and in very important matters they prepare a human victim, plunging a dagger into his chest; by observing the way his limbs convulse as he falls and the gushing of his blood, they are able to read the future."There is archaeological evidence from western Europe that has been widely used to back up the idea that human sacrifice was performed by the Iron Age Celts.
Mass graves found in a ritual context dating from this period have been unearthed in Gaul, at both Gournay-sur-Aronde and Ribemont-sur-Ancre in what was the region of the Belgae chiefdom.
A form of sacrifice recorded by Caesar was the burning alive of victims in a large wooden effigy, now often known as a wicker man.
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The excavator of these sites, Jean-Louis Brunaux, interpreted them as areas of human sacrifice in devotion to a war god, Some historians have questioned whether the Greco-Roman writers were accurate in their claims. Rives remarked that it was "ambiguous" whether the druids ever performed such sacrifices, for the Romans and Greeks were known to project what they saw as barbarian traits onto foreign peoples including not only druids but Jews and Christians as well, thereby confirming their own "cultural superiority" in their own minds.
Nora Chadwick, an expert in medieval Welsh and Irish literature who believed the druids to be great philosophers, has also supported the idea that they had not been involved in human sacrifice, and that such accusations were imperialist Roman propaganda.
Based on all available forms, the hypothetical proto-Celtic word may then be reconstructed as *dru-wid-s (pl. The two elements go back to the Proto-Indo-European roots *deru- Imaginative illustration of 'An Arch Druid in His Judicial Habit', from The Costume of the Original Inhabitants of the British Islands by S. In his description, Julius Caesar claimed that they were one of the two most important social groups in the region (alongside the equites, or nobles) and were responsible for organizing worship and sacrifices, divination, and judicial procedure in Gaulish, British and Irish society.