2.5.1.10 Linguistic

 0 Contents 2 Background 2.5 Societal 2.5.1 Europe

Iron Age 2.5.1.12

2.5.1.11 Beaker Folk to Celts and Italics

Introduction

Bell Beaker from Bulgaria (Museum of Pre- and Early History, Berlin). Click for more information.

David Anthony traced the movement of Pre-Proto-Italo-Celtic people up the Danube as far as the Hungarian Plain (Carpathian Basin) by their kurgans. Then we start to see the Bell Beaker Culture spreading over a swathe of Europe. This culture is recognised by its characteristic pottery, shaped like an inverted bell.1It has been argued (S.D. Ferreira, Os Copos no Povoado Calcolítico de Vila Nova de São Pedro, Revista Portuguesa de Arqueologia, vol. 6, no. 2 (2003), pp. 181-228; M. Kunst, Invasions? Fashion? Social Ranks? Consideration concerning the Bell Beaker phenomenon in Copper Age fortifications of the Iberian peninsula, in F. Nicolis (ed.),Bell Beakers Today: Pottery,People, Culture, Symbols in Prehistoric Europe Proceedings of the International Colloquium Riva del Garda (Trento, Italy) 11–16 May 1998 (2001), pp.81-90) that the famed bell shape of Bell Beakers developed from earlier Vila Nova de São Pedro wares with a gently-waisted outline. However Funnel Beaker and Bell Beaker shapes may have a common origin as a type of pottery with enlarged lip specifically for pouring and drinking liquids. If so, the ultimate origin may be sought in the pots with everted rims found on and near the Pontic steppe before 4000 BC, among Cucuteni and Svobodnoe types e.g. D.W. Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel and Language (2007), figs. 11.4,12.9). Bell Beaker ware is found as far east as Poland,2J. Czebreszuk and M.Szmyt (eds.), The Northeast Frontier of Bell Beakers: Proceedings of the symposium held at the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznañ (Poland), May 26-29 2002 (2003). as far south as Northern Morocco, as far north as Scotland,3Stuart Needham et al, Copper Age, British Archaeology, no. 101 (July/August 2008). northern Denmark,4T. Sarauw, Male symbols or warrior identities? The archery burials of the Danish Bell Beaker Culture, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Vol. (2007), issue 1, pp. 65-87; T. Sarauw, Danish Bell Beaker pottery and flint daggers - the display of social identities?, European Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 11, No. 1,23-47 (2008). and even the southern tip of Norway.5C. Prescott, The Beaker Culture and Bronze Age beginnings along the Norwegian coast: so much so fast, and E. Østmo, Late Neolithic expansion to Norway: memories of a sea-borne episode, both papers read at the 14th Annual Conference of the European Archaeologist' Association in Malta 16-21 September, 2008.Archaeologists have found the distinctive beaker so useful in identifying the culture that rather too much emphasis has been placed upon it. Some visualised a male bonding ritual, with beakers full of alcohol or a narcotic drink. Scientific analysis of Bell Beaker pottery lends no support to this or even the idea that they were prestigious items.6L.Šoberl, R. P. Evershed and J. Pollard, On the Beaker trail: Investigating the function of British Beakers through organic residue analysis, paper read at the Fourth International Symposium on Biomolecular Archaeology, Copenhagen, 8th – 10th September 2010. There are far more important aspects to this culture than its pottery. It forms part of a wave across Europe which brought the plough, wheeled vehicles, woolly sheep -the whole Secondary Products Revolution, together with metallurgy and horse power . Some aspects of this revolution had already spread in the late Neolithic, but it was in the 3rd millenium BC that the full impact of the transformation was felt.

Distribution of Bell Beaker pottery

 The most widespread early type of Bell Beaker pottery, known as All Over Corded (AOC), is decorated with impressions made with cord. That similarity to Corded Ware, together with the similarity of burial custom, and the fact that the two cultures overlap geographically, led to the assumption that Bell Beaker developed from Corded Ware. It is now recognised that the two are contemporary. Carbon-14 has dated the earliest Bell Beaker sites to c.2,900 BC.7J. Müller and S. van Willigen, New radiocarbon evidence for European Bell Beakers and the consequences for the diffusion of the Bell Beaker phenomenon, in F. Nicolis (ed.), Bell Beakers Today: Pottery, People, Culture, Symbols in Prehistoric Europe Proceedings of the International Colloquium Riva del Garda (Trento, Italy) 11–16 May 1998 (2001), pp.59–80. On archaeological evidence alone the Beaker culture arrived in much of Europe with immigrants. 8V. Heyd, Families, Prestige Goods, Warriors and Complex Societies : Beaker Groups of the 3rd Millennium cal BC Along the Upper and Middle Danube, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, vol. 73 (2007), pp.327-379. Isotope, craniometric and inherited dental trait studies also show the Beaker folk as incomers in most places.9T. D. Price, C. Knipper, G. Grupe and V. Smrcka, Strontium isotopes and prehistoric human migration: the Bell Beaker period in Central Europe, European Journal of Archaeology, vol. 7 (2004), no. 1, pp. 9-40; G. Grupe, T. D. Price et al, Mobility of Bell Beaker people revealed by strontium isotope ratios of tooth and bone: a study of southern Bavarian skeletal remains, Applied Geochemistry, vol. 12, no. 4 (July 1997), pp. 517-525; M. Cox and S.Mays, Human Osteology in Archaeology and Forensic Science (2000), pp. 281-83; J. Desideri and M. Besse, Swiss Bell Beaker population dynamics: eastern or southern influences?,Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, vol. 2, no. 3 (September 2010), pp. 157-173.

