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Thread: Origins of Germanic Tribes & Scandinavia

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    In terms of ethnic origins, The Germanic peoples did not originate in Scandinavia as many believe...rather they expanded into southern Scandinavia from the North German plain.

    The Proto-Germanic language is believed to have developed within Southern Scandinavia and Northern Germany.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sjoerd View Post
    The Germanic peoples did not originate in Scandinavia as many believe...rather they expanded into southern Scandinavia from the North German plain.

    ...and they still came from elsewhere before that.
    I'll quote Þoreiðar here:

    Quote Originally Posted by Þoreiðar View Post


    The expansion of the Germanic tribes 750 BC – 1 AD: New settlements until 1AD
    Please don't confuse the terms "nordid" and "nordic".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Granraude View Post
    I'll quote Þoreiðar here:
    Yes, that image shows the migrations and expansions of Germanic peoples in the late Nordic bronze age and into the Iron age, but 750BC is hardly the beginning. Long before that around 1900 BC to 1800 BC was the 'Corded Ware Culture.' (also known as Battle-axe culture. It is believed that the Germanic peoples came out of this archaeological horizon that begins in the late Neolithic period.

    There were tribes living in Scandinavia as far back as the Upper Paleolithic period such as the Ahrensburg culture

    .....but it is unknown what language these early Scandinavians spoke, but towards the end of the 3rd millennium BC, they were overrun by new tribes from the south who many scholars think spoke 'Proto-Indo-European', the 'Battle-Axe culture.' This new people advanced up to Uppland and the Oslofjord, and they probably provided the language that was the ancestor of the modern Scandinavian languages. They were cattle herders, and with them most of southern Scandinavia entered the Neolithic.

    Germanic tribes still have been in Scandinavia for thousands of years, but I don't believe that Scandinavia is their origin. Rather just south of it on the Northern lowlands of present-day Germany.

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    The hypothetical "Proto-Germanic" language was spoken roughly from 500BC to 500AD.

    Remember that the term Germanic is ethnic AND linguistic.

    Quote from the University of Tromsø.

    From the middle of the 1st millennium BC, there is evidence of Germanic populations in southern Scandinavia and northern Germany. Their migrations from the 2nd century BC onwards are recorded in history. The linguistic and archaeological data seem to indicate that the last linguistic changes affecting all of the Germanic languages took place in an area which has been located approximately in Southern Sweden, Southern Norway, Denmark, and the lower Elbe.
    Please don't confuse the terms "nordid" and "nordic".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Granraude View Post
    The hypothetical "Proto-Germanic" language was spoken roughly from 500BC to 500AD.

    Remember that the term Germanic is ethnic AND linguistic.

    Quote from the University of Tromsø.
    Yes that is true.


    500 BC

    This region was the range of Iron-Age cultures undoubtedly speaking Proto-Germanic or associated with it. The Germanic language definitely appears to have sprung from this area. The 'Indo-European' language entered into Scandinavia and at some point in time changed and shifted into 'Proto-Germanic' from which all our modern Germanic languages originate from.

    I guess in my previous posts, I was talking more about the origins of the Germanic peoples rather then the language.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hersir View Post
    I haven't heard about Roman or Greek traders here, but we have found many Roman drinking vessel in Scandinavian graves. This shows that the chieftains had allied themself with Rome.
    That is not something you could conclude from that. It could just as well mean that they acquired such an item trough trade, or other means.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GroeneWolf View Post
    That is not something you could conclude from that. It could just as well mean that they acquired such an item trough trade, or other means.
    It's not something I am pulling out of thin air:

    "Lynn F. Pitts wrote: ”…At all periods Rome needed to have some kind of relationship, friendly or otherwise, with her neighbours…”. It's thus very likely that a lot of the Roman objects found in Scandinavia arrived via trade and trade networks.

