The elder human ancestors of Europe begin in the dawn of remote prehistory.
They provided the base upon which subsequent lines were built. Those ancient
people did not suddenly disappear to be replaced by immigrating tribes.
On the contrary, immigrants interbred and blended with the natives to produce
other racial stock. One cannot exactly pinpoint the origins of European
people, either in space or in time, although certain innovative episodes
can be demonstrated. The threads of biology and culture produced transitions
that, while barely perceptible in the archeological record, caused sudden
replacement of old cultures.
The accumulation of archeological data over the past hundred years shows
how the people of paleolithic and neolithic Europe were influenced by social
developments in the Near East. The farming communities of Çatal
Hüyük and the Anatolian regions spread their knowledge in ever
widening arcs rippling through the hinterlands of Europe.
The origin of farming in Anatolia speaks of two important sources for
what we now recognize as civilization. The geographical source is near
the center of the original Adamic blood lines. The temporal source is demonstrated
by the need to engage in intensive farming where, at one time, the earth
was more bountiful. Meteorological changes were forcing man to new "civilized"
techniques. The construction of buildings at Çatal Hüyük,
with clay walls replicating wood panels, shows that the people were clinging
to the memory of a wooded environment that had since become arid.
It is now believed that farming was brought into Central Europe by immigrants,
although those people cannot be positively identified. Once begun this
influence spread widely and rapidly. The immigrants brought with them not
only agriculture but also new inventions in pottery and polished stone
tools. They also brought a knowledge of wooden structures. There is abundant
evidence from Czechoslovakia and the Low Countries that the people of the
fifth to fourth millennia BC built strong, timber-framed houses with sturdy
ridged roofs. Although the details of the structures, the pottery, and
the tools were different from those of the Near East and Anatolia, the
influence of the immigrant populations is evidentTC. Timber-framed
houses with wood motifs certainly were known in the regions of the Near
East before the great meteorological changes created those arid conditions.
Early farming communities of Europe do not display evidence for special
chieftain houses, nor shrines, nor temples. This lack of cultural differentiation
follows the social patterns displayed at Çatal Hüyük.
Although the regular arrangement of houses in a community of several hundred
people shows some form of social organization there was no distinct ruling
or priestly class. On the other hand, the technological advances in pottery
and tools could come about only by specialists who devoted themselves to
particular tasks. As the cultures acquired metal-working, specialist knowledge
intensified. Individuals learned to mine and smelt ores while others learned
how to refine, mold and smith the metals. By the middle of the third millennium
BC copper-working had spread well into central Europe.
A millennium later, bronze-working had penetrated into virtually all
regions of Europe.
Recent studies indicate that this period saw the immigration of two
successive groups of people. The first were the so-called Bell Beaker folk,
known for their distinctive drinking vessels. They brought with them new
archer's equipment, including flint-tipped arrows and a stone arm-bracer
to absorb the rebound of the bow-string. Small metal tanged daggers are
occasionally found associated with their archeological sites. The second
group brought the perforated stone battle-axe together with metal daggers
and personal ornaments. The common form of burial was of individuals, accompanied
by utensils of daily life, under a circular barrow or earthen mound. This
same period saw the introduction of copper axe-heads of design similar
to the stone axes.
These immigrations appear to have provided a nucleus from which later
grew the warrior aristocratic elements. Their introduction of copper and
bronze technology ended the simple self-sufficient farming life of the
neolithic cultures. Philological studies coordinated with archeology now
suggests that the battle-axe people were the first migrating waves of Indo-European
During this period, into the middle of the second millennium BC, a disparity
in grave furniture between ordinary folk and aristocratic elements first
appears. An aristocracy was beginning to form founded on immigrant populations,
although it did not display great differences from the common folk.
Toward the end of the second millennium there was a wide-spread cultural
disruption throughout Europe. This disruption corresponded to the great
disruptions of the Near East, at the time of, or shortly after, the Exodus
under Moses. The great Mycenean civilization was destroyed with dramatic
changes taking place in the political alignments of Mesopotamia and Syria.
