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Subject: AW: picts
From: Karl Raimund <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Karl Raimund <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 22 May 2001 11:57:30 +0200

text/plain (69 lines)


Vicki Pasco <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Archeological evidence again indicates that the Celts began to arrive in
> Ireland around the 6th century bc

Not at all. Archaeological evidence indicates nothing in that kind, it at
best indicates a marginal influence of Hallstatt material culture on the
autochtonous late Bronze Age Iron Age culture.

Would we follow the same line of reasoning, we would have to say that "the
Greeks began to arrive in the Hallstatt area around the 6th century BC" and
conclude from this that the late Hallstatt and La Tène cultures were
"Greeks" based on some influences in art style. This is, of course,
nonsense, and the same applies for late Bronze and early Iron Age Ireland as
becoming "Celtic" due to some influences in art style. The Celtic languages
and the cultural similarities may have, but not necessarily need to have
come to Ireland at the same time as the influences in art are visible from
the archaeological record.

> (and in reference to the pop quiz... the Celts emerged from
> the Hallstatt somewhere between 1300-600bc...a people of Urnfield
> and apparent Scythian influence)

Well, this answer would probably have got you a point in a quiz show.
Nonetheless, as Chris Gwinn already pointed out, it is, in fact, far from
that easy. What we know from archaeology is that, at about that time you
mention, a new art style developed in central and western Europe, which we
nowadays call the "Hallstatt culture". That this culture, which is primarily
a material culture, has anything to do with Celts is nowhere said. The first
Celts that do appear in the historical records probably had a Hallstatt
material culture, but the reverse argument, that therefore every group of
people that has a Hallstatt material culture was "Celtic" is nowhere said.

The main problem is wether we want to use the term "Celtic" as an ethnic
term (in which case the term "Celtic" can only be applied to central Gaulish
culture between the 6th and the 1st century BC), or as a label for certain
commonalities in certain elements in culture, as, for instance, language,
art, material culture, social structures and so on. In the latter case we of
course can call the related languages spoken by a lot of people, including
Celtae, Belgae, Britanni, Celtiberians, as well as the modern Irish and
Gaelic Scots, the Welsh and the Bretons "Celtic" languages, and in the same
line of reason, the Hallstatt and La Tène material cultures "Celtic"
material cultures.

However, in the latter case, we cannot speak of a "Celtic culture" or "the
Celts" as if they were one united, monolithic block, but rather have to
speak of several "Celtic cultures" and several "Celtic groups", which did
share some common elements in their culture, but differed in others, and
were by no way one united people.

As such, it is highly unlikely that these different "Celtic cultures"
originated in one place and point in time, with but a few outside
influences, and then swept over all of Europe to bring the pleasures of
"being Celtic" to the world, but rather that these various, differing
"Celtic cultures" developed, each on its own, a mix to a varying degree of
local customs and outside influences, at the same time in contact with some
other, similarily developing, neighbouring "Celtic cultures", which
vice-versa influenced each other.

> So, like...can I hang out with you guys now????

You're welcome. ;-)


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