Celtic and Italic languages c. 500 BC

By the time that Classical authors began to note the Celts, over 2,000 years later, they were spread over much of Europe west of the Rhine and in pockets east of it. Some lived in the Alps and northern Italy, while Italic-speakers were in Central Italy. This coincides fairly well with the spread of the Bell Beaker Culture. In between the periods when archaeologists can see the new, intrusive Beaker culture arrive and historians begin to see the Celts and Italics, there is a long continuity from Bronze to Iron Age cultures apparent in the archaeology in many places. So the finger points at the Beaker people as the carriers of this branch of the Indo-European languages. Their evident mobility and the comparative uniformity of their culture over the whole Celtic area makes them the most likely bearers of the new language. The idea that the Celts first arrived in the British Isles and Iberia in the Iron Age used to be popular, but has been abandoned, because archaeological evidence of Celtic Iron Age arrivals covers too limited an area to explain the full spread of Celtic languages.10A. J. Lorrio and G.R. Zapatero, The Celts in Iberia: An Overview, E-Keltoi, vol. 6 (2005); B. Cunliffe, The Ancient Celts (1997), pp. 151-55; B. Cunliffe and J.T. Koch (eds.), Celtic from the West (2010), p. 2. (See Celtic Tribes of Ireland for example.)

Copper Age to Bell Beaker

In Portugal, Zambujal (already a Copper Age nexus) became an important Beaker centre, specialising in the production of an arsenic-copper alloy. One type of Bell Beaker, known as Maritime, appears from an early date and seems to have spread by sea from a Bell Beaker colony beside the Tagus. Zambujal and its satellites (known as the Vila Nova de São Pedro culture) was the hub of a complex web of contacts along the Atlantic and northern Mediterranean coasts, and sometimes far inland. The Beaker people seem to have arrived swiftly in Iberia. Some of their earliest sites are found in Portugal. Or to be more exact, they appear to be the same people who had brought copper-working earlier.11J. Müller and S. van Willigen, New radiocarbon evidence for European Bell Beakers and the consequences for the diffusion of the Bell Beaker phenomenon, in F. Nicolis (ed.), Bell Beakers Today: Pottery, People, Culture, Symbols in Prehistoric Europe Proceedings of the International Colloquium Riva del Garda (Trento, Italy) 11–16 May 1998 (2001), pp. 59–80; M. Kunst, Invasions? Fashion? Social Ranks? Consideration concerning the Bell Beaker phenomenon in Copper Age fortifications of the Iberian peninsula, in F. Nicolis (ed.), op. cit, pp.81-90. A study of inherited dental traits found that while the Bell Beaker people were newcomers in Hungary and the Czech Republic, there was a different picture in Southern France, Northern Spain and Western Switzerland, where Bell Beaker people not only shared the graves and settlements of their Final Neolithic and Copper Age predecessors, but were actually related to them. One site in particular is crucial - Petit-Chasseur, at Sion in Switzerland. This site is famed for its stelae, which continue from the Final Neolithic to Bell Beaker.12J. Desideri and M. Besse, Swiss Bell Beaker population dynamics: eastern or southern influences?, Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, vol. 2, no. 3 (September 2010), pp. 157-173; R. Harrison and V. Heyd, The Transformation of Europe in the Third Millennium BC: the example of ‘Le Petit-Chasseur I + III’ (Sion, Valais, Switzerland), Praehistorische Zeitschrift, vol. 82 (2007), no. 2, pp. 129–214. As we shall see, they play a part in explaining the genesis of Bell Beaker.

The Stelae People

The suggested route of Proto-Italo-Celtic-speaking stelae makers. Click to enlarge in new window

 Copper-workers may have arrived in Iberia with a small company of migrants, to be gradually reinforced by others seeking pastures new. Carved stone anthropomorphic stelae mark the trail of these copper-workers, so let us call them the Stelae People. An early splinter group from the Proto-Italo-Celtic parent would help to explain why the Celtic of Iberia had such an archaic structure, retaining Italic elements.13F. B. Mozota, Celtiberians:Problems and debates, section 4.3: Celtiberian: A non-Celtic Indo-European language? in E-Keltoi, the Journal of Interdisciplinary Celtic Studies, vol. 6: The Celts in the Iberian Peninsula (2007); John Thomas Koch (ed.), Celtic Culture: a historical encyclopedia (2006), pp. 364-5, 374 . A similarly mixed language was spoken by the Ligures in what is now Northern-Western Italy and South-Eastern France. There is tantalisingly little evidence for Ligurian, but it appears primarily Celtic and Italic.14K. Kuriaki, A Grammar of Modern Indo-European (2006-8), pp. 57, 60-61.

Is it a coincidence that the earliest copper-mine has been found in the territory of the Ligures?15R. Maggi and M. Pearce, Mid fourth-millennium copper mining in Liguria, north-west Italy: the earliest known copper mines in Western Europe, Antiquity vol. 79 (2005), no. 303, pp.66-77. Or do we see here a clan-run industrial network stretching across the Mediterranean? It seems possible that a group of Proto-Italo-Celtic-speakers left the Danube corridor to travel through the Vučedol Culture (Croatia), which would give them a relatively easy route to the Adriatic, and from there to Northern Italy, along the river Po to Liguria and on to Iberia by sea. The spread of the Maritime Beaker shows that sea travel was within their grasp.

