- Young raiders and wolves
I used to believe that the "splötes" of the Fanes were just young warriors, members of a supposed "vulture sect". A different and more specific hypothesis is gaining ground, based on new archaeological findings excavated in Russia but the significance of which can be extended to several Indo-european societies.
An important step forward in the understanding of the social features of ancient European tribes, which might apply to the Fanes society as well, comes from an archaeological discovery performed in Russia, precisely in a site called Krasnosamarskoe, north of the Black Sea. Prof.David Anthony’s team, of the Hartwick University, unearthed a collective grave of the Bronze Age which contained, apart from human remains, over 30% of dog and wolf bones. A percentage as high as this had never been found in graveyards of that age, and from several hints it was concluded that the animals had been sacrificed ritually, and not for eating purposes.
The interpretation of these findings took place through a careful analysis of the traditions and legends not only local, but pertaining to the whole indo-european area. It seems that in ancient social groups, teen-agers spent a period outside of the civil society, when they were allowed or even stimulated to perform raids against the villages nearby (but not against their own!). In this situation, they were placed under the protection of an animal, generally the dog or the wolf, the skins of which they often wore.
When this period, usually four years long, had elapsed, the young men re-entered the civil society and behaved like normal grown-up people.
Caterina Azara, from Gallura (a region of Sardinia), who brought these news to my attention together with her husband, Giovanni Grosskopf, also signalled me that, in a few villages of her area, this tradition is substantially still alive today!
If we apply these results to what we are told about the Fanes society, we might suppose that the splötes were just groups of youngsters committed to raids, who put themselves under the protection of the vulture, instead of the wolf: this explanation of their behaviour, different from my former belief that they were generical young warriors, who were members of a more or less secret association who self-identified with the vulture, no doubt has several good points in its favour. Nothing like that, in the case of the Fanes, has obviously been proven yet. Anyway, it is plausible. We proceed in small steps.
Apart from this, this method of analysis, synergical between archaeology and paleo-anthropology, which has been used in this case maybe for the first time, sounds like a stimulus to go further with our studies.