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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The archaeological record of the Galatians in Anatolia, 278-63 B.C. Nixon, Lucia Frances


The Galatians were a group of Celts who arrived in Anatolia from the west in 278 B.C. According to the historical sources, they earned their livelihood by plundering and by serving as mercenaries in the eastern Mediterranean. Ancient authors state that the Galatians constituted a definite threat to the cities of western Asia Minor before they were settled in central Anatolia. Galatia became a Roman province in 25 B.C.; by that time, the Galatians had been thoroughly absorbed by the local population. The purpose of this paper is to see what archaeological evidence exists for the presence of the Galatians in Anatolia during the pre-provincial period, and how that evidence can be obtained. Three types of evidence are examined: pottery, burials and grave goods, and forts and settlements. Galatian pottery is still a controversial subject requiring more study and excavation. Only one burial site, Karalar, can definitely be identified by an inscription in Greek. The evidence from this site suggests that the Galatians adopted various types of Hellenistic tomb architecture and that they placed a fundamentally Hellenistic selection of grave goods within their tombs and graves. Galatian burials are therefore hard to distinguish from ordinary Hellenistic burials in Anatolia. Three tores and three fibulae from burials at Karalar, Bolu, and Bogazk5y are probably Celtic; that there are so few of them suggests that they had been imported from Europe, and that the Galatians were not themselves metalworkers in the Celtic tradition. Such objects cannot be used as the sole means of identifying Galatian burials. The situation is little better for forts and settlements. Some have been identified because they were inhabited by literate people before or after the arrival of the Galatians; others have been suggested because of the likelihood of their location. Settlement seems to be more dense west of the Halys but more surveys and excavation are necessary to test this emerging pattern. So far, the pre-provincial period has yielded little in the way of archaeological evidence for the presence of the Galatians in Anatolia, despite the solid background provided by the historical sources. The Galatians had little connection with the European Celts and adapted easily to local customs. This capacity for adaptation makes it difficult to say what is Galatian and what is Anatolian Hellenistic. Only further work in the field can remedy this state of affairs.

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