Tag Archives: Britain

Sharp shift in diet at onset of Neolithic in Britain

Sharp shift in diet at onset of Neolithic

The introduction of domesticated plants and animals into Britain during the Neolithic cultural period between 5,200 and 4,500 years ago is viewed either as a rapid event or as a gradual process that lasted for more than a millennium. Here we measure stable carbon isotopes present in bone to investigate the dietary habits of Britons over the Neolithic period and the preceding 3,800 years (the Mesolithic period). We find that there was a rapid and complete change from a marine- to a terrestrial-based diet among both coastal and inland dwellers at the onset of the Neolithic period, which coincided with the first appearance of domesticates. As well as arguing against a slow, gradual adoption of agriculture and animal husbandry by Mesolithic societies, our results indicate that the attraction of the new farming lifestyle must have been strong enough to persuade even coastal dwellers to abandon their successful fishing practices.

From this it seems the swap from hunter gatherer to farmer in Britain was very quick, with the ancient Britons abandoning the old ways wholesale.


Genetic link between the British and Basques

An abridged version of this article

Professor Stephen Oppenheimer of Oxford University, says 81% of the Welsh have DNA evidence which shows a common link to ancestors who came to Britain from northern Spain as the ice age ended.

Most people in Scotland, Ireland and Wales were assumed to be descended from Celtic farming tribes who migrated here from central Europe up to 6,500 years ago. The English were thought to largely take their genetic line from the Anglo-Saxon invaders of the Dark Ages who supposedly wiped out the Celts in England.

But that’s all part of a “Celtic myth”, says Professor Oppenheimer in The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story.

“The majority of the gene pool of the British Isles is very ancient and dates to the era after the last great Ice Age. It has nothing to do with Celts or Anglo-Saxons or any more recent ethnic labels.

“The Ice Age made Britain a polar desert and there was nobody living here around 13,000 BC until the first settlers came to the British Isles from the Basque country of northern Spain between 15,000 and 7,500 years ago.

“Something like three-quarters of the ancestors of our modern gene pool arrived then.

“The ancestors of some 88% of the Irish, 81% of the Welsh, 79% of the Cornish, 70% of Scots and 68% of the English arrived here during that period. None of the later immigrations contributed anything more than 5% to the gene pool.”

Apparently, Y chromosome haplotype R1b is the majority in Wales, and it was probably the norm in the North African Oranian culture before the E3b1b replaced it in the Neolithic (conquest pattern) as you see it a lot of R1b in black Africans, but not E3b1b. I’m thinking… Afro Asiatic may have made itself the dominant language in North Africa very early on, with elements of it’s grammar making it’s way into the Celtic languages via the IM culture. There seem to have been some African Mt L haplotypes in Spain that couldn’t be attributed to the Berbers/Moors (can’t remember source), and the microlithic technology crossed over from North Africa in the paleolithic.

They need to break down the R1b family better so we can trace population movements better.

There’s a mention of E3b1 being present in England as well in the Capelli study (2003) but I can’t find a break down of what types! This is put down to the Roman occupation, but it could have been anyone.

Explains why I look like a pasty Spaniard.

An Afro Asiatic connection to Celtic languages.

It seems that Celtic languages show some grammatical similarities to Afro Asiatic languages. 

North Africans may have beaten Celts to Ireland
The Sunday Times – 28th May 2000

WHEN the Celts landed in Ireland 2,500 years ago, they may have been met by a population of North Africans, scientists now believe, writes Jan Battles.

Linguists say a study of Irish and other Celtic languages has produced possible evidence that when the Celts invaded Ireland and Britain there were already Afro-Asiatic speakers here. Celtic languages – Irish, Scots Gaelic and Welsh – incorporate grammatical traits found in Afro-Asiatic tongues that are otherwise unrelated, according to research published last week in Science magazine.

Other Celtic languages that were spoken in continental Europe and have since died out did not have these grammatical quirks. Afro-Asiatic languages are currently spoken in countries across Northern Africa and the Near East. This points to the possibility that there was early contact between Celtic and North African populations in the British Isles.

Orin Gensler, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, said the similarities would be explained if, when Afro-Asiatic people learnt Celtic from the new immigrants, they “perpetuated aspects of their own grammar into the new language”. Gensler has studied many grammatical features found in both Celtic and Afro-Asiatic languages. He found many of the shared features were rare in other languages.

Linguists have discovered surprising differences between Celtic languages and related languages such as French, while seeing striking resemblances between Celtic and Afro-Asiatic languages that are spoken in countries including Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.

Gensler examined features of the languages such as the order of words in a sentence. In Gaelic and Welsh the standard sentence structure is verbsubject-object, which is a rare sequence. This is also the case in many Afro-Asiatic languages. Celtic languages that used to be spoken in  continental Europe had the verb in the final or middle position.

Berniece Wuethrich, author of the Science article, said: “The only other non-linguistic evidence that could point towards this connection is in blood type, but it is not definitive. Irish and British people have different proportions of blood types to most Europeans. Where there are comparable proportions is in the Atlas mountains in Northern Africa, home of the Berber people.” Berber is a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language group.

Geneticists say there is no evidence of North African ancestors in Irish genes. “There is no particular correspondence between northwest Africa and this island but that is not to say we won’t find something,” said Dr Dan Bradley of the department of genetics at Trinity College. “There is no good genetic evidence to support what the linguists are saying. You have to keep an open mind though.”

While in general clues about the identity of prehistoric inhabitants are gleaned from archeological remains and DNA, linguists say that certain elements of a language can preserve information about ancient times.

It is widely known that when the Celts invaded Ireland there were people already here. Man is first believed to have arrived on Irish shores about 9,000 years ago – the earliest-known archeological evidence for human habitation dates to 7,000BC.

Archeologists are not sure of the origins of prehistoric immigrants to Ireland. A team of scientists in Dublin and Belfast, including Bradley, is studying the genes of modern Irish people to find evidence of these origins, a project which is partly funded by the government’s millennium fund

These oddities of grammar still persist in the English language spoken in Ireland. They do have a slightly different way of composing a sentence.

 ‘ What would you be wanting with your Guinness?’

Instead of

‘What do you want with your Guinness?’

My current theory on this is that the neolithic famers brought an Afro Asiatic language associated with Anatolia into Europe, that was later replaced by Indo European. very much a work in progress, that theory.