Out of these cultural disruptions appeared the Urnfield people of Europe,
regarded by modern scholars as "proto-Keltic." The Urnfield name derives
from the custom of cremation and burial of the body ashes in urns in cemeteries.
Extensive use of bronze was made by these people. Their household utensils
show improvements in the quality of cooking and eating. Personal adornments
of bronze became more sophisticated. Metal farming tools, such as sickles,
and metal carpenter's tools become more abundant; there was a general improvement
in wood-working technology. All of these advances were passed on down to
the later Keltic people as an increase in the standard of living.
Briefly, this was the background for the creation of a new and distinctive
group of people known to us as the Kelts. They spread over wide regions
of Europe, beginning from a heartland in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria,
Switzerland and neighboring areas of southern Germany during the sixth
century BC -- the geographical locale which saw the immigration of the
Kimmeri and movements of the Kimbri.
This new culture was discovered in 1846 when Georg Ramsauer, director
of the Hallstatt state mines on the shores of Lake Halstatt in Austria,
began to excavate the graves of a prehistoric cemetery where a flourishing
community had buried their dead in the first half of the first millennium
BC. In 1876 the Vienna Academy of Sciences began to excavate a nearby prehistoric
salt mine. Both the cemetery and the mine provided outstanding evidence
for a culture which had lived and worked in the area roughly between 1100
and 400 BC. The salt of the mine had preserved the common everyday articles
of the workers: their protective clothing, the leather sacks in which they
carried the salt, and their wooden implements. Detailed evaluation of the
site showed four distinct phases of culture. Halstatt A and B lasted until
about 700 BC. Halstatt C falls within the seventh century. This phase saw
a dramatic change with the introduction of iron. Hallstatt D spanned the
sixth and extended into the fifth century BC. Only the last two phases,
with the appearance of iron, are known commonly among archaeologists as
the Hallstatt culture; the first two phases are identified with the previous
Meanwhile other important discoveries were being made at La Tene on
the banks of Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland. At the northeastern end, where
the River Thielle flows into the lake, a drought in 1858 lowered the water
level, revealing rows of blackened timbers projecting from the mud. Museum
authorities in Zurich immediately dispatched a team of archaeologists who
discovered large quantities of Iron Age metalwork including swords in their
decorated sheaths, spears, shield bosses, horse gear, tools of all kinds,
together with ornaments, coins, and numerous other objects. Study of these
artifacts revealed three different phases called La Tene I, II, and III.
The La Tene period lasted from the late fifth century BC to the time of
the Romans, circa 100 BC.
Both the later Hallstatt and La Tene cultures were eventually recognized
as Keltic. Together they provide evidence for the evolution of a culture
that spanned nearly six hundred years. They demonstrate clearly that prior
to 700 BC there was little disparity in wealth between leaders and the
common people. An aristocracy had not yet developed into major cultural
recognition. Not until the seventh century, coincident with the introduction
of iron, did a distinct aristocracy emerge.
At the beginning of the Halstatt period, (circa 700 BC), there was a
reversion from cremation to inhumation in timber burial chambers. This
might have resulted simply from a change in emphasis of funerary ritual,
as had occurred at the beginning of the Urnfield period -- perhaps a return
to an older tradition. There is further evidence, however, which strongly
suggests that it was prompted, in part at least, by external influences.
This evidence consists principally of bronze harness mounts and horse-bits
which have been found in Eastern and Central Europe, but less common further
west, as in Glamorganshire. Most finds date from the eighth and seventh
centuries BC, and thus overlap with the beginning of the Halstatt-Keltic
culture. Parallels to this horse-gear may be identified in the steppes
of southern Russia, particularly in a culture which are convincingly identified
with that of the Kimmerians who appear to have been pushed westward by
the Scythians. Further support for a derivation from southern Russia is
provided by the adoption by early Keltic chieftains of wagon burial, a
practice whose origins may be traced in the steppes during the second millennium
BC. The evidence shows that aristocratic elements entered central Europe
to dominate certain groups of late Urnfield peoples. The impetus which
this provided is documented archeolgically by the beginnings of the Halstatt
culture. And so the end of the Bronze Age in Central Europe is marked,
as it began, by the arrival and absorption of peoples who had moved westward
from their homeland on the steppes of southern RussiaTC.
