126.96.36.199 Beaker Folk
Early Greeks 188.8.131.52
Social changes which began in Eastern Europe and Western Asia around 2300 BC were consolidated across Europe during the Bronze and Iron Ages. Warrior aristocracies developed. Travelling on horseback, warriors could travel long-distances. The invention of the spoked wheel made the war chariot possible. There was a marked increase in the manufacture of weapons. In the Stone Age, axes and daggers could be made, but the long sword was the work of bronze-smiths and clearly a weapon of war. Sheet-metal working developed in the Urnfield Culture of the Late Bronze Age, making possible shields and armour. With this focus on conflict came the development of fortifications.2K. Kristiansen, The tale of the sword: swords and sword-fighters in Bronze Age Europe, Oxford Journal of Archaeology, vol. 21 (2002), pp. 319–32; K. Kristiansen, What language did Neolithic pots speak? Colin Renfrew's European farming-language-dispersal model challenged, Antiquity, vol. 79, no. 305 (September 2005), pp. 679-691. From the Tollense Valley of Northern Germany has been dredged up the debris of violent death: weapons and smashed human and horse bones. It speaks of a battle around 1200 BC.3D. Jantzen et al., A Bronze Age battlefield? Weapons and trauma in the Tollense Valley, north-eastern Germany,Antiquity, vol. 85 (2011), pp. 417–433.Warfare itself was not new. What we see in the Bronze Age is the development of a society in which the warrior had a special place - indeed a leading role.
From the northern Alps sprang the headwaters of the Rhine, a major trading artery leading north. Nearby were the mineral riches of the Alps, the wherewithal to make bronze goods to trade. Wealth could accrue in the hands of chieftains commanding such a trading nexus. Innovations within it could spread along trade routes.
One such was a shift to cremation rather than interment around 1300 BC, which gave archaeologists a name for this burgeoning culture - Urnfield. The typical Urnfield burial used a urn to contain the ashes of the desceased, capped by an upturned bowl, set into a pit. The usage had spread over much of Europe by 1000 BC. Within this widespread complex, regional types occur, such as the Lusatian, or Lausitz, culture, widespread over much of Poland and eastern Germany.4K. Kristiansen, Europe Before History(1998), chapter 4. Lusatian was once considered an independent culture and Proto-Slavic within Poland. The political background to this is explained by D. Piotrowska, Biskupin 1933-1996: archaeology, politics and nationalism,Archaeologia Polona, vol. 35-36 (1997/98), pp. 255-285.
Any type of cremation was uncommon earlier over most of Europe except the Carpathian Basin, where it appears among the Makó and Bell Beaker groups as early as c. 2700 to 2400 BC. So this region has often been considered the starting point for the Urnfield tradition. Two of the Middle Bronze Age cultures of Hungary favoured cremation, but only one of them placed a capped burial urn in a pit. That was the Vatya Culture of sheep-breeders living intellsettlements along the Danube. These were well-placed for trading, as well as having good grazing land nearby.5M.L. Stig Sørensen and K. Rebay-Salisbury, Landscapes of the Body: Burials of the Middle Bronze Age in Hungary, European Journal of Archaeology, vol. 11, no. 1 (2008), pp. 49-74. So the idea could easily have travelled up the Danube to the trading nexus at its head. From there it spread west and north into Germany and Poland and south into Italy. Finally it moved into France and part of Spain. There was also a transition to cremation burial in Scandinavia and the British Isles in the Late Bronze Age, but without the vast cemeteries of Continental Europe.6P. Bogucki, Late Bronze Age Urnfields of Central Europe in P. Bogucki and P.J. Crabtree (eds.),Ancient Europe 8000 BC–AD1000: Encyclopaedia of the Barbarian World, vol. 2 (2004).
The distribution of the Urnfield Culture is very similar to that of the Y-DNA Haplogroup R1b-U152. The density of R1b-U152 is greatest in Northern Italy and radiates out from there.7Fulvio Cruciani et al., Strong intra- and inter-continental differentiation revealed by Y chromosome SNPs M269, U106 and U152, Forensic Science International: Genetics, (advance online publication, 22 August 2010); http://www.u152.org/ . A distribution in all directions from a high density centre is what we would expect if a mutation occurs with a comparatively static population. It will percolate gradually outwards from its origin point.8J. Chiaroni, P. Underhill and L.L. Cavelli-Sforza, Y chromosome diversity, human expansion, drift and cultural evolution, PNAS, vol. 106, no. 48 (1 Dec 2009), pp. 20174-79. The barrier of the Alps may be responsible for the highest density in this case being offset from centre. The origin point may have been north of the Alps. If R1b-U152 did spread initially with Urnfield, then we can be sure that later Iron Age movements by the Celts also contributed to the distribution we see today, and possibly latermigrations by Germani.
