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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Sat 08 Mar, 2008 11:04 am    Post subject: Weapons and arms of Germanic Tribesmen circa 1 AD         Reply with quote

All,


Can someone tell me what the weaponry and armor (if any) would have been common for a Germanic tribesman at about the year 1 AD? I guess this would be a couple hundred years before the Migration era, right? If you can provide a good printed source for this information I would appreciate that too.


The really wonderful thing about myArmoury is that there are at least a few people here who know this like other people know their way to work!



Thanks,

Ken Speed
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Arne Focke
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Mar, 2008 11:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The earliest weapons deposits in the bog at the site of Vimose are from that period.

After the marcomannic wars (166-180 AD) the weapons of the germanic tribes changed considerably to better match their "new" opponents the romans.

You could try to get your hands on the works of Conrad Engelhardt:

About the site of Vimose:
Sønderjyske og Fynske
Mosefund
Bind III
Kragehul og Vimosefundene
1869

There is a reprint of that from 1970. Also a bigger version which includes volumes I & II (about the later sites of Nydam and Thorsberg).
Of course the book is outdated my modern standards but the drawings are of an outstanding quality.

Since i simplified the matter a little, you could get a broader picture by looking at the catalogue from the danish national museum "Sieg und Triumpf". Besides this German version there should also be an English version available, but i am not sure of the title. It would certainly give you a good start for your research.

So schön und inhaltsreich der Beruf eines Archäologen ist, so hart ist auch seine Arbeit, die keinen Achtstundentag kennt! (Wolfgang Kimmig in: Die Heuneburg an der oberen Donau, Stuttgart 1983)
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David Huggins




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Mar, 2008 12:19 pm    Post subject: Weapons and arms of the Germanic Tribesmen circa 1AD         Reply with quote

Hi Ken,

This is also an area I am very interested in too. Can I recommend Malcolm Todd's 'The Early Germans' as a general overview, Jorgen Ilkjaer's 'Illerup Adal; Archeology as a Magic Mirror' and ' The Spoils of Victory; The North in the Shadow of the Roman Empire' for stunning photography of finds. There is also specifically a volume on the arms and armour from Illerup Adal, part of a multi-volume series concerning the excavations at this site which contains a mass of information on the martial deposits. Sorry Ken I can't remember the exact name of that volume, but I think fellow forumite Paul Mortimer has the referance title.
all the best

Dave

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Arne Focke
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Mar, 2008 12:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Weapons and arms of the Germanic Tribesmen circa 1AD         Reply with quote

David Huggins wrote:
' The Spoils of Victory; The North in the Shadow of the Roman Empire' f


Yes, thats the English title I was looking for, thanks. Happy


The volumes about Illerup Ådal are also called Ilerup Ådal, but too late for the first century AD, since the first deposit at that site was after the marcomannic wars. But it is true, the "magic mirror" provides a good overview over that site without the need of acquiring all the big volumes.

If you are interested in the later deposits, also look for the bog finds of Thorsberg, Kragehul and of course Nydam.

So schön und inhaltsreich der Beruf eines Archäologen ist, so hart ist auch seine Arbeit, die keinen Achtstundentag kennt! (Wolfgang Kimmig in: Die Heuneburg an der oberen Donau, Stuttgart 1983)
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David Huggins




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Mar, 2008 1:34 pm    Post subject: Weapons and Arms of the Germanic Tribesmen cCirca 1AD         Reply with quote

Hi Ken, Arne

Just surfing some of my Favorites links and came across this publication which might be of interest.

'Roman und Germanen Leben Rund um den Limes by Werner Pollack & Robert Brosh
ISBN 973-3-932077-07-4

This appears to be due publication this year, and looks like one of Euromilitaire 'in living colour photos' series, so I suspect an english language edition will be available.

Of track but looks interesting is
'Bunte Tuche & Gleissendes Metall Fruhe Kelten der Hallstattzeit'
ISBN 978-3-932077-319
Again this looks to have museum quality reproduction of the Hallstatt finds.

best

Dave

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Ben C.





