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

Merowingian seaxes Württembergisches Landesmuseum Stuttgart.jpg
A Seax (also Hadseax, Sax, Seaxe, Scramaseax and Scramsax), was a type of Germanic single-edged knife. It seems to have been used primarily as a tool but may also have been a weapon in extreme situations. They occur in a size range from 7.5cm to 75cm. The larger ones (langseax) were probably weapons, the smaller ones (hadseax) tools, intermediate sized ones serving a dual purpose. Quite a lot is known about Germanic military war gear from the ritual sacrifice of war booty in Danish bogs. Wearing a seax may have been indicative of freemanship, much like the possession of a spear since only free men had the right to bear arms. The seax was worn in a horizontal sheath at the front of the belt. Scram or scran is a word for food in some English dialects and seax to a blade (so a possible translation is "food knife"). However, as the word 'scramseax' is only used once in early medieval literature (In Gregory of Tours' 'History of the Franks'; the general use of the term when referring to all short knives of this type is erroneous).

The Saxons may have derived their name from seax (the implement for which they were known) in much the same way that the Franks were named for their francisca. The seax has a lasting symbolic impact in the English counties of Middlesex and Essex, which both feature three seaxes in their ceremonial emblem.

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

U 112, Ed (side A).JPG

Runestone U 112, a large boulder measuring 18 metres in circumference, is located on a wooded path named Kyrkstigen ("church path") in Ed. It has been known to scholars since Johannes Bureus' first runological expedition in 1594, and it dates to the mid-11th century. The inscriptions are in the mid-Urnes style (Pr4), and they were commissioned by a former captain of the Varangian Guard named Ragnvaldr in memory of his mother as well as in his own honour. Very few could boast of returning home with the honour of having been the captain of the Varangian Guard, and the name Ragnvaldr shows that he belonged to the higher echelons of Old Norse society, and that he may have been a relative of the ruling dynasty.

Categories

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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