Anthropomorphic stele from Saint-Sernin-sur-Rance, Aveyron, France
Anthropomorphic stela from Ukraine (Dnipropetrovsk Yavornytsky History Museum)

 Early Beaker elements are found within the Vučedol Culture, but only later do the two fuse to form the Cetina culture, as might happen if the route was used back and forth over centuries, combining settlement and trade. The Cetina culture spread across the Adriatic to the eastern coast of Italy.16V. Heyd, When the West meets the East: The eastern periphery of the Bell Beaker phenomenon and its relation with the Aegean Early Bronze Age, in I. Galanaki et al (eds.), Between the Aegean and the Baltic Seas: Prehistory across borders: Proceedings of the International Conference, Bronze and Early Iron Age Interconnections and Contemporary Developments between the Aegean and the Regions of the Balkan Peninsula, Central and Northern Europe University of Zagreb, 11-14 April 2005, Aegaeum 27 (2007), pp. 91-104; J. Maran, Seaborne Contacts between the Aegean, the Balkans and the Central Mediterranean in the 3rd Millennium BC – The Unfolding of the Mediterranean World, in I. Galanaki et al (eds.), op. cit, pp. 3-21. One return route from Iberia might be up the Rhone. The Rhone valley is rich in Bell Beaker sites, while eastern tributaries lead to the Alpine stelae and Beaker sites at Sion and Aosta. 17Lemercier, The Bell Beaker phenomenon in the Southeast of France: The state of research and preliminary remarks about the TGV-excavations and some other sites of the Provence, in M. Benz and S. van Willigens (eds.),Some New approaches to The Bell Beaker Phenomenon, Lost Paradise...?, Proceedings of the 2nd Meeting of the Association Archéologie et Gobelets, Feldberg (Germany), 18th-20th avril 1997, British Archaeological Report, International Series, vol. 690 (1998), p. 23-41; R.Harrison and V. Heyd, The Transformation of Europe in the Third Millennium BC: the example of ‘Le Petit-Chasseur I + III’ (Sion, Valais, Switzerland),Praehistorische Zeitschrift, vol. 82 (2007), no. 2,pp. 129–214. Bell Beaker sites in southern France and Tuscany share the early dates found in Portugal.18J. Müller and S. van Willigen, New Radiocarbon Evidence for European Bell Beakers and the Consequences for the Diffusion of the Bell Beaker Phenomenon, in F. Nicolis (ed.), Bell Beakers Today: Pottery, People, Culture, Symbols in Prehistoric Europe Proceedings of the International Colloquium Riva del Garda (Trento, Italy) 11–16 May 1998 (2001), pp. 59–80.

The earliest anthropomorphic stelae have been found in Yamnaya burial mounds in Ukraine. They are particularly associated with one sub-culture, known as the Kemi Oba Culture, centred on Crimea, which was influenced by the neighbouring Maikop Culture. Similar stelae are found at Bell Beaker sites in the Swiss and Italian Alps, and in the Italian regions of Lunigiana and Trento-Alto-Adige, southern France and Iberia. Other examples are scattered as far afield as Malta and the Channel Isles. These figures are curiously stylised and slab-like, quite different from earlier and later depictions of the human form. Males are generally given tools or weapons. Females often have necklaces. The stelae probably recorded honoured ancestors.19J.P. Mallory,In Search of the Indo-Europeans (1989), pp. 219-20 and figs. 119-121; J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams, Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture (1997), p. 327; D.Y. Telehin and J. P. Mallory, The Anthropomorphic Stelae of the Ukraine: the early iconography of the Indo-Europeans, The Journal of Indo-European Studies monograph 11 (1994); D. Anthony, The Horse, The Wheel and Language (2007), pp. 336-39 and fig. 13.11; R. Harrison and V. Heyd, The Transformation of Europe in the Third Millennium BC: the example of ‘Le Petit-Chasseur I + III’(Sion, Valais, Switzerland), Praehistorische Zeitschrift, vol. 82 (2007), no. 2, pp. 129–214; J. Robb, People of stone: stelae, personhood and society in prehistoric Europe, Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, vol. 16, no. 3 (September 2009), pp. 162-183. A slightly more naturalistic type of

Ligures

When the Stelae People first emerge into history, all but the Italic-speakers among them seem to have been labelledLigyes or Ligures. This conclusion rests rather insecurely on the few references by Ancient Greek geographers to Ligures outside present-day Liguria (north-western Italy). There is a vague passage in the 4th-century AD Ora Maritima, which draws on a now-lost 6th-century BC description of the sea coasts. While describing the Atlantic coast of Europe, the author talks of Ligurians having been routed from some of their territory by raiding Celts.20Rufus Festus Avienus,Ora Maritima: A Description of the Seacoast from Brittany to Marseilles [Massilia], trans. JP Murphy (1977). There has been much speculation about where exactly these Ligurians were, but the passage is too garbled for certainty. The 19th-century Ligurian hypothesis, which posited Ligurians living over a broad swathe of Europe until penned into Liguria by the Celts, leaving a "Ligurian substrate" in various languages, has been discredited: B. Mees, Stratum and shadow: a genealogy of stratigraphy theories from the Indo-European West, in H. Anderson (ed.), Language Contacts in Prehistory (2003), pp. 16-18, 21-22. The Periplous of Pseudo-Skylax (3rd or 4th century BC) describes theLigyes (Ligurians) along the coast of the Mediterranean sea from Emporion (in present-day Catalonia, Spain) to Antion (Antibes in SE France). He says that they were intermingled with the Iberes (Iberians) between Emporion and the mouth of the Rhone.21Graham Shipley, Pseudo-Skylax, The 'Periplous' (Circumnavigation): a provisional translation (updated 2008): http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/archaeology/people/shipley/pseudo-skylax.Here we are on safer ground, for other Greek sources also mention the Ligurians around the Greek colony of Massilia (Marseilles), 22Herodotus, The History, book 5; John T. Koch,Celtic Culture: a historical encyclopedia, vols 1-5 (2006), p. 898; Marcus Junianus Justinus, Epitome of the Philippic Histories of Trogus Pompeius, book 43, chap 3. though later writers call them Celtoligures, confining the name Ligures to the people of present day Liguria in north-west Italy.23Strabo,Geography, book 4, chapter 6, section 3.

