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Forgotten History of Celtic Anatolia

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7m Feb 28, 2021
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Galatia was a region in north-central Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) settled by the Celtic Gauls c. 278-277 BCE. The name comes from the Greek for “Gaul” which was repeated by Latin writers as Galli. The Celts were offered the region by the king of neighboring Bithynia, Nicomedes I (r. 278-255 BCE) and established themselves in three provinces made up of four cantons (wards) comprised of city-states (known as oppidum) governed, respectively, by the three tribes which made up the initial group: the Tectosages, Trocmil, and Tolistogogii.

The Galatian Celts retained their culture at first, continuing to observe their ancient religious festivals and rituals, but gradually became Hellenized to the point that they were referred to as Greek-Gauls by some Latin writers. They were conquered by Rome in 189 BCE, becoming a client state, but were granted a degree of autonomy under the reign of Deiotarus (“the Divine Bull”, r. c. 105-c. 42 BCE) after Pompey the Great (l. c. 106-44 BCE) defeated Mithridates VI (r. 120-63 BCE) of Pontus in 63 BCE and was later absorbed into the Roman Empire in 25 BCE by Augustus Caesar. It is best known from the biblical Book of Galatians, a letter written to the Christian community there, by Saint Paul.

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