What did iron age Estonians and Finns knew about ancient Rome?

I wonder if contemporary people knew a lot about Roman empire in the farthest corner of Europe? They must have heard of something because of trade and also because people didn’t have much else to do than share stories during dark winter months.

It must have been quite hard to believe for people living in little villages in the woods. But who knows, maybe some of them first ended up in Germany, then somehow all the way to Rome and saw themselves.

There is probably no hard evidence about this but your opinions are welcome.

History of Finland, Roman Period: 1 - 400 AD

Iron Age Estonia

Well, there are archaeological finds of imperial Roman coins in Estonia dating back to the days of the ancient amber trade.

This seems to be more of a General Question than a Great Debate.

Off it goes.

Do note that artifacts and coins are not in and of themselves indication that Estonia (or Finland) knew thing one about the Roman Empire - they were more than probably acquired through trade with or raids upon their geographical neighbours.

That being said, Roman entrepreneurs did get around - there has been at least one authenticated trip to China.

I don’t know about them, but a museum in Copenhagen which had a significant set of exhibits on the ancient history of Denmark included Roman coins and artifacts, so it seems reasonable to think that Finland and Estonia had contact also.

Now the average person probably didn’t know anything - only traders. I was surprised at the amount of interaction between Rome and Scandinavia.

Article in Finnish about Roman finds in Finland. Google Translate seems to to a reasonable job. And it has pictures.

Baltic amber was traded across Europe and beyond during Antiquity, so people of that region would have at least had an idea about Rome and Greece.

But there can be a lot of folk inbetween on the trade route. The folks at the far northern end may have no idea who made the goods they end up with. And even with coins they’re only looking at something with a face and some odd symbols. What matters is the weight and purity.

More direct trade, in this case via sea routes, is far more likely to have put them into direct contact with people who at least know about Rome and can talk about it with them. But still most of the locals probably won’t hear or care about such matters.

(By about 900 AD, the Norse were expanding their control over river trade routes in E. Europe. As a result, direct trade along those routes to Constantinople was possible. One wonders how the Norse knew that controlling the whole route was a good idea and if anyone prior had the same idea. Huns, Magyars, Bulgars, etc. didn’t seem to focus on the N-S trade systems. Sea-voyaging people seem to have an edge here over horse-based people.)

Roman coins may actually have held more symbolic value, as they would have been fairly rare and also showed a relationship with a more powerful culture.

That link makes some pretty weird assumptions. E.g., “Romans coins would not have held monetary value in the currency system of the northern tribes.”

Um, gold is gold, silver is silver. Even bronze coins contained a useful metal. Currency system? Good grief. Note that touchstones and other methods go way back as a simple way to check the quality of a coin.

Putting a hole in them? Many ancient Asian coins came with holes in them from the mint. For using them as decoration? Maybe, but also for make it easier to carry them around. In an area without banks, where keeping your valuables on your person, etc. was key, putting your valuable metals on a cord was a necessity. And even when used as decoration, coins are decorated valuable metal. It doesn’t really matter whose face it was.

Why were coins concentrated in certain areas and not traded to other parts? If those other areas had a lot of trade goods the Roman coins would have been traded there originally! If the Roman-connected traders saw no point of going there, why would the people in another part of the region go there?