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PostPosted: Sat 08 Mar, 2008 3:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

a good article regarding the Battle of Teutoburg Forest (7AD) can be found here;

http://www.livius.org/te-tg/teutoburg/teutoburg01.htm

to take a quote from the article regarding the equipment of the Germans;

Quote:
The Roman heavy infantry was stronger than the Germanic warriors, which were equipped with javelins, spears and shields. Perhaps only about a third used a sword.


the Germanic tribes during this period seemed to lack the iron resources of their Celtic neighbours therefore swords were a lot less common among their warriors. The spear, shield and javelin were the standard set up although some tribes apparently had a Hellenic influence and used longer pike-like spears and stricter formations. I believe the use of clubs was also quite common, even among some Germans serving as auxiliaries in the Roman army.

I had always grown up believing that axes (both single and double handed) were the chosen weapons of the Germans but it looks like they were a lot more common among the Celts during this period from what I have read recently. Perhaps some writers/movie makers confused the later migration and viking-era equipment to give that impression? I would be quite interested to know if there are any sources indicating the use of 2 handed axes among pre-migration tribes.
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James R.Fox




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Mar, 2008 3:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gentlemen-you are forgetting Mr Oakshott's Archeology of Weapons, He gives material on swords, spears and armour. with Very good drawings, of the arms from this period used in the Jutland- North Germany area.The armour, at least the metal armour was mostly, if not completely Roman Army Loot. They did have swords,very rarely. but most warriors seemed to rely on the spear, either the thrusting spear or lighter throwing spear, which could be used to stab at close range, so a warrior often carried several
Ja68ms
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Arne Focke
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Mar, 2008 4:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben Condon wrote:
a
the Germanic tribes during this period seemed to lack the iron


Which is said by the roman writer Tacitus. Interestingly the spearheads of Tacitus time were indeed smaller than those of younger periods, at least the average size.

If i find the time i will dig out my old Magister thesis tomorrow. I always wanted to quote myself. Wink
I remember writing a short comparison of older and younger germanic weaponry, which wasn't the main theme of the thesis. Before i tell it from memory and perhaps tell it wrong, i will look it up again.

So schön und inhaltsreich der Beruf eines Archäologen ist, so hart ist auch seine Arbeit, die keinen Achtstundentag kennt! (Wolfgang Kimmig in: Die Heuneburg an der oberen Donau, Stuttgart 1983)
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Sat 08 Mar, 2008 4:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Guys,

Thank you all for your help. I'll be contacting my library to see if they can get any of those books for me next week. I've read the link on the battle I'll read it again.



Thanks again,



Ken Speed
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James R.Fox




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Mar, 2008 6:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ken-It is my understanding from Mr Oakshots books, Archeology of Weapons in particular, that the 2 hand axe did not come into general use untill the middle of the Viking era ca 900. It remained popular untill the 1200s in England and France (it was Richard the Lionheart's favorite weapon) and was popular among my scotts ancestors untill the 1600's or so, espically the Jedburg axe. It was also popular among the Irish foot untill about this time.
German warriors lacked swords and metal armour untill after the marcommannic wars, when they really started getting organized enough to open iron mines and smithies. although they still relied on the Romans alot. It was one of the primary goals of migration period kings like Alaric,or Geiseric, or Theodoric to capture Roman state armouries and the skilled smiths and technicians that ran them. Noticed the ric in the names? The Gothic kings, like the Celts of Caesar's day used a word particle at the end of the name to indicate royal or noble birth.( in gaelic it was rix) This is because the Celts and Germans were culturally related, the Celts migrated into Europe from the Russian steppe several centuries before the Germans did.I have never seen a source that even tries to explain why the Germans didn't take advantage of the resources. The Celts made better steel than the Romans, and invented things like the barrel, the pocket knife, the safety pin, the reaping machine, and ( ta ta ) the Gladius.The Romans got that from the Celt-Iberians, and imported spanish steel after they conquered Spain.See Polybeius' history of the wars with Carthage

