More History on the Celts

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It’s been a while since I posted anything on the Celtic peoples. This article reiterates what I’ve posted before. I’ll work on getting some more information written so that we can move on from here.

I wrote about how the Celts were vital for a while, but thanks to the Romans and Germanic tribes not considered Celt wiped out or absorbed the early Celts. However, it took the Romans a long time to gain control over these people. That tells me the Celtic people were strong foes for the Romans for all their chaotic existence. The Germanic tribes that attacked these Celtic people weren’t attached to the Celts and spoke a different language.

I took the information for this article from

The Celts were members of an early Indo-European people from the 2nd-millennium BCE to the 1st-century BCE. They spread over Europe, eventually ranging from the British Isles and northern Spain to Transylvania, the Black Sea coasts, and Galatia in Anatolia. The Roman Empire absorbed many of them as Britons, Gauls, Boii, Galatians, and Celtiberians. They survive today as the modern Celtic speakers of Ireland, Highland Scotland, the Isle of Man, Wales, and Brittany.

The oldest evidence of the Celts comes from Hallstatt, Austria. Graves of chieftains excavated there date from about 700 BCE, and evidence shows they were one of the first Iron Age cultures in Europe. These wealthy Celts controlled trade routes along the rivers Rhone, Seine, Rhine, and the Danube. These routes were the most significant unifying element among the Celtic tribes.

For centuries after the establishment of trade with the Greeks, we can follow the archaeology of the Celts with better precision. By the mid-5th century BCE, the La Tène culture, with its distinctive art style of abstract geometric designs and stylized bird and animal forms, emerged among the Celts centered on the middle Rhine where trade with the Etruscans of central Italy became predominant. The La Tène culture joined the migrations of other Celtic tribes into eastern Europe and westward into the British Isles between the 5th and 1st centuries BCE.

Though it’s likely Celtic bands penetrated northern Italy earlier, 400 BCE was the start of the Great Migration. The Celtic tribes, Insubres, Boii, Senones, and Lingones, were recorded by later Latin historians. Celts sacked Rome around 390 BCE. Raiding bands of Celts wandered the whole Italian peninsula and finally reached Sicily. The territory south of the Alps where they settled was called Cisalpine Gaul, and its warlike inhabitants remained a menace to Rome until their defeat at Telamon in 225 BCE.

Evidence of the Celts moving into the Balkans shows that Alexander the Great received delegations of Celts in 335 BCE when they lived near the Adriatic and sacked Delphi in Greece around 279 BCE. The Aetolians defeated the Celts in this area before they were able to cause more havoc. The following year, three Celtic tribes crossed the Bosporus into Anatolia, creating widespread devastation. By 276 BCE, they settled parts of Phrygia. They continued raiding and pillaging until stopped by Attalus I Soter of Pergamum around 230 BCE. By 192 BCE Rome established dominance over Cisalpine Gaul. In 124 BCE, the Romans conquered the territory beyond the western Alps.

In Transalpine Gaul, which comprised the whole territory from the Rhine River, the Alps, and west to the Atlantic, the Celts’ time was coming to an end. The threat was twofold: Germanic tribes pressing westward to and across the Rhine and the Roman in the south poised to expand their empire further both threatened the Celts’ way of life. The Celtic tribes first met with the German tribe known as the Cimbri in Bohemia, the land of the Boii, and in Noricum, a Celtic kingdom in the eastern Alps. The Cimbri defeated the Roman army sent to aid Noricum in 113 BCE. After that, the Cimbri joined the Teutoni, they ravaged Transalpine Gaul, overcoming all Gaulish and Roman resistance. Roman armies in 102  and 101 BCE routed the German Marauders. During this time, many Celtic tribes were forced to seek refuge west of the Rhine. These Celtic migrations and German threats gave Julius Caesar the opportunity in 58 BCE to begin the campaigns that led to the Roman of the whole of Gaul.

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