Classical Records and German Origins, Part Two

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Part Two,   By: William Finck   © 2007

In preparation for writing his histories, Herodotus had traveled widely, actually visiting many of the places which he wrote about. One of the places that he visited was Istria, a Milesian colony on the Danube river which bordered upon the Scythians (cf. Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 19.73.2), where he undoubtedly gained much of his knowledge of the Scythians and of the Ister (which is the Danube) and the region through which the river runs. Describing the Danube, Herodotus calls it “one of the great Scythian rivers”, considering the land north of the Danube to be Scythia, and mentions that there are five notable “Scythian” rivers which empty into the Danube from the north (The Histories, 4.48,51). The historian spoke of the land north of the Danube, later known to the Romans as Germany, thusly: “As regards the region lying north of this country [Thrace] no one can say with any certainty what men inhabit it. It appears that you no sooner cross the Ister than you enter on an interminable wilderness. [Rawlinson notes here: ‘Hungary and Austria’, later political divisions of the land the Greeks came to know as Galatia, the Romans Germany.] The only people of whom I can hear as dwelling beyond the Ister are the race named Sigynnae, who wear, they say, a dress like the Medes, and have horses which are covered entirely with a coat of shaggy hair, five fingers in length. They [the horses] are a small breed, flat-nosed, and not strong enough to bear men on their backs; but when yoked to chariots, they are among the swiftest known, which is the reason why the people of that country use chariots. Their borders reach down almost to the Eneti upon the Adriatic Sea [i.e. including perhaps the modern Carinthia in western Austria], and they call themselves colonists of the Medes; but how they can be colonists of the Medes I for my part cannot imagine. Still nothing is impossible in the long lapse of ages. Sigynnae is the name which the Ligurians who dwell above Massilia give to traders, while among the Cyprians the word means spears. According to the account which the Thracians give, the country beyond the Ister is possessed by bees, on account of which it is impossible to penetrate farther. But in this they seem to me to say what has no likelihood: for it is certain that those creatures are very impatient of cold. I rather believe that it is on account of the cold that the regions which lie under the Bear [the northern regions, ‘the Bear’ referring to the constellation] are without inhabitants. Such then are the accounts given of this country, the sea-coast [of the Black sea] whereof Megabazus was now employed in subjecting to the Persians” (The Histories, 5:9-10). So it is apparent that central Europe, a few centuries later populated by so many Germans that Rome could not subdue it, was quite sparsely inhabited in the time of Herodotus, and those few who did dwell there are said to have come from Media. It has been made evident here already (in Part One of this essay) that both Kimmerians and Scythians, being one and the same people, originated in and around northern Media. Herodotus’ account of the small horses found north of the Danube is corroborated by archaeology. For instance, the horses of the Urnfield Culture (see, for example, the Internet site Wikipedia and the article “Urnfield Culture”) are found to be a mere 1.25 meters tall at the shoulders, on average.

In The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, in volume 3 of the Micropaedia, there is an article entitled “Cimmerian” which follows many of the mistakes which Herodotus and others also followed concerning the origin of the Kimmerians, and insisting that they should be distinguished from the Scythians the article states that “Ancient writers sometimes confused them with the Scythians”, yet it has been shown here that the Kimmerians were indeed Scythians, by their Akkadian (Assyrian) name. The article ends by stating of certain archaeological remains that “... perhaps ... the western branch of the Cimmerians, who, under fresh Scythian pressure, eventually invaded the Hungarian plain and survived there until about 500 B.C.” While it is true that, as the article also relates, the Kimmerians are no longer mentioned in contemporary historical accounts after they departed from Anatolia, this is more likely due to confusion over names rather than to their disappearance. The period from 600-500 B.C. is the era generally proposed by archaeologists for the spread of the so-called Keltic La Tene culture throughout Western Europe. 500 B.C. is also only about 100 years before the spread of the Galatae into the Ligurian and Etruscan lands of the Alps and northern Italy.

Some time after Herodotus, but by the time of Aristotle about a century later, as attested to by the lexicographers in the 9th edition of the Liddell & Scott Greek-English Lexicon, the word Galatae began to be used. It shall be fully illustrated as this essay progresses, that before the time of the historian Polybius the word Galatae began to be used of those tribes which appeared north of the Alps in the west, and north of Greece and Thrace in the east, in lands which Herodotus had earlier called Scythia. Scythia, along with Scythian were thereafter used only of the Scythian tribes of Asia, in the lands north of the Caucasus and east of the Tanaïs river. Yet the origin of the word Galatae has not, so far as I have seen, been sufficiently explained by the ancient Greeks (Diodorus Siculus only repeats a myth concerning Heracles and a supposed son named Galates, from whom they were fabled to have sprung), and it may be conjectured that the Scythians of the north, having previously been called by the Greeks “Galactophagi” (milk-fed) and “Hippemolgì” (mare-milkers), may have eventually been called Galatae from gala, the Greek word for milk. The Latin word rendered Gaul in English is actually Galli, and may have come to them from the Greek, yet perhaps coincidentally, gaulus is Latin for bucket.

