The word Antes is considered by some linguists to be an Iranic name. They suggest that the Antes were one of the Sarmatio-Alanic tribes that inhabited the region between the Caucasus and Ukrainian steppes, perhaps between the Prut and lower Dneister rivers. As they moved north from the open steppe to the forest steppe, they encountered Slavic tribes. They organised Slavic tribes under their control and the name Antes came to be used for the mixed Slavo-Alanic body. Eventually they were completely absorbed by the Slavs, but the name was preserved. A comparative theory exists for other Slavic tribes, namely Serbs and Croats.
By the 4th century, the Antes had evolved into a powerful tribal unit. Jordannes described them as the “bravest of these people dwelling in the curve of the Sea of Pontus (Black Sea), spread from the Dniester to the Dnieper”. An Antean "King" called Boz is mentioned. The Antes were involved in conflicts with the Goths, who had migrated to the Ukrainian steppe from Scandinavia. Possibly subject to the Goths, they provided the Slavic elements found in the multi-ethnic Chernyakhov culture. The apogee of Antean power occurred in the 5th century. As the Goths were defeated by the Huns, and the Huns subsequently shifted to the Pannonian basin, the Antes filled the resulting power vacuum.
A sedentary settlement consisting of numerous villages came into being, with cattle breeding and agriculture being the primary occupation, living in typical semi-subterranean dwellings. They practiced bi-ritual flat burials. They were involved in trade on a local scales, but also at an 'international' level- reaching Roman and Byzantine markets. They established several hillforts, known as horodyshcha, where artisans produced pottery and metalwares. Remnants of their settlements have been found by archaeologists, who have attributed the Pen’Kovka culture to the Antes. Some scholars, such as Francis Dvornik, suggest that the Antean tribal league evolved into the first Slavic state; or even an empire stretching from to the Oder river in the west to the Donets in the east. On the western extent of the Antean territory, they mingled with the Romanized autochthons on the Danube and Prut basins (in southern and eastern Romania and northern Bulgaria), forming the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti culture characterized by a fusion of Slavic and Byzantine elements.
The first documented raid on Byzantine territory was in 518 AD. From then on, the Byzantines engaged the Antes as allies (foederati), paying them stipends and even giving them an abandoned imperial city called Turris somewhere north of the Ister (Danube). A detachment of Antean soldiers fought for the Byzantines in Italy against the Ostrogoths. Engaged in conflicts with Cutrigurs and other Sclavenes, their territory was then 'devastated' by Avar attacks in the 590s. They were last mentioned in 602 AD, after which the Antean union disapperas from history. It is likely that many Anteans were subjegated by the Avars and served as soldiers for the qagan, whilst others fled across the Danube into imperial Moesia. Both, indepedently and under Avar control, the people of the 'Antean nation' became dispersed throguhout much of central and southeastern Europe. Bulgarian scholar Zlatarski theorises that the Antes later re-appeared as the Severians, Teverians and Ulichians. Thus they are seen as the linguistic ancestors of the Bulgarians and Macedonians, as well as East Slavs.