Uncovering the Celts: A Three-Part Course with Jonathan Migliori

Uncovering the Celts: A Three-Part Course with Jonathan Migliori


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This course will provide an in-depth look at the ancient Celts and their modern descendants. We’ll examine the shifting definition of the term “Celtic” and investigate the artifacts, peoples, and languages to which it is applied.

Few ancient cultures are as misunderstood as the Celts. This ambiguity arises from the fact that the term “Celtic” has different definitions for archaeologists, historians, and linguists. From their origins in the river valleys of Central Europe, Celtic cultures spread from the Atlantic to Anatolia in the first millennium B.C., before most were subsumed by the Roman Empire. Celtic languages nevertheless survived on the fringe of western Europe, and millions of people today identify as Celtic in some capacity. This course invites participants to explore these interrelated meanings from prehistory to the modern-day.

Led by an expert on ancient history, Jonathan Migliori, M.A., this interactive seminar will trace the development of Celtic identity from the Iron Age to today. Starting with the first appearance of the word “Celt” in 6th-century Greek geographies, we’ll explore how archaeological evidence and ancient sources can be synthesized to reveal the ethnogenesis of the Celts. After following their migrations around Europe and the Mediterranean, we will then examine the classification of Celtic languages and examine the six surviving today. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the ancient Celtic world.

Lecture 1: Introduction and Prehistory

Our first meeting will lay the groundwork for our future meetings by examining three foundational topics: the origin and definition of the term “Celt,” the nature of our sources on the Celts, and the prehistoric cultures of central Europe.

Lecture 2: Migrations and Conquest

Our second meeting will cover the first appearance of Celtic peoples in the historical record (through their encounters with the Greeks and Romans) through the fall of the Roman Empire.

Lecture 3: Ancient Languages, Modern Identities

Our final meeting will focus on Celtic linguistic identity, investigating the origins of and relationships between ancient and modern Celtic languages as well as the unique histories of the cultures that speak them.

Jonathan Migliori is an archaeologist and teacher from Providence RI with a B.A. in Archaeology, Classics, and Medieval Cultures from Brown University and an M.A. in Archaeology from Durham University, where he specialized in landscape studies of Roman Syria. He has participated in excavations in Rhode Island and Ostia Antica, and also worked in the Ancient Art department of the RISD Museum of Art. In addition to his ancient Mediterranean experience, his academic interests include early medieval English literature, the archaeology of the Viking Age, and historical linguistics. Currently, he is a teacher at The Wheeler School in Providence and spends the summers lecturing on history and archaeology as a Resident Historian with Viking Cruises.

How does it work?

This is a three-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background on this topic, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $105 for three lectures.

Is a recording available?

Yes. If you need to miss a lecture, you will be sent a recording after the event.

This course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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