Bernhard Maier

in The Celts

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780748616053
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672219 | DOI:

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  • Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)


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This introductory chapter discusses the people, language and culture behind the history of the term ‘Celtic’. It shows that the term ‘Celt’ is applied in three distinct ways. First in the ethnographical writing of antiquity, the word ‘Celt’ (Greek Keltoí, Kéltai, and Galátai, Latin Celtae and Galli) stands for a variety of central European peoples with whom the Greeks and Romans came into contact from the sixth century bc, first through trading relations and later in armed conflict. The second application of the term occurs in comparative philology, as it emerged in the early nineteenth century. And here, in contrast to the broad use of the term in the classical period, the term ‘Celtic’ referred exclusively to linguistic facts. The third application of the term Celt is in modern archaeology and here its use remains far from uniform.

Keywords: Celts; history; Celtic; antiquity; philology; archaeology

Chapter.  2411 words. 

Subjects: Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)

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