Armenia and the Celts (Gauls)

Armenia and the Celts (Gauls)Coming to Europe, the Celts settled in the central and western vast territories of that continent; in almost all the European countries: France, Spain, Germany, Italy, England, Belgium, Irland, etc. They were called Keltoi by the Greeks, galli and gallatian by the Romans.

In Armenian literature they are called the gauls (gaghiatsi). Celts are also known under the names of Caul and Gaul. According to a widely spread viewpoint, the ancestors of the Celts have come to Central Europe from the Black Sea coastal areas.

But another opinion states that the Celtes are the natives of the territories situated in the middle stream areas of the Rhein and the Danube Rivers (since the 7thc. B.C.). Later in the 6thc. B.C. the Celtic tribes moved to the West inhabiting the modern territories of France, Spain and Britain.

The Celtes of France (also of Belgium and Switzerland) were called Gauls by the Romans and their territory was called Gaul (Latin: Gallia).

The Historical Atlas of Celtic Culture, р. 1420

In the IV c. B. C. began their shifts towards the East and other places. Some researchers consider Armenia (northern parts of Armenia) to be the ancestral Homeland of the Celts. If this is the case Celtic tribes might supposedly have moved towards the West (today’s territories of France and Belgium) by way of the Black Sea and the Danube River.

In 390–387 B.C. the Celts crossed the Apennine Mountains and conquered Rome. In the 3rd c. B.C., reaching Asia Minor, they settled in the western bend of the Halys River Basin, where they were called galats by the Romans.

In Asia Minor they founded the State of Galatia (Cappadocia, Phrygia, Central Anatolia) with Ancyra being its centre (ancient Hittitian Hattusa, now Ankara). Armenian historians, Movses Khorenatsi (5th c.) and Movses Kaghankatvatsi (7th c.) have written about the Celts (Galatians) in their works. M. Khorenatsi writes that Galatian troops and their Eastern regiment led by Vahan Amatuni were sent to Atrpatakan by the Romans to protect the country from the Persian king.66 Movses Kaghankatvatsi, on the other hand, writes about the origin of the Celts and the Galatians mentioning that they are the descendents of Japheth’s son Magog.67

The Celtic tribes practiced farming and cattle-breeding. Craftsmanship (the making of pottery, glass and bronze objects) and trade were also developed. The Celts worshiped the tree of life (oak tree). Celtic (also Irish) crosses witness about their nation’s cultural connection with Armenia. Their circular Sun-like discs and plaited patterns remind us of Armenian ornaments and crosses (later cross-stones) of pre-Christian and Christian times.

Some heroes in the Celtic mythology have the following names Er, Eriy (Eriu), Eremon68 which are similar to Armenian names. Irish Celts used to be called Ériu (now Éire). The name Ériu is very close to the tribe and country name of Eria(ini) that was carved in Armenian king (735–713 B.C.) Rusa I’s cuneiform inscription uncovered in the Tsovinar village, located on the banks of Lake Sevan. Eria(ini) is mentioned alongside with the tribeand settlement name Uelkuni.

Let us now refer to an ancient Irish legend that allows us to see the connection between Armenia and Ireland. According to that legend Ireland was conquered by a group of warriors (or adventurers), who won the war against god Danu’s tribe, who used to live there.

Among the newly arrived people were two brothers (or a father and a son inanother version) named Ire and Eremon. Ire was proclaimed king ofthat country. Later the country was called Ireland in his honour.69

In the legend the newly arrived people were from Greece but the names Ireland and Eremon allow us to say that their ancestral Homeland was Armenia (the newly arrived people, leaving Armenia, may have settled in Greece first and later moved to Ireland). It is worth remembering that in other stories the heroes (Bavarius, Norikus and Slavs) were the sons of Hercules. Armenian-Irish cultural (cross-stones, architectural elements), ritual, worshipping and other similarities have attracted the attention of many researchers.

