The Severians or Severyans or Siverians (Russian: Северяне; Ukrainian: Сiверяни) were a tribe or tribal union of early East Slavs occupying areas to the east of the middle Dnieper river around the rivers Desna, Sejm and Sula on the territory of the archaeological culture of Romny.
The etymology of the name of Severians is controversial. Though it is similar to the Slavic word for "north" (sěver), the Severians never were the northernmost tribe of Slavs. More probable is that the name is of an Iranian (the Sarmatian tribe of "Seuer", from Iranian "seu" = black). Alternatively, the name may be derived from a Proto-Slavic word for "family member", compare Serbs.
Their neighbours were the tribes of Viatich and Radimich in the north, and the Derevlian and Polian tribes in the west. The eastern and southern borders of the tribe's habitat were never permanent and would sometimes reach the upper reaches of the Seversky Donets.
Their existence as a political unit can be proven for the 8th to 11th century and thought to be sprang from the Krivichs. They had to pay tribute to the Khazars in the 8th and 9th century, were annexed by Oleg of Novgorod to the Kievan Rus' state together with the eastern Polans in the late 9th century, and participated in Oleg's campaign against Constantinople in 907. Finally they became part of the Grand Principality of Chernigov. The last reference to them stems from 1024.
The principal cities of the Severians were Chernigov (modern Chernihiv), Kursk, Novgorod-Seversky (modern Novhorod-Siverskyi) and others. Archaeologists also found numerous rural settlements of the 8th - 10th centuries, inhabited by the Severians, and burial mounds with cremated bodies. The Severians were mostly engaged in agriculture, cattle breeding and different handicrafts.
Part of the Severians also migrated to the south-west and settled in the areas of the southern Pannonian plain (the Banat region, where there intermixed with Serbs and adopted Serb name as their own) and southern Carpathians. The Severin region of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary situated in south-eastern Banat was named after Severians. Another branch of Severians also settled in the territory of present-day north-eastern Bulgaria.
- The Early Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Sixth to the Late Twelfth Century, John Van Antwerp Fine, University of Michigan Press, 1991, ISBN 0472081497, p. 307.
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