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Scientific Area » Longobard History » Pre-Italic Phases

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Through the cultural osmosis typical of the border civilizations, Longobards and Gepids furtherly acquired mould and a “stralucido”, i.e. glossy, pottery production. They accepted the shapes of Byzantine metal and glass vessels and transformed them into tableware which can be recognized from the particular mould decoration. This production (along with other items such as weapons, jewels and buckles that prove the considerable development of metalworking) is typical of grave goods, which are the Longobards first distinctive trait in their pre-Italic phases.

Therefore as regards to the other Germanic people, grave goods are at the same time common and distinctive traits, expecially for what concerns the womensware (stirrup buckles). Among these peculiar elements, we can mention as well the monumentality of some “timber house”-shaped burials (Houses of Death), the horse burials beside knights (for the aristocrats), and the male necropolises, either noble or military ones. As a whole, they are evidences of a smaller social classes division than that registered in Italy, expecially in the late 4th – early 7th century graves. That with the Eastern Roman Empire, which had been carrying out an ambiguous diplomacy in order to secure itself the northern boundaries safety, was another influential encounter for the Longobards culture. the gold leaf belts, often with vegetable and floreal patterns, are Byzantine productions or imitations.

From the above mentioned contacts the Longobards at least partially derived forms of power as well. The figure of a chief, military and popular together, charismatic for being member of the arictocracy and for having military and political skills, gained more and more authority.

The issue of the Longobards religious beliefs is a more complicated one, particularly from the point of view of their adhesion to orthodox conciliar Christianity rather than to Arianism (being this the distinctive trait of the Germanic populations, expecially those settled in eastern europe). According to some scholars, they shifted from a first acceptance of the orthodoxy to Arianism, probably because of a political necessity of distinguishing themselves from other people of the roman empire. By the way, this is still a controversial issue, even though procopius did mention the Longobards observance of the orthodoxy. For sure the Longobards introduced themselves as Arian, when they arrived in Italy.

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