Home DH-Debate
2. The Meaning of "As"

1. The Aesirs Came from Asia

When I came to China ten years ago, I met my wife and her girlfriends. The teased me, because I drank so much water, they said. You know, westerners drink water to the food, and they make sure they get enough water, when it is hot. They called me something like "swe'e tung", it means heavy from water, or full of water. I was surprised, that the word "tung" means the same in Danish as in Chinese (heavy).

So I remembered the well known joke making fun with Chinese language, in which a policeman beats a pickpocket with a "lang tung ting" ( Danish, meaning a "long heavy thing")

Well, then how do you say "long"? I asked. Long is called "trang", they answered. This means "narrow" in Danish. Also this meaning is not so far from Danish, when something is long, it is by its logical nature also relatively narrow in the other dimension.

Water, "swe-e", was also rather close. It sounds completely as saying "sweat" in the Danish dialect of the Funen island. It is also something with water.

China calls itself "Zhong Guo", pronounced "djung gjår" with Danish letters. It does indeed mean the "Center Country". The Nordic gods created also a "Center Country" as a home for the humans. The ancient named it "Mid-gård" (Middle Earth). Both the first and the second part of the word have the same meaning in Chinese and in Scandinavian as well. The last part of the words is also pronounced very similar in both languages.

All this appeared for me very strange, Danish and Chinese should for me be something so totally different, I had always been told.

Since then I have collected words, quotes, history, everything that can illustrate the link between Denmark and China in the early history. I've sorted, systematized, concluded and put it up in reasonable logical order. I hope someone will enjoy reading.

Snorre Sturlason
Drawing representing Snorre Sturlason from an illustration in a modern publishing of the sagas. Reality is that nobody knew, how he looked like.

The Icelandic saga writer Snorre Sturlason told, that the Aesirs came from Asia. He called them "the Asia Men". Snorre lived hundreds of years closer to the actual events, than we do, and especially he lived before, the Christian tradition turned all history prior to Christianity into some unimportant, outdated pagan stories. Many traditional oral stories and manuscripts must surely have been lost in the early Christian period. In the time of Snorre and Saxo, the traditional stories, handed down from our ancestors, must have been much more alive.

So, why not believe them. They were serious men, who carefully wrote down, what they have been told.

Snorre wrote, that the Aesirs came from Asia. In Asia was, according to his Edda Saga, "Midle Earth" situated.

The Norman history writer, Dudo, wrote, that the Danes came from "Svitjod". He must have ment, the "Great Svitjod", now a days Russia and the endless steppes in the east.

The Danes, also called the Aesirs or the Asia-men, are known to have driven out the Heruls from their settlements in Scandinavia, or at least some of them. The Greek history writer, Prokopius, tells it. The displaced Heruls went south to the Roman Empire and earned their bread there as mercenaries. Unfortunately, their king died without leaving any sons. Therefore they sent a deputation back to the old country in Scandinavia, where some Heruls still lived. They wanted to get a new king of their ancient and holy royal family.

The last stand of the houshold troops of the Herulian king Rolf Krake
The last stand of the houshold troops of the Herulian king Rolf Krake. - illustration in modern publishing of the saga.

In order to reach their relatives, the remaining Heruls, the deputation had to travel through the land of the Danes, that is their old country. At the time, before the Viking ships, the route up through Scandinavia probably have gone up through Jutland, crossing the narrow stream to Funen, crossing the bigger stream between Funen and Zealand and further on to Sweden and Norway.

Odense is the main town on the island of Funen. It is named after the god of the Aesirs, Odin, so it's very reasonable to assume, that it was on this island the Danes, also called the Aesirs, settled down, and that it was from here, the Heruls were displaced.

The Herulian deputation should therefore travel across Funen to go to the remaining Heruls, who then may have been living on Zealand or in Scania, or both.

