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GERMANICS AND GERMANI (PRE-TEUTONIC): A ROMAN MISUNDERSTANDING?

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GermanenAD50
The Germanic tribes around AD 50. The tribes of the North Sea, the Rhine-Weser area and the Elbe had probably a strong pre-Teutonic (‘Germani’?) ethnic component.

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By Periklis Deligiannis
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[NOTE: This article is actually a part of my published  book  The Celts, Athens 2008, unfortunately available only in Greek.]
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…. Apart from the most considerable Boii and Volcae peoples, other important Celtic tribes of central Europe were the Helvettii who originally were dwelling  in the valley of the river Main (modern Germany) before migrating to modern Switzerland, the Vendelici, the Norici, the Ambisontes, the Arabisci and others.
Of course, the Celts were not the only inhabitants of central Europe. In the 20th century, the study of place names and some archaeological data identified a large ethno-cultral group (and possibly linguistic) in the areas of modern Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg and northern Germany, between the rivers Somme and Aller, which group did not speak neither Germanic nor Celtic (Gallic). These people possibly descended from the early Neolithic population of the region and they broadly adopted the Gallic culture but not the Celtic language (at least most of them). The people of the Lusatian culture in modern eastern Germany and Poland which was destroyed mainly by Scythian invaders (6th century BC), and the pre-Germanic inhabitants of Thuringia, northern Bohemia and other regions were possibly members of the same unknown ethnic group or groups. It was an unknown people (perhaps pre-Indo-European) who lived in a broad zone between the Celts and the Teutonics (Germanics) and most probably belonged to more than one linguistic group.

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RES VITAE ET MORS: ROMANS, CIMBRI AND TEUTONES

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Guard Roman
The  skilful general  Gaius  Marius  turned  the  Roman  army  into  a  war  machine  of  fully  armored  professional  soldiers  (credit:  Εrmine  Street  Guard  Roman  Reenactment  Society).
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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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[This  article is actually a part of my book  ‘The Celts‘, Periscope publ., Athens 2008, unfortunately available only in Greek]

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In  113  BC  a  great  threat  appeared  in  the  horizon  of  the  Roman  world:  the  Cimbri  and  the  Teutones.  The  ancient  writers  usually  consider  these  two  peoples  as  Germanic,  but  their  leaders  had  Gallic/Celtic  names  (Boiorix,  Lugius,  Gaesorix  etc)  or  Celtisized  (Claodicus)  and  their  arms  and  armor  were  clearly  Celtic.  Plutarch  mentions,  in  an  episode  of  his  narrative  about  the  Cimbri-Teutones  invasions,  that  the  Cimbri  descended  quickly  the  slopes  of  the  Alps  using  their  shields  as  sleds  –  therefore  these  shields  were  of  the  large  Gallic  thyroid  type  rather  than  the  small  and  weak  Germanic  type.  When  the  Roman  officer  Sertorius  was  sent  by  Marius  to  spy  the  Cimbrian  camp,  he  wore  Celtic  clothes  and  learned  the  Gallic/Celtic  language  in  preparation  for  his  mission.  The  tribal  name  “Cimbri”  is  of  Celtic  origin  and  the  word  (and  verbal  prefix)  “Teuton-”  (meaning  “people”  and  “army”)  was  used  equally  by  Celts  and  Germans  (apparently  a  verbal  type  of  Proto-Indo-European  extraction).  These  are  just  some  of  the  evidence  that  led  many  researchers  of  the  20th  century  to  consider  the  two  tribes  as  Celtic  peoples  mistaken  by  the  Romans  to  be  Germanic.  However,  the  ancient  writers  mention  their  homeland,  the  Cimbrian  Peninsula  (modern  Jutland),  a  region  undoubtedly  Germanic  in  antiquity.  In  addition,  the  Massaliot  Greek  navigator  Pytheas  had  found  the  Teutones  living  on  an  island  in  the  Baltic  Sea  (4th  century  BC):  the  Baltic  coastal  areas  have  never  been  Celtic.

Ptolemy

Map  of  Germany  according  to  the  Geography  of  Claudius  Ptolemy.  We  can  see  the  remaining  Cimbri  at  the  northern  ends  of  the  land  (in  ‘Chersonesus  Cimbrica’,  modern  Jutland)  and  the  remaining  Teutones  somewhere  in  modern  Northeastern  Germany.
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