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Old October 5th, 2017, 05:05 AM   #1

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Are the celts really just one race of people?


We know from archeological findings that the Celts were spread out from Ireland to Turkey; however, should these tribes really be categorized as the same race of people? What evidence do we have that links these people's culture together? Or perhaps, are "Celts" just a catch-all term for the non-Romans at the time?
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Old October 5th, 2017, 06:20 AM   #2

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Oh, THIS will be a can of worms! No worries, welcome to the board!

As I understand it, the more scientific definition of "Celtic" these days is a language group. It gets applied to a huge number of tribes and cultures.

And Yes, *popular* usage of the term can be as wide as "any European who wasn't Roman or Greek", even back into the era before anything we can remotely identify as "Celtic" was seen... The term "over-used" doesn't even scratch the surface.

And just to stir the pot, ancient authors never seem to have referred to the people in the British Isles as "Celts", though they certainly saw a cultural relationship between those people and the tribes in Gaul.

Have fun, everyone!

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Old October 5th, 2017, 02:48 PM   #3
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No one has thought of the celts as a single or separate race for many decades now. There are still many debates as to which languages are actually celtic languages, Tartessian being the latest proposal. Keltae and Galli are terms used by Greeks and Romans but they didn't use the terms to describe the celtic speakers in Britain and Ireland nor do they appear to ever used those terms to describe themselves.
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Old October 5th, 2017, 04:43 PM   #4

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The way I understand it, there's three different meanings to the word "Celts", and accordingly three different definitions of what the word refers to:

- Historically: "Keltoi" is a word used in Greek sources to describe a group of non-greek people the Greek got in contact with.

- Linguistically the word "celtic" refers to a group of languages. And it is important to note that "speaking a celtic language" does very much NOT necessarily equal "being a celt". These are two very different things. After all, we don't refer to the French and Spanish as Romans either, only because they speak a Romanic language.

- Archeologically the term "celts" (if it is even used - I assume most archeologists will avoid that) refers to Hallstatt culture C and D and LaTène A to D, a culture centered in South West Germany and Eastern France, covering a time frame from 800-750 BC to 50/15 BC. And that's where it ends.

Personally, I've given up studying the topic. There's so much bad literature around. The problem seems to be that this topic became important as an idea for some kind of national identity in the 19th century. Resulting in highly romantic interpretations and lots of weird stuff ("celtic tree horoscope" - wtf?).
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Old October 6th, 2017, 12:03 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josefa View Post
The way I understand it, there's three different meanings to the word "Celts",

Sounds like you have been reading John Koch:

"Thus the Celts have been assumed to be (1) all users of the iron age material culture called La Tene for the swiss type site, (2) all speakers of early celtic languages and (3) all groups called Keltoi or Celtae by Greeks and Romans. (The same ancient writers also repeatedly stated the equivalence of Keltoi/Celtae with Galli or Galatae and generaly regarded the former pair as more ancient and correct). Thus anyone of these three symptoms has often been taken to imply the other two and to be adequate to confirm the presence of Celts.

At best the three way modern synthesis is frayed at the edges. La Tene is rare to non existent in areas with well attested ancient celtic languages in South West Ireland, the Iberian peninsular and Anatolia. Greeks or Romans never used the terms Keltoi or Galli to describe the inhabitants of Britain and Ireland and, so far as we know, the inhabitants never applied such labels to themselves."
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Old October 6th, 2017, 12:41 AM   #6

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For scholars, it seems a broad term for a stream Indo-Europeans that being nomadic pastoralists just happened to wander from Asia towards Western Europe. Then acquired the settled life. So they might say 'proto-Celtic'. Linguistically this perhaps more correct. This this group was far ranging, and their language probably dominated as the language of distant trade.
Other peoples, the Italians, the Greeks, the Germans. Appear to be 'Celtic' offshoots that acquired a more distinct identity of their own.
An observation is that all these cultures reveal a militarism on par with the Japanese. And a patriarchy to compliment it.
It seems at times they had a dislike of kings. Athens going 'democratic'. The Romans booting out theirs and saying no more kings. The Vikings (an offshoot of the Germanics) "We have no lord, for we are all equal"!
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Old October 6th, 2017, 01:00 AM   #7

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It's not correct to say that the Celts were substantially all the inhabitants of the European continents who weren't nor Romans neither Greeks.

Germanic tribes weren't Celt. So there was a differentiation [which the Romans did speaking of Germanic populations].

As for the Celts themselves, they weren’t a race, this is evident. There is who reasons about a unitary culture, but also this hypothesis seems excessive.

I tend to see the Celts as a group of similar cultures, with similar languages, nothing more than this.
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Old October 6th, 2017, 01:57 AM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpinLuke View Post
It's not correct to say that the Celts were substantially all the inhabitants of the European continents who weren't nor Romans neither Greeks.

Germanic tribes weren't Celt. So there was a differentiation [which the Romans did speaking of Germanic populations].

As for the Celts themselves, they weren’t a race, this is evident. There is who reasons about a unitary culture, but also this hypothesis seems excessive.

I tend to see the Celts as a group of similar cultures, with similar languages, nothing more than this.
Almost posted genetics thang..
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Old October 6th, 2017, 05:19 AM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by authun View Post
Sounds like you have been reading John Koch:
[...]
I had not but thank you for the quote!
It irks me a bit that there's only one term "celtic" for three different things. It confuses regular folks (like me) to the point where historical celts are assumed to have worn Scottish quilts ... And I guess it is hard to understand that (for a linguist) the Irish language of course qualifies as "celtic" but (for a historian and archeologist) the people who spoke it do not.
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Old October 6th, 2017, 06:46 AM   #10

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Most of us wear jeans today yet that doesn't make us all miners or cowboys from the American West. The Celts probably weren't a completely homogenous group either, especially if one considers the geographic range where places and regions bearing their name is still to be found (all the Galicias/Galatia across Europe and Anatolia - are they even all connected to the Celts?).
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