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EDUCATION OF ROMANI | HISTORY


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From India
to Europe compiled by the editors

India | Moving West | The Way to Byzantium – the Lexicon as Map? | Dom, Luri, Roma: Cousins, but not
Siblings | Roma in the Byzantine Empire | The Athingani | Roma on Peloponnese

According to the findings of linguistics, cultural anthropology, science of history and, in more
recent years, population genetics, the Indian origin of Roma is considered a fact. How their ancestors
came from India to Europe, and when this migration took place, its reasons and who exactly these
people were is, however, open to assumptions. For want of direct evidence, the pre-European history
of the Roma is a matter of reconstruction.

BYZANTIUM: PELOPONNESE (13th CENT.); ASIA MINOR (10-11th CENT.?)


MIGRATION FROM INDIA TO EUROPE
ISTANBUL
BAKU Ill. 1
ANKARA ARMENIA? Areas and most likely dates of sojourn.
ASHABAD

TEHERAN
KABUL

DAMASCUS BAGHDAD
PERSIA?

CAIRO
DELHI
NORTHWEST INDIA (END OF 2 HALF OF THE 1 MILLENNIUM C.E.)
nd st

RIAD
CENTRAL INDIA (1 st HALF OF THE 1 st MILLENNIUM C.E.)
NAGPUR
MECCA

MUMBAI

INTRODUCTION rived in the Byzantine Empire, because Just like linguistics and genetics,
all groups of Roma existing today have cultural anthropology assumes that the
The Indian origin of Roma is uncontes- a common linguistic basis, which also Roma originally came from India. It re-
ted. By analysing Romani, the langua- includes parts of lexicon and grammar fers, among others, to socio-cultural insti-
ge of the Roma, and comparing it with taken from Greek. tutions like the traditional form of jurisdic-
other languages, it could be shown that Also according to more recent, tion, or to certain rules within the groups,
the Roma migrated from Central India preliminary findings of population ge- such as the commands of cleanness. Both,
to the Eastern parts of Northern India, netics, the ancestors of Roma were In- group-internal jurisdiction and the com-
and probably stayed there for some dian. These were supposedly part of a mands of cleanness, can also be found,
time. Then, they possibly moved via relatively small homogenous group, as like certain religious notions of some
Persia and Armenia to the Byzantine shown by analyses of blood groups. Dif- groups of Roma, on the Indian subcon-
Empire, to Asia Minor and later on to ferentiations within this group probably tinent. Direct socio-cultural connections
Greece. Linguistic findings point at a only occurred at the time of their arrival between the Roma and Indian groups,
fairly homogenous group which ar- and their early spread into Europe. however, have so far not been established.
India
Moving West
The Way to Byzantium – the Lexicon as Map?

SOME IMPORTANT LANGUAGES OF THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT

Central Indo-Aryan languages and some surrounding other Indo-Aryan, Iranian


and Dravida languages.
KASHMIRI

PA N J A B I

PA S H TO
RAJASTHANI
N E PA L I
BALOCHI SINDHI ASSAMESE

URDU
HINDI BENGALI

BIHARI
GUJARATI

MARATHI
ARABIA N S EA
ORIYA
Central Indo-Aryan Languages
TELUGU
Other Indo-Aryan Languages KANNADA
BAY OF BENGAL
Iranian Languages MALAYALAM
TAMIL
Ill. 2 Dravida Languages
SINHALESE
From a 16th-century Persian manuscript:
Shangul of India entertained by Bahram Gur. Ill. 3
(from Fraser 1992, p. 34)

Science of history has sources at and which have been equated with them us to form a picture of the nomadic popu-
its disposal which do not talk about the in the past. None of these assumptions lation in those regions in which the Roma
Roma, but about groups which are remi- could be proved; yet such documents travelled in all likelihood in the course of
niscent of the Roma in many respects, from Persia and the Arabian region allow their migration from India to Europe.

