Runes are the script of the ancient Germans, which was used from about the 1st to the 12th century AD in the territory of modern Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and from the 10th to the 12th century – in Greenland and Iceland. Runes are symbolic figures made up of straight lines. They were usually minted on various hard materials: wood, stone, metal.
There are several versions of the origin of the word rune:
According to one of the theories, the word “rune” comes from the Old Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon word “run”, the Old Icelandic “runar” and the Old Germanic “runa”, which have the Germanic root “ru”, as well as the form of the Gothic concept “runa “, which meant “mystery”, and from the ancient Germanic “runen” – “to whisper mysteriously”.
The author of books on Celtic history and geomancy, Nigel Pennick, writes about the connection of the word “rune” with the ancient Celtic “run” and the Welsh “rhin”, which mean “whisper”. In his writings, it is said that the word “run” means “mystery” in Irish, and “lot” in Scots-Gaelic.
Researchers R. Morris and E. Antonsen see the connection of the name “rune” with the Indo-European root “run”, which means “scratch”, “make serifs”.
As you can see, there are several opinions, but in each of them there is a certain mystical component inherent in these ancient signs.
The runic alphabet itself appeared around the 3rd century BC, but it is still not known for sure what purpose the runes were created for: whether they were tools for divination, special signs for esoteric practice, or whether they were intended as writing from the beginning.
Isaac Taylor put forward a version about the structural relationship of the runic alphabet with Greek, which was used in the 6th century on the Black Sea coast. He was led to this conclusion by the elongated and angular shape of the runes. According to the theory of the Danish linguist Ludwig-Franz-Adalbert-Wimmer, runes originate from the Latin script of the end of the 2nd century AD.
North Etruscan version
The North Etruscan version of the origin of the runes is considered the most popular. In 1928, it was proposed by the Norwegian scientist Karl Marstrander. It was supported in 1929 by the Scandinavian researcher Magnus Hammerström, supplementing this theory with the assumption that the runes have a mixed origin from the Northern Etruscan and Ogamic alphabets. Most scientists consider this borrowing to be the most likely.
East Asian version
It is believed that the Lydian alphabet, which arose from the Phoenician alphabet, has a series of letters that are graphically similar to runes. This writing disappears in the 3rd century BC, and around this time runes appear in Europe. Some runic symbols have analogues in Semitic alphabets, for example, the runes Gebo, Berkana, Ing occur in the South Arabian script.