Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Connecting the Cultural Dots With Relics And Legends

Gruda Boljevića tumulus is one of the most important archaeological sites found recently in Europe. The reason why I believe that this tumulus is so important, is because it shows that the dolmen building, golden cross disc making culture which developed in Montenegro in the first half of the third millennium BC, has its direct cultural roots in Yamna culture of the Black Sea steppe. Why is this important?

I have already shown that the golden cross discs which appear in Ireland and Britain around 2500 BC have their predecessors in golden cross discs from Montenegro which were dated to 2700 BC (Mala Gruda) and some time between 3050 BC and 2700 BC (Gruda Boljevića). Considering that these golden cross discs first appear in Montenegro and then in Ireland and Britain and nowhere else in between suggests that this cultural trait could have been a result of a direct cultural transfer between Montenegro and Ireland and Britain. Irish archaeologists are reluctant to say whether this cultural influence was due to trade or missionary contacts, or whether it was a consequence of a migration of a group people into Ireland.

This is because Irish archaeologists don't read pseudo histories like the Irish annals. If they did they would have seen the old Irish annals tell us that right at the time when the metallurgy and the first golden cross discs appear in Ireland, a group of people, a tribe a clan lead by Partholón arrives in Ireland. Partholón and his people are credited with introducing cattle husbandry, plowing, cooking, dwellings, trade, and dividing the island in four and most importantly for this story, they are credited with bringing gold which before them was not used in Ireland. They bring the golden cross discs. But where did Partholón and his people come from? The Irish annals tell us that too. They tell us that Partholón arrived to Ireland from the Balkans via Iberia. The Lebor Gabála Érenn, an 11th-century Christian pseudo-history of Ireland, tells us more. It tells us that Partholón came to the Balkans from the Black Sea steppe, the land where at the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC we find Yamna culture...
From the Old European culture blog.

It has long been known that Iberians and remarkably similar genetically to the people of the British Isles, and that both populations are rich in Y-DNA R1b. It has also been recently discovered that the Yamna people had Y-DNA R1b, although more fine distinctions of sub-haplotypes of R1b muddy the connection between the Yamna people and Western Europeans.

It is much less well known, as observed in the comments to this post at the Eurogenes blog, the Croatians and the English, at least at a naive three ancestral component analysis level, seem to have very similar autosomal genetic makeups to each other.

Are the Irish legendary histories telling us the true tale of how the people bearing Y-DNA R1b came to arrive in Western Europe?

The Old European Culture blog, slowly and in individually intriguing and convincing installments is cumulatively making a convincing argument in that direction that can be corroborated with well dated archaeological relics. And, while this analysis doesn't name the Western European cultures involved, it does point to some very specific times and places to look for the culture that probably brought Y-DNA R1b to Europe along with a prominent role for cattle. This time and place turn out to be a pretty good fit to the Bell Beaker culture, while it is a rather poor fit to the megalithic culture that was already present when the Bell Beaker culture emerged.

The path suggested by Irish legendary history is notable, in part, because it is a match for one of several outstanding hypotheses for how Y-DNA R1b wound up in Western Europe, and also because legendary history from Ireland may be more reliable than in many other places because its position at an island isolated ocean frontier would have prevented it from being easily muddled with infusions of legendary histories from elsewhere.

This analysis also doesn't attach a definitively linguistic label to this population. Many scholars assume that the Yamna people of the steppe were Indo-Europeans, and there are some good reasons for that assumption. But, it is hardly definitive. While we have written Sumerian and Egyptian documents from this far back in history, we have no comparably old documents in any other languages.

The record is equally consistent with a hypothesis in which the Yamna people spoke a language that was in contact with Proto-Indo-European and borrowed words from it, but was itself non-Indo-European and related to one or more Caucasian languages. In this scenario, a non-Indo-European Yamna derived language arrives in Western Europe in the time frame, while Western Europe undergoes widespread language shift to Celtic or proto-Celtic languages much later, plus or minus a few centuries from Bronze Age collapse in most places. This scenario is attractive, because otherwise, the heavily Y-DNA R1b Basque people would have had to experience a language shift from an Indo-European language to Basque, which seems far less likely to be the case.


Nirjhar007 said...

So you think R1b -M269 is not IE?. whats you opinion on R1a-M417?.

andrew said...

I think that the original dramatic expansion of R1b-M269 was not IE and instead experienced language shift at a later date about 1200+ years later.

But, I think that R1a-M417 was probably IE by the time that it experienced a major expansion.

Indeed, R1a-M417 might very well have swept the entire European contingent were it not for the barrier created by R1b-M269 people who got to Western Europe first with a comparable level of technological advancement that made it possible for them to hold the R1a-M417 people at bay for more than a thousand years.

The climate event that caused the Bronze Age collapse, however, finally tipped the balance in favor of the IE people, although at that point, rather than either filling a vacuum created by the collapse of first farmer agriculture or replacing most of the original population powered by vastly superior technology, the ultimate IE language shift was a conquest conduct by elites that caused only a modest population genetic shift in Western Europe (made even less noticeable because the autosomal genetics and mtDNA profile of the R1b-M269 people wasn't all that much different from the autosomal genetics and mtDNA of the R1a-M417 people).

In this view, the R1a-M417 people derive from the Northern Steppe while the R1b-M269 people derive from somewhere near the Yamna people at some point in time even if they don't derive directly from the Yamna culture per se.

andrew said...

Linguistically, I think that the R1b-M269 people were Vasconic, although it wouldn't be impossible for the Vasconic language family to have become highly distinct from its parent language upon its formation as a distinct language family upon its arrival in Iberia due to strong first farmer substrate influences, because there is more evidence of cultural continuity in Western Europe than in parts of Europe distinguished by R1a.

terryt said...

"I think that the original dramatic expansion of R1b-M269 was not IE and instead experienced language shift at a later date about 1200+ years later. But, I think that R1a-M417 was probably IE by the time that it experienced a major expansion".

That has long been my own opinion.

"Linguistically, I think that the R1b-M269 people were Vasconic"

Likewise. R1b is very common in Celtic speakers in the west of Ireland but it is obvious that language was adopted by an earlier population. Irish R1b and Basque R1b are reasonably closely related and so I suspect the language in the two regions was originally closely associated also. But the Basque language held on during the IE expansion while the Irish branch was replaced.

andrew said...

I'd even hazard a guess that much of what makes the Celtic languages distinct from other IE languages and in particular from the probably proto-Italo-Celtic IE language from which it derived is attributable to the Vasconic substrate shared by almost all Celtic language speakers.

terryt said...

I agree totally (for what it's worth).