After informing us of the distinction between Kelts and Galatae (quoted in Part One of this essay), Diodorus Siculus tells of the Galatae that “... some men say that it was they who in ancient times overran all Asia and were called Cimmerians, time having slightly corrupted the word into the name of Cimbrians, as they are now called ...” and goes on to relate how tribes of these Galatae once captured Rome, as Livy and others also relate had happened (about 390 B.C.), and how they later plundered the temple of Delphi in Greece (in 279 B.C.). Afterwards, certain tribes of them invading Anatolia were defeated by Attalus I of Pergamos, and negotiated to settle the land which became known as Galatia in Anatolia. These Galatians “became mixed with the Greeks” and so were called “Greco-Gauls”, and it is these Galatians for whom Paul wrote his epistle. Diodorus then adds of the Galatae: “... and who, as their last accomplishment, have destroyed many large Roman armies”, referring to the Roman wars with the Cimbri (Library of History, 5.32.4-5). In the Loeb Classical Library edition of Diodorus, translated by C. H. Oldfather, a footnote at this passage reads: “Much has been written to show that the Germanic tribe of the Cimbrians who threatened Italy shortly before 100 B.C. were belated Cimmerians who first entered Asia Minor in the seventh century B.C.” The Cimbri, after several astounding victories, were defeated by the Romans about 101 B.C. Strabo also tells us that they were the Kimmerians, and later calls them Germans, who with another kindred tribe, the Sugambri, were “best known” of the Germanic tribes (Geography, 7.2.2, 4). As the Germanic (Galatae, Kimmerian, or Scythian) tribes grew and divided, and the Greeks and Romans became more intimately knowledgeable of them, they were referred to less generally, by more specific tribal names. For instance, Strabo later enumerates the tribes of “those Galatae who settled in Phrygia” (Geography, 12.1.1) as “... the Trocmi and the Tolistobogii, [which] are named after their leaders, whereas the third, the Tectosages, is named after the tribe in Celtica.” The Tectosages (Tektosagas in Greek, and notice the presence of the -saga syllable present in so many names related to Scythian tribes, as mentioned in Part One of this essay) had also occupied a district near the Pyrenees mountains, and are said to be a division of the Volcae (Geography, 4.1.12-13; 12.5.1). Of the Trocmi, Strabo says that this tribe, settled near Pontus and Cappadocia, was “the most powerful of the parts occupied by the Galatians” (12.5.2).

Herodotus was somewhat correct in stating that the Kimmerians were pushed out of their eastern European lands by the Scythians. As he himself later explains, in his own time the inhabitants of the land north and west of the Black Sea and north of Thrace were Scythians, and he called the lands north of the Danube Scythia (The Histories, 4:48, 97). Yet this is not when the Kimmerians had destroyed Phrygia. They had already done that around 700 B.C. while they were enroute to Europe (as explained in Part One of this essay). Rather, this tradition helps to document the beginnings of a new westward push by the “Caucasian” or “Indo-European” tribes of Asia into Europe, of which those Scythians – first called Kimmerians, but later Galatae and Kelts by the Greeks – were the vanguard, and which would continue through the 5th century A.D. Of course, other “Indo-European” tribes, such as the Greeks and Romans, had long occupied southern Europe, and (as shall be discussed later) certain of the Slavic branch of the race had already occupied portions of central and northern Europe, as did colonists from the Greeks. Upon passing into Europe, the Kimmerians would not only settle the Crimea and the region north of Thrace, but would follow the Danube river into Celtica and the Alps, leaving many settlements behind along the way. Spreading along the Alps from the Adriatic to Massalia (now Marseilles) the Kimmerians then branched out into what are now Italy, France, and Iberia, diffusing the so-called La Tene culture of the archaeological record, becoming known to the Greeks of the west as Galatae, and to the Romans as Gauls. Strabo tells us that all of the Cisalpine Kelts (those on the Roman side of the Alps) had migrated from Transalpine land (Geography 4.4.1). As we have already seen, the Greeks attest that the Galatae were indeed the Kimmerians.