In the History of the Langobards by Paul the Deacon is told about a Herul king named Rodulf, short of stature, who very much recalls Rolf Krake, a well known king of Zealand from Danish ancient history. And the legends about Rolf Krake and his royal family, called "Skjoldungerne" (it means something like "Shield Cubs"), are very closely connected to the island of Zealand and the city of "Lejre".

So it must with some probability has been like this, that the Herulian delegation travelled through Jutland and across Funen and then they came to an island, Zealand, which still was inhabited by their fellow Heruls, still ruled by kings of the old Herulian royal family.

In eastern Funen is a village called "Herrested". From the mediaval document, "Valdemars Jordebog", it is known, that it was before called "Herrul-sted". This means that the special thing about this place, in contrast to the rest of Funen, was that some Heruls still lived here.

The suffix "-sted" is most often linked to place names from 200 to 500 AC. If Heruls had been living everywhere on the island at this time, there would have been no reason to call a certain village "Herrul-sted". So we can assume, that the rest of the island was no longer populated by Heruls. The Danes, also called the Aesirs, had settled down on the island.

Odense has been named after Odin
Odense has been named after Odin.

They built a fortress in the middles of the island, which they called Odins-oye. It was named after the god, "Odin", and "-oye" meant "island", perhaps it was surrounded by the river for defence purpose.

The term Odins-oye were used by Snorre (see: Flemming Rickfors). Try to say "Odins-oye" 20 times in succession, and it will sound like "Odense", the modern main city of the island of Funen.

Snorre wrote, that "Vodin broke up from Turk-Land, and with him he had a large troop of old and young people, men and women, and with them they had many precious things. And everywhere, they travelled over the land; they were hold in high esteem. They seemed to be more like gods than like humans. And they did not stop their journey, until they came to the north of the country, now named Sax-land. Here Odin dwelled for a long time and conquered to a great extend this land. Odin assigned three of his sons as rulers over this country. Vegdegg ruled East Saxland, Beldeg ruled Vestfal and Seggi ruled over Frakkland. "From all these great and many powerful families had come." Snorre wrote. He noted, that Veggdeg was the great-grandfather to Hejngest.

Assuming that it was this Hejngest, who was the Saxon king, who conquered England in 450 AC; That would imply, that Odin and his men may have come to the middle of Funen perhaps around 350 - 400AC. But this is all very uncertain, may be Snorre just meant, that Hejngest descended from Veggdeg.

Waggon train of American settlers at Santa Fe
Waggon train of American settlers at Santa Fe.

Some may argue, that it is the most unrealistic theory, they have ever heard. Travelling from Asia to Scandinavia two thousand years ago, before the modern means of transport, it could not be done. It is too far and the terrain was too difficult.

But try to consider how the American settlers came from the Mississippi area to Oregon and California. They also travelled over long distances, through deserts and over mountains. The journey to Oregon could be done in three to six months. The settlers' technology was wagons with large wheels, drawn by mules or oxes. This technology was in general also available for Dan of the Aesirs descent two thousand years ago. It was entirely possible to travel from the heart of Asia to Scandinavia in a reasonable short span of years.

See Flemming Rickfor's very through and careful work about the origin of the ekspressions Dan and Danmark from ancient times: Asernes Æt - Dan-Danir-Vandfolket (danish)

Kristian Andersen Nyrup seeks to find the political reality in early Viking time: (danish) Danernes Lande II - Nyrup

Gabrielles homepage is a great graphic experience, in "public library" a number of english language presentations of Scandinavian Mythology Vaidilute - Gabriella click "books" and then "Public Library"

On the Norwegian homepage: Heimskringla - Oldnordisk litteratur på dansk are texts of Saxo Gramaticus among others. Furthermore it has many links to other littature. It is a very extensive and usefull page.

On The Online Mediaval and Classical Library - The Danish History can be found the first nine books of "Gesta Danorum" in english and "Heimskringla" by Snorre Sturlason in English.

To top of article

Opdateret 20130210

Passed W3C Validation