A visit by Tiberius?
The regions was not without interest for the Romans. In Augustus memoires ”Res Gestae” he proudly tell how he send a small army and a fleet to these regions to find friendly connections here. This Expedition was led by general Tiberius, who would become the next Emperor of Rome.
The Varus Disaster
The Scandinavian region was a part of the ”Free Germania” – that part, the Romans never conquered.
In the years 9 BC to 9 AD the land between the Rhine and Elb rivers was also a part of the Roman realm. And the imperial border was right at the ”Root of Jutland”. But in year 9 AD, three roman legions, led by Quintillius Varus, was lost in a battle led by the german prince Arminius. This loss was such a shock for the Romans, that they withdraw to the Rhine and never again tried to conquor land on the ”Germanic” side of the river.
Tacitus and Ptolemaeus
In Roman eyes Germania was a dark, mystical place with endless forrests and tall blonde warriors. A part of the world they couldnt conquer and so, didnt understand.
I 98 AD the roman historian Cornelius Tacitus published his work ”Germania”. A book that would describe how the ”Noble Savages” in Germania lived. Here we read about bog- sacrifices to the goddess Nerthus. Sacrifices we know well in Denmark, due to our many Bog-finds and Bog bodies.
In the second century BC a roman scientist, Claudius Ptolemaeus tried to draw maps of the known world. In his work ”Geographica” was also a map of Germania, describing german tribes and their areas. This map you can see on the next pages.
Tribal areas and Chieftains
Some of the tribes Ptolemaeus mention is also known from other sources an later times. The Cimbrians, Teutons, Saxons, Anglons, Sudeten, Marovingi, Langobardi and Goths are all in this map from 150 AD. Also a small tribe called ”Danduti” in central Germany is mentioned, are these maby the Danes? And are the tribe of Suiones the root of the Swedes?
In Denmark a new Theory is, that the old medieval ”Shires” (DK: "Syssel") might have been the old tribal areas. In the roots of some regional names in Denmark, you can still find old tribal names mentioned by Ptolemaeus; The Cimbri, (Himmerland) Venethi (Vendsyssel) and Charudes (Hardsyssel). From the many archeological finds in DK from this time, it is clear that som sort of ”Princes” or powerful Chieftains ruled. A number of very rich tombs show powerful people with regional might.
Rome was the Fashion
The many finds of Roman goods in DK – given or bought from Romans – show that Rome was fashion, also here far north of the imperial border. Roman style was the trend, and can be seen in many finds. Women wore dresses – roman style – Men wore roman weapons - and in the town of Tjørring in Jutland, a Chieftain even layed out his farm, exactly like a roman Villa Rustica.
A change of culture
Acheological finds all over DK show that a cultural shift took place round 200 AD. Villages changed into big farms and architectural show of power. Also the burial customs changed. What happened, no one knows. Maby a migrational change. Maby it was from this time on, that the tribes of Danes took over the Danish lands?