This page is based in large part on the research of Karl Earlson, whose writings were the subject of uninformed and poorly reasoned criticism by the intellectually inferior RM. Karl was kind enough to share with me some notes he had prepared on this topic. Additionally, most of the images used on this page were compiled by Mr. Earlson.
Simple answer: yes. As the sources RM quotes on his own page confirm:
. . . movements from the north introduced Nordics of two varieties; the classic Hallstatt type, and the Keltic Iron Age type which was later to form the basic racial element among the Roman patricians.Below, I address the issue in more detail.
Demonstrating a complete ignorance of the topic, RM states:
Nordicism, like its counterpart Afrocentrism, arose in response to the shame felt by now-civilized Nordics that their ancestors were savages while culture flourished in the Mediterranean Basin.
Of course, as a better-informed opponent of Nordicism acknowledges:
France has flirted with Gallo-Romanism, Celticism and Gallicism; the Slavic peoples with Pan-Slavism, and the Turks with Pan-Turanism, the Negroes with Pan-Africanism, the people of Asia with Pan-Asianism, and the Italians under Mussolini with Neo-Romanism. But these ideologies were for the most part pale imitations of the doctrine of racial superiority, known variously as Aryanism, Nordicism, Teutonism, Gobinism, Anglo-Saxonism, and Anthropo-Sociology or Social Selectionism, which developed in northwestern Europe. (Jonassen 1951: 156)
According to Jonassen, "the culture of the ancient peoples of the North Sea Basin contained a rather complete racist theory which was integrated with their mythology and their total value system, and which in most respects paralleled the myths of modern racist dogma." Jonassen cites the description in the Rigsthula of Viking society as having a blond, Nordic upper class; a sturdy, red-haired middle class; and a deformed, black-haired lower class. Coon (1939) notes that these ideas "agree with and supplement the findings of archaeology and of physical anthropology". Coon suggests that Nordics also had been "aristocratic overlords" to darker types earlier in central Europe. Roman historian Tacitus -- whose Germania is often cited as an example of proto-Nordicism -- offers the Germans as racially pure and virtuous, in contrast to the decadent Romans of his time.
Nordicism, in various forms, dates back thousands of years; whereas, the "Medocentrism" to which RM and Dienekes subscribe is barely more than a century old. Mediterraneanism is just another "pale imitation" of Nordicism. Sergi, founder of Mediterraneanism, "sought to counter the Aryan ideology associated with growing German influence in Europe" (MacGaffey 1966: 3). Mediterraneanism, not Nordicism, is a twin of Afrocentrism. Afrocentrists and Medocentrists seek self-esteem in the "glorious past" of "their" peoples and blame their present degraded state on the exploitative white man or destructive Nordic barbarians.
Incidentally, it's a bit presumptuous for an American southern Italian, whose grandparents were in all probability illiterate, to call northern Europeans of any age "barbarians". In the Appendix, I briefly discuss "barbaric" ancient Northern Europe.
In saying "the Romans were Nordic", it is not, of course, meant that all the inhabitants of Rome were Nordic. What is meant is that the predominant racial type among the Italic invaders was Nordic, and the Nordic type continued to predominate among the Roman patricians. Coon explicitly endorses these assertions from the standpoint of physical anthropology. Portraits confirm the Patricians were overwhelmingly Nordic, with minor Nordic-Alpine and Phalian elements.
Portrait busts of Patricians
Patricians were the only true Romans, having initially been the only real citizens of Rome:
Niebuhr's researches into the early history of Rome have established it as a fact beyond all doubt, that during this period the patricians comprised the whole body of Romans who enjoyed the full franchise, that they were the populus Romanus, and that there were no other real citizens besides them (Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome, ii. pp. 224, 225, note 507; Cic. pro Caecin. 35). The patricians must be regarded as conquerors who reduced the earlier inhabitants of the places they occupied to a state of servitude, which in our authorities is designated by the terms cliens and plebs. The other parts of the Roman population, namely clients and slaves, did not belong to the populus Romanus, or sovereign people, and were not burghers or patricians.
PigmentationAccording to Peterson, literary evidence indicates that Patricians were lighter than Plebians and the remaining paint on Patrician death masks "commonly indicates light complexions with blue or grey eyes, and fair or brown hair" (1986: 220-2). Peterson also notes:
Literary evidence similarly gives us some idea as to the coloring of eyes, hair and skin of the original Romans, in so far as we may asume that the descriptions of their gods and heroes to some extent reflect a memory of the idealized ancestral type. Thus, Vergil, in the Aeneid, refers to the god Mercury, and to Lavinia, Turnus, and Camillus, as 'golden-haired'.
Of the important Romans whose hair and eye color were recorded, many had light pigmentation. A few examples are given below.
Augustus had light hair and light eyes.
"He had clear, bright eyes, in which he liked to have it thought that there was a kind of divine power, and it greatly pleased him, whenever he looked keenly at anyone, if he let his face fall as if before the radiance of the sun;"
(Suetonius, De Vita Caesarum: Divus Augustus, LXXIX)
- Nero had light hair and grey/blue eyes and came from a family named for their light pigmentation.
"Of the Domitian family two branches have acquired distinction, the Calvini and the Ahenobarbi. The latter have as the founder of their race and the origin of their surname Lucius Domitius, to whom, as he was returning from the country, there once appeared twin youths of more than mortal majesty, so it is said, and bade him carry to the Senate and People the news of a victory which was as yet unknown. And as a token of their divinity it is said that they stroked his cheeks and turned his black beard to a ruddy hue, like that of bronze. This sign was perpetuated in his descendants, a great part of whom had red beards."
(Suetonius, De Vita Caesarum: Nero, I)
- The Roman Emperor Commodus (AD 180-192), was blond and light-eyed.
"Commodus was of a striking appearance, with a shapely body and a handsome, manly face; his eyes were burning and flashing; his hair was naturally blond and curly, and when he went out in the sunlight it gleamed with such brilliance that some people thought gold dust was scattered on it before public appearances, though others considered it supernatural and said that a heavenly halo was shining round his head."
(Herodian, History of the Empire I, vii, 5)
- Sulla, who was of patrician descent, had blond hair, blue eyes, and a ruddy complexion.
". . . his golden head of hair made him an extraordinary-looking man, nor had he any shame, after the great actions he had done, in testifying to his own great qualities. And thus much of his opinion as to divine agency."
