|THE AREA IN QUESTION|
PUNBLISHED BY KENNETH S. DOIG
I personally believe that the Netherlanders, Flemish and the southern Ingvaeonic tribes intermixed with either Celts or with an unattested (directly) Indo-European ethnic group that was neither Germanic nor Celtic. Scholars have named it, the Nordwestblock group and it seems to have been centered on the Hilversum area with its well no pre-Germanic, prehistoric culture, know to us by archaeology and hearsay evidence. Even though the Netherlanders, Flemings and Ingvaeones are Germanic in speech and culture, there is genetic, linguistic and cultural differences which set them apart from the "purer" Germanics, still in the southern Scandinavian Urheimat. K.S.Doig
Southern Netherlands, Celts or Teutons?The Celts are coming, how about you?
With this slogan a lecture was held in "De Brakke Grond" (Amsterdam) from January 17th until March 1st 1997.
It was accompanied with an exhibition about the Celtic-Belgian culture and findings: pottery, urns, swords and coins.
But one could also see (±1950 - 1970) Belgian schoolclass-plates (view images below), on which one could watch the scenes about the "ancient Belgians".
Even cartoons about the Celts (Asterix), a pre-plough "eergetouw" and a maquette from a Celtic village were present.
The exhibition supported a series of scientific discussions, in which aspects of the life of the Celts / Teutons (language, trades, coins) were the main topics.
The most important discussion was about "Celts in the Netherlands?" (Jan 25th 1997), where I hoped to find an answer on the question:
"Were there Celts / Gauls or Teutons in the Netherlands in the era before / during Caesar?"
It appeared that one could answer that question from a linguistic and archeologic point of view.
Definition of "Celts":
various tribes that speak a Celtic language, which is very different of the ancient Germanic.
Of course there haven't been found any writings in the Low countries before (and after!) the appearence of the Romans in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Just a few post-Roman rune inscriptions. Still, some geographic names and names of leaders / tribes are known.
Because there are so few names known, I'll name them all *) :
- Novio Magus: Nijmegen (Novio = new?) magus = plain
- Eburoni: 'who is protected by the yew-tree', they were a tribe that was spread over nortwest Belgium and the Dutch southwest Eburos = yew = pine tree with poisonous seeds and eatable berries.
- Menapii: tribe in Zeeland and northern Flanders
- Carvion: the town "Herwen" between Nijmegen and Doetinchem
- Texuandri: tribe in Noord-Brabant (after the Eburoni disappeared)
- Ambiorix: leader of the Eburoni, who lived ± 54 B.C.E., when the Romans came to the Netherlands. He won as the leader of the Belgae a battle against them...
But he wrote also, that he slaughtered the Eburoni in 50 B.C.E., about which the archaeologists haven't found evidence (yet?).
(Beautiful Celtic artifacts)
The characteristics of Celts are:
- pottery which has striking edges ('French fashion', 'Marne') after 500 B.C.E.
- glass bracelets in different colours (after 2nd century B.C.E. in the -Dutch- eastern river area was perhaps even an industry)
- coins: not currency but gifts / taxes (the Eburoni made coins to give them as taxes to another tribe, the Adwati)
- sling bullets from baked loam (Oss, Weert)
- temples: square or multi-angular wooden enclosure, sometimes surrounding a small wooden temple (Empel)
- stilistic art: figurative images from , e.g., horses and man
- extremely good developed techniques from iron and non-ferrous forgery: gold, silver, bronze, enamel
- fortifications: 'oppida'
- no political unity, much reciprocal battles
- natural religion, focussed on the elements (water, fire, air)
"There have been noticed resemblances in the Southern Netherlands with the Celtic culture.
At least the first 5 characteristics (see above) have been recognised.
Still we must stay cautious before we draw conclusions.
The Batavians (an immigrated Teutonic tribe) could have imported the sling bullets.
We also lack evidence for the local production of Celtic items such as glass bracelets, swords and pottery in in the Southern Netherlands. [There have been found ± 7000 fragments of glass bracelets near Nijmegen....ed.]
On the other side the main part of the Southern Netherlands show strong cultural resemblances with the land north of the Rhine, eg. by the manufacturing of buildings and the life in non-fortified villages. [Prof. N. Roymans described a fortification or something that looked like it in his book "Opgravingen in de Molenakker te Weert", 1995... ed.]
Also from Caesars books one can conclude that the Southern Netherlands had an ambiguous position."
Remarks from dr. P. Schrijver (Rijksuniversiteit Leiden): "One can't stop at the question Celtic or Teutonic. There are many indications that there were also other languages spoken in that area at that time than just Celtic, Teutonic or even Indo-European.
Examples to state that opinion are the words: Friezen, leeuwerik en hoofd." (="Frisians", "lark", "head")
Prof. N. Roymans already launched the discussion in 1992 by stating: "One may ask if that difference (Celtic or Teutonic) was relevant for the people then. It is doubtful if an inhabitant of the Southern Netherlands could / would describe himself being a Celt or Teuton. [Caesar said one did....ed.] These words are, by the way, Latin and Greek..
By intensive trading with France, the middle-Rhine area and North-Germany there was a political, economical and cultural influence on the Netherlands."
Maybe we can better speak of a Gallo-Teutonic culture preceeding the Gallo-Roman culture? For the time being, until newer evidence is found...
*) !! Almost all the geographic names in the Southern Netherlands have a Teutonic origine !! See map below
The green dots are Teuton toponyms,
the red dots are Celtic