Hallstatt culture

The Hallstatt culture was the predominant Western and Central European culture of Late Bronze Age (Hallstatt A, Hallstatt B) from the 12th to 8th centuries BC and Early Iron Age Europe (Hallstatt C, Hallstatt D) from the 8th to 6th centuries BC, developing out of the Urnfield culture of the 12th century BC (Late Bronze Age) and followed in much of its area by the La Tène culture. It is commonly associated with Proto-Celtic and Celtic populations in the Western Hallstatt zone and with (pre-)Illyrians in the eastern Hallstatt zone.[1][2]

It is named for its type site, Hallstatt, a lakeside village in the Austrian Salzkammergut southeast of Salzburg, where there was a rich salt mine, and some 1,300 burials are known, many with fine artefacts. Material from Hallstatt has been classed into 4 periods, numbered "Hallstatt A" to "D". Hallstatt A and B are regarded as Late Bronze Age and the terms used for wider areas, such as "Hallstatt culture", or "period", "style" and so on, relate to the Iron Age Hallstatt C and D.

By the 6th century BC, it had expanded to include wide territories, falling into two zones, east and west, between them covering much of western and central Europe down to the Alps, and extending into northern Italy. Parts of Britain and Iberia are included in the ultimate expansion of the culture.

The culture was based on farming, but metal-working was considerably advanced, and by the end of the period long-range trade within the area and with Mediterranean cultures was economically significant. Social distinctions became increasingly important, with emerging elite classes of chieftains and warriors, and perhaps those with other skills. Society was organized on a tribal basis, though very little is known about this. Only a few of the largest settlements, like Heuneburg in the south of Germany, were towns rather than villages by modern standards.

Bronze Age Central Europe[3]
Beaker 2600–2200 BC
Bz A 2200–1600 BC
Bz B 1600–1500 v. Chr.
Bz C 1500–1300 v. Chr.
Bz D 1300–1200 BC
Ha A 1200–1050 v. Chr.
Ha B 1050–800 v. Chr.
Iron Age Central Europe
Ha C 800–620 BC
Ha D 620–450 BC
La Tène
LT A 450–380 BC
LT B 380–250 BC
LT C 250–150 BC
LT D 150–1 BC
Roman period[4]
B AD 1–150
C AD 150–375
Hallstatt culture
Hallstatt LaTene
Geographical rangeEurope
PeriodBronze Age, Iron Age Europe
Dates1200 BC - 500 BC
Hallstatt A (1200 BC – 1050 BC);
Hallstatt B (1050 BC – 800 BC);
Hallstatt C (800 BC – 500 BC);
Hallstatt D (620 BC – 450 BC)
Type siteHallstatt
Preceded byUrnfield culture
Followed byLa Tène culture

Hallstatt type site

Hallstatt culture ramsauer
Watercolour commissioned by Johann G. Ramsauer documenting one of his cemetery digs at Hallstatt; unknown local artist.

In 1846, Johann Georg Ramsauer (1795–1874) discovered a large prehistoric cemetery near Hallstatt, Austria (47°33′40″N 13°38′31″E / 47.561°N 13.642°E), which he excavated during the second half of the 19th century. Eventually the excavation would yield 1,045 burials, although no settlement has yet been found. This may be covered by the later village, which has long occupied the whole narrow strip between the steep hillsides and the lake. Some 1,300 burials have been found, including around 2,000 individuals, with women and children but few infants.[5] Nor is there a "princely" burial, as often found near large settlements. Instead, there are a large number of burials varying considerably in the number and richness of the grave goods, but with a high proportion containing goods suggesting a life well above subsistence level.

The community at Hallstatt was untypical of the wider, mainly agricultural, culture, as its booming economy exploited the salt mines in the area. These had been worked from time to time since the Neolithic period, and in this period were extensively mined with a peak from the 8th to 5th centuries BC. The style and decoration of the grave goods found in the cemetery are very distinctive, and artifacts made in this style are widespread in Europe. In the mine workings themselves, the salt has preserved many organic materials such as textiles, wood and leather, and many abandoned artefacts such as shoes, pieces of cloth, and tools including miner's backpacks, have survived in good condition.[6]

Finds at Hallstatt extend from about 1200 BC until around 500 BC, and are divided by archaeologists into four phases:

Museum Hallstatt 35
"Antenna hilt" Hallstatt 'D' swords, from Hallstatt
Destral decorada de bronze, 800 - 750 aC, Hallstatt (cropped)
Ha C axehead, Hallstatt
Dominic Groebner Hans Reschreiter NHM Wien Abb Salz-Reich 2008 Seite 67 1
Section of the Hallstatt salt mine
GNM - Hallstatt Grab
Model of a Hallstatt barrow grave

Hallstatt A–B (1200–800 BC) are part of the Bronze Age Urnfield culture. In this period, people were cremated and buried in simple graves. In phase B, tumulus (barrow or kurgan) burial becomes common, and cremation predominates. The "Hallstatt period" proper is restricted to HaC and HaD (800–450 BC), corresponding to the early European Iron Age. Hallstatt lies in the area where the western and eastern zones of the Hallstatt culture meet, which is reflected in the finds from there.[7] Hallstatt D is succeeded by the La Tène culture.

