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Celts

The meaning of «celts»

The Celts (/kɛlts, sɛlts/, see pronunciation of Celt for different usages) are[1] a collection of Indo-European peoples[2] in parts of Europe and Anatolia identified by their use of the Celtic languages and other cultural similarities.[3][4][5][6] Historic Celtic groups included the Gauls, Celtiberians, Gallaecians, Galatians, Britons, Gaels, and their offshoots. The relationship between ethnicity, language and culture in the Celtic world is unclear and controversial.[7] In particular, there is dispute over the ways in which the Iron Age inhabitants of Britain and Ireland should be regarded as Celts.[6][7][8][9]

The history of pre-Celtic Europe and Celtic origins are debated. According to one theory, the proto-Celtic language arose in the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture of central Europe, which flourished from around 1200 BC.[10] This theory links the Celts with the Iron Age Hallstatt culture which followed it (c. 800–450 BC), named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria.[10][11] Therefore, this area of central Europe is sometimes called the "Celtic homeland". It proposes that by the following La Tène cultural period (c. 450 BC onward), named after the La Tène site in Switzerland, Celtic culture had spread westward by diffusion or migration to France and the Low Countries (Gauls), the British Isles (Insular Celts), the Iberian Peninsula (Celtiberians, Gallaecians, Celtici) and northern Italy (Lepontii and Cisalpine Gauls).[12] Another theory suggests that proto-Celtic arose earlier in the Atlantic Bronze Age coastal area and spread eastward. Following the Celtic settlement of Southeast Europe, Celtic culture reached as far east as central Anatolia in modern Turkey.[13]

The earliest undisputed examples of Celtic language are the Lepontic inscriptions from the 6th century BC.[14] Continental Celtic languages are attested almost exclusively through inscriptions and place-names. Insular Celtic languages are attested from the 4th century AD in Ogham inscriptions, although they were clearly being spoken much earlier. Celtic literary tradition begins with Old Irish texts around the 8th century AD. Elements of Celtic mythology are recorded in early Irish and early Welsh literature. Most written evidence of the early Celts comes from Greco-Roman writers, who often grouped the Celts as barbarian tribes. They followed an ancient Celtic religion overseen by druids.

The Celts were often in conflict with the Romans, such as in the Roman–Gallic wars, the Celtiberian Wars, the conquest of Gaul and conquest of Britain. By the 1st century AD, most Celtic territories had become part of the Roman Empire. By c.500, due to Romanization and the migration of Germanic tribes, Celtic culture had mostly become restricted to Ireland, western and northern Britain, and Brittany. Between the 5th and 8th centuries, the Celtic-speaking communities in these Atlantic regions emerged as a reasonably cohesive cultural entity. They had a common linguistic, religious and artistic heritage that distinguished them from surrounding cultures.[15]

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