Page 1 of 9 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 89

Thread: The problem of the whole Urnfield-Hallstatt-La Tene Celtic image

  1. #1
    Registered Users
    Posts
    6,694
    Sex
    Omitted
    Y-DNA
    L21
    mtDNA
    H

    The problem of the whole Urnfield-Hallstatt-La Tene Celtic image

    I just thought I would kick of a thread on this with a short post. I believe there has been a real problem in terms of the way Celtic genesis has been portrayed and how it tends to exist in the public imagination. The whole Urnfield-Hallstatt-La Tene obsession when it comes to the Celts derives from a very long lasting and only recently redressed attempt to shoe horn the central European archaeological sequence and systems onto the whole of Europe. This partly derives from the model of the Celts that was derived from this model. It always created the impression that people should identify Celtic with the central European archaeology and this led archaeologists for a very long period to look for echos of that outside the central European core in other areas including the isles. This, and the fact that the classical world was closer to those areas and more impacted by them has led to overidentification of the image of the Celts with central Europe.

    I think the general public's image of the Celts has been distorted by this too. In reality many of the areas where the word Celt or early indications of Celtic speaking are located are peripheral to the core of the urnfield-Hallstatt-La Tene heartlands including most of the tribes that actually have the word Celt in their name as well as A large part of the area known as Gallia Celtica, much of which was on the periphery of these central European influences. The old image of waves of central European Celts from the urnfield period onwards has a bad pedegree leading back to some racialist and colonialist type views of the past and the Hollywood type idea of the Celts created in Classical accounts of what was probably a crisis period of collapse of the west central European chiefdoms when their were societal upheavals and they kind of 'went a Viking' and intruded into the classical world.

    However, this is probably not the general story of the Celtic peoples and although some people see it as a peak of Celtic power it was probably really only a feature of part of the Celtic world and in some ways the beginning of the end for the Celts. That is only the story of a specific subset of the the Celts and is not really the backstory or heritage of the Celts further removed from the classical world where Celticity is apparently older and owes little to these old style waves of Celtic invaders with arrows coming from blobs in the Alps that we see in older books. Archaeologists have dismissed this view for a long time now but I think the public imagination of this is still rather stuck in old books or less scholarly modern books that perpetuate this myth. A lot of what people seem to want to relate to in terms of central European Celts in early history is not really the deeds of their ancestors but rather those of distant cousins in central Europe who they may have not shared an ancestor with since the beaker period. Some people will take a while to adjust to this concept and will continue to identify with classically attested events, artefacts and sites etc of the central European Iron Age but the reality they relate to very distant cousins not ancestors unless your ancestors were central Europeans. That is the reason I never use central European Celtic things in my avatar etc.
    Last edited by alan; 09-03-2013 at 03:13 PM.

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to alan For This Useful Post:

     Anglecynn (09-13-2013)

  3. #2
    Registered Users
    Posts
    3,820
    Sex
    Y-DNA
    R1b
    mtDNA
    H

    Quote Originally Posted by alan View Post
    ... A lot of what people seem to want to relate to in terms of central European Celts in early history is not really the deeds of their ancestors but rather those of distant cousins in central Europe who they may have not shared an ancestor with since the beaker period. Some people will take a while to adjust to this concept and will continue to identify with classically attested events, artefacts and sites etc of the central European Iron Age but the reality they relate to very distant cousins not ancestors unless your ancestors were central Europeans. That is the reason I never use central European Celtic things in my avatar etc.
    Agreed. I think we have a tendency to project and over-generalize. When we read of what the Greeks and Romans wrote and look at the artifacts of the elite we are not seeing the whole picture. If our genetics tell us anything, R1b was around and spread along the Atlantic fringe as well as Central Europe by the classical timeframe. The odds are good they had started making inroads a good two thousand years before the Greeks and Romans as we know them existed.

    If we look back to the Bell Beakers, I wouldn't say we could call them Celts. I notice another blogger has started referring to some semblence of people in this timeframe as Germano-Italo-Celts or something like that. They could well have been Indo-European of speech and culture, but not necessarily. To say more than that about people in the Early Bronze Age is a bit of a stretch. Its hard to say how these branches evolved, branched out, re-integrated and branched out again and again in a patchy fashion.
    Last edited by Mikewww; 09-12-2013 at 11:30 PM.

