Home

Stanford researchers find clues to the Baltic Crusades in animal bones, horses and the extinct aurochs

Leave a comment

Source: Stanford University

Marienburg MalborkCastle built by Teutonic knightsThe Teutonic Order’s Marienburg Castle, Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights, now Malbork, Poland

.

By Melissa Pandika

 

Stanford Assistant Professor Krish Seetah and Reading University student Rose Calis analyze animal bones in the basement of Riga Castle, Latvia. (Photo: Aleks Pluskowski)

Stanford researchers have discovered that pagan villages plundered by medieval knights during the little-known Baltic Crusades had some problems in common with the modern-day global village.

Among them: deforestation, asymmetric warfare and species extinction.

According to a research paper published in Science, a project investigating the Baltic Crusades’ profound environmental legacy could yield valuable insight into colonialism, cultural changes and ecological exploitation – relevant issues not only throughout history, but especially in today’s increasingly globalized society.

The researchers, including professors at Stanford and in Europe, are drawing from disciplines as disparate as history and chemistry to analyze their findings, which they’ve already begun synthesizing into a database of unprecedented depth and scope.

Their study spans the years from the 12th century to the 16th century, when the Teutonic Order, a Germanic brotherhood of Christian knights, waged war against the last indigenous pagan societies in Europe in a region that includes modern-day Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus and parts of Sweden and Russia.

More

Advertisements

Dutch archaeologists discover the location of Caesar’s battle and massacre on the Tencteri and Usipetes tribes

1 Comment

Republication from the VU University of Amsterdam

96558765

Hundreds of skulls and other bones, considered to belong to the massacred Germanics were found in the excavated location (credit: VU University of Amsterdam).

VU archaeologists discover location of historic battle fought by Caesar in Dutch river area

Earliest known battle on Dutch soil.

At a press conference held on Friday 11 December in the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam, archaeologist Nico Roymans from the VU Amsterdam announced a discovery that is truly unique for Dutch archaeology: the location where the Roman general and statesman Julius Caesar massacred two Germanic tribes in the year 55 BC. The location of this battle, which Caesar wrote about in detail in Book IV of his De Bello Gallico, was unknown to date. It is the earliest known battle on Dutch soil. The conclusions are based on a combination of historical, archaeological, and geochemical data.

Skeletal remains, swords and spearheads
It is the first time that the presence of Caesar and his troops in Dutch territory has been explicitly proven. The finds from this battle include large numbers of skeletal remains, swords, spearheads, and a helmet. The two Germanic tribes, the Tencteri and the Usipetes, originated in the area east of the Rhine and had explicitly appealed to Caesar for asylum. Caesar rejected this request for asylum and ordered his troops to destroy the tribes by violent means. Nowadays, we would label such action genocide.
During the press conference, Roymans described in detail the discoveries made in Kessel (North Brabant) and their historical significance. He also showed weapons and skeletal remains from this battle.

More

KING ARTHUR (Part I): Some literary, archaeological and historical evidence

4 Comments

By Periklis Deligiannis

Romano-Briton
A Late Roman helmet rather of Persian distant origin (design), decorated with semi-gemstones. The Romano-Britons inherited this type together with the rest of the Roman weaponry and military organization.
.

Wulfheodenas
In the 5th-6th centuries AD, the Anglo-Saxons brought to Britain many elements of the eastern Scandinavian Proto-Vendel and Vendel cultures, several of which are obvious on their arms and armor, i.e. on their helmets (Sutton Hoo burial, etc.), daggers, swords etc (reconstruction of an Anglo-Saxon warlord wearing a Sutton Hoo-type helmet, by the Historical Association Wulfheodenas ).
.
In 407 AD the Romans withdrew their last regular troops from the British provinces. The independent Romano-Britons had to fight hard against the Pict, Irish and Anglo-Saxon barbarians who were besieging their territory. Former Roman Britain was gradually divided into autonomous ‘principalities’ led by warlords. However they tried to keep united their “British kingdom” as they considered their common territory, and mainly to repel the invading Anglo-Saxons who had conquered the Southeast, advancing headlong. It seems that the Britons in order to maintain their unity, elected a military commander (Dux) as a senior politico-military leader, who led the operations against the invaders and took care on preventing infighting. A sequence of inspired Dukes (Voteporix, Vortigern, Ambrosius Aurelianus) led the British resistance. Those who accept Arthur’s historicity usually consider him as one of these Dukes (a theory consider him Aurelianus’ son).
The Briton literary tradition and the archaeological evidence, mainly the Saxon burials, denote that the Anglo-Saxon invasion was halted on the verge of the 5th-6th centuries AD. Many scholars believe that the military action of the legendary king Arthur was the main ‘factor’ for the repulse of the newcomers. However, his historicity is strongly and justifiably disputed. In this series of articles I will deal with some additional literary, archaeological and historical evidence concerning his historicity.

