The Celts

Definition

by Wikipedia
published on 28 April 2011
Celtic Parade Helmet (Xuan Che)

The historical Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age Europe. Proto-Celtic culture formed in the Early Iron Age in Central Europe (Hallstatt period, named for the site in present-day Austria). By the later Iron Age (La Tène period), Celts had expanded over a wide range of lands: as far west as Ireland and the Iberian Peninsula, as far east as Galatia (central Anatolia), and as far north as Scotland.

The Celtic languages form a branch of the larger Indo-European family. By the time speakers of Celtic languages enter history around 400 BCE (Brennus's attack on Rome in 387 BCE), they were already split into several language groups, and spread over much of Central Europe, the Iberian peninsula, Ireland and Britain.

Some scholars think that the Urnfield culture of northern Germany and the Netherlands 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 c. 1200 BCE until 700 BCE, 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 Greek historian Ephoros of Cyme in Asia Minor, writing in the fourth century BCE, believed that the Celts came from the islands off the mouth of the Rhine who were "driven from their homes by the frequency of wars and the violent rising of the sea".

The spread of iron-working led to the development of the Hallstatt culture directly from the Urnfield (c. 700 to 500 BCE). 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 BCE. The spread of the Celtic languages to Iberia, Ireland and Britain would have occurred during the first half of the 1st millennium BCE, the earliest chariot burials in Britain dating to c. 500 BCE. Over the centuries they developed into the separate Celtiberian, Goidelic and Brythonic languages.

The Hallstatt culture was succeeded by the La Tène culture of central Europe, and during the final stages of the Iron Age gradually transformed into the explicitly Celtic culture of early historical times. Celtic river-names are found in great numbers around the upper reaches of the Danube and Rhine, which led many Celtic scholars to place the ethnogenesis of the Celts in this area.



