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Equestrian nomads in Early Medieval Europe

16 December 2022 to 25 June 2023

The exhibition project ›Equestrian nomads in Early Medieval Europe‹ (working title) leads into the early medieval empires of the Huns, Avars and Hungarians, into their history and to their archaeological remains. Based on the latest scientific findings and with outstanding exhibits, it offers for the first time a comparative view of these cultures, which despite many parallels also showed considerable differences in their structures, customs and remains. Various national museums and collections of Central and Southeastern Europe are making outstanding exhibits available for presentation at the State Museum. The exhibition is a cooperation project with Schallaburg Kulturbetriebsges. mbH in St. Pölten (Austria).

Equestrian nomadic rule existed not only in the distant steppe regions beyond our horizon, but also in Central Europe, in the Carpathian Basin and along the lower Danube. From there, their warriors travelled as far as the North and Baltic Seas and as far as Spain and Southern Italy. Today's Central Germany was also the scene of conflict several times in the Early Medieval period. The steppe-nomadic Avars fought here against the Franks in 561/562 and 566/567. The Hungarians suffered one of their first defeats on the banks of the river Unstrut in 933.

But what do we know about these steppe nomadic cultures that are so foreign to us? To what extent did they shape their neighbours, how did they themselves change over time? In relation to the topics of migration, acculturation, identity formation and cultural transmission, this topic is currently of the utmost relevance. Until now, steppe peoples who arrived in Europe from Central Asia have always been considered special cases by scholars. However, the nomadic form of life and rule with its military elites was characteristic for large parts of our continent until the High Medieval period. Thus, the equestrian herders are also the fathers and mothers of Europe.

The exhibition is a collaborative project with the Schallaburg Kulturbetriebsges. mbH, St. Pölten (Austria).

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