Originally Posted by Burebista
Ancient Bulgariens? Are there something like this? The bulgarian tribes have come in the Balkans around the IXth C, and they made a new state only under the cumano-wallachian dinasty of Ionitza and Assan, so what you have shown is a bit of artefacts from a diversity of civilisations that have nothing to do with the bulgarians or the slaves!
As Pustinyak said, perhaps not as diplomatically as possible
, this isn't accurate. Perhaps the words "ancient" and "state" might create some confusion, since both are relative terms. I suspect you're confusing "state" - with the sense of a relatively fixed political entity controlling relatively fixed geographic boundaries - with "people" (which has its own definitional problems).
The Bulgars first appear in a Byzantine records as a force to be reckoned with no later than the early to mid-7th century, when they displaced the weakened and disintegrating Avars enough for the Byzantines to notice. (This is not to say that the Bulgars hadn't been moving west and taking control of territory much earlier, without the Byzantines feeling compelled to pay attention.) The moved across the plains north of the Black Sea and down into modern-day Romania and Bulgaria, gradually pushing south and by fait and treaty forcing the Byzantines to cede them "official" title to lands pressing well into what had been Roman Thrace, and farther into the Balkans west away from the coastline. They had progressed far in course by the 680s and were by then a well-organized "state" recognized as a force to be reckoned with by the Byzantines.
Like the Avars before them - and, indeed, like most steppe-originating entities - they were an ethnically mixed conglomeration rather than a discrete "people," with a Bulgar nobility (i.e., people recognized by the Bulgars *as* Bulgars, whatever they themselves considered that to mean ethnically or in a familial sense) ruling over a jumble of client peoples by consent or by force. Early on, while the Bulgar confederation or tribe or whatever you choose to call it was still relatively mobile and located primarily along the north shore of the Black Sea and the steppe areas north and east, these were primarily other Central Asian steppe tribes that had fallen within the Bulgars' orbit. Later, when the portion of the Bulgar grouping that chose to move west and south into the areas along the western shoreline of the Black Sea and into the Balkans was in the process of doing so (this was not all of the Bulgars; some stayed farther north and were pressured or assimilated by the Khazars in time), the largest body of client peoples were Slavs.
No doubt there was some intermingling among peoples, so the idea of a "pure" Bulgarian "people" would be both a false construct and an identity that, even to the extent it existed, would change over time. But that's true of the so-called "Germanic" tribes, too. Those tribes, whether we're talking about the Hungarians, the Bulgars, the Marcomanii, or (let's face it) the Goths or the Italian Romans or the Greeks, were all intermingled with previous or co-existing populations to a great extent. They still tended to have dominant cultural and ethnic predispositions, which sometimes changed over time as new groups were encountered. (If you want to watch this at work in a highly time-compressed, dynamic way, look at modern America, and compare it to two hundred years ago. The peoples in the mix have changed considerably. Yet most people in Europe, when meeting a tourist on the street, can identify us as "Americans" fairly easily - however they might feel about that. How is that? There are cultural, linguistic, social, and sometimes ethnic clues that we learn how to decode.)
There are a few problematic assumptions that might be biasing your discussion. Obviously, a European-centric, modern-day definition of "state" would discount any of the nomadic or semi-nomadic Asian steppe tribes from the start, because they didn't have fixed boundaries, which was a critical assumption - and a very biased one. It was one that the Romans, for a start, used to draw a line between "civilized" peoples - like the Goths once Romanized, for example - versus "barbarian" ones, with extremely loaded value judgments. That definition goes back even farther. There has been ongoing warfare between nomadic peoples and agricultural-urban peoples since the dawn of urbanized civilization - and most of our assumptions, like the notion of a "state," are heavily value-laden distinctions made by and for the latter.
The Bulgars, I would argue, were very definitely a distinct "people" in both their own minds and those of their neighbors for centuries - whether or not they were a "state" in the sense that, say, the Romans would have defined it (and remember, the Romans had a very strong political and cultural bias behind that judgment; it was not neutral). Yes, that "people" would change over time. That's what is so interesting about these images, for me. You can actually see the Central and East Asian influence shifting to more of what we would consider a Slavic influence.
Whether that's an actual change in how the people depicted appeared, or just a changing set of artistic influences and artistic conventions, I couldn't say.