Talk:Goths/Archive 1

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The author of this article has apparently used only the older literature and completely neglected the most recent research by Christensen, Bierbrauer, Wolfram and others which show convincingly that the Goths originated from the Wielbark culture of northern Poland and that they did not come from Scandinavia. This view is also expressed in the authorative Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde. I think this article should be revised to reflect the latest and best founded view on the Goths and not the outdated scholarship.

I am not the only author of this article. I have added quite little, and most of my edits consist of polishing. Moreoever, why do claim that it is outdated? Have you read this talk page? You'll find references to many modern scholars who disagree with you.--Wiglaf 15:51, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)


I don't see any consideration of the main scholarly work on the Goths in the article. Thus, the recent book by Arne Soeby Christensen, who shows that Jordanes' work cannot be used to postulate a Scandinavian origin of the Goths has not been mentioned. Also, leading scholars like H. Wolfram, A. Schwarcz, W. Pohl, V. Bierbrauer and others have clearly not been considered at all. The Wikipedia arcticle should refect the latest views as they can be found in key works on Germanic history such as the Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde. In the present shape the article is misleading readers.

The matter does not stand and fall with Jordanes. Moreover, instead of putting the burden of evidence of Jordanes, you could start to argue about the evidence against the Scandinavian origins of the Goths. That would be relevant.--Wiglaf 18:46, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Moreover, here is a selection of scholarly work that is at odds with your version:
  • Bell-Fialkoff, A., The Role of Migration in the History of the Eurasian Steppe, London: Macmillan, 2000.
  • Findeisen, Joerg-Peter, Schweden - Von den Anfaengen bis zur Gegenwart, Regensburg: Verlag Friedrich Pustet, 1998.
  • Hermodsson, Lars, Goterna - ett krigafolk och dess bibel, Stockholm, Atlantis, 1993.
  • Nordgren, I., Goterkällan - om goterna i Norden och på kontinenten, Skara: Västergötlands museums skriftserie nr 30, 2000.
  • Rodin, L. - Lindblom, V. - Klang, K., Gudaträd och västgötska skottkungar - Sveriges bysantiska arv, Göteborg: Tre böcker, 1994.
  • Schaetze der Ostgoten, Stuttgart: Theiss, 1995.
  • Studia Gotica - Die eisenzeitlichen Verbindungen zwischen Schweden und Suedosteuropa - Vortraege beim Gotensymposion im Statens Historiska Museum, Stockholm 1970.
  • Tacitus, Germania, (with introduction and commentary by J.B. Rives), Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999.--Wiglaf 20:33, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Also, I find it disgraceful, how a well written and sound piece of work by a respectable scholar like Eric Anctil was attacked and denounced in this discussion.

I don't think so. He chose the arguments and I showed the problems of those arguments. If it was well-written and sound I would hardly succeed in doing so, would I?.--Wiglaf 18:46, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)





I was wondering if anyone can help me to find the origin of the word Gothic when refering to the art of the time frame. I am very interested in why they chose this word and was it associated the way that we think of the word today?

I haven't read any recent expose, but from memory (and my own imagination I guess), there was a substantial pro-"Goth" romanticism in the Mediterranean area after the time of the fall of West Rome. This must have had some of its roots at least in a probably conscious propaganda. For instance the naturalized goth/roman Theoderic ("the Great") had a Goth descendant (self-proclaimed at least) scribe, who did much to glorify the origin of T. (See Cassiodurus, Jordanes). The Gothic term may have had its original roots somewhere in that context, although it did not surface until much later - Charlemagne adored Theoderic and for instance had the equestrian statue of him (erected in Constantinople prior to T's leaving for the Italian campaign) brought all the way up to Aachen. Associating with the glorious, the brave etc etc Goths was important, evidently. After that time, the link from the Goths to Gothic may be easier to follow.
But do keep in mind this is way off what I might claim to actually "know". Otherwise I'd write it up in a neato article:-) Oh and I haven't even bothered to actually asearch the pedia before writing this... OlofE 23:25 May 5, 2003 (UTC)

Also, re: etymology of Goth - There is a neck ring or arm ring found in the Ukraine or Belarus somewhere, dated at approx 200 AD and with a Gothic language inscription made with runes (it's one of only 3 or 4 such inscriptions). The text is along the lines of, "Gauthi ring", interpreted as simply "Our ring". I take this to indicate there is some agreement that the "gaut-" stem is used in the meaning of "us", "we", and that there may be a closer relationship between the tribes describing themselves with similar words - Jutes, Geats (Götar), Gutar (Gotland) and Goths. Of course, if those tribes once formed a greater body of people, other tribes probably also shared the same origin, only they took more imaginative new names for themselves:-) I'll get back in a while with sources for this (both the ring and the word), I'm kinda swamped right now. OlofE 23:34 May 5, 2003 (UTC)


"The word Göð"? In what language? Frankly, I believe this is B/S. OlofE 15:32, 8 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I haven't been able to track down confirmation of this, either. Mkmcconn 15:49, 8 Aug 2003 (UTC)
Removed what I spotted of the ... whatever. OlofE 17:13, 8 Aug 2003 (UTC)


Years went from 1 BCE to 1 CE, no? What is this reference to 0 CE in the article?

