A few years back, I bought the book ‘Europe: A History‘ by Norman Davies. I didn’t actually buy it for myself, rather, I bought it for my little brother for his birthday, but I liked it so much that I took it back and just showered him with lots of love and affection instead.
Since I’ve actually been living in Europe, I’ve pulled out the book from time to time to have a read. The perspective I get about Europe, living in the Eastern part of the continent, has helped me appreciate and understand the book better too.
My most recent foolish quest is to read the book from cover to cover (1300+ BIG pages). Already, I’ve skipped the Introduction, but hey, that doesn’t really count. But imagine my surprise when I saw, on page 53 in the ‘Environment and Prehistory’ chapter, an entire page and a half break-out box about ‘Ukraina’.
I’ve decided to reproduce some parts of it, as it’s really interesting and shows that Ukraine has been a historically important country for centuries. So here you go…
“Ukraine is the land through which the greatest number of European people approached their eventual homeland. In ancient times it was variously known as Scythia or Sarmatia, after the peoples who dominated the Pontic steppes long beofre the arrival of the Slavs. It occupies the largest sector of the southern European plain, between the Volga crossing and the Carpathian narrows; and it carries the principal overland pathway between Asia and Europe. Its modern, Slavonic name means ‘On the Edge’, a close counterpart to the American concept of ‘the Frontier’. Its focal point at the rapids of the Dniepr, where the steppe pathway crosses the river trade-route, was fiercely contested by all comers, for it provided the point of transition between the settled lands of the West and the open steppes to the East. Ukraine is rich in mineral resources – such as coal of the the ‘Donbass’ and the iron of Krivoi Roh. The loess of its famous ‘black earth’ underlies Europe’s richest agricultural lands, which in the years prior to 1914 were to become the Continent’s leading exporter of grain.”