Session 93: Ystafell 9
'Celtic': archaeology, linguistics, genetics

Chair: Angharad Price

Celtic origins reconsidered in the light of the ‘archaeogenetics revolution’

John Koch
Canolfan Uwchefrydiau Cymreig a Cheltaidd Prifysgol Cymru

In 2016 full-genome sequencing of four prehistoric individuals by a team at Trinity College Dublin became the basis for a hypothesis that a migration of Indo-European speakers entered Ireland between the Middle Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (so roughly the Irish Beaker Period, 2400–2100 BC) and their language then evolved in situ to become Gaelic. In brief, the evidence for this proposal was (1) a Neolithic woman (dated 3343–3020 cal BC) from Ballynahatty, near Belfast, whose DNA could be traced to the ancient Near East and was similar to that of many other early European farmers and modern Sardinians, and also showed admixture from western European hunter–gatherers; (2) three men from an Early Bronze Age cist burial (dated 2026–1534 cal BC) from Rathlin Island, whose DNA, unlike that of the Ballynahatty woman, contained high levels of ancestry from the Pontic–Caspian steppe with central European admixture. The Neolithic and EBA samples also differed in that the latter showed detailed similarities with the modern Irish population absent from the older genome. Subsequent studies have found similar transformations of populations—from gene pools lacking the steppe component to those with it substantially present—occurring during the period 2500–2000 BC in other parts of western Europe, including Britain and the Iberian Peninsula. The paper uses linguistic, archaeological, and archaeogenetic evidence to consider the hypothesis that the Proto-Indo-European that became the attested Celtic languages reached Europe’s Atlantic façade with the mass migration of groups with steppe ancestry at the beginning of the Bronze Age.     

The Chiemsee cauldron: a brief announcement

Garret Olmsted

A 10 kilo gold cousin to the silver Gundestrup Cauldron with both the products of the Veneti just before their destruction by Caesar in 56 BC: 18 years a safe-kept secret in vaults in Zurich and Texas now brought to light.

Bunadas - an online network database of cognates in Celtic and other languages

Caoimhín P. Ó Donnaíle
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

Bunadas ( is an online network database of cognates, currently containing over 53,000 words and morphemes with the emphasis currently on the Celtic languages.  It is a resource for both language learners and researchers, including etymologists, historical linguists and lexicographers.  Its facilities include the display of a list of cognate words in any pair of languages; and the display in tree form (minimal spanning tree) of the cognates in other languages of any particular word, with each word colour-coded by family and language.  The network structure (network with distance metric) makes for superb flexibility in adding additional material, and allows the representation of word relationhips within languages as well as between languages.  Homonyms are distinguished.  Whether a word makes up a major, partial or tiny (for morphemes) component of another word is flagged, so that the English word 'claymore', for example, does not provide a false link between the Gaelic words 'claidheamh' and 'mór'.  The drag-and-drop editing interface makes it easy to alter connections between words.  All words are linked via Multidict to multiple dictionaries, including eDIL, GPC, DASG, Etymonline, Wiktionary.  The interface is multilingual, currently in a choice of English, Gàidhlig, Gaeilge.  Bunadas is continually expanding, but currently contains over 14,500 Old Irish words, 13,800 Irish, 2300 Scottish Gaelic, 1800 Manx, 2100 Welsh, 1400 Cornish, 1300 Breton, 350 Gaulish, 1000 Proto-Celtic, 2200 Latin, 700 French, 750 Ancient Greek, 1300 Proto-Germanic, 1000 German, 1000 Old English, 2500 English, 200 Norse, 3000 Proto-Indo-European including wordforms, and another 22 languages.