La Tène

La Tène lä tĕn [key], ancient Celtic site on Lake Neuchâtel, Switzerland, that gives its name to the second and final period of the European Iron Age. It is characterized by an art style that drew upon Greek, Etruscan, and Scythian motifs and translated them into highly abstract designs in metal, pottery, and wood. The earliest phase of Tenian culture, from the 6th to the late 5th cent. b.c., spread from the middle Rhine region E into the Danube valley, S into Switzerland, and W and N into France, the Low Countries, Denmark, and the British Isles; this was the period of the first of the great Celtic (see Celt) migrations. Tenian culture flourished until subjected to the advances of the Roman Empire. The Celtic peoples of the La Tène period borrowed much from older civilizations, including the Etruscan chariot, woodworking tools that enabled them to clear temperate forests for planting, and Greek agricultural implements such as the rotary millstone. Native coinage appeared in Gaul during the latter part of the period, along with the fortified townships eventually conquered by Julius Caesar. An exceptional example of late Tenian culture is found in the ancient lake dwellings of Glastonbury, S England.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Archaeology: General