Germanic peoples, Origins

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Summary

The Germanic peoples (also called Teutonic, Suebian or Gothic in older literature) are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic starting during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.

Details

Regarding the question of ethnic origins, evidence developed by archaeologists and linguists suggests that a people or group of peoples sharing a common material culture dwelt in a region defined by the Nordic Bronze Age culture between 1700 BCE and 600 BCE. The Germanic tribes then inhabited southern Scandinavia, Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg, but subsequent Iron Age cultures of the same region, like Wessenstedt (800 to 600 BCE) and Jastorf, are also in consideration. The change of Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic has been defined by the first sound shift (or Grimm's law) and must have occurred when mutually intelligible dialects or languages in a Sprachbund were still able to convey such a change to the whole region. So far it has been impossible to date this event conclusively.

The precise interaction between these peoples is not known; however, they are tied together and influenced by regional features and migration patterns linked to prehistoric cultures like Hügelgräber, Urnfield, and La Tene. A deteriorating climate in Scandinavia around 850 BCE to 760 BCE and a later and more rapid one around 650 BCE might have triggered migrations to the coast of Eastern Germany and further toward the Vistula. A contemporary northern expansion of Hallstatt drew part of these peoples into the Celtic hemisphere, including nordwestblock areas and the region of Elp culture (1800 BCE to 800 BCE).

At around this time, this culture became influenced by Hallstatt techniques for extracting bog iron from the ore in peat bogs, ushering in the Pre-Roman Iron Age.

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