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edgewaters

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  1. edgewaters

    Galatian (Celtic) Mercenary

    I like it, the Hellenic style head on the shield boss fits well with the notion of Ptolemaic mercenary. The swarthiness might throw some people for a spin, tan ok, dark hair for an Eastern Celt? But for a Galatian it's plausible (they did mix with the locals quite a bit). The only thing is that Galatians and Danubians supposedly bleached their hair with lime ...
  2. edgewaters

    The Softening of the Gauls

    You're asking the million dollar question that nobody's been able to answer satisfactorily. I certainly can't resolve it. You really want to know what I think a Celt is? It's purely theoretical. A Celt is the common denominator of Iron Age Europe, that's what a Celt is.
  3. edgewaters

    The Softening of the Gauls

    Yes ... arguably the Britons were the most continental of all the groups. Gaels and Picts were less influenced by mainland interactions, which is why they do not seem to have undergone the same changes in society seen amongst continental and Briton cultures. Heck, when the Normans invaded Ireland the Gaels were fighting in the same unique (mounted javelineers) fashion Xenophon accords to the Celtic mercenaries used by Greek city-states in the 4th century BC. Strangely enough it was relatively effective; they managed to contain the Normans who had far more difficulty with Ireland than with England. No. There are no documents written by Celts, either from Britain or anywhere else. The Romans give more details about the Britons than they do about the continental Celts. I think this has much to do with their concerns about the difficulty of pacification and cultural resistance to Roman rule in Britain, relative to Gaul. The pacification of Wales was very, very difficult, for instance. Even the fierce Celtiberians did settle down after conquest, but Britain seemed to continue presenting challenges, whether it be Iceni revolts, Welsh holdouts, or Pict raiders. Yes, this is certainly true. The other problem is the poor nature of the term. Someone says "Celt" and what comes into one person's mind is a Danubian raider of 300 BC, what comes into another person's mind is a Celtiberian mercenary employed by Hannibal during the second Punic War, and what comes into another person's is a Bronze Age Briton. All of which were nearly as different from each other as Greeks were from Phoenicians.
  4. edgewaters

    The Softening of the Gauls

    Yes, its included in the same language family. However, whether or not the Britons ought to be considered Celtic in other ways has been the subject of much debate. They were never called Celts by the Romans and had a distinctly different culture from most other Celtic groups - including use of the chariot and featuring the druidical religion, which they had begun to export to northern France but was totally unknown throughout the rest of the Celtic world. The Picts definately spoke a Brythonic language. This is fairly well-attested. However, there is some controversy as there are also traces of a pre-Celtic language in toponymics. The thing is, there are similar trace elements among Briton toponymics (one of the chief reasons for the dispute as to whether or not Britons were Celtic). The prevailing attitude is that Picts and Britons retained elements of a native culture, which is why we see these unusual toponymics, distinctive customs like the druids, and unusual settlement patterns indicating a mix of Celtic and some other style of dwelling and settlement existed contemporaneously.
  5. edgewaters

    The Softening of the Gauls

    Salve,E! Nope and nope. Brytthon were celtic. Picts no. Ah but Picts were Brythonic - they spoke a Brythonic language and had the same material culture. The Romans don't distinguish them culturally, but politically (as a confederation of tribes). "Pict" is actually etymologically related to "Briton" via the earliest term, Pretani. It means "the people who paint themselves" in both cases.
  6. edgewaters