Evidence for the early Halstatt phase, dating from the beginning of
the seventh century, is found in the Upper Danube region, in Upper Austria
and Bavaria, and in Bohemia. This appears to be the heartland of what we
now identify as the Keltic people. From this region they eventually spread
into the Iberian peninsula, the British Isles, all of France, western Germany,
into Italy, Czechoslovakia, down into the Balkans, and back into Asia Minor.
The possession of iron weapons and tools was a powerful aid to their settlement
in those varied lands. Iron provided efficient weapons in large quantities
to warrior chieftains and their armies.
The richest graves were found in the "Keltic" heartland. As this new
influence spread throughout Europe the richness of the graves diminished,
suggesting that the aristocratic blood was dilutingCW.
The availability of iron tools meant that new territory could be cleared
for farming, which itself may have become more productive. This in turn
may have contributed to an increase in population, always conducive to
social instability and aggression. The infusion of a new aristocratic element
may have provided the final stimulus (for the Keltic dispersions). Descendants
of late Urnfield chieftains appear to have been receptive to the example
of the newcomers, for among later Urnfield burials there is evidence of
richly furnished cremation burials, indicative of high statusTC.
Thus we see that a new blood of aristocrats began to infuse the people
of Europe in the last days of the eighth century BC. Although that blood
has been identified with the Kimmerians we cannot neglect the possibility
that aristocratic elements from other regions were also part of this infusion.
They brought with them the knowledge of iron which permitted new techniques
in both warfare and farming to create a new breed of people that spread
The location of Hallstatt as the center of this new breed may not have
been accidental. Salt was a precious commodity desired by people everywhere.
Widespread trading and commerce between all regions of Europe and the Near
East guaranteed that they would know of each other. The tribes of Europe
could not have been ignorant of the sources of commodities from the Mediterranean,
including Syria and Palestine, nor could the people of Palestine and Syria
be totally ignorant of the source of ember along the Elbe and Oder rivers,
of tin in England, and of iron in eastern Europe. The numerous amphorae
of Greek origin are indicative of the widespread and heavy traffic between
the two regions. It would have been natural for migrating people to be
attracted to those regions most familiar from the tales of travelers. The
ease of movement along river valleys may have determined their routes of
travel. The Danube was an excellent choice.
Our kindergarten views of a savage and uncivilized people living in
the hinterlands of Europe leaves us poorly prepared for a solid evaluation
of those days. Although they engaged in human sacrifice and hung the heads
of their victims of war around the necks of their horses and upon their
housepoles we truly fail to perceive them in the depth of their culture.
The classical authors of Rome many times contributed to such foolish attitudes.
The Kelts practiced improved methods of farming, with enclosed cattle
grazing, not much different from farming methods two millennia later. They
knew advanced techniques in weaving with spindle whorls and loom weights.
Numerous artifacts from their houses shows the advanced state of their
home life. According to Timagenes, a writer in the reign of Augustus,
Although the record of the classical writers is sparse Pliny reported
on the refinements of their personal care. He stated that they had invented
a special soap for personal bathing, special ointment to improve the complexion
of the woman, and fine perfumes. Other writers described refined toilette
devices. Although Julius Caesar referred to them as "those trousered barbarians"
other writers described the gracefulness of the female dress and the personal
ornaments of both sexes. Typical of a more contemptuous view expressed
by the Romans is that of Ammianus Marcellinus:
Note the description of their ruddy (red) complexion.
Obviously the description is exaggerated to suit an audience which was
in fear of those northern and generally unknown tribes. However it finds
parallel with Dio Cassius's portrait of Boudicca, queen of the Iceni tribe
of eastern Britain in the first century AD:
The high social status of Keltic women is attested, not only by the Roman writers but also by archeological remains and by the folk tales of the Irish. An important site in Burgundy contained the burial of a young woman about thirty years of age who was accorded all the honor of a chieftain through rich grave
accouterments. In the stories of early Irish history Maeve (Medb) was the queen and ruler of Connaught, western Ireland; her
consort Ailill played a subservient role.
