Visigoths, barbarians at the heart of the Empire

Visigoths, barbarians at the heart of the Empire

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Barbarians have enjoyed renewed interest in recent decades. Numerous exhibitions allow the general public to renew and update knowledge about these peoples who have helped to shape contemporary Europe. The Visigoths are no exception to this trend and benefit for the 1600th anniversary of the installation of the Visigoths in Toulouse from an exhibition at the Saint-Raymond museum. The latest issue of the Archaeological Files entitled "Visigoths, barbarians at the heart of the Empire "Provides an update on the current state of knowledge and is a good introduction to the subject.

A journey through Europe

In the first contribution, Emmanuelle Boube addresses by way of introduction the history of the Goths, from their migration to the formation of the kingdoms of Toulouse or Toledo. Laure Barthet and Claudine Jacquet, curators of the "Visigoths, kings of Toulouse" exhibition, explain the museographic choices and the debates that the exhibition sparked. Michel Kazanski returns to the origin of the Goths with the help of archaeological discoveries. Two civilizations stand out. The first appears in the 1st century AD around the Baltic Sea and is called the Wielbark civilization. Archeology does not contradict ancient texts. The author presents the main characteristics of the Wielbark civilization. The second so-called Cherniakhov civilization arose from another wave of migration towards the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd century to Eastern Europe (mainly Ukraine, Belarus but also Romania and Moldova). These Goths are however different from the previous civilization and include Germanic populations. It is "a very homogeneous culture, in which Germanic elements, imported from the Vistula, are mixed with indigenous elements to such an extent that it is hardly possible to distinguish Goths from Thracians, Sarmatians, etc. "

After focusing on the exceptional treasure of Pietroasa, the dossier offers articles on the religion of the Goths. After a first contribution addressing the historical sources, the difficulties of interpretation, the funeral rites and the contribution of archeology, the second addresses the question of the conversion of the Goths to Christianity in a particular political and religious context which leads to the creation of an Arian Gothic Church. Politics is not to be outdone: Christine Delaplace presents Visigothic royalty and Alain Dubreucq the legislation in the kingdom.

Archaeological discoveries

The last part deals more with local archaeological discoveries. Laure Barthet and Claudine Jacquet present the main archaeological characteristics of the Visigothic capital in the spotlight in this exhibition. Archaeological discoveries have made it possible to better understand the functioning of the city but also of the palatial district. The reconstruction of the Visigothic "palace of kings" produced for the exhibition is the subject of a focus which sheds light on the choices of mediation. The territory of the cities of southwestern Gaul during the Visigoth period is also the subject of an article.

The funerary world, the hagiographies and the memoirs of the local saints, as well as the eagle-shaped fibulae are the subject respectively of a synthetic contribution which takes stock of the subject. Joan Pinar Gil in his article shows that the eagle-shaped fibulae are perhaps not as great a mark of prestige as we have not been able to write, but that these objects have spread in more modest layers of the society. Finally, Mathieu Scapin discusses the different aspects covered by the image of the barbarian in our contemporary societies.

This file is a successful synthesis on the thermal baths. The rich iconography, always of very good quality, embellishes and enriches the reading. The end of Dossiers d'Archéologie is as usual devoted to various news. An article deals with a petition to save an exceptional archaeological port site in Cailar, near Aigues-Mortes, threatened by a real estate project. The first analyzes of the great idol of Pachacamac rediscovered in 1938 reveal a much older dating around 730, that is to say well before the Inca domination in the region. Finally, the exhibition "Traces du vivant" at the Musée des Confluences in Lyon is presented. A good synthetic and accessible number of the Dossiers d'Archéologie.

Visigoths, barbarians at the heart of the Empire. Archeology files n ° 398. On newsstands and by subscription.

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