ZDF documentary Terra X

The Roman City on May 7, 2023 on ZDF

On May 7, 2023, ZDF will show the Terra X documentary "Europe in... the Migration Period" at 19:30. The Roman town of Carnuntum is not only represented extremely prominently, all moderations with Mirko Drotschmann were filmed and recorded directly in our Roman town. The documentary can also be seen afterwards in the TV-Thek.


About the content of the documentary:

"Völkerwanderung" - this is the name given in Europe to the turbulent epoch between antiquity and the Middle Ages, in which Germanic warrior bands brought down the Roman Empire.  


The migration of peoples is undoubtedly one of the epochal turning points in European history. For half a millennium, the Romans had controlled large parts of the continent. But between the 5th and 6th centuries, the Eternal City of Rome was sacked twice, first by the Visigoths, then by the Vandals. In the end, a powerless child emperor sat on the throne, eventually deposed by a Germanic warlord. How had it come to this?

© Tobias Sundermann / ZDF / Gruppe 5 Filmproduktion

By no means homogeneous ethnic groups


On a journey through Europe, Mirko Drotschmann meets researchers who take a new look at the events of that time. This already begins with the term "peoples". For Visigoths or Vandals were by no means homogeneous ethnic groups, but formed only in the course of their migrations by merging from the most diverse ethnic groups. Moreover, it is evident that these "peoples" did not want to destroy the Roman Empire at all, but to share in its prosperity. For this they not only plundered, but also traded and even fought for the Romans - like Alarich, the leader of the Visigoths.


Following the example of the Romans, the Visigoths built the royal city of Reccopolis in what is now Spain in the 6th century; a metropolis that at that time even eclipsed many a Roman settlement, as the most modern surveying methods with geomagnetic probes and laser drones prove. This is a building achievement that the "barbarians" had not been credited with for a long time. Researchers are also focusing on the climate as an important push factor for the "migration of peoples": a cold spell probably drove the Huns from Asia to Europe and enabled the Vandals to penetrate the Roman Empire on New Year's Eve in 406.


Traces of migration in language and genes


The migrations of late antiquity have left traces in our languages and genes: the name of England, for example, bears witness to the Anglo-Saxons' takeover of 5th-century Britain. And although immigrants from the continent were in the minority at the time, they prevailed genetically: Genetic analyses show that more than half of English men have Anglo-Saxon ancestors.


Rome was not built in a day - nor did it fall in a day. In the East, the empire remained in the form of the Byzantine Empire even into the 15th century. In the West, Charlemagne and the Franks inherited from the Romans, supported by the Roman Catholic Church. In a new form, the Roman idea of rule lived on; in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, it endured until 1806. Today, the period of the "Migration of Nations" stands less for the end of the Roman Empire than for the combination of cultures and traditions that continue to shape Europe today.

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