It should not be a wonder that the Kimmerians could destroy Phrygia, cross into Thrace, and be found in what today is France a mere 100 years later, or before 500 B.C. The entire course of the Danube is not quite 1800 miles, and from the sources of that river to the Pyrenees there are about 500 miles more. The lands west of the Rhine and south of the Alps are much more inviting to settlement than those to the north and east, and even up to the time of Julius Caesar the Germanic tribes were forcing their way into them. For instance, in The Gallic War Caesar complains that “In a few years all the natives [those who were already settled in Gaul, west of the Rhine] will have been driven forth from the borders of Gaul, and all the Germans will have crossed the Rhine; for there can be no comparison between the Gallic and German territory ...” (1:31), bearing in mind that the distinction between Gaul and German here is a late Roman one. Strabo said of the Germans and Galatae (which he distinguishes although he tells us that the Germans are Galatae, at Geography, 7.1.2), “that they migrate with ease ... they do not till the soil or even store up food, but live in small huts that are merely temporary structures; and they live for the most part off their flocks, as the Nomads do, so that, in imitation of the Nomads, they load their household belongings on their wagons and with their beasts turn whithersoever they think best”, then he proceeds to explain that other German tribes to the north are even more indigent, among them the Cherusci, Chatti, Cimbri, and others (Geography 7.1.3). This description of the Germanic tribes is much like that of Herodotus’ where he describes their Scythian forebears (The Histories, 1:216; 4:46). The distance from Boston to San Francisco by modern highway is very nearly 3000 miles, much farther than the distance from the Black Sea to the Pyrenees, and only 43 years after the west was opened to Anglo-America with the Louisiana Purchase there were already enough Americans settled in California that they could begin to wrest control of that territory from Mexico in the Bear Flag Revolt of 1846. All the lands of the American interior were also well-settled in a short time. The American pioneers of the west had at least as much resistance from the hostile Indian tribes, and no great technological advantage (with the exception of the black-powder rifle) over their Kimmerian ancestors in the settlement of northern and western Europe.

Moving through the Danube valley, the Kimmerians, or Galatae, had left many settlements along the way, where they encountered other White tribes who had long inhabited those regions. Foremost among these were the Thracians, the Illyrians, the Milesians (who had many colonies on the Danube and on the shores of the Black Sea), other Greeks; and then in the Alps the Etruscans, Ligurians, and other tribes, such as the Rhaetians, whom Livy attests were descended from the Etruscans (History of Rome, 5.33.7-11). The Phrygians in Anatolia were themselves a colony of the Thracians (Strabo Geography, 7.3.2; 7.25; 10.3.16), who are of the Slavic, or Japhethite, branch of the White Adamic race (Tiras, or Thiyrac in Strong’s Hebrew dictionary; Genesis 10: 2). The Illyrians were apparently of the stock of the Trojans, and Strabo tells us that in his time there was still a tribe of the Illyrians called Dardans (Geography, 7.5.6-7), the name by which Homer called the Trojans. The Milesians were descended from the Carian-Phoenician founders of Miletus in Anatolia (i.e. Strabo, Geography, 12.8.5), although they were Hellenized and the city considered a part of Ionia. Thales of Miletus, the city’s most famous inhabitant and one of the earliest of the famous Greek philosophers, was said by Herodotus to be “of Phoenician descent” (The Histories, 1:170). Milesians were also, along with the Danaans, among the earliest inhabitants of Ireland. The Etruscans were professed to be of the stock of the Lydians of Anatolia, and so they were Shemites (cf. Herodotus, The Histories, 1:94; Strabo, Geography 5.2.2; Genesis 10:22; Isaiah 66:19). These tribes are responsible for the earlier Tumulus, Urnfield, Hallstatt, Piliny, Lusatian, and other Bronze and early Iron Age cultures of central Europe, as identified by archaeologists. The Vistula river cultures, among them the Trzciniec, which preceeded the Lusatian in that area, and also the Piliny culture of what is now Hungry and Slovakia, along with others of the region, have been shown by archaeologists to be related to the Tumulus culture. The Phrygians of Anatolia left behind numerous such Tumulus burials.