conclusions as to earlier origins. Roma- that the ancestors of Roma originally


INDIA ni, however, cannot be classified easily. lived in Central India. Already before
It has many features of the so-called the Common Era, they moved to Nor-
Central Indo-Aryan languages, like thwestern India, where they stayed for
Linguistic methods make it possible to Hindi-Urdu, Panjabi, Gujarati or the a longer period of time, before leaving
determine the spatial and temporal ori- Rajasthani group, but it also shares fea- this area and moving west. This theory,
gin of an Indo-Aryan language. Particu- tures with Northern Indo-Aryan langu- postulated in 1927 by the British spe-
larly changes within the sound system ages like Kashmiri. From this, and other cialist in oriental studies Ralph Turner,
of a language make it possible to draw considerations, it has been concluded is commonly accepted today. [Ills. 1, 3]

“Shahnameh” (The Book of Kings), Similar legends are told by other histo-
MOVING WEST written in 1011, the Persian poet Fer- riographers. [Ill. 2]
dowsi mentions a legend according During Bahram V’s reign there
to which the Indian King Shangul is actual evidence of the immigration of
The precise time when the Roma left gave his Persian colleague Bahram V various Northern Indian groups into the
India is unknown. Linguistic data can- (420-438) 10,000 so-called “Luri” as Persian area. Some researchers identi-
not provide precise dates, and there are a present, to entertain the latter’s peo- fied the “Luri” (called “Zott” or “Jatt”
no contemporary documents about the ple with music. Bahram gave the Luri in Arabian sources) with the Roma and
migration of Roma through the Middle crops to sow for their service; they ate consequently assumed that they had left
East. It is only later writers who refer the corn and asked for more. Conse- India already in the 5th century. Thus,
to events of those times, always from quently, the Shah sent the Luri out into also the lack of Arabian words in the
a distance of many centuries. In his the world on the back of their animals. Romani lexicon was explained: during

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ROMANI – A MODERN INDO-ARYAN LANGUAGE ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF THE ROMA –


MODERN LEGENDS
The original Indo-Aryan words in Romani have great mor-
phosyntactic potency, which means that it is possible to Quick research on the Internet shows the following: “Sin-
create, with a number of specific suffixes, out of one word a ti, Roma and kin groups” originally came from “the Indian
number of other words: area”, and were “abducted” by the Arabs in the 9 th and 10 th
centuries, and, in the 11 th century, taken “as prisoners” “by
ROMANI ENGLISH the Moslems” in their campaigns (namely “about 500,000
bar-o large, big; powerful; elder ‘Gypsies’”) or immigrated – “in smaller groups” – in the
bar-ipen size, distinction, pride 14/15 th century “via Northern Africa and the Balkans into
bar-ikanipen pretentiousness Europe”, where they had also been “brought as slaves”
bar-ikanarel pes to enlarge 200 years before that time, etc.
bar-arel to primp and preen, to overdress Rather than in the “facts” they pretend to describe,
bar-arel avri to raise children the value of theories or assumptions on the origin of Roma
bar-arel pes to brag often lies in the motives out of which they emerge. It has to
bar-uvel (barol) to grow be noted, however, that Roma themselves have no myths or
bar-eder officer (literally the “bigger” one) legends about the early origins of their people. Their tradi-
tion has been and to a large extent still today is preserved
orally, and most Roma consider the question of their early
Similar to these features, a significant part of Romani gram- origin, if anything, a political one in terms of the various
mar is Indo-Aryan; today’s Romani is considered a Modern emancipation processes that started only recently.
Indo-Aryan language. Ill. 5
Ill. 4

the 7th century, Persia came under Arabi- after the alleged event. The reliability on, remained Persian even under Arabi-
an reign, and Romani included Persian, of such sources can be judged by look- an reign. The Roma could just as well
but no Arabian words in its lexicon. As ing at the “legends” about the origin of have lived in Persia under Arabian reign
a result, it has been concluded that the Roma circulating today. If one was to without having adopted Arabian words.
Roma had left Persia before the Arabi- search these legends for historical facts, [Ill. 6]
an conquest. The legend about the Luri other than the fact that a long time ago a There is no doubt, however, that
could thus very well refer to the Roma, then unknown people came to Europe, it already in the 3rd to 5th century mobile
who left Persia already in the 5th century, would be in vain. [Ill. 5] groups with service professions came
and India even earlier on their westward Also the second argument, the from India to the West. The Roma were
journey. lack of Arabian words in Romani is not either among them – or they were not.
These conclusions, however, do conclusive. The Arabs constituted only As a consequence, most scientists today
not necessarily appear convincing. First- a very small ruling caste; the langua- assume it was over a long period of time
ly, there are several versions of the Luri ge spoken in the country, particularly – between the 3rd and 10th century – du-
legend, which differ in decisive issues, among the not-so-well educated and ring which the Roma left India, most
and which were recorded only 500 years the less influential part of the populati- likely between the 8th and 10th century.

