Brone torque, Neufchâteau – Le Sart (Prov. Lux.). © Museum of the Celts
A long way removed from the living standards of the Greeks and Romans
“The Celts were dirty, wild, ignorant, quarrelsome, mediocre warriors, spineless and undisciplined”.
It has long been assumed that the Celts didn’t produce or leave behind large stone buildings, they didn’t have their own alphabet, or a unified empire.
From Antiquity to the modern day, Mediterranean civilisations (Egypt, Greece, Rome) were seen as the models, and all others were referred to as “Barbarians”. Written sources, from the Renaissance to the modern day, often exaggerated or misinterpreted the unflattering image that sometimes biased and uninformed Ancient Greek and Roman writers portrayed.
This misunderstanding is largely based on ignorance: it is indeed difficult to study Celtic culture, as knowledge of it was based on oral lore rather than written texts, and their buildings, made of wood and earth, did not leave many traces.
However, all you need to do is look at the objects that they left behind, to understand that the opposite is true. The example of this openwork bronze, designed using a compass, reveals a far more complex and interesting world.