An anonymous contributor wrote:
"The question of the origin of the Goths has been discussed for a long time. Modern scholarship mostly rejects the idea that the Goths originated in Scandinavia. The 6th century Getica, written by Jordanes on the basis of the now lost history of the Goths by Cassiodorus, envokes several origin options, including the Getae, the biblical Magog and the island of Scanza. These are, however, topoi of ancient historiography and they don't reflect a real authentic tradition."
There are two problems with this text. Firstly, it uses words such as "no longer accepted" and "rejects". This doesn't sound very NPOV in my mind. The little I know about Polish archaeology is that the Scandinavian origins are pretty uncontroversial in Poland.



That is wrong I am afraid. Practically all Polish scholars advocate the long-accepted view that the Wielbark culture is an indigenous culture that emerged without any migration out of the so called Okciewie culture.

So what is wrong with this article then:[[1]?--Wiglaf 19:03, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)




Secondly, he pretends that the biblical Magog and the Getae are other "origin options". This does not correspond to my reading of Jordanes. When I read him, he is quite clear on the Scandinavian origins of the Goths. This piece also sounds pretty suspect: "they don't reflect a real authentic tradition." How can he know?

The view that Jordanes presents several contradicting origin topoi has been argued by Profs. Wolfram, Goffart and by. A. Christensen. Your reading may be different, but this article should not reflect your opinion, but that of mainstream scholarship.

Again, a selection of three scholars, who you claim represent mainstream scholarship.--Wiglaf 19:03, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)



Is there any proof that the Goths are the aboriginal population of the Vistula basin? Was the Vistula basin the cradle of the Germanic languages? Did the Goths come from Northern Germany?



Please read V. Bierbrauer's work on the archaeology of the Wielbark culture on this.

Please, summarize instead of referring to books.--Wiglaf 19:03, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Unfortunately the anonymous user is one of those bullies who love attacking weak theories without providing any theories of their own.



I think your own theories are really not what matters for a Wikipedia article, but what matters are the theories established and discussed by the leading scholars in the field, and their views seem to be in stark contrast to yours.

Yes, they are, but they are also in stark contrast to other scholars.--Wiglaf 19:03, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)


Any opinions? Wiglaf
I think those "options" should be sticken or moved to a discussion on the history of Gothic history - Jordanes is pretty clear on the topic (been a while since I read it but that's how I remember it).

You remember incorrectly. Please read a standard work on Gothic history such as H. Wolfram.


The Getae link is based on a misunderstanding (I can't recall anyone debating this?) and should perhaps be explained. I don't see a problem with the phrases ("no longer accepted", "rejects") though, they are pretty accurate descriptions of contemporary views, are they not? What particular section is it that you object to?

There isn't any claim that the Goths are the aboriginal population of the Vistula, is there... the text simply says that around that date, that's where we believe they were - before that, we don't know.



That is exactly correct!

Yes, and that is not a theory. That is an earliest date.--Wiglaf 19:03, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)



Some sort of summary of archeological support (and lack thereof) for links between various regions and the Gothic culture should also be added to balance the linguistic part. So.... how about restructuring the "Origins" section into
  • Historical accounts (Ambrose (377-378, Gog/Magog should be coming from the north and the Goths come ab extremo Aquilone, from the exteme cold/North), Claudian (402, in saluting Stilicho, claims the Goths come from the snowy north), Cassius Dio, Jordanes (etc)
  • Archeological material - the first roman coin celebrating a victory against "Goths" (Victoria Gothica) was minted by emperor Claudius (268-270) (previous coins say Victoria Carpica or Victorica germanica) - other archaelogical finds (inscriptions, burial patterns)
    • Modern conclusion from most importantly burial patterns and burial finds indicates a quite strong link between Geatish areas and the presumed Gothic culture in its progress southeastwards. It cannot be proved, but based on such finds one can speculate in long-term communication and cultural/economic exchange between the two areas
  • Linguistic connections (you know better than I how to summarize that)
That would give a better (more balanced, IMO) picture of where current scholarship stands, do you agree?
There may also be a case for a proper section on the history of Gothic heritage claims (esp. Spanish and Swedish history, as they are the most active). It's certainly interesting enough.
OlofE 13:52, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

You wrote

I don't see a problem with the phrases ("no longer accepted", "rejects") though, they are pretty accurate descriptions of contemporary views, are they not?"