Ja68ms
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Mar, 2008 8:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've heard that the Germanians carried very large numbers of javalins. VERY large numbers.
To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Arne Focke
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PostPosted: Sun 09 Mar, 2008 12:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would advise against taking everything that is mentioned in "Archaeology of weapons" to be true. For once the book is highly outdated and with all due respect to Mr. Oakeshott (whose books i enjoy) the worth of his works lies in the power of his observations and not his scholarly conclussions.

But the sword is indeed of minor importance during the older as well as the younger roman period (roman period roughly from 0 - 400AD).
The main weapons of the germanic tribes has always been the lance or spear. Though comparibly small in comparison at the beginning of the roman period they became considerably larger with time and especially after "meeting" the romans and the roman wy of fighting. But if you take a look at types, like Lynghøjgård (see below), even in the older period lanceheads of considerable size existed. All the shown Lance head types were typical until the marcomannic wars.
The sword was mostly traded into the region, as makers mark show, but that cannot be said for all blades. Especially the traded blades were of minor quality but the Germanics fitted them with lavishly decorated hilts. It was more a symbol of status than a fighting weapon. After meeting the romans the swords became longer and more rapier-like, at least in cross-section.

In the mentioned books you will find more information about this weapons and other, like knifes, axes, shields and armor (when it was worn and its sources).



 Attachment: 76.61 KB
Lanzen.jpg
Taken from the works of Jørgen Ilkjær.

So schön und inhaltsreich der Beruf eines Archäologen ist, so hart ist auch seine Arbeit, die keinen Achtstundentag kennt! (Wolfgang Kimmig in: Die Heuneburg an der oberen Donau, Stuttgart 1983)
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David Huggins




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Mar, 2008 12:16 am    Post subject: Weapons and arms of Germanic Tribesmen circa 1AD         Reply with quote

Hi Ken,

Came across a couple of web pages when browsing which may interest you. The pages are from the National Danish Museum's web site and concern the exhibition 'The Spoils of Victory; The North in the Shadow of the Roman Empire', the same exhibition as the accompanying museum publication of the same title that Arne and myself mentioned previously.
The link is http://sejren.natmus.dk/ST/index_uk.html and has some nice photos of the martial bog deposits and accompanying text.
best
Dave

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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Mar, 2008 3:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Arne Focke wrote:
I would advise against taking everything that is mentioned in "Archaeology of weapons" to be true. For once the book is highly outdated and with all due respect to Mr. Oakeshott (whose books i enjoy) the worth of his works lies in the power of his observations and not his scholarly conclussions.


I have not read that one. There is a tremendous amount of unread/ untranslated, historical manuscript still being sorted through by historians (particularly in Germany), and intense research interest in history today. The late Norman Cantor, in his last book, went so far as to suggest that the vast majority of books written before the late 1980's should probably be thrown away!

Some period accounts assert that many of the tribes considered it most honorable to fight completely naked. There are surviving tombstone engravings from around the region near Cologne that clearly illustrate some figures doing this. Some of the better equipped ones were described by period chroniclers as wearing bear or animal skins (I would speculate the status of having killed the particular animal might have meant something.) In the accounts of combat, a lot of initial charges involved hurling stones, javelins, etc. Large knives seem to have been the norm more so than a sword (believe that was more the mark of a chieftain.) The use of a spear or club, that was not thrown, in up close combat has been mentioned repeatedly in accounts I have read.

I am looking at one of my Military History Magazines (February 2007, well researched, good primary references, article on Roman crossing of the Rhine.) It does show a naked warrior in a relief from Adamklissi Romania. The naked tribesman has a hooked type devise as opposed to a spear (it might be more of a forerunner to a glaive.)

