The Ancient Celts

The Ancient Celts

By (author) Barry Cunliffe

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Fierce warriors and skilled craftsmen, the Celts were famous throughout the Ancient Mediterranean World. They were the archetypal barbarians from the north and were feared by both Greeks and Romans. Napoleon III spent much time and money searching for the ancestral Gauls, and the concept of the Celt has been used many times by the nations fringing the Atlantic in their search for identity. In this fascinating new volume Barry Cunliffe explores the true nature of the Celtic identity and presents the first thorough and up-to-date account of a people whose origins still provoke heated debate. Examining the archaeological reality of the Iron Age inhabitants of barbarian Europe, he traces the emergence of chiefdoms, patterns of expansion and migration, and the development of a mature urbanized society, thus assessing the disparity between the traditional vision of the Celts and the archaeological evidence. Through his consideration of cultural diversity, social and religious systems, art, language, law, and oral traditions, Cunliffe is able to draw a distinction between societies which conform to an ethnic `Celtic' model and those subjected to `Celtization', and tease out a fascinating new picture of the identity of the Celts. This book is intended for scholars and students of European archaeology and prehistory.

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  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 184.7 x 248.4 x 27.4mm | 1,204.3g
  • 01 Oct 1997
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford
  • English
  • 24 colour plates, 80 halftone plates, 128 line drawings, 30 maps, bibliography
  • 0198150105
  • 9780198150107

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Author Information

About the Author: Barry Cunliffe is Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Keble College. An expert in the archaeology and art of the pagan Celts, he has written over forty books, as well as editing The Oxford Illustrated Prehistory of Europe.

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Review text

This renowned archaeologist looks at the Iron Age inhabitants of Europe - sorting out the true Celts from the tribes and regions that were 'Celtized'. He explores in depth the language, laws, art and religions of these people, also examining the reputation the Celts had among the Greek and Roman communities. Cunliffe writes concisely and clearly on his subject. This is an expert treatment, complemented by excellent, well-chosen illustrations. (Kirkus UK)

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