By Michael Davis
Over 80 pieces of ancient Celtic artifacts are on display at Clayton College & State University from now until the end of October.
Part of Lamar County resident Lewis Hales' collection, the exhibit features ancient bronze necklaces and bracelets from a culture long vanished from Europe.
"We appreciated Mr. Hales' very generous offer to display his collection," said Dr. Eugene Hatfield, chairman of history department at Clayton State.
"He thought his collection would provide a great learning experience for our students and we agreed with him," he said.
"This display would help students be aware of the importance of history," said Hatfield.
The collection is on display near the library's front entrance and the entrance to the Arts and Sciences building.
Library Director Robert Fox said he was willing to take the exhibit on because, "we're always looking for interesting collections."
"My primary goal was to put the collection on loan at the university for the purpose of enhancing and motivating interest in the study of Celtic History," said Hales.
Acquired over a 3-year period from various galleries and other private collectors, Hales said his collection is the largest currently on display in the Southeast and will soon go to Wales for display.
Most of the items date back to the La Tene period, he said, between 700 and 200 B.C. "All of the artifacts are of the continental Celtic origin excavated from central Europe," he said.
Items like brooches, finger rings, necklaces, and beads make up most of the collection.
"I think the collection tells a great deal about their religion and how their belief system was important to society," said Kathryn Kemp, an ancient history professor at Clayton State.
"All of the languages spoken in Europe are derived from Celtic language," she said.
At one time, most of central Europe was inhabited by Celtic tribes that were eventually absorbed into the Roman Empire, Kemp said.
"The Celts, while they were very brave, they weren't very well organized," she said. "These guys were great warriors?they would scare people to death because they were so ferocious."
But as Roman culture spread through Europe, Kemp said, by 1400, Celtic territory shrank into mainly modern-day Scotland and Ireland.