The Hallstatt - La Tène model is definitely out !


Ad Honorem
Oct 2014
appalacian Mtns
1. Celtic has developed in continuous contacts with Germanic:

2. Germanic has developed in continuous contacts with Finnic and Saami:

There are neither early Italic loanwords in Germanic, nor Celtic loanwords in Finnic and Saami, which shows that there are loanword layers only between adjacent languages. The development of Germanic must be placed in Scandinavia and the development of Celtic right to the south of it: Germany.

Other possibility would be to place the Germanic branch in Baltia, but Germanic shares less loanwords with Balto-Slavic than with Finnic and Saami, so Scandinavia must be the place.

No genetic or archaeological evidence can disprove these linguistic results. Celtic expansion to Western and Southwestern Europe must be later. Archaeological continuity does not correspond to linguistic continuity:
Studying the Uralic proto-language
I have too second this opinion. Just by appearance alone. Celts & Germans cannot be distinguished as too one or the other by appearance. I'm no geneticist, but I'd be highly surprised if there is much too distinguish them genetically. I'm of mostly Gaelic stock & I can't tell. Yes, at 6'5" I'm larger than most Anglos I know, but I'm also larger than most Gaels. I don't know of any other group of people other than Germanics that are indistinguishable from a Gael. The one characteristic that might distinguish a Gael from an Anglo would be a male Gael tends to have more body hair. A very old English depiction of a Gael is "Hairy arsed Scot".
Jul 2018
L'Aquila, Italy
Villanovan & Etruscans

I have read all the old posts in the Forum, but I haven't found any reference to the Villanovan culture, that was my original reason for reading the posts. Maybe someone more knowledgeable than me can give me a reply on this topic.

As far as I have read, at the origin of the Etruscan nation there is the Villanovan culture, that spread from a territory just north or north-east of the Alps into the Italian peninsula, approx. in the 11th century BC. It spread over that part of Italy, that three centuries after was occupied by Etruscan-speaking people. The coincidence of the area of the Villanovan culture and of the later historical Etruscan territory is very close. The part of Italy to the east of the Etruscans is occupied in historical times by Italics, that apparently have been displaced by the Villanovans/Etruscans.

As far as I have read, the Villanovan culture bears all the marks of a Urnfield-derived culture, in particular because of the incineration of the deads, but also because of decorative patterns and type of metallurgy.

Now my problem is: how come that a culture derived from Urnfields develops into an Etruscan-speaking nation, while Urnfieds are assumed to be a Celtic-speaking region?

As many people in the Forum has remarked, it is very difficult to tell whether a change in culture is due to immigration or to culture spreading. However in this case the borders between Villanovan and not-Villanovan areas are so similar to the later borders between Etruscan-speaking and not-Etruscan-speaking territories, that an immigration looks as the best explanation. Not necessarily a mass immigration, but at least of some élite groups that imposed their language on the existing population. For what it matters, also Etruscans believed to be a different people from the neighbouring Italics.

Etruscan apparently is a non-Indoeuropean language, or at least not so closely related to Indoeuropean. The only known 'relatives' are the language of the Raeti, in the north-eastern part of the Alps (approx. Tirol), that is on the way from Central Europe to Italy, and the Lemnian dialect, of which only a couple of stelae are left. Lemnos lies close to the Anatolian coast in the Aegean Sea, near the Dardanelles. Neglecting the Lemnian dialect (rivers of ink have flowed about that), everything looks like some people form the Urnfield area moved into Italy, and they were speaking a non-Indoeuropean language, and certainly not a Celtic language.

I have no explanations for this situation, and I do not know how it could fit in any of the models described in this Forum. Does anybody have an idea, or give me hints about this? Thanks in advance, and sorry for the long post.
Feb 2018
i dont think im more knowledgeable than you are but urnfield existed in italy already in the previous proto-urnfield aka ascona-milazzo phenomenon and only certain centers of this later became prominent during the orientalising period and subsequent etruscan civ, but do you want to know something funny before the orientalising period began those exact centers were engaged with sardinia aka a maritime network(pic below/note the nuargic ships) _this declines by the late 8th and transponders direct into the orientalising period prob a shift to a new maritime network aka the cypro-phoenician _i strongly suspect that is also were the nonIE speakers derived from aka a migration as the princely(chariot) tombs are a spitting image of the royal(chariot) tombs at salamis and the oreintalising period needed an ample source to suffice its prominance in italy and as iron working made a direct diffusion into italy from the east med so could the orientalising period and its ample innovations, another funny thing is that ?polybius recorded a tyrsenian migration from italy into athens the only other loc next to lemnos which ?tukidides recs tyrsenians and thats were the labguage was found as well; PS the proto and the urnfield aka villanova/atestine archo stratifications most likely all derived from the carpatho-balkan area as signs of the MBA terremare did before it;

the pic
Jul 2018
L'Aquila, Italy
Dear Alexfritz, thank you for your reply. In fact there are many stories told by ancient authors about a migration of the ancestor of the Etruscans from the Aegean Sea, where they were pirates or mercenaries, to the Italian shores. Most of these stories are located in time just after the War agains Troy, a period that historically coincides with the Sea Peoples period, and the big displacements of people in the Aegean region and in the Levant.

