The Difference Between the Celts and the Gauls

Celt is a term applied to the tribes who spread across Europe, Asia Minor and the British Isles from their homeland in south central Europe. Most archeologists date their emergence around 800 b.c., though some feel the date sould be extended backward to 2000 b.c. Celt comes from the Greek word Keltoi. The first evidence of its use is from quotes of the writings of the Greek historian Hecataeus of Miletus (his actual works being lost) in the later part of the 6th century b.c. and it is thought by some to be cognate with the Gothic word hildja (to fight). Caesar says the Gauls called themselves Celtae and this is where the confusion sets in. Gaul was a geographic area (modern France and northern Italy) and "Gauls" were the peple who lived there according to the Romans. Linguistically, the people who lived in Gaul were Celts, and this was athe main distinction made by the early historians. Tacitus says of the Cotini and the Osi "(they) are not Germans: that is proved by their language, Celtic in the one case, Pannonian in the other...". The bottom line is that there was no difference between the Celts and the Gauls, they were the same people.


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