Note: In the second half of the second century CE, the northeastern border of
the Roman Empire was the Danube River. Claiming that Germanic tribes were preparing
for incursions into Empire territory, Roman armies pre-empted the situation
by invading Germanic lands, crossing the river into present-day Austria, Hungary,
Serbia and Romania. The Germanic peoples, led by a well-organized tribe called
the Markomanni (meaning “border people”), resisted the Romans for nearly thirty
years, all along the Danube. The war was lost by the Markomanni, but the Goths
climbed from relative obscurity to a position of might and prominence amongst
the Germanic tribes. They also used the war as an opportunity to scout out
new territories near the Black Sea. Several decades after the end of the war,
the Goths entered a mass migration southward.
This poem/song was
inspired by the rescue archaeology beginning in the mid-1990s in Poland in the
path of a new
natural gas pipeline that now stretches over
1,300 km. of northern Polish plain, where the Gothic tribes were located in
the second century.
One group of especially
poignant and fascinating graves found by the scientists was in the southeast
section of a major burial ground. In those
graves they found pottery vessels containing only small pieces of bone together
with traces of hair. All of those graves had appeared suddenly, and
terms of absolute chronology this … would correspond to the years 166–180,
[when] the so-called Marcomannic Wars were taking place in the area of the
Danube. It is possible to suggest that a group of men from the community
served by [that] cemetery took part in them and these graves represent the
graves of warriors who did not return from a distant military operation,
but who had fallen in fighting in the south and were buried there. Returning
comrades brought only a few small fragments of bone which in symbolic form
were placed in urns and buried in the cemetery.” (From Dr. Tomasz Skorupka,
Poznan Archaeological Museum, Kowalewko, Oborniki Commune: Biritual cemetery
of a population of the Wielbark Culture, Poznan, Poland, 2001).
click on the picture to read about the book published April 2009.
Ingunans Aitheins Aglo Mother Inguna’s Anguish
Arthur A. Jones, January 28, 2007
I walked today in the forest-pounding rain, and
Scratched for food on the barren forest floor;
Crying for my own sons three,
Who marched away to the Markomannic War.
Three bearskinned riders came out of the mist,
They carried three cold clay stone jars,
They greeted me as the dark rains poured, saying
“Here are your sons from the Markomannic War.”
How dare you bring me these jars of bones,
These three lone locks of Ingun hair,
For the Danube claimed none of your clan,
While my sons died in the Markomannic War.
They laid the jars in their shallow graves
In the southeast corner of the hallowed moor,
Like so many others of our village men,
Who answered the drums to the Markomannic War.
I stood in anguish while the willow birches wept,
They sprinkled their leaves under darkling skies,
To make a soft quilt for my boys to lie under,
Next to the Vistula’s rippling sighs.
Behind the front that we bloodily held
The Amal Family made its silent secret way
To the southern lands they promised would be ours,
While our children died in the Markomannic War.
I can only throw stones with these crippled old hands,
But I wish I could throw more,
I would kill every Amal royal in our land,
For murdering my sons in your Markomannic War.