Re: Imperialism as the source of new geographical knowledge

From: Torsten
Message: 67617
Date: 2011-05-25

--- In, george knysh <gknysh@...> wrote:
> --- In, george knysh <gknysh@> wrote:
> >
> > > Strabo would then mean that Mithradates as early as 110 or even
> > > sooner was "intending" (or planning) to lead "an army against
> > > the barbarians who lived beyond the isthmus as far as the
> > > Borysthenes and the Adrias; this, however, was preparatory to a
> > > campaign against the Romans". Not that he or his generals were
> > > already on the field!
> >
> > (TP) Were too.
> >GK: Where exactly?
> I was being inexact. I was disagreeing with your contention that
> Strabo meant to say that Mithridates was 'dreaming' of a campaign
> against those who lived as far as the Borysthenes and the Adrias, I
> think it's pretty obvious that he said Mithridates was already in
> the process of doing it in 108.

> *****GK: More precisely 110.****

>  That of course doesn't mean necessarily that Mithridates actually
> did it, Strabo could be mistaken.

> ****GK: I too prefer to interpret Strabo's words as referring to
> actual deeds where such really occurred (even if only in part). But
> one can't escape the fact that his language is somewhat loose here.

That depends on an interpretation: whether you see Strabo's calling a siege a sacking as factually wrong or just as sloppiness in his description.

> What would be acceptable would be something like this: 'Chersonesos
> lost its independence at the time Mithradates was leading (through
> his generals in the field) his forces against the barbarians who
> lives across the isthmus to the Borysthenes and Adrias, i.e. against
> the Scythians, Sarmatians, Bastarnae, Thracians etc.


> Chersonesos is still subject to Bosporus (which Mithradates acquired
> during the process).


> And it all started with an appeal from Chersonesos to help them
> against the Scythians.'

No, I'm not convinced. I think what came first was Mithridates getting involved on the northwest litoral. He might have been helping out Olbia, for that matter. Mithridates was a man of one idea, he would not have started what he eventually devoted his life to from a simple opportunity. I think the plan came first, and his lucky breaks came relative to his mental involvement. It would not have been lost on the city council in Chersonesos that Mithridates was the man to trust if you were having problems with your procurers/clients. And Mithridates' particular motive for that campaign, besides that of building an alliance against the Romans, might have been slave procurement of his own for financial gain, bypassing Chersonesos and that big market Panticapaeum. The lucky break came when they actually asked him for help themselves.

> Such an interpretation (Strabo talking about the period 110-88
> "preparatory to the war against the Romans" would include
> everything, and also the war against the Bastarnae (perhaps a second
> campaign?

Yes it would.

> We don't know if a single one would have been sufficient. It wasn't
> against the Scythians.)*****

Except perhaps that first campaign could have been the one which split the Scythians in two, and caused the ascendancy oif the Sarmatians?

> > In ->110 BCE the Scythians controlled everything from the Thracian
> > boundary (as described by Ps. Skymnos) to that of the Bosporan
> > kingdom. And M's "first spoils" against them were those of
> > Diophantes at Chersonesos.

> Source, remind me?
> *****GK: The DIophantos Decree, here: "he (Diophantos), drawing his
> army up in the moment of need and routing the Scythians, who were
> thought to be irresistible, brought it about that the king
> Mithridates Eupator set up his first trophy from Scythian spoils"
> (this is the campaign of 110).*****

Yes, but could they have twisted facts into a local perspective? Suppose Mithridates sees the campaign on the northest Black Sea litoral and the campaign on behalf of Chersonesos as just one campaign and celebrates that, whatever Chersonesos might have harbored of ideas that she was still free and that the war was about her?