Yes, probably. However, my impression from talking with archaeologists and historians (I know a few) is that the Scandinavian origins of the Goths are not that controversial.


From a Symposium I attended two years ago, the impression is that Swedish scholars cling to that view, while everybody else has accepted that the Goths did not come from Scandinavia.

Please read the Polish article, I linked to. It does not even mention that there is a dispute on this.--Wiglaf 19:03, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

---



You wrote:

There isn't any claim that the Goths are the aboriginal population of the Vistula, is there... the text simply says that around that date, that's where we believe they were - before that, we don't know.

Exactly. So what is the point of disagreeing with Jordanes? He was in a better position to know, and refuting his theory should require some evidence. So far, I have seen no competing theory, and I have seen no evidence for any other background for the Goths. It seems like disagreeing with Jordanes is only a way of showing the scholar's analytic skills (which the anonymous contributor didn't do very well, did he?), without shedding any further light on the subject.

I agree with your suggestions. I will get back to contributing as soon as I have finished my Ph.D. Wiglaf


I think it is paramount that the commentator above reads the recent substantial study by Arne Soeby Christensen on Jordanes. The work is based on the authors PhD thesis and presents a very thorough analysis of Jordanes. However, the general way of thinking that by blindly trusting the ancient authorls like Jordanes we are already a step closer to the truth is really really not acceptable and very misleading for any historian. Please read Christensen's recent book to get a very good perspective on that. alternatively you can consult R. Hachmann's book on the Goths and Scandinavia, which appeared already 30 years ago.

The article hardly quotes Jordanes as evidence.--Wiglaf 19:03, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Jordanes states clearly that he did not have the work at hand - in the prologue of the Getica, he states that he has only had access to the original for 3 days but he is confident he can summarize it properly. He does not say when he had the original for reading though - it may have been last week or 10 years ago (from his time of writing) // OlofE 22:51, 23 Aug 2004 (UTC)

OK, I'll insert it back then.--Wiglaf 05:12, 24 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Correcting myself for the record - I (like Jordanes haha) don't have access to the book at the moment, but I meant the "dedication", not "prologue". It's in the part where he thanks his benefactor, right at the start of the book (so it is a prologue but I don't remember what Jordanes actually calls it). Nitpicking myself. I pondered for a bit if it might be the right decision to strike the passage in the article anyway - not because of the source situation but because it might be considered irrelevant. I can't offhand recall any encyclopedia or other source that mentions this circumstance. Perhaps that is a hint that it's not worth mentioning. // OlofE 07:38, 24 Aug 2004 (UTC)

From Eric Anctil's ethnographic study of Scandinavia in Roman times:

"His theory of the Goths having crossed the Baltic Sea from Sweden to northern Poland is flawed given that archaeology doesn't support his proposed migration route. Besides the fact that it was probably based on oral legends, too many generations had distorted the story and Jordanes himself was biased in trying to consolidate Roman historiography with Gothic history in order to advocate a fusion of cultures. Archaeological excavations in northern Poland were unable to find any similar characteristics that associated the two Northern European cultures except stone circle cemeteries that appear long after the initial appearance of the Goths in Roman sources during the first century CE. It would seem that this Gotho-Gepedian culture originated on the Continent and very likely exported their ritual methods across the Baltic to Sweden rather than the reverse since there is no physical evidence for movement across the Baltic during the first century BCE or CE(Heather 1996, 25-26)." [2]

Thanks for showing a piece of POV scholarship. His assertive statements, which are very disputable, remind me of pseudo-science and cast doubts on his scholarship. Now, it is my turn to show something more neutral:



I know Eric Anctil as a very erudit, thorough and well regarded scholar. His views are exactly in tune with the recent evidence!!!! To denouce is qualification is very rude bulliying and should not be permitted on this board!!!

Well, I only analysed his arguments, did I not?--Wiglaf 19:03, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)



Nordic origin, as possibly invented during the 4th century or as a genuine tradition in the form of a myth. However, this does not explain archaeological evidence for contacts during earlier periods. A reasonable explanation for similarities in the material cultures can be that they are products of long-term contacts, perhaps originating in connections between the Lusatian culture and other urnfield groups on the continent and eastern Scandinavia already during the Late Bronze Age – Early Iron Age. Regular contacts between high ranking groups in different geographic areas could eventually have developed into a close relationship between certain groups of the Wielbark culture and groups of people in Scandinavia, visible in similarities in material culture, language and burial customs. The archaeological record could indicate that Jordanes´ history concerning the origin of the Goths was based on an oral tradition with some sort of real background. [3]--Wiglaf 17:33, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Polish archaeologists, who probably know most about the finds, take the Scandinavian origins for granted:


I haven never met a Polish scholar who denied that the Wielbark culture was indigenous. Also, the most renoun expert on Wielbark archaeology is Volker Bierbrauer to whom most Polish scholarship referes with discussing these topics.

