Author Topic: Barry Cunliffe: Who Were the Celts?  (Read 593 times)

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Barry Cunliffe: Who Were the Celts?
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2019, 08:06:48 PM »
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The question is whether the Celts settled primarily in central or western Europe.
Pon, this isn't what Cunliffe argues. He posits that the genesis of Proto-Celtic occurred in situ in Atlantic Europe and appears to be closely bound up with Beaker culture. The Yamnaya are those that settled much of Europe and seem to be the ones who spread Indo-European language(s), but Proto-Celtic itself developed specifically in the west according to Cunliffe's theory.

Gracias for your learned reply.  But aren't the Celtic languages Indo-European?  If so, then they (the Celtic languages) would've presumably come from at least some sort of transaction with migrants from the east.  In 2015 there was a DNA comparison made between a Neolithic corpse in Ireland, Bronze Age corpses from Ireland, and modern Irish people—and the Bronze Age and the modern Irish had the greater affinity.  Wouldn't that evince a Bronze Age migration into Ireland, presumably bringing with it Indo-European language?  From the study:

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The work shows that early Irish farmers were similar to southern Europeans.  Genetic patterns then changed dramatically in the Bronze Age—as newcomers from the eastern periphery of Europe settled in the Atlantic region.

Wouldn't that be where Indo-European came in?  The Neolithic people would've been the same people who had painted the Altamira caves, which is nothing to sneeze at.  Interestingly, the Neolithic Irish corpse matched closer to modern Spaniards.

What generally pleases me in Cunliffe's theory is that there is indeed an ancient "Irish-Iberian" connection.


« Last Edit: September 11, 2019, 08:09:18 PM by Pon de Replay »
 
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Offline red solo cup

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Re: Barry Cunliffe: Who Were the Celts?
« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2019, 05:29:34 AM »
Ancient Irish referred to themselves as Sons of Mil or Milesians. That they had emigrated from northwest Spain. Some consider this to be mythical but myth often contains kernels of truth.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2019, 05:31:46 AM by red solo cup »
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Offline Optatus

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Re: Barry Cunliffe: Who Were the Celts?
« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2019, 08:20:14 AM »
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But aren't the Celtic languages Indo-European?  If so, then they (the Celtic languages) would've presumably come from at least some sort of transaction with migrants from the east.
Yes. So there are two hypotheses currently as to the origins of the Indo-Europeans. One is the Kurgan hypothesis, which claims that Indo-European languages and culture were spread by the Kurgan culture which originated north of the  Black Sea. This idea has been bolstered by current genetic analysis as Yamnaya DNA is highly diffused in modern Europeans. The second is the Anatolian hypothesis, which claims that Indo-Europeans originated in Anatolia. Currently, there isn't a great deal of genetic evidence for this view, but Cunliffe doesn't outright deny it as a possibility and argues that both hypotheses may be correct in that two separate waves of Indo-Europeans - one from the steppes and the other from Anatolia - may have spread Indo-European culture and languages to Europe. In either case, the Indo-Europeans unequivocally came from the east.

But we are speaking here of Proto-Indo-Europeans, not Proto-Celts. Proto-Celtic languages developed from Proto-Indo-European and did not exist at the time when the Yamnaya were charging through Europe on their horses and chariots. The genesis of Proto-Celtic, according to Koch and Cunliffe, occurred later and specifically in the Atlantic-facade of Europe. To give you an analogy: it is correct to say that Latin (and, as an aside, there are some interesting ideas about an Italo-Celtic ancestral language from which both Proto-Italic and Proto-Celtic may descend) is an Indo-European language, but it would not be right to say that Latin "came from the east" or that the Latins themselves settled the Italic Peninsula, since the genesis of the Latin language and the ethnogenesis of the Latins themselves occurred in situ in Italy. In other words, Latin is native to Italy, even if it is the product of an earlier culture and language that certainly did not originate in Italy.

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In 2015 there was a DNA comparison made between a Neolithic corpse in Ireland, Bronze Age corpses from Ireland, and modern Irish people—and the Bronze Age and the modern Irish had the greater affinity.  Wouldn't that evince a Bronze Age migration into Ireland, presumably bringing with it Indo-European language?
This is a really, really complicated issue. So everyone in Europe today descends from several different prehistoric populations: (1) Western Hunter Gatherers, or WHGs, who are the closest thing to "indigenous" Europeans; (2) Neolithic Farmers, sometimes called Early European Farmers, or EEF/ENF, who came to Europe probably from Anatolia and, as you can guess, brought with them agriculture; and (3) the Yamnaya, or Indo-Europeans. Every population in Europe is the product of these three groups, to varying degrees:



Now what's interesting about this graph is the lower portion, which shows the degree of genetic legacy each of these groups had on ancient peoples of sort that was found in Ireland. The Neolithic woman referenced in the study obviously belonged to the Neolithic Farmers group, and her DNA analysis would probably look something like that of the Starčevo body in the above graph. Starčevo was a very old culture that predated the Atlantic Bronze Age by ~5,000 years. The Rathlin man mentioned in the study was probably descended from all three groups, and thus would cluster genetically closer to modern Irish populations who are also the product of all three groups. The reason why the Neolithic woman would have clustered closer to modern Spaniards is because the ENFs had a far greater genetic impact in Spain (and in all of southern Europe) than they did in Ireland.

