GENEALOGY-DNA-L ArchivesArchiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2010-11 > 1289868313
From: Jonathan Day <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] Tribes of Britain?
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2010 16:45:13 -0800 (PST)
If you define "Celt" as being "the specific Celtic-speaking tribe in southern Gaul that was identified by Julius Ceasar as calling themselves the Celtii", then quite possibly. However, finding DNA from someone indisputably from the Celtii is likely going to be somewhere between impossible and near-impossible.
The "Celts" in the modern term (ie: all Iron Age northern Europeans who produced artifacts in a manner similar to tribes popularly called Celtic, all modern peoples descended from them and all modern peoples who have traditionally spoken a language belonging to either the Gaelic or Brythonic families) have no reason to descend from a common group or to have mixed sufficiently to be treated as such.
Technologies shift even when peoples do not. (For all the limits of Oppenheiner's book "Who are the British?", he made some excellent points on the subject.) As do languages - it is true throughout recorded history that people learn languages other than their native one when it's to their advantage. It is unlikely Roman Latin was the first "Lingua Franca" and there was certainly enough trade in Europe (such as the Amber Road) to justify a common trading tounge.
It is plausible that relatively isolated groups (such as the neolithic people on the Isle of Man or in the Orkneys) would show a narrow enough range to have a signature.
Wessex culture had extensive trade both with mainland Europe and the rest of Britain that a unique signature seems improbable. When you take into account that skeletons found in Neolithic sites in the Salisbury area included mediterranean peoples, it seems extremely unlikely that a clear-cut signature exists there.
So I'm going to say that extremely isolated groups may have a signature but others don't.
--- On Mon, 11/15/10, Wilcox Lisa <> wrote:
> I question their usefulness as well, largely because of
> the, er, enthusiastic debates on this list regarding the
> accuracy of connecting DNA data with ancient events and
> migrations. IS there any such thing as, for example, a
> "Celtic signature"?