Each generation, the British scholar Jacquetta Hawkes
has observed, chooses the archaeology that best suits its current ideology. For a century beginning in the late 1800s, archaeologists depicted the Celts as an inordinately brave and poetic tribal people who battled their way across the Eurasian world without being unduly aggressive--in the manner, that is, of good colonialists. Today some archaeologists are more inclined to consider the Celts as a people who kept ethnic unity alive across a huge span of territory and time, a view that may offer comfort in a time when, as Oxford University professor Barry Cunliffe writes, "ethnic divisions are becoming a painful and disturbing reality." Cunliffe himself takes the view that the Celts were at once alike and diverse, which led to the formation of many different Celtic cultures from the Black Sea to Ireland. This heavily illustrated, well-written book tells their story well, from the beginnings of Celtic culture in the distant Indo-European past to the height of Celtic power in the third century A.D.
From Library Journal
This survey of the origins of the Celts and their expansion during the Iron Age through their largely successful subjection by the Romans is sure to be of interest to many readers. Cunliffe (European archaeology, Oxford) has written a readable and informatve book with many attractive illustrations, a good index, and a helpful annotated bibliography. The focus is archaeological, but not exclusively, as Cunliffe does explore literary and oral traditions as well. An interesting aspect of the book is the description of 18th- and 19th-century amateur archaeologists and Celtic enthusiasts. The Celtic peoples are a popular topic among many scholars and lay readers, and this title would be a good purchase for larger public and most academic libraries.?Charles V. Cowling, Drake Memorial Lib., Brockport, N.Y.
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