Early Roman sources such as [[Tacitus]] and [[Pliny the Elder]] knew little concerning the Germanic peoples east of the Elbe river, or on the Baltic Sea. Pliny (IV.28) however mentions them among the Vandilic or [[Eastern Germanic]] Germani peoples, including also the Goths. By the end of the 4th century the Burgundians appeared in the [[Vistula]] basin, in central modern Poland. [[Claudius Ptolemy]] lists them as living between the Suevus (probably the [[Oder river|Oder]]) and Vistula rivers, north of the [[Lugii]], and south of the coast dwelling tribes. [[Jordanes]] later reported that during the 3rd century, the Burgundians living in the Vistula basin were almost annihilated by [[Fastida]], king of the [[Gepids]], whose kingdom was at the mouth of the Vistula.
In the late 3rd century, the Burgundians appear on the east bank of the Rhine, confronting Roman Gaul. [[Zosimus]] (1.68) reports them being defeated by the emperor in 278 in Gaul. At this time they were led by a Vandal king. A few years later, [[Claudius Mamertinus]] mentions them along with the [[Alamanni]], a [[Suebi]]c people. These two people had moved into the [[Agri Decumates]] on the eastern side of the Rhine, an area today referred to still as [[Swabia]], and were sometimes attacking Roman Gaul together and sometimes fighting each other. He also mentions that the Goths had previously defeated the Burgundians.