An eminent orientalist and Armenologist Nicholay Mar (1864– 1934), having studied European and Minor Asian mythological traditions has mentioned that ‘‘In Europe mythological traditions were preserved by the Celts, who lived in the Armenian Got-tan or Kol-ten (Գողթն-Goghtn, Nakhichevan) region’’.70

The above mentioned is also stated in the “Flammarion Dictionary of the French Language”,  where the following is written about the Gauls: “Les Gaulois sont installes sur le territoire actuel de la France relativement tard, vers 500 av. J. C. Originaire de Boheme ou de Baiere, ils parlaient une langue indo-europeenne de type celtique (comme le Breton ou le gaelique)’ (“The Gauls have settled in today’s France relatively late, in about 500 B.C., They came from Bohemia or Bavaria.

They spoke one of the Indo-European languages, Celtic, which is similar to Breton or Gaelic”).71
We see that according to this information Gauls came from Bavaria and spoke Celtic, like Breton (Brits). Martiros Kavoukjian, an Armenian intellectual, has also studied the ancient relations between Celtic tribes and Armenia.

Comparing a number of words in the Indo-European language families, he has suggested that the ancestors of Celtic (Welsh), Cornish and Breton speaking peoples have lived in places (in their ancestral Indo-European Homeland), where the words beginning with [v] were changed to [g]: e.g. gini (գինի-wine in Armenian, Indo-European root: voinio/ voino, Cimmerian gwin), gueghts (փափագ-gland/wish, Ind.-Eur. root: vel, old Cornish-guell, Breton-guell), gueghmn (ալիք- wool/ wave, Ind.-Eur. root: vel/vol, Cimmerian-gwlan, Cornish-gluan, Breton-gloan), garun (գարուն- spring, Ind.-Eur. root: vēsr/vēr, old Cimmerian-guiannuin, Cornish-guaintoin) and other words were pronounced with [g] not with [v]. The same is in Armenian72.

Making use of comparative linguistic methods (borrowings, Indo-European original roots) Kavoukjian suggested that the ancestral Homeland of Celtic languages was situated in the north-eastern part of the Armenian Highlands along the upper stream of the Kur River and on the territory of Chldr-Sevan Lakes.

The Homeland of Celtic tribes (M. Kavoukjian, 2010, p. 307)

Among the inscriptions of Ararat-Urartu kings, Argishti I (786– 764 B.C.), Sarduri II (764–735 B.C.) and Rusa I (735–713 B.C.), we come across the Gulutahi, Uelikuni, Uelikuhi toponymic names as the western locations and southern coastal areas of Lake Sevan (mark that those names are also tribe names).73 G. Ghapantsyan thinks that the name Uelikunis still preserved in the south-western territory of Lake Sevan in the form of Gegharkuni (Gegharkunik)74. Researcher S. Petrosyan is also sure of this point of view.75 M. Kavukjian states that in Armenian [v], [u] or [w] is changed into [g], UelikuniGegharkuni.76

According to historian M. Khorenatsi, one of the Armenian forefathers named Gegham (Gegh-am=ma) lived at the ‘‘seashore’’ behind the mountain in the north-eastern part of the country. The mountain was called Gegh after his name along with the country as well as the ‘‘sea’’ Gegharkuni77 (the Gegharkunyats Sea, Lake Sevan).

The country (Gegharkuni), the mountain (Gegh), the sea (Gegharkuni) as well as the tribe have the same stem [gegh] (Uel-Wel) in them. Among Lake Sevan coastal area tribes, G. Ghapantsyan singles out the gegh-uel tribe, the Uelikuni-Gegharkuni country and the forefather named Gegham, after whom the tribe was called, allowing us to consider that the Welch (Wel-ch) tribe could have preserved its tribe and ancestral Homeland’s name Uelikuni (Gegharkuni). 78

Thus, we may presume that the Uelikuhi, Uelikuni (Geghakuni, Gegharkuni) and Gulutahi settlements of the Armenian Highlands had been the original homelands of the Uel-Wel (Guel) and Gul (Gol) tribes. It is probable to consider also that the Uelikuni-Gulutahi country, including in its boundaries the Gegh (Geghama) Mountain Range, was the original Homeland of the tribes, which were called Celts by the Greeks and Gauls, Galat by the Romans.79

Hence we may assert that during several shifts in the II–I millennia B.C., the Celtic tribes known as the Celts or the Gauls were spread throughout Europe contributing greatly to the formation of European civilization and culture.

