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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)
Reconstruction of the Oikumene (inhabited world) Ancient Map from Herodotus circa 450 BC

Celts (केल्ट) (/kɛlts, sɛlts/) are an Indo-European[1] ethnolinguistic group of Europe identified by their use of Celtic languages and cultural similarities.[2]

Variants of name


Dalip Singh Ahlawat[3] writes that Jat Blood flows in the people of England as the Celts, Jutes, Angles, Saxons and Danes were descendants of Scythian Jats. This is evident from Jat Clans surnames still prevalent in England though they follow Christianity. [4]

Names and terminology

The first recorded use of the name of Celts—as Κελτοί—to refer to an ethnic group was by Hecataeus of Miletus, the Greek geographer, in 517 BC,[5] when writing about a people living near Massilia (modern Marseille).[6] In the fifth century BC, Herodotus referred to Keltoi living around the head of the Danube and also in the far west of Europe.[7] The etymology of the term Keltoi is unclear. Possible roots include Indo-European *kʲel 'to hide' (present also in Old Irish ceilid), IE *kʲel 'to heat' or *kel 'to impel'.[8] Several authors have supposed it to be Celtic in origin, while others view it as a name coined by Greeks. Linguist Patrizia De Bernardo Stempel falls in the latter group, and suggests the meaning "the tall ones".[9]

In the 1st century BC, Julius Caesar reported that the people known to the Romans as Gauls (Galli) called themselves Celts,[10] which suggests that even if the name Keltoi was bestowed by the Greeks, it had been adopted to some extent as a collective name by the tribes of Gaul. The geographer Strabo, writing about Gaul towards the end of the first century BC, refers to the "race which is now called both Gallic and Galatic," though he also uses the term Celtica as a synonym for Gaul, which is separated from Iberia by the Pyrenees. Yet he reports Celtic peoples in Iberia, and also uses the ethnic names Celtiberi and Celtici for peoples there, as distinct from Lusitani and Iberi.[11] Pliny the Elder cited the use of Celtici in Lusitania as a tribal surname,[12] which epigraphic findings have confirmed.[13]

Latin Gallus (pl. Galli) might stem from a Celtic ethnic or tribal name originally, perhaps one borrowed into Latin during the Celtic expansions into Italy during the early fifth century BC. Its root may be the Proto-Celtic *galno, meaning "power, strength", hence Old Irish gal "boldness, ferocity" and Welsh gallu "to be able, power". The tribal names of Gallaeci and the Greek Γαλάται (Galatai, Latinized Galatae; see the region Galatia in Anatolia) most probably have the same origin.[14] The suffix -atai might be an Ancient Greek inflection.[15] Classical writers did not apply the terms Κελτοί or Celtae to the inhabitants of Britain or Ireland, which has led to some scholars preferring not to use the term for the Iron Age inhabitants of those islands.[16]

Celt is a modern English word, first attested in 1707, in the writing of Edward Lhuyd, whose work, along with that of other late 17th-century scholars, brought academic attention to the languages and history of the early Celtic inhabitants of Great Britain.[17] The English form Gaul (first recorded in the 17th century) and Gaulish come from the French Gaule and Gaulois, a borrowing from Frankish *Walholant, "Land of foreigners or Romans" (see Gaul: Name), the root of which is Proto-Germanic *walha-, "foreigner, Roman, Celt", whence the English word Welsh (Old English wælisċ < *walhiska-), South German welsch, meaning "Celtic speaker", "French speaker" or "Italian speaker" in different contexts, and Old Norse valskr, pl. valir, "Gaulish, French"). Proto-Germanic *walha is derived ultimately from the name of the Volcae,[18] a Celtic tribe who lived first in the south of Germany and in central Europe and then migrated to Gaul.[19] This means that English Gaul, despite its superficial similarity, is not actually derived from Latin Gallia (which should have produced **Jaille in French), though it does refer to the same ancient region.

Celtic refers to a family of languages and, more generally, means "of the Celts" or "in the style of the Celts". Several archaeological cultures are considered Celtic in nature, based on unique sets of artefacts. The link between language and artefact is aided by the presence of inscriptions.[20] The relatively modern idea of an identifiable Celtic cultural identity or "Celticity" generally focuses on similarities among languages, works of art, and classical texts,[21] and sometimes also among material artefacts, social organisation, homeland and mythology.[22] Earlier theories held that these similarities suggest a common racial origin for the various Celtic peoples, but more recent theories hold that they reflect a common cultural and language heritage more than a genetic one. Celtic cultures seem to have been widely diverse, with the use of a Celtic language being the main thing they had in common.[23]

