It’s been a while since I’ve had a “Carping Comments” posting. Partly, I think, as those folks most interested in complaining and tossing rocks learned it didn’t work, partly as there have been less “political” topics posted.
But sometimes, folks reach back into the “Way Back” machine and take issue with an old posting. Now, one I didn’t expect to raise ire, did.
So, I’m not really sure what to make of this guys complaints. It has a couple of interesting bits, but clearly he’s not up to having an open microphone. So it will go here.
The name used is “Brahmin”, but the “tag line” after it is “celtsarethieves x aryanking@xxxx” where I’ve taken the site name out of the email address so as not to provide free advertizing…
OK, what’s his complaint? That the mummies in Asia have the wrong type of DNA to be Celts. While using the correct technical term “haplogroup”, he calls it “Aryan blood” and “celtic blood” (note the choice of capitalization) He posted his complaint twice, I guess not understanding what “awaiting moderation” meant…
The Tarim Mummies belonged entirely to the Y haplogroup R1a1a and not R1b. So to claim they were celts is deviating or twisting the Truth. R1a1a is the Aryan blood and R1b is the celtic blood.
R1a1a is common to south and central asia,balk an countries and some east european countires.
Why do celts want to claim something their history to glorify them?
The Tarim Mummies belonged entirely to the Y haplogroup R1a1a and not R1b. So to claim they were celts is deviating or twisting the Truth. R1a1a is the Aryan blood and R1b is the celtic blood.
R1a1a is common to south and central asia,balk an countries and some east european countires.
Why do celts want to steal aryan history?
Now on the face of it, these comments have all sorts of issues. First off, no Celt I’ve known wants to “steal aryan history” nor claim anyone else’s history to “glorify them”. (I’m pretty sure most folks don’t really know Aryan history nor much of Celtic history either; and I’m pretty sure attributing one to the other would not cause most folks to even notice, either way.)
More serious is the assertion that there is ONE haplogroup that is an entire ethnic type. Human genetics just doesn’t work that way. We are all “mutts” to some extent. Heck, we even have varying degrees of Neanderthal DNA in us. There are a few genetic markers for particular races, but even those are found in divergent groups. It’s a ‘weight of the numbers’ thing. Haplogroups are particularly prone to being hashed up as they come from the male linage, so if a place were 100% one type of male (say they had just killed off the other tribe) and they took concubines per “victor”, you end up with a resultant population that is 100% “victor” haplogroup and 50% “vanquished” other DNA in the F1 generation. After a few generations you can end up at an even larger percentage of DNA being “vanquished” if conditions are right.
Similarly, you can get a haplogroup that promotes more “male sperm” success than “female sperm” success. That haplogroup will be advantaged and spread to dominate the local population even if the rest of the genes are dominantly “original”. Each chromosome moves independently. Even on a single chromosome there are areas that can jump off and mix. “Jumping genes”. So the presence of a particular haplogroup NOW tells you little about the culture THEN.
Now, the valid part of the complaint was that there is a haplogroup disparity of a minor degree. So what?
Research into the subject has attracted controversy, due to ethnic tensions in modern day Xinjiang. There have been concerns whether DNA results could affect claims by Uyghur peoples of being indigenous to the region. In comparing the DNA of the mummies to that of modern day Uyghur peoples, Victor H. Mair’s team found some genetic similarities with the mummies, but no direct links, stating that “modern DNA and ancient DNA show that Uighurs, Kazaks, Kyrgyzs, the peoples of Central Asia are all mixed Caucasian and East Asian… the modern and ancient DNA tell the same story.” He concludes that the mummies are basically Caucasoid, likely speakers of an Indo-European language; that East Asian peoples “began showing up in the eastern portions of the Tarim Basin about 3,000 years ago… while the Uighur peoples arrived after the collapse of the Orkon Uighur Kingdom, largely based in modern day Mongolia, around the year 842.”
So the mummies are of significantly mixed DNA, like most everyone from the region. But they are Indo-European speakers with tartan clothing and in a region not far from where historical Celts are well documented. “How much Celt?” Who knows. Its just speculation, at best. The grave goods would be a reasonable clue, but even those things are traded and mixed. Could these be non-Celts? Certainly. Perhaps they got their horse tack and tartan from the Celts in Turkey or northern Italy. Trade happens. Or they may have been “1/4 Celt” with Celtic mothers from a raid a couple of generations back. Dad’s haplogroup and mom’s clothing. Again, it’s all going to speculation for a while.