    The Softening of the Gauls

    Of course they were. Strength is always relative. Not only that, but archaeological evidence shows alot of change in their settlement patterns, away from defensible locations and onto trade routes and fertile land. They were even building large homes and estates in the Roman villa style. It provides the only standard of measurement - that and clear Roman statements about the Gauls and Britons having little will for war by that time. Otherwise you're getting into quite messy anachronisms like this: It's like saying Britain today is more powerful than it has ever been, when in fact it is not even a superpower let alone the global hegemon it once was. You're saying that the contrast has to be made in a gratuitously anachronistic way, which is nonsense. They declined, it's that simple. There is no such thing as stasis. One of the biggest factors in warfare, especially pre-modern warfare, is the psychological and morale component. If your warrior culture has lost its impetus and have ceased to be the conquerors and become victims, then the strength of your forces is depleted. Not to mention that if your warriors are getting slaughtered most of the time, you won't have as many veterans. This notion of stasis you have is simply impossible. Succesful warring depends on impetus, at any level of operation, at any scale of timeframe, in any era, whether it's two warbands clashing on a small field in a 15 minute skirmish or entire civilizations coming into conflict over a period of decades. Defeats and loss of territory are not only symptomatic of relative weakness, they also cause absolute weakness. More importantly, Brennus and Vercingetorix were raising hosts for entirely different reasons. Could Vercingetorix have raised a host of the same size for foreign conquest? Probably not. He raised a host of men fighting for hearth and home, which is a much easier thing to do. The two Brennuses, Bolgios, and unknown other leaders raised many different hosts who invaded Italy, Greece, Spain, and even Turkey for no motive other than conquest.
  7. edgewaters

    Am I just slow?

    I meant they colonized the arctic portion of the hemisphere (rather than the entire circumpolar region)
  8. edgewaters

    The Softening of the Gauls

    Salve, E! As long as I know, the Picts weren't Celtic. Well if you want to get technical, neither were the Britons. But if you consider the Britons Celtic or Celt-like, then you must consider the Picts Celtic as well.
  9. edgewaters

    The Softening of the Gauls

    The Gauls of Caesar's time were certainly weaker all-round than they had been in the 3rd and 4th century BC. In that period, they had overrun Italy, Greece, and Spain and on every frontier expanded. They were in demand as mercenaries as far afield as Egypt, renowned for their prowess on the field. By Caesar's time they had been losing ground for a few centuries on every frontier, to Germans, Romans, and Carthaginians. So they were not simply weaker in contrast to Rome, they were weaker in contrast to every neighbour they had. No great hordes swept down on any new territories anywhere; instead, they huddled in their oppidum and sent emissaries to Rome begging for protection from Germanic tribes. Caesar's cassus belli for his campaign in Gaul was, in fact, an invitation from a Gaulish chieftain for such protection. It's a similar story in Britain where the Belgic tribes, a Germano-Celtic group, were overrunning native tribes; in particular, the Catuvellauni had ousted the Trinovantes from their capitol at Camulodunum, and the Trinovantes sent emissaries to Rome. In fact, the very staging ground used for both the campaigns against Greece and Rome by the two Brennuses - Noricum, in present day Austria - became a Roman vassal when they sent emissaries to beg for protection from the Cimbri and Teutones horde, which resulted in a series of military disasters lasting a decade for Rome. These were not the feared masters of war that overran Macedonia only 40 years after Alexander's death and pillaged Rome. Warfare had given way to commerce and agriculture, a fact visible in settlement patterns; their settlements moved away from defensible locations to sites more suited to farming and located along major routes. Not all Celtic groups seem to have so changed though. The Picts seem to have been much like their forebearers, and proved impossible for the Romans to subdue. Antonine's Wall had to be abandoned, and expeditions launched into Pict lands simply vanished. Raiders crossed frequently into Roman territory and pillaged at will necessitating the construction of the Hadrian and Antonine walls, Rome's most fortified border.
  10. edgewaters

    Celts - Dreadlocks?

    I've never heard the "hair like snakes" quote before and can't say anything about it, but ... Some Celtic groups used chalk to make their locks stand up stiffly like spines, to present an alarming appearance during battle. I would suspect the practice was most common among the fanatical elements (the ones who fought naked and seem to have been in some sort of frenzy or ecstacy during battle, like the gaesatae). There are several depictions of the practice. It does not resemble dreadlocks. It is depicted well in the statue of The Dying Gaul, although I believe his hair is supposed to be shorn because he is vanquished: Here it is on a pre-Roman Iceni coin from Britain, presumably unshorn: The style featured on the coin appears to have been recorded by Diodorus Siculus, who wrote: The Gauls are very tall with white skin and blond hair, not only blond by nature but more so by the artificial means they use to lighten their hair. For they continually wash their hair in a lime solution, combing it back from the forehead to the back of the neck. This process makes them resemble Satrys and Pans since this treatment makes the hair thick like a horse's mane. This sounds every bit like what is depicted on the Iceni coin. I've heard it said somewhere that they used chalk (and Siculus says lime), but several of the bog bodies feature something different, a mixture of oils and resins that would have stiffened the hair in the same manner. But the style does not appear to resemble dreadlocks - it seems to stand on end for one thing - it is something altogether different. Nor does it look quite like spiked hair.
  11. edgewaters

    Am I just slow?

