Friday, March 18, 2016

Are the Irish really Celts?

Complete, fascinating article

... Currie had stumbled over was an ancient burial that, after a recent DNA analysis, challenges the traditional centuries-old account of Irish origins.From as far back as the 16th century, historians taught that the Irish are the descendants of the Celts, an Iron Age people who originated in the middle of Europe and invaded Ireland somewhere between 1000 B.C. and 500 B.C...

DNA research indicates that the three skeletons found behind McCuaig's are the ancestors of the modern Irish and they predate the Celts and their purported arrival by 1,000 years or more. The genetic roots of today's Irish, in other words, existed in Ireland before the Celts arrived...

“The most striking feature” of the bones, according to the research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science journal, is how much their DNA resembles that of contemporary Irish, Welsh and Scots. (By contrast, older bones found in Ireland were more like Mediterranean people, not the modern Irish.)...

To be sure, some think that Celtic languages originated with the Celts on continental Europe and subsequently spread to Ireland, Wales and Scotland. This is the traditional view, and it dovetails with the idea that the Celts moved into Ireland during the Iron Age.

But over the last decade, a growing number of scholars have argued that the first Celtic languages were spoken not by the Celts in the middle of Europe but by ancient people on Europe’s westernmost extremities, possibly in Portugal, Spain, Ireland or the other locales on the western edges of the British Isles....

The new evidence from genetics, however, undermine notions of a separate Irish race, describing them instead as one sliver of the European spectrum.

According to the genetic research, the Irish are at the extreme end of a genetic wave that washed across Europe, a wave of migrants that swept westward from above the Black Sea across Europe about 2,500 B.C. 

That wave of migration had been documented in previous research led by David Reich at Harvard University, but it was unclear whether it had extended all the way to Ireland. The Y chromosome and other aspects of the DNA in the bones found behind McCuaig’s, however, link the Irish to that surge of population.

Reading the past in ancient Irish genomes

Play Video2:3000 B.C. That makes them hundreds of years older than the oldest artifacts generally considered to be Celtic — relics unearthed from Celt homelands of continental Europe, most notably around Switzerland, Austria and Germany.

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