Sims-Williams, Patrick, “The location of the Celts according to Hecataeus, Herodotus, and other Greek writers”, Études Celtiques 42 (2016): 7–32.
- journal article
[EN] Hecataeus and Herodotus, who were contemporary with the earliest Celtic-language inscriptions in northern Italy and southern Switzerland, have been misunderstood as localising the Celts in Austria and south-west Germany, with the unfortunate result that its archaeological ‘Hallstatt culture’ has been wrongly labelled ‘Celtic’. In fact, Hecataeus and Herodotus point to locations in Gaul (as later confirmed by Timagetus, Pytheas, and Apollonius of Rhodes) and possibly in part of the Hispanic Peninsula (as stated by Ephorus in the fourth century). The Celtic area or areas in the Peninsula to which Herodotus and Ephorus may refer cannot now be defined, but need not have extended west of Celtiberia in central Spain, which is later the source of the earliest Celtic inscriptions in the Peninsula. In the mid-fourth century the Italian Celtic settlements around the Po valley are referred to by Pseudo-Scylax, and possibly by Apollonius in the third. By Apollonius’ day, Celts were already migrating eastwards, so that any subsequent evidence for their location, including onomastic data, is of doubtful value compared to that of the earlier writers, especially Hecataeus and Herodotus, despite their evident limitations and Mediterranean perspective. Even the earliest writers are too late to guide us to the area where the Celts and the Celtic language emerged. Negatively, however, we can conclude that they neither support a location in Germany or Austria in the east nor support a location on the Atlantic seaboard in the west. What they say is certainly consonant with Celtic origins in Gaul, but that hypothesis cannot be taken further without attaching speculative ethnic labels to prehistoric archaeological data.
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