(Plutarch, Lives: Sylla)
Once they had reached a certain stage in their lives, the Patricians gained their additional personal name (cognomina), which was often based on the physical characteristics they possessed. Names such as Albus, indicate fair skin; Ravilla, grey eyes; Caesar, blue eyes; Flavius, blond hair; Rufus, red hair; Longus, tall stature; Macer, a slender body build. All of these names were common among the Patricians. Thus, the Latin author Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria (I, iv, 25), observes that a man called Rufos or Longos, is so named after his bodily features: because he is red-haired or tall. Plutarch, Coriolanus, XI, states that two men, one red-haired, the other dark-haired, could be distinguished by the former being called Rufus, the latter Niger. Aelius Spartianus, Historia Augusta: Aelius (II, 4), suggests that the Caesars gained their name from the fact that the founder of their gens had blue eyes (oculis caesiis). The lexicographer Sextus Pompeius Festus, de verborum significatu (376 ff), states that the name Ravilia derives from grey eyes (ravis oculis), and the name Caesulla from blue eyes (oculis caesiis). Julius Paris, de nominibus Epitome, VII, provides examples of women's names which, he says, have their origins in the bearers pigmentation: Rutila (red hair), Caesellia (blue eyes), Rodacilla (rosy complexion), Murrula and Burra (either red hair, or a ruddy complexion). I've provided all of these quotations to demonstrate that these names were not purely arbitrary, but were in fact based on physical characteristics, and that these features were not uncommon amongst a certain strata of Roman society.
Karl Earlson summarize Sieglin's findings on the pigmentation of the Patricians as follows:
Sieglin (1935), collated the details of Roman Patricians, whose names indicate fair hair. He produced the following list: 7 Flavi, 20 Flaviani, 10 Fulvi, 121 Fulvii, 27 Rubrii, 26 Rufi, 24 Rufii, 36 Rufini, 45 Rutilii and 13 Ahenobarbi. This totally confounds Sergi's contention that: "The Romans had also their Flavi, which indicates that fair persons were uncommon, and required a special name, but does not indicate that the Germanic type was considered aristocratic or dominant." [Sergi (1901) 20.] Obviously, such persons were not rare. Sieglin also determined that among the Iulii, Licinii, Lucretii, Sergii and Virginii families, the name Flavius was very common; Rufi was often seen among the Antonii, Caecilii, Coelii, Cornelii, Geminii, Iunii, Licinii (often also Flavii), Minucii, Octavii, Pinarii, Pompei, Rutilii, Sempronii, Trebonii, Valgii and Vibii; Rufini was found frequently among the gens Antonia, Cornelia, Iunia, Licinia, Trebonia and Vibia. Sieglin observes that this list could certainly be increased, in the light of further research. In addition to all of this, Sieglin also compiled a list of 63 blond or red-haired Romans, about whom a definite reference to hair colour was made; many of these individuals were Patricians. He also found references to 27 blond divinities (including Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, Diana, etc), and 10 blond heroic personalities. Man makes god in his own image: so, these blond gods are telling about the racial nature of the early Romans. His list of blonds includes Aeneas, the ancestor of the Latins, Romulus and Remus, the twin founders of Rome, Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, and even Roma, who symbolised the city of Rome itself.
While most of Sieglin's 63 light-haired historical Romans were Patricians, most of the 17 brunet Romans he finds references to were Plebians or freedmen.
The disappearance of the Patricians
The Patricians, of course, no longer exist, having died out long ago.
In a journal about the West and its future, it is fitting to end this article by briefly recounting the fate of the Roman upper class. Among Indo-European peoples, the Romans offer an especially useful example because they left masses of records, enabling later historians to determine what became of them. The evidence found in ancient texts implies that this class descended largely from Indo-Europeans who had a decidedly northern European physical type, although that isn't something one reads in modern books about Roman history. In Rome, though, the upper class was always a tiny minority. Instead of protecting its interests, it allowed itself to wither away. Consider a bleak statistic. We know of about fifty patrician clans in the fifth century B.C., but by the time of Caesar, in the later first century B.C., only fourteen of these had survived. The decay continued in imperial times. We know of the families of nearly four hundred Roman senators in A.D. sixty five, but, just one generation later, all trace of half of these families had vanished. (Day 2002)
Italians (particularly southern Italians) who fancy themselves literal descendants of the ancient Romans are severely deluded.
The total number of crania surviving from early proto-Italic populations is small. Two crania from Remedello are clearly dolichocephalic and belonged to individuals of a stature of 168 centimeters. Two early skeletons from Republican Rome are also dolichocephalic, being virtually identical to Hallstatt skeletons from the Lower Bavarian area. Another, from an early pre-Republican cemetery, closely resembles the crania of Celts from the Marne area in Northern France, being somewhat mesocephalic in type, but still leptorrhine.
Evidence of the Roman physical type has also been drawn from the remains of Romans who died in various parts of the Empire. Thus, four burials in York, in England, reveal the remains of Roman officers who were essentially homogeneous in type. All were dolicho- or mesocephalic, with slightly broad foreheads, pronouncedly aquiline noses, and relatively square faces. The skulls of two Roman officers found in Bath and Gloucester, and also of one at Lincoln, are similar in type to these. A group of eight Roman crania from the Rhine are almost identical to those remains found in Britain, and with thos of eight males in Rome in the Christian period. According to Carleton Coon, these remains "although few, are so alike that we must conclude that the Romans, however mixed, had formed a characteristic local or national physical type, which was mainly of Italic origin, and closely related originally to the Celts."
Above: Skull of the Roman officer Theodorianus, found buried at York. This skull is mentioned by Coon and is typical of the Roman Keltic Nordic type. The source for the image is J. B. Davis & J. Thurnam, Crania Britannica (London, 1865).
Excavations of a cemetery at Cannae show that about 90% of Roman males bured there were dolicho- or mesocranic. These remains are also interesting in other ways. Though Fedeli (1960), heavily influenced by Sergi, claims the remains are predominantly "Mediterranean", there are reasons to doubt this conclusion. About half the males are aristencephalic (large-headed), which is typical of Nordics, not southern European Meds. And, while the average stature is low, individuals of up to about 177 cm in height are represented (though, Fedeli uses the Manouvrier method to reconstruct heights, which may underestimate stature by up to 2-4 cm, cf. Wurm 1983). About 1 in 3 males are hypsicranic (high-skulled), which is typical of many Scandinavian Nordics, including "Corded" types.
While some of those buried at Cannae may have been (western, presumably) Mediterranean types, the data are consistent with a large Nordic presence. This excavation definitely rules out any suggestion that the Romans were predominantly brachycephalic. It might be interesting to use the remains from Cannae to track racial change over time, or examine racial differences between social classes, but this may not be possible and no such analyses have been published.
Moving on, only one brachycranic skull is found in a series of eight (early fourth-century BC) Roman crania from Latium (Pasarello 1974). Kajanto (1965) offers lists of Latin cognomina which demonstrate light pigmentation among the Romans. Medocentrists will typically either claim the Romans were "Med", or, when confronted with the fact of light pigmentation among Romans, claim the Romans were "Alpine". But skeletal evidence proves the Romans were overwhelmingly dolicho- to mesocephalic and literary evidence indicates they were often light-pigmented, so the rather ridiculous medocentrist position of course fails to hold up.