All of this is to say that the Irish, including the Irish language, have several groups of ancestors, many of whom migrated to Ireland from the east. However, Irish culture and language developed within Ireland as the product of this interaction and mixing between various prehistoric populations.

The Milesian story could be a sort of ancestral memory of a connection between Bronze Age Iberia and Bronze Age Ireland (i.e., Beaker culture), or it could be something as simple as a way for the Irish nobility of the Middle Ages to legitimise their positions by tying themselves to mythological figures like Breogan and Bile, much as the Heraclids claimed to be the sons of Heracles or the Wuffings of East Anglia claimed to be the sons of both Woden (Odin) and Caser (Julius Caesar). We simply don't know.
 
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Barry Cunliffe: Who Were the Celts?
« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2019, 08:52:58 AM »
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But aren't the Celtic languages Indo-European?  If so, then they (the Celtic languages) would've presumably come from at least some sort of transaction with migrants from the east.
Yes. So there are two hypotheses currently as to the origins of the Indo-Europeans. One is the Kurgan hypothesis, which claims that Indo-European languages and culture were spread by the Kurgan culture which originated north of the  Black Sea. This idea has been bolstered by current genetic analysis as Yamnaya DNA is highly diffused in modern Europeans. The second is the Anatolian hypothesis, which claims that Indo-Europeans originated in Anatolia. Currently, there isn't a great deal of genetic evidence for this view, but Cunliffe doesn't outright deny it as a possibility and argues that both hypotheses may be correct in that two separate waves of Indo-Europeans - one from the steppes and the other from Anatolia - may have spread Indo-European culture and languages to Europe. In either case, the Indo-Europeans unequivocally came from the east.

But we are speaking here of Proto-Indo-Europeans, not Proto-Celts. Proto-Celtic languages developed from Proto-Indo-European and did not exist at the time when the Yamnaya were charging through Europe on their horses and chariots. The genesis of Proto-Celtic, according to Koch and Cunliffe, occurred later and specifically in the Atlantic-facade of Europe. To give you an analogy: it is correct to say that Latin (and, as an aside, there are some interesting ideas about an Italo-Celtic ancestral language from which both Proto-Italic and Proto-Celtic may descend) is an Indo-European language, but it would not be right to say that Latin "came from the east" or that the Latins themselves settled the Italic Peninsula, since the genesis of the Latin language and the ethnogenesis of the Latins themselves occurred in situ in Italy. In other words, Latin is native to Italy, even if it is the product of an earlier culture and language that certainly did not originate in Italy.

Thank you.  This is indeed how I took Cunliffe's presentation, but I was formulating it clumsily and inaccurately, in my layman's parlance.  Just so I'm not making a mistake, though: the primitive Indo-European language template would've been brought to "the Atlantic facade" (good term) by migrations from the east that arrived after the earliest inhabitants of Iberia and the British Isles were already there.  The Altamira painters (c. 20k-8k BC), we might say, were not speaking an Indo-European language, correct?

In this discussion, I was using the phrase "the indigenous people of the Isles" to refer to the people who were whatever the genetic mix was of the earliest inhabitants and the Bronze Age migrants.  Which is not accurate, I know (only those earliest inhabitants would be truly indigenous).  It was "indigenous" in the sense of "pre-Roman and later invasions," wherein the Irish can be said to be more indigenous by blood than the Brits.
 
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Offline Optatus

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Re: Barry Cunliffe: Who Were the Celts?
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2019, 08:59:25 AM »
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The Altamira painters (c. 20k-8k BC), we might say, were not speaking an Indo-European language, correct?
Yes, that's exactly right. Unfortunately, we have no idea what sort of language these WHGs would have spoken, but we can safely say that it was not related to Indo-European.

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In this discussion, I was using the phrase "the indigenous people of the Isles" to refer to the people who were whatever the genetic mix was of the earliest inhabitants and the Bronze Age migrants.  Which is not accurate, I know (only those earliest inhabitants would be truly indigenous).  It was "indigenous" in the sense of "pre-Roman and later invasions," wherein the Irish can be said to be more indigenous by blood than the Brits.
Ah, I understand now. Yes, that's a completely fair assessment.