More tentatively we may interpret the distribution of R1b-SRY2627 as related to Urnfield. It is rare everywhere except the central and eastern Pyrenees. It runs at about 2-7% across the rest of Iberia and the only region tested across the border in south-west France. So it was astonishing to find 48% in Valle de Aran, Catalonia. Such a density looks like a founder effect. (It is not allied to high variance there.) 9A. M. Lopez-Parra et al., In search of the Pre- and Post-Neolithic Genetic Substrates in Iberia: Evidence from Y-Chromosome in Pyrenean Populations, Annals of Human Genetics, vol. 73 (2008), pp. 42-53. The concentration in eastern Iberia appears to reflect the spread of the Iberian language, yet it may equally well reflect the earlier spread of Urnfield. Since its brother clade L165/S68 is found in more northerly regions, it may have parted ways with the lineage leading to R1b-SRY2627 somewhere north of the Alps.
Early metallurgists on the Pontic steppe had experimented with forged iron as early as the Yamnaya horizon. Seams of copper ore are interbedded with iron-bearing sandstone in the Volga-Ural region.10D.W. Anthony, The Horse, The Wheel and Language (2007), pp. 334, 336. Iron was too soft to take an edge suitable for cutting tools and weaponry. However, alloyed with a little carbon to make steel, iron is harder, stronger, and holds a sharper edge than bronze. This early form of steel was difficult to make and therefore expensive. Iron objects were rare for many centuries. Perhaps a shortage of tin for bronze tipped the balance in favour of carbonised iron. This technology was practiced by later metal-workers of the Pontic steppe. Archaeologists refer to them as the Chernogorovka (c. 900 BC) and Novocherkassk (c. 800 BC) cultures. Historians have another name for them - the Cimmerians.11A. Yu. Alekseev et al, Some problems in the study of the chronology of the ancient nomadic cultures in Eurasia (9th - 3rd centuries BC),Geochronometria, vol. 21 (2002), pp. 143-150; J. Bouzek, Cimmerians and Early Scythians: the transition from Geometric to Orientalising style in the Pontic area, in Gocha R. Tsetskhladze (ed.), North Pontic archaeology: recent discoveries and studies, Colloquia Pontica, vol. 6 (2001), pp. 33-44. These people lived on the very edge of history, glimpsed in early sources as the Gimiraia (Greek),Gimmirai (Akkadian) or Gomer (Biblical). For Homer the distant land of the Cimmerians was wrapped in mist and cloud.12Homer, Odyssey, 11.1. This was so vague that some commentators have dismissed the Cimmerians as mythical. Yet they were all too real for those on the wrong end of Cimmerian swords. They swept into Anatolia around 700 BC and terrorised it for a century. Herodotus, writing in the 5th century BC, explains that the Cimmerians were driven in a body from the Pontic-Caspian steppe by the fierce Scythians from further east, who were themselves in flight from the Massagetae.13Herodotus, The Histories, book 4, sections 1, 11-12; Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 3, part 2 (1991), pp. 555-60. This happened so long before his time that his dramatic account has been doubted. Certainly he told only half a tale. He had sources for the incursion into Asia Minor. Archaeology shows that the Cimmerians fled west as well. Moving up the Danube into the Carpathian Basin in the 9th and 8th centuries BC, they brought horses bred for speed and strength, and iron swords and daggers.
So iron-working and chariot-horses filtered through from the steppe to Central Europe, where the Hallstatt C Culture formed around 750 BC. The elite of this culture adopted wagon burials similar to those on the steppe, leaving a wealth of grave goods. By this time the scattered children of Proto-Indo-European had developed into separate languages. It is impossible to say whether the Cimmerians could understand the Celts. The Cimmerians would have been speaking a language from the Iranian branch. Yet the effort to communicate seems to have had a linguistic result. Celtic shares one feature with Iranian, that is not shared with the parent of Iranian or the deduced parent of Celtic (Proto-Italo-Celtic). This points to a meeting between the two sometime after c. 2000 BC. The feature is also shared by Baltic, Slavic and Albanian, which can similarly be explained by the Cimmerian contacts on the steppe and up the Danube.14G.R. Isaac, chapter 7 in B. Cunliffe and J. Koch (eds.), Celtic from the West (2010), pp. 162-5 outlines the linguistic evidence, but does not connect it with the Cimmerians.
