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the Term "Celt"

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« on: February 18, 2007, 11:42:21 pm »

Origins and geographical distribution


The green area suggests a possible extent of (proto-)Celtic influence around 1000 BC. The yellow area shows the region of birth of the La Tène style. The orange area indicates an idea of the possible region of Celtic influence around 400 BC.The Celtic language family is a branch of the larger Indo-European family, which leads some scholars to a hypothesis that the original speakers of the Celtic proto-language may have arisen in the Pontic-Caspian steppes (see Kurgan). However, speakers of Celtic languages enter history from around 600 BC, when they were already split into several language groups, and spread over much of Central Europe, the Iberian peninsula, Ireland and Britain. Some studies now suggest (see above) that certain Celtic peoples shared genetic ancestry with the Basque people.[5] J. F. del Giorgio in The Oldest Europeans mentions that mythologists like Robert Graves reached a similar conclusion through comparative mythology and the study of Celtic customs.

Some scholars think that the Urnfield culture represents an origin for the Celts as a distinct cultural branch of the Indo-European family. This culture was preeminent in central Europe during the late Bronze Age, from ca. 1200 BC until 700 BC, itself following the Unetice and Tumulus cultures. The Urnfield period saw a dramatic increase in population in the region, probably due to innovations in technology and agricultural practices. The spread of iron-working led to the development of the Hallstatt culture directly from the Urnfield (c. 700 to 500 BC). Proto-Celtic, the latest common ancestor of all known Celtic languages, is considered by this school of thought to have been spoken at the time of the late Urnfield or early Hallstatt cultures, in the early first millennium BC.

The spread of the Celtic languages to Ireland, Britain and Iberia would have occurred during the first half of the 1st millennium, the earliest chariot burials in Britain dating to ca. 500 BC. Over the centuries they developed into the separate Celtiberian, Goidelic and Brythonic languages. Whether Goidelic and Brythonic are descended from a common Insular-Celtic language, or reflect two separate waves of migration, is disputed. Either way, the La Tène culture can be associated with the Gauls, but its dates are entirely too late for it to be a candidate for the Proto-Celtic culture.

The Hallstatt culture was succeeded by the La Tène culture, and during the final stages of the Iron Age gradually transformed into the explicitly Celtic culture of early historical times. The La Tène culture was distributed around the upper reaches of the Danube, Switzerland, Austria, southern and central Germany, northern regions of Italy, eastern France, Bohemia, Moravia, Spain,Slovakia and parts of Hungary and Ukraine. The technologies, decorative practices and metal-working styles of the La Tène were to be very influential on the continental Celts. The La Tène style was highly derivative from the Greek, Etruscan and Scythian decorative styles with whom the La Tène settlers frequently traded.

Additional forays into Greece and central Italy during the historical period did not result in settlement, though the same movement that brought Celtic invaders to Greece pushed on through to Anatolia, where they settled as the Galatians.

As there is no archaeological evidence for large scale invasions in some of the other areas, one current school of thought holds that Celtic language and culture spread to those areas by contact rather than invasion. However, the Celtic invasions of Italy, Greece, and western Anatolia are well documented in Greek and Latin history. Examine the Map of Celtic Lands for more information.[6]

Pliny the Elder affirms that Celtica (the country of origin of the Celts) was in the delta of the river Guadalquivir in the south of Spain "praeter haec in Celtica Acinippo, Arunda, Arunci, Turobriga, Lastigi, Salpesa, Saepone, Serippo. altera Baeturia, quam diximus Turdulorum et conventus Cordubensis, habet oppida non ignobilia Arsam, Mellariam, Mirobrigam Reginam, Sosintigi, Sisaponem".[4]

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