Leaving their Homeland they brought with them both spiritual (worship of gods, the Sun, and the trees, traditions and rites) and material values (bronze and iron processing, founding of new settlements and architecture skills), which attest to the similarities and relations between ancient Armenian-Celtic cultural values.

We should also bear in mind the similarities in the names and meanings of the ancient monuments (observatories) of Karahunj in Armenia (middle of the 5th millennium B.C.) and Stonehenge in Britain (middle of the 3rd millenium. B.C.), noting that ‘‘kar’’ in Armenian means ‘‘stone’’, while ‘‘hunj’’ and ‘‘henge’’ are very close in their pronunciation. They also attest to the ancient connection between the Armenian Highlands and Celtic tribes.80

Concluding, it should be noted that the history of European people (belonging to Indo-European language family) begins from Armenia, which means that the ancestral Homeland of European people (IndoEuropeans, Arians) was Armenia.

An excerpt from Angela Teryan’s book “Ancient written sources of European peoples about their ancestral homeland – Armenia and Armenians”

66 Movses Khorenatsi, 1981, p. 313

67 Movses Kaghankatvatsi, “History of Aghuank”, Y., 1969, p. 2

68 Mythology of the World Nations, M., 1988, v. I, p. 54, 1991, v. II, p. 636

69 Quiggin E.C., Encyclopedica Britanica 13 ch Ed, 1926, Ireland; Kavoukjian M., The Origin of the Names Armen and Hay and Urartu, Beirut, 1973, p. 365–366

70 Mar N., Caucasian Cultural World and Armenia, Y., 1995, p. 122

71 Dictionnaire Flammarion de la langue française, Paris, 1999, p. IV, (translated by Komitas archimandrite Hovnanyan).

72 Kavoukjian M., Studies about Armenian Ancient History, Y., 2010, the Homeland of Celtic Tribes and Celtic-Caucasian Connections, p. 301–304

73 Melikishvili G., Urartian Cuneiform Inscriptions, M., 1960, p. 266

74 Kapantsyan G., Historical-linguistic meanings of Toponymic Names in Ancient Armenia, Y., 1940, p. 22

75 Petrosyan S., The Unions of the Black Sea Coastal Areas in the North-East of the Armenian Highlands, VI–V cc. B. C., HPJ, 1976, N1

76 Kavoukjian M., The Homeland of the Celtic Tribes…, p.307

77 Movses Khorenatsi, 1981, p. 51

78 Ghapantsyan G., History of Urartu, Yerevan, 1940, p. 182,187

79 Kavoukjian M.,, the Homeland of Celtic tribes…, p. 306

80 Let us mention a recently made study. An English geneticist Stephen Oppenheimer in his 2006 book “The origins of the British” discusses the viewpoint that the ancient inhabitants of the British Isles, the Scottish people, the Welsh and the Irish have the same DNA, Y-chromosome traces that looks like the genetic code of the Basques.

One thought on “Armenia and the Celts (Gauls)

  1. the first time I was in Armenia in 2001, people who spoke no English would come up to me and say “Irish?”. It was months before I met an English speaking Armenian doctor who asked the same of me. I asked by people are saying that, and she said, “you don’t know?” “the Irish look like the original Armenians before we were taken over by numerous tribes of darker haired people with dark eyes”. Up till then, I was confused by all the ancient Celtic art I saw in historical buildings and museums and cemetaries. I was told it was their art that the Celts took with them when they expanded the original empire of which Armenia was the origin and center. I have been fascinated ever since, and few have documented what you have. Thanks

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