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Re: The Battle of Illerup, Goths, Eruli

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  • hakangot
    ... I just would like Bertil´s and other listmembers opinion that this was, as said in the article, a scandinavian coalition. The only coalition I can think
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 31, 2002
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      --- In gothic-l@y..., "Bertil Haggman" <mvk575b@t...> wrote:

      I just would like Bertil´s and other listmembers opinion that this
      was, as said in the article, a scandinavian coalition. The only
      coalition I can think about at this time, mentioned in Beowulf, is
      Hygelac´s assault on the frisians. An attempt to push down west-
      germanic expansion to the south. One of many battles who made it
      possible for the danes to reconquer south Jutland and the smaller
      islands from frisians, heruls etc. It doesn´t necessary has to be a
      westswedish-danish war, maybe it was more complicated than that!

      Friendly greetings from


      Håkan Liljeberg


      > From the original homepage of the Illerup finds of weapon
      > this further indicates relations with the Goths and the Eruli
      > (see my short introductory review of _Odin in Azov_
      > (to be published on the list).
      >
      > Gothically
      >
      > Bertil Haggman
      >
      >
      > FINDS OF WEAPON OFFERINGS FROM ILLERUP ADAL
      >
      > By Joergen Ilkjær
      >
      > The river valley called Illerup Adal was drained in 1950, revealing
      large
      > weapon finds from the Iron Age. Since then the site has been
      excavated
      > during two periods, 1950-56 and 1975-85, and the past decade has
      > seen the publication of eight of a planned series of 14
      publications about
      > the finds made.
      >
      > The current consensus of opinion is that the Illerup finds are
      spoils of war
      > offered to the gods. A local army appears to have defeated an
      invading
      > force, whose weapons were then cast into the lake covering the site
      of the
      > finds at that time. In excess of 15,000 weapons and pieces of
      equipment
      > from the period 200-500 AD have been excavated, making it the most
      > comprehensive find of its type anywhere in the world.
      >
      > RESEARCHERS PAST AND PRESENT
      >
      > Not that Illerup Adal is the only site where such war spoils have
      been found;
      > there are in fact 50 other sites throughout Denmark and southern
      Sweden.
      > Some of these were excavated during the 19th century and have
      formed the
      > starting point for all later attempts to interpret similar finds.
      Around 1940, two
      > different theories were current regarding bog finds: one
      interpreted the finds
      > as being offerings made of items gathered together after a
      successful military
      > engagement; the other posited that the finds had been cast into the
      bogs over
      > many years and as such represented small annual offerings of the
      local people's
      > own equipment. Unfortunately, it was not possible to determine
      which of the
      > theories was correct, as the early excavations were insufficiently
      well documented.
      > It was not until new evidence was uncovered through the more recent
      excavations in
      > Illerup Ådal that the question could finally be resolved.
      >
      > EXCAVATIONS AND FINDS
      >
      > A total of 15,000 weapons and pieces of military equipment were
      > excavated from an area measuring 40,000 m2. It was often the case
      > that bundles of items were found, these having originally been
      wrapped
      > in some type of cloth. However, after 1,800 years the material has
      rotted
      > away, and only the weapons and equipment remain.
      >
      > All told, four different offerings have been identified in Illerup
      Adal. This
      > article, however, deals with the oldest and largest-scale offering,
      dating
      > from the early years of the 3rd century. Much work has been
      involved in
      > creating the following reconstruction of the course of events
      leading up
      > to the offering.
      >
      > A fleet of perhaps 50 ships and 1,000 men set sail from the west
      coast
      > of the Scandinavian peninsula and made its way down through
      Kattegat
      > to attack Jutland. The force landed on the east coast of Jutland,
      but was
      > met by a well-organised army made up of forces from the entire
      region.
      > The defensive action proved successful: the attackers were
      defeated,
      > and their equipment and weapons were collected and destroyed. The
      > remnants of the weapons and equipment were then thrown into the
      lake
      > in Illerup Adal as an offering. It is not clear exactly where the
      battles in this
      > campaign took place, but presumably not too far away from the lake.
      >
      > Prior to the offering, items were deliberately spoilt. Swords were
      broken
      > across and shields smashed. The round items are shield bosses, torn
      out
      > of the wooden shields and then deformed by cuts and blows.
      >
      > Part of the ceremony involved destroying the weapons and equipment.
      > Next, the remnants were gathered into bundles, which were wrapped
      in
      > various forms of cloth - military cloaks, for example. The bundles
