I am not sure that the idea 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" makes any biological sense to me in
the time frame you are talking about.
If I can trace my father's line and his direct ancestry including both the
men and women back for a thousand years and I can trace my mother's line and
direct ancestry including the men and women back for a thousand years and
say all these people are from Ireland, how does that make me a direct
descendant of a Native Hawaiian on Maui who lived a thousand years ago?
At some point in the distant prehistoric past when the "branches" of direct
human ancestry converged into "trunks" I think you have a point and we may
all be related to a small number of very early homo sapiens, but my direct
paternal ancestors from only a thousand years ago would probably be
geographically limited and carry such things as genetic markers on the Y
chromosomes that are historically particular to that line of direct
On Wed, 2 Jul 2003 13:48:57 +0100 wrote...
>However, as regards to tracing ancestors: as the number of anyone's
>increases exponentially as you go back through the generations, after a
>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
>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.
>----- 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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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.
>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.