Hallstatt C is characterized by the first appearance of iron swords mixed amongst the bronze ones. Inhumation and cremation co-occur. For the final phase, Hallstatt D, daggers, almost to the exclusion of swords, are found in western zone graves ranging from c. 600–500 BC.[8] There are also differences in the pottery and brooches. Burials were mostly inhumations. Halstatt D has been further divided into the sub-phases D1–D3, relating only to the western zone, and mainly based on the form of brooches.[8]

Major activity at the site appears to have finished about 500 BC, for reasons that are unclear. Many Hallstatt graves were robbed, probably at this time. There was widespread disruption throughout the western Hallstatt zone, and the salt workings had by then become very deep.[9] By then the focus of salt mining had shifted to the nearby Hallein Salt Mine, with graves at Dürrnberg nearby where there are significant finds from the late Hallstatt and early La Tène periods, until the mid-4th century BC, when a major landslide destroyed the mineshafts and ended mining activity.[10]

Much of the material from early excavations was dispersed,[5] and is now found in many collections, especially German and Austrian museums, but the Hallstatt Museum in the town has the largest collection.

Alice Schumacher NHM Wien Abb Salz-Reich 2008 Seite 133 6

Bronze vessel with cow and calf, Hallstatt

Andreas W. Rausch PA NHM Wien Abb Salz-Reich 2008 Seite 61 1

Wood and leather carrying pack from the mine

Museum Hallstatt 26

Bronze container with stand, Hallstatt Ha C

Andreas W. Rausch PA NHM Wien Abb Salz-Reich 2008 Seite 108 oben

Textile fragment from the salt mine

Culture and trade

It is probable[11][12][13] that some if not all of this diffusion took place in a Celtic-speaking context.[14] In northern Italy the Golasecca culture developed with continuity from the Canegrate culture.[15][16] Canegrate represented a completely new cultural dynamic to the area expressed in pottery and bronzework making it a typical western example of the western Hallstatt culture.[15][16]

The Lepontic Celtic language inscriptions of the area show the language of the Golasecca culture was clearly Celtic making it probable that the 13th-century BC precursor language of at least the western Hallstatt was also Celtic or a precursor to it.[15][16] Lepontic inscriptions have also been found in Umbria,[17] in the area which saw the emergence of the Terni culture, which had strong similarities with the Celtic cultures of Hallstatt and La Tène.[18] The Umbrian necropolis of Terni, which dates back to the 10th century BC, was identical under every aspect, to the Celtic necropolis of the Golasecca culture.[19]

Trade with Greece is attested by finds of Attic black-figure pottery in the elite graves of the late Hallstatt period. It was probably imported via Massilia (Marseilles).[20] Other imported luxuries include amber, ivory (Gräfenbühl) and probably wine. Recent analyses have shown that the reputed silk in the barrow at Hohmichele was misidentified. Red kermes dye was imported from the south as well; it was found at Hochdorf.

The settlements were mostly fortified, situated on hilltops, and frequently included the workshops of bronze-, silver-, and goldsmiths. Typical sites are the Heuneburg on the upper Danube surrounded by nine very large grave tumuli, Mont Lassois in eastern France near Châtillon-sur-Seine with, at its foot, the very rich grave at Vix,[21] and the hill fort at Molpír in Slovakia. Tumuli graves had a chamber, rather large in some cases, lined with timber and with the body and grave goods set about the room.

Kultwagen Strettweg
The Strettweg Cult Wagon, one of the most elaborate objects from the period

In the central Hallstatt regions toward the end of the period (Ha D), very rich graves of high-status individuals under large tumuli are found near the remains of fortified hilltop settlements. There are some chariot burials, including (possibly) Býčí Skála,[22] Vix and Hochdorf.[23] A model of a chariot made from lead has been found in Frögg, Carinthia, and clay models of horses with riders are also found. Wooden "funerary carts", presumably used as hearses and then buried, are sometimes found in the grandest graves. Pottery and bronze vessels, weapons, elaborate jewellery made of bronze and gold, as well as a few stone stelae (especially the famous Warrior of Hirschlanden) are found at such burials.[24] The daggers that largely replaced swords in chief's graves in the west were probably not serious weapons, but badges of rank, and used at the table.[8]

The material culture of Western Hallstatt culture was apparently sufficient to provide a stable social and economic equilibrium. The founding of Marseille and the penetration by Greek and Etruscan culture after c. 600 BC, resulted in long-range trade relationships up the Rhone valley which triggered social and cultural transformations in the Hallstatt settlements north of the Alps. Powerful local chiefdoms emerged which controlled the redistribution of luxury goods from the Mediterranean world that is characteristic of the La Tène culture.

Iron swords appear in the later periods, from the 8th century, with tools coming rather later.[25] Initially iron was rather exotic and expensive, and sometimes used as a prestige material for jewellery. The potter's wheel appears right at the end of the period.[26]

The apparently largely peaceful and prosperous life of Hallstatt D culture was disrupted, perhaps even collapsed, right at the end of the period. There has been much speculation as to the causes of this, which remain uncertain. Large settlements such as Heuneburg and the Burgstallkogel were destroyed or abandoned, rich tumulus burials ended, and old ones were looted. There was probably a significant movement of population westwards, and the succeeding La Tène culture developed new centres to the west and north, their growth perhaps overlapping with the final years of the Hallstatt culture.[9]

Gefässe Hohmichele

Pottery from Heuneburg, Germany

Rasoir Acy-Romance

Bronze Hallstatt culture tool, possibly an early razor. The three circular holes on the handle and the blade body indicate the possibility they could be used for fasteners in a spear head as well.

Sainte-Colombe-sur-Seine Bracelets

Gold bracelets, Burgundy

Hallstatt 'C' Swords in Wels Museum, Upper Austria

Hallstatt 'C' swords in Wels Museum, Upper Austria.

