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Were the Germans physically superior?
#31
Germanics were not fault of skill or even experience, the principal issue were their skill to adapt and to learn the roman tactics, illyrian, Celtics, Thracians were good warriors too but german warriors were more flexible, "romanized" is a very dangerous word, Rome had into their army a lot of peoples from different parts of the empire, even germans, but again they DONT eat too much meat, their armours are small and the historiographic founts tend to exagerate their measures, germans were somatological taller and stronger even today, Slavic peoples are strong too, is genetic, the early roman army with only roman citizens were a very small and tiny bunch of young soldiers, germanic peoples live always in a middle of a war, fighting each other and on a very hard enviorment they fought from the "guerrilla" tactic to the massive battle formation across the time, romans were inteligent to use science and a hard discipline to take any adventage, never believe on the roman numbers, archaeology denies that, is very hard to belive an roman army fighting against "80, 000 barbarians" these people were not so numeorus, the germanic armies were smaller in number.
Järnvarg - José L. Díaz - Archaeologist[color=#0000FF]
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#32
Well yeah it seems to be genetical. Even today Germanic descended peoples seem to be known as taller as well.

Just an fact that all people are different, you could look at dogs, they are all same species and capable of breeding(not looking at size Tongue ) but are still diverse.
"Go and tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here obedient to their laws we lie." -Thermopylae

Peter
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#33
Quote:Rome had into their army a lot of peoples from different parts of the empire, even germans, but again they DONT eat too much meat, their armours are small and the historiographic founts tend to exagerate their measures, germans were somatological taller and stronger even today, Slavic peoples are strong too, is genetic
Well, I would say, that's not entirely true, or maybe even totally.

Yes, sizes differed in the Roman army. Not only because (as you are right to point out) the Roman army had recruits from all over Europe, Africa and Asia. But also because size is NOT a genetic thing.

Yes, size can be something that a certain group is 'known for', but regional differences can be quite large, as can be the differences over time.
No, Germans are not 'stronger even today', that's nonsense.
No, Germans are not even 'taller today', that's the Dutch actually.
But even that is only because of influences due to environment and especially diet.

As much as Slavic peoples are not 'genetically strong', we cannot say anything about any group of people that lived 2 thousand years ago, simply by looking at their possible [!] decsendants today.
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#34
Very true. I have a best friend who is half Swedish, who always claims that all Swedish woman are all tall, blond and georgeous... :lol:
The first one I met in Austria was a bout 5' with red hair(but still georgeous) Big Grin
Visne partem mei capere? Comminus agamus! * Me semper rogo, Quid faceret Iulius Caesar? * Confidence is a good thing! Overconfidence is too much of a good thing.
[b]Legio XIIII GMV. (Q. Magivs)RMRS Remember Atuatuca! Vengence will be ours!
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Batavian Coh I
Byron Angel
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#35
Quote:Also, Matt Amt has said a number of times that the average height was something like 5'5", I think from Roman military burials?

There is also an Italian archaeologist claiming to have measured all Roman skeletal remains in Europe, and puts the average height at 5'2". If you can find his name let me know.

Quote:3.- Some sources tell us about the roman soldiers with 1.70m. but archaeology show us another thing,just look on a museum an roman "Panoplia" are very thiny in comparation with modern standars

These debates often end up involving only references to literary texts, scattered references to archaeology, and personal opinions. Here are some hard facts, taken from Geoffrey Kron, "Anthropometry, Physical Anthropology, and the Reconstruction of Ancient Health, Nutrition, and Living Standards," in Historia 54/1 (2005):

Kron found the mean height of 927 Italian adult males from 500 BC to 500 AD to be 168.3 cm, with no significant trends in height based on region or date. Some isolated findings:

146 individuals from Pontecagnano (4th-3rd c. BC), mean height 169.1 cm
49 individuals from Herculaneum (various periods), mean height 169.1 cm
67 individuals from Civitanova (various periods), mean height 169 cm
60 individuals from Monte Casaia (various periods), mean height 167.8 cm

However, as he notes, these heights very likely underestimate the heights of young males of military age because they include many older males as well, and height can diminish as much as 3 cm during an individual's lifetime.

Lawrence Angel has also studied heights of individuals from Greek burials on a much smaller scale, and he found that based on a study of 58 individuals from Classical Greece, the mean height for males during this time was 170.5 cm. Based on a study of 28 individuals from Hellenistic Greece, the mean height was 171.9 cm. Further anthropometric studies of individuals buried in Corinth and the Athenian Kerameikos corroborate these findings.

Kron emphasizes that most of these mean heights were not reached again until the mid-19th century by many European nations, and not until the mid 20th century (!) by Italy and Greece.
Ruben

He had with him the selfsame rifle you see with him now, all mounted in german silver and the name that he\'d give it set with silver wire under the checkpiece in latin: Et In Arcadia Ego. Common enough for a man to name his gun. His is the first and only ever I seen with an inscription from the classics. - Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
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#36
Quote:Kron found the mean height of 927 Italian adult males from 500 BC to 500 AD to be 168.3 cm, with no significant trends in height based on region or date. Some isolated findings:

146 individuals from Pontecagnano (4th-3rd c. BC), mean height 169.1 cm
49 individuals from Herculaneum (various periods), mean height 169.1 cm
67 individuals from Civitanova (various periods), mean height 169 cm
60 individuals from Monte Casaia (various periods), mean height 167.8 cm

However, as he notes, these heights very likely underestimate the heights of young males of military age because they include many older males as well, and height can diminish as much as 3 cm during an individual's lifetime.
That's roughly 5' 6.5" to the non-metric amongst you.
TARBICvS/Jim Bowers
A A A DESEDO DESEDO!
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#37
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_height

I know its Wiki but the mid Nineteenth century comparisons are interesting.
Conal Moran

Do or do not, there is no try!
Yoda
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#38
Hi,
...maybe this could shed a little light into anthropometric issues:
http://eh.net/XIIICongress/Papers/Koepke.pdf
I faintly remember reading a review some time ago on the papers that dealt with the graveyard of Stettfeld (D , NNE of Bruchsal) where there were 2 easily distinguishable types of individuals which, together with the appearances of their skulls could point towards a (smaller) romanesc and (taller) gemanesc type. IIRC the first type was well below 170 cm and the other type decidedly taller (at average ?).
So does this bring us a bit forward in answering the question of physical superiority in a (generally) satisfying way ?
I don't think so.
Was there an effective superiority ? Can we measure it ? Do we have a benchmark for it ?
Well, I think it depends on the context.
Germans, to my knowledge, did not participate in sportive events in those times, so this can't work as a benchmark or whatsoever.
Were they superior in everyday life ? No, except from a small number of "noble" individuals ,they regularly suffered from manutrition really bad, --- this already has been mentioned.
Where they superior in military life ?
It depends. When given a "fair" chance (= no malnutrition, weapons- and tactical drill) they may have had advantages, but, seriously,
do we think that the average roman legionary at the time when they first met german tribes in combat, was not an "elaborate product"
of some 450 years of constant adjusting/evolving of fighting techniques to suit their "corporal appearance" ?
So I wont't bet a nickel on the physical superiority of these Germans.
But what about "motivational superiority" ?
Greez

Simplex
Siggi K.
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#39
Quote:
Aryaman2:1w257rfj Wrote:IIRC when Caesar was about to fight Ariovistus, in order to raise the fighting spirit of his legionaires he said something like "yes, the Germans are tall, but slim and badly built, and they can´t bear fatigue"
Angus McBride obviously read that.

Nuk, nuk, nuk. :wink:

McBride may have read it, but look at his later work. :roll:
His warriors and soldiers are built like fire-plugs, evidently 4 foot 7 inches on average, whatever that is in metres.
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#40
Here is an interesting observation by Italian professor Alesandro Barbero:

"The Goths, who were tall and blond or red-haired, physically resembled the Germans. The characteristics the two groups shared were all negative in Roman eyes; the dominent race in the Roman world, the race that believed it possesses a superior civilization and regarded all other races with contempt, was composed of short, dark Mediteranean types, and being tall and blond was a mark of inferiority, of poverty, of barbarism."

As a sequal to this scenario, it might be admissable to mention the Sarmatians, the "dominent" people of the steppes. They were both short and partially Asiatic, as well as tall and European looking, all in the same tribe and burial ground. So I agree that the nature of "superiority" is in the mind of the winner, not a "race" thing at all. Big Grin
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#41
Quote: Here is an interesting observation by Italian professor Alesandro Barbero:
"The Goths, who were tall and blond or red-haired, physically resembled the Germans.
I wonder how the good professor came to that conclusion. Hair color is hard to see on funerary remains (that is IF the remains can be with any ceratinty be established as 'Gothic' at all). Or what he understood to be 'Germanic' and 'Gothic' in the first place.

Quote: The characteristics the two groups shared were all negative in Roman eyes; the dominent race in the Roman world, the race that believed it possesses a superior civilization and regarded all other races with contempt, was composed of short, dark Mediteranean types, and being tall and blond was a mark of inferiority, of poverty, of barbarism."
Another strange observation by the good professor, since a 'dominant Roman' could be anything from British/Gallic/Germanic to Syrian/Armenian/Thtacian, plus every type of human inbetween.

Quote: that the nature of "superiority" is in the mind of the winner, not a "race" thing at all.
I agree to that!
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
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#42
Quote: "I wonder how the good professor came to that conclusion. Hair color is hard to see on funerary remains (that is IF the remains can be with any ceratinty be established as 'Gothic' at all). Or what he understood to be 'Germanic' and 'Gothic' in the first place."

I believe Barbero did some research at the old Roman Christian cemetary at Concondia. Whether hair color still remained? Good question. But the names on the stones were predominently Gothic, men who had been wounded and died after the battle of Frigidus. Interesting that so many were Christians.

Quote:
Alanus:1hi3qa0y Wrote:The characteristics the two groups shared were all negative in Roman eyes; the dominent race in the Roman world, the race that believed it possesses a superior civilization and regarded all other races with contempt, was composed of short, dark Mediteranean types, and being tall and blond was a mark of inferiority, of poverty, of barbarism."

I didn't say it. Barbero did. Smile

Quote: that the nature of "superiority" is in the mind of the winner, not a "race" thing at all.
Quote: "I agree to that!"

What I do agree with Barbero with is the fact that the Gothic names on the stones were Germanic. And I still believe the fighting elite of the Goths were Germanic, and that the kings and duces of the Goths were Germanic. This is opposed to Heather, Matthews, and Kulikowski. I continue to think I'm right even though Rumo thinks I'm wrong. :wink:

Hey! I'm not even Germanic. Confusedhock:
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#43
Quote:I believe Barbero did some research at the old Roman Christian cemetary at Concondia. Whether hair color still remained? Good question. But the names on the stones were predominently Gothic, men who had been wounded and died after the battle of Frigidus. Interesting that so many were Christians.

Was that the same cemetary where so many soldiers of the frigidus battle (394) were buried, and where we find such good information about the late 4th c. Roman army?
Difficult to say who belonged to what group, since they served in regular Roman units. Without a geographical reference, all that we can go on are names that resemble names from individuals in certain ethnic groups (hence what we see as 'Germanic' names, 'Gothic' names and 'Roman' names). See below.

Quote:I didn't say it. Barbero did. Smile
I know. I continued your quote of him in italics. :wink:

Quote:What I do agree with Barbero with is the fact that the Gothic names on the stones were Germanic. And I still believe the fighting elite of the Goths were Germanic, and that the kings and duces of the Goths were Germanic. This is opposed to Heather, Matthews, and Kulikowski. I continue to think I'm right even though Rumo thinks I'm wrong. :wink:
Well, surpringly enough, Barbero made a distinction between Germanic and Gothic, that Goths fysically resembled Germanics. Since what we know of the Gothic language is that it is an east germanic language, it's not surprising that Gothic names were Germanic as well.

Hey! if Gothic names are Germanic, how can we see if the individual was a Goth? I mean, if the meorial stone reads: here lies Attila, ducenarius of the Britanniaci, what do we say he was? A Hun? A Goth? A Briton with humoristic parents? Big Grin
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
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#44
Back to you, Robert

Good point on Attila's name. Big Grin
I think his brother had a Gothic name as well. It's certainly not a cut and dry situation as far as the Goths are concerned, but I find it noteworthy that all the kings had Germanic-Gothic names. They had at least 15 Germanic comb factories throughout the Chernjachov culture. And recently a rich Gothic prince's grave has been found at the river Samara, which directly realates to Jordanes' not-so folklorish statements that King Ermaneric had that area under his control... and it blows a hole in Kulikowski's statement that Jordanes was not recording history (or something to that effect). The society was multi-ethnic, but the biggest cheeses appear to have been heavily influenced by Germanic culture.

But like you, I really don't think Germans or Goths or Caledonians were "superior" to Romans, especially Roman soldiers (even plain old Italian ones). If Romans were so physically inferior, how did they conquer a third of the known world? (They usually say "half of the known world," but I'm throwing China in there as one-third.) :wink:
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#45
Quote:Back to you, Robert

Good point on Attila's name. Big Grin
I think his brother had a Gothic name as well. It's certainly not a cut and dry situation as far as the Goths are concerned, but I find it noteworthy that all the kings had Germanic-Gothic names. They had at least 15 Germanic comb factories throughout the Chernjachov culture. And recently a rich Gothic prince's grave has been found at the river Samara, which directly realates to Jordanes' not-so folklorish statements that King Ermaneric had that area under his control... and it blows a hole in Kulikowski's statement that Jordanes was not recording history (or something to that effect). The society was multi-ethnic, but the biggest cheeses appear to have been heavily influenced by Germanic culture.

But like you, I really don't think Germans or Goths or Caledonians were "superior" to Romans, especially Roman soldiers (even plain old Italian ones). If Romans were so physically inferior, how did they conquer a third of the known world? (They usually say "half of the known world," but I'm throwing China in there as one-third.) :wink:

Rome conquer their world because use order and technology, brain against muscle, the roman weapons were inferior on quality but were into a "mass production" and were very effective, every soldier were well equiped, only the barbarian rulers use chain mail or iron helmets, the vast mass of a barbarian army were single armed warriors with javlaines or a spear
Järnvarg - José L. Díaz - Archaeologist[color=#0000FF]
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