History of the Celts

The Celtic invasion is the largest conquest campaign taken by a barbarian people in the prehistory of Europe. It was a real warrior invasion in which a strong and well-equipped Celtic army dealt heavy blows to the old European countries. Some of them, like Etruria, never recovered. However, the Celtic invasion was also a migration, a mass relocation of tribes, families, which meant a path full of difficulties and dangers. It was a journey without retreating and without the intention of returning to the old homeland. These migrations were mostly taken over by each new generation of Celts, conquering new territories in order to prolong the existence. The migratory movements of the Celts began at the end of the 5th century BC from the Rhine region, and were completed by 279 BC. They took place in five large migration waves.

The fourth Celtic wave of migration began after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. It was at that time that the Celts occupied the northern borders of the Balkan Peninsula, the confluence of the Sava and the Danube, the ends of today's Srem, eastern Slavonia and southern Bačka. At the time, the characteristic sites were Dalj, Kupinovo, Donji Grad near Osijek etc. Around 320 BC, the Celts cross the Danube and the first sites appear on the right side of the river. These include the necropolises of Karaburma and Pećina near Kostolac. Since the end of the 4th century BC, the Celts were increasingly moving from the northern borders of the Balkan Peninsula to the southern parts of the Balkans, fighting all the way to Greece. It is not yet possible to speak of the Scordisci here, but of a pure Celtic ethnic element. This is the period of Celtic settlement and stabilization in Lower Pannonia (around 320-280 BC).

The reasons for the last, fifth Celtic migration wave, were neither the scarcity of fertile land, nor the problem of overpopulation, but exclusively the material and cultural wealth of Greece. Since it was a war campaign that was accompanied by migration, there is no doubt that such an alliance of Celtic tribes had already chosen a military leader in the Danube region. It is assumed that a certain Brennus became the supreme military leader.

All the Celts set out together from the Danube region, through the Nišava valley, all the way to the Sofia valley, from where they continued in three currents, under the leadership of Cerethrius, Brennus and Acichorius, and Bolgios. The ultimate goal was the opulent treasury of the Oracle of Delphi. The Greeks eventually defeated the Celts, and Brennus committed suicide.

After the defeat, the retreat, but also the suffering of the Celts, began. A part of the surviving Celts was taken by Comontorius to the mountain Haemus (eastern Bulgaria, then part of Thrace). They settled there and founded the city of Tylis, so they were called Tyleni. The other part of the surviving Celts under Leonarius and Lutarius went to Asia Minor. The third and largest part of the surviving Celts near Delphi, led by Bathanatus, set off north of the Rhodopes, further along the Nišava and the Morava valleys to the Danube region, where the Celts settled permanently. They were called the Bathanati, and the way they came was the Bathanatian road. According to ancient sources, it was then that the name Scordisci was first mentioned. The Scordisci were part of the Celts who survived the catastrophe of Delphi. With the final return of the Scordisci to the Danube region around 280/279 BC, begins a period of cultural and economic prosperity of the Celts.

The similarity between the Scordisci and the Celts was in their aggression and restless nature, because they moved, trampled, robbed and disturbed their neighbours and distant lands as well. It is possible to follow these activities for two centuries, until they finally fell under the rule of a superior enemy.

The name of Scordisci is mentioned for the first time only after the return of Bathanatus with the remaining, broken groups to the Danube region. The name Scordisci is considered to be a Celtic form of the original Illyrian name. The Scordisci got their name in Macedonia, after the mountain Skordus, and it is connected to the Šar mountain. It is of Illyrian or Old Balkan origin. The Scordisci lived along the Danube (the Ister). Those who settled west of Velika Morava in the area of today's Srem, eastern Slavonia, Semberija, Mačva and northern Serbia to Morava began to be called Scordisci Major, and those who settled east of Velika Morava – Scordisci Minor. In addition to the Scordiscan cities of Capedunum and Heortu, which have not been precisely located to date, the cities of Singidunum, Belgites and Carodunum are also mentioned. There are not many traces about them, except for the necropolises: Pećine near Kostolac, Donji Grad near Osijek, Karaburma near Belgrade, Kupinovo, Batina. Initially, the Celts did not create larger settlements.

The Scordisci built two basic types of settlements on their territory. Open settlements were created during the migration of Celtic tribes towards the Danube region, and closed settlements of the oppidum type were created when the Scordisci had already stabilized and when military democracy became the dominant form of society, and their economy in the Danube reached its peak. Economic warfare and political power were in the hands of warriors and leaders of clans and tribes. They elected a supreme military leader, who had to have unlimited power. They had their rulers, kings, who had religious, judicial and military authority, as well as their elder when ancient sources call it regulus or basileus. They chose among themselves one of them to be their leader - the dux, while the clergy had a large share in power. regulus или bazileus. Бирали су између себе једног од њих да им буде вођа dux, док је свештенство имало велики удео у власти.

The Scordisci, who were engaged in trade, were extremely important for connecting different parts of the Balkans and the Danube region. Craftsmen had a prominent place in Scordiscan society. The peasantry was the most massive social stratum engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry, going to war or large migrations.

The Celts were tall, and their skin was very moist and white. Their hair was fair. They smeared lime milk on it and then combed it from forehead to nape. Some wore short beards and some shaved. The nobles shaved their cheeks, but grew their moustaches, so that they covered their entire mouths. The look in their eyes was stern, and their voices were deep and very hoarse. They were very quarrelsome, proud and arrogant. Their appearance was intimidating. They often exaggerated, so that they glorified themselves and humiliated others.

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