You again equate archaeological culture with ethicities. Very few, or no serious archaeologists do so.--Wiglaf 19:03, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)


Wielbark communities comprised mostly members of tribes already settled in this area with the addition of Scandinavian migrants, who maybe arrived here in small groups.[4]--Wiglaf 19:25, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

What you call "POV scholarship" -whatever that's supposed to mean- and "pseudo-science" is actually a well written study, which cites all the sources for its claims, a bit different than the links you've provided, which seem to dwell a bit too much in "coulda, woulda, shoulda" type of arguments("The archaeological record could indicate...", "...the addition of Scandinavian migrants, who maybe arrived here...", "A reasonable explanation for similarities in the material cultures can be that..."), not any conclusive evidence, based on archaeology, not oral "histories", for a supposed "Scandinavian" origin of the Goths. As pointed out by Anctil, there is no question of "contact" between the Goths of Poland and the people of Scandinavia, but what the archaeological record does not show -at least at the time Anctil wrote his paper- is a migratory movement from Scandinavia to Poland during the first century BCE or CE, therefore putting a strong doubt in a supposed "Scandinavian" origin.

Since you seem to question the credentials of anyone who doesn't agree with your opinions, Eric Anctil's brief bio here

[5]

You are more than welcome to contact him and (try) to show him that his "POV scholarship" and "pseudo science" is all "flawed" and that you can "prove" the Goths were indeed "Scandinavians".

Regarding Polish archaeologists: to my knowledge, the Polish archaeologist who directed the most recent research on the Gothic sites in Poland is Andrzej J. Kokowski, but unfortunately I am not aware if any of his papers on this topic are available in English yet, so I don't know what his opinion on their origins is.



Andrzej Kokowski is a good friend of mine and we worked together on some exhibitions about Vandals and Goths in the past. He certainly is the leading Polish expert on Wielbark archaeology and you would hear from him nothing but that the Wielbark culture is indigenous to the Vistula region. He allows for some Scandinavian influence but always argues that the Wielbark-Goths did not come from Scandinavia.

Yes, he allows for some Scandinavian influence. Moreoever, serious scholars usually do not equate archaeological culture with language or ethnicity in the way that you do.--Wiglaf 19:03, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)



Why do you quote Kokowski if you don't know his opinion? Why do you have a problem with the careful wording of my quotes? Serious scholars are quite careful about what can be stated for a fact. Since you don't see the fallacies in Anctil's presentation, I will show them to you. There are several warning signs.

  1. he limits the time period to 100BC-100AD, consciously omitting the time prior to this. Why? The preceeding period probably does not fit his opinions.
  2. he proposes that they only came from the Continent. Where is his "evidence" for that? His only evidence is claiming that there is no "evidence" for the Scandinavian origin (NOTE: he has excluded the period prior to 100BC). Then, he uses the logic fallacy "As there is not 100% evidence for theory A, this proves that theory B is right" (for which there is no proof either, by the way). Non-scholars may fall for it, though, but I consider it to be spurious scholarship.
  3. I rarely see serious scholars use the term "evidence". Most academically trained people are wary of such terminology. Pseudo-scholars love the word, though.
  4. He asserts his point of view and ignores the implications (did the Goths come from Germany or was Poland the cradle of the Germanic languages?).
  5. He asserts what fits his own ideas and avoids discussing the problems. That impresses very few scholars.

That is enough for now.--Wiglaf 18:02, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)


"Name dropping"? "quoting"? are you even reading the thread anymore? I mentioned Kokowski because I happen to know that he was the director of the most recent excavations in Poland, and I know he has already written some articles, but they are in Polish as far as I know. I don't know what his opinion on the origins of the Goths is... yet. If I find anything in English then I will be glad to let you, Anctil, and maybe even professor Peter Heather, know about it(that's if they are not already familiar with it.)

Regarding your "points", which are all pretty much answered by Anctil's study already, I will answer the first 2, since the others are hardly serious and pretty much self-answerable with a bit of investigation:

1- No, because there isn't any evidence of older Gothic sites than that period.

2- Because the oldest identifiable "Gothic" graveyards are in Poland. Since no older ones have been discovered, not even in Sweden, their reputed "homeland" of legend, the most logical conclusion is that they were actually a continental people.