The outstanding bravery and courage of the Kelts led to their reputation
as fierce fighters. As Aristotle wrote:
The ancient world recruited Keltic warriors into their armies. The Kelts
first immigrated back into Asia Minor through invitation of the king of
Bythnia; some 20,000 of them served under his command. Antigonus Gonatas
employed Keltic mercenaries in his army, although he was defeated in 277
BC by Pyrrhus, king of Epirus. Alexander the Great had to undertake campaigns
in Bulgaria in 335 BC as the result of Keltic invasions. Later they came
to him to arrange terms of peace. Egyptian kings also used them as mercenaries.
These examples show the high reputation of the Kelts for their fierce fighting
It is now believed by some Keltic experts that writing was known to
the later Druid priest class but no evidence has been found in any of the
grave sites which would demonstrate that the Kelts were a literate people.
Knowledge of writing among the Druids is demonstrated by the remarkable
bronze calendar of Coligny dating to the first century BC. The surviving
fragments cover a five-year period but some scholars believe it originally
covered a 19-year lunar cycle. Although written in Roman letters it is
entirely Keltic in concept and language. On the other hand the Druids were
against general literacy. They believed that writing for the common masses
detracted from the development of the mind.
The advanced oral methods of the Kelts were striking to all Roman writers and historians. Both classical and medieval scholars knew them as grand masters of eloquence. Individual Kelts in Ireland and Wales, into this century, deplored the loss of the elevated oral methods among their people. Cato in the second century BC was as much impressed with their eloquence as he was with their personal bravery at war. Diodorus Siculus in the following century commented on the succinct and figurative nature of their speech with the use of allusion, hyperbole and grandiloquent language. One Latin panegyric of unknown source, and addressed to Constantine the Great, portrays a Gaulish prince of the tribe of Aedui pleading for his countrymen against the invader Ariovistus as "the Aeduan prince, haranguing the Senate, leaning on his shield." A number of ancient Gaulic orators are known to us by name. The Romans were anxious to employ them as tutors to their sons. Formal courses of instruction conducted by the Druids in the training of their successors lasted for some twenty years. In spite of the lack of books their instruction included the stars and the motion of the planets, the size of the universe and the earth, the nature and greatness of the earth, the power and majesty of the gods, and other subjects in natural and moral philosophy. They believed in the immortality of the soul.
Numerous Roman authors commented on their depth of learning. Pliny,
in his Natural History of 77 AD, said that it "almost seems she
(Britain) exported the (Druidic) cult to the Persians." Dio Chrysostum
compared the Druids to the Brahmans of India and the Magi of Persia. St.
Clement of Alexandria, circa 200 AD, stated that Pythagorus, the ancient
Greek mathematician and philosopher, was a hearer of the Galatai and the
According to Pythagorus the Druids and the Magi had studied their philosophy
long before the Greeks. Hippolytus in the third century AD said the Druids
used Pythagorean methods in the reckoning of their prophecies. He did not
mean that the Druids learned Pythagorean methods but that they used methods
later taught by Pythagorus. Iamblichus in his Life of Pythagorus
states that Pythagorus was acquainted with the Keltic mysteries. Valerus
Maximus said, "...what those trousered barbarians believed is the very
faith of Pythagorus himself." Sotion referred to them as the "Holy
Ones." The Greeks used the word semnotheoi for the Druids; literally
it means "revered godsTD."
Popular opinion of early Christian writers agreed that the Druids did
not actively resist the spread of Christianity. Richard Broughton, a Catholic
historian, thought the Druids supported Christian missionaries and that
Druidic teachings greatly facilitated the conversion of Britain. Early
Christian scholars believed the Druids, with their arcane knowledge, were
able to anticipate and interpret events of Jesus' nativity. They were alarmed
by the portents of the Crucifixion and, being in touch with Rome, they
soon understood what had happened. They knew from the phenomenon of natural
disturbances at the time that the devils then on the loose had been overcome.
These attributes of Keltic culture cannot be neglected in any honest
appraisal of those people. They had a refined social order; pictures of
raw barbarism and savagery are not justified.