- In a series of 28 male and 11 female Samnite skulls from Aufidena, males are dolichocranic, leptorrhine, and mesene (bordering on leptene). Females are mesocranic, leptorrhine, and leptene. Importantly, the mean male cranial length is 193mm, comparable to modern Scandinavian means (Cresta & Vecchi 1969). As Italian Mediterraneans are typically small-skulled, it's clear we're dealing with Nordics here.
- The Piceni were predominantly Hallstatt Nordic. While Coon believed the Piceni were Illyrians, Passarello (1974) mentions that most scholars consider them to have been Italic.
"To the Illyrian group may have belonged the people who buried in the cemetery of Novilara, on the central Adriatic coast, about the eighth century B.C., contemporaneously with the Villanova people. The site belonged to a tribe called the Piceni, who in the seventh and sixth centuries developed a high culture and later declined, becoming subjects of Rome. The doubt as to their ethnic origin may be partly dispelled by a knowledge of their physical remains. A series of eighteen male and thirteen female skulls is homogeneously dolichocephalic, with the low mean male cranial index of 71.2; the skulls are high-vaulted, narrow-faced, and leptorrhine. The series is very similar to those of Hallstatt Illyrians farther north, and the stature, 165.5 cm. for males, is tall enough to support this." (Coon)
Finally, the notion that a small group of culture-bearing Nordics civilized the "darker" natives of Italy is totally shattered by the well-documented fact that all of the essential elements associated with Roman civilization were developed by the earlier, Mediterranean Etruscans
RM is confused on at least two levels. The Etruscans should not be characterized as simply "Mediterranean"; a significant Alpine racial element was present among the Etruscans, in addition to Dinaric, Hither Asiatic, Nordic and Phalian elements. Nor was Etruscan culture simply "developed" in situ by "Mediterranean Etruscans"; rather, it was largely borrowed from various eastern and northern sources.
Etruscan culture, like Greek, has diverse "oriental" elements from the whole Near East . . . But in design it was exceedingly complex, since the demographic background of the Etruscan cities involves great ecological diversity, with local growth from Neolithic and Bronze Age, direct continuity out of a Villanovan Iron Age culture with its Hungarian, Hallstatt, and Greek and other Mediterranean connections . . . and hence a truly checkered history both before and after the Renaissance . . . (Angel 1960)
According to Guenther, "a transitory Etruscan ruling class of Nordic race" may once have existed. Guenther points out that Nordic features and fair hair are sometimes seen in Etruscan paintings.
Physical anthropology of the EtruscansKarl Earlson summarizes the findings of Guenther (1957) as follows:
There are also craniological studies: these suggest that the Etruscans were composed of highly variable elements, ranging from dolichocephals to brachycephals. Throughout the Etruscan culture area, the percentage of brachycephals ranged from a high of 85% to a low of 42%. Skulls of Nordic type have also been found in the Etruscan graves . . . In a series of 18 long-headed Etruscan skulls from Bologna, a discernable Nordic element is detectable. A series of 20 Etruscan skulls from Cività Vecchia (the Etruscan heartland), reveal a group that is predominantly Mediterranean, but with a strong Nordic element, consisting of tall-statured individuals, with large cranial capacities.
More recent research confirms the basic findings of Guenther. Facchini (1980) mentions that an Etruscan series from Bologna Certosa:
. . . shows clear heterogeneity because of elements corresponding to either the Mediterranean or the Alpine race are present there. In particular, in addition to dolichomorphic individuals with an ellipsoid or ovoid cranial shape and a middle stature, there were found individuals with sphenoid skulls. A brachymorphic individual with a probably flat occipital bone and not particularly high stature should also be noted.Facchini also mentions differentiation of Etruscan series from various sites in "the frequency of the brachymorphic type." Incidentally, Facchini is using a fairly simplistic system of racial classification here, under which Nordic skulls would be classified as "Mediterranean".
Facchini concludes that there was "relative continuity" between the Villanovians and the Etruscans, though he admits that "there were contributions of both ethnic groups and cultural elements from other neighboring regions or from eastern Mediterranean areas". It is likely that the major population element of the Etruscans was of autochthonous origin. But, physical anthropology can't rule out the presence of some foreign elements and artistic evidence suggests the presence of both Northern European and Near Eastern types.
Gerhardt (1954) likewise agrees that the Etruscans were racially heterogeneous, identifying Mediterranean, Alpine, and Cro-Magnon elements among them, along with other subtypes.
The Roman relationship with the Etruscans
It is true that the Romans borrowed elements of Etruscan culture, just as the Etruscans had borrowed elements of Greek culture, and the Greeks, Near Eastern culture. But, aside from some minor technological borrowings, in my view, and according to the core values of the Romans themselves, most Etruscan influence on Rome was for the worse.
The Romans saw Etruscans as immoral:
Many Greek and Roman authors including Theopompus of Chios and Plato referred to the Etruscans as immoral. During later Roman times, the word Etruscan was almost synonomous with prostitute, and Livy's histories moralise about the rape of Lucretia, where Roman women are seen as virtuous model wives in comparison to their liberated Etruscan counterparts.
The Etruscan contribution to Rome RM forgot to mention: sexual deviancy.
The city of Pompeii was founded by the Etruscans as part of their expansion in Campania. Although captured by the Samnites in the 4th Century, and later by the Romans,it retained many of the customs introduced by the Etruscans, in common with Capua, the Urbs princeps of the Campania league. We have a very good understanding of sexuality among the Pompeians during the 1st Century CE, although to correlate this with Etruscan habitation of Pompeii requires a trained imagination. In Pompeii, all variations of sexuality were openly and blatantly pursued. Here, homosexuality, group orgies and even pedophilia were widely accepted as normal behaviour.
According to tradition, the Roman Republic was born of a revolt against the corrupt Etruscan kings:
Rome threw out the inept rulers, the Etruscan kings, around 510 to 509 B.C. . . .As Karl Earlson notes:
Lucretia was married to a promising aristocrat, but the son of the Etruscan king Tarquin found her to be attractive. He took a liking to her and raped her. . . . Lucretia . . . killed herself. The Romans, inspired by the actions of Lucretia, took up arms and rebelled, tossing out Tarquin and his countrymen. . . . Thus began the Roman Republic.
To a certain extent, Rome was as much a rejection of the Etruscans, as an acceptance of their culture. The early Romans were repulsed by the Etruscans' loose morals, and their lack of discipline. The Etruscans were contemptuously referred to as "obese". Many of the Romans vices came from the Etruscans, such as the gladiatorial games, and their sexual perversity, whereas most of their virtues came from their Indo-European inheritance. At the end of the day, the pupil (Rome), went far further than the teacher (Etruria) . . .
An "Etruscan" source for the Roman nose?
