The Celts in Antiquity: Crossing the Divide Between Ancient History and Archaeology
ABSTRACT One historical actor in Antiquity are the populations of Western-Central Europe, commonly called ‘Celts’ by classical authors. Themselves (mostly) illiterate until approximately the 1st century BC/AD, reports about them, written by foreigners like Polybius, Caesar, Diodorus and others have survived. The study of ‘Celtic’ societies thus can hardly rely on classical historiography, but is mainly based on archaeology. Historical sources and archaeology are difficult to reconcile, even if common themes can be identified in both types of sources. This article examines the differences, but also similarities between the various ‘Celtic’ societies of Europe and their neighbours, and the use of the term ‘the Celts’. The case study of the excavations at Meillionydd in North Wales is used to demonstrate how different types of source material and local and global scales can be integrated into a single, coherent explanatory model.