course of individual groups’ migration to implicitly – correlate the relative num-


THE WAY TO BYZANTIUM Europe to become what it is today, and ber of borrowed words with the length of
– THE LEXICON AS MAP? thus developed differently within diffe- the stay of Roma in the various regions.
rent groups of Romani speakers. In con- Consequently, the large number of Greek
The Romani lexicon is divided into an trast, the native lexicon in a way shows words could point to a relatively long
older, pre-European lexicon, and a youn- the pre-European history of the Roma: stay in the Byzantine sphere of influence,
ger, European lexicon by linguists. The from India via Persia and Armenia into and the small number of Armenian words
pre-European lexicon comprises the In- Byzantine Asia Minor and finally Greek to the assumption that the Roma only pas-
do-Aryan, Persian, Armenian and Greek Byzantium. It might seem reasonable to sed through Armenia on their way to
words in Romani. It is more or less sha- derive the route of Roma through Europe Europe. The facts, however, could also
red by all Romani-speaking people. The in a similar way. [Ills. 1, 9] be interpreted differently.
European lexicon was formed only in the Scientists often – explicitly or The fact that Romani shows

3
Dom, Luri, Roma: Cousins, but not Siblings
Roma in the Byzantine Empire

JUTES THE EASTERN ROMAN (BYZANTINE) AND THE SASSANIDE EMPIRES, ABOUT 550.
BRITONS
SAXONS
Eastern Roman Empire by Justinian ’ s accession to throne 527: A
ANGELS
SLAVS Recapture by Justinian: B
Sassanide Empire: C
BULGARS
Vasalls of the Sassanide Empire: D
FRANKS LANGOBARDS

AVARS

B
HEPHTALITES
BASQUES
OSTROGOTHS
A D
SUEBES VISIGOTHS EASTERN ROMAN EMPIRE
SASSANIDE EMPIRE

B A C

VANDALS
LACHMIDES
B
A
D
Ill. 6

The linguist, Yaron Matras, argues in favour of a connection tions rather easily by allowing for repeated ventures by individual
between the Roma and castes of commercial nomads in India itself, groups seeking employment opportunities in special trades. […]
the “Ḍom”: What makes the Dom hypothesis attractive however is pre-
cisely the fact that it can explain similarities in social organisati-
“The Dom hypothesis allows us to attribute the socio-ethnic pro- on and ethnic identity while allowing for linguistic diversity: Cas-
files shared by groups like the řom, lom, dom, luti, or kurbati with te origin need not at all overlap with geographical or linguistic
the ḍom of India to ancient traditions, rather than view them as origin, beyond the mere fact that all groups concerned come from
coincidal similarities or as features acquired by the respective India and speak Indo-Aryan languages. Thus the ancestors of the
groups separately in different places and at different times. It can Rom, Dom, Lom and others may well have been a geographically
also account for ethnonyms that are derived from caste names, dispersed and linguistically diverse population, sharing a socio-
some of them shared (řom, dom, lom), and for shared terms for ethnic identity.”
outsiders, and it can furthermore accommodate westward migra- Ill. 7 (from Matras 2002, p. 16)

more loan words from Persian than me that apart from the length of stay it and are thus not a representation of
from Armenian does not necessarily is mainly the means of contact between their migration. Recently the linguist,
mean that the Roma lived longer in different population groups which de- Yaron Matras, has pointed to Southern
Persia than in Armenia. Perhaps their termine their linguistic relationship. It Anatolia in this respect: In the Anti-
contact with the majority population could even be possible that the non-In- och area the Roma could have come
was – for instance because of economic do-Aryan parts in the Romani inherited into contact with speakers of all langu-
reasons – more intense in Persia than in lexicon reflect various influences the ages which influenced Romani in Asia.
Armenia. Actually, linguists today assu- Roma underwent in one single region,