  4. #3
    Registered Users
    Posts
    6,694
    Sex
    Omitted
    Y-DNA
    L21
    mtDNA
    H

    I think old books have tended to see ethnogenesis as waves or event or a scorched earth horizon. That is an inheritance of 19th and earlier 20th century attitudes. While anti-migrationism should not be returned too, neither should we return to those old ideas which are far too simplistic and do not fit the archaeological record in much of the Celtic speaking world. Probably in reality languages like Celtic slowly evolved out of west IE or Celto-Italic or something along these lines and the distinction was blury at the edges. Celtic is after all just a group of shared sound shifts. These shifts could have happened at almost any time in the Bronze Age. We can see that the P-Q shift spread aerially with only a minimum of movement - iif it originated in the Alps its spread was not accomplished by invasions of Alpine warriors across later P-Celtic speaking western Europe. People tend to look to places like Switzerland and Austria as part of the Celtic heartland because the eponymous sites of La Tene and Hallstatt are loctated there but in fact these were the margins where a number of non-Celtic languages existed side by side with Celtic. The evidence of Celtic placenames is actually poor in Central Europe and in general east of the Rhine and much north of the Danube. That could be simply down to distance from classical civilisations but we cannot assume that because this applies not only to classical references but also to surviving placenames. It is entirely possible that Celtic was never spoken in those areas or that the Celts expanded west to east into those areas. I dont know if the Atlantic Celts origin idea is correct but it is hard to disprove and it has put at least the concept that Hallstatt and La Tene was the originator of the language to bed.

    The truth is we have no real way of telling what people were speaking in central Europe in the Bronze Age. The problem is that people tend to characterise the continental Celts by their first appearances in classical histories. The name Celt probably came from Med. contact with tribes of that name in Iberia and was generalised. A great deal of Gallia Celtica was within an area that had the weakest Hallstatt and La Tene influences. To me these cultures are not really cultures anyway. They are just reference terms for convenience. I think of them more as the rise of the standing of certain chiefdoms at certain times and places due to finding themselves at wealthy nodes and the prestige of those chiefdoms leading to emulation and influence in a wider area. The whole Bronze Age looks like that too - a shifting of who had wealth and prestige dependent on all sorts of factors but mainly to do with shifting and rising and falling of what chiefdoms were at the right node and the right time to become wealthy and have access to exotica and materials. So, much of the elite behavour was based on metals, trade and exotica.

    It would be easy to see shifting and contantly changing patterns of dialect influence along these lines if there was already a basic west IE base there from the copper age. I am more inclinded recently to think that the final changes that led to Celtic were post-beaker but based on a beaker west IE that meant that all they were were shifts, nothing profound. Those changes were just some sound shifts and really putting an ethnicity on them is sort of circular if the ethnicity is defined by those dialects. The reality is they were the same people before and after the sound shifts that marked Celtic out as a separate language. People often do not like these kind of explanations and prefer the hollywood versions but I am certain they have been misled by old texts.

    Even seeing Celts in Unetice is problematic given that its distirbution is rather eastern and included areas with little certainty of Celts being present. They might be associated with the Urnfield-Atlantic connection. They are often treated like they are opposites but in fact the Urnfield culture was extremely influential on the Atlantic Bronze Age albeit the latter had some of its own conservatisms in terms of burial, ritual and settlement. It kind of needs both of them to explain the distribution of Celtic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikewww View Post
    Agreed. I think we have a tendency to project and over-generalize. When we read of what the Greeks and Romans wrote and look at the artifacts of the elite we are not seeing the whole picture. If our genetics tell us anything, R1b was around and spread along the Atlantic fringe as well as Central Europe by the classical timeframe. The odds are good they had started making inroads a good two thousand years before the Greeks and Romans as we know them existed.

    If we look back to the Bell Beakers, I wouldn't say we could call them Celts. I notice another blogger has started referring to some semblence of people in this timeframe as Germano-Italo-Celts or something like that. They could well have been Indo-European of speech and culture, but not necessarily. To say more than that about people in the Bronze Age is a stretch. Its hard to say how these branches evolved, branched out, re-integrated and branched out again and again in a patchy fashion.