Today, the term Celtic generally refers to the languages and respective cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and Brittany, also known as the Celtic nations. These are the regions where four Celtic languages are still spoken to some extent as mother tongues. The four are Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, and Breton; plus two recent revivals, Cornish (one of the Brittonic languages) and Manx (one of the Goidelic languages). There are also attempts to reconstruct Cumbric, a Brittonic language from North West England and South West Scotland. Celtic regions of Continental Europe are those whose residents claim a Celtic heritage, but where no Celtic language has survived; these areas include the western Iberian Peninsula, i.e. Portugal and north-central Spain (Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Castile and León, Extremadura).[24]

Continental Celts are the Celtic-speaking people of mainland Europe and Insular Celts are the Celtic-speaking peoples of the British and Irish islands and their descendants. The Celts of Brittany derive their language from migrating insular Celts, mainly from Wales and Cornwall, and so are grouped accordingly.[25]


The history of pre-Celtic Europe and the exact relationship between ethnic, linguistic and cultural factors in the Celtic world remains uncertain and controversial.[26] 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.[27][28] 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.[29] 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.[30] 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)[31] and, following the Celtic settlement of Eastern Europe beginning in 279 BC, as far east as central Anatolia (Galatians) in modern-day Turkey.[32]

The earliest undisputed direct examples of a Celtic language are the Lepontic inscriptions beginning in the 6th century BC.[33] 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.[34] 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.[35] 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.[36] Today, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, and Breton are still spoken in parts of their historical territories, and Cornish and Manx are undergoing a revival.


The Celtic languages form a branch of the larger Indo-European family. By the time speakers of Celtic languages entered history around 400 BC, they were already split into several language groups, and spread over much of Western continental Europe, the Iberian Peninsula, Ireland and Britain. The Greek historian Ephorus of Cyme in Asia Minor, writing in the 4th century BC, believed that the Celts came from the islands off the mouth of the Rhine and were "driven from their homes by the frequency of wars and the violent rising of the sea".

Genetic evidence: In addition to linguistic evidence of a common Celtic / Iberian origin in the Iberian peninsula there is also genetic evidence of a common origin of the European Atlantic populations i.e.: Orkney Islands, Scottish, Irish, British, Bretons, Iberians (Basques, Galicians), Guanches and Berbers.[37]

Archaeological evidence: Before the 19th century, scholars assumed that the original land of the Celts was west of the Rhine, more precisely in Gaul, because it was where Greek and Roman ancient sources, namely Caesar, located the Celts. This view was challenged by the 19th-century historian Marie Henri d'Arbois de Jubainville[citation needed] who placed the land of origin of the Celts east of the Rhine. Jubainville based his arguments on a phrase of Herodotus' that placed the Celts at the source of the Danube, and argued that Herodotus had meant to place the Celtic homeland in southern Germany. The finding of the prehistoric cemetery of Hallstat in 1846 by Johan Ramsauer and the finding of the archaeological site of La Tène by Hansli Kopp in 1857 drew attention to this area.

The concept that the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures could be seen not just as chronological periods but as "Culture Groups", entities composed of people of the same ethnicity and language, had started to grow by the end of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century the belief that these "Culture Groups" could be thought of in racial or ethnic terms was strongly held by Gordon Childe whose theory was influenced by the writings of Gustaf Kossinna.[38] As the 20th century progressed, the racial ethnic interpretation of La Tène culture became much more strongly rooted, and any findings of La Tène culture and flat inhumation cemeteries were directly associated with the Celts and the Celtic language.[39] The Iron Age Hallstatt (c. 800–475 BC) and La Tène (c. 500–50 BC) cultures are typically associated with Proto-Celtic and Celtic culture.[40]

In various academic disciplines the Celts were considered a Central European Iron Age phenomenon, through the cultures of Hallstatt and La Tène. However, archaeological finds from the Halstatt and La Tène culture were rare in the Iberian Peninsula, in southwestern France, northern and western Britain, southern Ireland and Galatia[41] and did not provide enough evidence for a cultural scenario comparable to that of Central Europe. It is considered equally difficult to maintain that the origin of the Peninsular Celts can be linked to the preceding Urnfield culture. This has resulted in a more recent approach that introduces a 'proto-Celtic' substratum and a process of Celticisation, having its initial roots in the Bronze Age Bell Beaker culture.[42]

The La Tène culture developed and flourished during the late Iron Age (from 450 BC to the Roman conquest in the 1st century BC) in eastern France, Switzerland, Austria, southwest Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. It developed out of the Hallstatt culture without any definite cultural break, under the impetus of considerable Mediterranean influence from Greek, and later Etruscan civilisations. A shift of settlement centres took place in the 4th century.

