Introduction You already know what the subject matter of our course is. Now our task is to find out who the first people who spoke Germanic languages were. These were ancient Germans – tall warlike blonds who spread all over Europe. After learning the second lecture you will be able to answer the following questions: – Where did ancient Germans live? – How did they live? – What were the main historic events in their life? – What languages did they speak? Tribe, dialect, migration, invasion 1. The first testimonies on Germanic tribes
Germanic tribes are great ethnic complex of ancient Europe, a basic stock in the composition of the modern peoples of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Northern Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Northern and Central France, Lowland Scotland and England. In ancient times the territory of Germanic languages was more limited than now. Thus in the 1st century A. D. Germanic languages were only spoken in Germany and in territories adjacent to it and also in Scandinavia.
It is considered that they lived in the territory between the rivers Elbe and Odra, on the peninsula Jutland and in the Southern Sweden. At that time old Germanic tribes were passing through the stage of development which is marked by the term “barbarism”. From archeology it is clear that the Germans had little ethnic solidarity; by the 7th century B. C. they had begun a division into many peoples. They did not call themselves Germans; the origin of the name is uncertain. Their rise to significance (4th cent. B. C. in the history of Europe began roughly with the general break-up of Celtic culture in central Europe. From these areas they spread out in great migrations southward, southeastward, and westward. Geography made the territory of the Germanic tribes attractive to the Romans as a potential province to add to the already powerful Roman Empire. The combination of natural resources, agriculture, and strategic value made the Romans eager to gain acquisition of this territory. The main resources that Germany had to offer came in the rom of metals, more specifically, iron. Their iron was of such quality and was acquired in such abundance that it was exported to Rome for use in most everything that was created from iron. The Germanic agricultural system was vital to the economy in Germany. Most of the Germans were farmers but a large portion of the population was herders. The Germans were agriculturists from the beginning of their existence. They established agricultural villages based on land plots that were grouped around a central water supply.
The main crops that they raised were cereal grains such as wheat, barley, oats, and rye. Around and North Sea area there was an emphasis on cattle raising. Germany also had a great strategic advantage that was appealing to the Romans. First of all it could be used to protect Gaul north of the Danube which had already come under Rome influence. Germany also provided for a buffer from Gaul. The tribes that eventually settled in the Germanic area were tribes that had for the most part been migrating throughout Europe for many years.