  5. #4
    Registered Users
    Posts
    6,694
    Sex
    Omitted
    Y-DNA
    L21
    mtDNA
    H

    I should point out that looking for a simplistic horizon for Celtic is not just a problem for Atlantic Celts. French archaeologists also do not adhere to any sort of Hubert-style invasion of France from central Europe in general and many of the influences like urnfield are just seen as influences rather than sharp invasive changes. Its clearly a much more subtle process than that and we shouldnt be fooled by exceptional periods such as the exodus from Gaul into Italy and eastern Europe in classical times. That was probably caused by the final collapse of the old social structures based on trade hierarchies at the end of the Hallstatt D period (this kind of collapse had happened at the end of Hallstatt C in the north-west) and the rise of more land based wealth and aggression for territory rather than control of trade. I think our classically inspired image of the Celts is based on this late phase but this is probably misleading. Kind of the Celts going a Viking phase. Prior to this phase and throughout the Bronze Age probably a better comparison would be with the Med. states who were based on trade control and who main agressions were probably over maintaining that and expanding it.
    Last edited by alan; 09-13-2013 at 12:24 AM.

  6. #5
    Gold Class Member
    Posts
    11,397
    Sex
    Location
    Virginia, USA
    Ethnicity
    British and Irish
    Nationality
    USA
    Y-DNA
    R1b-FGC36981
    mtDNA
    U5a2c3a

    Wales Ireland Scotland France Bretagne England Switzerland
    I think a lot depends on your take on where and how Celtic or Italo-Celtic originated. Anthony's theory has it developing as a consequence of contact between Beaker Folk and Yamnaya herders in what is now Hungary and spreading from there into Austria and Bavaria, where he thinks Proto-Celtic evolved.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Anthony
    The many thousands of Yamnaya kurgans in eastern Hungary suggest a more continuous occupation of the landscape by a larger population of immigrants, one that could have acquired power and prestige partly just through its numerical weight. This regional group could have spawned both pre-Italic and pre-Celtic. Bell Beaker sites of the Csepel type around Budapest, west of the Yamnaya settlement region, are dated about 2800-2600 BCE. They could have been a bridge between Yamnaya on their east and Austria/Southern Germany to their west, through which Yamnaya dialects spread from Hungary into Austria and Bavaria, where they later developed into Proto-Celtic. Pre-Italic could have developed among the dialects that remained in Hungary, ultimately spreading into Italy through the Urnfield and Villanovan cultures. Eric Hamp and others have revived the argument that Italic and Celtic shared a common parent, so a single migration stream could have contained dialects that later were ancestral to both.
    (From The Horse The Wheel and Language, page 367.)

  7. #6
    Member
    Posts
    33
    Sex
    Location
    Canada
    Ethnicity
    Scottish, English, German
    Nationality
    Canadian
    Y-DNA
    I1
    mtDNA
    H

    Quote Originally Posted by alan View Post
    I think old books have tended to see ethnogenesis as waves or event or a scorched earth horizon. That is an inheritance of 19th and earlier 20th century attitudes. While anti-migrationism should not be returned too, neither should we return to those old ideas which are far too simplistic and do not fit the archaeological record in much of the Celtic speaking world. Probably in reality languages like Celtic slowly evolved out of west IE or Celto-Italic or something along these lines and the distinction was blury at the edges. Celtic is after all just a group of shared sound shifts. These shifts could have happened at almost any time in the Bronze Age. We can see that the P-Q shift spread aerially with only a minimum of movement - iif it originated in the Alps its spread was not accomplished by invasions of Alpine warriors across later P-Celtic speaking western Europe. People tend to look to places like Switzerland and Austria as part of the Celtic heartland because the eponymous sites of La Tene and Hallstatt are loctated there but in fact these were the margins where a number of non-Celtic languages existed side by side with Celtic. The evidence of Celtic placenames is actually poor in Central Europe and in general east of the Rhine and much north of the Danube. That could be simply down to distance from classical civilisations but we cannot assume that because this applies not only to classical references but also to surviving placenames. It is entirely possible that Celtic was never spoken in those areas or that the Celts expanded west to east into those areas. I dont know if the Atlantic Celts origin idea is correct but it is hard to disprove and it has put at least the concept that Hallstatt and La Tene was the originator of the language to bed.