Identifying the Celts

Our modern definition of a Celt is a person speaking a Celtic language, but we should not expect every Celtic-speaker in the past to be consistently labelled as such by his contemporaries or even by himself. The Celtic world was one of tribal affiliation. Outsiders might see it differently, lumping together tribes by geography or a vague concept of ethnicity. Thus the tribes of the British Isles were collectively known as Britons.

The earliest surviving mention of the Celts comes in the works of Herodotus, known as the first historian. As a Greek writing in the 5th century BC, he was well-informed about the Mediterranean world dominated in his day by Greeks. His grasp of the geography of Europe further north was naturally more limited. He seems to have added together two different sources on the Celts to draw a curious conclusion. On the one hand he knew that the Celts lived beyond the Pillars of Hercules (the Strait of Gibraltar), as the most westerly people apart from the Cynesians. On the other hand he knew that the River Ister (Danube) rose in the land of the Celts. So he seems to have concluded that the Danube rose in the Pyrenees.24Herodotus, The Histories, trans. R. Waterfield (1998), 2.33 and note p. 619. Ephorus, a Greek historian of the 4th century BC, saw Celtica as including most of Iberia. Strabo, writing in the early first century AD, marvelled at so large a vision of the Celtic realm. By his day Celtica had become just another name for Gaul (present-day France).25Strabo, Geography, book 4, chapter 4, section 6. Caesar famously declared Gaul to be divided into three parts, only one of which was inhabited by Gauls, who call themselves Celts.26Caesar, Gallic Wars, book 1, chapter 1, section 1. This Roman attitude was seen as ignorance by Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, for whom the coastal tribes of Gaul (known to earlier Greeks as Ligures) were Celts, while those north of the Alps were Gauls.27Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History, book 5, section 32.

What are we to make of all this? From the earliest days of linguistics, authors have taken Caesar's word for it and identified Gaulish as Celtic. Thus similar languages, such as those once spoken in the British Isles and parts of Iberia and the Alps, could be placed in the Celtic family. Ligurian appears to have been a mixture of Celtic and Italic.28K. Kuriaki, A Grammar of Modern Indo-European (2006-8), pp. 57, 60-61. As we see, contemporaries varied in whether to label the Ligurians as Celts or not. Strabo weighed up the matter as well as anyone, saying that while the Ligurians of the Alps belong to a different people from the neighbouring Celts, they are similar in their mode of life.29Strabo, Geography, book 2, chapter 5, section 28. Whatever label we put on them, we may see the Ligures as the descendants of the southern Bell Beaker creators. North of the Alps the eastern Bell Beaker group was succeeded by Iron Age cultures which spread over Gaul, the Rhineland and northern Alps, and spawned inscriptions in Celtic languages once in contact with literacy. The distribution of Celtic place-names in ancient times is another helpful clue to their whereabouts. See The Celts emerge into history.

The Northern Celts

Bell Beaker groups and spread

 As the Stelae People struck out westwards, we can picture the mother group of Proto-Italo-Celtic-speakers gradually moving further up the Danube from the Carpathian Basin and eventually developing the form of Celtic spoken in Gaul. If the Stelae People had created trade routes across Europe from the Carpathian Basin as far as Portugal, we can see how Bell Beaker ware could have been developed in Portugal and yet crop up in Hungary. A Bell Beaker site on Csepel Island in the Danube proved to be remarkably early for eastern Bell Beaker. It has given its name to about 60 sites of the Bell Beaker Csepel group, clustered around Budapest. Hungary has no other Bell Beaker. Anthropologically and culturally the isolated Csepel group appears an intrusion into the Baden Culture, so its origin was something of a mystery. Now a study of inherited forms of teeth links the Bell Beaker folk of Csepel to those of Western Switzerland,while the latter in their turn cluster with Bell Beaker Southern group in Iberia and Southern France.30J. Desideri and M.Besse, Swiss Bell Beaker population dynamics: eastern or southern influences?,Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, vol. 2, no. 3 (September 2010), pp. 157-173.

From Hungary the Bell Beaker style of pottery travelled up the Danube and down the Rhine.31V. Heyd, Families, prestige goods, warriors and complex societies: Beaker groups of the 3rd Millennium cal BC along the Upper and Middle Danube, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society,vol. 73 (2007), pp. 327-379; V. Heyd, On the earliest Bell Beakers along the Danube, in F. Nicolis (ed.), Bell Beakers Today: Pottery, People, Culture, Symbols in Prehistoric Europe Proceedings of the International Colloquium Riva del Garda (Trento, Italy) 11–16 May 1998 (2001),pp.387-409. The people who carried it may have been seen by the Southern Bell Beaker group as distant cousins - part of the clan. If the pottery was made by women, it may have been spread partly by marriage. Marc Vander Linden has suggested that the search for marriage partners outside the home group created a constant local mobility between the scattered Bell Beaker settlements.32M. Vander Linden, What linked the Bell Beakers in third millennium BC Europe?,Antiquity vol. 81, pp.343-352 (2007).

The distribution of Y-DNA R1b-L21 from Myres et al (2010)

Yet the split into two streams proposed here would give the southern and eastern Bell Beaker groups centuries to drift apart, linguistically and genetically, before Bell Beaker pottery appeared in Central Europe c. 2,500 BC. That would explain why comparatively few Iberians or Italians carry the L21 mutation of Y-DNA R1b common in the rest of the former Celtic world and particularly in Ireland. 33N.M Myres et al., A major Y-chromosome haplogroup R1b Holocene era founder effect in Central and Western Europe, European Journal of Human Genetics, (advance online publication 25 August 2010).