There is no evidence that the "Roman nose" is Etruscan in origin. Coon suggests the "Roman" nose "may have been partly derived from an Etruscan source." But, according to Peterson, any assumption of admixture "should not be accepted unquestioningly." Peterson suggests:
Linguistic borrowing could readily have occurred with a minimum of genetic exchange. Furthermore, the subsequent amalgamation of the Italic peoples under Roman leadership led to marriages between Romans and other Italic nations (as in the period of the Sabine Wars) and many of the Patrician families of Republican Rome were of Oscan of Umbrian origin. Thus any Etruscan influence on the Romans during the period of Tarquin rule would have been diluted in Republican times by subsequent intermarriage between Romans and Italic peoples who had not been exposed to Etruscan contacts. (1986: 220)Moreover, there is nothing non-Nordic about the "Roman nose". On the contrary:
The Nordic nose differs from that of the Mediterranean in its greater height, diminished width, increased length, and extremely 'pinched' wings. The bridge is oftener convex in Nordics, and the tip is sharper and sometimes slightly depressed. The convexity of the Nordic bridge is likely to be high up on the nasal bones, making an 'aquiline' or 'Roman' form of nose. (Hooton 1946: 518)
Roman emperors are not the best examples of what the original Romans looked like (for better examples, see the Republican-era Patricians above). Augustus was of relatively minor patrician birth. The Flavians weren't patricians at all, but rather equestrians. Most of the old patrician families had been killed off in the civil wars.
Despite the above, the early emperors are still predominantly Nordic and Phalian. Coon (1939) agrees:
Their facial type is not native to the Mediterranean basin, but is more at home in the north.They are a very light pigmented group. According to information compiled by Earlson, at least 9 of the 18 emperors from Augustus to Commodus were light-haired and only 1 is recorded as having dark hair; at least 9 of the 18 were light-eyed, 2 are described as having "wine-colored" eyes, and the eye color of 7 is unknown. Julius Caesar is the only early Roman ruler whose eyes were definitely described as dark. But:
Baltzer (1934: 171, 263 n. 9) argues that busts show his eyes as grey, and he suggests that the report by Suetonius of Caesar's nigris 'dark' eyes (Divus Iulius 45) really means that his pupils were dilated. (Day 2001: 145)Day doubts the "dilated pupils" argument. But even if Suetonius did really mean "dark eyes", I give more weight to Caesar's eye color as depicted in busts. Additionally, it has been suggested that the etymology of Caesar's name indicates he came from a blue-eyed family.
Augustus is described as fair-haired and light-eyed. Augustus' facial features are clearly of northern provenance. As we'll see below, cranial form can't be accurately determined from Imperial Roman sculpture. But, if we extrapolate from the extant Roman skeletal remains, Augustus was most likely dolicho- or mesocephalic. Guenther (1957) classifies Augustus as predominantly Nordic.
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Guenther (1957) classfies the Flavian dynasty (Vespasian and his sons, Titus and Domitian) as predominantly Phalian. Phalians are tall, robust, and light-pigmented. They have broad faces, but long skulls, being essentially a modern survival of the Cro-Magnon physical type.
The Flavians were tall and fair-haired -- unsurprising considering their family name is derived from a Latin word for "blond". Domitian is also described as blue-eyed and ruddy (Sieglin 1935).
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Marcus Aurelius has Nordic facial features. Again, it is impossible to determine his head form from his statues -- especially in small, crude sculptures like the one RM chose. Even if the carving chosen by RM did get the proportions of his head right, Aurelius still has a narrower face than Ripley's "Teutonic" type, though the Nordic facial features of each are similar.
(Ripley's label reads: "San Giacomo di Lusiana Sette Comuni, Province of Vicenza. Blond. Index, 85.2")
Incidentally, there is no reason to privilege the cephalic index above other indicators of racial type. On the contrary: considered alone, cephalic index is crude to the point of uselessness; and, even taken together with other information, it is only minimally useful. Just as someone who is otherwise a textbook example of a Nordic wouldn't be called non-Nordic merely because he is short, a person with Nordic facial features and coloring is still Nordic even if brachycephalic. In fact, Kiszely (1979) identified a brachycranic Nordic type as one of the racial types introduced into northern Italy by the Germanic invaders. This type, which "frequently occurs in the ancient homeland of the Lombards in Scandinavia and in north Germany", is fully Nordic in all respects, aside from CI.
Above: Kiszely's brachycephalized Nordic type
When Coon says "the well-known sculptures of Caesar, Augustus, and others [are] not reliable from the standpoint of accurate measurement", he means it! He does not mean for a clown like RM to cite the previous sentence, and then immediately go on to eyeball some photos of sculptures and claim they show prominent Romans "were predominantly brachycephalic". The three statues of Augustus pictured below, wildly divergent in head form, make this point explicit.
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Flattened occiput; prominent nose; high skull. Dinaric?
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Augustus' facial features, together with his light pigmentation, show that he was predominantly Nordic. The proportions of his cranium as depicted (often inaccurately) in statues, are irrelevant. The same goes for the other Romans on RM's page.
There does seem to be a systematic bias in imperial statues towards broader faces. Coon believes this means "a mesocephalic to brachycephalic head form was admired." Personally, I think a better explanation is that the bias was introduced by the sculptors themselves. Day notes that:
. . . artists perhaps tend to give their subjects something of their own physical traits . . . For instance, Manouvrier alleges that one artist painted the French anthropologist Paul Broca, who had dark hair and a roundish face, with his own traits of fair hair and a longer face . . . And if early IE speakers expanded as elite groups, then perhaps the artists in IE-speaking societies may have belonged to the lower class . . . (2001: 360-1)
Roman sculptors would have derived mainly from the predominantly Alpine artisan class, and many sculptors would have been Greeks or other foreigners.
Portrait busts based on death masks of Patricians, like those shown above, offer the most reliable artistic representations of the Roman physical type.
The importance of these visual images of the ancestors is mentioned by Pliny, who complains about the introduction of foreign artists during his time, and comments: "conditions were different in the atria of our ancestors where it was portraits that were looked at, and not statues by foreign artists, either in bronze or marble." (Peterson 1986: 223)
Earlson commits further fraud with his unqualified translation of the Latin term flavi—commonly found in reference to the hair color of prominent Romans—as blond in the contemporary sense. This term, like the Greek equivalent xanthos, was in actuality used to designate "any hair color short of jet black" that was usually "not lighter than auburn" (Wace, Cambridge Ancient History).
It's somewhat amusing that RM falsely accuses Earlson of fraud in a paragraph in which he himself perpetrates a genuine fraud. RM quotes "A. James Gregor" (born Anthony Gimigliano) -- another "Italian-American" with an axe to grind -- quoting Wace on the meaning of xanthos in modern Greek. The relevance of this definition to the ancient Latin word flavus is not immediately obvious. In the above quoted paragraph, RM demonstrates yet again that he is both stupid and intellectually dishonest. Earlson uses the generally accepted definition of "flavus", given by Lewis and Short as "golden yellow, reddish yellow, flaxen-colored, blonde".
