From Kossinna to complexity: excavating 'Germanic antiquity'

Timothy Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


From its place in classical antiquity to its role in the formation of the successor states to the Roman empire in the west, 'Germanic Antiquity' remains a reified construct, something insufficiently appreciated as constructed and contestable in nature. An important concept, 'Germanic Antiquity' informs scholarly traditions concerning the barbarian in antiquity. This paper will introduce 'Germanic Antiquity' and the archaeology associated with it in the context of focussing on changes in archaeological methodology. The work of two German archaeologists will be examined. Early in the twentieth century, Gustaf Kossinna developed the notion of settlement archaeology, a methodological approach that has been dominant in subsequent decades. Sebastian Brather, working in the twenty-first century, uses a methodology which is diametrically opposed to Kossinna's. The differences in approaches have led to a diversity in interpretations of 'Germanic Antiquity', its interaction with the antique west and its role in understanding the place of ethnicity and ethnic identity in the west Roman-barbarian world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-305
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Australian Early Medieval Association
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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