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Exhibition explores Vandal legacy

Published: 23 Oct 2009 17:35 GMT+02:00

The word “vandal” these days is associated with acts of senseless violence and destruction. However, this new exhibition explores the history behind the actual Vandals, a Germanic civilisation that stretched across Eastern Europe to North Africa in the 5th century. "The Vandal Kingdom" hopes to offer visitors a new perspective on this unfamiliar culture and infamous word.

Curator Astrid Wenzel said the show in Karlsruhe is the first of its kind. “Throughout the world, there has never been such an exhibition about the Vandals,” said Wenzel, who is an archaeologist. The museum employed a ten-strong team to prepare the unique items sent from Tunisia, Algeria, Italy, Spain and the United States.

Click here for a photo gallery of the exhibition.

Despite the Vandals' terrible reputation, Wenzel said the violence they administered across much of Europe was "no worse than other migrating tribes.”

In the 4th and 5th centuries AD, raiding and plundering was the most common way to acquire material assets for various Germanic groups and the rich but weakened Roman Empire seemed particularly appealing to the Vandals. Wenzel said the Vandals performed a "logistical masterpiece" in 429 when 80,000 tribesmen crossed from Spain to North Africa in commandeered ships.

The exhibition shows how the Vandals also adopted the Christian faith on their journey from the area that is today’s Poland, across Germany, France, Italy, Spain and finally to Africa. It features early Christian relics from Tunisia, in addition to some 300 other items, such as stone sarcophagi, precious jewellery, mosaics and ceramics.

The exhibition will runs until February 21.

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Your comments about this article

00:15 October 24, 2009 by DavidtheNorseman
Gaiseric was a genius, politically and militarily. The Vandals were also much more tolerant of other kinds of Christians than were their enemies (they allowed freedom of worship but exiled priests, whereas their enemies in Rome and Constantinople were always trying to kill everyone not exactly like themselves).
10:05 October 24, 2009 by Nemesis
This expedition is a wonderful idea.

It will educate a lot of people on a time in Germany and European history, of which very little is known.

Bringing Gaiseric into the conscionousness of this generation will help to educate a lot of people and dispell myths regarding history.
11:45 October 25, 2009 by richard_vijay
Guten Gott, at alst an exhibition to show that (at least) one of the ancient Germanic tribes was not the mindlessly violent people characterised by the Church as well folks who hate the Germans.The ancient Germans like their noble and often wronged desendants (the people of Germany) were valours and courageous.
07:06 October 26, 2009 by wood artist
Although we might well find the practices of various "barbarian tribes" abhorrent by today's standards, the fact remains that life was much different then, and the ideas of looting and pillage, not to mention slavery and rape, were viewed much differently.

Without passing moral judgment upon anyone, it's always valuable to learn more about the history that defined us all. The early "Germans" were little different than the early people in most every locale, and it's unreasonable to blame more recent history on the folks who passed through the area centuries before.

I only wish I could be in the country to see this.
07:20 October 26, 2009 by Nemesis
@ richard_vijay,

Agreed.

There was so many Germanic tribes. The rewriting of history so as to placate christians that everything came from Rome, when in fact all that came from there was genocide, destruction and death for entertainment, needs to be challenged.

Arminius or Herman the German, needs to be highlighted to all. His achievement at Teutoburg can not be downplayed.

The history of the Goths, Vandals, Macromani, Lombards, Visigoths, Saxons, Angles, Jutes, Cherusci and all the various other Germanic groupings needs to be shown to all and taught more frequently in schools.

We should learn about our common European heritage in schools and museums and our Celtic, Germanic, Hellenistic and slavic histories in Europe. We should learn the fact that there was once more than a roman empire.

When learning about the roman empire, we should learn about what they did to Dacia, the Hellenes, Gauls, jews and other groups whose entire countries/peoples were laid waste and sold into slavery.

The destruction of technology which still continues today from rome should be highlighted. A good example of this is the antikythera mechanism. See www.antikythera-mechanism.gr and http://www.antikythera-mechanism.gr/node/35 for more information on that. The same mindset that destroyed that technology at the time, still prevails in Rome.
02:46 October 27, 2009 by MAT-CT-USA
This history proves at least one thing. The result of all the invading and subsequent intermarrying and what not leads me to believe that all of us from the United Kingdom over to Greece are related by blood relations.
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