The Celts: History and Treasures of an Ancient Civilisation
OverviewEver since ancient times, the Celts have been more feared than welcomed. Known to be fierce, indomitable warriors, mercenaries and conquerors, they were in the eyes of the Mediterranean world barbarians par excellence, the enemies of civilization. Sharing a common language and social structure (which supported their warrior ideology), the various Celtic populations of fighting men, farmers, and artisans- who never knew political unity-over the centuries came to occupy the whole of continental and insular Europe, to the fringes of Asia Minor. The various Celtic peoples produced art, artifacts, weapons and material goods that showed regional differences, and modern archaeology recognizes the Western Hallstatt culture and the later La Tene culture in Continental Europe, the Ibero-Atlantic cultures group, and the peoples of the Golasecca culture in northwestern Italy. The Celts did not build megalithic monuments and left only a few large sculptures comparable with those of the Greek and Etruscan-Italian world. Their art was applied to small objects and the figurative repertoire "notclassical/ anti-classical" gave shape to a fantastic, fleeting vision of a very specific nature, reflecting their own spiritual and magico-religious world. Despite the territorial conquests of Rome and other populations, the identity, language, cults and the beliefs of the Celts survived until the dawn of the Middle Ages. Thanks to the transmission of their oral literature, compiled and transcribed by Irish monks, we can intensively explore both the spiritual world and the culture of the Celtic peoples, who were among the most important formative forces in the history of European continent. For a long time given second-rate status by scholars of Greek and Roman civilizations, today-after major international exhibitions reflecting new archaeological discoveries-the Celts have become one of the most studied populations of the ancient world.