The archetypal 'barbarians from the north', the Celts were feared for their ferocity in battle and admired as skilled craftsmen. For two and half thousand years the Celts have continued to fascinate all who have come into contact with them.
"The Ancient Celts" presents an absorbing account of the tribes whose origins and identity still provoke heated debate. Exploring the archaeological reality of the Iron Age inhabitants of barbarian Europe, Professor Cunliffe traces the emergence of chiefdoms, patterns of expansion and migration, and the development of Celtic ethnicity and identity.
Each generation, the British scholar Jacquetta Hawkes has observed, chooses the archaeology that best suits its current ideology. For a century beginning in the late 1800s, archaeologists depicted the Celts as an inordinately brave and poetic tribal people who battled their way across the Eurasian world without being unduly aggressive in the manner, that is, of good colonialists. Today some archaeologists are more inclined to consider the Celts as a people who kept ethnic unity alive across a huge span of territory and time, a view that may offer comfort in a time when, as Oxford University professor Barry Cunliffe writes, "ethnic divisions are becoming a painful and disturbing reality." Cunliffe himself takes the view that the Celts were at once alike and diverse, which led to the formation of many different Celtic cultures from the Black Sea to Ireland. This heavily illustrated, well-written book tells their story well, from the beginnings of Celtic culture in the distant Indo-European past to the height of Celtic power in the third century A.D.
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