The Celts of the British Isles

Reconstruction of a woman wearing a gold lunula from Llanllyfni

The Bell Beaker Culture brought the Bronze Age to the British Isles. To be more exact, Beaker folk initially brought the Copper Age around 2,450 BC, homing in on the copper belts of Ireland and Wales. They left their characteristic beakers at a copper-mine on Ross Island, in Lough Leane, County Kerry.34Stuart Needham et al, Copper Age, British Archaeology, no. 101 (July/August 2008); W. O'Brien, Ross Island: Mining, Metal and Society in Early Ireland (2005). To judge by chemical composition, copper from Ireland was traded into Britain, 35J.P.N. Northover, W.O’Brien, and S. Stos, Lead Isotopes and Metal Circulation in Beaker/Early Bronze Age Ireland,Journal of Irish Archaeology, vol. 10 (2001), pp. 25-47. along with gold from the Mourne Mountains.36R. Warner et al, The gold source found at last?,Archaeology Ireland, vol.23, no. 2 (2009), pp. 22-25. The incomers boosted what had been a dwindling population of farmers, and created a thriving society.37M.Collard, K. Edinborough, S. Shennan, M. G. Thomas, Radiocarbon evidence indicates that migrants introduced farming to Britain,Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 37, no. 4, (April 2010), pp. 866-870. From around 2,200 BC Bell Beaker interest in Britain intensified as Cornwall was discovered to be a prime source for tin, the precious component of true bronze. This resource gave the British Isles a head start in Europe in making bronze.38C.F.E. Pare, Bronze and the Bronze Age, in C.F.E. Pare (ed.), Metals Make the World Go Round: The Supply and Circulation of Metals in Bronze Age Europe. Proceedings of a Conference Held at the University of Birmingham in June 1997(2000), pp. 1-32.

For decades a vision of prehistoric population continuity shaped a view of Bell Beaker in the British Isles as a purely cultural phenomenon.39In the 1960s several authors saw the origins of the Celts in the Beaker people e.g. M. Dillon and N. Chadwick,Celtic Realms(1967); J.X.W.P. Corcoran, The origins of the Celts: The archaeological evidence, in N. Chadwick, The Celts (1970). By the 1990s there was increasing Celtoscepticism among archaeologists. S.James, The Atlantic Celts: Ancient people or modern invention(1999) attacked the whole concept of Celts in the British Isles. B. Cunliffe,The Celts: A very short introduction (2003), chapter 1 gives an account of changing attitudes towards the Celts. The discovery of the Amesbury Archer near Stonehenge forced a reconsideration. This man lived around 2,350 BC and was buried with Beaker pots and wrist guards. His gold hair binders are the earliest gold objects found in Britain. Tests were carried out on the Archer’s teeth and bones. They show that he came from Central Europe, near the Alps. The copper of his knives was also from the Continent (Northern Spain and Western France). Significantly, he was also buried with a cushion stone, used by metal-workers.40A. Fitzpatrick, In his hands and in his head, The Amesbury Archer as a metalwork, in Peter Clark (ed.), Bronze Age Connections: Cultural contact in prehistoric Europe (2009), pp. 176-188. Other such discoveries followed. The Boscombe Bowmen, a group of burials near Stonehenge may have come from Wales or South-East Ireland. Yet equally likely are several parts of Continental Europe, including Brittany and Portugal on the Atlantic fringe, or the Massif Central, more suggestive of the Rhine route.41J.A. Evans, C. A. Chenery and A. P. Fitzpatrick, Bronze age childhood migration of individuals near Stonehenge, revealed by strontium and oxygen isotope tooth enamel analysis, Archaeometry, vol. 48, no. 2 (2006), pp. 309-321. The Ross Island miners could also have originated in Atlantic Europe, while a Dutch-style Beaker grave in Upper Largie, Argyll and Bute, Western Scotland, suggests immigration from the lower Rhine.42A. Sheridan, Towards a fuller, more nuanced narrative of Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Britain 2500-1500 BC, Bronze Age Review, vol. 1 (November 2008), pp. 63-64.

Atlantic Bronze Age trading network

So what language did the Bell Beaker folk bring to the British Isles? Why were two types of Celtic spoken there by the time we have any records? Gaelic seems the older form. We can picture the first Beaker arrivals speaking an archaic form of Celtic that evolved over the millennia into Gaelic. By contrast the Brittonic (or Brythonic) language of Britain was closely related to Gaulish, spoken across the Channel by the Roman period. That suggests that Britain received more or heavier waves of Celtic migration than did Ireland, continuing into the Iron Age. This fits the archaeological picture. For more detail see Celtic Tribes of the British Isles.

Atlantic Bronze Age

The Bell Beaker long-distance networks created an inter-connected era, intensified in the Late Bronze Age. From approximately 1300 to 700 BC prestigious items were exchanged over long distances. The major centres were southern England and Ireland, northwestern France, and northwestern Iberia.43K. Kristiansen, Europe Before History (1998), p.144; B. Cunliffe, Europe Between the Oceans (2008), pp.254-8. One site is particularly intriguing. The Isle of Thanet on the south-eastern tip of England was probably an early landing site for arrivals in the Copper or Early Bronze Age, who buried their elite in round barrows on the highest point of the coast line overlooking what is now Pegwell Bay. At the time the Isle of Thanet really was an island. As often found elsewhere, later burials cluster close to one of these barrows. This later cemetery was used from the Late Bronze Age (9th-11th centuries BC) through to the Middle Iron Age (4th century BC). Isotopic analysis revealed where these people came from. Of the 22 skeletons tested, eight were local, seven were from Scandinavia, probably southern Sweden or Norway, five were from South-West Iberia and the origins of the remaining two could not be identified. Interestingly the earliest phase was the most mixed: local, Norse and Iberian. 44J. McKinley and J. Schuster, Dead sea connections: a Bronze- and Iron Age ritual site on the Isle of Thanet, paper read at the conference Rethinking the The Bronze Age and the Arrival of Indo-European in Atlantic Europe, 10 July 2010.

