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Encyclopedia > Theories on the origin of Croats

The origin of the Croatian tribe before the great migration of the Slavs is uncertain. The modern Croats are undoubtedly a Slavic people, but the archaeological and other historic evidence on the migration of the Slavic settlers, the character of native population on present-day territory of Croatia, and their mutual relationship and influences is sparse. mtDNA-based chart of large human migrations. ... The Slavic peoples are the most numerous ethnic and linguistic body of peoples in Europe. ...


"Slavic" theory

According to the "Slavic" theory, in the 7th century, the Croatian tribe has moved from the area north of the Carpathians and east of the river Vistula (referred to as White Croatia) and migrated into the western Dinaric Alps. White Croats had formed the Principality of Dalmatia in the upper Adriatic, while their subgroup Red Croats created the Principalities of Red Croatia: Zahumlje, Travunia with Konavle and Duklja. Another wave of Slavic migrants from White Croatia subsequently founded the Principality of Pannonia. The 7th century is the period from 601 - 700 in accordance with the Julian calendar in the Christian Era. ... Satellite image of the Carpathians. ... The Vistula (Polish: ) is the longest river in Poland. ... Mt Orjen at the Bay of Kotor is the heaviest karstified range of the dinarids View of the central part of the Dinaric Alps (north=down) The Dinaric Alps or Dinarides (Italian: Alpi Dinariche; Croatian and Serbian: Dinaridi or Dinarsko gorje/Динариди or Динарско горје; Slovenian: Dinarsko gorstvo) form a mountain chain in... White Croats migrated to modern Dalmatia (coastal part of Croatia) as part of the migration of the Croats in 610-641 A.D.[1] ... Map of Dalmatia, in present day Croatia highlighted Dalmatia (Croatian: Dalmacija, Italian: Dalmazia) is a region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, in modern Croatia, spreading between the island of Rab in the northwest and the Gulf of Kotor (Boka Kotorska) in the southeast. ... The Adriatic Sea is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea separating the Apennine peninsula (Italy) from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges. ... Red Croats migrated to modern Montenegro as part of the migration of the Croats in 610-641 A.D., as part of the expanding Avar kingdom. ... The introduction of this article does not provide enough context for readers unfamiliar with the subject. ... Zahumlje in the 9th century, according to De administrando imperio Zahumlje, also known as the Land of Hum and Chelm, was a medieval South Slavic principality located in todays Herzegovina (modern day Bosnia and Herzegovina), and southern Dalmatia (modern day Republic of Croatia). ... Travunia in the 9th century, according to De administrando imperio Travunia (Travunija, Travunja; Latin: Terbounia) was a medieval Slavic realm centered at Trebinje in todays eastern Herzegovina (modern day Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro), and southern Dalmatia (modern day Republic of Croatia). ... Duklja according to De administrando imperio. ... White Croats migrated to modern Dalmatia (coastal part of Croatia) as part of the migration of the Croats in 610-641 A.D.[1] ... Position of the Roman province of Pannonia Pannonia is an ancient country bounded north and east by the Danube, conterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia. ...

"Autochthonous" theories

According to the "autochthonous" model, mostly promoted by Illyrian Movement in the 19th century and abandoned[1] by the mid-19th century, the homeland of Slavs is actually in the area of southern Croatia, and they spread northwards and westwards rather than the other way round. The "revised" theory, developed by Ivan Muzić [2] argues that the actual number of Slavic settlers was small and that the Illyrian ethnic substratum was prevalent for formation of Croatian ethnicity. The Illyrian movement was a cultural-literary movement in the 19th century Habsburg Empire. ... This article is about an ancient civilization in southeastern Europe; see also Illyria (software), Illyria (character in the TV series Angel). ...

