Period I newsletter

La Tène, canton de Neuchatel, le parc de chênes. Bild/Photo: TES.

The Holy Oaks of La Tène

archaeological finds. They show that the Celts are a name for many tribes that inhabited Central and Southern Europe from about 1 300 BC, including the area of present-day Switzerland. The Celts have never been a political unity. Not much is known about the Celtic language either. Due to the Romanisation from the first century B.C., this language has disappeared. Scientists can still trace certain words, names and place names back to this language, but nothing is known about its grammar, pronunciation and origin.

Based on archaeological finds, particularly in the graves of the elite and the reconstruction of settlements, called oppidum/oppida, a reasonably reliable picture of culture, trade and social networks can be given. It was a culture with a high level of crafts and organisation and a European system of trade from the Mediterranean to Scandinavian countries.

Two periods are distinguished in science. The Hallstatt period or the first Iron Age (1300-400 B.C.) and the La Tène period or the Second Iron Age from 400 to the beginning of Roman times, from 122 B.C. until its incorporation into the Roman Empire from Emperor Augustus around 15 B.C. Hallstatt is named after a place in Austria. La Tène is the area close to Neuchâtel where around 1860 lake dwelling   houses and many Celtic objects were found. The nearby museum Laténium has this period as a specialisation. The name is derived from La Tène.

The oak tree had a religious meaning in their cuture. A parc of oaks has been (re) created in the La Tène area to commemorate the ancient inhabitants.