LEGACY OF LIES – Communism, Nationalism and Pseudoarchaeology in Romania and Bulgaria



While communist regimes on the Balkans may have fallen almost three decades ago, the legacy of political manipulation during that dark period in European history continues to undermine and distort archaeological research in the region


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12 thoughts on “LEGACY OF LIES – Communism, Nationalism and Pseudoarchaeology in Romania and Bulgaria

  1. I hope there is more depth to Brendan MacGonagle’s work than what I see in that article.
    It’s ridiculous to put poor Burebista on trial (without proof) for something that happened more than 2000 years ago or even start a quarrel about who was good and who was bad in those forgotten wars – the dacians or the celts.
    It is unclear from that article what communism has to do with 2000 years old celts and dacians. Judging by the citacions I’m afraid Brendan MacGonagle might have allowed himself to be influenced by the slimy morality and shaky academic standards of post-communist Romanian intellectual elite – the “young historians” previously sidelined by the communist regime.
    One of the historians cited by MacGonagle is Lucian Boia. I read one of his books (“Why is Romania different?”). An entire book on history with no bibliography whatsoever. No bibliographical references, not even one in the entire book, not even when Boia is telling us what Moldavian boyars were thinking in the year 1600. Quickly written and published in the wake of the so-called parliamentary “coup” we had in Romania in 2012, a good time to sell such a controversial book – controversy sells and I’m sure Boia knows it.
    The way B. MacGonagle is illustrating his ideas is significant to how wrong he is: the face of Decebal, featured on the first page of his article, was carved in rock in 1994-2004 and payed for by Iosif Constantin Dragan, so it has nothing to do with communism or Ceauşescu.
    The idea that the communist regime was using ancient history to legitimize its own rule is ridiculous. I mean, in what way could Burebista or Decebal legitimize communism?
    Why would communists or any Romanians for that matter need a “Dacian myth”?
    Why would they need to hide or sideline archaeological, linguistic and numismatic material pertaining to the Celtic culture? I mean, what would be wrong with us having celtic roots and why would we want to hide such a fact, if we thought it to be true?
    Also, if the Dacians wiped out the Celts in these parts, why would we want to hide it? I mean it’s not as if Wales was asking for reparation.
    You should know that what MacGonagle called “the Dacian myth” (which is no myth) started with the first Romanian historians and chroniclers which were writing about Dacians and Romans in late 17th and early 18th century. Nothing to do with communism or even the 19th century Romantic movement.
    Perhaps Brendan MacGonagle should have read Miron Costin, Ion Neculce or Dimitrie Cantemir rather than Boia.
    Also, you should know that “Dacomania” is derided by almost everybody in Romania, particularly by historians. But today “Dacomania” has nothing to do with Romanian official history in communism: it denies completely the Roman origin or Romanians and it states that in fact the Dacians were the ancestors of Romans and Latin originated from Romanian, not the other way around. Nothing but groundless delusions, but this is not what MacGonagle wrote about.

    What the young historians “sidelined by the communist regime” such as Boia are questioning is not the legitimacy of the communist regime but of Romania.
    They are suggesting that the communist regime was using (or even needed) antiquity to emphasize the idea of national unity and continuity, because that way they are able to compromise both the history of Romania and especially the legitimacy of the national unity of Romania.
    Some historians fashionable in Romania today are working to persuade Romanians that their unity and continuity (so their national identity) are lies/myths of the communist regime. That is why they are making this absurd link between Dacians and communism.
    They would be laughable if they mentioned that these ideas can be found in the chronicles of Grigore Ureche, Miron Costin, Ion Neculce or in the works of Dimitrie Cantemir, long before communism or even the 19th century romantics.
    Unfortunately, like MacGonagle, Romanians would rather read and believe fancy intellectuals (more or less historians) lacking in academic integrity than their own chronicles.

    1. I personally found this article very interesting, and it was sort of clear to me that when author is talking about Communism he is referring to the so called communist states/countries that tried to find a national legitimacy and root and use it when needed (remember the use of patriotism in Russia in World War 2 era).
      In any case, I’m not familiar with the Romanian / Bulgarian history so can’t comment on this.
      The final point I would mention is about your comment on one of Locian Boia writings to discredit this author. I only had access to another book of Boia that was complete and with no errors you mentioned, titled as: “History and Myth in Romanian Consciousness” – 2001

      1. If you’re not familiar with Romanian/Bulgarian history, I don’t understand what your assessement of the article is based on. Also, if you only read Boia you will continue to not be familiar with Romanian history, because what he is writing is not Romanian history. He is rewriting history the multiculti, politically correct way. The main victim of his view of history is the truth.

      2. BlogR Ikonoklast:
        I liked this article because generally speaking it’s referring to a problem in the academic institutes that I’ve seen it already happening on my own home country and it doesn’t need to have a so called Communist government to do this, left or right they all do this if necessary!
        I said I can’t comment on the Romanian/Bulgarian issue raised here on this article as I’m not familiar with this history.
        and my reference to Bioa was just to say that I haven’t seen the problem with his other few books that you mentioned in your writing to discredit this article. I’m simply referring to your method and not saying he is right or wrong.
        Honestly, I thought the article was a good one even if it was not polished as it should have been. And from reading your reply to this article I sensed sort of justification of the long gone so called communist states.

  2. @fardin67
    “And from reading your reply to this article I sensed sort of justification of the long gone so called communist states.”
    This phrase of yours is exactly what I’m talking about: the misinformation that Eastern European nations are “long gone so called communist states”, like USSR or Yugoslavia.
    Neither Romania, nor Bulgaria is long gone. Communism – real or “so called” – was just a regime, a period in their recent history. Most of Romanian history was not written by communists. Boia and others are only attributing the basic tenets of Romanian history to communism to discredit them. In fact, they are much older than the communist regime.
    The fact that Romanian historians aren’t talking about celts very much shouldn’t bother you so much. I had to find out in English from foreign authors that there was such a thing as the second conquest of Dacia by Constantine the Great – such an important event in the early history of Romanians.
    The celts were not important enough to mind them very much. Everybody was here, besides Dacians and Romans – the Celts, the Sarmatians, the Scythians, the Goths, the Avars, the Huns, the Cumans, the Pechenegs, the Slavic people, the Tatars and probably others I can’t remember now.
    Why should the celts be so special?

    1. How can we know how how “special” the Celts were when their legacy is manipulated and assigned to other cultures to suit modern political fantasies? What has happened in Romania is disgusting, and none are so blind as those who refuse to see…

    2. Correction: Yugoslavia may be long gone but it was created after WWI not as a communist state. It only became communist in the aftermath of WWII.

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