The name Bohemia, first recorded in history, originates in the Celtic word ‘Boiohaemum’, signifying the dwelling place of the Boii people. This Celtic community established itself in Central Europe long before the arrival of Slavic people.
The Celtic Boii people were an ancient Celtic tribe that lived in the region of Bohemia, located in what is now the Czech Republic, during the Iron Age and into the Roman period. They are known for their rich cultural heritage and important role in shaping the history of Bohemia.
The Celts were present in Bohemia before they arrived in Britain, England. They settled in Bohemia as early as the 8th century B.C. and by the 5th century B.C. Their presence as farmers left little evidence, but remains of early settlements and fortifications have been discovered along with stunning artifacts, such as the Msecke Zebrovice limestone head. The Msecke Zebrovice Celtic head is the most famous artifact found in Bohemia and is widely featured in publications on the Celts. Made of limestone, it is considered one of the most beautiful examples of Celtic art.
The Boii were a group of warriors and were considered one of the most powerful tribes in Europe during their time. They were fierce in battle and were known for their bravery and strength. The tribe was said to have originated in the region of Bohemia, and their name is derived from the word “boii,” which means “warrior” in the Celtic language.
The Boii were said to have been ferocious warriors. According to certain written sources, some of these warriors went a step further by going into battle carrying only their weapons and shields.
The Boii were one of the first tribes to settle in the region of Bohemia, and they quickly established themselves as a powerful and influential force. They traded with other tribes and were known for their prosperity and wealth. The Boii were also known for their advanced metalworking skills, and their blacksmiths were renowned for their ability to craft fine weapons and tools.
In the early 1st century BC, the Boii tribe was conquered by the Roman Empire. However, their cultural heritage lived on, and the tribe’s descendants continued to play a significant role in the history of Bohemia. The Boii are remembered for their contributions to the region’s rich cultural heritage, and their legacy can still be seen today in the numerous historical sites, monuments, and artifacts that remain in Bohemia.
Watch this short 2-minute video for an aerial view of ancient Celtic lands.
Some of the known sites of the Boii people include:
Čáslav-Budčeves: This is one of the largest known Boii settlements in Bohemia. Today, it is an archaeological site that is open to visitors.
The site is located on a hill near the modern town of Čáslav and is known for its well-preserved Celtic fortifications and ramparts. The site was used as a defensive structure and was likely a political and cultural center for the Boii.
Today, Čáslav-Budčeves is a popular tourist destination and is a protected monument. There are information boards and exhibits on site that provide information about the history of the Boii and the significance of the site. Visitors can walk along the ramparts and explore the remains of the fortifications and structures.
In addition to its historical importance, Čáslav-Budčeves also offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside and is a popular spot for hiking and picnicking.
Němčice | Tábor: This is another known Boii settlement, which is located near the city of Tábor. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction, and visitors can see the remains of the ancient settlement, as well as an exhibit on the Boii people.
The Boii settlement near the city of Tábor is a site of historical significance as it is believed to be one of the main centers of the Boii tribe. Their presence in Tábor and the surrounding area played a key role in shaping the early history of the region.
Today, the site of the Boii settlement near Tábor is a popular destination for tourists and history enthusiasts, offering a glimpse into the ancient past and the rich cultural heritage of the Czech Republic. Several well-preserved archaeological remains at the site, including ancient fortifications, residential buildings, and other structures, provide a unique insight into the everyday life of the Boii people. In addition to the historical significance of the site, the surrounding area is also a popular destination for outdoor activities, such as hiking and cycling. It offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Němčice is a small village. It is known for its well-preserved medieval architecture and historical significance. The village was founded in the 14th century and has several Gothic and Renaissance buildings, including a castle and a church. Today, Němčice is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors with its peaceful countryside and scenic views. Visitors can walk through the village and admire the beautiful old buildings and historical monuments. Additionally, there are several events and festivals held in Němčice throughout the year, including a medieval festival, where visitors can experience a glimpse of life in the Middle Ages.
Strážovice: This is another known Boii settlement, which is located near the city of České Budějovice. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction, and visitors can see the remains of the ancient settlement, as well as an exhibit on the Boii people.
The Boii settlement near Strážovice was once inhabited by the Boii people. The area has been extensively studied by archaeologists who have found evidence of the tribe’s presence in the form of pottery fragments and metal objects. Some of these artifacts are displayed in local museums and provide a glimpse into the daily life of the Boii people in the region.
Chotoviny: This is another known Boii settlement, which is located near the city of Písek. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction. In the past, this area was believed to be a settlement of the Boii people. Today, there is little evidence of the Boii settlement at Chotoviny, but the area is still significant due to its rich cultural and historical heritage. The village is located on the banks of the Otava River and is surrounded by rolling hills and lush forests, making it a popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing. Despite its small size, Chotoviny is known for its vibrant community and traditional festivals, which attract visitors from near and far.
These sites offer an excellent opportunity to learn about the Boii people and their way of life, as well as the archaeology of Bohemia during the Iron Age and early Roman Empire period. Visitors can learn about the Boii people’s lifestyle, technology, and culture through various exhibits, guided tours, and interactive activities.