    This trade may have been carried out via already existing trade networks, from the Mediterranean, via Germanic Chieftains to Scandinavia. These trade networks may have been established prior to the Roman Empire and suggest a complex and advanced social structure and organisation among the Germanic tribes and societies. Scandinavian amber has been found at Mycene, in Greece"



    "The Romans probably influenced Germanic military tactics and organisation as well. As can be told from the huge Illerup Ådal excavation in Denmark, in which huge amounts of Roman and Roman inspired arms and equipment were found. A lot of these were probably produced in Scandinavia, and a lot had Scandinavia "factory seals", after a Roman model."

    "It has been suggested that the Romans supported and equipped Germanic tribes in the part of Germania which is today's Denmark. Archaeological sources tell of Roman equipment and arms that have been discovered as far north as Scandinavia. Danish archaeologists: Lars Jørgensen, Birger Storgaard and Ulla Lund Hansen have suggested Germano-Roman alliances, in which Romans supported a Germanic power in today's Denmark. According to Jørgensen, this was either to destabilize Scandinavia, or to create a Roman friendly power which could help ensure peace and stability in the border areas" (Jørgensen 2001: 13)


    "Roman artifacts are especially common in finds from the 1st century in Jutland. It seems clear that some part of the Danish warrior-aristocracy served in the Roman army"
    (Birger Storgaard, Cosmopolitan aristocrats, pp. 106-125 in: The Spoils of Victory - The North in the shadow of the Roman Empire, Nationalmuseet, 2003. ISBN 87-7602-006-1.)


    "Ulla Lund Hansen and Birger Storgaard have also suggested that Roman interests in Scandinavia were strong, and that there was direct contact."


    1800 years ago a Scandinavian prince was buried with lots of luxury items which showed close ties to the Roman empire.
    He was not the only one with such contacts. Both in the second and third century many Germanic princes made alliances with the Romans, the deals was sealed with ritual drinking and great gifts. (Often very fine drinking vessels in fine metal or glass).

    The man buried in the grave at Ishøj was a powerful man when he lived one time in the third century AD. The items he was buried with equipped him for all that was necessary to hold feasts, the persons who buried him thus ensured he could remain a high standard of living and make himself respected by holding great feasts.

    Princes were not buried with weapons in earlier times, but that had changed. Power was connected to diplomatic and political alliances, not only his personal strength as a warrior. This was a power shown by beautiful, imported items which were symbols of contact with (among other) the Roman empire.
    The prince was about 185 cm tall, so he was pretty tall.

    In the second half of the second century AD, one of the princes in eastern Sjælland a step in the direction to gather all the power in Denmark.
    Maybe he had participated in battles by Donau as a allied of Rome. He made a deal with the Roman which started an alliance which would last almost 150 years. He didn't only work together with the Romans, but also the princes of Jylland. This secured him safe passage from the Rhine to Sjælland, and he also established contacts in eastern Europe.

    When this person died he was buried at Himlingeøje on Sjællland in a huge burial mound. He was buried with many Roman items which showed his status.
    The deal he made with Roma gave his family the control of the import of Roman luxury items to the north.

    In Tuna in Västmansland in the middle of Sweden there was in 1952-1953 excavated a large burial area with graves from the early Roman iron age (200-400 AD), and all the way up to end of the viking age in the 11th century.
    The largest and most particular grave fromt he second half of the third century AD was called grave X. This grave was extremely rich and the archeologists found a total of 338 grams of gold, the largest grave gold find in Sweden.
    Some of the other items were of Roman origin and pointed at contact with Skælland. There was no trace of bodies, but the items showed it might have been a woman which could have come from the dynasty at Sjælland and was married to a Swedish prince as part of an alliance.

    The Scandinavian network did of course also include Norway. In Karmøy in Rogaland we have Avaldsnes which was the seat of a powerful prince who was buried with more gold than any other in north Europe. One of the golden arm rings found in the grave weighs 590 grams.

    There was also fittings for a drinking horn and Roman game pieces made of glass, the same type found at Ishøj.
    From Avaldsnes the lord controlled the waters ont he western and southern coasts. Most likely he knew about the power seat of Sjælland and had contact there.

    The nordic princes had contact with the Roman empire via Köln, which was the capital of the lower Germania province and here most of the items found in Scandinavia were produced.
    There is also glass made in Köln, which are only known from Köln and Sjælland, this shows there was a direct contact with lords of Sjælland and the Romans.

