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This report is taken from PN Review 172, Volume 33 Number 2, November - December 2006.

Am I Not Your Austalis? Frank Kuppner

I had just finished reading Bryan Ward-Perkins's The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilisation [sic] (OUP, 2005) when a name on the map on the back endpapers caught my attention. It seems that, about AD 500, a certain tribe called the Gepids was hovering just north of the Danube, broadly in Dracula country, none too far away from Constantinople itself. I couldn't remember ever having seen the name before - not even in the (most instructive) book I had just read (though I dare say they might well be lurking in there somewhere, brows furrowed, plotting their next barely civilised move).

Seeking immediate further information, I dug out my aged copy of F.W. Putzger's Historischer Schul-Atlas (Bielefeld & Leipzig, 1931). Gothic script, 50th Jubilee-Edition - two years before a modern middle-European barbarian would be disastrously finessed into power. (Indeed, in the riot of flags on page 113 a single swastika sneaks in, like the first spot of the Plague.)

When did I buy this atlas? Fifteen years ago? Twenty? I have no better idea. Yet another tiny fact gone for good. The 'Gepiden' suddenly show up anyway on a map of 'Europe, after 476' (when the last Western Emperor was deposed) and they're still in place in the next map ( 'Europe in 526'). However, by 'Europa nach 568', after what seems to have been a few decades of vague local glory, the 'Awaren' have taken their place. (Cue ...


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