Seafaring Liburni and Picenes

As the descendants of the Cetina-culture coastal people developed into theLiburni (Liburnians), contacts continued across the Adriatic. TheLiburni were noted shipbuilders and seafarers, who controlled the Adriatic down to Corfu and were accused of piracy by the Romans. As the area emerges from prehistory we find a tribe on the Italian coast of the Adriatic known as Picenes. Picene ships, powered by sail and oars, were found engraved on a stone at Novilara (Pesaro, Italy).45M. Blecic, Reflections of Picens impact in the Kvarner Bay, read at Archaeologia de Frontiera 6 (2007); Marco Bonino, The Picene ships of the 7th century BC engraved at Novilara (Pesaro, Italy),International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, vol. 4, no. 1 (1975), pp. 11 - 20. (The Stele di Novilara is now in the Musei Oliveriani, Pesaro.)

Genetic studies of the inhabitants of the four main Croatian islands found the expected Slavic signatures of R1a and I, but encountered something more exotic in the island of Hvar - a relatively high frequency (14%) of lineages belonging to the P*(xM173) cluster, which is unusual for European populations. Interestingly, the same population also harbored mitochondrial haplogroup F that is virtually absent in European populations - indicating a connection with Central Asian populations. The authors speculated that this could be a legacy of the ancient Silk Road.46H. V. Tolk et al., MtDNA Haplogroups in the Populations of Croatian Adriatic Islands,Collegium Antropologicum vol. 24 (2000) 2:267–279; H. V. Tolk et al, The evidence of mtDNA haplogroup F in a European population and its ethnohistoric implications, European Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 9, issue 9 (2001), pp. 717-23; L. Barac et al, Ychromosomal heritage of Croatian population and its island isolates, European Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 11, no. 7 (2003) pp.535-42.

Notes

If you are using a browser with up-to-date support for W3C standards e.g. Firefox, Google Chrome, IE 8 or Opera, hover over the superscript numbers to see footnotes online. If you are using another browser, select the note, then right-click, then on the menu click View Selection Source. If you print the article out, or look at print preview online, the footnotes will appear here.

