Recognition of distinctive Celtic artifacts in the archaeological record coincide with the adaptation of iron in central Europe, along with extensive trade routes, dispersal of luxury goods, stratified society, increasing technical skills, elaborate burials, and of course, conflict.
"The Hallstatt period gets its name from the burial ground at Hallstatt in the Austrian region of Salzkammergut, which has been the subject of archaeological excavations since the 1840’s. It is a continuation of the Late Bronze Age, initially without much change. For a long time, the new metal of iron remained reserved for the upper classes and was used mainly for prestige purposes. Times seem to have become calmer, as is suggested by the abandonment of nearly all fortified hill settlements of the late Bronze Age. Social differentiation continued to grow. The chariot burials of the elites experienced a renaissance, climaxing in the ‘princes’ graves’ – resting places of chieftains who in their lifetimes had enjoyed lifestyles obviously modeled after Greek-Etruscan ideals and had had regular contacts with these cultures. In southwestern Germany, the end of the Hallstatt culture also marked the end of the ‘Hallstatt princes.’
"The Hallstatt period marked the beginning of the Iron Age – which, as the name indicates, is characterized by the new material iron. For the early Iron Age, however, we have no evidence of local iron production: presumably it had to be imported. In any case, though, there were significant changes in the metal supply chain, and control of this process now made other masters rich and powerful. The sword as a status symbols was replaced in the 7th century BC by the presentation dagger. This was a time when pomp in general became more and more important. Luxury goods imported from the south also meant contact with new crafts – such as turning, and eventually the potter’s wheel came to this region as well. Centers of power, like Heuneburg hillfort on the upper Danube gradually began to urbanize. With its first reliable mention by Herodotus, the Celtic world enters into the realm of recorded history."
"In the 5th century BC, there was a fundamental change in the cultural fabric of the Hallstatt period in eastern France and southwestern Germany. Most early Iron Age central places, the so-called ‘princely seats,’ lost their significance and were destroyed or abandoned between 450 and 400 BC. However, other areas further north that until then had played a subordinate role now experienced a sudden upswing; the Marne and central Rhine region as well as Bohemia. At the same time, an entirely new art style with plant and circle decoration evolved in these regions and went on to adopt and adapt Mediterranean influences. This style became characteristic of the La Tene culture of the later Iron Age."