Early German Art


The fact that the Assyrians, certain Scythians and Germans are one and the same people is further illustrated by some remarkable similarities in the artwork of these three groups.

Assyria and its allied territories in Asia Minor, such as the Hittite kingdom, were known for their depictions of winged beasts and mythological creatures. (For more information on the Hittite kingdom’s relationship with the Assyrian Empire, request our booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.) The double-headed eagle, which was a prominent symbol in Germany and the Holy Roman Empire as well as modern-day nations through which the Germans migrated, was invented by the Assyrian-dominated Hittite Empire. The earliest depiction is thought to have been found in Cappadocia, or modern-day Turkey (The Hittites: The Story of a Forgotten Empire).

Assyrian-winged animals feature prominently in Scythian art. “Scythian animals … are peripheral Assyrian, perhaps even provincial Assyrian, as close—in any case—to Assyrian art as the metalwork of Urartu” (Henri Frankfort, The Art and Architecture of the Ancient Orient).

The kingdom of Urartu was located just north of Assyria and eventually came under its dominion. The fact that Scythian artwork found in central Europe is as similar to Assyrian art as the artwork found in Urartu exposes the extraordinary cultural link between these geographically far-flung peoples.

These distorted animal depictions were also common in the Germanic tribes during the Middle Ages. “[T]he Scythic style is interesting as being one element in the art of the barbarians who conquered the Roman Empire and the zoomorphic decoration of the early Middle Ages,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica (11th edition, 1911, “Scythia”).

This makes complete sense considering that the Assyrians migrated through that same area, leaving behind some of their culture as they traveled. This Scythian culture reached all the way to Germany, where the Assyrians finally stopped migrating!