The Ancient Paths by Graham Robb
What is the best way to annoy a Celt? Pave his road and call it Roman! If you were to recall any schooling you may have had on Classical Antiquity then the chances are that it would centre almost exclusively on Greek culture and Roman Empire with only a passing nod to the ‘Barbarians’ beyond those well defined terms. In particular, the Celtic cultures are generally given to be the antithetical of the Classical period with their superstitious Druid Priests and lust for head-hunting. Given that we have the Romans to thank for this view it shouldn’t surprise us to learn that we may have been misinformed!
Graham Robb has sought to address this asymmetry by unravelling an ancient map of Europe. One that exists under our very noses, laid out by Celtic scholars, traders and civilisations, it is a history that has been annexed by Roman conquerors or written out of history in the course of their ‘genocidal peace’.
Robb argues that the Celtic civilisations of Iron Age Europe were incredibly sophisticated places, complete with centres of learning, industry, art and trade and linked together with paths based neolitihic astronomy. His depth of detail and research is staggering and though the book can be exhausting, it is fascinating in equal measure. There is no doubt that some of his hypotheses are speculative yet the evidence is compelling and when he picks apart the propaganda of Roman historians, quite revealing too.
For anybody interested in Classical history or the history of Europe, this book comes highly recommended. Be prepared to have your assumptions challenged and your consciousness raised, it is well worth the ride.