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Thread: Pictish matrilineality, mtDNA, and the megalithic substrate of the language

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    Pictish matrilineality, mtDNA, and the megalithic substrate of the language

    Firstly, this is such a crossover post I'm not sure this is where it belongs — this is my first post here.

    I've been wondering about the Picts today in an ongoing curiosity around surviving Celtic languages and their level of antiquity or connection to the early continental Celtic languages. I found it strange that so much of the information on the Picts have them set apart from the larger Brythonic peoples and languages, even though they retain so much archaeological continuity. Particularly of interest was the comment that they were smaller and darker than other Celtic peoples, and that they practiced matrilineality, a strange thing for any Indo-European culture. Also, there is much contention over the nature of the language not lining up completely, from the small amount of attestations, to either Goidelic or Brythonic languages. They also seem to have been described as more primitive in dress and decoration than the average Celt.

    So, I dug at the mtDNA data and found a correlation in Northeast Scotland (and Wales) with higher percentages of I and J genotypes. It would make sense, if the traditions of Old European matrilineality we're present, different genetic selection would happen, and probably also linguistic selection.

    And then I found this map of megalithic sites in the Isles and it all seemed to become very solid.

    (Apparently I can't post links. What an unfortunate policy.)

    So I'm postulating that the Picts were a unique combination of Celtic and Old European lineages, dominating until the Dal Riata invasions and the introduction of patrilineality quickly undid the continuity of language and lineage.


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    The Picts are an interesting topic. I doubt they had much Neolithic British stuff just because there's no excess EEF genes in Scottish. But then one could argue the Scots replaced the Picts.

    At this point, there's no way to distinguish Bell Beaker/R1b L21/"Indo European" mtDNA from Neolithic British mtDNA because the mtDNA of each group definitely had lots of overlaps. If anything I'd correlate high mHG K1a or H3 frequencies with Neolithic British but that's still a very iffy measurement.

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