.
The literary sources on Arthur

The first literary reference to Arthur appears in the Northern Briton epic “Y Goddodin” (“the Votadini” around AD 600) which recounts an attempt of the Votadini people (Celtic Goddodin) of the modern Scottish Lowlands and their allies, to check the advance of the Angles. Some scholars believe that the mention of Arthur in this epic was added later. The first ‘secure’ reference to the legendary commander comes from Nennius in his “History of the Britons” (“Historia Britonnum”, end of 8th century). Nennius’ work was based mostly on the local Briton tradition. Nennius describes the legendary figure as a warlord who repelled the barbarians around the 5th-6th centuries. This was followed shortly after by another reference of Arthur in the “Annales Cambriae” (9th c.). But the author, who developed most of all Arthur’s renowned image as a just and powerful warrior-king, was the Archdeacon of Oxford Geoffrey of Monmouth in his largely mythical “History of the Kings of Britain” (“Historia Regum Britanniae”, AD 1133). Geoffrey relied heavily on the two aforementioned works, and possibly on the local oral tradition. In France, the late medieval chronicler Chretien de Troyes holds an analogous contribution to the Arthurian legend. The later writers of the Arthurian epic circle are based on the works of the last two authors (mostly on Geoffrey’s work and less on Chretien’s) going on to the enrichment of the epic with elements belonging mainly to the Late Middle Ages, such as the Round Table, the quest for the Holy Grail, etc.

More

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

8 Comments

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.

.

By Periklis Deligiannis
.
[NOTE: This article is actually a part of my published  book  The Celts, Athens 2008, unfortunately available only in Greek.]
.
…. 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.

More

ON THE PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY OF THE ANCIENT CELTS

3 Comments

 

pergamon__dying_gaul

GaulThe  two  more  renowned  sculptures  of  the  Pergamene  School  on  the  Gauls/Galatians:  the  ‘Dying  Gaul’  and  the  ‘Gaul  who  commits  suicide  after  having  killed  his  wife’.

.

By  Periklis  Deligiannis

.

  I have to refer to an old theory on the Celtic physical anthropology, which even today has a great number of supporters although it is based mainly on a misunderstanding interpretation of the representation – especially of the physical type – of the Galatian warriors by the ‘Pergamene sculpture School’, of the reports of the ancient Greek and Latin authors on the Celts and of other secondary data. This theory is influenced by the ‘Teutonic School’ of physical anthropology in the 19th-early 20th centuries (the archaeologist Gustav von Kossinna and the anthropologist Hans Gunther being its last main representatives), which had a kind of obsession on discovering Nordic warrior nobilities as ruling elites on almost all the ancient European peoples, including the Mediterranean peoples, and also on the Iranians, the Indians, the Egyptians and others. According to the theories of that School, the Nordic noble warriors were the real creators of the Celtic, the Roman, the Greek, the Indian and other ancient civilizations.

More

RES VITAE ET MORS: ROMΑNS, CIMBRI AND TEUTONES– PART IΙ

Leave a comment

Celts
The  Late  Cimbri  and  Teutones  who  confronted  the  Romans,  consisted  largely  of  Celts,  probably  in  the  most  part  according  to  many  historians. Their  appearance  was  frightening  for  the  peoples  of  the  Mediterranean,  as  it  is  analyzed  in  the  Greco-Roman  sources,  and  undoubtedly  many  if  not  almost  all  of  them,  bore  the  typical  Celtic  tattoo,  like  the  Celt  in  the  photograph  (an  accurate  reenactment  of  Celtic  warriors,  Silurian  in  this  case, by  a   Welsh  historic  society. Note specifically Taranis’  wheel tattooed on the forhead of the warrior) 
.

By  Periklis    Deligiannis

.

CONTINUED FROM PART I

.
The  Romans  appealed  to  general  Gaius  Marius who  was meant  to  be  the  greatest  reformer  of  the  Roman  army.  Marius,  just  25  years old,  radically  reorganized  the  Roman  army. He  turned  the  Roman  legionnaire  from  a  half-armored  citizen-warrior  of  limited  military  service  to  a  fully  armored  and  professional  soldier  of  permanent  service,  aided  by  strong  allied  troops  (auxilia, socii) of  the  subjugated  peoples.  He  trained  his  legionnaires  with  his  own  methods,  creating  in  two  years  a  well-organized  and  disciplined  army.  Meanwhile  the  Cimbri-Teutones  invaded  Spain  and  Gaul,  marching  in  the  territories  of  tribes  who  were  not  their  allies,  probably  trying  to make  them  their  allies  by  force.  They  were  repulsed  by  the Celtiberians  in  Spain  and  by  the  Belgians  in  Gaul.  Their  Celtic  kinsmen  knew (unlike  the  Romans)  very  well  how  to  deal  with  them.  Ultimately  the  Cimbri-Teutones  decided  to  invade  Italy  but  they  divided  their  forces,  possibly  due  to  disagreement  between  their  leaders  or  in  order  to  cause  confusion  to  the  Roman  military  leadership  and  divide  the  Roman  army.  The  allied  tribes  were  also  devided  between  the  two  major  tribal  unions.  For  example,  the  Tigurini  joined  the  Cimbri  and  the  Ambrones  joined  the  Teutones.  In  my  opinion,  this  ‘strange’  equality  of  military  forces  among  the  two  major  tribal  unions,  denotes  that  the  bisection  of  the  barbarian  forces  took  place  after  an  agreement  among  their  warlords.