RM goes on to state:
But even if some Romans were legitimately blond, Coon and Baker make clear that blondism of both the hair and eyes is not an exclusively Nordic trait :It is often supposed that blondness is an indication of Nordid ancestry. Taken by itself, it is nothing of the kind. (Baker, Race)
Here is the quote from Baker in context:
It is often supposed that blondness is an indication of Nordid ancestry. Taken by itself, it is nothing of the kind. The Dalofalids, for instance, who inhabit Westphalia and the province of Kopparberg in Sweden, are as blond as the most typical Nordids; so are the Osteuropids of north-eastern Europe, who are very unlike Nordids in appearance . . . (Baker 1974: 219)
Dalofalids (Phalians) are a northern European type (though not Nordic in the strict sense). Phalian elements were present in Rome (see, e.g., the Flavians), but physical anthropology and portraits show that the patricians were overwhelmingly Nordic. Osteuropids (East Baltics) were of course not present in Rome. Most blondism in Rome would have been associated with Nordic blood.
RM also claims:
Coon even notes specifically that in Italy "blondism is everywhere correlated with a relatively high cephalic index", which indicates that it was introduced by Alpines rather than Nordics, who have low cephalic indices.
The claim that blondism "was introduced by Alpines" is both irrelevant and essentially wrong. It is true, as Coon points out, that:
The association of relatively great blondism with brachycephaly merely indicates that both Alpines and Dinarics are characteristically mixed or intermediate in pigmentation.
But, it is likely that the Alpines and Dinarics of northern Italy are predominantly descended from the indigenous population of Italy. Thus, it would be more correct for RM to state that heavily-pigmented elements were introduced into southern Italy via the Middle East and North Africa. Blondism was indeed "introduced" into Italy by Nordics, and Coon acknowledges that some "unaltered Nordics [are] still found in northern Italy and in aristocratic families." Also, we should remember the brachycranic Nordic type described by Kiszely, which may contribute something to the blondism-brachycephaly correlation. Additionally, what is true for the masses need not be true for the elite. Sergi and Frassetto (1924-5), measured the skulls of some notable (northern) Italians and reported their cranial indexes as follows: Dante (75.6), Petrarch (74), Raphael (80.2), Foscolo (78), and Volta (77.4); all were dolicho- or mesocranic.
But, the foregoing is irrelevant, since modern Italians are not ancient Romans; and we know from skeletal remains that the Romans were dolicho- or mesocephalic.
Cato the Elder: RM demonstrates his prowess as a historian
RM incorrectly labels a bust of Cato the Younger as Cato the Elder.
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"Roman" emperor Caracalla
Amusingly, RM initially included the emperor Caracalla as an example of a "Roman", further illustrating his tenuous grasp of history. RM has since removed Caracalla, presumably after someone informed him Caracalla had a North African father (Septimius Severus) and a Syrian mother (Julia Domna).
Were the Romans Alpine?RM claims that when Coon says the Roman "facial type is not native to the Mediterranean basin, but is more at home in the north", he really means the Romans were Alpine. This absurd claim is contradicted by Coon's own words:
. . . the movements from the north introduced Nordics of two varieties; the classic Hallstatt type, and the Keltic Iron Age type which was later to form the basic racial element among the Roman patricians.RM also quotes his fellow dishonest, anti-Nordic southern Italian "Gregor":
A. James Gregor confirms this in Nordicism Revisited when he declares that "...all anthropological evidence indicates that the Hellenes were a compost of ethnic strains, as were the Kelts, and that the Italici were predominantly Alpine", citing the research of Whatmough in The Foundations of Roman Italy and Sergi in The Mediterranean Race, among others."Gregor" dishonestly ignores Coon's finding that:
The little crania material at hand points entirely in the northern direction, and confirms the relationship between Kelts and Italici, insofar as it may be used. . . . Two [early Italic] crania from Remedello are both those of dolichocephals of moderate size . . . Two early Romans were likewise dolichocephals of the same size and proportions as many of the Nordic groups north of the Alps . . .Gregor is certainly aware of Coon's work, since he cites Coon in other contexts in "Nordicism Revisited". The very fact that he opts to cite older works and ignore Coon's findings on the racial type of the Italici illustrates his dishonesty. Moreover, he is dishonest in his citation of Sergi. While it is true that Sergi believed the original Italici to be Alpine (in keeping with his ridiculous theory that the Indo-Europeans were barbaric "Eurasian" Alpine invaders, while Nordics and Watusi are "Mediterraneans", closely related to each other), Sergi nevertheless believed that the Romans were "Mediterraneans" of autochthonous origin.
According to Karl Earlson:
Sergi examined Sabine skulls from the Forum of Rome, and Samnite skulls from Alfedena, dating from the 8th to 6th centuries BC. They both belonged to the Italic peoples, and were long-headed and narrow-faced, with strongly-marked features and large cranial capacities. He stated that these crania exactly resembled the skulls of the Germanic Reihengräber (Row-Graves). The people of the Reihengräber were unquestionably Nordic. The Italian anthropologist R. Zampa examined Oscan skulls of a similar vintage, and noted that they were dolicho- or mesocephalic in form.
. . . the invasions of German barbarians in the 5th century A.D. toppled the Empire and ushered in the Dark Ages.
Over the centuries, people have offered up hundreds of theories to explain the decline and fall of the Roman empire. It's a testament to RM's ignorance and bias that he exclusively blames "attacks by Germans" for the fall, when in fact people of Germanic descent were the only thing propping up the dying Roman Empire before its final demise. Karl Earlson notes that:
From the 4th century AD onwards, the "Roman" army was predominantly Germanic in its composition, and many of the key roles in the army were also held by individuals of Germanic ancestry. Examples of this include Odoacer's brother, the Scirian Onulf, who was magister equitum in Illyria, the Visigoth Ricimer, who was magister militum of the West, and the Vandal Stilicho, who was magister utriusque militiae of the Western Roman Empire. In the year 382 AD alone, Emperor Theodosius I introduced 40,000 Visigoths into the Roman army. This introduction of fresh blood reinvigorated the army. For instance, the minimum height requirement had been 1.48m, but it was possible to raise it to 1.65m, and for the elite troops, it was set at 1.72m. Without these warriors to defend them, where would the Romans have been? The Germano-Roman army that defeated the Huns at Châlons in AD 451, is a perfect example of the Romans great need. As Gibbon said:"During the same period, the barbarians had emerged from obscurity and contempt, and the warriors of Germany and Scythia were introduced into the provinces, as the servants, the allies, and at length the masters, of the Romans, whom they insulted or protected. The hatred of the people was suppressed by fear; they respected the spirit and splendour of the martial chiefs who were invested with the honours of the empire; and the fate of Rome had long depended on the sword of those formidable strangers."