Frankly speaking, I do not trust those stories very much. I mean, some migration of limited numbers of people from Eastern to Western Mediterranean can actually have taken place, that can have influenced the lifestyle, technology and economy of Etruscans and Italics in general. You must consider that similar stories are told about most peoples in Italy (Romans, Siculi, Sicani, Enotrii, Sardinians, etc.). It is true that later in time Phoenicians from Tyr colonised the Carthago region, travelling on their boats, taking their language and culture with them, and establishing a densely populated and powerful state. However, that was an event that took centuries, and left clear evidence of the migration.

Instead, the archaeological evidence in the later Etruscan territories points toward a compact culture from the Po valley to southern Campania already in the XI century, with strong cultural links to the Urnfield or farther away to the Carpathian basin. This culture was slowly evolving from Proto-Villanovan to Etruscan, with clear cultural influence from the Aegean area and from the Levant, and perhaps from Sardinia, but not any indication that language replacement was taking place. As an example, consider that the first Etruscan inscription has been found in Bologna, far in the north, already in the VIII century B.C., while the strong orientalising influence from the Eastern Mediterranean region showed up first in the cities along the southern shores of Tuscany and Latium in the VII century B.C. Also consider the language of the Raeti, in the middle of the Alps, but so close to the Etruscan language.

Therefore it seems to me that the most probable origin of the Etruscan language is in the areas north or the north-east of the Alps, or perhaps farther away in the Balcans. However this is not a clear-cut situation, where you can safely tell where the truth lies. Any further comment or suggestion is therefore welcome.
Feb 2018
east to west med movements for sure happened as they are attested by the phoenician and greek colonies that appeared all over the west med from the 8th onwards so that most def happened; the linguistic frontier is a cramp we dont(and will never) know what many peoples ligurians etc in italy even spoke even if their language is attested by inscriptions camunic etc so there is no knowing whether there was a replacement or not, though i view it more as an addition rather than replacement and truth be told the connection between raetic and etruscan is not very close in fact not that close at all a distant common root at best;

if etruscan is connected to the urnfield/villanova and beyond the alps than how do you factor in the IE sabellic and latin speakers or the lepontic speakers of another urnfield/golasecca or the venetic speakers of the NE along with messapic speakers rumored deriving from the balkans _saying more on languages of the balkans than italy; in epilogue p18 (below) nijboer mentions villanovan settlemets being superseded by the incoming orientalising period and the hybridization process explaining the continuity of the settlemets but with radical new changes {that i think came about via migration from the east med along with the whole package;

as you can see contacts with the carpatho-balkan area continued throughout as indicated by the bronze clad women or the bi-conical urns most similar in type to the banat; but the most important question is what happened to the >130k people of the terramare civ that abruptly collapsed and disappeared, but did they really disappear? and if not what was their role in the proto-villanova aka the ascona-milazzo phenomenon? known is that in the latest phase it adopted more with the sub-apennine culture and urn burials also existed sufficiently as such in terramare cemeteries;
Jan 2011
To come back to your first question, urnfield is no longer linked exclusively to Celts. It's now considered as funeral customs that may have been used by people of different cultures / languages. More generally, material cultures are no longer used to define cultures / languages.


Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
A few years ago a project was undertaken in Sweden to determine the sources of tin and copper used in the Nordic Bronze Age. It had been previously assumed that the copper came from the mines around Bischofshofen in Austria and the tin from the Erzgebirge. However the isotopic analyses showed multiple and wide ranging sources. These are also coincident with finds of baltic amber.

These can be seen on 2 colour maps starting on page 127 of the attached pdf. In addition, there is a third map which suggests the possible metal trading routes (p129). The proto villanovan culture appears to be connected to one of the main trade routes.

Moving metals II: provenancing Scandinavian Bronze Age artefacts by lead isotope and elemental analyses
Jul 2018
L'Aquila, Italy
Villanovan7Etruscan and Urnfield

That material cultures are not necessarily linked to individual peoples, where 'people' in my view indicates a community speaking the same language and sharing a common cultural heritage, is very true, even in present times. However, the case of the Villanovan/Etruscan culture is a special one, where in my view a link between material culture and a language/people can be established with some high probability.
In the areas where the Proto-Villanovan culture was diffused, in the X century BC in Italy, there were radical changes compared to prior Appennine culture:

- old villages were abandoned, and new ones founded, very densely;
- size of houses reduced to single-family ones;

- ceramic type changed abruptly;
- the main economic activity changed from cattle raising to agriculture;
- metal working style changed;

- cemeteries changed from inhumation to Urnenfelder-type incineration.

