THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF CELTIC ART
Tempering the much adopted art-historical approach, Harding argues for a broaderdeﬁnition of Celtic art. Contrary to recent attempts to deconstruct the Celts as anethnic entity altogether, he argues that there were communities in Iron Age Europe thatwere identiﬁed historically as Celts, regarded themselves as Celtic, or who spoke Celticlanguages, and that the art of these communities may reasonably be regarded as Celticart. Though the La Tène styles represent the summation of achievement of Celtic art,the origin and geographical distribution of Celtic art extend well beyond the La Tèneculture zone.Though art-historical considerations remain essential, Harding shows that Celtic artshould also be viewed within its broader archaeological context. From Central Europeto the Atlantic west, Celtic art was essentially a social and political art, as well as areligious art, and a medium through which identity could be asserted. It was funda-mentally embedded in Celtic society, custom and belief. This new study will beindispensable for anyone wanting to take a fresh and innovative perspective on Celticart.
Dennis W. Harding
is Abercromby Professor of Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. His most recent book
The Iron Age in Northern Britain
was published in2004.