jobs in the service sector, mainly in metal use a variety of Rajasthani, the Inku and
DOM, LURI, ROMA: COUSINS, processing and entertainment. They are Jat in Afghanistan use a Central Indo-Ary-
BUT NOT SIBLINGS excluded from the majority population and an language, just like the Doma from the
their contact with the latter is typically re- Hunza-valley in Northern Pakistan.
A whole lot of population groups with stricted to economic relations only. Some Other population groups, from the
close contact to India lived – and still live of these groups (still) speak Indo-Aryan Caucasus to Sudan, know secret langu-
– in the Middle East – today’s Eastern Tur- languages: the Dom, Karači or Kurbati of ages whose lexicon is completely or par-
key, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan. They all tend, the Middle East (Syria, Palestine, Jorda- tially of Indo-Aryan origin; among them
like some of today’s and probably most of nia, in the past also Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan) the Karači and Luti in Iran, the Nawar
earlier Roma, to itinerant professions and speak Domari, the Parya in Tadzhikistan from Egypt, the Bahlawan in Sudan and

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LEGACY OF SOJOURN OF ROMA IN BYZANTIUM LAYERS OF THE PRE-EUROPEAN


IN THE ROMANI LANGUAGE LEXICON OF ROMANI

The sojourn of Roma in Byzantium was reflected in the Romani language. All di- INDO-ARYAN
alects spoken by the various groups of Roma in the world contain a great number jekh, duj, trin one, two, three
of words taken from Greek. daj, dej mother
bokh, bok hunger
EXAMPLES OF WORDS OF GREEK ORIGIN thud milk
vast, vas, va hand
ROMANI amoni, amoji, lamoni, amuni ENGLISH anvil
IRANIAN
drom, drumo road
foros, foro town, city ambrol, brol pear
karfin, krafin, karfi, krafni nail baxt, bax, bast luck
angalin, angali, jangali, gani embrace phurt bridge
cipa, cipo, cepa skin angušto, anguš finger
xolin, xoli, xoj, holi anger, grief, passion
ARMENIAN
kurko, kurke sunday
sviri, sivri, svirind, sfiri hammer dudum pumpkin
skamin, skami, štamin chair, bench čekat, čikat front
grast, gra, graj horse

GREEK
In the Byzantine Empire, Roma came in contact with other ethnic groups, too. efta, oxto, enja seven, eight, nine
Words from other languages – especially Armenian – penetrated Romani on By- papin, papni goose, duck
zantine soil. The Armenian minority in Byzantium was quite substantial. Specialists ora hour
reflect, for example, on how the Alani word “verdan” (car) came into the Roma- zumi soup
ni language. Alania (today’s Ossetia) was a rather small kingdom in the Northern
Caucassus. Roma probably never got there during their stay in the Middle East.
The Alani, like members of other ethnic groups, were hired into Byzantine armies
and their word “verdan” could have easily become a Romani word either directly Ill. 9
or through another of the other languages spoken in Byzantium. Words from the pre-European lexicon
Ill. 8 common to all Romani varieties.