Linz Schlossmuseum - Antennendolch 2

Dagger with "antenna hilt"

Cookham dagger and scabbardDSCF6636

Ha D style dagger found in Berkshire, England

Hallstatt culture Kleinklein - muscle cuirasses & double ridge helmet

Muscle cuirasses and double ridge helmet, Kleinklein, Ha D eastern zone.[27]


NHM - Byci Skala Stier
Bull from Býčí skála Cave, Czech Republic, Ha D, c. 600[22]
Guertelblech Moersingen
Typical decoration on a belt-plate

At least the later periods of Hallstatt art from the western zone are generally agreed to form the early period of Celtic art.[28] Decoration is mostly geometric and linear, and best seen on fine metalwork finds from graves (see above). Styles differ, especially between the west and east, with more human figures and some narrative elements in the latter. Animals, with waterfowl a particular favourite, are often included as part of other objects, more often than humans, and in the west there is almost no narrative content such as scenes of combat depicted. These characteristics were continued into the succeeding La Tène style.[29]

Imported luxury art is sometimes found in rich elite graves in the later phases, and certainly had some influence on local styles. The most spectacular objects, such as the Strettweg Cult Wagon,[30] the Warrior of Hirschlanden and the bronze couch supported by "unicyclists" from the Hochdorf Chieftain's Grave are one of a kind in finds from the Hallstatt period, though they can be related to objects from other periods.[31]

More common objects include weapons, in Ha D often with hilts terminating in curving forks ("antenna hilts").[8] Jewellery in metal includes fibulae, often with a row of disks hanging down on chains, armlets and some torcs. This is mostly in bronze, but "princely" burials include items in gold.

The origin of the narrative scenes of the eastern zone, from Hallstatt C onwards, is generally traced to influence from the Situla art of northern Italy and the northern Adriatic, where these bronze buckets began to be decorated in bands with figures in provincial Etruscan centres influenced by Etruscan and Greek art. The fashion for decorated situlae spread north across neighbouring cultures including the eastern Hallstatt zone, beginning around 600 BC and surviving until about 400 BC; the Vače situla is a Slovenian example from near the final period. The style is also found on bronze belt plates, and some of the vocabulary of motifs spread to influence the emerging La Tène style.[32]

According to Ruth and Vincent Megaw, "Situla art depicts life as seen from a masculine viewpoint, in which women are servants or sex objects; most of the scenes which include humans are of the feasts in which the situlae themselves figure, of the hunt or of war".[33] Similar scenes are found on other vessel shapes, as well as bronze belt-plaques.[34] The processions of animals, typical of earlier examples, or humans derive from the Near East and Mediterranean, and Nancy Sandars finds the style shows "a gaucherie that betrays the artist working in a way that is uncongenial, too much at variance with the temper of the craftsmen and the craft". Compared to earlier styles that arose organically in Europe "situla art is weak and sometimes quaint", and "in essence not of Europe".[35]

Except for the Italian Benvenuti Situla, men are hairless, with "funny hats, dumpy bodies and big heads", though often shown looking cheerful in an engaging way. The Benevenuti Situla is also unusual in that it seems to show a specific story.[36]

Linz Schlossmuseum - Uttendorf Halsreifen

Late Halstatt gold collar from Austria, c. 550 BC

Hochdorf golden shoes ornaments

Gold shoe plaques from the Hochdorf Chieftain's Grave, Germany, c. 530 BC

Linz Schlossmuseum - Hallstadt Gehängefibel 1

Fibula brooch with hanging disks and animal figures, Hallstatt

Krieger von Hirschlanden

Replica of the Warrior of Hirschlanden


Armband with engraved decoration

Cratère de Vix 0023

The imported Greek Vix Krater, found in the Vix Grave, France, on the border of the Hallstatt and La Tène periods.

Situle (musée national de Slovénie, Ljubljana) (9428277598)

Detail from the Vače situla, Slovenia

NHM - Zgornja Slivnica Gürtelblech 2

Belt-plate, Slovenia, 600-400 BC


Alice Schumacher PA NHM Wien Abb Salz-Reich 2008 Seite 131 1
Sword hilt, Hallstatt Ha C (grave 573), 7th century. Western zone style, inlaid with African ivory and Baltic amber.[37]
NHM - Keramik Sopron 2 Tänzerin
Decorated pottery of the eastern zone, 7th century, from the Sopron group.[38]
Funerary chariot in the archeological museum of Strasbourg
Reconstructed "funerary wagon"

Two culturally distinct areas, an eastern and a western zone are generally recognised.[39] There are distinctions in burial rites, the types of grave goods, and in artistic style. In the western zone, members of the elite were buried with sword (HaC) or dagger (HaD), in the eastern zone with an axe.[28] The western zone has chariot burials. In the eastern zone, warriors are frequently buried with helmet and a plate armour breastplate.[27] Artistic subjects with a narrative component are only found in the east, in both pottery and metalwork.[40] In the east the settlements and cemeteries can be larger than in the west.[28]

The approximate division line between the two subcultures runs from north to south through central Bohemia and Lower Austria at about 14 to 15 degrees eastern longitude, and then traces the eastern and southern rim of the Alps to Eastern and Southern Tyrol.

Western Hallstatt zone

Taken at its most generous extent, the western Hallstatt zone includes:

More peripheral areas were:

While Hallstatt is regarded as the dominant settlement of the western zone, a settlement at the Burgstallkogel in the central Sulm valley (southern Styria, west of Leibnitz, Austria) was a major centre during the Hallstatt C period. Parts of the huge necropolis (which originally consisted of more than 1,100 tumuli) surrounding this settlement can be seen today near Gleinstätten, and the chieftain's mounds were on the other side of the hill, near Kleinklein. The finds are mostly in the Landesmuseum Joanneum at Graz, which also holds the Strettweg Cult Wagon.