The earliest Tarim mummies, found at Qäwrighul and dated to 1800 BCE, are of a Caucasoid physical type whose closest affiliation is to the Bronze Age populations of southern Siberia, Kazakhstan, Central Asia, and the Lower Volga.
The cemetery at Yanbulaq contained 29 mummies which date from 1100–500 BCE, 21 of which are Mongoloid—the earliest Mongoloid mummies found in the Tarim Basin—and 8 of which are of the same Caucasoid physical type found at Qäwrighul.
Notable mummies are the tall, red-haired “Chärchän man” or the “Ur-David” (1000 BCE); his son (1000 BCE), a small 1-year-old baby with brown hair protruding from under a red and blue felt cap, with two stones positioned over its eyes; the “Hami Mummy” (c. 1400–800 BCE), a “red-headed beauty” found in Qizilchoqa; and the “Witches of Subeshi” (4th or 3rd century BCE), who wore 2-foot-long (0.61 m) black felt conical hats with a flat brim. Also found at Subeshi was a man with traces of a surgical operation on his neck; the incision is sewn up with sutures made of horsehair.
Many of the mummies have been found in very good condition, owing to the dryness of the desert and the desiccation it produced in the corpses. The mummies share many typical Caucasoid body features (elongated bodies, angular faces, recessed eyes), and many of them have their hair physically intact, ranging in color from blond to red to deep brown, and generally long, curly and braided. It is not known whether their hair has been bleached by internment in salt. Their costumes, and especially textiles, may indicate a common origin with Indo-European neolithic clothing techniques or a common low-level textile technology. Chärchän man wore a red twill tunic and tartan leggings. Textile expert Elizabeth Wayland Barber, who examined the tartan-style cloth, discusses similarities between it and fragments recovered from salt mines associated with the Hallstatt culture.
So who is this “Hallstatt culture”? Folks from the middle of Europe. Germans, Celts, Slavs all occupy the areas now or in the not too distant past. Celts were making beer in what is now Germany and Czech Republic in a couple of thousand BC. Ethnic types were scattered in valleys and regions. Which of them were the Hallstatt Culture? We don’t know. But it has links with Celts.
From the Eupedia link below:
The new Bronze Age culture flourished around the Alps (Unetice to early Hallstatt) thanks to the abundance of metal in the region, and laid the foundation for the classical Celtic culture. The Celtic Iron Age (late Halstatt, from 800 BCE) may have been brought through preserved contacts with the the steppes and the North Caucasus, notably the Koban culture (1100-400 BCE).
The Alpine Celts of the Hallstatt culture are associated with the S28 (a.k.a. U152) mutation, although not exclusively. The Italic branch (also S28/U152) is thought to have entered Italy by 1200 BCE, but there were certainly several successive waves, as attested by the later arrival of the Cisalpine Celts. The Belgae were another S28/U152 branch, an extension of the La Tène culture northward, following the Rhine, Moselle and Meuse rivers.
One common linguistic trait between Italic and Gaulish/Brythonic Celtic languages linked to the Hallstatt expansion is that they shifted the oiginal IE *kw sound into *p. They are known to linguists as the P-Celtic branch.
The Hallstatt culture was the predominant Central European culture from the 8th to 6th centuries BC (European Early Iron Age), developing out of the Urnfield culture of the 12th century BC (Late Bronze Age) and followed in much of Central Europe by the La Tène culture.
By the 6th century BC, the Hallstatt culture extended for some 1000 km, from the Champagne-Ardenne in the west, through the Upper Rhine and the upper Danube, as far as the Vienna Basin and the Danubian Lowland in the east, from the Main, Bohemia and the Little Carpathians in the north, to the Swiss plateau, the Salzkammergut and to Lower Styria.
It is named for its type site, Hallstatt, a lakeside village in the Austrian Salzkammergut southeast of Salzburg. The culture is commonly linked to Proto-Celtic and Celtic populations in its western zone and with (pre-)Illyrians in its eastern zone.
The Illyrians were even more poorly characterized; so who knows what the “(pre-)Illyrians” were. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illyrians
The name of Illyrians as applied by the ancient Greeks to their northern neighbours may have referred to a broad, ill-defined group of peoples, and it is today unclear to what extent they were linguistically and culturally homogeneous. The Illyrian tribes never collectively regarded themselves as ‘Illyrians’, and it is unlikely that they utilized any collective nomenclature for themselves. The term Illyrioi may originally have designated only a single people, that came to be widely known to the Greeks due to proximity. This occurred during the Bronze Age, when Greek tribes were neighboring the Illyrii proprie dicti, the southernmost Illyrian tribe of that time, in Zeta plain, Montenegro. Indeed, such a people known as the Illyrioi have occupied a small and well-defined part of the south Adriatic coast, around Skadar Lake astride the modern frontier between Albania and Montenegro. The name may then have expanded and come to be applied to ethnically different peoples such as the Liburni, Delmatae, Iapodes, or the Pannonii. In any case, most modern scholars are certain that the Illyrians constituted a heterogeneous entity.
Pliny, in his work Natural History, applies a stricter usage of the term Illyrii, when speaking of Illyrii proprie dicti (“Illyrians properly so-called”) among the native communities in the south of Roman Dalmatia. A passage within Appian’s Illyrike (stating that the Illyrians lived beyond Macedonia and Thrace, from Chaonia and Thesprotia to the Danube River) is also representative of the broader usage of the term.
Mostly we know they were from an area near Yugoslavia, were not Greeks nor Romans (as both spoke of them as ‘others’) and are from an area where in ancient times some Celtic tribes were know to exist (along with a lot of other tribes of non-Celts).
In short, the Balkans are and were an ethnic mess.
It is tempting to think of them as, perhaps, some kind of proto-Slav, but the Slavs don’t speak of themselves as Illyrians…
IMHO it is reasonable (though unproven) to speculate that they may well have been a very early and perhaps somewhat divergent line of Celts. If so, we have a body of Celts stretching from Ireland, Britain, France and Spain, Czech and southern Germany, North Italy, and through Illyrian lands to central Turkey. So is it THAT hard to speculate “and a little further” to where we find physically similar people with similar grave goods and lifestyles?
Back at DNA
Now we think of Celts as being the folks in Ireland, Scotland, and some bits of other places (and the diaspora to the New World…). What the Carping Commenter did was a silly logic flaw. He said, in essence: “The Celts OF TODAY are dominantly R1b, so the Celts OF ALL TIME must have been too.” This ignores that genes move on there own distinct from culture and distinct from the history of nations. It ignores that haplogroups especially are prone to rapid shifts. And it ignores that the reference populations where he finds lots of R1a also contain LOTS of DNA from their former Celtic populations that have now been Romanized, Helenized, converted to British and French, et. al.
Lets take a look at a more realistic picture of the movement of haplogroups:
From the Wiki on Haplogroup R1b where it says as a caption:
“Possible time of origin less than 18,500 years BP
Possible place of origin Southwest Asia”
Got that? Southwest ASIA.
Were do we find our “Proto-R1b-Celts”? Southwest Asia. What is right next to Southwest Asia? South Central Asia… Note, too, that the R1a type has two dispersion paths as well… and both “root” in the area right next to where the two R1b dispersion paths originate. It would be terribly easy for a tribe of early Celts with R1a type to head east, and a tribe of Celts with R1b type to head west, then time erases the connection and we wonder what a people found only on the far West of Europe could have to do with an extinct people in Central Asia…
Also note that we’re talking about a population of people from several thousand years ago and a haplogroup that is not a whole lot older. There will be a period of ‘mixed type’ as the new group develops and spreads from the first mutation. Oh, and is there any evidence for those older “sort of a maybe b” type genes in a modern population?
R1b* (that is R1b with no subsequent distinguishing SNP mutations) is extremely rare. Two cases were reported in a large study of Turkey. In a study of Jordan it was found that no less than 20 out of all 146 men tested (13.7%), including most notably 20 out of 45 men tested from the Dead Sea area, were positive for M173 (R1) but negative for P25 and M269, mentioned above, as well as the R1a markers SRY10831.2 and M17, so they are either R1b* or R1a*. Hassan et al. (2008) found an equally surprising 14 out of 26 (54%) of Sudanese Fulani who were M173+ and P25-. Wood et al. report 2 Egyptian cases of R1-M173 which were negative for SRY10831 (R1a1) and P25 (R1b1), out of a sample of 1122 males from various African countries, including 92 from Egypt. Such cases could possibly be either R1b* (R-M343*) or R1a* (R-M420*) (demonstrating the importance of checking exact mutations tested when comparing findings in this field).
It is however also possible that some of the rare examples represent a reversion of marker P25 from a positive back to a negative ancestral state.
So is this evidence for Celts in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Africa, etc.? Or just evidence that saying R1b == Celt is a bit broken?
The simple fact is that R1a and R1b are ‘close’ genetically. Very close. And the further back in time you go, the closer they get. They can say very little about the culture and ethnicity of the mummies.
This site: http://www.eupedia.com/europe/origins_haplogroups_europe.shtml does a pretty good job of sorting out the genetics of Europe (to the extent it is even possible). They have a slightly older origin for R1b, but also place it right next to R1a in where it originated. If you look at their graph of Bronze Age cultures and gene types you will find R1B NOT in places like France, Britain, Ireland… but north of Greece and scattered about south west Asia a bit.
If you then scroll down to the modern distribution, you find it highest where it had been near zero, and relatively low where it had been the dominant form. Some of that is movement of the peoples, but some of it is just genetic drift. In those proto-Celtic areas, you still find bag pipes and Celts. But the R1b has moved over a ways. Also note that even in Ireland, it only reaches 80%. In any population there is variation. So finding a couple of mummies of one type does not preclude the population from having had some of the other types in it.
In short: Saying R1b “is the Celtic blood” is just wrong.
R1b is strongly correlated with Modern Day Celts. But not 100%. And R1a is spread all over too.
Anatolian or Caucasian origins ?
The origins of R1b are not entirely clear to this day. Some of the oldest forms of R1b are found in the Near East and around the Caucasus. Haplogroup R1* and R2* might have originated in southern Central Asia (between the Caspian and the Hindu Kush). A branch of R1 would have developed into R1b* then R1b1* in the northern part of the Middle East during the Ice Age. It presumptively moved to northern Anatolia and across the Caucasus during the early Neolithic, where it became R1b1b. The Near Eastern leftovers evolved into R1b1a (M18), now found at low frequencies among the Lebanese and the Druze.The Phoenicians (who came from modern day Lebanon) spread this R1b1a and R1b1* to their colonies, notably Sardinia and the Maghreb.
The subclades R1b1b1 and R1b1b2 (the most common form in Europe) are closely associated with the spread of Indo-European languages, as attested by its presence in all regions of the world where Indo-European languages were spoken in ancient times, from the Atlantic coast of Europe to the Indian subcontinent, including almost all Europe (except Finland and Bosnia-Herzegovina), Anatolia, Armenia, Europan Russia, southern Siberia, many pockets around Central Asia (notably Xinjiang, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan), without forgetting Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal. The history of R1b and R1a are intricately connected to each others. Whereas R1b1 is found is such places as the Levant or Cameroon, R1b1b mostly likely originated in north-eastern Anatolia.
The Pontic-Caspian steppe cultures can be divided in a western group, ranging from the Don River to the Dniester (and later Danube), and an eastern one, in the Volga-Ural region. The Pontic steppe was probably inhabited by men of mixed R1a and R1b lineages, with higher densities of R1b just north of the Caucasus, and more R1a in the the northern steppes and the forest-steppes.
R1b almost certainly crossed over from northern Anatolia to the Pontic-Caspian steppe. It is not clear whether this happened before, during or after the Neolithic. A regular flow of R1b across the Caucasus cannot be excluded either. The genetic diversity of R1b being greater around the Caucasus, it is hard to deny that R1b settled and evolved there before entering the steppe world. Does that mean that Indo-European languages originated in the steppes with R1a people, and that R1b immigrants blended into the established culture ? Or that Proro-Indo-European language appear in northern Anatolia or in the Caucasus, then spread to the steppes with R1b ? Or else did Proro-Indo-European first appear in the steppe as a hybrid language of Caucasian/Anatolian R1b and steppe R1a ? This question has no obvious answer, but based on the antiquity and archaic character of the Anatolian branch (Hittite, Palaic, Luwian, Lydian, and so on) an northern Anatolian origin of Proto-Indo-European is credible. Furthermore, there is documented evidence of loan words from Caucasian languages in Indo-European languages. This is much more likely to have happened if Proto-Indo-European developed near the Caucasus than in the distant steppes. R1b would consequently have been the spreading factor of PIE to the steppes, and from there to Europe, Central Asia and South Asia.
So here we get a glimpse of how the R1b and R1a populations were living near and mixed with each other in the early years. Tied to the flow and spread of Indo-European languages.
The R1a / R1b separation came later, not first. It was not Aryan R1a vs Celtic R1b. It was a Proto-Indo-European mixed R1a / R1b early culture that spread in different directions. Each tribe (likely of related males with related / similar haplogroups) moving out in different directions resulting eventually in divergent genetics percentages and cultures. And those mummies were speakers of a very early Indo-European language in the Tocharian area IIRC: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tocharian_languages
Tocharian or Tokharian is an extinct branch of the Indo-European language family. The name is taken from the people known to the Greeks (Ptolemy VI, 11, 6) as the Tocharians (Greek: Τόχαροι, Tókharoi). These are sometimes identified with the Yuezhi and the Kushans. The term Tokharistan usually refers to 1st millennium Bactria, which the Kushans ruled. A Turkic text refers to the Turfanian language (Tocharian A) as twqry. Interpretation is difficult, but Friedrich W. K. Müller has associated this with the name of the Bactrian Tokharoi.
Today, mainly two branches of Tocharian are known: Tocharian A (Turfanian, Arsi, or East Tocharian) and Tocharian B (Kuchean or West Tocharian). Documents in these languages exist roughly from the 3rd to 9th centuries AD; before they became extinct, their speakers were either absorbed or exterminated by the expanding Uyghur tribes. Both languages were once spoken in the Tarim Basin in Central Asia, now part of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China.
Were Tocharians Celts? Likely not. IMHO, they were more likely “Celt Cousins”. (But one really has to ask if ANY population from 2000 to 3000 years ago is the same as any modern population… we evolve both genetically and culturally). Note how the history says things like “usually associated with” and “sometimes identified with”. It’s largely guesswork and pet theories. Made more so by the tendency for peoples to change… would you really call the Americans of today the same culture as the Puritans of New England? Or “the same” as the British, Scots, and Irish of Great Britain and Ireland?
What we can say is that the physical type was similar, the genetics is at least related, and the grave goods speak to a very similar if not strongly related culture. The languages were related (though different … but compare Texan English with Oxford and that’s just 200 years) and the peoples originated from the same area of south central Eurasia. Does that make the mummies Celts? Nope. But it makes it POSSIBLE that they were Proto-Celts and with good reason to think so.
OK, so who were those Aryans?
In colloquial modern English it is often used to signify the Nordic racial ideal promoted by the Nazis. As the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language states at the beginning of its definition, “Aryan, a word nowadays referring to the blond-haired, blue-eyed physical ideal of Nazi Germany, originally referred to a people who looked vastly different. Its history starts with the ancient Indo-Iranians, peoples who inhabited parts of what are now Iran, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.”
In Iranian context the original self-identifier lives on in ethnic names like “Alani”, “Ir”. Similarly, The word Iran is the Persian word for land/place of the Aryan(see also Iranian peoples).
Properly used, it means the peoples of Iran, Pakistan, North India etc… One presumes that “Brahmin” knows this from the choice of names. The simple fact is that the Hindu are not particularly known for red hair, tartans, etc. They do speak an Indo-European language…
Gee… not a lot of R1a type originating in India, Iran, Pakistan… Yes, it is found there, but is not characteristic of folks. The wiki on R1a type says:
Haplogroup R1a is the phylogenetic name of a major clade of human Y-chromosome lineages. In other words, it is a way of grouping a significant part of all modern men according to a shared male-line ancestor. It is common in many parts of Eurasia and is frequently discussed in human population genetics and genetic genealogy. One sub-clade (branch) of R1a, currently designated R1a1a, is much more common than the others in all major geographical regions. R1a1a, defined by the SNP mutation M17, is particularly common in a large region extending from South Asia and Southern Siberia to Central Europe and Scandinavia.
Currently, the R1a family is defined most broadly by the SNP mutation M420. The recent discovery of M420 resulted in a reorganization of the known family tree of R1a, in particular establishing a new paragroup (designated R1a*) for the relatively rare lineages which are not in the R1a1 branch leading to R1a1a.
R1a and R1a1a are believed to have originated somewhere within Eurasia, most likely in the area from Eastern Europe to South Asia. The most recent studies indicate that South Asia is the most likely region of origin.
So again we have R1a originating next to where R1b originated. Yes, it is connected to the “Nordic types” and thus to the Nazi Aryan Myth, but the reality is that the true Aryans are from Iran and India. Rather brown and not very Nordic. So our Carping Commenter has bought into the Nazi Racist Propaganda, but not read much of the science and history of true Aryans. Oh, and take a look at this map. Notice that even in the Nordic type areas the density of R1a1a is not as high as in other places.
Frankly, I don’t see how you can make one ethnic group out of the R1a1a distribution. It’s just splattered all over Eurasia.
Oh, and I think the Scots will be rather surprised to discover they are honorary Aryans… and not so much Celts…
The simple fact is that the notion of an “Aryan blood” haplogroup is just incredibly wrong and rather stupid.
Even the idea that it somehow makes one a “Nordic Type” is clearly wrong.
Even the idea that it somehow isn’t in Celts is wrong.
Our Carping Commenter wanted to toss a racial bomb and run. We don’t do that here. They have some kind of ‘hang up’ on ‘blood’ and think that genetics is a pure thing. It isn’t. We all have thousands of genes from all over the planet. Nobody is a pure genetic type (not that it matters) as we all are mutts with some genes with mutations and errors in them. Even a cursory look at the humanity around you will show the Red Headed Grandchild effect. I’ve seen a couple of folks with very black skin and bright blue eyes (rather attractive in an exotic way and definitely causes you to think about ‘jumping genes’…). I’ve seen Asians with freckles and curly hair (also rare) and I’ve seen a black man’s heart transplanted into a white man as it was the closest genetic match. I’ve seen brown Mexicans with a red headed kid and they have even found the Cohen Gene (a relatively sure marker of a specific clad of Jews) in black African tribes that claim to be Jewish descendants and even a few found in Native American populations (causing folks to wonder what Jew went where when and supporting the stories of Jews reaching North America in pre-Columbus times).
So you have a very few mummies with a particular gene type in one chromosome. Doesn’t mean much. Not enough number to be statistically valid as a racial identification type even if all the OTHER issues discussed above did not exist. In the context of “all the rest” it becomes silly to talk about “Aryan Blood” as r1a1a haplogroup.
So was this a small group of R1a1a Celts that wandered East as their R1b cousins headed West? Or were they a bit more distantly related as “not quite Celt Indo-European speakers with red hair and a taste for Tartan”? We’ll likely never know. Heck, it is even reasonable to say they might be completely non-Celtic connected. Perhaps they just were some Northern European types that ended up in Central Asia and liked the look of Tartan they got from a Celtic trader some generations back. It’s possible.
But for my money, it’s a more reasonable speculation to say that the Celts spread out both East and West (as we know they did) with some variation in gene types (as we know there are) and some went a bit further East (and perhaps did it a bit earlier than we thought); then got ‘cut off’ by various tribes of passers by as armies raided this way and that. Eventually merging in with the Asian population that turned up from the East and leaving us with a more Asian type (but genetically mixed) population today. Yet with a curiously “Celtic like” ancestry found deep in the ground and from long ago.
And you just can’t square that history with a view of “blood” as being one specific type per race. Especially in the haplogroup genes. As that Eupedia link very nicely explains, there are many things that make those genes more prone to percentage changes out of proportion to the other genes:
The phylogeny of R1b proved that this scenario was not possible, because older R1b clades were consistently found in Central Asia and the Middle East, and the youngest in Western and Northern Europe. There was a clear gradient from East to West tracing the migration of R1b people (see map above). This age of the main migration from the shores of the Black Sea to Central Europe also happened to match the timeframe of the Indo-European invasion of Europe, which coincides with the introduction of the Bronze-Age culture in Western Europe, and the spread of Italo-Celtic and Germanic languages.
Historians and archeologists have long argued whether the Indo-European migration was a massive invasion, or rather a cultural diffusion of language and technology spread only by a small number of incomers. The answer could well be “neither”. Proponents of the diffusion theory would have us think that R1b is native to Western Europe, and R1a alone represent the Indo-Europeans. The problem is that haplogroup R did arise in Central Asia, and R2 is still restricted to Central and South Asia, while R1a and the older subclades of R1b are also found in Central Asia. The age of R1b subclades in Europe coincide with the Bronze-Age. R1b must consequently have replaced most of the native Y-DNA lineages in Europe from the Bronze-Age onwards.
However, a massive migration and nearly complete anihilation of the Paleolithic population can hardly be envisaged. Western Europeans do look quite different in Ireland, Holland, Aquitaine or Portugal, despite being all regions where R1b is dominant. Autosomal DNA studies have confirmed that the Western European population is far from homogeneous. A lot of maternal lineages (mtDNA) also appear to be of Paleolithic origin (e.g. H1, H3, U5 or V) based on ancient DNA tests. What a lot of people forget is that there is also no need of a large-scale exodus for patrilineal lineages to be replaced fairly quickly. Here is why.
Polygamy. Unlike women, men are not limited in the number of children they can procreate. Men with power typically have more children. This was all the truer in primitive societies, where polygamy was often the norm for chieftains and kings.
Status & Power. Equipped with Bronze weapons and horses, the Indo-Europeans would have easily subjugated the Neolithic farmers and with even greater ease Europe’s last hunter-gatherers.If they did not exterminate the indigenous men, the newcomers would have become the new ruling class, with a multitude of local kings, chieftains and noblemen (Bronze-Age Celts and Germans lived in small village communities with a chief, each part of a small tribe headed by a king) with higher reproductive opportunities than average.
Gender imbalance. Invading armies normally have far more men than women. Men must therefore find women in the conquered population. Wars are waged by men, and the losers suffer heavier casualties, leaving more women available to the winners.
Aggressive warfare. The Indo-Europeans were a warlike people with a strong heroic code emphasising courage and military prowess. Their superior technology (metal weapons, wheeled vehicles and warhorses) and attitude to life would have allowed them to slaughter any population that did not have organised armies with metal weapons (i.e. anybody except the Middle-Eastern civilizations).
Genetic predisposition to conceive boys. The main role of the Y-chromosome in man’s body is to create sperm. Haplogroups are determined based on mutations differentiating Y-chromosomes. Each mutation is liable to affect sperm production and sperm motility. Preliminary research has already established a link between certain haplogroups and increased or reduced sperm motility. The higher the motility, the higher the chances of conceiving a boy. It is absolutely possible that R1b could confer a bias toward more male offspring. Even a slightly higher percentage of male births would significantly contribute to the replacement of other lineages with the accumulation effect building up over a few millennia. Not all R1b subclades might have this boy bias. The bias only exist in relation to other haplogroups found in a same population. It is very possible that the fairly recent R1b subclades of Western Europe had a significant advantage compared to the older haplogroups in that region, notably haplogroup I2 and E-V13. Read more
Replacement of patrilineal lineages following this model quickly becomes exponential. Imagine 100 Indo-European men conquering a tribe of 1000 indigenous Europeans (a ratio of 1:10). War casualties have resulted in a higher proportion of women in the conquered population. Let’s say that the surviving population is composed of 700 women and 300 men. Let’s suppose that the victorious Indo-European men end up having twice as many children reaching adulthood as the men of the vanquished tribe. There is a number of reason for that. The winners would take more wives, or take concubines, or even rape women of the vanquished tribe. Their higher status would garantee them greater wealth and therefore better nutrition for their offspring, increasing the chances of reaching adulthood and procreating themselves. An offspring ratio of 2 to 1 for men is actually a conservative estimate, as it is totally conceivable that Bronze-Age sensibilities would have resulted in killing most of the men on the losing side, and raping their women (as attested by the Old Testament). Even so, it would only take a few generations for the winning Y-DNA lineages to become the majority. For instance, if the first generation of Indo-Europeans had two surviving sons per man, against only one per indigenous man, the number of Indo-European paternal lineages would pass to 200 individuals at the second generation, 400 at the third, 800 at the fourth and 1600 at the fifth, and so on. During that time indigenous lineages would only stagnate at 300 individuals for each generation.
Based on such a scenario, the R1b lineages would have quickly overwhelmed the local lineages. Even if the Indo-European conquerors had only slightly more children than the local men, R1b lineages would become dominant within a few centuries. Celtic culture lasted for over 1000 years in Continental Europe before the Roman conquest putting an end to the priviledges of the chieftains and nobility. This is more than enough time for R1b lineages to reach 50 to 80% of the population.
So the haplogroup type does not tell you much about the REST of the genetics and the culture of a people. It can, does, and has changed over time for large populations.
OK, with that said:
It could well be that the cultural artifacts were ‘left overs’ from an earlier Celtic time and that the haplogroup R1a1a came into the area with some invasion or another. We just don’t know. Some speculation from the Eupedia:
An early group of R1b1b people is thought to have migrated from Caspian Sea region to Central Asia, where it evolved into the R1b1b1 (M73) branch. This variety of R1b occurs almost exclusively in very specific Central Asian populations. The highest percentages were observed among the Uyghurs (20%) of Xinjiang in north-west China, the Hazara people of Afghanistan (32%), and the Bashkirs (55%) of the Abzelilovsky district of Bashkortostan in Russia (border of Kazakhstan).
Central Asian R1b1b1 could correspond to the Tocharian branch of the Indo-Europeans. It is possible that the Tocharians split from the main R1b body as early as 7,000 BCE. Over the centuries some groups of these nomadic tribes ended up around the southern Urals, others in the Tarim Basin (Xinjiang) or in southern Central Asia. Another theory is that a group of early horse riders from the Repin culture (3700-3300 BCE) migrated from the Don-Volga region to the Altai mountain, founding the Afanasevo culture (c. 3600-2400 BCE), then moved south to the Tarim Basin.
Mummies of fair-haired Caucasian people were found in the Tarim Basin, the oldest of which date back to 1800 BCE. The modern inhabitants of the Tarim Basin, the Uyghurs, belong both to this R1b-M73 subclade (about 20%) and to R1a1 (about 30%). This could mean that they had become a hybrid R1b-R1a society by the time they reached the Tarim Basin. But R1a1 could also have arrived independently during the later Indo-Iranian migrations (approx. 2000 BCE), or much later through some nomadic Scytho-Iranian tribes (after 700 BCE).
Notice the direction of that migration. From the Caspian into Asia.
So we could claim, I suppose, that the R1b type shows Celts were in Asia long ago, and then attempt to claim that made Celts out of Uyghurs, Hazara in Afghanistan, and the Bashkirs of Russia… But the reality is that haplogroup is not a good marker of culture. Guys “get around” but culture tends to travel with the moms. We also have evidence of a mixed type in the present day Uyghurs and speculation about when it became so mixed. So it’s quite possible that a Celtic base culture had some powerful Indo-Iranians come through the area and left it with some added R1a type, but still a Celtic core culture and bulk genetics.
But I don’t think so.
Wider testing of the genetics seems to indicate a straight forward European origin. Marching right across the Celtic areas of the Alpine Celts. Only later did the genetics get more highly mixed. But without a good timeline with both history and mummy genetics plotted on it, and more samples, it will never be certain.
A team of Chinese and American researchers working in Sweden tested DNA from 52 separate mummies, including the mummy denoted “Beauty of Loulan.” By genetically mapping the mummies’ origins, the researchers confirmed the theory that these mummies were of West Eurasian descent. Victor Mair, a University of Pennsylvania professor and project leader for the team that did the genetic mapping, commented that these studies were:
…extremely important because they link up eastern and western Eurasia at a formative stage of civilization (Bronze Age and early Iron Age) in a much closer way than has ever been done before.
An earlier study by Jilin University had found an mtDNA haplotype characteristic of Western Eurasian populations with Europoid genes.
In 2007 the Chinese government allowed a National Geographic team headed by Spencer Wells to examine the mummies’ DNA. Wells was able to extract undegraded DNA from the internal tissues. The scientists extracted enough material to suggest the Tarim Basin was continually inhabited from 2000 BCE to 300 BCE and preliminary results indicate the people, rather than having a single origin, originated from Europe, Mesopotamia, Indus Valley and other regions yet to be determined.
However, In 2009, the remains of individuals found at a site in Xiaohe were analyzed for Y-DNA and mtDNA markers. They suggest that an admixed population of both west and east origin lived in the Tarim basin since the early Bronze Age. The maternal lineages were predominantly East Eurasian haplogroup C with smaller numbers of H and K, while the paternal lines were all West Eurasian R1a1a. The geographic location of where this admixing took place is unknown, although south Siberia is likely.
It has been asserted that the textiles found with the mummies are of an early European textile type based on close similarities to fragmentary textiles found in salt mines in Austria, dating from the second millennium BCE. Anthropologist Irene Good, a specialist in early Eurasian textiles, noted the woven diagonal twill pattern indicated the use of a rather sophisticated loom and, she says, the textile is “the easternmost known example of this kind of weaving technique.”
Mair claims that “the earliest mummies in the Tarim Basin were exclusively Caucasoid, or Europoid” with east Asian migrants arriving in the eastern portions of the Tarim Basin around 3,000 years ago while the Uyghur peoples arrived around the year 842. In trying to trace the origins of these populations, Victor Mair’s team suggested that they may have arrived in the region by way of the Pamir Mountains about 5,000 years ago.
This evidence remains controversial. While it neither supports or refutes the contemporary nationalist claims of the present-day Uyghur peoples, it does show that such claims can be oversimplistic. Mair has said that, like many Central Asian peoples, modern Uyghurs are a mixture of both Caucasians and East Asians, warning against ignoring a complicated genetic and cultural history. In comparing the DNA of the mummies to that of modern day Uyghur peoples, Mair’s team found some genetic similarities with the mummies, but “no direct links”.
About the controversy Mair has claimed that:
The new finds are also forcing a reexamination of old Chinese books that describe historical or legendary figures of great height, with deep-set blue or green eyes, long noses, full beards, and red or blond hair. Scholars have traditionally scoffed at these accounts, but it now seems that they may be accurate.
The “bottom line” for me is that some guys headed out to the Central Asian “boonies” with some European type wives, then over the years some “East Eurasian” wives got into the mix. Different areas had somewhat different “mixes” (no surprise there) and eventually the whole area got over run a few times (and the Tocharians died out or blended out of existence).
Did they start out Celts, then become “something else”? Probably. But that is the history of all civilizations. They change. France is not filled with the same Celtic culture of a few thousand years ago. Spain is not an Arabic province (though the influence and some of the genes remain) nor do they retain much Celtic core. Folks in England no long speak the dialect of Saxons and the Irish of America have little Clan Tartan on them. But that does not change our Celtic roots…