    The truth is we have no real way of telling what people were speaking in central Europe in the Bronze Age. The problem is that people tend to characterise the continental Celts by their first appearances in classical histories. The name Celt probably came from Med. contact with tribes of that name in Iberia and was generalised. A great deal of Gallia Celtica was within an area that had the weakest Hallstatt and La Tene influences. To me these cultures are not really cultures anyway. They are just reference terms for convenience. I think of them more as the rise of the standing of certain chiefdoms at certain times and places due to finding themselves at wealthy nodes and the prestige of those chiefdoms leading to emulation and influence in a wider area. The whole Bronze Age looks like that too - a shifting of who had wealth and prestige dependent on all sorts of factors but mainly to do with shifting and rising and falling of what chiefdoms were at the right node and the right time to become wealthy and have access to exotica and materials. So, much of the elite behavour was based on metals, trade and exotica.

    It would be easy to see shifting and contantly changing patterns of dialect influence along these lines if there was already a basic west IE base there from the copper age. I am more inclinded recently to think that the final changes that led to Celtic were post-beaker but based on a beaker west IE that meant that all they were were shifts, nothing profound. Those changes were just some sound shifts and really putting an ethnicity on them is sort of circular if the ethnicity is defined by those dialects. The reality is they were the same people before and after the sound shifts that marked Celtic out as a separate language. People often do not like these kind of explanations and prefer the hollywood versions but I am certain they have been misled by old texts.

    Even seeing Celts in Unetice is problematic given that its distirbution is rather eastern and included areas with little certainty of Celts being present. They might be associated with the Urnfield-Atlantic connection. They are often treated like they are opposites but in fact the Urnfield culture was extremely influential on the Atlantic Bronze Age albeit the latter had some of its own conservatisms in terms of burial, ritual and settlement. It kind of needs both of them to explain the distribution of Celtic.
    I'm getting a sense of deja vu all over again. This is reminding me of those discussions about how R1b had to be the Atlantic modal haplotype because it was most common around the Atlantic fringe, whereas there are other explanations.

    IMO, Celtic language and culture survive to some extent today on the Atlantic fringe only because those places are furthest from the Germanic tribes that obliterated Celtic culture in the area where it evolved. I think there's quite good continuity from Hallstatt to Le Tene to Celtic Gaul and to some extent from Gaul to Britain starting around the time of a big population influx into Britain around 3200 BP. Less so, I think, in Iberia, which was never completely Celtic, according to the Romans. The Romans talked about Celts streaming down from the Alps into northern Italy at an early date, and later Roman writers talked about Celtic tribes in the areas that are now Switzerland and parts of West Germany being pushed out by incoming German tribes a little over 2000 years ago. Some of those Celtic tribes invaded the territories of Celtic tribes in Gaul that had treaties with Rome, which was the main excuse Julius Caesar gave for expanding the Roman presence in Gaul. If there are still some Celtic (and not Breton) place names in France and not in Switzerland, it's because the Germanic wave pushed the Celts out of their original homeland long before washing over post-Roman Gaul.

    I know that for some reason a lot of the British folk who don't much care for their Welsh and Irish neighbours nevertheless like to think of "insular Celts" evolving their language and culture locally, and possibly being descended from ice age British reindeer, but the reality seems to be that old Welsh wasn't much different from Gaulish. I think Celtic culture in Britain probably came into being as a result of the IE expansion finally hitting Britain in the form of a lot of Celts storming in and wiping out most of the existing male lineages. I think Gaelic can be accounted for by the probability that, for geographic reasons, the Celtic entry into Ireland involved smaller numbers, so the language of the incomers was more affected by the existing population. Although in the long run, they ended up with a typical Celtic "heroic" culture with warriors riding around in chariots, if you can believe the old Irish myths. If the Irish heroes sound somewhat like the Greek heroes in the Odyssey, I think that's because both groups of stories both reflect IE warrior culture.
    Last edited by Curious; 09-13-2013 at 02:33 AM.