Eastern Hallstatt zone

The eastern Hallstatt zone includes:

Trade, cultural diffusion, and some population movements spread the Hallstatt cultural complex (western form) into Britain, and Ireland.

See also


  1. ^ Philip L. Kohl (1996). Nationalism, Politics and the Practice of Archaeology. p. 134. ISBN 0521558395. ... in the 1940s. They were emphatically developed by S. P. Tolstov (1946; 1947b), whose original contribution was to include the Thracian- Illyrian population (the Hallstatt culture) ..."
  2. ^ Herbert Kuhn (1976). Geschichte der Vorgeschichtsforschung. p. 455. ISBN 3110059185. ... of the Middle Danube Urnfield group persisted in the eastern Alpine and the north and east Adriatic area where the Illyrian Hallstatt culture arose in the following centuries best known through its celebrated Hallstatt cemetery and the situla art.
  3. ^ Paul Reinecke, Mainzer Aufsätze zur Chronologie der Bronze- und Eisenzeit (Bonn 1965).
  4. ^ Hans Jürgen Eggers (1955), zur absoluten Chronologie der römischen Kaiserzeit im Freien Germanien. Jahrbuch des römisch-germanischen Zentralmuseums II, Mainz, pp. 192–244.
  5. ^ a b Megaw, 26
  6. ^ McIntosh, 88
  7. ^ Koch
  8. ^ a b c d Megaw, 40
  9. ^ a b Megaw, 48–49
  10. ^ D. Ehret: "Das Ende des hallstattzeitlichen Bergbaus". In: A. Kern, K. Kowarik, A. W. Rausch, H. Reschreiter: Salz-Reich. 7000 Jahre Hallstatt, VPA 2, Wien 2008, p. 159.
  11. ^ Chadwick, Nora (1970). The Celts. p. 30.
  12. ^ Kruta, Venceslas (1991). The Celts. Thames and Hudson. pp. 89–102.
  13. ^ Stifter, David (2008). Old Celtic Languages - Addenda. p. 25.
  14. ^ Alfons Semler, Überlingen: Bilder aus der Geschichte einer kleinen Reichsstadt,Oberbadische Verlag, Singen, 1949, pp. 11–17, specifically 15.
  15. ^ a b c Kruta, Venceslas (1991). The Celts. Thames and Hudson. pp. 93–100.
  16. ^ a b c Stifter, David (2008). Old Celtic Languages (PDF). p. 24.
  17. ^ Percivaldi, Elena (2003). I Celti: una civiltà europea. Giunti Editore. p. 82.
  18. ^ Leonelli, Valentina. La necropoli delle Acciaierie di Terni: contributi per una edizione critica (Cestres ed.). p. 33.
  19. ^ Farinacci, Manlio. Carsulae svelata e Terni sotterranea. Associazione Culturale UMRU - Terni.
  20. ^ Megaw, 39–41
  21. ^ Megaw, 39–43
  22. ^ a b Megaw, 28
  23. ^ Megaw, 41–43, 45–47
  24. ^ Megaw, 25-30; 39–47
  25. ^ Sandars, 209
  26. ^ Megaw, 43–44
  27. ^ a b Megaw, 34
  28. ^ a b c Megaw, 30
  29. ^ Megaw, Chapter 1; Laing, chapter 2
  30. ^ Megaw, 33-34
  31. ^ Megaw, 39-45
  32. ^ Megaw, 34-39; Sandars, 223-225
  33. ^ Megaw, 37
  34. ^ Sandars, 223-224
  35. ^ Sandars, 225, quoted
  36. ^ Sandars, 224
  37. ^ Megaw 25, 29
  38. ^ Megaw, 30–32
  39. ^ Koch; Kossack (1959); N. Müller-Scheeßel, Die Hallstattkultur und ihre räumliche Differenzierung. Der West- und Osthallstattkreis aus forschungsgeschichtlicher Sicht (2000)
  40. ^ Megaw, 30–39


  • Barth, F.E., J. Biel, et al. Vierrädrige Wagen der Hallstattzeit ("The Hallstatt four-wheeled wagons" at Mainz). Mainz: Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum; 1987. ISBN 3-88467-016-6
  • Koch, John T (2006). "the Hallstat culture". In . Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-85109-440-7.
  • Laing, Lloyd and Jenifer. Art of the Celts, Thames and Hudson, London 1992 ISBN 0-500-20256-7
  • McIntosh, Jane, Handbook to Life in Prehistoric Europe, 2009, Oxford University Press (USA), ISBN 9780195384765
  • Megaw, Ruth and Vincent, Celtic Art, 2001, Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0-500-28265-X
  • Sandars, Nancy K., Prehistoric Art in Europe, Penguin (Pelican, now Yale, History of Art), 1968 (nb 1st edn.)