  1. It has been argued (S.D. Ferreira, Os Copos no Povoado Calcolítico de Vila Nova de São Pedro, Revista Portuguesa de Arqueologia, vol. 6, no. 2 (2003), pp. 181-228; M. Kunst, Invasions? Fashion? Social Ranks? Consideration concerning the Bell Beaker phenomenon in Copper Age fortifications of the Iberian peninsula, in F. Nicolis (ed.), Bell Beakers Today: Pottery,People, Culture, Symbols in Prehistoric Europe Proceedings of the International Colloquium Riva del Garda (Trento, Italy) 11–16 May 1998 (2001), pp.81-90) that the famed bell shape of Bell Beakers developed from earlier Vila Nova de São Pedro wares with a gently-waisted outline. However Funnel Beaker and Bell Beaker shapes may have a common origin as a type of pottery with enlarged lip specifically for pouring and drinking liquids. If so, the ultimate origin may be sought in the pots with everted rims found on and near the Pontic steppe before 4000 BC, among Cucuteni and Svobodnoe types e.g. D.W. Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel and Language (2007), figs. 11.4, 12.9).
  2. J. Czebreszuk and M. Szmyt (eds.), The Northeast Frontier of Bell Beakers; Proceedings of the symposium held at the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznañ (Poland), May 26-29 2002 (2003).
  3. Stuart Needham et al, Copper Age, British Archaeology, no. 101 (July/August 2008).
  4. T. Sarauw, Male symbols or warrior identities? The archery burials of the Danish Bell Beaker Culture, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Vol. (2007), issue 1, pp. 65-87; T. Sarauw, Danish Bell Beaker pottery and flint daggers - the display of social identities?, European Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 11, No. 1, 23-47 (2008).
  5. C. Prescott, The Beaker Culture and Bronze Age beginnings along the Norwegian coast: so much so fast, and E. Østmo, Late Neolithic expansion to Norway: Memories of a Sea-borne episode, both papers read at the 14th Annual Conference of the European Archaeologist' Association in Malta 16-21 September, 2008: http://events.um.edu.mt/eaa2008/prescott.pdf
  6. L. Šoberl, R. P. Evershed and J. Pollard, On the Beaker trail: Investigating the function of British Beakers through organic residue analysis, paper read at the Fourth International Symposium on Biomolecular Archaeology, Copenhagen, 8th – 10th September 2010.
  7. J. Müller and S. van Willigen, New radiocarbon evidence for European Bell Beakers and the consequences for the diffusion of the Bell Beaker phenomenon, in F. Nicolis (ed.), Bell Beakers Today: Pottery, People, Culture, Symbols in Prehistoric Europe Proceedings of the International Colloquium Riva del Garda (Trento, Italy) 11–16 May 1998 (2001), pp. 59–80.
  8. V. Heyd, Families, prestige goods, warriors and complex societies: Beaker groups of the 3rd Millennium cal BC along the Upper and Middle Danube, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, vol. 73 (2007), pp. 327-379.
  9. T. D. Price, C. Knipper, G. Grupe and V. Smrcka, Strontium isotopes and prehistoric human migration: the Bell Beaker period in Central Europe, European Journal of Archaeology, vol. 7 (2004), no. 1, pp. 9-40; G. Grupe, T. D. Price et al, Mobility of Bell Beaker people revealed by strontium isotope ratios of tooth and bone: a study of southern Bavarian skeletal remains, Applied Geochemistry, vol. 12, no. 4 (July 1997), pp. 517-525; M. Cox and S. Mays, Human Osteology in Archaeology and Forensic Science (2000), pp. 281-83; J. Desideri and M. Besse, Swiss Bell Beaker population dynamics: eastern or southern influences?, Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, vol. 2, no. 3 (September 2010), pp. 157-173.
  10. A. J. Lorrio and G.R. Zapatero, The Celts in Iberia: an overview, E-Keltoi, vol. 6 (2005); B. Cunliffe, The Ancient Celts (1997), pp. 151-55; B. Cunliffe and J.T. Koch (eds.), Celtic from the West (2010), p. 2.
  11. J. Müller and S. van Willigen, New Radiocarbon Evidence for European Bell Beakers and the Consequences for the Diffusion of the Bell Beaker Phenomenon, in F. Nicolis (ed.), Bell Beakers Today: Pottery, People, Culture, Symbols in Prehistoric Europe Proceedings of the International Colloquium Riva del Garda (Trento, Italy) 11–16 May 199 (2001), pp. 59–80; M. Kunst, Invasions? Fashion? Social Ranks? Consideration concerning the Bell Beaker phenomenon in Copper Age fortifications of the Iberian peninsula, in F. Nicolis (ed.), op. cit, pp. 81-90.
  12. J. Desideri and M. Besse, Swiss Bell Beaker population dynamics: eastern or southern influences?, Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, vol. 2, no. 3 (September 2010), pp. 157-173; R. Harrison and V. Heyd, The Transformation of Europe in the Third Millennium BC: the example of ‘Le Petit-Chasseur I + III’ (Sion, Valais, Switzerland), Praehistorische Zeitschrift, vol. 82 (2007), no. 2, pp. 129–214.
  13. F. B. Mozota, Celtiberians: Problems and debates, section 4.3: Celtiberian: A non-Celtic Indo-European language? , in E-Keltoi, the Journal of Interdisciplinary Celtic Studies, vol. 6: The Celts in the Iberian Peninsula (2007): http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/celtic/ekeltoi/volumes/vol6/index.html ; John Thomas Koch (ed.), Celtic Culture: a historical encyclopedia (2006), pp. 364-5, 374.
  14. K. Kuriaki, A Grammar of Modern Indo-European (2006-8), pp. 57, 60-61.
  15. R. Maggi and M. Pearce, Mid fourth-millennium copper mining in Liguria, north-west Italy: the earliest known copper mines in Western Europe, Antiquity vol. 79 (2005), no. 303, pp.66-77.
  16. V. Heyd, When the West meets the East: The eastern periphery of the Bell Beaker phenomenon and its relation with the Aegean Early Bronze Age, in I. Galanaki et al (eds.), Between the Aegean and the Baltic Seas: Prehistory across borders: Proceedings of the International Conference, Bronze and Early Iron Age Interconnections and Contemporary Developments between the Aegean and the Regions of the Balkan Peninsula, Central and Northern Europe University of Zagreb, 11-14 April 2005, Aegaeum 27 (2007), pp. 91-104; J. Maran, Seaborne Contacts between the Aegean, the Balkans and the Central Mediterranean in the 3rd Millennium BC – The Unfolding of the Mediterranean World, in I. Galanaki et al (eds.), op. cit, pp. 3-21.
  17. O. Lemercier, The Bell Beaker phenomenon in the Southeast of France: The state of research and preliminary remarks about the TGV-excavations and some other sites of the Provence, in M. Benz and S. van Willigens (eds.), Some New approaches to The Bell Beaker Phenomenon, Lost Paradise...?, Proceedings of the 2nd Meeting of the « Association Archéologie et Gobelets, Feldberg (Germany), 18th-20th avril 1997, British Archaeological Report, International Series, vol. 690 (1998), p. 23-41; R. Harrison and V. Heyd, The Transformation of Europe in the Third Millennium BC: the example of ‘Le Petit-Chasseur I + III’ (Sion, Valais, Switzerland), Praehistorische Zeitschrift, vol. 82 (2007), no. 2, pp. 129–214.