No such changes happened in the neighbouring Appennine and sub-Appennine culture regions, where continuity was mainly the rule. After approx. three centuries, within the same Proto-Villanovan regions with minor exceptions, a compact Etruscan culture is found, without any comparable major material culture change having happened in between. Some minor Proto-Villanovan enclaves that appeared in the X century, like Milazzo but also the Timmari area near Matera, or the Fermo area in the Marche, were re-absorbed by the surrounding cultures after a few generations. Two larger enclaves in Campania (Capua and Pontecagnano) were 'big' enough to survive, although separated by the main Etruscan area, and appear to be openly Etruscan in historical times. They were reabsorbed by Osci (Capua) and Sabelli (Pontecagnano) in historical times, while the main Etruscan area was absorbed by Celts (Po plain) and Romans (Tuscany, northern Latium and parts of Umbria) in historical times.

It is true that during the Iron Age there were complex and multilateral exchanges between regions and cultures all over Europe. However, the intense contacts of the Etruscan region with Sardinia, Carthago and the Greek world resulted mainly in movements of individual workers or families, quickly integrated in the Etruscan society, or in the establishment of 'emporia' for the exchange of goods and technologies.

Other regions in Italy probably experienced an influx of population directly from the Balcans across the Adriatic sea (Dauni, Peucezi, Veneti, etc.). However those were clearly distinct phenomena, resulting in different historical languages and cultures.

Therefore my point is:

- Is it reasonable that a 'people' speaking a non-Indoeuropean language, but located in the largely Indoeuropean Central-Eastern Europe Urnfield cultural area and sharing at least part of its material culture, moved into Italy to later become the Etruscan 'nation'?

This point would imply that the Urnfield cultural area was in fact not exclusively Celtic, or Italo-Celtic, or generally Indoeuropean, but included different linguistic and cultural heritages. Later, this cultural area apparently evolved in the mainly Celtic Hallstatt C-D and La Tène cultures, with a linguistic unification process. In turn, this could imply that the Celtic component of the Urnfield-Hallstatt-La Tène cultures was not necessarily 'native' of this area, but could somehow have joined the cultural pool from somewhere else, to become the dominant one.

Then, I try to make another, highly conjectural point:

- Is it reasonable that the Etruscan/Raetic language is the relic of a pre-Indoeuropean language, one of those spoken by the agriculturalists that diffused from Anatolia via Greece to Eastern, Central and Northern Europe approx. three thousand years before? And is it possible that similar people moved from Eastern Europe to Lemnos in the same very complex years at the end of the Bronze Age, when many movements of people are confusely reported in documents and legends in the Aegean area and beyond?

Sorry again for the long post, and thank you for all comments.
Feb 2018
came across this paper that deals with the 'ECONOMIC LINKS BETWEEN GAUL AND ITALY FROM THE EIGHTH TO THE LATE SIXTH CENTURIES BC' and on p256/14 it mentions the collapse of the old social hierarchy, the 'chieftain burial era' of the hallstatt-west, into a thriving society of warrior-farmers
maybe this new and dynamic society from the former hallstatt-west(marne-mosel area) was the source of the LaTene expansion; in this paper based on stable isotopes it indicates that the LaTene warriors(?!boii) of bohemia were actually non-local migrants _ 'Instead of mass migration of whole family groups, it is suggested that these migrations concerned only a small part of the community. It is assumed that the males with more depleted d18O values than the expected regional variation in d18O for the Czech Republic are concerned. Particularly, but not exclusively, those males buried as warriors appear non-local'
"Celtic migrations": Fact or fiction? Strontium and oxygen isotope analysis of the Czech cemeteries of Radovesice and Kutná Hora in Bohemia

the same unsurprisingly applies to italy with livy 5/35 claiming that the gauls(inlc boii) crossed over via the pennine-alps indicating a western rather than an eastern movement; the boii necropolis at monterenzio did indeed yield two types of warriors per Sr-isotopes local and non-local, the non-local per non-metric dental traits (MMD analysis) grouping with other celtic groups and the local warriors with italic(rather than etruscan) groups;
grave goods listed for each individual of the site at S1Table
Unravelling biocultural population structure in 4th/3rd century BC Monterenzio Vecchio (Bologna, Italy) through a comparative analysis of strontium isotopes, non-metric dental evidence, and funerary practices
Our results confirm the migration of Celtic populations in Monterenzio as archaeologically hypothesized on the basis of the grave goods, followed by a high degree of cultural admixture between exogenous and endogenous traits'

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