Regarding "serious scholars" and "pseudo-scholars": If you weren't so quick to attack the opinions that do not fit your agenda, you would have seen that Anctil identifies his sources very well. By checking his references with the bibliography you would already have found out who his main source is for his statements regarding the unlikely "Scandinavian" origins of the Goths. It's professor Peter Heather, author of quite a number of articles and books about the Goths. His books and articles are among the standard scholarly texts on this issue, and they are regarded as the first studies on the Goths to rely on the archaeological record, not just "histories" from ancient times:

[6]

[7]

The fact that you keep implicitly attacking Anctil as a "pseudo-scholar" -which he isn't- will not get away from the fact that, at least in the English-speaking Western world, this is a current academic view of the Goths based on the archaeological data.

Now, whether the research of Polish archaeologists will change this or not is a matter of speculation at this point.


I did not attack him as a pseudo-scholar, I said that his way of arguing reminded me of one.
You wrote: 1- No, because there isn't any evidence of older Gothic sites than that period.
That is interesting, and then I guess he identifies "Gothic" with very specific traits and excludes other traits as non-Gothic right? However, what does this prove?
You wrote: 2- Because the oldest identifiable "Gothic" graveyards are in Poland. Since no older ones have been discovered, not even in Sweden, their reputed "homeland" of legend, the most logical conclusion is that they were actually a continental people.
We're again back to specific traits. Unfortunately, cultures change and I strongly doubt that the Goths started to identify themselves as Goths by presenting what today is specific archaeological traits.
Consequently you claim that the Goths were Goths solely due to a specific material culture and not due to the use of a language (appearing from somewhere) or a line of common rulers, unlike most other nations. Perhaps you and Anctil have a very special definition of "ethnicity". That is not wrong, but your definition may not be shared by everyone.
Cultures just don't materialize out of nowhere in the year 100BC with an ethnic name and a culture. We don't know for a fact when a population that called themselves Goths appeared. All we have are opinions based on educated guesses, and assertions such as Anctil's do not impress me.--Wiglaf 20:57, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

You seem to keep thinking it's "Anctil's assertions" rather than the current academic ones. Anctil wrote a paper where the subject of Gothic origins had to be touched, and his statements are based on current academic authorities, mainly the research of Peter Heather. Even more recent publications on the Goths agree with him and pretty much make it clear that Jordanes' proposed migration from "Scandza" is a myth with no evidence to back it up:

[8]

[9]

[10]

Goth-Gepid, or Gotho-Gepedian, culture is originally from continental Europe. That's what modern research says so far.


I am sorry, but do two scholars, Heather and Christensen, equate consensus in modern research? I have already given you two links to scholars who don't agree with them. You continue to assert what modern research says without acknowledging that there are diverging opinions. That is what Wikipedians call POV.--Wiglaf 15:48, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)


I am sorry, but how come is it that these allegedly "diverging opinions" are preferable to the ones that a bit more straightforwardly argue that there is not much evidence for an Scandinavian origin of Gotho-Gepedian culture? This is what in the real world is called "being arbitrarily selective". Heather is cited all over the place(a simple google search shows it.) If that is not pretty much evidence of how well recognized he is regarding the Goths, I don't know what is.

Besides, even your somewhat speculative("could", "maybe", "can be", etc.) links show reservations about this "migration" from Scandinavia to Poland:

"During this period, some grave structures and objects demonstrate cultural contacts between Scandinavia and the Wielbark culture in Poland. Such finds have traditionally been connected with Jordanes´ Getica, and its account of a migration of Gothic people from Scandinavia. In modern research, the theory of a massive migration has generally been abandoned. The Wielbark culture is generally believed to have developed from earlier cultures in the same area."

One of your very own links, then, is not very positive on the migration route proposed by Jordanes, and acknowledges it to be "generally abandoned", which pretty much should answer your doubts about what "consensus in modern research" says. What the book that you are linking to apparently wants to do is argue for an "earlier" contact(which does not necessarily equate into Goths = Scandinavians.) If there is a good argument for such earlier "contact" we'll have to wait and see(but that book has been available since 2001 and it doesn't seem to have changed the consensus that Gotho-Gepedian culture developed in continental Europe, otherwise I would expect to see more articles and books in favor of an Scandinavian origin. Instead, you'll find that Heather's books and articles are still widely quoted and used by people who write articles, papers or webpages on Gothic history, even as recently as 2004, as showed in one of the above links.)


