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Subject:

Re: Genetic origins of the Celt's

From:

Barry Bishop <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 2 Jul 2003 13:48:57 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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As no one else has replied to this I thought I would throw my tuppence worth
in!
I'm not sure what this Neolithic Haplogroup G* means, nor do I know much
about linguistic theory, (although I suspect that the major
weakness of the theory lies in attempts to 'pin' the postulated 'tree' on to
some form of chronological framework), and I do not what to get involved in
any invasion/migration/transmission-of-culture/population replacement type
debates, as life is too short.
However, as regards to tracing ancestors: as the number of anyone's
ancestors
increases exponentially as you go back through the generations, after a
relatively short
time, say a couple of thousand years, the theoretical number of your
ancestors would be greater than the sum total of everyone who has ever
lived. Although this is evidently not the case, and many of your ancestors
would share common ancestors, it is nevertheless true that you, and everyone
else on the planet, are very likely to be a direct descendant of virtually
everybody on the planet who lived more than one or two thousand years ago,
whose genes have been transmitted down to the present. It is
probably safe to claim direct descendancy from any of these 'Celtic'
speaking peoples, any other population of Indo-European speakers, or indeed
any other group
on the planet for that matter. I hope this isn't disappointing as such, the
wonderfulness of such concepts is that they demonstrate that racism, any
notions of genetic superiority or nationalism based on ideas about generic
inheritance are clearly ridiculous.
Barry



----- Original Message -----
From: "Grant South" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, July 01, 2003 12:49 PM
Subject: Genetic origins of the Celt's


Hi to all on the list.

I am a family researcher who is interested in researching the Neolithic
culture of Britain due to my being a member of the Neolithic Haplogroup G*.

This haplogroup is found mostly in the Caucasus Mountains and I believe this
area is identified as the birth place of the Indo-European language group.

I would like to put forward a theory which I would be highly interested in
your comments.

I am no expert but I believe linguists identify the Indo-European language
was agricultural in nature due to its early identification of the land and
its grains and fruits, being shared in common amongst early members of that
language group.

Further I find today posted this article in the NY Times.


Celtic Found to Have Ancient Roots

July 1, 2003
 By NICHOLAS WADE






In November 1897, in a field near the village of Coligny in
eastern France, a local inhabitant unearthed two strange
objects.

One was an imposing statue of Mars, the Roman god of war.
The other was an ancient bronze tablet, 5 feet wide and 3.5
feet high. It bore numerals in Roman but the words were in
Gaulish, the extinct version of Celtic spoken by the
inhabitants of France before the Roman conquest in the
first century B.C.

The tablet, now known as the Coligny calendar, turned out
to record the Celtic system of measuring time, as well as
being one of the most important sources of Gaulish words.

Two researchers, Dr. Peter Forster of the University of
Cambridge in England and Dr. Alfred Toth of the University
of Zurich, have now used the calendar and other Celtic
inscriptions to reconstruct the history of Celtic and its
position in the Indo-European family of languages.

They say that Celtic became a distinct language and entered
the British Isles much earlier than supposed.

Though the Gauls were strong enough to sack Rome in 390
B.C., eventually the empire struck back. The Romans
defeated the Celts, both in France and in Britain, so
decisively that Latin and its successor languages displaced
Celtic over much of its former territory. In the British
Isles, Celtic speakers survived in two main groups: the
Goidelic branch of Celtic, which includes Irish and Scots
Gaelic, and the Brythonic branch, formed of Welsh and
Breton, a Celtic tongue carried to Brittany in France by
emigrants from Cornwall.

Because languages change so fast, historical linguists
distrust language trees that go back more than a few
thousand years. Dr. Forster, a geneticist, has developed a
new method for relating a group of languages, basing it on
the tree-drawing techniques used to trace the evolutionary
relationships among genes. His method works on just a
handful of words, a fortunate circumstance since only some
30 Gaulish words have known counterparts in all the other
languages under study.

Dr. Forster and his linguist colleague Dr. Toth have used
the method to draw up a tree relating the various branches
of Celtic to one another and to other Indo-European
languages like English, French, Spanish, Latin and Greek.
In an article in today's issue of The Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences, they say that soon after the
ancestral Indo-European language arrived in Europe it split
into different branches leading to Celtic, Latin, Greek and
English.

Within Celtic, their tree shows that Gaulish - the
continental version of the language - separated from its
Goidelic and Brythonic cousins, much as might be expected
from the facts of geography.

The researchers' method even dates the fork points in their
language tree, although the dates have a wide range of
possibility. The initial splitting of Indo-European in
Europe occurred around 8100 B.C., give or take 1,900 years,
and the divergence between the continental and British
versions of Gaelic took place in 3200 B.C., plus or minus
1,500 years, they calculate.

These dates are much earlier than previously estimated.
"The traditional date of the Indo-European family has been
4000 BC for some time," Dr. Merritt Ruhlen of Stanford
University said. Dr. Ruhlen said the new method "seems
pretty reasonable" and should be useful in tracing back the
earlier history of the Indo-European language.

Specialists have long debated which country was the
homeland of the Indo-Europeans and whether their language
was spread by conquest or because its speakers were the
first farmers whose methods and tongue were adopted by
other populations. The second theory, that of spread by
agriculture, has been advocated by Dr. Colin Renfrew, a
Cambridge archaeologist.

Dr. Forster, who works in Dr. Renfrew's institute, said in
an interview that the suggested date 8100 B.C. for the
arrival of Indo-European in Europe "does seem to vindicate
Renfrew's archaeological idea that the Indo-European
languages were spread by farmers."

Agriculture started to arrive in Europe from the Near East
around 6000 B.C., much earlier than the traditional date
proposed by linguists for the spread of Indo-European. This
timing would fit with the lower end of Dr. Forster's range
of dates.

Dr. Forster said that his estimated date of 3200 B.C. for
the arrival of Celtic speakers in England and Ireland was
also much earlier than the usual date, 600 B.C., posited on
the basis of archaeological evidence.

Dr. Forster said his method of comparing groups of
languages was unfamiliar to historical linguists, many of
whom study how words in a single language have changed over
time. Asked what linguists thought of his method he said:
"To be honest, they don't understand it, most of them. They
don't even know what I'm talking about."

The method has two parts. One is to draw a tree on the
basis of carefully chosen words; the second is to date the
splits in the tree by calibrating them with known
historical events. This is similar to the way geneticists
date their evolutionary trees by tying one or more branch
points to known dates from the fossil record.

Dr. April McMahon, a linguist at the University of
Sheffield in England, said that Dr. Forster's method "seems
to me to be a good start" and that it was reasonable to
base a language family tree on just a handful of
well-chosen words. She had less confidence in the dating
method, she said, because language changes in an irregular
way based on social factors like the size of the speaker's
group and its degree of contact with others.

Geneticists often assume that the rate of mutation will
average out over time, so that if one or two branch points
in a tree can be dated by fossil evidence, the timing of
the other branch points can be inferred.

Dr. Forster says he assumes that the rate of language
change can also be averaged over time. But Dr. McMahon says
she thinks that historical time, being much shorter than
evolutionary time, is less friendly to averaging and that
linguists should not even try, at least yet, to put dates
on language trees.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/01/science/01CELT.html?ex=1058027839&ei=1&en=
858df0fd40df0534





I am now of the belief that haplogroup G* may be representative of this
early Celtic migration to the 'Isles', and would be interested in any of
your thoughts on the matter?

Thank you in advance.
Grant South

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