    Aside from the Vikings, I doubt that any of the claims of pre-Columbian contact are anything more than wishful fancy - with one exception. The Vikings had unique naval technology which was not possessed by the Phoenicians/Carthaginians. The latter were great seafarers, but their technology was geared to coastal travel, not travel on the open ocean. Even the Vikings had difficulty crossing great stretches of open ocean. They made their journey in short hops, via the Outer Hebrides to Faroe Islands to Iceland to Greenland to Labrador to Newfoundland. They couldn't do so reliably, which is why their colony in Newfoundland was very short-lived and never repeated; and also why the colonies in Greenland died out (they couldn't be supplied or refounded once they were lost). Even the Polynesians never made a hop from one spot of land to another that was more than 500 miles, and there is a huge gap of about 2000 miles from Easter Island and Hawaii before one can reach any of the islands close to the Americas. There is another group that made it over from Eurasia in relatively recent times (ie after 1 AD, before 1492), however. It is often mistakenly written that the Vikings encountered the Inuit in Greenland and Labrador. They did not. They encountered the Dorset. The Inuit didn't arrive in Alaska until about 500 AD, having crossed over from Siberia. They reached Hudson's Bay by about 1000 AD, and made it to Greenland by about 1300 AD. Along the way they displaced the Dorsets - and, apparently, the Viking settlements in Greenland too, since the Viking colonies disappeared around the same time as the Inuit began colonizing Greenland. Unfortunately, the colonization of the arctic hemisphere simply isn't as romantic or appealing as Carthaginian quinquiremes sighting the tops of temple-pyramids rising out of jungle mists ...
  12. edgewaters

    Ancient Celts Did Not Exist...

    Well...not exactly. The Celtic, Italic, and Germanic branches are all different branches of Proto-Indo-European. What can be said is that Germanic did break off earlier from the tree than Celtic and Italic, and that Celtic and Italic probably broke off at about the same time. Gamkrelidze and Ivanov (1995) Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans and Schwink (2004) The Third Gender: Studies in the Origin and History of Germanic Grammatical Gender are both good sources on this. But Celtic and Italic are not of the same branch, so to speak. Celtic and Italic language groups are nonetheless close relatives, the closest contemporaries to each other. Germanic is more distantly related to either.
  13. edgewaters

    Celtic Camping

    The elite was precisely what I was referring to - well, the elite in some places and at some times. A Celtic chieftain of Brennus' time likely wouldn't have a problem with it. A Celtic chieftain of Caesar's time, in some places (say the south coast of France) ... I just can't picture it. He'd probably travel in the same way wealthy Romans did.
  14. edgewaters

    Ancient Celts Did Not Exist...

    That's just substituting one artificial generalization with another. I wouldn't say they were of a Germanic ethnicity, no. They may have been close biologically, but culturally Celts (at least, Alpine Celts) had much in common with the Romans as well - the languages of Celtic peoples and the Latin language are very close relatives, for instance, but the Germanic languages are a whole different branch. Lifestyle was much different - Germans tended to be at least partially nomadic herders, while Celts were very much an agrarian peoples. Inclusion of Celts with Germans confuses the issue even worse than the name "Celts" does, making things even less specific and accurate.
  15. edgewaters

    Celtic Camping

    I've done it, and it's not that bad. I was caught without a tent one night in Vermont while camping (don't ask) and there was a light rain. I slept under a tree on some leaves. It wasn't very comfortable but I managed to sleep alright. Of course, I was about 22 at the time, I'm not sure I could handle it now. Probably also depends on time period. If you're talking about Celts of the 5th century BC this is entirely possible. A wealthy Gallic chieftain living in a house built in the Roman style in southern France in the 2nd century BC ... I can't see him doing such a thing on any extended trip.
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