You wrote: I am sorry, but how come is it that these allegedly "diverging opinions" are preferable. Perhaps this is due to the fact that you'll rarely find an opinion that everyone agrees on in humanistics. During the last decades Chomsky was great in linguistics, but now his theories are becoming obsolete, because everyone did not agree with him, even during his age of greatness. Perhaps you'll find more scholars maintaining that the ethnogenesis of the Goths were in Poland. However, the Polish article does not even question the Scandinavian origins. You have to agree that theories are just theories. The Central European hypothesis is a theory, just like the Scandinavian origin hypothesis is a theory. You may find this open approach to be objectionable, because it does not adapt the information to your point of view, but at Wikipedia, discussing several opinions is the preferred approach.--Wiglaf 18:28, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)



Though Linguistics may be, Archaeology is not exactly just "humanistics", as it involves science as well, so this is not exactly a comparable case. And I was actually being a bit sarcastic when I asked that. I was just pointing out the apparent selective nature of the data the article chooses to show.

The Polish article: unfortunately, it does not show any proof or argument whatsoever to justify its constant association of "Goths" with "Scandinavians"; it does so in a seemingly quite "gratuitous" manner. I suppose the author has, or thinks he has, his reasons, but he has not shared them with us(he seems to take it as a given that we all know they really were Scandinavians and doesn't bother to explain why is this so apparently "clear" to him.) If he had done so, I would have contacted Anctil, or maybe even Heather, and asked for opinions on such assurances.

Regarding "openness": The problem is precisely that the approach, at least in the case of this article, is hardly "open". It is obvious that whoever the author is(you, perhaps?) is being arbitrarily selective in what data to show the readers. The fact that the alleged "Scandinavian" origin of Gotho-Gepedian culture is not proven at all, and that Jordanes account of migration is not corroborated -at least as far as the archaeological record is seen and understood by Western scholars like Heather- does not seem to be taken into consideration. Why aren't these views -which many seem to have no problem with, and in fact are rather standard and often quoted- being included in the article, and why is there such a favoritism for the (few) ones apparently claiming or suggesting an Scandinavian origin? That was the essence of my somewhat sarcastic observation in the form of a question.


Well, the scientific level of linguistics depends very much on the theory and on the approach (it's an extremely varied field). You are very welcome to add relevant information in a neutral manner. If you're unhappy with parts of the article, you have the right to modify it and I hope we can arrive at an article which we both can accept. At the moment the article does not claim that the Scandinavian origin is a fact, and I think that is OK. I'd prefer it not to be dogmatic about any point of view in this matter.--Wiglaf 20:36, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)

P.S. Professional archaeologists are usually very sceptic about ascribing ethnic identities to archaeological cultures lacking written remains, such as the Gotho-Gepidic.--Wiglaf 03:06, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)


Well, as the article currently stands, I have a problem mainly with the following parts:

"The Goths were a Germanic tribe originating apparently in southern Sweden..."

"Although no alternative theory has been proposed for the appearance of Germanic tribes in northern Poland, some historians reject the idea that the Goths originated in Scandinavia. This is due to the fact that, disregarding Jordanes, the earliest literary evidence for the Goths (Tacitus and Ptolemy) puts them at the Vistula in 1st century AD. Such revisions do not, however, offer alternative hypotheses for the background of the Goths."

"The material culture associated with these Goths (or better Gotones) is typically identified with the Wielbark/Willenberg culture, which has strong influences from the closely related culture of southern Scandinavia[2] (http://www.muzarp.poznan.pl/archweb/gazociag/title5.htm). Moreover, in Västergötland, in Sweden, there is a sudden disappearance of villages prior to the appearance of Goths in Poland. Modern archaeological research consequently supports the Scandinavian origin of the Goths and the authenticity of their tradition[3] (http://www.arkeologi.uu.se/publications/opia/gothicabstract.htm)."

It is not as "easy" and "clear" as that. The fact is that Jordanes' proposed migration from "Scandza", which suggests a Scandinavian origin for the historical group of people called "Goths" by the Romans, has been "generally abandoned", as clearly stated even by your very own link. And the archaeological record, as far as is seen by Western scholars, is not as "clear-cut" as the article seems to suggest. It rather points to a continental origin, according to Hachmann's(mentioned in one of Anctil's papers dealing with Jordanes' claims) and Heather's view.

Nevertheless, I admit that it is a bit puzzling why an article written by a Polish associate professor keeps insisting -unfortunately without providing explanatory arguments- in an association of "Goths" with "Scandinavians". The author seems to take it for granted that a "Gothic" element is "foreign" to the local cultures of Poland(specially the "Wielbark Culture", which he obviously believes developed locally from earlier cultures), as clearly seen in these passages:

"Recent archaeological research and lengthy debate on this subject have, however, established that the Wielbark Culture did not simply come into being as a result of the arrival of tribes of Scandinavian Goths in Pomerania. Instead, it evolved from the development of the local Oksywie Culture, possibly having been subject to outside influences from Scvandinavia."