the Boša or Lom in Armenia, whose lan- belong to their group: Romani “gadžo” points to different source languages, and
guage is called Lomavren. (“non-Rom”), Domari “kažža”, Loma- certainly to different periods of migrati-
Also in India itself, there are vren “kača”; in India Ḍom “kājwā”, Kan- on for Rom, Dom and Lom. Whichever
groups of nomads in various regions jari “kājarō”, Sasi “kajjā”, Nati “kājā”. argument is thought right, it remains a
which are specialised in certain services, This word additionally has – e.g. in Ro- fact that there are population groups in
such as smiths, basket weavers, knackers, mani – the meaning “settled” or “farmer”, the Middle East whose social and ethnic
musicians and dancers. Within the caste which shows that they identified them- roots probably lie in a specific Indian ca-
system, these nomads are called “Dom”. selves as non-settled groups early on. ste: the “Ḍom”. A caste is defined neit-
This term is related to the autonym of the The striking similarities of these her in a linguistic nor in a closer ethnic
“Dom” in the Middle East, the “Ḍoma” in different Indian or former Indian popu- sense; even if in this caste, the Roma and
Pakistan, the “Lom” in Armenia – and the lation groups in social and linguistic re- all other ethnic groups mentioned above
Roma (“Řom”, “Rom”) in Europe. Many gards made some researchers assume a belonged together at some point in time
of these nomads, living this life because common source for all or most of these (which would be quite possible), this does
of economic reasons, in and out of India groups. In fact, notwithstanding all lin- not necessarily presuppose a common ge-
have similar names for people who do not guistic similarities, recent research rather netic or linguistic-genetic origin. [Ill. 7]

Apart from Indian, the biggest part of the mani adopted completely new and very
ROMA IN THE BYZANTINE
lexicon common to all Romani varieties characteristic parts of its grammar from
EMPIRE
derives from Greek. Even more so: Ro- Greek. [Ills. 8, 9]

5
The Athingani
Roma on Peloponnese

TAX COLLECTION

The following correspondence is of importance to the history of royed, and open it so that he grant me the favour of forgiveness
the Roma in Byzantium for two reasons. In the first place, it is the and take away my anxiety, so that I do not again fall into danger
first clear proof of the presence of Roma in the Byzantine Empire when I have already gone through so much which is beyond the
because both texts use the Greek name of this contemporary limits of justice (…)’”
ethnic group. Secondly, it is the oldest mention of the taxation of
the “Egyptani and Athingani”, which by then must have already The patriarch asked the Megas Logothetes to grant a hearing to
become common practice; thus, Roma had already been included the supplicant and help him. The Megas Logothetes answered the
in Byzantine society by that time, the late 13 th century. patriarch (letter 118, published in Eustratiades):
A letter from the Patriarch Gregory II Cyprus of Constan-
tinople (1283-1289) to the Megas Logothetes Theodor Muzalon, “(…) With respect to this request to his most merciful emperor
a high imperial official (letter 117, published in Eustratiades), concerning the tax collector who has suffered an injustice: If an
concerning his mediation in a request made by a particular Mo- injustice is perpetrated against a tax collector and he is robbed of
nembasan: what he has previously collected, the one who keeps most of what
the tax man collected is not always perpetrating an injustice, and
“(…) A certain Monembasan, who is getting ready to collect taxes it is better if someone sometimes wrongs him so that he himself
from the so-called Egyptani and Athingani, strongly entreated me, cannot perpetrate an injustice (…)”.
saying, ‘Put in a word for me somehow, my lord, and ask, and Ill. 10
quickly move the imperial heart for me who am completely dest-

The pilgrim Arnold von Harf recorded in 1497: It was very strange to see an anvil right on the floor. A blacks-
mith sat at it in the same way that tailors sit at work in our country.
“We headed for the outskirts. Many poor, black, naked people live there. Near him, also on the ground, sat his wife, and she spun so that there
Their dwellings are small homes with roofs covered with reeds; alto- would be fire between them. Two pairs of leather bellows half buried
gether about hundred families live in them. They are called Gypsies in the ground by the fire lay next to them. From time to time, the spin-
[“Sujginer”], known in our country as pagans from Egypt [“Heiden”] ning woman picked up one pair of bellows from the ground and wor-
travelling through our lands. They work at many trades such as, for ked them. Thus a stream of air moved along the ground to the fire and
example, shoemaking, cobbling and smithery. the blacksmith was able to work.