Further reading


  • Klaus T. Steindl: MYTHOS HALLSTATT - Dawn of the Celts. TV-Documentary subjecting new findings an state of archeological research 2018[1][2][3]

External links

Media related to Hallstatt culture at Wikimedia Commons

  1. ^ Hallstatt-forschung (2018-11-08). "STIEGEN-BLOG Archäologische Forschung Hallstatt: Mythos Hallstatt - Eine Dokumentation von Terra Mater". STIEGEN-BLOG Archäologische Forschung Hallstatt. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  2. ^ Nolf, Markus. "Dokumentarfilm "Terra Mater: Mythos Hallstatt"". www.uibk.ac.at (in German). Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  3. ^ COMPANY. "Mystery of the Celtic Tomb". Terra Mater Factual Studios (in German). Retrieved 2019-01-15.
9th century BC

The 9th century BC started the first day of 900 BC and ended the last day of 801 BC. It was a period of great change for several civilizations. In Africa, Carthage is founded by the Phoenicians. In Egypt, a severe flood covers the floor of Luxor temple, and years later, a civil war starts.

It is the beginning of the Iron Age in Central Europe, with the spread of the Proto-Celtic Hallstatt culture, and the Proto-Celtic language.

Canegrate culture

The Canegrate culture was a civilization of Prehistoric Italy who developed from the recent Bronze Age (13th century BC) until the Iron Age, in the areas of what are now western Lombardy, eastern Piedmont, and Ticino. Canegrate represented a completely new cultural dynamic to the area expressed in pottery and bronzework making it a typical example of the western Hallstatt culture.The name comes from the locality of Canegrate in Lombardy, south of Legnano and 25 km north of Milan, where Guido Sutermeister discovered important archaeological finds (approximately 50 tombs with ceramics and metallic objects). The site was first excavated in 1926 in the area of Rione Santa Colomba, and systematic excavation occurred between March 1953 and autumn 1956, which led to the discovery of a necropolis of 165 tomb. It is one of the richer archeological sites of Northern Italy.


The Celtiberians were a group of Celts or Celticized peoples inhabiting the central-eastern Iberian Peninsula during the final centuries BC. They were explicitly mentioned as being Celts by several classic authors (e.g. Strabo). These tribes spoke the Celtiberian language and wrote it by adapting the Iberian alphabet. The numerous inscriptions that have been discovered, some of them extensive, have allowed scholars to classify the Celtiberian language as a Celtic language, one of the Hispano-Celtic (also known as Iberian Celtic) languages that were spoken in pre-Roman and early Roman Iberia. Archaeologically, many elements link Celtiberians with Celts in Central Europe, but also show large differences with both the Hallstatt culture and La Tène culture.

There is no complete agreement on the exact definition of Celtiberians among classical authors, nor modern scholars. The Ebro river clearly divides the Celtiberian areas from non-Indo-European speaking peoples. In other directions, the demarcation is less clear. Most scholars include the Arevaci, Pellendones, Belli, Titti and Lusones as Celtiberian tribes, and occasionally the Berones, Vaccaei, Carpetani, Olcades or Lobetani.


The Celts (, see pronunciation of Celt for different usages) are an Indo-European ethnolinguistic group of Europe identified by their use of Celtic languages and cultural similarities. The history of pre-Celtic Europe and the exact relationship between ethnic, linguistic and cultural factors in the Celtic world remains uncertain and controversial. The exact geographic spread of the ancient Celts is disputed; in particular, the ways in which the Iron Age inhabitants of Great Britain and Ireland should be regarded as Celts have become a subject of controversy. According to one theory, the common root of the Celtic languages, the Proto-Celtic language, arose in the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture of Central Europe, which flourished from around 1200 BC.According to a theory proposed in the 19th century, the first people to adopt cultural characteristics regarded as Celtic were the people of the Iron Age Hallstatt culture in central Europe (c. 800–450 BC), named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria. Thus this area is sometimes called the "Celtic homeland". By or during the later La Tène period (c. 450 BC to the Roman conquest), this Celtic culture was supposed to have expanded by trans-cultural diffusion or migration to the British Isles (Insular Celts), France and the Low Countries (Gauls), Bohemia, Poland and much of Central Europe, the Iberian Peninsula (Celtiberians, Celtici, Lusitanians and Gallaeci) and northern Italy (Golasecca culture and Cisalpine Gauls) and, following the Celtic settlement of Eastern Europe beginning in 279 BC, as far east as central Anatolia (Galatians) in modern-day Turkey.The earliest undisputed direct examples of a Celtic language are the Lepontic inscriptions beginning in the 6th century BC. Continental Celtic languages are attested almost exclusively through inscriptions and place-names. Insular Celtic languages are attested beginning around the 4th century in Ogham inscriptions, although it was clearly being spoken much earlier. Celtic literary tradition begins with Old Irish texts around the 8th century CE. Coherent texts of Early Irish literature, such as the Táin Bó Cúailnge ("Cattle Raid of Cooley"), survive in 12th-century recensions.

By the mid-1st millennium, with the expansion of the Roman Empire and migrating Germanic tribes, Celtic culture and Insular Celtic languages had become restricted to Ireland, the western and northern parts of Great Britain (Wales, Scotland, and Cornwall), the Isle of Man, 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 the culture of the surrounding polities. By the 6th century, however, the Continental Celtic languages were no longer in wide use.

Insular Celtic culture diversified into that of the Gaels (Irish, Scottish and Manx) and the Celtic Britons (Welsh, Cornish, and Bretons) of the medieval and modern periods. A modern Celtic identity was constructed as part of the Romanticist Celtic Revival in Great Britain, Ireland, and other European territories, such as Portugal and Spanish Galicia. Today, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, and Breton are still spoken in parts of their historical territories, and Cornish and Manx are undergoing a revival.