  8. #7
    Registered Users
    Posts
    3,820
    Sex
    Y-DNA
    R1b
    mtDNA
    H

    Quote Originally Posted by Curious View Post
    ... I think there's quite good continuity from Hallstatt to Le Tene to Celtic Gaul and to some extent from Gaul to Britain starting around the time of a big population influx into Britain around 3200 BP.
    ...
    If there are still some Celtic (and not Breton) place names in France and not in Switzerland, it's because the Germanic wave pushed the Celts out of their original homeland long before washing over post-Roman Gaul....
    This is not what I understand as the traditional view about Germanic incursions south and west. Are you saying France and Switzerland were over run with Germanic tribes prior to the fall of the Roman Empire?

    If U106 is an indicator of Germanic expansion, we might note there isn't a lot of U106 in France proper. Perhaps, I just don't understand what you are saying.
    Last edited by Mikewww; 09-13-2013 at 04:31 AM.

  9. #8
    Gold Class Member
    Posts
    11,397
    Sex
    Location
    Virginia, USA
    Ethnicity
    British and Irish
    Nationality
    USA
    Y-DNA
    R1b-FGC36981
    mtDNA
    U5a2c3a

    Wales Ireland Scotland France Bretagne England Switzerland
    Probably the main reason the Germans were able to advance as they did during the Migration Period was because the Romans had broken the Celtic power in Gaul, which was really the epicenter of the Celtic world, rather than Germany or Austria. The Celts used to provide a substantial buffer between the Mediterranean world and the Germans, but after the Romans conquered Gaul, Celtic power was hollowed out, and the Germans were able to push south and west.

    I don't think there was any great influx of Celts from the Continent into the Isles 3200 years ago. At least, I have never heard of one.

    The Irish don't speak Gaelic because the Celts got there in smaller numbers. It is likely they speak Gaelic both because Gaelic is a Q-Celtic language, older than the P-Celtic of the Britons and Gauls, and because Ireland was at the western edge of the known world: the switch from the hard "k" sound of Q-Celtic to the "p" of P-Celtic just never caught on there.

    It seems likely to me the Beaker Folk introduced an early form of Q-Celtic to the Isles during the Bronze Age. Later, behind them, on the Continent, the innovation of P-Celtic occurred, eventually becoming the rage in Britain but never quite catching on in Ireland or Iberia.

    Regarding U106 as a proxy for Germanic expansion (and I think it's a good one), look at the places where language change occurred: England, Austria, southern and western Germany, the German-speaking parts of Switzerland, the Dutch and Flemish-speaking parts of the Low Countries. In those places you find plenty of U106. In France, which retained its Latinate language despite taking its name from the Germanic Franks, not so much.
    Last edited by rms2; 09-13-2013 at 11:51 AM.

  10. #9
    Registered Users
    Posts
    6,694
    Sex
    Omitted
    Y-DNA
    L21
    mtDNA
    H

    What big population influx around 1200BC is that? There is almost no evidence of an influx in that period and very little evidence in most of the isles of any influx in the Iron age other than metalwork. There are only a few exceptions to this such as around the Parisi territories and a few related chariot type burials further north and later the Belgic areas in the south. Otherwise we do not find continental burial or house types in the isles and indeed across much of the west. You cant just look at metalwork types alone as an indicator of spread of peoples because metalwork trends have constantly spread across Europe and into the isles from the very beginning of metal use. To right of most of this as trade but highlight the later period as indicative of migration is irrational. The process of spread of metalwork and fashions was constant from the beaker period to the Romans. Most of it just looks like busniness as usual in the late Bronze and Iron Ages in the isles with local type burial and house types continuing albeit the people were using the latest fashions. I think a model of contant low level trickle of movement across 2500-0BC is much more rational and in keeping with the evidence than huge waves in late prehistory.

    Quote Originally Posted by Curious View Post
    I'm getting a sense of deja vu all over again. This is reminding me of those discussions about how R1b had to be the Atlantic modal haplotype because it was most common around the Atlantic fringe, whereas there are other explanations.

