According to the Online etymology dictionary, the word “Germany” comes from Medieval French. It means: “of the same parents”, related to germen, “sprout, bud,” of uncertain origin.
But what if this guess (because that’s what it is) is not really a good one? First of all, the term “German” is much older than medieval French. We know that it has been in use at least since Julius Caesar. In 98 AD Tacitus wrote:
“Germania is a recent word… Those who first passed the Rhine and expulsed the Gauls, and are now named Tungrians, were then called Germani…thus the name of a tribe prevailed, not that of the nation“
Germania = Armenia?
Wikipedia article on Germania, adds that this term may be Galic in origin. This would mean that the pronunciation of the first sound “G” is debatable. It may have also sounded “J”, like in modern French, and even “Y” or “H” in other local languages. In this case, we get a word sounding very close to “Yermenia”, which is a Slavic name for “Armenia”.
The first famous chieftain of the Germans, who had lived between 18/17 BC and 21 AD, was “Arminius” (Hermann in German). One would expect that his name means simply “German” and has the same etymology. However, we read that it means something completely different:
Ok, but then what about the etymology of Armenia? Surely it can’t be German? Unfortunately here the etymology dictionary can’t help us. It simply states: “Toponym traced to 521 CE, uncertain origin”. Wikipedia article on Armenia gives us more information:
“Armina in the Old Persian Behistun Inscription from 515 BC. The ancient Greek “Armenía” mentioned in 550-476 BC by Hecataeus of Miletus”
So it looks like this “Armenia” is at least 500 years older than the European one. But what does this word mean? The name exists in the 13th century BC Assyrian records. This is only my opinion, you will not see it elsewhere, but the term could relate to “copper, bronze”. Namely, an old Latin word for copper was aramă (a Vulgar Latin root *arame(n), Late Latin aerāmen). The Proto-Indo-European root was *áyos, h₂éyos. And this sounds like Hayk, a mythological ancestor of Armenians.
The period of Chalcolithic, copper age lasted roughly from 7-6,000BC to 3,000BC (depending on a region) when the bronze took over. According to the legend, Hayk defeated the Babylonian king Bel in 2,492 BC and established his nation in the Ararat region. And a toponym “Armânum” existed in Assyria. Naram-Sin conquered it in 2,200 BC.
Armenia, the cradle of R1b haplogroup
Do we have other evidence for this supposed migration, apart from the similar-sounding words? Maybe we do. A genetic one. This is the current distribution of proto-Germanic R1b in the Caucasus region, which according to eupedia.com peaks in Armenia:
Moreover, the Caucasus region is a cradle of R1b haplogroup. These people later conquered the whole of Western Europe (click to enlarge):
I know, many people will say that relating haplogroups to nations and culture is a wrong approach. However, we can get a pretty good idea that certain migrations did really happen. So who were these tribes?
Almen = Armen?
Maybe a part of the answer lies again in the word “Armenia”. Because of linguistic change called Rhotacism in some languages like Naepolitan, Romanesce, Romanian, Basque, Spanish and Portuguese, it is typical that “L” becomes “R”. For example “albero” becomes “arvero”, “alto” becomes “arto” and “Alban” becomes “Arban”.
So if we work our way backward, we may get the word “Almen” from “Armen”. This is very interesting because that is another name for Germany, in, for example, French, Kurdish, and some Slavic languages. It comes from the confederation of Germanic tribes known as “Alemanni” Current etymology of this word is “all men” (?)
We further read that Alemanni could be “mysteriously” connected to the tribe of Hermunduri. And Pliny the Elder, in his Historia Naturalis, lists them as one of the nations of the Hermiones. Could there, in fact, be some etymological connection between all these words?
As for Alemanni, we do know that their territory had stretched around present-day Alsace and Northern Switzerland.
Kingdom of Jerwaena
The territory in which the Alemanni settled is very interesting for two reasons:
Secondly, this is where Alemanni had settled. And the region has since then been known as “Jervaine” – a word sounding pretty close to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.
“The Kingdom of Jervaine is a small proud nation in the heart of Europe. They are known for its wealth, diplomacy, hearty cuisine and fine wine. Split off the crumbling Roman Empire, the kingdom endured several Germanic mass migrations…”
Moreover, the kingdom of Jerwaena is in the exact region around Alsace, where Alemanni tribes had settled, and it has this name since the time of their settlement. A coincidence?
It would be interesting to look for further linguistic evidence of connections between this region and Armenia. However, German will not be of much help because according to most of the authors proto-German started to develop only around 500BC. The earliest inscriptions dating to 6th century AD are Allemmanic.
This is where we get to the crossroad where genetics, linguistic and culture separate as the origins of nations blur in forgotten tribal migrations and genetic and cultural mixture. However, most of the historians, inspired by Roman authors, trace the origins of Germans to the North of Europe. But this might not necessarily be the case.
Deutch, Dutch = Dacians?
If migration really happened from the south, our last clue may lie in another word, word by which Germans call their land – Deutschland – the land of the “Deutsch”. The etymological dictionary gives us the following explanation:
“late 14c., used first of Germans generally, after c. 1600 of Hollanders, from Proto-Germanic *theudo “popular, national”, from PIE root *teuta- “people”
Actually, the word “Dutch”, sounds exactly like the name of ancient people known as Dacians. Dacians were apparently a Thracian tribe, original inhabitants of Balkan. But on Wikipedia we read the following:
The Dacians spoke the Dacian language, closely related to Thracian, but culturally influenced by the Scythians and the Celtic invaders of the 4th century BC.
“Celtic invaders of the 4th century BC”? How interesting, because before this period, in the 5th century BC the term “Dacian” is completely unknown to Herodotus. He does mention the Thracian tribe of Getae, a word considered to be a synonym for Dacians. But what if this was simply a native name before the Germanic invasion, that came from the south and not the north, like the current mainstream theory states?
I am saying this also because Herodotus actually knew a tribe called “Germani”. He mentions them only in one single sentence, but not where one would expect them to be:
“The other Persian tribes are the Panthialaei, the Derusiaei, and the Germanii, all tillers of the soil, and the Dai, the Mardi, the Dropici, the Sagartii, all wandering herdsmen.” Hdt. 1.125.4
In conclusion, it seems that for thousands of years, since at least 4th millennium BC, there were massive migrations to Europe from the south and east. It may be so, that one of the last migrations, from around 5th century BC, brought the ancestors of the modern German nation to Europe. However, they would have only followed the routes that their own ancestors had already established a few millennia earlier.
Bavarians came from Armenia?
Perhaps there is some truth after all, in the 11th-century German song “Annolied“. It describes origins of Bavarians, people whose territory is closely connected with the Kingdom of Jervaine:
"This was always a brave people. Their tribe came long ago from the magnificent Armenia... It is said that in those parts there are still those who speak German, far towards India...