From inscriptions in Asia Minor it is now known that the Galatae met
every five years in tribal assemblies at Ancyra where they held religious
festivals together with gymnastics and sports. These traditions have come
down to us through the Greek Olympics, although we no longer remember or
recognize the religious ties. At these tribal meetings the Galatae settled
tribal differences and elected leaders.
Their French kinsmen, the Gauls, held yearly tribal meetings at Chartres
where they also observed religious ceremonies together with amusements
and games. Here their tribal differences were adjudicated by the Druid
In Ireland the Keltic tribes assembled every three years at Tara, the
traditional center of ancient Irish kingship. Their meetings were similar
to those of the Galatae and the Gauls with religious observance, games
and amusements. Again business among the tribes was conducted at this conclave.
This was a solemn assembly for the Irish Kelts. During this period there
was universal amnesty; all indebtedness was forgiven and all criminals
were released from imprisonment. But woe to any who should break the solemn
sanctity of the period; such an individual was severely punished. These
assemblies were held on a regular basis until the sixth century ADSIR.
The assemblies of the Keltic people followed the same pattern as those
of the Hebrew tribes prior to the organization of the kingdom under Saul.
They would gather on a regular basis to conduct business among the tribes
and to adjudicate their differences. They gathered at Shiloh where they
set up the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant, Josh 18:1, Judgs 18:31,
This brief outline of the origin and culture of the Kelts cannot encompass
many aspects of their history. Numerous works have been published on the
Kelts; the interested reader can search those for himself. My intent is
to show that they were a people whose origins lie buried in previous ancestral
stock but that their culture was stimulated by the infusion of aristocratic
blood around the end of the eighth and well into the seventh century BC.
They created a mighty race which fathered many of the modern people of
One of the problems which afflicts a study of this kind is the sharp
boundary normally understood between the Keltic and Teutonic people. Recent
scholarly work has shown that this boundary is not nearly as clearcut as
previously thought. Julius Caesar classified all peoples living on the
northern side of the Rhine as "Teutonic" but his designation was one of
military convenience rather than of cultural differentiation. The word
"Teutonic," a designation for the Germanic people, is obviously derived
from Teutone, a name for a Keltic tribe. Caesar identified both
the Kimbri and the Teutones as Germanic but he was forced into this classification
by his geographical assignments. The word Teutone derives from the
Keltic tuath meaning the common people, or a tribe. The personal
names of all the Kimbric leaders were purely Keltic, as were those of the
Teutones; therefore we must believe both groups were Keltic. Even the word
German is thought to be of Keltic origin. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, at
the end of the first century BC, says that the parts of Keltica lying beyond
the Rhine were known as Germania. It is believed that a tribe known as
the Germani was Keltic. Much of this confusion was due to the cross-trading
and intermarriage between the Keltic and Teutonic tribes in the region
of the Rhine. There was a blurring and blending of people in that region
which Caesar neatly cleared for his convenience by his artificial boundary.
Undoubtedly there were people who could be rigidly classified as Teutonic;
their languages show considerable difference from the Keltic tongues. But
linguists today detect many connections between the two, much more so than
can be claimed for people who merely traded with one another.
We come now to examination of the names of the Keltic people. The Greeks
knew them as the Keltoi.
The Romans called them the Galli. Both Greeks and Romans referred
to them also as Gallati.
The geographical distribution of the Galli/Gallati names covers
the entire range of Europe from Spain to Asia Minor. The former province
of Spain called Galicia was known to the Romans as Gallaeci.
The Keltic immigrants from Europe into Asia Minor were known as Galatae.
The Apostle Paul later addressed letters to them which we know in our Bible
as the Book of Galatians. In their later debased worship of Cybele,
the Galatians created a class of emasculated priesthood called the Galli.
The heart of the Keltic lands was in Gaul, modern France. The name
is still used widely and shows in surnames, such as Charles de Gaulle,
former Prime Minister of France. Some Keltic tribes settled in the Po river
valley in Roman times; the Romans referred to the district as Gallia
Cisalpina, the Gauls this side of the Alps, to distinguish them from Gallia
Transalpina, the Gaul on the other side of the Alps. The Galata
section of Istanbul, Turkey carries a reminder of the Kelts, as does the
city of Galati and Galati province in Rumania. The names
of Galitina, Galitone, and Gallipoli in the heel of
the Italian boot all reflect Keltic origins. The Galicia region
of east central Europe northeast of the Carpathian Mountains also shows
the Keltic influence.