    IMO, Celtic language and culture survive to some extent today on the Atlantic fringe only because those places are furthest from the Germanic tribes that obliterated Celtic culture in the area where it evolved. I think there's quite good continuity from Hallstatt to Le Tene to Celtic Gaul and to some extent from Gaul to Britain starting around the time of a big population influx into Britain around 3200 BP. Less so, I think, in Iberia, which was never completely Celtic, according to the Romans. The Romans talked about Celts streaming down from the Alps into northern Italy at an early date, and later Roman writers talked about Celtic tribes in the areas that are now Switzerland and parts of West Germany being pushed out by incoming German tribes a little over 2000 years ago. Some of those Celtic tribes invaded the territories of Celtic tribes in Gaul that had treaties with Rome, which was the main excuse Julius Caesar gave for expanding the Roman presence in Gaul. If there are still some Celtic (and not Breton) place names in France and not in Switzerland, it's because the Germanic wave pushed the Celts out of their original homeland long before washing over post-Roman Gaul.

    I know that for some reason a lot of the British folk who don't much care for their Welsh and Irish neighbours nevertheless like to think of "insular Celts" evolving their language and culture locally, and possibly being descended from ice age British reindeer, but the reality seems to be that old Welsh wasn't much different from Gaulish. I think Celtic culture in Britain probably came into being as a result of the IE expansion finally hitting Britain in the form of a lot of Celts storming in and wiping out most of the existing male lineages. I think Gaelic can be accounted for by the probability that, for geographic reasons, the Celtic entry into Ireland involved smaller numbers, so the language of the incomers was more affected by the existing population. Although in the long run, they ended up with a typical Celtic "heroic" culture with warriors riding around in chariots, if you can believe the old Irish myths. If the Irish heroes sound somewhat like the Greek heroes in the Odyssey, I think that's because both groups of stories both reflect IE warrior culture.

  11. #10
    Registered Users
    Posts
    6,694
    Sex
    Omitted
    Y-DNA
    L21
    mtDNA
    H

    The Celts in Gaul even before the Romans had advanced their society and were in many places living in oppida towns rather than forts, operating a market economy and had in some cases ditched kings in exchange for more advanced governance structures. The Germans were essentially backwards peripheral peoples with a relatively primative society. Its a recurring theme in early history that much more advanced peoples moving away from barbarism tend to be toppled by backwards elements on their periphery. This happened several times in ancient Mesopotamia too. However, they usually end up taking up a lot of the culture of the majority and become absorbed even if they hold power.

    There is no doubt in my mind that in Britain heavy Romanisation and dependence on the army followed by repeated removal of huge amounts of fighting men to the continent to fight imperial wars put the Britons in a hopeless situation except in the north and west where they were not so Romanised. The late Celtic speaking areas of Britain such as most of Devon, Cornwall, Wales, Cumbria, Pennines, much of Scotland look remarkably similar to the areas that were least Romanised, almost an inverse of the map of Roman villas. It is clear that for many centuries the Anglo-Saxons were mostly conquering the Romanised Britons while making little permanent dent into the liitle Romanised villa-free areas of Britain. I still believe that it was the Romans and not the Anglo-Saxons who killed off Celtic in much of lowland England.

    Quote Originally Posted by rms2 View Post
    Probably the main reason the Germans were able to advance as they did during the Migration Period was because the Romans had broken the Celtic power in Gaul, which was really the epicenter of the Celtic world, rather than Germany or Austria. The Celts used to provide a substantial buffer between the Mediterranean world and the Germans, but after the Romans conquered Gaul, Celtic power was hollowed out, and the Germans were able to push south and west.

    I don't think there was any great influx of Celts from the Continent into the Isles 3200 years ago. At least, I have never heard of one.

    The Irish don't speak Gaelic because the Celts got there in smaller numbers. It is likely they speak Gaelic both because Gaelic is a Q-Celtic language, older than the P-Celtic of the Britons and Gauls, and because Ireland was at the western edge of the known world: the switch from the hard "k" sound of Q-Celtic to the "p" of P-Celtic just never caught on there.

    It seems likely to me the Beaker Folk introduced an early form of Q-Celtic to the Isles during the Bronze Age. Later, behind them, on the Continent, the innovation of P-Celtic occurred, eventually becoming the rage in Britain but never quite catching on in Ireland or Iberia.

    Regarding U106 as a proxy for Germanic expansion (and I think it's a good one), look at the places where language change occurred: England, Austria, southern and western Germany, the German-speaking parts of Switzerland, the Dutch and Flemish-speaking parts of the Low Countries. In those places you find plenty of U106. In France, which retained its Latinate language despite taking its name from the Germanic Franks, not so much.

Page 1 of 9 123 ... LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •