Fossils challenge dna in the dating game
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(Trinity College Dublin) 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. Yet the bones discovered behind Mc Cuaig’s tell a different story of Irish origins, and it does not include the Celts.
And though police were called, it was not, as it turned out, a crime scene.Genetics is fuzzy, and it doesn't follow political and cultural borders.“ Even so, some experts warned that the new findings will disappoint many who would prefer a simpler answer to the question Irish origins.“The public will always want a place on the map and for someone to point and say, 'This where the Irish are from,' ” said J. 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. 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 Mc Cuaig’s, however, link the Irish to that surge of population.For a group of scholars who in recent years have alleged that the Celts, beginning from the middle of Europe, may never have reached Ireland, the arrival of the DNA evidence provides the biological certitude that the science has sometimes brought to criminal trials.
“With the genetic evidence, the old model is completely shot,” John Koch, a linguist at the Center for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies at the University of Wales.
“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.) Radiocarbon dating shows that the bones discovered at Mc Cuaig's go back to about 2000 B. 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.
Koch, the linguist at the University of Wales, for example, proposed in 2008 that “Celtic” languages were not imports to the region but instead were developed somewhere in the British Isles or the Iberian Peninsula — and then spread eastward into continental Europe.
His doubts about the traditional view arose as he was studying inscriptions on artifacts from southern Portugal. Tolkien, better known as the author of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” novels, described the popular understanding of “Celtic” in a celebrated lecture: “‘Celtic’ of any sort is ...
DNA research indicates that the three skeletons found behind Mc Cuaig's are the ancestors of the modern Irish and they predate the Celts and their purported arrival by 1,000 years or more.