The western La Tène culture corresponds to historical Celtic Gaul. Whether this means that the whole of La Tène culture can be attributed to a unified Celtic people is difficult to assess; archaeologists have repeatedly concluded that language, material culture, and political affiliation do not necessarily run parallel. Frey notes that in the 5th century, "burial customs in the Celtic world were not uniform; rather, localised groups had their own beliefs, which, in consequence, also gave rise to distinct artistic expressions".[43] Thus, while the La Tène culture is certainly associated with the Gauls, the presence of La Tène artefacts may be due to cultural contact and does not imply the permanent presence of Celtic speakers.

Historical evidence: Polybius published a history of Rome about 150 BC in which he describes the Gauls of Italy and their conflict with Rome. Pausanias in the 2nd century AD says that the Gauls "originally called Celts", "live on the remotest region of Europe on the coast of an enormous tidal sea". Posidonius described the southern Gauls about 100 BC. Though his original work is lost it was used by later writers such as Strabo. The latter, writing in the early 1st century AD, deals with Britain and Gaul as well as Hispania, Italy and Galatia. Caesar wrote extensively about his Gallic Wars in 58–51 BC. Diodorus Siculus wrote about the Celts of Gaul and Britain in his 1st-century history.


The Roman republic and its neighbours in 58 BC

Under Caesar the Romans conquered Celtic Gaul, and from Claudius onward the Roman empire absorbed parts of Britain. Roman local government of these regions closely mirrored pre-Roman tribal boundaries, and archaeological finds suggest native involvement in local government.

The native peoples under Roman rule became Romanised and keen to adopt Roman ways. Celtic art had already incorporated classical influences, and surviving Gallo-Roman pieces interpret classical subjects or keep faith with old traditions despite a Roman overlay.

The Roman occupation of Gaul, and to a lesser extent of Britain, led to Roman-Celtic syncretism. In the case of the continental Celts, this eventually resulted in a language shift to Vulgar Latin, while the Insular Celts retained their language.

There was also considerable cultural influence exerted by Gaul on Rome, particularly in military matters and horsemanship, as the Gauls often served in the Roman cavalry. The Romans adopted the Celtic cavalry sword, the spatha, and Epona, the Celtic horse goddess.[44]

Jat History

Gulia Jat clan  : Bhim Singh Dahiya[45] tells us: It is noted that certain clans of the Jats are even today called Galat. In particular the Mundtor and Guliya clans are so-called. Do they have some connection with the Galataens of Greek writers, the Celt of history of Europe ? This is a point which calls for further research.

Bhim Singh Dahiya has mentioned about a inscription of Wardak near Kabul of the year 51 of Saka era (129 AD), which relates the establishment of the relic of Lord Buddha in a stupa by Vagramarega who is shown as a scion of Kama Gulya. Here it is related with clan name Gulya of the Jats. [46] Wardak is associated with the history of Burdak Jat clan.

Burdak Jat clan  : Boudica was a queen of the British Celtic Iceni Kingdom in England who led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire in AD 60-61. She is considered a British folk hero.[47] Boudica is probably variant of Burdak clan.

Galati Jat clan - Galatia (Greek) - In 278 BC, the Ankara city, along with the rest of central Anatolia, was occupied by a Celtic group, the Galatians, who were the first to make Ankara one of their main tribal centers, the headquarters of the Tectosages tribe.[48] Other centers were Pessinos, today's Balhisar, for the Trocmi tribe, and Tavium, to the east of Ankara, for the Tolstibogii tribe. The city was then known as Ancyra. The city was subsequently passed under the control of the Roman Empire. In 25 BC, Emperor Augustus raised it to the status of a polis and made it the capital city of the Roman province of Galatia.[49] Jat clan - Galati may be originated from ancient Galatian tribe.


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  3. Jat History Dalip Singh Ahlawat/Chapter IV, p.401
  4. Ujagar Singh Mahil: Antiquity of Jat Race, p.66-70
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  41. Harding, Dennis William (2007). pg5. ISBN 978-0-415-35177-5. pg 386.
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  43. [*Otto Hermann Frey, "A new approach to early Celtic art". Setting the Glauberg finds in context of shifting iconography, Royal Irish Academy (2004)]
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  45. Jats the Ancient Rulers (A clan study)/Introduction,p.xiv
  46. Bhim Singh Dahiya:"Jats: The Ancient Rulers", p.41
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  48. Livy, xxxviii. 16
  49. Belke, Klaus (1984). "Ankyra". Tabula Imperii Byzantini, Band 4: Galatien und Lykaonien (in German). Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. pp. 126–130. ISBN 978-3-7001-0634-0.