Portal:Ancient Germanic culture

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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

Alemanni expansion.png

The Alamanni, Allemanni, or Alemanni were originally an alliance of west Germanic tribes located around the upper Main, a river that is one of the largest tributaries of the Rhine, on land that is today part of Germany. One of the earliest references to them is the cognomen Alamannicus assumed by Caracalla, who ruled the Roman Empire from 211-217 and claimed thereby to be their defeater. The nature of this alliance and their previous tribal affiliations remain uncertain. The alliance was aggressive in nature, attacking the Roman province of Germania Superior whenever it could. Generally it broadly followed the example of the Franks, the first Germanic tribal alliance, which had stopped the Romans from penetrating north of the lower Rhine and subsequently invaded the Roman province of Germania Inferior.

From the first century, the Rhine had become the border between Roman Gaul and tribal Germania. Germanic peoples, Celts, and tribes of mixed Celto-Germanic ethnicity were settled in the lands along both banks. The Romans divided these territories into two districts, Germania Inferior and Germania Superior situated along the lower and upper Rhine respectively.

Selected picture

Young Folks' History of Rome illus368.png

A 19th century artist's rendition of campaigning Goths as described by their 3rd - 4th century Roman adversaries.

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

Franks Casket vorne links.jpg

The Franks Casket (or the Auzon Runic Casket) is a whalebone chest, carved with narrative scenes in flat two-dimensional low-relief and inscribed with runes, dateable from its pagan elements to the mid-seventh century (that is, during the height of the Heptarchy and the period of Christianization of England). The casket is densely decorated with images and Anglo-Saxon runic inscriptions whose interpretation have occupied linguists. It is now kept in the British Museum. Generally reckoned to be of Northumbrian origin, it is of unique importance for the insight it gives into secular culture in early Anglo-Saxon England.

The imagery is multiform in its inspirations and includes a single Christian image, the Adoration of the Magi, depicted along with images derived from Roman history (Emperor Titus) and Roman mythology (Romulus and Remus), as well as depictions of legends indigenous to the Germanic peoples: the Germanic legend of Weyland the Smith, an episode from the Sigurd legend, and a legend that is apparently an otherwise lost episode from the life of Weyland's brother Egil.


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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