The Boii are known to have established settlements in several parts of the Bohemian Forest, including near the cities of Tábor, Strážovice, and Písek, among others.
Today, the remains of Boii settlements can still be seen in several parts of the Bohemian Forest. Some of these settlements have been excavated and studied by archaeologists, who have uncovered evidence of their houses, streets, and fortifications, as well as objects and artifacts used in everyday life. Visitors to the Bohemian Forest can visit several museums and historical sites that commemorate the Boii and their civilization, including the Boii museum in Tábor and the Chotoviny archaeological site near Písek.
In addition to their contributions to the region’s cultural heritage, the Boii also left their mark on the world of literature. The Boii are mentioned in many ancient texts.
Julius Caesar wrote about the Boii people in his famous book The Gallic Wars. According to Caesar, the Boii were one of the most powerful tribes in ancient Gaul and were known for their military prowess.
They lived in what is now modern-day Bohemia, in the Czech Republic, and were part of the Celtic culture. Caesar described the Boii as being large and well-built, with long hair and beards, and tattoos covering their bodies. He wrote that they were fearless in battle and fought with great bravery.
Although the Boii were eventually conquered by the Romans, they left a lasting impact on the region and are remembered as a significant part of the ancient Celtic culture.
Strabo, the Greek historian, and geographer wrote about the Boii people in his monumental work Geography.
In it, he mentioned the Boii as a Celtic tribe that lived in the region of Bohemia and Moravia in the present-day Czech Republic.
Strabo also mentioned the Boii’s military exploits, including their battles against the Roman Empire and their migration to Italy, where they eventually became one of the largest and most powerful Celtic tribes in the region. Strabo’s account of the Boii is one of the earliest and most comprehensive descriptions of this ancient Celtic people, and it remains an important source of information for historians and archaeologists studying the Boii and their civilization.
Polybius, a Greek historian of the Hellenistic period, wrote about the Boii, a Celtic tribe that lived in central Europe during ancient times. In his historical work, he described the Boii as a powerful and warlike people who were known for their bravery in battle.
However, Polybius also mentioned that the Boii eventually became a client state of Rome and ceased their hostile actions.
Polybius’s historical work is called The Histories. It is a comprehensive history of the rise of the Roman Empire, covering the period from 264 B.C. to 146 B.C. The work provides a detailed account of the events that led to the formation of the Roman Empire, including the Punic Wars, the politics of the Roman Republic, and the expansion of Roman power in the Mediterranean world.
Polybius’s “The Histories” is considered one of the most important works of ancient history and is widely regarded as a seminal source for understanding the ancient world.
Plautus refers to the Boii in Captivi: “But now he is not a Sicilian – he is a Boius, he has got a Boia woman.”
In volume 21 of his History of Rome, Livy (59 BC – 17 AD) claims that it was a Boio man that offered to show Hannibal the way across the Alps.
“When, after the action had thus occurred, his own men returned to each general, Scipio could adopt no fixed plan of proceeding, except that he should form his measures from the plans and undertakings of the enemy: and Hannibal, uncertain whether he should pursue the march he had commenced into Italy, or fight with the Roman army which had first presented itself, the arrival of ambassadors from the Boii, and of a petty prince called Magalus, diverted from an immediate engagement; who, declaring that they would be the guides of his journey and the companions of his dangers, gave it as their opinion, that Italy ought to be attacked with the entire force of the war, his strength having been nowhere previously impaired.”
Interesting side note: In the first century BC, the Boii living in an oppidum of Bratislava minted Biatecs, high-quality coins with inscriptions (probably the names of kings) in Latin letters. This is the only “written source” provided by the Boii themselves. Biatec was the name of a person, presumably a king, who appeared on the Celtic coins minted by the Boii in Bratislava (the capital of Slovakia) in the 1st century BC. The word Biatec (or Biatex) is also used as the name of those coins. Biatecs, made of high-quality silver and gold, bear inscriptions in capital Latin letters. Among 14 different inscriptions (for example, Nonnos, Busu, Bussumarua, Titto), Biatec appears most frequently.
The inscriptions represent the oldest known use of writing in Slovakia and the neighboring territories. The coins have a diameter of 25 millimeters and a weight of 16.5-17 grams. The obverse usually shows various depictions of a head or a pair of heads. The reverse usually shows a horseman, but various mythological and real animals also occur.
A short video on the Boii people:
There may be photographs or drawings of Boii settlements in Bohemia in various books, archives, and museums dedicated to the history and archaeology of the region. Some museums that may have information about the Boii people and their settlements in Bohemia include the National Museum in Prague and the Archaeological Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences. You can also check online resources such as academic journals, databases, and websites dedicated to the study of the Boii people and their culture. However, it is important to note that there are limited surviving sources of information about the physical appearance of the Boii people, and most of what is known about them is based on written records and archaeological evidence.
Today, the Boii are remembered as one of the most important tribes in the history of Bohemia. Their rich cultural heritage, advanced metalworking skills, and fierce bravery continue to inspire people around the world and serve as a testament to the strength and influence of the Celtic Boii people.
Whether you’re a history buff, a lover of ancient cultures, or simply interested in learning more about the rich heritage of Bohemia, exploring the legacy of the Boii is an essential part of understanding the history of this fascinating region.
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