Portal:Ancient Germanic culture

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Introduction

The distribution of the primary Germanic dialect groups in Europe in around AD 1:
  North Sea Germanic, or Ingvaeonic
  Weser-Rhine Germanic, or Istvaeonic
  Elbe Germanic, or Irminonic

In its broadest sense, the term Ancient Germanic culture can be used to refer to any culture as practiced by speakers of either the Common Germanic language or one of its daughter dialects (Gothic, Vandalic, Burgundian, Lombardic, Old High German, Old Frankish, Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old English, and Old Norse) at any time during the roughly two millennia between the emergence of Proto-Germanic in the Nordic Bronze Age (ca. 1000–500 BC) until the Early Middle Ages (ca. 500–1000 AD). Although 'Germanic' can only be used with any sort of definition in a linguistic sense, the degree of cohesion and relative conformity which existed in ancient times between the various groups of Germanic speaking peoples in terms of mythology, religion, customs, social structure and material culture is seen to justify the use of the term to refer to the culture of those peoples as a whole.

The ancient Germanic people made a considerable impact on the development of ancient Europe, particularly through their interactions with the Roman Empire. They have been variously portrayed in the annals of history; sometimes as 'barbarian hordes', ultimately responsible for the Fall of Rome; at other times, as 'noble savages' living in blissful ignorance of the evils of civilization; at still other times, as Rome’s most enthusiastic supporters and eventual successors. Regardless of how one judges them, it is certain that the ancient Germanic peoples changed the face of Europe – and through their descendants, the world – dramatically.

Selected article

Rökstenen.jpg
The Runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters (known as runes) formerly used to write Germanic languages before and shortly after the Christianization of Scandinavia and the British Isles. The Scandinavian variants are also known as Futhark (or fuþark, derived from their first six letters: F, U, Þ, A, R, and K); the Anglo-Saxon variant as Futhorc (due to sound changes undergone in Old English by the same six letters). However, the first A in the fuþark was nasal, hence originally close to an o.

The earliest runic inscriptions date from c. 150, and the alphabet was generally replaced by the Latin alphabet with Christianization by c. 700 in central Europe and by c. 1100 in Scandinavia. However, the use of runes persisted for specialized purposes in Scandinavia, longest in rural Sweden until the early 20th century (used mainly for decoration as runes in Dalarna and on Runic calendars). The three best-known runic alphabets are:

Selected picture

Kam-med-runer-fra-Vimose DO-4148 2000.jpg


The Vimose Comb, dated to ca. 160 CE, containing the oldest datable Germanic language runic inscription found to date.

Did you know...

... that Pope Boniface II (papacy 530 to 532) was an Ostrogoth?
... that Arminius, the Cheruscan warrior who successfully united several Germanic tribes (Cherusci, Marsi, Chatti , Bructeri , Chauci and Sicambri) to fight against and eventually defeat three Roman legions in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, had been trained as a Roman military commander and possessed Roman citizenship?
... that the parapets of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul are known to contain two Viking age runic inscriptions?
... that, according to Tacitus, Germanic people were piously monogamous, and that an adulteress was driven from her home by her husband wielding a whip?
... Germanic warriors would bring family members along to battles, to urge them on during the fight?

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Selected runic artifact

Bulach Inschrift.jpg

The Bülach fibula is a silver disk-type fibula with almandine inlay found in Bülach, Canton Zürich in 1927. The Alemannic grave in which it was found (no. 249) dates to 6th century and contained the remains of an adult woman. The fibula, dated to between the 3rd and 6th centuries, bears an Elder Futhark inscription, the only one found in Switzerland to date.

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Related Wikibooks

Culture: Ásatrú Theology, Norse mythology, The Pagan Beliefs Surrounding Christmas
History: World History (contains / will contain chapters about ancient Germanic cultures)
Germanic Languages: Danish, Dutch, English, German, Icelandic, Faroese, Norwegian, Swedish, Gothic (extinct), Proto Germanic (extinct, coming soon)

Ancient Germanic languages

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