The primary form in these names is Gaul. The Galati and
names are inflections of the basic root word, (with a Greek "G" to "K"
If the Iberian and Kimmerian names could easily be identified in Hebrew
verb roots, can the Gaul, Galli, Keltoi, and Galati?
Ga'al1350 is a Hebrew verb root which means "to be
redeemed." It is used extensively in the Bible. For individuals redeemed
from death see Hos 13:14 (ega'aleem = "I shall redeem them"); for
individuals redeemed by God, Lam 3:58 (ga'alta = "thou hast redeemed");
for Israel redeemed from Egyptian bondage, Exod 6:6 (ga'altee = "I will
redeem"); for those redeemed from exile, Isa 44:22 (ga'altenah = "I
have redeemed thee").
Ga'alee (Roman Galli as the inhabitants of Gaul) is the
singular female imperative of the Kal = "Redeemed!"
Ga'alt, from which the Kelt form probably derives, is the singular
female second person of the past tense, literally = "you were redeemed."
The first person singular past tense is ga'altee, literally "I
The word is go-elee, or in a slight change of vowel intonation,
God was redeeming his people.
We come now to one of the most intriguing passages in the Bible, that
of Isaiah 9:1.
As we saw earlier, Zebulun and Naphtali were tribes in northern Israel,
just inland from Asher. They were the first to fall to Assyrian conquests,
around 845 BC, and probably were the first contribution to dispersion of
the Iberi tribes. The date usually assigned to this passage is 735 BC because
Isaiah had to be writing some time after that event.
The question before us concerns the phrases "the way of the sea,""make
glorious," "the land beyond the Jordan," and "Galilee of the nations."
Also, this is an introduction to a promise on the Messiah.
The "way of the sea" could not be inland, in an easterly direction;
it had to be in a westerly direction. To make sense of the passage commentators
take this to mean "the highway from Damascus to the sea," thus making
it mean the route by which the Assyrian invaders came marching. This would
take their route out to the Mediterranean, and then south along the "Phoenician"
coast to the tribal territories. Why they would take such circuitous route
across difficult mountains is not explained; they could travel by much
easier path straight across the land. Also, such view fails to consider
the "latter times" and making this activity "glorious." The phrase "latter
days" or "latter times" is always used in biblical prophecy to mean the
far future, when the earth is to be rejuvenated. The context of the Messiah
also show that the description is for the far future.
Therefore, it does not seem reasonable that "the land beyond the Jordan"
could mean the tribes of Manasseh, Gad, or Reuben then living to the east
of the Jordan. This is the view taken by all commentators. Furthermore,
"Galilee of the nations" is a most strange remark. The Hebrew word translated
"nations" is go'im1471, and almost always is understood
to mean Gentiles, all those people who were not Israelites. Who could possibly
be the "Galilee of the gentile nations?"
How profoundly enlightening it would be if a slight error was made on
the name of Galilee.
In the Hebrew Masoretic text Galillee is spelled literally, = G'LL,
where the "E" is the long "ee." The word "redeemed" is spelled literally
= G'AL. If we would now engage in a simple emendation, as the scholars
love to call it when they alter the text to make sense according to their
views, we would propose that some scribe mistook the aleph "A" for
a lamed "L" with a close yod "jot." This would be a very
easy mistake, and quite simple to execute.
Then the passage would read "Ga'alee" of the nations.
On the other hand, perhaps he had a text before him which he did not
understand. What could anyone mean by "Gaul of the nations?" There was
no such thing. Nevermind that Galillee of the nations had almost equal
mystery. At least the emendation made sense in the context of known words
for his day.
There may be a third possibility. If, by chance, the word was mistaken
when dictated by Melchizedek to some early Jewish scribe, and he wrote
Galilee for Ga'ulee, it would alter a hundred human generations of understanding.
What simplicity for such profound meaning!
Who were the Keltic/Gaulic people?
The REDEEMED of the nations!