Elp culture

The Elp culture (c. 1800—800 BCE) is a Bronze Age archaeological culture of the Netherlands having earthenware pottery of low quality known as "Kümmerkeramik" (also "Grobkeramik") as a marker. The initial phase is characterized by tumuli (1800–1200 BCE), strongly tied to contemporary tumuli in Northern Germany and Scandinavia, and apparently related to the Tumulus culture (1600–1200 BCE) in Central Europe. This phase was followed by a subsequent change featuring Urnfield (cremation) burial customs (1200–800 BCE).

Part of the "Nordwestblock", it is situated to the north and east of the Rhine and the IJssel (named after the village of Elp at 52°53′N 6°39′E), bordering the Hilversum culture to the south and the Hoogkarspel culture in West Friesland that, together with Elp, all derive from the Barbed Wire Beakers culture (2100–1800 BCE) and, forming a culture complex at the boundary between the Atlantic and the Nordic horizons.

First the dead were buried in shallow pits and covered by a low barrow. At the end of the Bronze Age they were cremated and the urns were gathered in low barrows. Family burials occurred only in the later stages.

The culture is known for featuring the longhouse, housing people and animals in one and the same building. This construction shows an exceptional local continuity until the twentieth century, still being the normal type of farm in the lowlands of north-western Europe and the Netherlands. The local tradition of concentrating on raising cattle was persisted by the Saxons and the Frisians, whose houses were perched on the natural hillocks in the moist plains, while all other Germanic people practiced sedentary agriculture. Going back to the roots of this tradition, it is generally assumed that its origins lay somewhere in the Bronze Age, between 1800 and 1500 BCE. Probably this change was contemporary to a transition from the two-aisled to the three-aisled farm as early as 1800 BCE. This development bears comparison with what we know from Scandinavia, where the three-aisled house also develops at the same time.Within the Northern Bronze Age context, many important reasons are mentioned to the custom of

storing cattle inside a building and, moreover, inside the proper house. This could point to a new emphasis on milk production and making cheese, especially since drinking milk was made possible by a gene against lactose intolerance, first to emerge amongst neolithic Northern European populations. Cattle stalling was necessary to avoid cows giving less milk in cold conditions (Sherratt, 1983; Zimermann, 1999, 314; Olausson 1999, 321). Social exchange and a role in the supernatural would have been important as well (Fokkens 1999), supported by, for instance, stacks of cowhides in graves and the offerings of animals attested in both Sweden and Denmark (Rasmussen 1999: 287). Protection against cattle raids would fit the circumstances—proven by grave goods, rock engravings and hoards—of a strong martial ideology in this era (Fokkens 1999).

These complicated cultural-economic networks that preclude precise ethnic (and thus linguistic) differentiation, supports the maintenance of late contacts between the languages ancestral to Germanic and Celtic, assuming a position of Proto-Celtic to the north of the Hallstatt culture – as supported by the known homelands of La Tène culture.The culture came to an end with the advent of the Hallstatt culture.

Ewart Park Phase

The Ewart Park Phase refers to a period of the later Bronze Age Britain.

It is named after a founder's hoard discovered in Ewart Park in Northumberland and is the twelfth in a sequence of industrial stages that cover the period 3000 BC to 600 BC.

The Ewart Park phase dates from 800 to 700 BC, preceded by the Wilburton complex in the south and the Wallington complex and Poldar phase in the north. There are several regional sub groups including the Carp's Tongue complex in the south east, the Llantwit-Stogursey tradition in south Wales, the Broadward complex in the Welsh Marches, the Heathery Burn tradition in the north and the Scottish Duddington, Covesea, and Ballimore traditions. The Irish parallel is the Dowris Phase.

Alloying metal with lead became a common practice during the period and numerous hoards date to this period. In common with the continental Hallstatt culture, horse harnesses and vehicle fittings were developed and links with the late Urnfield Culture and Hallstatt early C are apparent.

Recently, the Ewart Park Phase, and related Atlantic phases, have come to be seen as the probable point of origin of some developments in metalwork, that then spread widely across inland continental Europe. This reverses the previously assumed direction of travel. The types concerned include swords, winged chapes and buckets.


Hallstatt (German: [ˈhalʃtat]; Central Bavarian: Hoistod) is a small town in the district of Gmunden, in the Austrian state of Upper Austria.

Situated between the southwestern shore of Hallstätter See and the steep slopes of the Dachstein massif, the town lies in Salzkammergut region, on the national road linking Salzburg and Graz.

Hallstatt is known for its production of salt, dating back to prehistoric times, and gave its name to the Hallstatt culture, the archaeological culture linked to Proto-Celtic and early Celtic people of the Early Iron Age in Europe, c.800–450 BC.

Hallstatt is at the core of the "Hallstatt-Dachstein/Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape" declared as one of the World Heritage Sites in Austria by UNESCO in 1997.

House Urns culture

The House Urns culture was an early Iron Age culture of the 7th century BC in central Germany, in the Region between Harz Mountains and the junction of river Saale to river Elbe. It was the western periphery of the bronze and Iron Age Lusatian culture.

Urns in the shape of house models were its characteristical sign. They were set in gravefields that had already been used for centuries, but sometimes in these gravefields they were deposited in stone cists that were an innovation. So it is considered that religious beliefs changed in that time, though the bias was not as great as in the Mediterranean region and in the area of the Hallstatt culture. Archeologists see an obvious connection to the Pomeranian culture of the same age. The relation to the pre-Etruscan Villanovan culture, which had its summit about 1 ½ centuries before, is questioned.