"Iranian" theory

Tanais stone with the Greek inscription ΧΟΡΟΑΘΟΣ "Horoathos" highlighted
Tanais stone with the Greek inscription ΧΟΡΟΑΘΟΣ "Horoathos" highlighted

Greek and Roman writers and especially the two stone inscriptions from Tanais tell us that the Croats from the middle of the first up to the third century A.D. lived in the region of the lower Don and were one of the Median (Sarmato-Iranian) nations in that area. During the Hunnic invasion in 375 A.D. one part of the Croats on the Don retreated northwest over the Carpathians where they called themselves White (Western) Croats with respect to the Red (Southern) Croats who remained on the Don. There the White Croats intermingled with the Slavs of the central Slavic regions and adopted their language. After the collapse of the Hunnic empire the Croats at the end of the fifth century formed their own national state, calling it White or Great Croatia. It lay between the Oder and the Dniester with its capital Hrvat on the site of present-day Cracow in southern Poland.[3] Download high resolution version (425x603, 62 KB)photo of the Tanais stone containing the word for Croats, from German wikipedia (18:53, 18. ... Download high resolution version (425x603, 62 KB)photo of the Tanais stone containing the word for Croats, from German wikipedia (18:53, 18. ...

Following the formation of Yugoslavia in 1918, certain Slavs known as the "wolves" suppressed original research on the Iranian theory. To date, only some part of the research work that has been quoted in a report prepared by the academy of sciences of former Yugoslavia in 1938 is available. [4]

In the era of the Achaemenid (also known as the Persian empire), especially at the time of Cyrus II and Darius I, the name of the eastern Iranian province Harauvatya and the Croats of the ancient Iran Harauvatis and Harahvaiti have been mentioned for 12 times. In addition, two unearthed manuscripts belonging to the Croats living in the second and third centuries B.C. in ancient Iran have referred to the inhabitants of Horooouathos and Horoathoi. In the year 418, the Aryans were dubbed as Horites and Zachariasrhetor, in 559 the Aryan horse riders were referred to as Hrwts who lived in the vicinity of Krima and Azova and in the 7th century Croats were called as Slavs. Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Dynasty was a dynasty in the ancient Persian Empire, including Cyrus II the Great, Darius I and Xerxes I. At the height of their power, the Achaemenid rulers of Persia ruled over territories roughly emcompassing some parts of todays Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon... Cyrus the Great Cyrus II of Persia, widely known as Cyrus the Great, (ca. ... Seal of Darius I, showing the king hunting on his chariot, and the symbol of Ahuramazda Darius the Great (Pers. ...

Indeed from the end of the I to III century A.D. in the city-state of Tanais, in the region of the Don, lived various Iranian tribes of Samatians as well as Croats who must have been Iranians. Furthermore the national name "Croat" is of Iranian origin. According to the Russian Vselod Miller the name "Croat" comes from the Iranian word Hor-va (t)u meaning: the sun’s bed or path. M. Vasmer derives the Croatian name from Hu-urvata meaning, "friend" And the terms used to designate the high officials among the Croats, "kral, ban, zupan", are of Iranian origin. The religion of the ancient Croats also bore traces of its Iranian origin: a god of light and darkness, fire-worship, cremation of the dead, and so on.[5] Even the Croatian words used to designate religious concepts are Iranian: God, religion, sacrifice, paradise, Easter; to cry out (for), to implore, to predict, and so on. After the Iranian fashion the ancient Croats ascribed a specific colour to each of the four cardinal points of the compass in the territory which they inhabited. The colour white designated the west, red the south, green the east, and black the north. Hence White or West Croatia, Red or South Croatia and Green or East Croatia. Ancient Croatian folk art bears eastern and Iranian traces, particularly the Croatian "troplets". The Croats also brought over from Iran their national coat of arms with its 64 red and white checkers.[6]

Identity of old-time Croat tribes Research works conducted in the past decade discuss the similarities between names and families used in the ancient-time Iran and the names and families in present Croatia. Some of these studies have pointed to the roots of alphabetic letters in the Croat language and stressed that contrary to the claims of the Slavs the roots of those letters are totally oriental and widely used at ancient times. Many manuscripts written with those letters date back to before 9th century.