    Why was alliances with Scandinavian germanics of the interest of the Romans? Earlier it was believed that the Romans made a buffer sone of allied tribes on the northern border of the empire.

    The Romans were almost always in constant war with these tribes, and therefore it was more logical to seek allies on the other side of the troublesome neighbours, for example in Scandinavia.

    Scandinavian tribes were paid by the Romans to keep the Roman neighbours occupied in the northern regions, that way the Romans didn't have to concentrate on too many fronts.

    During the 4th century AD changes came to the Roman empires western provinces and the Scandinavians now looked to the south east to find allies.

    The old contacts along the Rhine was not as important as before and after 150 years it was the end for the powerseat in Sjælland and the Roman iron age in Scandinavia.
    At Kroppedal museum, archeologists and conservators are still busy with the find from Ishøj.

    In a lords grave from the 1th centruy AD on the Danish island Lolland there was in 1920 found the most complete Roman drinking set from Scandinavia.
    The set was complete with all you needed to hold a drinking feast. The correct gift to a nordic lord from a Roman envoy was a drinking vessel in fine metals or glass, as deals and alliances were sealed by drinking.

    The drinking vessels found in Lolland is in very high quality and were made by the silver smith Cherisophos in Roma around year 0. The two vessels show scenes from the Illad.







    Painted Roman drinking vessels are very rare, and only a few are found outside the Roman empire. Most of them, 13 total, were found on Sjælland. The glasses are called circus glasses because they often depict scenes from gladiator fights. The glass from Ishøj has a different motive, a man in a blue tunica who stands in the stern of a ship.

    The Romans often made alliances with Germanic tribes. One example is from the Trajan column (from 113 AD) in Rome where Germanics wearing pants are shown helping the Romans fight the Dacians.

    Source http://illvit.no/files/bonnier-ill/pdf/NIV_1301.pdf

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    They have also found Roman military equipment in graves in Norway as well.

    And many coins.
    Please don't confuse the terms "nordid" and "nordic".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sjoerd View Post
    Yes, that image shows the migrations and expansions of Germanic peoples in the late Nordic bronze age and into the Iron age, but 750BC is hardly the beginning. Long before that around 1900 BC to 1800 BC was the 'Corded Ware Culture.' (also known as Battle-axe culture. It is believed that the Germanic peoples came out of this archaeological horizon that begins in the late Neolithic period.

    There were tribes living in Scandinavia as far back as the Upper Paleolithic period such as the Ahrensburg culture

    .....but it is unknown what language these early Scandinavians spoke, but towards the end of the 3rd millennium BC, they were overrun by new tribes from the south who many scholars think spoke 'Proto-Indo-European', the 'Battle-Axe culture.' This new people advanced up to Uppland and the Oslofjord, and they probably provided the language that was the ancestor of the modern Scandinavian languages. They were cattle herders, and with them most of southern Scandinavia entered the Neolithic.

    Germanic tribes still have been in Scandinavia for thousands of years, but I don't believe that Scandinavia is their origin. Rather just south of it on the Northern lowlands of present-day Germany.
    One of the problems of the Pre-Iron Age Scandinavian origin that the earliest Hallstatt Nordids were found in the South-Germany/Austria from the Early Iron Age. The ancient Kelts, Slavs and Germans carried this type. These are the facts. Which languege did they speak and how and when did they go to Scandinavia, these are the questions. The some antique source tell that the Latin and the (contiental) Keltic languages were mutual intelligible and the Roman authors often mixed with the ancient Germanics and the contiental Kelts. I would be courious about the distance between the period Latin and PGmc.

    The toponym Finnveden in Småland in South-Sweden may support the theory that the Pre-Germanic Scandinavians may spoke Finno-Ugrian language(s) (too).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Granraude View Post
    They have also found Roman military equipment in graves in Norway as well.

    And many coins.
    Were they found with Roman bodies, or is it a case where the Norse might have taken the items back as a victory bounty ?
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