Gold disk found at Auvers, La Tène culture, 5th century BC.—Courtesy of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris
Archaeological site at the eastern end of Lake Neuchâtel, Switz. The name by extension applies to a late Iron Age culture of European Celts. La Tène culture originated in the mid-5th century BC, when the Celts came into contact with Greeks and Etruscans. It passed through several phases and regional variations during the next 400 years, as the Celts populated northern Europe and the British Isles, and ended in the mid-1st century BC, when most of the Celts came under Roman control. Objects of the early period are characterized by ornamental S-shapes, spirals, and round patterns. The middle period is notable for long iron swords, heavy knives, and burial in coffins or under stone heaps; findings with a later date, but still of the middle period, include decorated scabbards, broad-bladed spearheads, and wooden shields with iron supports. The final period, showing Roman influence, is distinguished by peasant's implements, such as iron sickles, scythes, axes, saws, and plowshares.