Long-distance trade routes across the Hallstatt Zone linked the Mediterranean with Jutland and the Baltic, whence came the prized amber. Thus Etruscan influences could reach as far as Pomerania, where a funerary urn with personality developed.
At the very end of the Hallstatt period (c. 480-440 BC), Etruscan luxury goods were traded through the Alps to emerging elites on the northern fringe of the old Hallstatt core, particularly the Middle Rhine. There the spectacular La Tène cultureemerged, with its swirling, naturalistic art forms. The Etruscan link may be the key to understanding the sound shift that created the Gaulish form of Celtic. (See the Etruscans.) Greek authors give us the first references to the Celts (Keltoi), which can be linked to this Iron Age culture (see The Celts emerge into history). The influence of La Tène styles spread quite widely across Gaul, Britain and further afield. Trade, gifts and emulation can account for some of the spread. But history records a series of Celtic migrations between 400 and 200 BC. Gauls moved into Northeastern Italy around 400 BC. Others spread south-east even as far as Greece and Anatolia.15B. Cunliffe, The Ancient Celts (1997), pp. 2-5, 46-8, 51-90, 221-22, 237-38 and maps 5, 13, 14,16, 17, 19 and 29; B. Cunliffe, Europe Between the Oceans (2008), pp. 266, 413-419 ad fig. 8.25; J.T Koch, Celtic Culture: a historical encyclopedia (2006), p. 245. The Gauls are remembered in the name Galicia for three widely-separated regions: north-western Spain, western Ukraine and central Turkey. Since Iron Age Celts must have been genetically similar to their ancestors, it may prove difficult to distinguish these later waves from earlier ones by DNA. Where R1b-U152 appears in Britain, Greece and Iberia, it may partly reflect Hallstatt and La Tène movements, in addition to the earlier Urnfield.
Britain has more La Tène material than Ireland. The Iron Age Irish were struggling to survive. Ireland's rich metal resources had supported a cultural flowering in the Final Bronze Age, but demand for copper and tin fell as iron became the favoured metal. Worse still the wetter climate across Europe from about 700 BC hit the island badly. Crop losses would put pressure on resources. Warfare was endemic. Pottery was no longer made. As the climate improved from c. 300-200 BC, La Tène material began to appear in the northeast of the country, probably from northern Britain.16C.S.M. Turney et al., Holocene climatic change and past Irish societal response, Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 33, no. 1 (January 2006), pp. 34-38; B. Raftery,Pagan Celtic Ireland: The Enigma of the Irish Iron Age, 2nd edn. (1997); T.W. Moody et al., (eds.), A New History of Ireland: Prehistoric and early Ireland (2005), pp. 140-7. It is in this same area that the earliest Irish records mention British people - Cruithinor Cruithni in Gaelic.17J. T. Koch,Celtic Culture: a historical encyclopedia (2006), pp. 505-6. Could the La Tène style have arrived with them? Y-DNA haplogroup I2a2a1(M284, formerly I2b1a) is almost exclusively British and seems to have arisen there among the Celts about 1870 BC. It is rare in Ireland, but there is a concentration of it in North-Eastern Ireland. This haplogroup is shared by men of several surnames which are Gaelic in origin, and so cannot reflect gene flow from Britain in modern times. McEvoy and Bradley date its most recent common ancestor in Ireland to about 300 BC. The haplogroup appears in McGuinness and McCartan men, who descend from the Cruithin King Eochaidh (d.c. 552 AD). 18B.P. McEvoy and D.G. Bradley, Irish Genetics and Celts, Celtic from the West (2010), p.117. They identify this haplogroup by its old name I1c. Its ancestor I2b1 is found in continental Europe and dated c. 2650 BC by K. Nordtvedt. He dated I2b1a in England was dated at c.1870 BC. A subclade found in Scotland (I2b1a1-S165) he dated to c. 270 AD. see http://knordtvedt.home.bresnan.net/; D. Ó Cróinín, Ireland, 400-800, in D. Ó Cróinín (ed.), A New History of Ireland, vol 1 (2005), pp. 182-234; J. Byrne, Irish Kings and High-Kings, 2nd ed. (2001), table 7. This all looks a neat fit. However it seems unlikely that the descendants of men who arrived in Ireland in 300 BC would still be seen as foreigners in the 6th century AD. Despite the dating by McEvoy and Bradley, it seems more likely that I2a2a1(M284) arrived in Ireland in the late Roman or early post-Roman period, when there was intensified contact between Ireland and north Britain.19J.E. Fraser, From Caledonia to Pictland: Scotland to 795 (2009), p. 89.