It is assumed that the Roma over Asia Minor to Greece in the West. ments from Byzantium. The first clear
spent a longer period of time in the But up to the 13th century, when we proof of Roma in Byzantium dates from
Byzantine Empire. In the 10th century, can assume the presence of Roma on the 1280s and appears in a letter com-
the Byzantine Empire stretched from the Peloponnese with a high degree of menting on tax collection from “Egyp-
Armenia and the Caucasus in the East probability, we also lack explicit docu- tani.” [Ill. 10]

exonym for Roma: according to some re- be found in the commands of cleanness,
THE ATHINGANI searchers, the exonyms for Roma in Sla- as they are common in India and which
vic languages (Czech “Cikán”, Slovakian are respected in some Romani groups;
“Cigán”, etc.) and German “Zigeuner” or thus the Athingani, like some Roma-
Similarly, there were population groups Italian “Zingaro” derive from “Athinga- ni groups today, distanced themselves
in the Byzantine Empire which were ni”; the term “Aiguptos” is assumed to be from the rest of the population in certa-
equated with Roma by scientists. In the at the basis of English “Gypsy”, Spanish in respects or, at least, were found to be
first place, these were the Athinganoi or “Gitano” or French “Gitan”. different. But these conclusions are not
Athingani, the Aigupti, and the Mando- The Greek word “Athingani” generally accepted. For example, Yaron
polini, Katsibeli and Lori. Similarly to means “people who do not want others Matras has derived “Cigán” etc. from
the groups in the Middle East, social par- to touch them, who do not want to be the old-Turkish term “cighan” (poor)
allels to the Roma were drawn based on touched, who are untouchable”. The late and rightly points out the scanty state
the Indian caste system. The term “Athin- Prague indologist and Romani specialist, of sources which would corroborate the
gani” and “Aiguptos” later developed, as Milena Hübschmannová, suggested, that “Athingani”-hypotheses. In fact, we do
is often assumed, into the commonly used the origin of the name “Athingani” might not know, who the Athingani really were.

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Ill. 11
The Utrecht painter Erhard Reuwich accompanied Bernhard von Breydenbach on his pilgrimage to Palestine in 1483-4. He sketched
several cities, among them Methoni, and had woodcuts of his sketches printed for the first time in 1486.
(1486, Modoni, by Erhard Reuwich, woodcut; from the book by Bernhard von Breydenbach (1486) Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctam; digitalised by the Hebrew University
of Jerusalem and The Jewish National and University Library)

These people came from a land called Gyppe, lying about Christian faith. However, not one of the princes who were addressed
forty miles from Methoni. The Turkish ruler occupied it sixty years helped. And so they died in poverty, leaving Papal letters to their
ago, but many noblemen and lords refused to submit to his will and domestic staff and descendants who still wander around the coun-
escaped to our country, to Rome, to the Holy Father, looking to him try, calling themselves Little Egyptians. Naturally, this is not true,
for safety and support. Upon their request he dispatched letters to for their parents were born in the region of Gyppe, called Tzingania,
the Roman emperor and all the princes of the empire with a recom- which lies not even halfway on the road from Cologne on the Rhine
mendation that they guarantee the safety of movement and support to Egypt.”
of these people because they were expelled from their land for their Ill. 12 (from Gilsenbach 1994, p. 114)

Around 800, the Athingani vated texts warn about the Athingani’s wardly to make assumptions about the
were mentioned in religious texts for fortune telling. In the 13th century, the people they describe. In the Athingani’s
the first time. They speak of people who Athingani were for the first time equa- case it seems at least plausible that the
tell fortunes, hold ceremonies and try to ted with the so-called “Egyptani” in a term referred to Roma – and perhaps
influence others with their “reprehen- correspondence about tax matters in the other groups as well. If we accept this,
sible” – that is unchristian – teachings. town of Monemvasia (former Malva- then the Roma could have lived in the
One source from Mount Athos, dated sia) in the Peloponnese; this term is still Byzantine Empire as early as the 8th or
back to 1068, mentions the “Adsincani” used in Greece as an exonym for Roma. 10th century. The only thing we know
(the Georgian version of the name) as [Ill. 10] for sure, however, is that from the 13th
“magicians and charlatans”; in the 12th Exonyms, that is terms used century on Roma lived on the western
and early 14th century, religiously moti- by others, cannot be used straightfor- coast of today’s Greek Peloponnese.

