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Origins of Celtic art

Subject: Origins of Celtic art
From: "Peter Alaca"
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 17:42:22 +0100
Newsgroups: sci.archaeology
Constanze Witt (1997)
"Barbarians on the Greek Periphery?
Origins of Celtic art"
Dissertation University of Virginia

   The arts of early Iron Age Europe are highly
   complex and abstract products of a stylistic
   development that is as yet poorly understood.
   The period of the transition from late Hallstatt to
   early La Tène in the fifth century B.C.E. is
   particularly rich in information about internal
   artistic developments, regional cultural change,
   and important aspects of the relations between
   west-central Europe and the Mediterranean,
   particularly classical Greece. Studies of Celtic
   art have concentrated largely on the relationship
   between the Celts and the Greeks.

   The Greeks, Romans, and many modern
   scholars have seen the Celts as barbarians
   living on the periphery of "higher" Mediterranean
   civilizations. Underlying most interpretations of
   Celtic art has been the assumption that when
   the ancient Celts imported Greek goods and
   included them in their funerary assemblages,
   they imported Greek ideas and customs as
   well. In addition, the stylistic change in Celtic
   art in the fifth century B.C.E. has been ascribed
   to imitation of Greek art, the product of external
   stimuli and the desire to emulate the Greeks.

   The study of specific works of Celtic art in their
   regional, local and artistic context demonstrates
   that Iron Age Europe was an important center of
   artistic production and innovation in its own
   right. Archaeology reveals that the Celtic lands
   were economically and politically independent of
   Greece. Local funerary customs and beliefs
   explain the mortuary assemblages.
   Finally, stylistic change is the product of a local,
   indigenous, and remarkably un-classical aesthetic

   Celtic art is removed in this study from the
   periphery of Western art history and restored to
   its rightful place as a rival style that consciously
   rejected Greek figural representation in favor of
   non-illusionistic abstraction.


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