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the Term "Celt"

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« on: February 18, 2007, 11:39:58 pm »

Population genetics

With the information gathered recently by population geneticists, it is becoming increasingly clear that the old idea of large-scale replacement by newer invaders is sometimes a misleading concept. The Celtic ethnicity debate took off at a particularly early stage in population genetic studies, a science still in its very early stages of development. Taking this into account along with the fact that these limited studies are dealing only with particular sections of DNA (eg. MtDNA, Y chromosome; no studies can currently be carried out regarding X chromosome inheritance), the results cannot be considered conclusive in any way.

In his book Neanderthal, archaeologist Douglas Palmer refers to genetic research conducted across Europe, then states the original modern genetic group in Europe arrived between 9,000 and 5,000 years ago with the spread of farming, displacing the earlier hunter gatherer populations. Such displacement coincided with a population explosion, since farming is capable of supporting up to 60 times greater population than the hunter-gatherer lifestyle in the same area:

"None of Europe's subsequent historic upheavals - even catastrophic wars and famines - has seriously dented the old pattern set by the influx of farmers. The Goths, Huns and Romans have come and gone without any significant impact on the ancient gene map of Europe". This reality however may be changed in the future due to the influx of non European immigrants, causing the extinction of the European people.
The Y-chromosomes of populations of the so called Celtic countries have been found in several studies to primarily belong to haplogroup R1b, which makes them descendants partially of the first people to migrate into north-western Europe after the last major ice age. According to the most recently published studies of European haplogroups, around half of the current male population of that portion of Eurasia is a descendant of the R1b haplogroup. Haplotype R1b exceeds 90% of Y-chromosomes in parts of Wales, Ireland and Spain. [1] [2] [3]

In two recently published books - The Blood of the Isles by Brian Sykes and The Origins of the British: a Genetic Detective Story by Stephen Oppenheimer - it is claimed, based upon recent genetic studies, that the majority of Britons have ancestors from the Iberian Peninsula, as a result of a series of migrations that took place during the Mesolithic and, to a lesser extent, the Neolithic eras. Oppenheimer's theory is that the modern day people of Wales, Ireland and Cornwall are mainly descended from Iberians who did not speak a Celtic language.

In Origins of the British (2006), Stephen Oppenheimer states (pages 375 and 378):

By far the majority of male gene types in Britain and Ireland derive from Iberia (modern Spain and Portugal), ranging from a low of 59% in Fakenham, Norfolk to highs of 96% in Llangefni, north Wales and 93% Castlerea, Ireland. On average only 30% of gene types in England derive from north-west Europe. Even without dating the earlier waves of north-west European immigration, this invalidates the Anglo-Saxon wipeout theory... ...75-95% of Britain and Ireland (genetic) matches derive from Iberia...Ireland, coastal Wales, and central and west-coast Scotland are almost entirely made up from Iberian founders, while the rest of the non-English parts of Britain and Ireland have similarly high rates. England has rather lower rates of Iberian types with marked heterogeneity, but no English sample has less than 58% of Iberian samples...

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