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Thread: Celtic Graves in Western Germany

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    Celtic Graves in Western Germany

    I was looking at some information about where one branch of my family comes from in the now German state of Rheinland-Pfalz. I came across information saying they had found Celtic gravesites there from around 800 b.c.e.

    Now, I know Celts were widespread across the continent up until at least 275 b.c.e., specifically, I know they were in southern Germany. I also understand the Proto-Indo-European people spread into many peoples including Armenians, Baltics, Italics, Greeks, Iranians(?), Celts, and Germanics.

    So this leads me to a couple of questions perhaps others here can answer. When would you consider the beginning of the Germanic peoples? How are they related to these other groups, and who is the closest relation? And how much of a role did the indigenous people play?
    ''People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.''
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    Celts

    Celt is an ancient Greek word. It is what the Greeks called the people living in southern France around 500 BC. The first proto-Germanic languages appeared about 2000 BC. So that is when the Germanic peoples began. They were those Nordic people that spoke a Germanic language. The Celtic peoples go back much farther than that. The Celtic language is not considered a Germanic language. It is hard to tell when the Celts first occupied France, but it may have been as long ago as 3000 or 4000 BC. They were some of the 1st of the Nordic peoples to move from North of the Black sea into northern Europe and down into France. The Nordic peoples go back to 6000 BC, or more, when genetic changes took place that changed these peoples into the Nordic peoples. Here is a description from an early Roman historian describing the people that sacked Rome in 391 BC. "They had long yellow hair, fierce blue eyes and were gigantic in stature". He was describing the Celtic tribe that sacked Rome in 391 BC. So they were much the same as the Germanic tribes in 400 BC. Interbreeding with the Mediterranean peoples destroyed their Nordic characteristics and the rest were absorbed into the different Germanic tribes like the franks.

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    Celtic Warriors

    From Ancient Military.com.
    For hundreds of years the Celtic warrior represented the quintessential barbarian warrior to the settled peoples of the Mediterranean. To the Romans and Greeks it was a well earned reputation. Celtic warriors stood a head taller than their Mediterranean opponents and are described as having a muscular physique. Their attacks on the battlefield were fearless, wild and savage, but they were also skilled and deadly.
    As the Celts spread over their vast range, having conquered most of Europe at their height, their warriors developed several different types of warfare. Everything from short and long swords, impressive armor and chariots. They even had chainmail, which according to the Romans was a Celtic invention.
    To the Romans the people of the east lacked manliness and vigor. This is how they regarded the Egyptians and other peoples of the Near East. But the Celts were a different matter. The Romans had more respect for their bravery and ability to fight toe to toe.
    The Celts were a warrior culture. Fighters were admired like heroes and courage on the battlefield was an important virtue. The Celts cut off the heads of killed enemies and collected them. He who had captured a head attained the strength of the fallen enemy. The heads were bound to their horses or fastened to their belts, a practice that served to cause fear in their enemies.
    Based on their physical description, in my opinion they may have been the ancestors of the earliest of the Germanic tribes.

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    I too have family from the Rhein region.
    Quote Originally Posted by karolvs View Post
    When would you consider the beginning of the Germanic peoples?
    I don't believe it to be clear cut.
    Historically: around mid 1st century BC.
    Archaeologically: about 4,000 year ago.
    It was Caesar who first mentions the Germans, giving their namesake in his Commentaries on the Gallic War in in the 50's and 40's BC. Before that we define them by their culture based on historical artifacts "Corded Ware Culture" or "Bell Beaker Culture" etc, who aren't Germanic by name, but we can inference that these were the same people, originating in the North via Scandinavia and the Northern European Plain

    How are they related to these other groups, and who is the closest relation?
    Relations with Germans and Celts, especially along the Rhein, is ambiguous at best. Tribes migrated back and forth across the Rhein (or Rēnos in Celtic) for matters of trade, settlement, or mobilizing of troops, as is referenced in Caesar's work. The questions should be, how are they different?
    Language, art, social customs, (perhaps "sub-racial" variation could come into play), but these are the things that separate the two peoples. Granted Germanic and Celtic art is very similar, and in some cases the latter lending its style to the former, but I don't think we can make such a distinction as Germans are "blond haired blue eyed hyperborean space aryans" and Celts are "swarthy neolithic leftovers", as many try to reconcile, as when i say that we can't rely on anthro-aesthetics alone. Culture, is the main difference, the two ethnicities have very different histories when it comes to the shaping of their culture, the Celts having more exposure to the Classical realm for a great number of centuries, not to mention that Celtic is closest relation to the Italic branch of IE*, while the Germans until their flooding of Rome in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, remained fairly silent.
    The relation comes from common Aryan ancestry during the IE migrations into Europe, however that may have come to happen is still under debate. The only sure thing is is that the Celts and Germans are very similar, even more so along the Rhein, but one musn't fall into the pittrap of oversimplifying their relation.
    I suppose if it came down to drawing up tribes who were most similar to the Germans I would posit that one look at this map would help to discern.

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    Somewhere I read that the appearance of celts is connected to many burned strongholds which led to the conclusion that celts is not a racial denomination but a cultural. The thought is that 'white' people have been oppressed but violently freed themselves and developed a culture which later got the name celtic.

    It seems to me more that even germanic tribes had different cultures than their neighbors (smaller or bigger differences). Given that differences increased with the physical distance one might see them as different cultures. Though I believe that the core was the same. The rituals and other beliefs might have differences but they were not essential.

    Caesar distinguished them who lives on one side of the Rhine and on theother side. But as described above that made not much sense as they were still alied and connected.
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    Recently I read a good essay by Colin Wells entitled simply "Celts and Germans in the Rhineland" in Miranda J Green's book "The Celtic World". Wish I could find a good PDF, but if you have the time/resource, I recommend you give it a read.

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    The first signs of Indo-European culture appear in southern Scandinavia, the Cradle of Germanic identity, around approx. 2300 BCE (or 2100 BCE). At this point in history they were, lnguistically speaking, most closely related to the Balto-Slavic peoples.

    At this point all of the necessary elements were, presumably, in southern Scandinavia, but protoGermanic wasn't spoken until around the oening of the Celtic Iron Age. So, depending on your standards, Germanic identity was in existence as early as 2300 BCE or as late as approx. 500 BCE.

    The Celts are believed to have originally been an Eastern I-E peoples who were part of the initial southeastern I-E migrations into the Middle East. These I-E's would later return to Europe during a warming trend, leaving the Greeks and Romans in their wake, and coming to rest in Central Europe c.1500 BCE where they would become the Celts.

    The relationship between the early Germanic and Celtic folks seems to have been a fairly good one, as by the Iron Age the Romans couldn't tell the two cultures apart.

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