Lecture 1. Celts and the Roman Transition

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Mark Jarzombek

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Celts and the Roman Transition

Many surveys discuss the Celts, but only after Rome invaded under Caesar beginning in 58 BC. In reality the Celts came to dominate most of Europe beginning in the 5th century. New research in the last decade has made it clear that the Celts were not the strange wild barbarians that the Romans made them out to be. They were important trading partners for the Romans, providing copper, gold, iron and tin. The Celts also provided a tremendous organizational skill to the disparate chieftain tribes, which was certainly one of the reasons the Romans only tried to invade relatively late in the game, once the Celts had become masters of the Mediterranean. This lecture provides a basic over-view of the Celtic chieftain world, their economy and the druids. It reviews the oppida that they built on hill tops and discusses a series of important sites that were active in the period from about 150 BCE to 100 CE. It carries on to discuss Ulaca in Spain and Bribracte in France, two of the better researched sites. The full extent of the Celtic world is unknown since so much of it was destroyed by the Romans and then later by the Christians. Today, the strongest residue of « Celticness » is in Ireland and northwest Spain, which was never conquered by the Romans.

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