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

Charlemagne.jpg

The Franks were one of several west Germanic tribes who entered the late Roman Empire from Frisia as foederati and established a lasting realm in an area that covers most of modern-day France and the region of Franconia in Germany, forming the historic kernel of both these two modern countries. The conversion to Christianity of the pagan Frankish king Clovis I was a decisive event in the history of Europe.

The realm underwent many partitions and repartitions, since the Franks divided their property among surviving sons, and lacking a broad sense of a res publica, they conceived of the realm to a large extent as private property. This practice partially explains the difficulty of describing precisely the dates and physical boundaries of any of the Frankish kingdoms and who ruled the various sections. The decline of literacy while the Franks ruled compounds the problem: they produced few written records. In essence however, two dynasties of leaders succeeded each other, first the Merovingians and then the Carolingians.

Selected image

Solvogn.jpg


The Trundholm sun chariot, from the late Nordic Bronze Age, at display at the National Museum (Nationalmuseet) in Denmark.

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.

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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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