19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2003
It's hard for me to say Wells achieved his stated goals. Perhaps I'm too generous with my 5-star rating. I am giving the book this superlative rating because by the time I finished it, I realized the 'standard model' of proto-historic Germania has very little good foundation. There are many other revolations in the field of Eurasian archaeology which are forcing some old questions to the fore. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain Russian and Western researchers are now sharing data and ideas. At the same time significant new discoveries are emerging regularly. All these forces were beginning to put pressure on my conception of Iron Age Europe, but Wells book was the wedge in the fault-line that caused the confidence I've held regarding this subject to crumble.
It's not so much what Wells says in the book, but what his selection of topics implies. When I finished the book I was left with the sense that there may have been no great Germanic horde in Northern Europe existing separately and distinctly from the 'Celts' and 'Scythians' at the time of Caesar. I was also left with the impression that 'we' really don't know who, what, where, or when the Germani were.
Within five Centuries of Caesar's crossing the Rhine, the Germanic People had gained control of almost all of Europe. Before reading Wells's book, I had simply accepted that the vast Germanic population was in gestation for the previous several centuries, and this population was 'native' to Germania. By reading Beyond Celts, Germans and Scythians, I had hoped to get a better idea of who the Germani were as they crossed the event horizon of history. Not only do I not have a better idea, I realize that my previous 'good' ideas are unfounded. This may seem like a poor endorsement of the book, but my goal was to improve my understanding of the topic, and reading this book certainly accomplished that. I now know there are some very significant unanswered questions in this field, and things may be far more exciting and complex than I previously imagined.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2001
Wells tackles one of the most interesting questions in history and archaeology - that of ethnicity and identity. He shows the reader that much of our concept of the Iron Age and later periods is determined by our modern ideas and catergories, which may have meant nothing to the people concerned and -even worse- which may hinder a real understanding of the Iron Age in Europe.
8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2001
This book is about what the synopsis says, and nothing more - do not look at it if You are looking for general information about Western and Central European Iron Age peoples. It belongs to the 'Duckworth Debates in Archaeology' series and looks like that, too.
Concerning word 'Scythians' in the title - I do not know why it is included there. There is not much material about them - You will find more in any decent book about prehistoric Europe, not to speak about books concentrating upon Steppe cultures. In the beginning of the index it is said that the word 'Scythian' was not indexed as it is too frequent. I looked it up and found less occurrences than that of name 'Caesar' that is indexed. If You are interested in Indo-European nomads look somewhere else !