      were then
      > carried out onto the lake in boats and thrown overboard. These
      bundles
      > have been found all over the bed of the lake, which was 250 meters
      wide
      > and 400 meters long.
      >
      > During the course of 18 years (spread over two periods), these
      ancient
      > bundles and their contents of swords, spears, lances, shields,
      knives,
      > combs, Roman silver coins, bridles, tools and much more were
      recovered
      > one by one after having spent as much 1,800 years in the sediment
      of the
      > lake. The finds were brought to the Moesgard Museum, preserved,
      described,
      > sorted, and then compared with similar material from as far afield
      as the
      > Black Sea, Scotland, Africa and the Arctic.
      >
      > The Illerup finds are exceptional, because of both their sheer
      quantity and their
      > condition. The alkaline nature of the soil has preserved iron so
      well that two
      > hundred Roman swords, for example, could be used today had they not
      been
      > ceremoniously broken and bent prior to being cast into the lake.
      >
      > PIECING TOGETHER THE JIGSAW
      >
      > The excavation teams found more than one thousand fragments of
      deliberately
      > destroyed weapons which it has been possible to match up. If, for
      example,
      > fragments from the same sword have been found in two different
      bundles, it
      > is concluded that these were offered on the same occasion.
      >
      > One of the most important questions (i.e. whether the weapons were
      offered
      > on one particular occasion or whether they constitute a series of
      small, annual
      > offerings) could now be solved by piecing together the fragments of
      the destroyed
      > items. If, for example, parts of a broken sword could be found in
      two or more different
      > bundles, then clearly these bundles must have been part of the same
      sacrificial
      > ceremony. Researchers have now succeeded in putting together more
      than a
      > thousand fragments, and consequently it is now known that in excess
      of twelve
      > thousand items were cast into the lake on one particular occasion
      at the beginning
      > of the 3rd century AD.
      >
      > It is now also clear that the Illerup find is made up of the
      material from four different
      > offerings in exactly the same place but with as much as a hundred
      years between
      > each ceremony. It seems clear, therefore, that it was the local
      population that carried
      > out the ceremonies. But who was the enemy?
      >
      > Light has been shed on this question by studying the personal
      property of the attacking
      > warriors. 150 tinder boxes and combs from the oldest Illerup
      ceremony show that the
      > attacking forces had sailed from the west coast of the Scandinavian
      peninsula, i.e.
      > from modern-day Norway and the adjoining regions of western Sweden
      >
      > After years of research it is now possible, in the light of the
      finds from Illerup Adal, to
      > reconstruct harness and other equipment for horses and the
      equipment used and worn
      > by the warriors of the time. In the longer term, it will be
      possible to create a detailed
      > picture of the defeated army whose equipment made up the offering.
      >
      > AN ARMY OF THE ROMAN IRON AGE
      >
      > The sacrifices appear to have consisted of all of the army's
      equipment and, even
      > though we have only excavated 40 per cent of the oldest site, it is
      nevertheless
      > now possible to begin to describe the makeup of this army and in
      the process
      > gain an impression of the political structure that led to its being
      assembled in
      > the first place.
      >
      > A red-painted shield with a boss crafted in silver and gold; this
      splendid item of
      > equipment was the property of the commander of an enemy army. Runic
      inscriptions
      > name several such persons.
      >
      > These masks of gold-plated silver were crafted in Scandinavia, and
      prove that as
      > early as 200 AD smiths were able to use embossed foil techniques,
      gold plating,
      > and soldering.
      >
      > Work on the shields has shown that there were three levels in the
      army's hierarchy:
      > a top tier, represented by five shields whose bosses are fashioned
      of gold and
      > silver; a tier of about 40 with shields with bronze bosses; and a
      level of around 300
      > who had shields with iron bosses. Comparisons with other finds from
      the same
      > period confirm this division. The size of the attacking force means
      that it must have
      > been put together from a significantly large geographic area, which
      makes it likely
      > that it was formed as the result of a military alliance. The
      existence of such an alliance
      > must in turn reflect the political conditions prevalent on the
      Scandinavian peninsula
      > during this period.
      >
      > As already mentioned, Illerup is not an isolated phenomenon, in
      that we know of similar
      > offerings made from the same period in all the areas boundering on
      Kattegat. The
      > offering of spoils of war tells us of historical events not
      mentioned in written sources.
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