A little more prehistory:
the elites of middle Europe
To complete our survey of the prehistoric background of those areas of Europe that may have some claim to being the homeland of the Celts we must consider what archaeology has to show of west central Europe – a zone roughly coincident with eastern France and southern Germany. From a geographical point of view this region, stretching northwards from the north flank of the Alps, is exceptionally well endowed. It is here that the great rivers of Europe (Danube, Rhine, Rhône, Saône, Seine, and Loire) come close together, creating a gigantic route node. Assuming that the river valleys provided the easiest means of communication, the west central European zone occupied the point where the main east–west route, ultimately joining the Black Sea and the Atlantic, was crossed by north–south routes from the west Mediterranean and Adriatic to the English Channel, North Sea, and Baltic. Communities occupying such a location had the opportunity to become powerful and innovative.
In the Late Bronze Age (c.1300–800 BC) west central Europe began to develop a sufficiently characteristic culture to allow it to be distinguished from other regions within the broad continuum usually referred to as the Urnfield culture. In this North Alpine Zone hillforts begin to proliferate and among the very large numbers of urned cremations found in many cemeteries a few can be distinguished, by virtue of their included grave goods, as