Anyhow, this changed pretty rapidly after contact with the Romans. Most of the conquered tribes assimilated as auxilliaries and caught on to the more beneficial aspects of Roman equipment, farming, etc. I can not see them just leaving Roman victim's swords laying on the ground. Their armour, maybe....

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Tue 11 Mar, 2008 4:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Once again my thanks to all of you for your help.


Jared mentioned, " Large knives seem to have been the norm more so than a sword (believe that was more the mark of a chieftain.) " Do you happen to know if these were the banana handled seaxes that we see illustrated here from time to time or were those a later development?

Fighting guys with armor and swords naked is just NUTS!! No pun intended!

Jared mentioned, "... Military History Magazines (February 2007, well researched, good primary references, article on Roman crossing of the Rhine.) It does show a naked warrior in a relief from Adamklissi Romania. The naked tribesman has a hooked type devise as opposed to a spear (it might be more of a forerunner to a glaive.)" Thats interesting and I appreciate it but I have always shied away from putting too much trust in artistic sources. Artists are interested in being artistic not accurate. I'm sorry I can't remember the name of the Civil War photographer who "artistically rearranged the bodies of soldiers for his pictures but things like that make me leery of the veracity of artistic renderings.

Jared said, "Anyhow, this changed pretty rapidly after contact with the Romans. Most of the conquered tribes assimilated as auxilliaries and caught on to the more beneficial aspects of Roman equipment, farming, etc. I can not see them just leaving Roman victim's swords laying on the ground. Their armour, maybe...." Yes, I have been picking up on that in my reading, pretty rapidly is an understatement. They took to weapons and warfare the way kids took to the computer and cell phones.

I've been able to get the Malcolm Todd book on interlibrary loan (not yet but soon), the others have not been as accessible as I expected. I'll probably buy a couple other books.



Ken Speed
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Mar, 2008 7:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree about the rapid assimilation. I tried to research what happened to the Tenceteri about a year ago. They did not simply disappear after Caesar's forces massacerred their villages. They are mentioned again 400 years later as defending Roman allied tribes (against Eastern Vendels, I think, I have around 50 pages of notes and references and am not going through it all again.)

I felt very bad about my initial response, after reflecting upon it, as you chose 1 A.D. Its really a guess at that time. Some tribesmen had already been assisting Roman forces for nearly half a century by then. Those probably looked fairly Roman in terms of equipment. 60 B.C., I would have no doubts.

If you read accounts of commanders who held Roman outposts in the 200 to 400 A.D. time frame, they pretty consistently depict tribes that accepted treaties and stayed as setting into land holding and being counted as reliable Roman allies/ citizens. Religion was probably the last vestige of their traditions to go (Christianization got seriously underway around the 7th century.) Others across the river (Rhine, or to the North) who were not settled tended to spawn the rebellions. Rebellions were not always supported by locally settled groups. While I was looking into lands and peoples around the Cologne area, one scientific paper about the middle German region reported that changes in pollen versus time indicated that it was a completely settled and converted to farming by 300 A.D.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Harry Amphlett




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PostPosted: Sun 11 May, 2008 11:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A potential problem with the weapons sacrifices is that they reflect the weapons of the defeated and not the victors. An additional problem is that the more valuable weapons, eg. swords, may have escaped sacrifice and the 'value' made up by increased deposition of less valuable weapons, shields, spears etc. (Michael Gebühr)

Nonetheless, the summary provided by Arne above, is supported by Tacitus' observation,

"Even iron is not plentiful with them, as we infer from the character of their weapons. But few use swords or long lances. They carry a spear (framea is their name for it), with a narrow and short head, but so sharp and easy to wield that the same weapon serves, according to circumstances, for close or distant conflict."

and also by Caesar writing of the fighting against the Harudes, Marcomanni and Suevi:

"But the Germans, according to their custom, rapidly forming a phalanx, sustained the attack of our swords.".

