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The Barbarians Speak: How the Conquered Peoples Shaped Roman Europe
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The Barbarians Speak: How the Conquered Peoples Shaped Roman Europe

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  74 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
The Barbarians Speak re-creates the story of Europe's indigenous people who were nearly stricken from historical memory even as they adopted and transformed aspects of Roman culture. The Celts and Germans inhabiting temperate Europe before the arrival of the Romans left no written record of their lives and were often dismissed as "barbarians" by the Romans who conquered th ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 5th 2001 by Princeton University Press (first published October 1st 1999)
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Rindis
Dec 24, 2014 Rindis rated it liked it
Shelves: history
The fundamental problem with most of ancient history is that the vast bulk of everyone involved left no records behind. There are bright spots, and sometimes stories that were later written down, but sometimes even those iffy sources are missing.

We have some idea of the cultural landscape of central Europe from the first century BC on thanks to Roman records about the 'barbarians', but there are no native records to combat Roman bias and prejudice. The Barbarians Speak by Peter Wells is a reasse
...more
John Mccullough
Oct 05, 2015 John Mccullough rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in early European history
The general idea most people have of the "barbarians" outside the Roman frontier is not quite of knuckle-dragging, brain-bashing, low-IQ over-muscled clods. But perhaps not too far from that. And Romans had a similar view. These savages were big (certainly larger than Romans, on average!), strong, stupid but trainable dummies who made perfect slaves. Actually, they were perfectly intelligent individuals, perfectly capable of not only carrying, but also creating civilisation and living calmly in ...more
Dan William
Jun 26, 2009 Dan William rated it it was ok
Author makes a valiant attempt to combine archeology, scant written records, linguistics, postcolonial theory to peer through the fog of history and deduce the impact of contact and conquest between the Romans and native continental Europeans. While falling short in my opinion, the author raises important questions and makes several enlightened points. Sometimes hard to follow and dry with little personality.
Kate
Mar 08, 2014 Kate rated it really liked it
Definitely more technical than a typical pop anthro book, but the author lays out his information with minimal jargon and still leaves some things up to the reader to contemplate. Peter Wells does great work with the archaeology of the Celts, and I'd recommend him to anyone who wants to learn the real history of the culture and not just shamrocks and Celtic crosses.
Don Fox
Jul 18, 2011 Don Fox rated it did not like it
This is much more of an academic work than the title would suggest. Something like "Grave Goods of the Germanic Peoples During the Roman Imperial Period" would have been more appropriate. What I really wanted was a book that properly bore this book's title, and using this book as one of its sources.
Laurel Bradshaw
Book Description from Amazon.com

The Barbarians Speak re-creates the story of Europe's indigenous people who were nearly stricken from historical memory even as they adopted and transformed aspects of Roman culture. The Celts and Germans inhabiting temperate Europe before the arrival of the Romans left no written record of their lives and were often dismissed as "barbarians" by the Romans who conquered them. Accounts by Julius Caesar and a handful of other Roman and Greek writers would lead us to
...more
Will
Jan 03, 2013 Will rated it it was ok
"Amid all the variability in responses to the choices presented by the Roman presence, we can recognize significant patterns, and they may represent common features in all situations of interaction between expanding complex societies and indigenous groups. Especially striking is initial eager adoption of Roman luxury goods and lifestyle by the urban elites in the conquered territories, while rural areas and others in the society maintained the traditional Iron Age material culture. Over the cour ...more
Dan
Jul 29, 2009 Dan rated it liked it
Shelves: germania, celtia
If you're not already familiar with the history of Roman Iron Age Europe and the Mediterranean, this book is great!! - because it will give you a solid introduction to the subject of relations between Rome and the Celtic and Germanic peoples of Europe. If you are already familiar with either, however, the book is boring. Wells is making a point that was probably noteworthy when the book was published, but which seems common sense now: that barbarian Europe was not "Romanized", and that the reali ...more
Dustin
Jan 14, 2014 Dustin rated it really liked it
A nicely nuanced view of the archaeological record around the Rhine and upper Danube, from before the Roman occupation of some of those lands through to the Migration era.

The first handful of chapters are slow going and fairly repetitive, but once he starts digging into the archeological record in more detail, there's a lot of interesting material on hybrid architecture and material culture as the cultures interacted in the frontier areas.
Travis
Jul 18, 2014 Travis added it
Although Wells can be a dry read, he doesn't try to make the archaeology anything more than it is. The facts presented aren't exciting, but they avoid telelogical views fueled by nationalism.
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