National Geographic : 1985 Mar
WHEl THE BUS INiDED RUSS11... Yikilg Trail East By ROBERT PAUL JORDAN SENIOR ASSISTANT EDITOR Photographs by JIM BRANDENBURG Paintings by MICHAEL A. HAMPSHIRE 278 YIKING ROOTS struck deep into Russian soil when Scandinavian warriors and traders, known as the Rus, created the land's first organized state - and gave their name to a future empire. The legendary Rurik of the Rus became Princeof Novgorod in A.D. 862. A thousand years later his bronze figure (right) adorns a huge monument in the kremlin square of that city. By the 11th century a Rus state centered at Kiev stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Modern Soviet scholars, in a debate heavily tinged with nationalism, are negative about the role of the Vikings, known as Varangians, in the formation of the Slav state. They maintain that a confederation of Slav tribes existed three centuries before the Vikings arrived. But Western historians find that the first rulers of a state in what is now Russia, Belorussia, and the Ukraine were not Slavs but Scandinavians. At first the realm was pagan, and its tenth-century transition to Orthodox Christianity is foreshadowed by a cross found among runic graffiti on bones discovered near Minsk (left). To bring you this epic tale (page 290) of the Vikings who "went the other way," Robert PaulJordan and Jim Brandenburg retraced their path from Sweden eastward and south down great rivers like the Dnieper that once drew Viking ships toward Constantinople.