The Iron Age and the Rest of the World
400 B.C. - 800 A.D.
During the centuries leading up to the birth of Christ Europe was populated by two large nations who lived north of the Alps. In Central Europe lived the Celts and further north lived the Teutons. Among them were also the people who lived in Denmark.
During the Early Iron Age the large realm in the south was dominated by Celtic tribes and their influence in the form of ornamentation and objects also reached Denmark.
The Roman Empire emerged in Italy and Rome became the capital. The Roman Empire became so vast that it was believed to include the entire world. In the Gospel for Christmas Day it reads that the Roman Emperor Augustus demanded that "all the world" should be taxed. It meant that the inhabitants should be counted so the emperor knew how many people lived in the world.
Around 125 B.C. the Roman armies made it across the Alps and launched a war against the Celts and the Teutons with the intent of conqueroring their land.
The size of the Roman Empire after the war.Big picture © Skalk
During the reign of Julius Caesar, the years 58 to 50 B.C., the Romans managed to conqueror the entire area which now consists of France, Belgium, parts of Holland, parts of Germany and Switzerland.
Around the birth of Christ the Romans tried to conqueror the stretch of land which reaches all the way to the Elbe, south of Denmark. The Romans had established several military camps in North-Western part of Germany and Holland. Several campaigns were sent out from these and into the Teutonic realm.
However, the usually well-organized Roman forces suffered a determining defeat in 9 A.D. It happened south of the Danish border. Under the command of Publius Varus three Roman legions with 20,000 men were destryed by Teutonic forces.
After the defeat Emperor Augustus moved the border back to the Rhine and the Danube.
The Influence of the Roman Culture
The Romans brought along a culture which was very different from the one of the people in the conquerored areas.
In order to provide shelter to all the Roman officials and soldiers towns and barracks were built, and Danish men who served as mercenaries in the Roman armies and moved among the Romans were able to tell the people back home in the iron-age village how the Romans built public baths, theatres, circus and palaces. They also had a written language (Latin), a monetary system and a way of running things which was completely different.
The Romans built impressive
structures such as the Aqueduct
Pont du Gard in France. Big picture
Skilled artisans and manufacturers settled in the new towns and established workshops and industries. Here they produced anything the Romans needed in order to feel at home in the foreign surroundings: kitchen tools made of bronze, glass and ceramics, clothes, jewelry and much more.
The Romans had supplemented their armies with Teutonic auxiliary troops. A group of princes from the Southern part of Zealand may have served as commanders of parts of the Roman armies. In their graves we have discovered several objects which bear witness to them having had a special connection to the Roman Empire during this particular time period: silver cups with depictions of Roman types of weapons, buried Roman fighting dogs and not least the many exquisite Roman glasses and bronze objects.