Research studies on the style of dressing of the Croats show that they were dressed up as the Sassanid (also known as the second Persian Empire) and most of the local costumes of women were exactly similar to those worn by women at the time of the ancient Persian empire.[4] Sassanid Empire at its greatest extent The Sassanid dynasty (also Sassanian) was the name given to the kings of Persia during the era of the second Persian Empire, from 224 until 651, when the last Sassanid shah, Yazdegerd III, lost a 14-year struggle to drive out the Umayyad Caliphate...

Studies on other features of the Croats such as navigation reject the Slav presumption that the Croats had not have navigated before but that they had rather learnt the art from the Italians. According to the studies, there are evidences available that the Croats were acquainted with sailing even before the Slavs and that the time for their navigation in the Adriatic goes back to the 6th and 7th centuries. It should be noted that local Croat navigators were known as "Indo-Iranian" and "Slavs" in the Adriatic.

The earliest mention of the Croatian name, Horouathos, can be traced on two stone inscriptions in the Greek language and script, dating from around the year 200 AD, found in the seaport Tanais on the Azov sea, Crimea peninsula (near the Black Sea). Both tablets are kept in the Archaeological museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Greek (, IPA: — Hellenic) has a documented history of 3,500 years, the longest of any single language within the Indo-European family. ... Technical note: Due to technical limitations, some web browsers may not display some special characters in this article. ... For other uses, see number 200. ... Sarmatian cataphract from Tanais. ... The shallow Sea of Azov is clearly distinguished from the deeper Black Sea. ... Motto: Процветание в единстве - Prosperity in unity Anthem: Нивы и горы твои волшебны, Родина - Your fields and mounts are wonderful, Motherland Capital Simferopol Largest cities Simferopol, Eupatoria, Kerch, Theodosia, Yalta Official language Ukrainian. ... NASA satelite image of the Black Sea Map of the Black Sea The Black Sea is an inland sea between southeastern Europe and Anatolia that is actually a distant arm of the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Mediterranean Sea. ... Saint Petersburg (Russian: Санкт-Петербу́рг, English transliteration: Sankt-Peterburg), colloquially known as Питер (transliterated Piter), formerly known as Leningrad (Ленингра́д, 1924–1991) and...

"Gothic" theory

Genetic evidence

Genetically, on the Y chromosome line, a majority (>87%) of Croats belong to one of the three major European Y-DNA haplogroups -- Haplogroup I (38%), Haplogroup R1a 35% and Haplogroup R1b 16% [7] This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... World map showing the location of Europe. ... In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a large group of haplotypes, which are series of alleles at specific locations on a chromosome. ... In human genetics, Haplogroup I (M170) is a Y-chromosome haplogroup. ... In human genetics, Haplogroup R1a1 (M17) is a Y-chromosome haplogroup, that is spread across Eurasia. ... In human genetics, Haplogroup R1b (M343) (previously called Hg1 and Eu18) is the most frequent Y-chromosome haplogroup in Europe. ...

All three groups migrated to Europe during the upper paleolithic around 30,000-20,000 BC. Later, neolithic lineages, originating in the Middle East and that brought agriculture to Europe, are present in surprisingly low numbers. The Upper Paleolithic (or Upper Palaeolithic) is the third and last subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age as it is understood in Europe, Africa and Asia. ... An array of Neolithic artifacts, including bracelets, axe heads, chisels, and polishing tools. ... A map showing countries commonly considered to be part of the Middle East The Middle East is a region comprising the lands around the southern and eastern parts of the Mediterranean Sea, a territory that extends from the eastern Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. ...

Croat Haplogroups
Croat Haplogroups

The haplogroups J, E and G constitute together less than 10% - significantly lower than other populations in the region.[8] Image File history File linksMetadata Croat_haplogroups. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Croat_haplogroups. ... In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a large group of haplotypes, which are series of alleles at specific locations on a chromosome. ... In human genetics, Haplogroup J (previously known as HG9 or Eu9/Eu10) is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. ... In human genetics, Haplogroup E (M96) is a human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. ... In human genetics, Haplogroup G (M201) is a Y-chromosome haplogroup. ...

