Celts, usually pronounced /kelts/ refers to the people in Europe who used to speak the Celtic language.
The Celts covered the area starting from the British Isles up to Galatia. They had many relationships with other civilizations that existed in that area. Although the Celts left no written evidence of their presence there, luckily the other people wrote about them.
The first historically recorded encounter of a people displaying the cultural traits associated with the Celts comes from northern Italy around 400 BC, when a previously unknown group of barbarians came down from the Alps and managed to chase the Etruscans from the abundant Po valley.
Other Roman historians tell us more of the Celts. Diodorus notes that: "Their aspect is terrifying...They are very tall in stature, with rippling muscles under clear white skin. Their hair is blond, but not naturally so: they bleach it, to this day, artificially, washing it in lime and combing it back from their foreheads. They look like wood-demons, their hair thick and shaggy like a horse's mane. Some of them are cleanshaven, but others - especially those of high rank, shave their cheeks but leave a mustache that covers the whole mouth and, when they eat and drink, acts like a sieve, trapping particles of food...The way they dress is astonishing: they wear brightly colored and embroidered shirts, with trousers called bracae and cloaks fastened at the shoulder with a brooch, heavy in winter, light in summer. These cloaks are striped or checkered in design, with the separate checks close together and in various colors."
A very funny aspect regarding their looks is that they were extremely concerned about their own physique. They wore belts around their waist which were also used to measure their size. And if anyone exceeded the size of the belt, he was fined.
According to the same Diodorus, the Celts used to be quite forceful in battle: "[The Celts] wear bronze helmets with figures picked out on them, even horns, which made them look even taller than they already are...while others cover themselves with breast-armor made out of chains. But most content themselves with the weapons nature gave them: they go naked into battle...Weird, discordant horns were sounded, [they shouted in chorus with their] deep and harsh voices, they beat their swords rhythmically against their shields."
Diodorus also describes how the Celts cut off their enemies' heads and nailed them over the doors of their huts, as Diodorus states: "In exactly the same way as hunters do with their skulls of the animals they have slain...they preserved the heads of their most high-ranking victims in cedar oil, keeping them carefully in wooden boxes. "
But, above all, the most fascinating part about Celts was their religious leaders, the Druids, which were considered their priests. All the information about the Druids comes from the writers of those ancient times. Druids left no written records of their amazing knowledge. Yet they were associated with the erudite Brahmins, the Chaldean astronomers of Babylon, or with the Pythagoreans. In fact, here is what Caesar wrote about these people: "they know much about the stars and celestial motions, and about the size of the earth and universe, and about the essential nature of things, and about the powers and authority of' the immortal gods; and these things they teach to their pupils." Druids believed in and therefore preached the idea of the immortality of the human spirit. They were said to have performed all sorts of religious rituals, including human sacrifice, although no clear evidence of this is to be found. But the interesting thing about Druids is their mystic halo. There are still people who claim to be descendants of those famous Druids, and to pass on their spiritual heritage.
History is interesting and fascinating and when it comes to ancient times. A glimpse of those old times can be seen up to nowadays in parts of Europe, but isn't it more curious to find out about what we don't know?