A more likely genetic signature of La Tène in Ireland is Y-DNA R1b-M222, carried by nearly 20% of the men in Donegal today. In early historic times this was the territory of the northern Uí Néill, presumed descendants of the fabled 5th-century warlord, Niall of the Nine Hostages. R1b-M222 is particularly common among those with some Uí Néill surnames, such as O'Doherty, though not most of the O'Neills themselves. It also appears among the Connachta, supposed descendants of the brothers of Niall. So M222 was initially labelled as the lineage of Niall, but its concentration among Lowland Scots (rather than in Gaelic Argyll) and northern English suggests that it is centuries older than Niall.20L.T. Moore, B. McEvoy et al., A Y-Chromosome Signature of Hegemony in Gaelic Ireland,The American Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 78, no. 2 (1 February 2006), pp. 334-338; 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); E.B. O’Neill and J.D. McLaughlin, Insights into the O’Neills of Ireland from DNA testing, Journal of Genetic Genealogy, vol. 2, no.2 (Fall, 2006), pp. 18-26; http://www.familytreedna.com/public/R1b1c7/; J.D. McLaughlin, Ui Neill DNA http://clanmaclochlainn.com/dna.htm
In Britain La Tène finds come mainly from the south-east, like this Bronze shield boss found in the River Thames at Wandsworth. Yet La Tène influence burst upon East Yorkshire in the 5th century BC. A new culture arrived there, noted for chariot burials, and burials within a square ditch, similar to those of the Marne Valley, France. East Yorkshire was the territory of the Parisi in Roman times. It is tempting to suppose a link with the Continental Parisi of the same period, who gave their name to Paris.21J.T. Koch,Celtic Culture: a historical encyclopedia (2006), pp. 87-88; C. Morely, Chariots and migrants in East Yorkshire: dismantling the argument,Movement, Mobiliy and Migration, Archaeological Review from Cambridge, vol. 23.2 (November 2008), pp. 69-91. The latter may have been pushed westwards out of the Marne area into the Seine valley by the Belgae pressing in from the east. Belgic tribes also settled in south-eastern England in the 1st century BC. They brought new ideas from the Continent, minting coins and creating defended settlements that might function as tribal centres and market towns. See Celtic tribes of the British Islesfor more detail.
The voices of the Celts speak to us in their own language long after their glory days. Early Irish literature is proof of a love of language, but the Celts came slowly to writing. So the first records to mention the Celts are all from foreign hands. For the Ancient Greeks the world north of the Mediterranean civilizations was largely unexplored. The ethnic labels used for the peoples of these mysterious lands varied by period and source. In general the early Greeks simply pictured Celts towards the west and Scythians towards the east. Centuries later the Romans treated the Celts as synonymous with Gauls. (See Identifying the Celts.)
Taking a simple definition of a Celt as someone speaking a Celtic language, the Celtic world once covered a vast swathe of Western Europe. Yet it was better-recorded in its decline, as one Celtic tribe after another was absorbed into the expanding Roman Empire. The Romans seldom completely changed Celtic place-names. So Roman geographers recorded many a settlement with a recognisably Celtic name.22P. Sims-Williams,Ancient Celtic Place-Names in Europe and Asia Minor (2006).
Earlier than the Roman conquests, the Late Iron Age migrations of the Gauls impinged on the busily literate civilizations of the south, whose historians bewailed the incursions of fierce savages. Admittedly the accounts that have survived were written centuries after the events they record, but echoes can be found in the archaeological record. Livy explains that over-population drove the Celts of Gaul into Italy, where they first defeated the Etruscans and established Milan. Then in July 390 BC they fell upon Rome and had to be bought off by 1,000 pounds of gold. La Tène material appearing in the Po Valley around this time bears out his story.23B.Cunliffe,The Ancient Celts (1997), chapter 4. With hindsight we can see that these movements were partly driven by pressure from the Germanic tribes expanding out of Jutland. They in turn seem to have been driven by climate change. The Belgae were ousted from their lands east of the Rhine and settled in north-eastern Gaul, Britain and probably Ireland. And still the Germanic tribes advanced. The Boii were pushed out of Bohemia in the time of Julius Caesar. Caesar argued that Gaul would have to be taken over by the Romans if it were not to become Germanic.24Julius Caesar, The Gallic Wars, I.1, I.5, I.31, II.4, V.12; Tacitus, Germania, 28. Perhaps he was right. When the Western Empire collapsed, Germanic tribes poured into it.
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