Furthermore the dominant presence of haplogroup I is rather interesting. This group exists in Europe only and is fairly wide-spread, but in relatively small percentages. Its frequency in the Balkans is high, but the only populations that have similar levels of the I group are the Scandinavians. [9] In human genetics, Haplogroup I (M170) is a Y-chromosome haplogroup. ... Scandinavia is a historical and geographical region centered on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. ...

There are a number of relevant conclusions that can be drawn from the genetic data.

First of all it gives strong support to the theory that the region of modern day Croatia served as a refuge for northern populations during the last glacial maximum (LGM). After the LGM there was a migration to the north of the people whose offspring today form a significant portion of the three aforementioned Scandinavian populations. Those who decided to stay are the ancestors of about 38 per cent of modern day Croats.[7] [9] Temperature proxies for the last 40,000 years The Last Glacial Maximum refers to the time of maximum extent of the ice sheets during the last glaciation, approximately 21 thousand years ago. ...

The second conclusion that can be drawn is that the high incidence of R1a originating from the palaeolithic of Ukraine is probably due to the repeated eastern migrations that affected the area. This supports the partial Alanian origin of the Croats as the R1a group is most frequent in the Eurasian steppe region and in Poland, the region where the first Croatian state was formed. (Ancient Alania located in central Asia where the frequency of R1a has its maximum.) Only a relatively small percentage of the Croats belong to one of the haplogroups that is common in the Middle East. The low frequency of these groups is consistent with the minor migration of neolithic farmers from the Middle East that occurred around 10,000 years ago. [10]

And the third conclusion is that modern-day Croats may not have that much genetically in common with the Croats of the proto-Slavic origin. The R1a haplogroup that is usually at 40-60% levels in most Eastern European countries is at 35% within the Croat population. Genetic evidence points to the fact that there was a high degree of mixing of the newly arrived Croat tribes with the indigenous populations that were already present in the region of the modern day Croatia. [11] Hence, most modern day Croats are descended from the original European population of the region and have lived in the territory by other names, such as Illyrians and their forebears. These original inhabitants also served an important role in re-populating Europe after the last ice age. [8] Regions of Europe as delineated by the United Nations (UN definition of Eastern Europe marked salmon):  Northern Europe  Western Europe  Eastern Europe  Southern Europe Pre-1989 division between the West (grey) and Eastern Bloc (orange) superimposed on current national boundaries: Russia (dark orange), other countries of the former USSR (medium... Illyria (disambiguation) Illyrians has come to refer to a broad, ill-defined group of peoples who inhabited the western Balkans (Illyria, roughly from northern Epirus to southern Pannonia) and even perhaps parts of Southern Italy in classical times into the Common era, and spoke Illyrian languages. ...


  1. ^
  2. ^ (Croatian) Ivan Muzić, O hrvatskoj historiografiji i autohtonosti u Hrvata, foreword to the book "Hrvati i Autohtonost"
  3. ^ Vicko Rendic, Ethnic origin and development of the Croats, http://www.magma.ca/~rendic/conclusion.htm , 2006
  4. ^ a b IC, Identity of Croats in Ancient Iran, http://www.iranchamber.com/history/articles/identity_croatians_ancient_iran.php , 2006
  5. ^ PIESKER, 53 – 88; SUFFLAY, 109 – 114; PILAR, 1 – 86; SADNIK, 38 – 45
  6. ^ STRZYGOWSKYI, 15 – 63, 156 – 181; DADO-PERANIC, op. cit., 21 – 24; MANDIC, Hrvatski kockasti grb, 639 – 652
  7. ^ a b Barac et al, "Y chromosomal heritage of Croatian population and its island isolates", European Journal of Human Genetics (2003) 11, 535-542
  8. ^ a b Pericic et al, "High-Resolution Phylogenic Analysis of Southeastern Europe Traces Major Episodes of Paternal Gene Flow Among Slavic Populations", Journal of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (2005)
  9. ^ a b Semino et al, The Genetic Legacy of Paleolithic Homo sapiens sapiens in Extant Europeans, Science Vol290, 2000
  10. ^ Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Genes, Peoples and Languages (2001)
  11. ^ Steve Olson, Mapping Human History (2003)



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