And so along the lower Danube river there are found many tribes of the Galatae. Strabo mentions “both the Illyrian and Thracian tribes, and all the tribes of the Celtic or other peoples that are mingled with these, as far as Greece, [which] are to the south of the Ister” (Geography, 7.1.1). Among them are the “Scordisci Galatae” of the Balkans, intermingled with the Illyrian and Thracian tribes (Geography, 7.2.2; 7.5.2; Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 34/35.30A); the Teuristae; the Taurisci and Norici (Geography, 4.6.9, 12; 7.2.2); the Trerans or Treres who are in turn identified as Kimmerian and Thracian (Geography, 1.3.21; 13.1.8; 14.1. 40), where Strabo cites Callinus, an Elegaic Poet of the mid-7th century B.C., who said the Treres were Kimmerians (cf. Greek Elegaic Poetry, Loeb Classical Library, p. 15, Callinus, I); the Iapodes who are said to be a mixture of Kelts and Illyrians (Geography, 7.5.2); and the Boii, whom Strabo also says were mingled with Thracians (7.3.2). The Kimmerians being Scythians, and as Josephus, the Biblical, and the ancient Assyrian records demonstrate, therefore being descended from those many thousands of Israelites who were deported and resettled by the Assyrian empire, here is surely evidence of the fulfillment of prophecies such as those found at Genesis 9:27 and Isaiah 66:19, along with many others concerning the Old Testament Israelites. This also fully concurs with Strabo’s assessment, quoted in Part One of this essay, that those Galatae north of the Danube and east of the Rhine were called Germani because they were the genuine Galatae (Geography, 7.1.2), as those who advanced south of the Danube and west of the Rhine had mingled with earlier settlers of those regions. It is these Thracian, Illyrian, and Milesian tribes (and especially the latter two, since they had descended from Israelite tribes who had at a very early time migrated from Palestine by sea, and were therefore closely related to the Kimmerian Scythians), who along with those Phoenicians and Danaans who had at a much earlier time colonized the coasts of northern and western Europe by sea, who are all often identified as “proto-Kelts” by archaeologists and anthropologists, and who together with the Kimmerian Scythian Galatae, and even later Scythian Sakans (Saxons), who migrated from Asia into Europe, eventually formed the White nations of Europe as we know them today. Substantiation for the above assertions concerning the Trojan Illyrians, Milesians, Phoenicians, Danaans, Scythians et al., may be found in my earlier essays on these subjects: Classical Records Of Trojan-Roman-Judah; Classical And Biblical Records Identifying The Phoenicians; Classical Records Of the Danaan & Dorian Israelite Greeks; and Classical Records Of The Scythians, Parthians & Related Tribes.

Long after the initial dispersion of the Kimmerians, Galatae are found raiding the countries to the south, from their homes in Germanic lands north of the Danube, well into the second century B.C. From 279-276 B.C. they destroyed a Macedonian army, raided Macedonia and sacked Delphi (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 22.3, 4, 9). From just before this time until about 210 B.C. the Galatae ruled all of Thrace. It was also during this time that tribes of the Galatae crossed back into Anatolia, and after suffering a defeat at the hands of the king of Pergamos, settled the land which became known as Galatia, already discussed above. Yet by 168 B.C., Galatae from north of the Danube were being hired by the Macedonians as mercenaries in their wars against the Romans (Library of History, 30.19; 31.12-14). The Cimbri, in their later wars against the Romans, fought with them at both Noreia (the modern Neumarkt in the duchy of Styria in Austria), and at Arausio (the modern Orange) in Gaul (cf. Strabo, Geography, 5.1.8; Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 34/35.37.1; 36.1; and 37.1.5 where the Cimbri, “giantlike in appearance and unexcelled in feats of strength” were said to number 400,000 at one battle, although Plutarch’s account says 300,000. The footnotes to these passages in the Loeb Classical Library editions are cited here). The eventual establishment of Roman frontiers along the Rhine and the Danube checked the encroachment of the Germanic tribes upon the more fruitful lands of the south and west for several centuries. The appearance of so many Galatae in lands said to be German, without any recorded conflict among the peoples there – except where later incited by Rome – would certainly be odd, unless the Galatae were indeed German (Strabo, Geography, 7.1.2) and they were all kinsmen (4.4.2), which they certainly were.

Throughout The Germania the Roman historian Tacitus attempts to distinguish Germans from Gauls based upon language and lifestyle, yet these differences may easily be accounted for by other reasons. In the rugged north, unfriendly to agriculture, tribes would by necessity adopt a lifestyle quite different than that of the tribes which inhabit the more arable, more temperate areas in the west and south of Europe. As for language, centuries of separation during a gradual sojourn from Asia, and the differing influences of various neighboring tribes through commerce, politics, intermingling, etc., or lack thereof, surely may account for the many dialects which developed amongst the Germanic peoples. This may also account for differences in religious beliefs found among these tribes, although their most basic beliefs seem to have at least been somewhat consistent. One does not have to investigate at length to see great evidence of these same things in modern times. Tacitus goes so far as to postulate that Gauls, who he purports are a race distinct from the Germans, had once migrated east into Germany (The Germania, 28). Yet this is contrary to the testimony of the earlier historians (i.e. Strabo, Diodorus Siculus), and also to the archaeological record. The Hallstatt culture, although errantly attributed by many exclusively to the Kelts, is certainly earlier and preponderates further east than the La Tene culture. Surely the testimonies of the earlier historians are correct, and the Galatae, the people formerly known as the Kimmerians of the east and later also called Kelts, spread all through Europe as far as modern Portugal, yet were later divided into Gauls and Germans by the Romans and their conquests. The next parts of this essay shall discuss later, post-Kimmerian, waves of the Scythians into Europe, going back again to the 6th century B.C.