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Neighboring lands around ancient Rome

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Colosseum | Author: Tomasz Podkowa


The territory of the Roman Empire was full of countries culturally and historically rich. It cannot be denied that most of them have completely lost their ancient patterns and adopted a new Roman culture. However, it must be remembered that once there were countries that counted in Europe and the Middle East. They were, for example, Persia, Egypt, Greece, Macedonia, Galia, Spain or Germania. Each of these countries has created a completely different, own culture that has been and is admired. Once under the protectorate of Rome, they had to accept shameful conditions.

However, as the years went by, their patriotism and will to fight increased day by day. Some did not manage to free themselves from the hands of the “tyrant”, but there were also countries that eventually achieved their goal. One can mention here, for example, Parthia, Pontus or Persia, which after the fall of Rome regained its former, almost unchanged territories.


A golden stater with the image of Vercingetorix, from around 50 BCE, the leader of Gauls was a typical barbarian.

The term barbarian is derived from the Latin word barbarus (“foreigner”). In Roman times, the term was used to describe anyone who was not Roman or Greek. The Romans defined the representatives of all peoples who did not belong to the Greek-Roman civilization, which were to be characterized by wildness and lack of culture.

Barbarians for the Romans were, among others:

  • Antes – a tribal union of the Eastern Slavs, which largely also gave rise to the southern Slavs;
  • Avars – a nomadic people from the Far East or Central Asia;
  • Celts – peoples of Indo-European origin, who at the end of the Bronze Age wandered from the Volga steppes to settle over the upper course of the Rhine, Danube and Menu in the second millennium BCE, hence spread throughout Europe. In the X-VI century BCE they conquered the British Isles, in the VI century BCE the Iberian Peninsula, and some of them today’s France;
  • Germanic – a faction of Indo-Europeans living in northern and central-northern Europe, north of the Celtic peoples, using Germanic languages;
  • Huns – a nomadic people who invaded Europe around 370 and caused a great migration of peoples, contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire;
  • Parthians – a country in ancient Iran, existing from around 238 BCE to 226 CE;
  • Persians – ancient people of Iranian origin, and today a nation inhabiting mainly the area of ​​Iran (formerly known as Persia);
  • Sarmatians – the name of Iranian nomadic-shepherd peoples. Sarmatians were related to the Scythians, Medes, Parties and Persians;
  • Scythians – Iranian nomadic peoples originating from the areas between Altai and Lower Volga, i.e. from the area of ​​Andronian culture, inhabiting the northern Black Sea region from the end of the eighth century or from the seventh century BC. They were related to Sakas and Sarmatians;
  • Goths – one of the largest and most important East Germanic tribes, speaking the Gothic language;
  • Vandals – a group of East Germanic tribes, inhabiting Central Europe before the Great Migration of People (they were divided into Silingów and Hasdingów, some researchers also include Viktofal, Lakringii and Harii tribes as vandals);
  • Franks – collective name describing the West German federation of tribes, at their origins, source, i.e. in the third century CE, inhabiting the areas north and east of the Lower Rhine.
Map showing the Roman Empire in the 2nd century CE and Germanic tribes.
The name Germania was given by the ancient Romans to the lands east of the Rhine and north of the upper and middle Danube. These areas were inhabited by Germans, as well as other non-German peoples. During the time of Octavian Augustus, the Romans conquered Germania, temporarily as far as the Elbe. At the end of the first century, they also managed to capture the area between the upper Rhine and the Danube (the so-called Agri Decumates). Two new Roman provinces were created then: Upper Germania ( Germania Superior) and Lower Germania ( Germania Inferior). The most extensive description of Germany was presented by the Roman historian Tacitus.

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