The Germanics possessed not only military, but political power as well. Under Emperor Gallienus (AD 260-268) a Heruli named Naulobatus was appointed consul. In these years, the following Germanics were consuls of Rome: AD 456 Ricimer; 460 Dagalaifus; 467 Ermanrica; 470 Illone, Theodorico; 475 Jordano; 489 Albino; 500 Theudoro, Ariobinda. From the 4th century AD, the following Germanics were tribunes: Arintheus, Senianchus, Bappo, Bainobaudes, Laipso, Nestica, Charietto, Hariobondes, Dogalaif, Balchobaudes, Vadomar, Munderich, Logariman, Richomeres, Barzimer, Frigerid, Mallobaudes. Emperor Theodosius I appointed the blond-haired Stilicho (of Vandal ancestry), as guardian of the Western Roman Empire, and during the minority of Theodosius' son Honorius (AD 395-423), Stilicho practically ruled the western half of the Roman Empire, his daughters Maria, and later Thermantia, even married Honorius. Stilicho helped keep the Germanic tribes within the Empire in check. When Stilicho was treacherously executed on trumped-up charges, the West practically collapsed into chaos.
Above: portrait of Stilicho
The last really effective Emperor of the West was Majorian (AD 457-61). He was a blond-haired man of Vandal ancestry. His death spelt the doom of Rome. I can do no better than quote Gibbon on Majorian and his virtues:"The successor of Avitus presents the welcome discovery of a great and heroic character, such as sometimes arise, in a degenerate age, to vindicate the honour of the human species. The emperor Majorian has deserved the praises of his contemporaries and of posterity; and these praises may be strongly expressed in the words of a judicious and disinterested historian: 'That he was gentle to his subjects; that he was terrible to his enemies; and that he excelled in every virtue, all his predecessors who had reigned over the Romans.'"
The Germanic peoples were also considered to be morally superior, and to have had a positive influence over the Romans. The fifth century Gallo-Roman Bishop of Marseille, Salvian, in his de gubernatione Dei, VII, declares: "There is no virtue in which we Romans exceed the Vandals." He goes on to state: "Where the Goths rule, only the Romans are immoral, but where the Vandals rule, even the Romans become chaste." It should be borne in mind here, that Salvian was a Catholic who despised the Arian heresy of the Goths and Vandals, yet he nonetheless praised them as virtuous.
Racial change as a primary cause of Roman decline
The seeds for the destruction of Rome were already sown in the transformation from Republic to Empire, which was itself symptomatic of Orientalizing influences. As the empire progressed, Romans failed to reproduce their numbers, and many of those who remained dispersed to the colonies. Huge numbers of slaves were imported into Italy from the Near East. And Roman slaves were, for the most part, non-European -- not, as the ignorant RM would like to imagine, German.
Therefore, when the urban inscriptions show that seventy per cent of the city slaves and freedmen bear Greek names and that a larger portion of the children who have Latin names have parents of Greek names, this at once implies that the East was the source of most of them, and with that inference Bang’s conclusions (Dr. Bang of Germany) entirely agree. In his list of slaves that specify their origin as being outside Italy (during the empire), by far the larger portion came from the Orient, especially from Syria and the provinces of Asia Minor, with some from Egypt and Africa (which for racial classification may be taken with the Orient). Some are from Spain and Gaul, but a considerable portion of these came originally from the East.Arthur Kemp has compiled many references on the subject of racial change in Rome.
Very few slaves are recorded from the Alpine and Danube provinces, while Germans rarely appear, except among the imperial bodyguard. Bang remarks that Europeans were of greater service to the empire as soldiers than servants.
(Frank, Tenney 1916 `Race mixture in the Roman Empire': American Historical Review, Volume 21, pp. 700,701).
The "Dark Ages"
RM's use of the value-laden and anachronistic term "Dark Ages" is itself worth noting (the phrase was coined and promoted by misguided ideologues centuries ago), and his claim that Germanic people "ushered in the Dark Ages" is of course wrong. If we use the following definition of "Dark Ages":
An era from about 476 B.C.E. to about the year 1,000 characterized by repression and unenlightenmentThen clearly fanatical Christians had much more to do with bringing about "Dark Ages" than Germanic invaders, as the timeline below, compiled by Karl Earlson, should illustrate.
- AD 379-395: the reign of Emperor Theodosius I (the "Great"), he bans the 1,000-year-old Olympic Games, and closes all of the Pagan temples, many of which are destroyed. Edward Gibbon on the subject:
"But in almost every province of the Roman world, an army of fanatics, without authority and without discipline, invaded the peaceful inhabitants; and the ruin of the fairest structures of antiquity still displays the ravages of those barbarians who alone had time and inclination to execute such laborious destruction."
- AD 389: a Christian mob, led by Archbishop Theophilus, destroys the great Library of Alexandria and much of its contents, as well as the magnificent Temple of Serapis.
- AD 401: Christians led by the Patriarch of Constantinople, John Chrysostom, destroy the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), tearing it apart stone by stone.
- AD 415: Hypatia, a great Pagan female scholar, is dragged from her chariot by Christian monks, inspired by Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria, she is then brutally hacked to death by them.
"On a fatal day, in the holy season of Lent, Hypatia was torn from her chariot, stripped naked, dragged to the church, and inhumanly butchered by the hands of Peter the reader, and a troop of savage and merciless fanatics: her flesh was scraped from her bones with sharp cyster shells, and her quivering limbs were delivered to the flames. The just progress of inquiry and punishment was stopped by seasonable gifts; but the murder of Hypatia has imprinted an indelible stain on the character and religion of Cyril of Alexandria." (Gibbon)
- AD 475: in Constantinople, the mob riots and burns the Palace of Lausus to the ground: the palace contained many of the great artworks of Antiquity, such as the Olympian Zeus by Pheidias, the Aphrodite of Cnidos by Praxiteles, etc.
- AD 529: the Byzantine Emperor Justinian closes the Platonic Academy of Athens, after almost 1,000 years of continuous existence, the Academy's scholars flee to the Sassanian Empire (Persia).
"The Gothic arms were less fatal to the schools of Athens than the establishment of a new religion, whose ministers superseded the exercise of reason, resolved every question by an article of faith, and condemned the infidel or sceptic to eternal flames." (Gibbon)
- AD 590-604: the reign of Pope Gregory I (the "Great"), he orders the contents of the Palatine Library in Rome (dating back to the reign of Augustus), to be burnt, because of the "Pagan" works it contains.