Iron Age Europe

In Europe, the Iron Age is the last stage of the prehistoric period and the first of the protohistoric periods, which initially means descriptions of a particular area by Greek and Roman writers. For much of Europe, the period came to an abrupt local end after conquest by the Romans, though ironworking remained the dominant technology until recent times. Elsewhere it may last until the early centuries AD, and either Christianization or a new conquest in the Migration Period.

Iron working was introduced to Europe in the late 11th century BC, probably from the Caucasus, and slowly spread northwards and westwards over the succeeding 500 years. For example the Iron Age of Prehistoric Ireland begins around 500 BC, when the Greek Iron Age had already ended, and finishes around 400 AD. The widespread use of the technology of iron was implemented in Europe simultaneously with Asia.The start of the Iron Age is marked by new cultural groupings, or at least terms for them, with the Late Bronze Age Mycenaean Greece collapsing in some confusion, while in Central Europe the Urnfield culture had already given way to the Hallstatt culture. In north Italy the Villanovan culture is regarded as the start of Etruscan civilization. Like its successor La Tène culture, Hallstatt is regarded as Celtic. Further to the east and north, and in Iberia and the Balkans, there are a number of local terms for the early Iron Age culture. Roman Iron Age is a term used in the archaeology of Northern Europe (but not Britain) for the period when the unconquered peoples of the area lived under the influence of the Roman Empire.

The Iron Age in Europe is characterized by an elaboration of designs in weapons, implements, and utensils. These are no longer cast but hammered into shape, and decoration is elaborate curvilinear rather than simple rectilinear; the forms and character of the ornamentation of the northern European weapons resembles in some respects Roman arms, while in other respects they are peculiar and evidently representative of northern art.

Jastorf culture

The Jastorf culture was an Iron Age material culture in what are now southern Scandinavia and north Germany, spanning the 6th to 1st centuries BC, forming the southern part of the Pre-Roman Iron Age. The culture evolved out of the Nordic Bronze Age, through influence from the Halstatt culture farther south.

Klada, Škofljica

Klada (pronounced [ˈklaːda]) is a small village above Želimlje in the Municipality of Škofljica in central Slovenia. The municipality is part of the traditional region of Lower Carniola and is now included in the Central Slovenia Statistical Region.Hallstatt culture-era tumuli identified near the settlement are believed to be part of the burial ground of a prehistoric Iron Age settlement in nearby Golo.

La Tène culture

The La Tène culture (; French pronunciation: ​[la tɛn]) was a European Iron Age culture.

It developed and flourished during the late Iron Age (from about 450 BCE to the Roman conquest in the 1st century BCE), succeeding the early Iron Age Hallstatt culture without any definite cultural break, under the impetus of considerable Mediterranean influence from the Greeks in pre-Roman Gaul, the Etruscans, and Golasecca culture.Its territorial extent corresponded to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Southern Germany, the Czech Republic, parts of Northern Italy, Slovenia and Hungary, as well as adjacient parts of the Netherlands, Slovakia, Croatia, Transylvania (western Romania), and Transcarpathia (western Ukraine).

The Celtiberians of western Iberia shared many aspects of the culture, though not generally the artistic style. To the north extended the contemporary Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe, including the Jastorf culture of Northern Germany.

Centered on ancient Gaul, the culture became very widespread, and encompasses a wide variety of local differences. It is often distinguished from earlier and neighbouring cultures mainly by the La Tène style of Celtic art, characterized by curving "swirly" decoration, especially of metalwork.It is named after the type site of La Tène on the north side of Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland, where thousands of objects had been deposited in the lake, as was discovered after the water level dropped in 1857. La Tène is the type site and the term archaeologists use for the later period of the culture and art of the ancient Celts, a term that is firmly entrenched in the popular understanding, but presents numerous problems for historians and archaeologists.


Thraco-Cimmerian is a historiographical and archaeological term, composed of the names of the Thracians and the Cimmerians. It refers to 8th to 7th century BC cultures that are linked in Eastern Central Europe and in the area west of the Black Sea.

Paul Reinecke in 1925 postulated a North-Thracian-Cimmerian cultural sphere (nordthrakisch-kimmerischer Kulturkreis) overlapping with the younger Hallstatt culture of the Eastern Alps. The term Thraco-Cimmerian (thrako-kimmerisch) was first introduced by Romanian archaeologist and historian Ion Nestor in the 1930s. It reflects a "migrationist" tendency in the archaeology of the first half of the 20th century to equate material archaeology with historical ethnicities. Nestor intended to suggest that there was a historical migration of Cimmerians into Eastern Europe from the area of the former Srubna culture, perhaps triggered by the Scythian expansion, at the beginning of the European Iron Age. This "migrationist" or "invasionist" theory, assuming that the development of the mature Hallstatt culture (Hallstatt C) was triggered by a Cimmerian invasion, was the scholarly mainstream until the 1980s.

In the 1980s and 1990s, more systematic studies of the artefacts revealed a more gradual development over the period covering the 9th to 7th centuries, so that the term "Thraco-Cimmerian" is now rather used by convention and does not necessarily imply a direct connection with either the Thracians or the Cimmerians.

Archaeologically, Thraco-Cimmerian artifacts consist of grave goods and hoards. The artifacts labelled Thraco-Cimmerian all belong to a category of upper class, luxury objects, like weapons, horse tacks and jewelry, and they are recovered only from a small percentage of graves of the period. They are metal (usually bronze) items, particularly parts of horse tacks, found in a late Urnfield context, but without local Urnfield predecessors for their type. They appear rather to spread from the Koban culture of the Caucasus and northern Georgia, which together with the Srubna culture, blends into the 9th to 7th centuries pre-Scythian Chernogorovka and Novocherkassk cultures. By the 7th century, Thraco-Cimmerian objects are spread further west over most of Eastern and Central Europe, locations of finds reaching to Denmark and eastern Prussia in the north and to Lake Zürich in the west. Together with these bronze artifacts, earliest Iron items appear, ushering in the European Iron Age, corresponding to the Proto-Celtic expansion from the Hallstatt culture.


