Thorsberg chape

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Illustration of the Thorsberg chape showing the runic inscriptions on both sides. Thorsberg Ortband.png
Illustration of the Thorsberg chape showing the runic inscriptions on both sides.

The Thorsberg chape [1] (a bronze piece belonging to a scabbard) is an archeological find from the Thorsberg moor, Germany, that appears to have been deposited as a votive offering. [2] It bears an Elder Futhark runic inscription, one of the earliest known, dating to roughly 200 CE.

Chape

Chape has had various meanings in English, but the predominant one is a protective fitting at the bottom of a scabbard or sheath for a sword or dagger. Historic blade weapons often had leather scabbards with metal fittings at either end, sometimes decorated. These are generally either in some sort of U shape, protecting the edges only, or a pocket shape covering the sides of the scabbard as well. The reinforced end of a single-piece metal scabbard can also be called the chape.

Scabbard sheath for large blades

A scabbard is a sheath for holding a sword, knife, or other large blade. Scabbards have been made of many materials over the millennia, including leather, wood, and metals such as brass or steel.

Thorsberg moor Bog and iron age deposit site

The Thorsberg moor near Süderbrarup in Anglia, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, is a peat bog in which the Angles deposited votive offerings for approximately four centuries. It is the location of important Roman Iron Age finds, including early Elder Futhark runic inscriptions such as the Thorsberg chape, a Roman helmet, a shield buckle, and an early example of socks. The finds are of similar importance as the contemporaneous finds from Illerup and Vimose in Denmark.

The artifact has been localized on archeological grounds to the region between the Rhine and the Elbe. [2] [3] [4]

Rhine river in Western Europe

The Rhine is a European river that begins in the Swiss canton of Graubünden in the southeastern Swiss Alps, forms part of the Swiss-Liechtenstein, Swiss-Austrian, Swiss-German and then the Franco-German border, then flows through the German Rhineland and the Netherlands and eventually empties into the North Sea.

Elbe major river in Central Europe

The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia, then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km (68 mi) northwest of Hamburg. Its total length is 1,094 kilometres (680 mi).

The inscription reads:

owlþuþewaz / niwaje͡mariz [2]
ᛟᚹᛚᚦᚢᚦᛖᚹᚨᛉ / ᚾᛁᚹᚨᛃᛗᚨᚱᛁᛉ

The first element owlþu, for wolþu-, means "glory," "glorious one," cf. Old Norse Ullr , Old English wuldor. The second element, -þewaz, means "slave, servant." The whole compound is a personal name or title, "servant of the glorious one" or "servant/priest of Ullr." On the reverse, ni- is the negative particle, waje- corresponds to "woe, ill" (Old Norse vei), and the final element is -mariz "famous" (Old English mǣre). (The "e" and "m" are written together, as a bind-rune, an unusual early example but probably not linguistically significant. [5] ) The second word thus translates to "not ill-famous," i.e., "famous, renowned" or "not of ill fame, not dishonored." Similar double negatives are found on other runic inscriptions. [2] The translation of the inscription can thus be either "Wolthuthewaz is well-renowned," or "the servant of Ullr, the renowned." If the first part refers to the god Ullr, it is the only reference to that god from south of Denmark, and also, if a personal name, the only German example of a person named for a specific Germanic god. [4]

Old Norse North Germanic language

Old Norse was a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements from about the 9th to the 13th century.

Ullr Norse deity

In early Germanic paganism, *Wulþuz ("glory") appears to have been an important concept, perhaps personified as a god, or an epithet of an important god; it is continued in Old Norse tradition as Ullr, a god associated with archery.

Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest historical form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers probably in the mid-5th century, and the first Old English literary works date from the mid-7th century. After the Norman conquest of 1066, English was replaced, for a time, as the language of the upper classes by Anglo-Norman, a relative of French. This is regarded as marking the end of the Old English era, as during this period the English language was heavily influenced by Anglo-Norman, developing into a phase known now as Middle English.

Another reading, avoiding the emendation of the first element, reads the first letter ideographically, "Odal," resulting in o[þalan] w[u]lþuþewaz / niwajmariz "inherited property of Wulthuthewaz, the renowned." However, the owner's name is not in the possessive case as would be expected with such a usage; moreover, the rune Fehu, signifying simply "property," would be more apposite; "odal" denoted specifically real estate. [6]

Ideogram graphic symbol that represents an idea or concept

An ideogram or ideograph is a graphic symbol that represents an idea or concept, independent of any particular language, and specific words or phrases. Some ideograms are comprehensible only by familiarity with prior convention; others convey their meaning through pictorial resemblance to a physical object, and thus may also be referred to as pictograms.

The Elder Futhark Odal rune, also known as the Othala rune, represents the o sound. Its reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *ōþalan "heritage; inheritance, inherited estate".

Odelsrett

The Odelsrett is an ancient Scandinavian allodial title which has survived in Norway as odelsrett and existed until recent times in Sweden as bördsrätt.

It is possible that the inscription is poetic; it can be read as an alliterative long-line. [7]

See also

Notes

  1. The inscription has been given the Rundata (Scandinavian Runic-text Data Base) inventory designation DR 7.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Tineke Looijenga, Texts & Contexts of the Oldest Runic Inscriptions, Leyden/Boston: Brill, 2003, ISBN   90-04-12396-2, p. 259.
  3. Hans Frede Nielsen, "The Dialectal Provenance of the Gallehus Inscription," in Von Thorsberg nach Schleswig: Sprache und Schriftlichkeit eines Grenzgebietes im Wandel eines Jahrtausends: internationales Kolloquium im Wikinger Museum Haithabu vom 29. September3. Oktober 1994, ed. Klaus Düwel, Edith Marold, and Christiane Zimmermann with Lars E. Worgull, Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde Ergänzungsband 25, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2000, ISBN   3-11-016978-9, pp. 25-36, p. 31.
  4. 1 2 Henrik Williams, "From Meldorf to Haithabu: Some Early Personal Names from Schleswig-Holstein," Von Thorsberg nach Schleswig pp. 149-66, p. 157.
  5. Mindy MacLeod, Bind-Runes: An Investigation of Ligatures in Runic Epigraphy, Uppsala: Institutionen för nordiska sprak, Uppsala Universitet, 2002, ISBN   91-506-1534-3, p. 51, note 17.
  6. Williams, p. 156.
  7. Tonya Kim Dewey, Versatility in Versification: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Metrics, Berkeley Insights in Linguistics and Semiotics 74, New York: Lang, 2009, ISBN   978-1-4331-0578-4, p. 7.

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