was half-way between Venice and Jaf- denbach, the Dean of the cathedral in
ROMA ON PELOPONNESE fa, and was an anchorage appreciated Mainz, on the return journey from a
by travellers because of its safe natural pilgrimage to Palestine wrote that the-
harbour. [Ill. 11] re were 300 huts around the city, where
We owe many indications to Italian In 1381, the Venetian Leonar- “Egyptians, black and ugly” lived. He
and German travellers, who stopped do di Niccolo Frescobaldi wrote that added that the “Saracens” in Germany,
off in the city of Methoni on Pelopon- he had seen a number of “Romnites” who allegedly claimed that they were
nese during their pilgrimage to the outside of the Methoni city walls. A from Egypt originally in fact came from
Holy Land Palestine. Methoni (Modon) hundred years later Bernhard von Brey- “Gyppe” near Methoni and that they

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SOJOURN OF MAZARIS IN HADES

In a work drafted as a fictional letter of August 21, 1415, and loponnesians, Slavs, Illyrians, Egyptians and Jews (and among
addressed to Holobol from the Underworld, Mazaris describes them there are quite a few people of mixed blood), of all the
the existing conditions on the peninsula: seven main (nations).”

“On Peloponnesus, as you very well know yourself, oh, my On the basis of Mazaris’ mentioning that “Roma” were one
friend, there live a miscellany of numerous nations; it is not of the main Peloponnesian nations at that time and that they
simple or too necessary to trace the borders between them, but spoke their own language in public, we may suppose that
every ear can easily distinguish them through their languages. they were numerous on the peninsula.
Here are the most important ones: Lakedaimons, Italians, Pe- Ill. 13

were spies and traitors (“Saracens” The traveller Arnold von Harf querors. However, evidence about the
was a European umbrella term for also reports in his notes, in 1497, about Roma of that time does not only come
Turks and Arabs). In 1491 a Dietrich the Methoni “Sujginer” (“Gypsies”). from pilgrims. There are also allusi-
von Schachten reports that there were According to von Harf, these people ons in 13th century poems of Byzanti-
many poor huts outside of Methoni’s called themselves “Little Egyptians”; ne folklore which most probably refer
city walls, on a hill, the home of “Zi- however, they had not come from to Roma. One of those works mentions
geuner” (“Gypsies”), as these people Egypt, but from a region near “Gyp- the “Egyptians” on Peloponnese in
were called in Germany; according to pe”, called “Tzingania”, about 40 miles such a natural way that we can assume
von Schachten, many of them were from Methoni. Allegedly, they had fled that these people were well-known in
smiths with great skill. in 1440 because of the Turkish con- the Byzantine Empire. [Ills. 12, 13]

CONCLUSION hypotheses. The scant facts allows century, and also that they did so in
ample space for the predilections, the 3rd. None of these assumptions are
Ever since the first appearance of Roma motives and goals of those who deal “true”; at best more or less conclusive.
in Europe, the question of their origin with these questions. For instance, the And even if the scientific reconstruc-
has been asked repeatedly. It has led Indian ancestors of Roma were war- tion of the pre-European history of
to hair-raising answers. Modern scien- riors or scholars, Brahmans or Pariahs Roma did not yield many irrefutable
tists are by no means in agreement. in the more recent history of science; results, it created scientific discussi-
But the fact that up to this day there one could read that “the Roma” did ons about the conclusiveness of the
are no unambiguous sources about not exist at all, that they were solely a possible hypotheses. Linguistics and
pre-European history of the Roma, construction by non-Roma; it has been cultural anthropology played the main
still encourages new assumptions and said that they left India in the late 12th part in that development.

Bibliography

Fraser, Angus (1992) The Gypsies. Oxford / Cambridge: Blackwell | Gilsenbach, Reimar (1994) Weltchronik der Zigeuner, Teil 1.
Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang | Hübschmannová, Milena (1972) What can Sociology suggest about the Origin of Roms. In: Archiv
orientální 40/1, pp. 51-64 | Kenrick, Donald (2004) Gypsies: from the Ganges to the Thames. Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire
Press | Kenrick, Donald / Taylor, Gillian (1998) Historical Dictionary of the Gypsies (Romanies). Lanham: The Scarecrow Press |
Matras, Yaron (2002) Romani. A Linguistic Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

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