A tumulus (plural tumuli) is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli are also known as barrows, burial mounds or kurgans, and may be found throughout much of the world. A cairn, which is a mound of stones built for various purposes, may also originally have been a tumulus.

Tumuli are often categorised according to their external apparent shape. In this respect, a long barrow is a long tumulus, usually constructed on top of several burials, such as passage graves. A round barrow is a round tumulus, also commonly constructed on top of burials. The internal structure and architecture of both long and round barrows has a broad range, the categorization only refers to the external apparent shape.

The method of inhumation may involve a dolmen, a cist, a mortuary enclosure, a mortuary house, or a chamber tomb. Examples of barrows include Duggleby Howe and Maeshowe.

The word tumulus is Latin for 'mound' or 'small hill', which is derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *teuh2- with extended zero grade *tum-, 'to bulge, swell' also found in tumor, thumb, thigh, and thousand.

Tumulus culture

The Tumulus culture (German: Hügelgräberkultur) dominated Central Europe during the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1600 to 1200 BC).

It was the descendant of the Unetice culture. Its heartland was the area previously occupied by the Unetice culture besides Bavaria and Württemberg. It was succeeded by the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture.

As the name implies, the Tumulus culture is distinguished by the practice of burying the dead beneath burial mounds (tumuli or kurgans).

In 1902, Paul Reinecke distinguished a number of cultural horizons based on research of Bronze Age hoards and tumuli in periods covered by these cultural horizons are shown in the table below. The Tumulus culture was prevalent during the Bronze Age periods B, C1, and C2. Tumuli have been used elsewhere in Europe from the Stone Age to the Iron Age; the term "Tumulus culture" specifically refers to the South German variant of the Bronze Age. In the table, Ha designates Hallstatt. Archaeological horizons Hallstatt A–B are part of the Bronze Age Urnfield culture, while horizons Hallstatt C–D are the type site for the Iron Age Hallstatt culture.

The Tumulus culture was eminently a warrior society which expanded with new chiefdoms eastward into the Carpathian Basin (up to the river Tisza), and northward into Polish and central European Únětice territories, with dispersed settlements centred in fortified structures. Some scholars see Tumulus groups from southern Germany in this context as corresponding to a community that shared an extinct Indo-European linguistic entity, such as the hypothetical Italo-Celtic group that was ancestral to Italic and Celtic. This particular hypothesis, however, conflicts with suggestions by other Indo-Europeanists. For instance, David W. Anthony suggests that Proto-Italic (and perhaps also Proto-Celtic) speakers could have entered northern Italy at an earlier stage, from the east (e.g., the Balkan/Adriatic region).

Type site

In archaeology a type site (also known as a type-site or typesite) is a site that is considered the model of a particular archaeological culture. For example, the type site of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A culture is Jericho, in the West Bank. A type site is also often the eponym (the site after which the culture is named). For example, the type site of the pre-Celtic/Celtic Bronze Age Hallstatt culture is the lakeside village of Hallstatt, Austria.

In geology the term is used similarly for a site considered to be typical of a particular rock formation etc.

A type site contains artifacts, in an assemblage, that are typical of that culture. Type sites are often the first or foundational site discovered about the culture they represent. The use of this term is therefore similar to that of the specimen type in biology (see biological types) or locus typicus (type locality) in geology.

Urnfield culture

The Urnfield culture (c. 1300 BC – 750 BC) was a late Bronze Age culture of central Europe, often divided into several local cultures within a broader Urnfield tradition. The name comes from the custom of cremating the dead and placing their ashes in urns which were then buried in fields. Over much of Europe, the Urnfield culture followed the Tumulus culture and was succeeded by the Hallstatt culture. Linguistic evidence and continuity with the following Hallstatt culture suggests that the people of this area spoke an early form of Celtic, perhaps originally proto-Celtic.

Votive site

Votive sites are sites where animal sacrifice, in the form of bones deposited in a split in a block of stone or beneath a cairn, are made.

The sites strongly resemble graves or tombs; however, no human bones are found. Such finds are made in Hallstatt culture sites, and presumably represent graves. Votive sites, or (North & East Saami) "seite" or (South Saami) "storiockare" (storjunkare) are representative, especially among Saami groups and hence are most common in Lappland. It was believed that stones ruled over the food resources and as such were protected from Giants by the help of Thor. However, findings are also made down to Scania, Sweden where an earlier interpretation, in 1589, was a rendezvous point of Huns and Goths. Findings in Central Europe are usually devoted to the Hallstatt culture. A similar worship in stones is known in Crete.

Warrior of Hirschlanden

The Warrior of Hirschlanden (Krieger von Hirschlanden in German) is a statue of a nude ithyphallic warrior made of sandstone, the oldest known Iron Age life-size anthropomorphic statue north of the Alps. It was a production of the Hallstatt culture, probably dating to the 6th century BC. It is now in the Württembergisches Landesmuseum in Stuttgart, with a copy at the Hirschlanden site (now Ditzingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany), where it was found. The preserved height is 1.50 m, but the feet have been broken off.

Ancient Celts
Celtic studies
Modern Celts
Celtic Revival

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