When Hannibal decided to attack Rome and its possessions in Italy, he knew he would need the support of many Italian groups who were currently under Roman rule. For the long journey into Northern Italy he would need to pass through much Celtic territory, and some of the Celtic tribes were bribed to assist or stay neutral, while others happily joined his efforts to humble Rome. Some tribes however took a belligerent line, and while journeying through the Alps Hannibal’s column was ambushed in a valley by Celts, who rolled boulders down onto the struggling army. Despite many casualties the army survived, but once it entered the Po Valley friendly approaches to the first major tribe of Celts, the Taurini, were rebuffed. Hannibal needed to show he was still strong, so he attacked their chief town, and after a three-day siege he took it, sacking the town and massacring the inhabitants. The lesson was not lost on the other tribes, and many now flocked to join his army. This set from Linear-A focuses on those battles Hannibal had with the Celts, although of course many such Celts would also fight by his side during the long Second Punic War.
Our top two rows showcase what might be described as the conventional poses in this set. There are a number of fighting poses, plus several that seem to be largely inactive. From the choice of box artwork, it is clear that some of these are intended to be looking down on Hannibal’s column as it winds its way through the valley, and several are clearly looking below themselves, but on the whole these would serve perfectly well as warriors on a flat battlefield too. The fighting poses are nice and lively, and the non-combat poses are particularly useful if you want to portray Celts drawn up ready for battle, for example, so all are valuable.
Our last row begins with two unusual poses, which are very much orientated to the valley ambush scenario. One pushes a boulder while another we might imagine is levering the same object with a view to inconveniencing someone at the bottom of a slope. These are much more specialised poses, but both are realistic in themselves. The chieftain with the spectacular crest looks on while the last figure is labelled as an aristocratic warrior, and is easily identified by the helmet and body armour that he wears. Clearly he too is in the thick of the action, and is a worthwhile reminder that even at this early date the wealthiest of the Celts had access to all the latest body protection technology.
Despite Hannibal’s clashes with the Celts happening in November, and sometimes at altitude, it is possible that some warriors went into battle naked. To what extent this bravado was on show is impossible to know now, but in this set all the Celts are lightly clothed, if at all. Five of the poses are naked, and most of the rest have just a pair of trousers. The chieftain has in addition a cloak, and the man with the lever wears a tunic. Only the aristocratic warrior, with his body armour, looks suitably dressed for the time of year! Some of the warriors wear shoes, but many have decided to go barefoot as well, really taking the personal discomfort to a high level. All have the characteristic lime-washed hair sticking up apart from the two noble figures, who have helmets – the chieftain’s of classic design, but the other looks to be an import from Greece or similar.
Many carry a spear, and all have a sword about them, which is perhaps surprising as a sword was still an expensive mark of rank and wealth at this stage. The tip of the first man’s sword is curved, but this seems like a problem with the mould as his scabbard is straight, as it should be. An array of shields are also being carried, all of which look reasonable apart from the small square example in our top row, but even this cannot be dismissed.
The sculpting is good, with the musculature of the warriors being nicely done, as is the faces with the moustaches on all. The figure with spear held over his head is very flat, but otherwise the poses are good and quite natural. Finer elements like the hair and some of the spear points are not quite so good, but essentially these are likely to be perfectly good for most people. Flash varies from none at all to quite a lot, but most of the seams here are at the ‘none at all’ end of that range, so there is not a lot of cleaning up required here.
Although there have been several sets of Celts made before this one, the enormous importance of the Celtic culture on the history of Europe means there can hardly be too many. This set adds to those that have gone before, and in particular offers more ‘out of combat’ poses, though the two warriors in the bottom row are much more niche. Nicely made and with no issues of accuracy, this is a fine contribution of Celts for the impressive range of Linear-A sets depicting the exploits of Hannibal, who could not have achieved a fraction of what he did without them.