos". All this indicates, according to Šavli that the lands and people are well known, established and accepted.
The region thus referred to, became known by the late 6th century as Carantania (map) and people who dwelt within its borders as Carantanos (the name Carantania is first mentioned in 670 AD, which does not preclude its previous existence).
The poet and linguist Matej Bor has deciphered the Venetic and Etruscan inscriptions with the help of Slovenian language and its surviving dialects, as well as other Slavic languages including Old Church Slavic. It is major contribution towards an understanding of this period of European history and a strong supporting case for Šavli's work, indicating that the Veneti were a Proto-Slavic people, whose language is preserved in the roots of modern Slovenian.
There is strong opposition as well as support for the Venetic theory among historians and aficionados of Slovenian history.
Some rather exuberant and poetic sayings have been preserved in the Venetic language on various objects, particularly urns. Fine examples exist on funeral urns, particularly those related to fire, the element most closely associated with the ritual of cremation.
On the ateste urn Es 105 we read the following inscription:
V OUGON TAJ VUGISON JAJ BRIGDINAJ JEGO
V ogenj ta, ugašene, naj gredo, brige in skrbi njegove.
Into this fire, extinguished, let them pass: his cares and sorrows.