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An alternative suggestion explaining the impossibility of classifying the earliest inscriptions as either North or West Germanic is forwarded by È. Makaev, who presumes a "special runic koine", an early "literary Germanic" employed by the entire Late Common Germanic linguistic community after the separation of Gothic (2nd to 5th centuries), while the spoken dialects may already have been more diverse.

Runic inscriptions from the 400-year period 150–550 AD are described as "Period I".

The oldest inscriptions are found in Denmark and northern Germany.

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Another theory presumes a Northwest Germanic unity preceding the emergence of Proto-Norse proper from roughly the 5th century.

The characters were generally replaced by the Latin alphabet as the cultures that had used runes underwent Christianisation, by approximately 700 AD in central Europe and 1100 AD in northern Europe.

However, the use of runes persisted for specialized purposes in northern Europe.

The angular shapes of the runes are shared with most contemporary alphabets of the period that were used for carving in wood or stone.

There are no horizontal strokes: when carving a message on a flat staff or stick, it would be along the grain, thus both less legible and more likely to split the wood.The historical context of the script's origin is the cultural contact between Germanic people, who often served as mercenaries in the Roman army, and the Italian peninsula during the Roman imperial period (1st century BC to 5th century AD)..Giuliano and Larissa Bonfante suggest that runes derived from some North Italic alphabet, specifically Venetic: but since Romans conquered Venetia after 200 BC, and then the Latin alphabet became prominent and Venetic culture diminished in importance, Germanic people could have adopted the Venetic alphabet within 3rd century BC or even earlier.We host your online practice with lesson plans, text chat rooms and more.