Swords were known in the area since the late bronze age however but they all look as if they have been traded, nothing distinctive seems to exist. Bronze age and Halstatt finds include (John Koch):

Karpfenzungenschwerter (Carp's tongue), 10th - 8th cents BC, a couple of sporadic finds northern Germany.
Antennenknaufschwerter (Antenna-hilted), 9th - 7th cents BC, numerous finds in northen Germany, along the Elbe, Jutland, the Danish islands and Poland.
Bronze and Iron Gündlingen Swords, Halstatt C/D, sporadic finds northern Germany.
Mindelheimschwerter, Halstatt C. This high status sword if found in a couple of places in northern Germany and with a slightly higher frequency in Jutland and the danish islands.
Phattenmesser, 12th - 8th cents BC, large numbers in the Danish islands, south west Sweden, northern Jutland and northern germany and Poland.

La Tene swords are relatively numerous (Koch) but finds of spears are much more common.

best

Harry A
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sun 11 May, 2008 7:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ken Speed wrote:
Fighting guys with armor and swords naked is just NUTS!! No pun intended!


While I tend to agree, bear in mind that most of the world fought with spear and shield for literally thousands of years. Swords and armor were by far the exception, most of the time. Rome is an exception, of course, but there is evidence that not all legionaries wore armor, let alone the auxiliaries. So if the shield is the usual protection, what good is a layer of linen or wool going to do, really? While a tunic might make you feel a little better, maybe going naked would more than compensate for that by the psychological effect on the other guy!

Quote:
Thats interesting and I appreciate it but I have always shied away from putting too much trust in artistic sources. Artists are interested in being artistic not accurate. I'm sorry I can't remember the name of the Civil War photographer who "artistically rearranged the bodies of soldiers for his pictures but things like that make me leery of the veracity of artistic renderings.


The Adamklissi monument shows Trajan's campaigns into Dacia, modern Romania. I don't recall any of the Dacians being shown naked, though many wear only trousers. The weapon mentioned is the falx:

http://www.larp.com/legioxx/falxcut1.jpg

The reliefs at Adamklissi are relatively crude in execution, but their historical details are demonstrably more accurate than those on Trajan's Column in Rome--which shows the same campaigns. Artistic evidence is a vital piece of the puzzle, and for the Germans that means Roman artwork (and Roman descriptions). It all has to be used a little carefully, naturally, but it's all you have!

Valete,

Matthew
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Sun 11 May, 2008 7:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Matthew ,



"The reliefs at Adamklissi are relatively crude in execution, but their historical details are demonstrably more accurate than those on Trajan's Column in Rome--which shows the same campaigns. Artistic evidence is a vital piece of the puzzle, and for the Germans that means Roman artwork (and Roman descriptions). It all has to be used a little carefully, naturally, but it's all you have!"

I don't dismiss artistic renderings altogether but I do tend to be less than totally confident in their accuracy. There is a written description somewhere which says that the Viking's ships had sails trimmed with sealskin so an illustrator did a woodcut which showed a Viking ship with sails with neatly scalloped edges. They were "trimmed" with sealskin, the artist didn't know that the term meant that the sails were adjusted (trimmed) with sealskin ropes.

Since I started this thread I have done more research and it seems that when the Romans said what was construed to mean that the Germanic warriors fought naked it actually meant that they fought with little or no armor.

My theory is that the man with the Falx is testy because someone stole his shirt and shoes! Laughing Out Loud

Thanks,


Ken
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Harry Amphlett




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PostPosted: Mon 12 May, 2008 4:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
While a tunic might make you feel a little better, maybe going naked would more than compensate for that by the psychological effect on the other guy!


That appears to be Plutarch's view. In the Life of Gaius Marius, he writes of the Cimbri:

"The barbarians, however, came on with such insolence and contempt of their enemies, that to show their strength and courage, rather than out of any necessity, they went naked in the showers of snow, and through the ice and deep snow climbed up to the tops of the hills ..."

Maybe it does just mean upper body.

best

harry A
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