  18. J. Müller and S. van Willigen, New Radiocarbon Evidence for European Bell Beakers and the Consequences for the Diffusion of the Bell Beaker Phenomenon, in F. Nicolis (ed.), Bell Beakers Today: Pottery, People, Culture, Symbols in Prehistoric Europe Proceedings of the International Colloquium Riva del Garda (Trento, Italy) 11–16 May 199 (2001), pp. 59–80.
  19. J.P. Mallory, In Search of the Indo-Europeans (1989), pp. 219-20 and figs. 119-121; J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams, Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture (1997), p. 327; D.Y. Telehin and J. P. Mallory, The Anthropomorphic Stelae of the Ukraine: the early iconography of the Indo-Europeans, The Journal of Indo-European Studies monograph 11 (1994); D. Anthony, The Horse, The Wheel and Language (2007), pp. 336-39 and fig. 13.11; R. Harrison and V. Heyd, The Transformation of Europe in the Third Millennium BC: the example of ‘Le Petit-Chasseur I + III’ (Sion, Valais, Switzerland), Praehistorische Zeitschrift, vol. 82 (2007), no. 2, pp. 129–214; J. Robb, People of stone: stelae, personhood and society in prehistoric Europe, Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, vol. 16, no. 3 (September 2009), pp. 162-183.
  20. Rufus Festus Avienus, Ora Maritima: A Description of the Seacoast from Brittany to Marseilles [Massilia], trans. JP Murphy (1977). There has been much speculation about where exactly these Ligurians were, but the passage is too garbled for certainty. The 19th-century Ligurian hypothesis, which posited Ligurians living over a broad swathe of Europe until penned into Liguria by the Celts, leaving a "Ligurian substrate" in various languages, has been discredited, and this is not an attempt to revive it. B. Mees, Stratum and shadow: a genealogy of stratigraphy theories from the Indo-European West, in H. Anderson (ed.), Language Contacts in Prehistory (2003), pp. 16-18, 21-22.
  21. Graham Shipley, Pseudo-Skylax, The 'Periplous' (Circumnavigation): a provisional translation (updated 2008) : http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/archaeology/people/shipley/pseudo-skylax.
  22. Herodotus, The History, book 5; John T. Koch, Celtic Culture: a historical encyclopedia, vols 1-5 (2006), pp. 356, 898.
  23. Strabo, Geography, book 4, chapter 6, section 3.
  24. Herodotus, The Histories, trans. R. Waterfield (1998), 2.33 and note p. 619.
  25. Strabo, Geography, book 4, chapter 4, section 6.
  26. Caesar, Gallic Wars, book 1, chapter 1, section 1.
  27. Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History, book 5, section 32.
  28. K. Kuriaki, A Grammar of Modern Indo-European (2006-8), pp. 57, 60-61.
  29. Strabo, Geography, book 2, chapter 5, section 28.
  30. J. Desideri and M. Besse, Swiss Bell Beaker population dynamics: eastern or southern influences?, Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, vol. 2, no. 3 (September 2010), pp. 157-173.
  31. V. Heyd, Families, Prestige Goods, Warriors and Complex Societies: Beaker Groups of the 3rd Millennium cal BC Along the Upper and Middle Danube, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, vol. 73 (2007), pp. 327-379; V. Heyd, On the earliest Bell Beakers along the Danube, in F. Nicolis (ed.), Bell Beakers Today: Pottery, People, Culture, Symbols in Prehistoric Europe Proceedings of the International Colloquium Riva del Garda (Trento, Italy) 11–16 May 1998 (2001), pp.387-409.
  32. M. Vander Linden, What linked the Bell Beakers in third millenium BC Europe; Antiquity vol. 81, pp. 343-352 (2007).
  33. N.M Myres et al., A major Y-chromosome haplogroup R1b Holocene era founder effect in Central and Western Europe, European Journal of Human Genetics, (advance online publication 25 August 2010).
  34. Stuart Needham et al, Copper Age, British Archaeology, no. 101 (July/August 2008); W. O'Brien, Ross Island: Mining, Metal and Society in Early Ireland (2005).
  35. J.P.N. Northover, W. O’Brien, S. and Stos, Lead Isotopes and Metal Circulation in Beaker/Early Bronze Age Ireland, Journal of Irish Archaeology, vol. 10 (2001), pp. 25-47.
  36. R. Warner et al., The gold source found at last?, Archaeology Ireland, vol. 23, no 2 (2009), pp. 22-25.
  37. M.Collard, K. Edinborough, S. Shennan, M. G. Thomas, Radiocarbon evidence indicates that migrants introduced farming to Britain, Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 37, no. 4, (April 2010), pp. 866-870.
  38. C.F.E. Pare, Bronze and the Bronze Age, in C.F.E. Pare (ed.), Metals Make the World Go Round: The Supply and Circulation of Metals in Bronze Age Europe. Proceedings of a Conference Held at the University of Birmingham in June 1997 (2000), pp. 1-32.
  39. In the 1960s several authors saw the origins of the Celts in the Beaker people e.g. M. Dillon and N. Chadwick, Celtic Realms (1967); J.X.W.P. Corcoran, The origins of the Celts: The archaeological evidence, in N. Chadwick, The Celts (1970). By the 1990s there was increasing "Celtoscepticism" among archaeologists. S. James, The Atlantic Celts: Ancient people or modern invention (1999) attacked the whole concept of Celts in the British Isles. B. Cunliffe, The Celts: A very short introduction (2003), chapter 1 gives an account of changing attitudes towards the Celts.
  40. A. Fitzpatrick, In his hands and in his head, The Amesbury Archer as a metalwork, in Peter Clark (ed.), Bronze Age Connections: Cultural contact in prehistoric Europe (2009), pp. 176-188.
  41. J.A. Evans, C. A. Chenery and A. P. Fitzpatrick, Bronze age childhood migration of individuals near Stonehenge, revealed by strontium and oxygen isotope tooth enamel analysis, Archaeometry, vol. 48, no. 2 (2006), pp. 309-321.
  42. A. Sheridan, Towards a fuller, more nuanced narrative of Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Britain 2500-1500 BC, Bronze Age Review, vol. 1 (November 2008), pp. 63-64.
  43. K. Kristiansen, Europe Before History (1998), p.144; B. Cunliffe, Europe Between the Oceans (2008), pp.254-8.
  44. J. McKinley and J. Schuster, Dead sea connections: a Bronze- and Iron Age ritual site on the Isle of Thanet, paper read at the conference Rethinking the The Bronze Age and the Arrival of Indo-European in Atlantic Europe, 10 July 2010.
  45. M. Blecic, Reflections of Picens impact in the Kvarner Bay, read at Archaeologia de Frontiera 6 (2007). http://www.crohis.com/knjige/blecic/BLECIC-PICENI-2007-PDF.pdf; Marco Bonino, The Picene ships of the 7th century BC engraved at Novilara (Pesaro, Italy), International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, vol. 4, no. 1 (1975), pp. 11 - 20. (The Stele di Novilara is now in the Musei Oliveriani, Pesaro.)
  46. H. V. Tolk et al., MtDNA Haplogroups in the Populations of Croatian Adriatic Islands, Collegium Antropologicum vol. 24 (2000), no. 2, pp. 267–279.