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Timeline

Visual Timeline
  • c. 900 BCE
    Celtic Migration begins in Europe with many Celts landing in Scotland.
  • c. 800 BCE - c. 600 BCE
    Early Iron Age Hallstatt culture flourishes across Europe.
  • c. 700 BCE
    Iron Age begins in Scotland.
  • 600 BCE
    Celts settle Iberia.
  • c. 500 BCE - 450 BCE
    Hallstatt kingdoms and chiefdoms suddenly collapse for reasons unclear.
  • c. 475 BCE
    Celts defeat the Etruscans at the Ticino River.
  • c. 450 BCE
    Rise of the Celtic La Tene culture.
  • 400 BCE
    Celts enter Italy and settle in the Po Valley. Etruscan power declines.
  • 396 BCE
    Celts defeat the Etruscan army at the battle of Melpum. Afterwards the Celts heavily settle all over the Po Valley.
  • 391 BCE
    Senones besiege Clusium, an Etruscan city.
  • 387 BCE
    "Gallic Catastrophe:" Duke Brennus of the Celts defeats the Romans at Allia, and subsequently sacks Rome. Celts move off after ransom is paid.
  • 380 BCE
    Celtic groups, possibly from northern Italy and the eastern Alps, begin to raid Illyrian territories.
  • 367 BCE
    Celtic mercenaries fight with the Spartans against Thebes.
  • 367 BCE
    Livy mentions Celtic armies in Ancona and one such group moves against Rome once more.
  • 335 BCE
    Alexander the Great receives Celtic ambassadors in the Balkans.
  • 334 BCE
    Rome signs a peace treaty with the Senones tribe.
  • 323 BCE
    Alexander the Great receives Celtic delegations in Babylon.
  • 297 BCE
    Celts and Samnites join forces and defeat the Romans at Camertium.
  • c. 295 BCE
    In a battle lasting all day, Romans narrowly defeat a force of Celts and Samnites at Sentinum.
  • 285 BCE
    Roman forces heavily defeat the Senones at Lake Vadimo.
  • 285 BCE - 282 BCE
    Rome defeats the Celts in Italy. Rome's dominance in central Italy is secured.
  • 284 BCE
    Gauls of the Insubres and Boii tribes defeat the Romans at Arretium.
  • 283 BCE
    Rome decisively defeats the Senones at Picenum.
  • 283 BCE
    Romans defeat the Etruscans and Celts at lake Vadimonis.
  • 282 BCE
    A Celtic army with many youth among their ranks is again defeated by Romans.
  • 280 BCE
    Celts join with Pyrrhus, aiding in his victory over the Romans at Heraclea.
  • 279 BCE
    Celts invade Thrace and Anatolia.
  • 279 BCE
    Celts stay with Pyrrhus and fight in the Epirote army at Asculum, a victory over the Romans.
  • 277 BCE - 276 BCE
    4,000 Celts are employed in Egypt under Ptolemy II.
  • 275 BCE
    Seleucids successfully defeat the Galatian Celts in the 'Elephant Battle'.
  • c. 263 BCE
    Antaros and 3000 Celts fight with Carthage in the First Punic War.
  • 261 BCE
    Antiochus, king of the Seleucid empire, is killed in battle against the Galatians at Ephesus in Asia Minor.
  • c. 260 BCE
    Timaeos is the first to use the term 'Celtiberian' when refering to Celts living in Iberia.
  • 259 BCE
    Celts in Egypt fail to overthrow Ptolemy II and are starved to death on an island.
  • c. 237 BCE - 241 BCE
    Attalos I of Pergamon defeats the Galatians at the headwaters of the Caioc River.
  • 232 BCE
    Attalos I defeats the Galatians a second time.
  • 225 BCE
    Two Roman armies surround and defeat a Celtic army at Telamon.
  • 225 BCE
    Celts defeat 6000 Romans at Faesulae and proceed to overrun Etruria.
  • 223 BCE
    Romans successfully campaign against Celtic tribes of Cisalpine Gaul.
  • 222 BCE
    The Celts are defeated at Clastidium by Roman forces.
  • 218 BCE
    The Aegosages Celts enter Anatolia under Attalos of Pergamon.
  • c. 217 BCE - 218 BCE
    30,000 Celtic infantry and 4,000 Celtic cavalry join Hannibal. Celts constitute just over 50% of his army in Italy.
  • 217 BCE
    14,000 Celts serve under Ptolemy IV in his victory at Raphia over the Seleucid King Antiochos III.
  • 217 BCE
    Prusias of Bithynia in Asia Minor massacres the Aegosages including the women and children.
  • c. 215 BCE - c. 216 BCE
    The Boii crush a Roman army 25,000 strong at Litana. Victory was, in part, achieved by pushing precariously cut trees down atop the horrified Romans as they marched.
  • 212 BCE
    The Celtic kingdom of Tylis in Thrace is overthrown by native Thracians. Cavaros is the last ruler of the small kingdom.
  • c. 200 BCE
    Iron in the Celtic world experiences a significant boom. Iron manufacturing increase in all facets of life such as weapon construction and agriculture items.
  • 200 BCE - 100 BCE
    Oppida (Celtic fortified tribal centers) spread.
  • 193 BCE
    The Boii are defeated by the Romans, suffering, according to Livy, 14,000 dead.
  • 137 BCE
    4,000 Celtiberians trap a force of 20,000 Romans at Numantia forcing their surrender.
  • 133 BCE
    Numantia falls to the Romans who besiege the oppidum. Mass suicide ensues among many of the survivors. Land reforms by Tiberius Gracchus.
  • 125 BCE
    Rome intervenes on behalf of Massalia against the Saluvii Celts.
  • 106 BCE
    The governor of the Roman province of Macedonia, M. Minucius Rufus, celebrates his victory over a raid of the Dacians allied with the Celtic tribe of the Scordiscii in the Balkans.
  • 64 BCE
    Galatia becomes a client state of Rome.
  • c. 60 BCE
    Boii in eastern Europe crushed by the Dacians.
  • 58 BCE
    Caesar attacks the Helvetii while on migration and defeats them.
  • 57 BCE
    A Roman army under Caesar narrowly defeats an army of Nervii, Atrebates, and Viromandui.
  • 56 BCE
    The navies of Rome and the Veneti Gauls clash resulting in a Roman victory. This is the first recorded naval battle in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • 54 BCE - 53 BCE
    Ambiorix of the Eburones tribe destroys around 9,000 Roman soldiers at Atuatuca.
  • 52 BCE
    Caesar defeated at Gergovia by Vercingetorix.
  • 52 BCE
    After becoming trapped and besieged at Alesia Vercingetorix surrenders to Caesar.
  • 51 BCE
    Caesar's capture of Uxellodunum ends the Gallic War.
  • c. 51 BCE - c. 30 BCE
    300 Celts serve as elite bodyguards for Cleopatra VII during her reign.
  • 46 BCE
    The Bellovaci unsuccessfully rise against Roman rule in Belgica.
  • 44 BCE
    The Allobroges unsuccessfully rise against Roman rule in southern Gaul.
  • 33 BCE
    The Belgic Morini and the Celts of Aquitania unsuccessfully rise against Roman rule.
  • 4 BCE
    At the funeral of Herod II, his Celtic bodyguards are in attendance.

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