Danish Presence in the Dnipro-Buh Estuary Water Area in the 9th – 13th Centuries: Presentation and Research Prospects of the Issue

Keywords: Dnipro-Buh estuary, Denmark, Kyivan Rus, Vikings, Berezan, the path 'from the Varangians to the Greeks', the Varangians


The purpose of the research paper is to outline the prospects of scientific exploration of the Danish presence in the Dnipro-Buh estuary during the functioning of the route ‘from the Varangians to the Greeks’, namely from the 9th to the 13th century.

The scientific novelty. Information from the processed sources about the activities of the Danes on the way ‘from the Varangians to the Greeks’, in particular in the water area of the Dnipro-Buh estuary, is systematized. The main historical events of the region, in which, with varying degrees of probability, the Danes participated, and the prospects for further historical research in this field, are outlined. At the same time, the opportunities provided by the use of new technologies, in particular the study of genetic profiles, are taken into account.

Conclusions. From the 9th to the 13th century, the water area of the Dnipro-Buh estuary played a significant role in the functioning of the route ‘from the Varangians to the Greeks’. On the island of St. Aetherius (now Berezan), re-equipment for sea navigation took place after passing the Dnipro River route. A large portion of travelers were from Scandinavia, including Danes. Next, the travelers could reach Constantinople via the Black Sea, or go to the states of the Muslim East.

The emergence of silver dirhams on the territory of Denmark testifies to the first contact of the Danes with Eastern Europe. Danish historical sources allow us to hypothesize about the actions of certain konungs (Ragnarr Loðbrók, Hvítserkr, and Hrørek) on the eastern waterways. Indirectly, these data give us the opportunity to make assumptions about the possibility of Danes traveling through the water area of the Dnipro-Buh estuary as early as the 9th century.

Information given by the authors from Islamic countries suggests the existence of a certain connection between Danish activity on the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean Sea with the military campaigns of Kyivan princes aimed at Byzantium or the states of the Islamic East in the 9th and 10th centuries.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, the Dnipro-Buh estuary became a connecting link through which a flow of Danish mercenaries moved from the Baltic to Constantinople. The Danes became one of the units of the Varangian guard of the Byzantine emperors.

The materials of modern archaeological research of medieval antiquities on Berezan Island present new opportunities for uncovering the features of the route ‘from the Varangians to the Greeks’ functioning in the water area of the Dnipro-Buh estuary. The newly discovered burials of the travelers provide additional grounds for applying modern methods of genetic profile studying. That will make it possible to clarify the ethnic composition of people traveling on that waterway and to identify individual ethnic components, including the Danish one.


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How to Cite
Kuzovkov, V., Smyrnov, O., & Smyrnov, L. (2024). Danish Presence in the Dnipro-Buh Estuary Water Area in the 9th – 13th Centuries: Presentation and Research Prospects of the Issue. Eminak: Scientific Quarterly Journal, (1(45), 179-201. https://doi.org/10.33782/eminak2024.1(45).697
Medieval History