"The Wielbark Culture appears to have been composed of Scandinavian Goths and Gepidae as well as of earlier local communities - the Venedi and Rugii... Whether the Wielbark Culture was really of Gothic ethnic origin or made up of a number of different tribes (including Goths), we cannot say."

It's obvious that this insistence on the allegedly "foreign" origin of the Goths and "Gepidae" is apparently quite in contrast with the statements by Hachmann and Heather that Goth-Gepid culture is of continental origin. It would be interesting to give that link to Heather -if he hasn't already read it- and ask for his take on it.


Well, if Heather hypothesizes that the Goths could not have had a Scandinavian origin, he does so without evidence. Most archaeologists think that the Gothic culture and the Geatish culture were very similar. I fail to see how Heather can assert that there was no migration from Scandinavia when archaeologists find a Scandinavian influence on northern Poland following evidence of deteriorating climate in Scandinavia and a depopulation.

Neither Encarta, Encyclopedia Britannica nor the BBC consider Heather's speculations to be worth mentioning. For the BBC see[11]

Moreover you seem to have misunderstood Hachman:

Professor Erik Nylén of Gotland has also written a lot about Scandinavian/Gotlandic Goths and even Hachmann has agreed the Nordic peoples are Goths - not only the Vistula Goths.[12]

So far, the hypothesis of a non-Scandinavian origin contradicts what archaeologists and linguists know of Germanic origins and the Germanic langues, to quote Hooker (1996):

Archaeologists put the geographical origin of the Germanic peoples in southern Scandinavia and northern Germany. There, they developed a warrior culture that was essentially democratic in character. As they migrated south and east, this democratic warrior society developed into a kingship and, as they came in contact with the Romans and Romanized Celts, they developed further aristocratic classes among the warriors and nobility. [...] The Goths originally migrated from Scandinavia and from there migrated south into Europe and east into southern Russia (some of their descendants still live in the Crimean area). The reason for this migration are unclear, but the standard, default interpretation is that they were pressured by overpopulation.[13]

A quote from Watkins at San José University:

The most notable of the eastern Germanic tribes was the Goths. There is considerable historical evidence of the origin of the Goths in Scandinavia, possibly the Baltic island of Gotland, but in the second century A.D. the Goth moved from the lower Vistula River region to the area north of the Black Sea.[14]

Another quote from Linguistlist [15]:

First, East Germanic languages (of which Gothic was one) were closer to North Germanic (i.e. Scandinavian) tongues than to West Germanic ones. Such affinity implies a close relationship, if not direct derivation. The toponymics of the island of Gotland, as well as the modern Swedish provinces of Oester- and Vaestergoetland, where the Goths had supposedly originated, also show linguistic affinity. Second. Count Oxenstierna excavated incineration burials in Oester-and Vaestergoetland that, numerous in the second and first centuries B.C. suddenly became rare after about 50 B.C. This would suggest a disappearance of a significant portion of the previous population."
Carlo Alberto Mastrelli in Volker Bierbauer et al,

_I Goti_, Milan: Electa Lombardia, Elemond Editori Associati, 1994.

Graf E.C. Oxenstierna, _Die Urheimat der Goten_.

Leipzig, Mannus-Buecherei 73, 1945 (later printed in 1948).

Another quote [16]:

Musset (a French scholar, my note) placed their Urheimat (the Germanic peoples, my note) in southern Scandinavia in the late Bronze Age, an area where no pre-Germanic linguistic substratum had been found (p. 4). From there some Germanic tribes spread along the Baltic coast, toward the Oder. Others followed the coast of the North Sea, toward the Weser. By 1000 BC, according to Musset, German habitat stretched from the Ems to central Pomerania (Demougeot dated their appearance in Pomerania much later, from 400 BC [ Demougeot, 1969, 45]. If we follow Musset, by 800 BC Germans reached Westphalia in the West and Vistula in the East. And 300 years later they could be found on the lower Rhine, in Thuringia and Lower Sileasia (Musset, I, 4)."

I also fail to see why you claim that modern scholarship rejects Jordanes. Here is a list of modern scholarship who support Jordanes, from Linguistlist [17]

  • Bell-Fialkoff, A., _The Role of Migration in the History of

the Eurasian Steppe_, London: Macmillan, 2000.

  • Findeisen, Joerg-Peter, _Schweden - Von den Anfaengen bis zur

Gegenwart_, Regensburg: Verlag Friedrich Pustet, 1998.

  • Hermodsson, Lars, _Goterna - ett krigafolk och dess bibel_ ,

Stockholm, Atlantis, 1993.