More

RES VITAE ET MORS: ROMANS, CIMBRI AND TEUTONES – PART I

3 Comments

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).
.

By  Periklis    Deligiannis

.

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

.
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.
.

More

ON THE TRIBES OF ANCIENT GAUL

2 Comments

By  Periklis    DeligiannisGalatia-Gaul[This  article is in fact a part of my book  ‘The Celts‘, Periscope publ., Athens 2008, unfortunately available only in Greek]

After  the  sharp  diminution  of  the  Celts  of  Central  Europe  by  the  Germans  (58  BC)  and  the  Romans,  Greater  Gaul,  the  country  that  lies  between  the  Rhine,  the  Alps  and  the  Pyrenees,  became  the  main  Celtic  area  in  mainland  Europe.  Gaul  (as  it  is  usually  called  for  short,  because  of  the  Romans),  Noricum,  Raetia (partly) and Northwestern Pannonia in Central Europe,  Gallaicia  (Galicia), Asturia and Cantabria  in  the  Iberian  peninsula,  and  finally  the  British  islands,  were  the  last  independent  Celtic  areas.

Shortly  before  the  Roman  conquest  of  Gaul  (or  Galatia  in  ancient  Greek)  by  Julius  Caesar,  about  sixty  tribes  shared  its  territory.  The  largest  of  these  tribes  (the  Arverni,  Aedui,  Pictones  etc.)  occupied  each  one  a  territory  of  about  15-20,000  sq.  km.,  with  a  population  of  up  to  250,000  inhabitants.  The  Celtic  tribes  were  divided  into  sub-tribes  called  pagi.  The  60  Celtic  peoples  of  Gaul  included  a  total  of  300  sub-tribes.  Many  of  these  pagi  were  originally  independent  tribes  which  were  gradually  incorporated  in  the  largest  ones,  either  by  conquest  or  by  conciliation.
The  linguists  have  estimated  that  the  tribes  of  the  Volcae,  the  Helvii  (close  relatives  of  the  Helvetii  of  modern  Switzerland),  the  Turones,  the  Nervii,  the  Suessiones,  the  Veneti,  the  Venelli  and  the  Aulerci  were  the  oldest  that  were  formed,  because  the  etymology  of  their  national  names  is  rather  difficult.  Some  of  these  tribes  were  probably  formed  initially  in  Central  Europe,  mostly  in  the  north  of  the  Alps  (the  Celtic/Gallic  cradle).  The  peoples  with  tribal  names  of  numeric  type  are  considered  to  be  later  tribal  formations,  e.g.  The  Remi  (meaning  the  ‘first  ones’  in  Gallic  Celtic),  the  Petrokorii  (the  ‘four  tribes’)  the  Vocontii  (‘twenty  clans’).  The  same  goes  for  the  tribes  whose  national  names  are  annominations  or  epithets,  e.g.  the  Ruteni  (the  ‘blonde  ones’,  a  Proto-Indo-European  verbal  type  found  today  in  the  names  of  the    Russians  and  the  Ruthenians  of  Eastern  Europe),  the  Leuci  (the  ‘bright  ones’,  like  the  Greek  ‘leucos’  meaning  the  ‘white’), the  Belgae (the ‘thunders’,  Belgians),   the  Nemetes  (the  ‘sacred’),  the  Aedui  (the  ‘fiery’),  the  Pictones  (possibly  the  ‘painted  ones’  like  the  Picts  of  Pictland/Caledonia,  modern  Scotland),  the  Caleti  (the  ‘hardened’),  the  Lemovices  or  Lemovii  (‘warriors  of  the  elm’,  which  was  their  totemic  tree)  the  Medulli  (the  ‘mead  drinkers’)  etc.

article

Celtic  warriors  in  an  impressive  artwork.  Note  the  two  naked  Gaesati/Gaesatae  warriors  in  the  frontline,  with  their  hair  stiffened  with  lime  or  lemon  juice.  Another  warrior  blows  the  ‘carnyx’,  the  Celtic  war  trumpet  (Copyright:  Zvezda  /Karatchuk  (artist)).

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: