THE GOTHIC MOSAIC
© Johansson Inger E, Linköping 1996 rev. Gothenburg 2003.
He stepped out of the flat-bottomed boat. At last, after years of hardship they were home. Well, not quite. On the southern side in the bay lived his kinsmen. The farmhouse looked gray against the yellowish-brown grain on land.
He could see pigs rooting around in the courtyard, somewhere behind one of the small outhouses a cow lowed. Up on the hillside, he saw his best friend and a horse working on the field. The grain waved in the wind blowing down to him in the gray-blue bay where white foam was seen on the crests of the waves.
In the boat he had his men and some slaves taken as trophy in a foreign land. Gasket in a long boat contianed armor as well as a helmet, of vendeltyp whose face mask which looked like an animal head had a nooseharnesk which shone together with the glowing stone in one eye sockets, a sword and a coat of mail. In one other gasket, he had at this time, 3 pcs exclusive glass cups from the Rhine area, game pieces of ivory and kombs made of animal bone.
Could this be what happened to the man who was buried in one of the great piles of Gunnerstad? Based on the finds at the excavation in 1957 the thought might occure. What happened, when, how and why?
Excerpts from Inger Johansson, the sea toward the Roxen in earlier times, C-level History Dept. Linkoping’s University 1993
There are many ways to present the ancient reality, same as there are many ways to find the right piece when you put a puzzle together. For the ancient times to be told, regardless of whether the sources are primary or better still an eyewitness account; or secondary, it’s still at best a piece a big puzzle of the past. Every single piece of the puzzle, a single source speaking of the past, might contain many pieces of information. It needs to be drawn to the light, studied, analyzed in terms of source-critical methods as well as to see if the piece fits into the known the pieces or not.
When I studied the background to the Gothic reality, where the Goths’ own stories in many ways largely been missing except in the archaeological material, which of course gives indirectly clues, the story of the Goths told by contemporary or close to contemporary sources all become pieces, ranging from small fragments to larger, of the past. Same as study a mosiakgolv uncovered by archaeologists give more information as added piece information give a better view of what life was like.
There are areas with no pieces exists, of course. But there are many pieces/sources of the Goths cases to be read, told by historians and from the 3rd century also by men of the Christian upgrowing faith. Everyone has their own reasons to mention the Goths. Purpose and tendency must be considered in light of the whole story, as we ‘know’ it. Same as when you add each piece to your puzzle.
Jordanes is probably the most refered source for the Gothic story. In a way, he is much like Adam of Bremen for the early Nordic history. Trying to include as much information as possible, but often retelling older vague information, sometimes misunderstanding the old sources used. So for me it was important to locate these old sources.
To my surprise most of these sources were accessible today and, amazingly, in almost all cases been analyzed by the older generations of historical scholars. However, they very hardly ever translated into Nordic languages, English and in many cases German. Reding in those early History works where many Goths where mentioned as individuals or group of Goths, gave hints and clues in my search for other important sources. Sources that many times gave important information/details of individuals from the island located in the northern Ocean. Data which gave detailed descriptions of person’s life from growing up in for example Ranriki [Ranriki/Ranrike = from Uddevalla up to the north Fredrikstad] through the person’s trade missions as merchandiser who came to work for the Roman Army [compare the Viking era expeditions] to settling down on farm in the todays Ukraine; service in the Roman army or on expedition against the Romans, until these individuals in old age sometimes reached high positions many times in Roman High Society. For example in Spain, as well as in a very notorious case came to work side by side of the so-called. Angelsaxons moving over to England (!).
It from these stories told about individuals or groups of persons, their authors (historians and church fathers) the Gothic mosaic is written.
Gothenburg Spring 2003
Inger E Johansson