Migration Period
between Odra and Vistula

You are here: Home page / Thesaurus / Terms / Barbaricum


Barbaricum, latin term used during Late Antiquity to describe the area of continental Europe lying outside the Roman Empire, approximately to the east of the Rhine and to the north of the Danube. The name B. appears for the first time in early 3rd century in an inscription from Preslav (Bulgaria), and subsequently, in numerous Late Antique written sources, more notably  in Ammianus Marcellinus. In modern research literature the same area during the Early Roman Empire is occasionally referred to using terms taken from Claudius Ptolemy, such as Great Germania (incorrectly - Free Germania or Germania Libera) and (European) Sarmatia, the two divided by the Vistula river. However, it is now customary to exend the term B. to the entire period of duration of the Roman Empire, and even, to the period of the Late Republic, whereas it is incorrect to use it to describe all areas lying beyond the limes.


Literature: T. Sarnowski, Barbaricum und ein Bellum Bosporanum in einer Inschrift aus Preslav, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphie 87, 1991, p. 137-144; M. Radnoti-Alföldi, Germania magna – nicht libera. Notizen zum römischen Wortgebrauch, Germania 75, 1997, p. 45-52; H. Neumaier, „Freies Germanien“/„Germania Libera“ – Zur Genese eines historischen Begriffs, Germania 75, 1997, p. 53-67; M. Mączyńska, Światło z popiołu. Wędrwówki ludów w Europie w IV i V w., Warszawa 2013.