"The mongrel races destroyed the monuments, partly from religious fanaticism, partly because the statues provided the best lime for building and the temples furnished splendid dressed stones. Where are the true barbarians?" (The foundations of the 19th century, p. 555 fn)
"The Vandals were not deliberately destructive. They left Augustine's library at Hippo untouched, and the dilapidated appearance of the towns in later times cannot be laid at their door. It was the Moors, those ultimate barbarians, who were responsible for most of the damage, helped along by the Byzantines, who grabbed any available dressed stone for their fortifications." (Randers-Pehrson 1983: 157)
Unlike some fanatical Christians, the Germanic people did not actively suppress knowledge or seek to destroy antiquities -- they behaved in nearly exactly the opposite manner. According to Jordanes' Getica:
"Think, I pray you, what pleasure it was for these brave men [Goths], when for a little space they had leisure from warfare, to be instructed in the teachings of philosophy! You might have seen one scanning the position of the heavens and another investigating the nature of plants and bushes. Here stood one who studied the waxing and waning of the moon, while still another regarded the labors of the sun and observed how those bodies which were hastening to go toward the east are whirled around and borne back to the west by the rotation of the heavens. When they had learned the reason, they were at rest." (XI, 70)
"Wherefore the Goths have ever been wiser than other barbarians and were nearly like the Greeks, as Dio relates, who wrote their history and annals with a Greek pen." (V, 40)
According to Gibbon:
"The Gothic kings, so injuriously accused of the ruin of antiquity, were anxious to preserve the monuments of the nation whom they had subdued."
Ostrogothic king TheodoricH.S. Chamberlain contrasts the destructive later Roman emperors with the Gothic king Theodoric, who appointed an architect and spent lavishly to preserve Roman antiquities.
"Very noteworthy too is the difference which reveals itself here in a hundred ways, between the innate decency, taste and intuition of rough but pure, noble races and the mental barbarism of civilised mestizos. Theodosius, his tools (the Christian fanatics) and his successors had done their best to destroy the monuments of art; on the other hand, the first care of Theodoric, the Eastern Goth, was to take strong measures for the protection and restoration of the Roman monuments. This man could not write, to sign his name he had to use a metal stencil, but the Beautiful, which the bastard souls in their “Culture,“ in their hunting after offices and distinctions, in their greed of gold had passed by unheeded, the Beautiful, which to the nobler souls among the Chaos of Peoples was a hateful work of the devil, the Goth at once knew how to appreciate; the sculptures of Rome excited his admiration to such a degree that he appointed a special official to protect them." (The foundations of the 19th century, p. 323)
Theodoric's rule saw a temporary reversal in Italy's decline:
"In reality Theodoric's reign appeared to bring once more a Golden Age to the sorely-tried peninsula. Experts in well-boring were brought from Africa to help restore the cultivation of the waterless country where the woods had been cut down; and swamps were drained. Books of magic and theatres were forbidden, edicts were issued for the protection of ancient monuments. Roman literature once more flourished in Italy . . ." (Catholic Encyclopedia)
". . . the professors of grammar, rhetoric, and jurisprudence, were maintained in their privileges and pensions by the liberality of the Goths." (Gibbon)
Karl Earlson notes that:
After the Western Empire collapsed, the King of the Ostrogoths, Theodoric II (AD 493-526), defeated Odoacer (who had deposed the last Roman Emperor Romulus Augustulus in AD 476), and became the ruler of Italy. Theodoric the Great inspired a renaissance in Italy, and the land was more vigorous than it had been for a century. Theodoric was a great commissioner of buildings, and the economy of Italy thrived. . . . Gibbon notes the Flourishing state of Italy and the Prosperity of Rome, under Theodoric. It was in fact the Byzantine reconquest of Italy which caused the country political and economic problems.
Ultimately, the Germanic tribes cleared away the detritus of centuries, and paved the way for the Renaissance which their descendants would bring about. Gibbon:"This diminutive stature of mankind, if we pursue the metaphor, was daily sinking below the old standard, and the Roman world was indeed peopled by a race of pygmies; when the fierce giants of the north broke in, and mended the puny breed. They restored a manly spirit of freedom; and after the revolution of ten centuries, freedom became the happy parent of taste and science."
Decline and renewalRoman demographics spelled inevitable decline. It was only the Germanic invasions which offered the possibility of regeneration.
The incursions of barbaric pastoralists seem to do civilizations less harm in the long run than one might expect. Indeed, two dark ages and renaissances in Europe suggest a recurring pattern in which a renaissance follows an incursion by about 800 years. It may even be suggested that certain genes or traditions of pastoralists revitalize the conquered people with an ingredient of progress which tends to die out in a large panmictic population for the reasons already discussed. I have in mind altruism itself, or the part of the altruism which is perhaps better described as self-sacrificial daring. (Hamilton 1975)
As Houston Stewart Chamberlain put it:
"There is no doubt about it! The raceless and nationless chaos of the late Roman Empire was a pernicious and fatal condition, a sin against nature. Only one ray of light shone over that degenerate world. It came from the north. Ex septentrione Lux!" (The foundations of the 19th century, p. 321)According to Guenther:
[T]he Italian Renaissance is seen clearly as a renewed flow of Nordic blood into the life of a people and its soul. Down to the beginning of the fifteenth century we find, indeed, in documents many Italians given as descendants of Lombards, Alamans, and so on (ex Alamannorum genere; legibus vivens Langobardorum). . . . Giotto, Masaccio, Filippo Lippi, Donatello, Signorelli, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Andrea del Sarto, Titian, Dante, Pico della Mirandola, Petrarch, Tasso, Galileo — all are of Nordic blood, and, when they are artists, depict men of the Nordic type. . . . The greatest men of the time are almost without exception from districts that formerly were settled by Germanic tribes; and their Nordic blood can often be shown in the details of their descent.
Karl Earlson summarizes some of the findings of Woltmann as follows:
Woltmann studied portrait paintings, busts and written descriptions, to ascertain the physical features of the great men of the Italian Renaissance. He revealed that many of the individuals in question, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Tasso, Galileo, etc., were of Germanic descent, and that they possessed Nordic racial characteristics. The results of his investigations, were as follows: of the 125 men whose eye colour could be discerned, 102 had blue, blue-grey or blue-green eyes; 18 had brown or brown-grey eyes; and 5 had eyes of mixed pigmentation. Of the 108 men whose hair colour could be accurately determined, 68 had blond or red hair; 26 had brown hair; and 14 had black hair. [Woltmann (1905) 143-144.] Woltmann also discovered that most of the noble families who ruled over much of Northern Italy, produced blond individuals throughout their generations. Such families as the d’Este of Ferrara, the Bentivoglia of Bologna and the Sforza of Milan, were all largely blond-haired and blue-eyed. [Woltmann (1905) 42-49.]
(1) Leonardo da Vinci. (2) Death mask of Torquato Tasso (1544-1595), greatest Italian poet of the late Renaissance. Tasso was described as blue-eyed and paintings show his hair as dark blond or light brown. (3) Galileo Galilei (4) Pope Innocent III, considered "the greatest pope of the Middle Ages"
As for southern Italy, when RM's peasant ancestors weren't being ruled by Moors, their rulers were typically Germanic.
