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ON THE EDGE OF “ANOTHER WORLD”: THE BALKANS AND CRIMEA AS CONTACT ZONES BETWEEN THE CUMAN-QÏPCHAQS AND THE OUTSIDE WORLD

Konstantin Golev

Institute for Historical Studies

(Bulgarian Academy of Scienses)

Abstract: The article surveys in a comparative perspective the presence of the Cuman-Qïpchaqs in Crimea and the Balkans. The available historical and archaeological material is examined in the theoretical framework of the concept for the contacts between the nomads and the outside world. On the basis of general typology of the contact zones between the Cuman-Qïpchaqs and the surrounding sedentary societies, the specific place of Crimea and the Balkans is emphasized. The initial appearance of the Cuman-Qïpchaqs on both peninsulas is traced and the profile of their further behavior is chronologically examined. The parallel analysis demonstrates that in Crimea the nomads were interested in commercial activities and even imposed their political supremacy over a significant part of the settlements along Crimean littoral, while in the Balkans they were attracted mainly by the opportunities for raiding. The higher priority of Crimea for the Cuman-Qïpchaqs is highlighted and juxtaposed to the priorities of the Byzantine Empire, for which the Balkan hinterland of its capital remained of primary importance.

Keywords: Cuman-Qïpchaqs, Crimea, Balkans, nomads, sedentary societies, Byzantine Empire, Second Bulgarian Empire