> > So which "barbarians" was he battling against? (NB= Not Greek
> > coastal cities).****
> The Romanians, of course ;-)
> No, but seriously, this is the point I've just been been arguing
> with the other George about: was there a Proto-Romanian language and
> a Proto-Romanian ethnos already in the 1st century BCE, because it
> would fill the bill, geographically. Now if so, can we stretch it
> back to -> 108 BCE?
> *****GK: It depends at what point you want to say that enough exists
> to warrant positing a functioning language.

Very true.

> It's obvious that one can assume some Dacian or Scythian or some
> anyone speaking broken and bad Latin to a Roman merchant on the
> Danube. But is this enough?

I think 'enough' for the Strabo quote to be interpreted in that particular sense would be that the area in question in some way could be seen as one area, eg. an area defined by a certain activity, like the Veld in South Africa, or the Frontier in 19th cent. USA, ie with barely enough infrastructure of the lingua-franca kind to help you survive and function as you should there. It is true that the big surge in slaving must have taken place in the period 73-65 BCE, but there was activity of the same kind before, hoards have been found from them too.

> Can one prove that this particular "pidgin" is what developed into
> the Romanian language?

Only by the exclusion method: if there had been more that one Roman pidgin, later creole, we would have known about it. There is only one Romanian language family, split into a northern (Istro-Romanian, Dako-Romanian) and a southern (Megleno-Romanian/Aromanian) group, like there are a northern (Geg) and southern (Tosk) group in the Albanian language. It is tempting to assign the northern groups to Dacian and the southern groups to Thracian. If so, there are only two Dacian-substrated Romanian languages: Istro-Romanian and (the standard) Dako-Romanian. We could have a scenario going like: A Latin pidgin comes into use in Slovenia in the 2nd cent. BCE, cf the finds of Victioriati mentioned here
esp fig. 5
'Victoriati, which were minted between 211 and 170 bC (approximately), and removed from the monetary system in 141 bC, are the next important evidence of the contacts with the Roman world. Considering the territory of Slovenia, the individual finds of Victoriati appear almost exclusively in the Kras and Notranjska regions (fig. 5). They represent the monetary circulation in the first half and in the middle of the 2nd century bC. Several hoards, containing victoriati or not, appear immediately after the middle of the 2nd century bC: Dutovlje, buried in 148 bC or later, Gradišče near Knežak and Baba near Slavina, both buried in 146 bC, in the Ljubljanica river near Blatna Brezovica, deposited in 147 bC or later, and Skrinjica in Kobarid.'

this pidgin develops into a creole which spreads with the campaigns against Macedonia, eg. by
and becomes the means of inter-trbal communication; by the time of Burebista it becomes for practical reasons the language of that state.

> Can one even demonstrate that certain words in the presently
> functioning Romanian language go back to this pidgin,

No, only, on general grounds, that they go back to *some* such pidgin.

> and how many such words (and here we're only talking lexicon!) would
> one need to have to say that the Romanian language already existed
> then?

Check the
article again. When would you say Tok Pisin began to exist? At the beginning in German New Guinea? When the first sentences in the language were written down? There is a large number of possible criteria.

> In other words, "critical mass" (as to everything: syntax,
> morphology, vocabulary, the works in fact) already in 110 BCE, or
> not?

Most probably as a creole (ie used by first-language speakers) in Slovenia, and used as a lingua franca (ie used by second language speakers) in the later area of Dako-Romanian, ie Southwest of the Borysthenes.

> Are there Romanian nationalists (not you (:=)) who claim this?*****

No, this particular one I just pulled out of my hat.
It is somewhat hazy to me what they claim. Alex and Piotr used to have long debates centered around that. I think one version is that Dacian was a very close relative of Latin. One argument of theirs that has stuck in my brain is that on the
scenes supposedly exist where Roman soldiers communicate with Dacian natives without an interpreter. Now if their respective languages were Popular Latin (appr. = Proto-Italian) and Proto-Romanian Latin creole, they might just barely have understood each other; to Roman border troops from the Slovenia/Noricum Danube frontier who were used to communicating with natives in that language communicating with native Dacians would have been much easier.