This Robert was Norman by descent, of insignificant origin in temper tyrannical, in mind most cunning, brave in action, very clever in attacking the wealth and substance of magnates, most obstinate in achievement, for he did not allow any obstacle to prevent his executing his desire. His stature was so lofty that he surpassed even the tallest, his complexion was ruddy, his hair flaxen, his shoulders were broad, his eyes all but emitted sparks of fire, and in frame he was well-built where nature required breadth, and was neatly and gracefully formed where less width was necessary. So from tip to toe this man was well-proportioned, as I have repeatedly heard many say. Now, Homer says of Achilles that when he shouted, his voice gave his hearers the impression of a multitude in an uproar, but this man's cry is is said to have put thousands to flight. Thus equipped by fortune, physique and character, he was naturally indomitable, and subordinate to nobody in the world. Powerful natures are ever like this, people say, even though they be of somewhat obscure descent.
(description of Robert Guiscard, Duke of Apulia and Calabria, from Anna Comnena's "Alexiad")
Below: Sicilian actor Enrico Loverso -- contrast with the Germanic Italians shown above.
- The early Italic invaders from the north and their descendants, the Roman Patricians, were predominantly Nordic, as can be demonstrated through physical anthropology, portrait busts, and literary evidence.
- The Patricians, and Romans in general, died out, through war, emigration, and low birth rates. Romans were largely replaced in their own cities by Middle Eastern slaves, sealing the fate of the empire.
- Germanic soldiers and leaders prolonged the life of the dying empire. When the final collapse came, Germanic invasions laid the groundwork for later renewal. People of Germanic descent played a dominant role in the Italian Renaissance.
Living conditions in northern Europe have never been particularly "primitive" compared to those experienced by the southern European masses, much less those found in Africa. For most of history, the southern European peasantry from whom the vast majority of today's southern euros descend lived in squalor. The benefits of "civilization" accrued mainly to a small elite, who often had little in common genetically with the peasant masses. If you want to see "primitive" in a European context, look at the state of southern European agricultural technology in 2003.
Above: "An Albanian man smokes a cigarette as his wife carries hay alongside the national road in near Elbasan, near the capital of Tirana February 24, 2003. In rural Albania, tradition dictates that women to do all the house chores with men never helping as this is seen to be a sign of weakness" (REUTERS/Arben Celi).
Bronze Age Denmark
Especially considering its outlying geographic position and low population density, Bronze Age Denmark was far from "primitive".
Scandinavia underwent a cultural florescence in the 2nd millenium; a flourishing export trade developed -- mainly in Baltic amber -- with central Europe, while Scandinavia imported copper and tin. Craftsmanship in bronze was revolutionised during this period, and with it a hierarchical society emerged. Rich burials in tree-trunk coffins covered by mounds have been extraordinarily well preserved by waterlogging, and finds of organic remains such as clothing, as well as more durable grave-goods, give a vivid impression of Scandinavian culture. . . . skilled and distinctive native metalworks developed quickly after the appearance of the first imports [of bronze]. (Past Worlds: Atlas of Archaeology, p. 116)
Above-left: Items recovered from the grave of a woman at Borum Eshøj. Above-right: Items from the grave of a man at Trindhøj.
- Early Bronze Age Clothing in Denmark
- Guder & Grave (Gods and grave): a large, well-illustrated presentation on the Danish Bronze Age, from the National Museum of Denmark (in Danish)
The Megalithic culture
No comment should be required, except to point out that theories about "Mediterranean" origins for the Megalithic culture have long-since been discredited by carbon dating.
- The Nordish Megalithic Culture
- The Neolithic Village at Skara Brae: note, also, Skara Brae has "the world's earliest sewage system" (James and Thorpe 1995: 359), which predates that of the palace at Knossos by about 1500 years.
- The Megalithic Portal
- Stone Pages: archaeology of megalithic Europe
The Nebra Disc and the Goseck observatory
Two recent discoveries prove that ancient Germany was far from "primitive" when it came to astronomy.
In Nebra, in Saxony-Anhalt, a bronze disc was discovered, which contains astronomical information, being "decorated with gold leaf symbols that clearly represent the sun, moon and stars." The disc dates to 3,600 years ago and "is considered to be the oldest concrete representation of the cosmos."
At the nearby town of Goseck, the remains of "the oldest-dated astronomical observatory in Europe" have been discovered.
(Source: Deutsche Welle, 8 August 2003)
Francois Bertemes of the university of Halle-Wittenberg estimated the site to be around 7,000 years old. He described its significance as "one of the oldest holy sites" discovered in Central Europe.
Through carbon dating of two arrow heads and animal bones found within the site’s circular compounds, archaeologists have been able to determine the date of the site’s origins. They say that with all likelihood it can be traced back to the period between 5000 and 4800 B.C. If that is the case, it would make the Goseck site the oldest-dated astronomical observatory in Europe. . . .
Schlosser, a specialist in astro-archeology, says the southern gates marked the sunrise and sunset of the winter and summer solstice and enabled the early Europeans to determine with accuracy the course of the sun as it moved across the heavens. Schlosser is convinced the site was constructed for the observation of astronomical phenomena such as the movements of the sun, moon and stars, and for keeping track of time. These celestial cycles would have been important for the sowing and harvesting of crops in the early civilization.
- Official Nebra Disc site (mostly in German)
- Germany's "Sky Disk" seen as key for archaeoastronomy (scroll down)
It's important to remember that in ancient times northern Europe supported only a very small population. According to Karl Earlson, "the ancient City of Rome alone had a million people, whereas there were probably not a million people in the whole of Scandinavia at that time." Additionally, in a time when civilization relied on slave labor, the Mediterranean basin provided a ready, concentrated supply of serfs for Nordics to rule over; conversely, northern Europe was a land of widely dispersed and freedom-loving people who would move elsewhere rather than allow themselves to be placed in bondage. Yet, as Earlson points out, even with many factors working against it, northern Europe was never as "barbaric" as some present-day backward southern Europeans like to imagine.
. . . we must not underestimate or needlessly denigrate the culture of Northern Europe. Denmark during the Bronze Age was surprisingly sophisticated, and the clothes they wove, were finer than anything else in the world at that time. The skill of their craftsmen and metal workers was superb, and they maintained high standards of hygiene in their daily lives. The Megalithic culture was also responsible for great acheivements. As carbon dating has proved, this culture was indigenous to Northern Europe, and not imported. The construction of these monuments was a great feat, and reveals developed astronomical knowledge, in the alignment of the stones. Certain Megalithic settlements reveal toilets and rudimentary plumbing, and other Scandinavians produced efficient bathing areas and saunas. The navigation skills and the ship building of the Vikings was unparallelled during their time. They were great traders and seafarers, and we still do not completely understand how they navigated at sea. It is untrue that the Northerners were "illiterate". They possessed the Runes, and people who have a written script cannot be considered illiterate. When Charlemagne conquered the Saxons, he massacred the knowledgeable and literate elite of this people, and his son Louis the "Pious" burnt all of the written records that had been captured, because of their "pagan" nature. Spanish Christians did much the same thing to the Mayans. We must also be careful when making assessments from often hostile Roman and Christian sources. By comparison with Australian Aborigines, or the Bushmen of South Africa, who possessed neither written script, worked metal, or even the wheel, the Northerners can hardly be considered "barbarians".
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