At the beginning of the 6th century large changes took place in the Lake Mälar Area of Sweden
1. Suddenly a Svea power appeared which was strong enough to wage war against the Gutar, island of Gotland in the Baltic sea. From where did those Svear come?
2. A new fashion in burying saw the light in the Lake Mälar Area during the 6th century. The burials were very ritual, which indicates that religion very much directed the treatment of man for the next life.
3. The Svear used the Roman Julian calendar which is considered to have been introduced in Uppland about the year 500. Still in the 17th century the Disthing-day in Uppsala was calculated according to this calendar.
4. The Æsir-religion which can be interpreted as the religion of the warlike masters makes its appearance whilst the Vana- belief probably was the religion of the peaceful farming people. The Æsir-religion can be considered a child of an Iranian religion, which after its founder, Mani, is called Manikeism. This religion gained, from the 4th century, wide acceptance outside of the Persian state of the time. The Æsir-religion has also borrowed ideas from early Christianity.
5. The Beowulf poem which in principle reflects the life of the Gutar and Gotland, also talks about the wars between the Gutar and Svear beginning of the 6th century.
6. In the Old Uppsala mounds the burial build-up, according to professor Sune Lindqvist, has been done in a similar way as the Roman Royal cremations.
7. The Heruls, a Scandinavian people which together with the Gutans, or Goths as the Romans called them, were, from the 3rd century, ravaging the Black Sea, Minor Asia and the Mediterranean. After having been subdued firstly by the Goths and later by the Huns, those Heruls formed in the middle of the 5th century a state in upper Hungary. There are several accounts about how the Heruls ravaged the shores of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, alone and together with the Goths, why they must have been skillful seafarers. They were in great demand as soldiers in the Roman Imperial Guards. According to Roman sources they were a more primitive people than other Germanic people. The soldiers of Odovakar who assumed power in the Western Empire in the year 476 were according to available sources mainly Heruls. A Roman coin from 476 has been found in the Ottar mound in Uppland. This state of Odovakar was, however, soon overrun by the Theoderik and his Ostrogoths.
8. The Greek-Roman author Prokopios says that about the year 505 the Herul state in upper Hungary was smashed by the Longobards. Some of the Heruls settled in Illyria under the protection of the Caesar of the Eastern Empire, but another part could not, says Prokopios, decide whether they should cross the Danube but decided instead to settle in the furthest parts of the, in that time, inhabited world. They returned to Thule (Scandinavia) and settled along the borders of a powerful tribe which is called Gautoi (Götar). This takes place at the same time as a powerful Svea state with powerful kings emerges in the Lake Mälar Area.
9. The helmets in the Vendel graves in Uppland are also interesting. They are identified as the helmets of the Roman Imperial guards, the model that was in use in the 5th century. They are considered to be related to the Sassanitian helmets and have been manufactured in the Ostrogothic factories at the Black Sea. We know from pictures that the Germanic mercenaries on Roman duty carried those helmets. The helmet from the grave that is called Vendel XIV is the only in Europe remaining ornated helmet of the highest rank, the Roman Imperial house and general staff. Those for Vendel XIV strange face protections of Roman model underline the closeness to the Roman army.
10. Snorri Sturluson tells in Heimskringla about the origin of the Æsir (the men from Asia) and the Ynglinga dynasty. Snorre says that Odin travelled north to the country that now is called Svitjod; the king in that country was called Gylve. When he heard that the men from Asia, which were called Æsir, were on their way, he travelled to meet them and offered Odin to have as much power in his country as he himself wanted. Wherever they travelled in the countries they were lucky and there were good years and peace, and everybody thought that they had power over such things, as the old people saw that they were different to other men they had seen both in appearance and in customs. Odin thought that they had found beautiful fields and good soil and he chose a place that now is called Sigtuna. And wherever they travelled through the countries, there was much praising of them and they were regarded more as gods than humans. They were dressed in Roman armour similar to that we find in the Vendel graves.
11. The cultivation of the soil was drastically changed in Fornsigtuna (Old Sigtuna) at the beginning of the 6th century. Samples show lots of horses and an intensified activity in the area.
12. It is interesting to note that at the same time as the Heruls settle next to the Götar, a Svea state flourishes in the Lake Mälar Area with powerful warriors and warships. Accordingly we have two names for the same people, Heruls as the Romans called them and Svear (Sviar) as we today know them.
13. Let us now look at the Baltic area during the 6 th century. We have several historical sources where the relationship between Gutar and Svear are treated and by analysing those together a picture of the historical events appears. The Gutar dominated the Baltic up to the beginning of the 6th century when they met competition from the immigrating Svear with disturbances and war. Also a new religion is introduced into the area and it has its strongest following in the new main areas of the Svear where Uppsala becomes the centre. Gradually peace is negotiated and a peace- and trade-agreement is reached, according to the Guta Saga by Avair Strabain. We have no name of the Svea king, but probably he was called Adils.
As we have been able to show it is probably the Heruls mentioned by Prokopios who are the founders of the Ynglinga dynasty in the Svea state and become what we later know as Svear. Quite a few pieces now find its place in the puzzle. The wars between the Gutar and Svear in the Beowulf poem as well as the wars and the trade- treaty in the Guta Saga can now more easily be explained.
Gotland that, at least since the Bronze age, was the centre for trade and culture in the Baltic area did now obtain a peace- and trade-treaty with the Svear where they freely could trade with the inhabitants of the new Svea state and also build trading centres around the Baltic. As the Gutar were considered to be good ironsmiths, iron was an important merchandise.
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The origin of Svear is a total re-evaluation of the earlier history of
the Baltic area.
There are certain locks in the Swedish history-writing which have blockaded the view for a wider perspective. I here think of Roman sources about the Baltic area.
In the 17th century when Sweden was a super-power it was important to give the country a history worthy of its position in the world and everything that could allude to the Svear was of course established as Svear. Main responsible for this project was Olof Rudbeck.
Still there are authors who copy those old imaginations that the Roman authors should have related about powerful Svear beginning of our chronology. From Swedish point of view it has been taken as a matter of course that "Scadinavia" means the Scandinavian peninsula. However, it ought to be Gotland that is meant. Plinius who died in 79 A.D. tells about the island "Scadinavia" that it lies straight out from the mouth of the Vistula.
The Greek-egyptian astronomer Ptolemaios says in his geography from the 3rd century that east of the Cimbrian peninsula are four islands called "Scandiai", the largest and most easterly lies north of the Vistula mouth. This is the island one thinks of when one talks about Skandia. The size and form agree quite well with Gotland.
It must be considered far-fetched and in the light of archæological finds as improbable that the tales by the Romans should be about the Scandinavian peninsula, which they called Thule. The origin of the word Svear is disputed and mistakes for Roman names on other people seems to be before us.
What we today call Svear or svioner only emerge into light beginning of the 6th century when they according to sources immigrate from the south bringing a new religion. When Christian learned men read Roman sources and found Latin words similar to svioner they used these words for the Svear.