  • Nordgren, I., Goterkaellan - om goterna i Norden och paa

kontinenten_, Skara: Vaestergoetlands museums skriftserie nr 30, 2000.

  • Rodin, L. - Lindblom, V. - Klang, K., _Gudatraed och vaestgoetska

skottkungar - Sveriges bysantiska arv_, Goeteborg: Tre boecker, 1994.

  • _Schaetze der Ostgoten_, Stuttgart: Theiss, 1995.
  • _Studia Gotica - Die eisenzeitlichen Verbindungen zwischen Schweden

und Suedosteuropa - Vortraege beim Gotensymposion im Statens Historiska Museum_, Stockholm 1970.

  • Tacitus, _Germania_, (with introduction and commentary by J.B. Rives),

Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999.

Try Google and search +Scandinavia +Goths, and you will find very few who reject Jordanes.

So far no one has been able to prove Jordanes wrong. On the contrary, there is no evidence against him whatsoever. The fact that a the Gotho-Gepidan culture evolved an alledged distinctiveness from that of Scandinavia could very well indicate that they were settled for some time in Northern Poland, after some of them, or all of them, had migrated from Scandinavia.

I think the introduction "apparently from southern Sweden" is in accordance with the most wide-spread ideas about the Goths, modern scholarship and also with Encyclopedia Britannica.--Wiglaf 11:52, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The Goths and Scandinavia

The explanation for Jordanes' (and modern researchers') association between Goths and Scandinavia may be due to two reasons. Modern authors have also consulted old English texts to associate them with Scandianvia. It is possible that Jordanes derives the Goths from Ptolemy's (ca 100 AD) Go(u)tais, most likely identical to the Cwens (or Quæns, "the Kings") somewhere in Scandinavia; presumably a hunter-gathering group. Unfortunately, althought intresting, the essential sources on this group is Norse sagas. Besides being good magicians, they spend all their time on the battle-field fighting christianity. Unfortunately, this is not very much of scientific value and the Goths were actually one of the first groups adopting christianity. Scandinavia, in particular Sweden where you claim being the Gothic resident, was one of the last regions in Europe adopting Christianity! Secondly but also intrestingly; names in Jordanes' Getica does also occure in the english poem Beowulf; but it is not clear whether they refers to Scandinavian Goths, or whether the poem actually refers to Goths in Central Europe. Note that the Slavic tribes' historical existence are very similar to the Gothic realm. Thus, I don't think it is a good idea to state that the Goths were actually Swedes. Just my cents. (83.226.130.159 10:09, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC))

  1. Jordanes wrote in the 6th century, when there was hardly any Old English literature.
  2. I don't see how you can connect the Goutai with the Quens.
  3. Quen has no such etymology that I have heard of. It is usually connected with a word for "woman".
  4. The time when the Goths are believed to have migrated vary from the 7th century BC to the 1st century AD, so it is not relevant to discuss whether they were ethnic Swedes and neither does the article.--Wiglaf 16:11, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)

This consideration is covered by some authors (See e.g. The Goths; Peter Heather; 1996) because Ptolemy lists Goutais in his geographical tables which have been compared with Two voyagers at the court of king Alfred : the ventures of Ohthere and Wulfstan .... Peter proposed to literary distinguish and divide Goths into Goths and Scandinavian Goths, where Sc. G. sometimes refers to Goutais, sometimes to Geates. Note that Geates may not be "Scandinavian" at all, because Beowulf don't locate them geographically so the Scandinavian "Goths" merely refers to Goutais.

I suggest that you don't take Heather's hypotheses for facts as he has his own ideas. Read some other authors to get a more balanced view.--Wiglaf 21:26, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Well, he presents an idea due to the (most likely) misassociation, because the Goths after 6th century introduced the christianity and Scandinavia or Sweden has nothing to do with this. (83.226.130.159 21:45, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC))
The article does not claim so either. The article points out Sweden as the traditional original homeland of the Goths which was long before the 6th century.--Wiglaf 21:52, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Maybee not, maybee, but it states that W/W culture have "strong influences" with Southern Scandinavia, when actually the article it refers to state there is only vague resamblence. Secondly, note that high-mounds were before something considered to be possible "Gothic" related. (83.226.130.159 00:45, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC))
You apparently have not read the second link which states that the similarities may be due to long-term contacts. Archaelogists consider the WW culture to be similar to the Scandinavian culture. Moreover, I have a few questions for you:
  1. why do you claim that the article only states a vague resamblence, when it plainly does not? It states that it is difficult to equate archaeological culture with ethnicity, and I hope you're familiar with this problem
  2. from where do you pick up the high mound argument? Burial customs varied, even in Scandinavia, and the mound tradition is thousands of years older.--Wiglaf 07:36, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)