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The Origin of the Kelts*

  • Georg Kraft

The origin of every nation lies beyond the range of written records. It is one of the principal tasks of prehistory to supplement and extend backwards the historical tradition until it brings those events within its purview. The difficulty of the task is greatest where the historical record is shortest. So the peoples of northern and eastern Europe who most deeply concern us Northerners present one of the most perplexing problems to the archaeologist.

In the case of the Teutons the problem has been materially clarified by Scandinavian investigators. Moreover Gustav Kossinna in Germany has devised for its solution a method all his own which the Vienna school has subsequently applied to the Illyrian question. But in western Europe the Teutonic invasions for the most part fall within the domain of history. The forerunners of the Teutons in England, France, western Germany and in parts of Spain and Italy were the Kelts. The latter in places maintained their identity side by side with the Teutons, and in any case constitute a vital element in the present population of the regions in question. No wonder then that archaeology turned early to the elucidation of the problem of Keltic origins.

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The older views are best summarized in Déchelette’s Manuel d’archéologie préhistorique, III, Premier âge du fer. A convenient review of the more recent work in Spain and the West Alps is given in the article by Bosch-Gimpera and Kraft in the Kossinna-Festschrift, Zur Keltenfrage. The earlier works of both authors are cited there. Of these we need cite here only the following :-

Bosch-Gimpera, . ‘ Los Celtas y la arqueologia celtica en la peninsula ibérica’. (Boletin de la Sociedad espanola de excursiones, Madrid, 1921). An extract is given in Die Kelten und die keltische Kultur in Spanien, Mannus Bibliothek, 22.
Bosch-Gimpera, .‘Els Celtes i les cultures de la primera edat del ferro a Catalunya’. Butlleti de la Assoc. Catalana Antrop. Etnol. i Prehistoria, 3, 1925, pp. 207ff.
Bosch-Gimpera, . ‘Pyrenäenhalbinsel’ , in Ebert’s Reallexikon.
Kraft, , ‘Die Stellung der Schweiz innerhalb der bronzezeitlichen Kulturgruppen Mitteleuropas’. Anzeiger f. Schweiz. Altertumskunde, 1927-8.
Kraft, , ‘ Kelten’, in Ebert’s Reallexikon.
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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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