Romans, Alpine Celts and Belgae : close cousins ?

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Recent genetic data suggests that ancient Italic tribes, including the Romans, were closely related to the Alpine Celts who founded the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures. In other words, the Romans conquest of Gaul was more like the final part of the unification process of the Italo-Celtic tribes.

Genetic evidence

The S28/U152 SNP was discovered as a subclade of haplogroup R1b about 2 years ago and tests have become more widespread over the last year. The original trend seem to point at a Celtic origin for this haplogroup, with a possible origin in the Black Forest or Switzerland.

R1b-S28 was found in the area of extension of the La Tene culture, along the Rhine, Moselle and Meuse valleys north to Belgium, around the Alps in Eastern France (Lorraine, Vosges, Jura, and maybe as far as Auvergne), and in northern Italy, known as Cisalpine Gaul by the Romans. The haplogroup was also observed at lower frequency in Britain, which is compatible with the establishment of Belgic tribes there prior to the Roman conquest.

But it now appears that R1b-S28 is also the most common subclade of R1b in Italy, even in the south and in Sardinia. It could indeed be the original haplogroup of the Italic tribes, prior to the arrival of the Etruscans, the Greeks and the Phoenicians.

The coalescence age for R1b-S28 haplotypes is around 3,500 years ago, about 1,000 years before the beginning of the European Bronze Age. This makes it possible for a common origin of the Alpine Celts and Italic tribes. Little is known of the Italics before the mythical foundation of Rome in 753 BCE.

In all likelihood, the ancestor of all/most R1b-S28 people lived in the Western Hallstatt culture, around the Black Forest. This happens to be the place where the highest STR diversity is found for this haplogroup, which usually means that it is the place of origin.

Linguistic evidence

This theory is further corroborated by linguistic evidence. Italic and Celtic languages belonged to the same Italo-Celtic family. It is known that at the time of Julius Caesar Gaulish dialects were still mutually intelligible with Latin, meaning that the two linguistic groups had not split so long ago.

Archeological evidence

Archeological evidence suggest that the Italics may not have colonised the Italian peninsula before 1,000 BCE. The nearest and most probable place of origin of the Italics was the Alps region, where the Hallstatt culture (1,200-475 BCE) flourished.

This would explain why Roman helmets and other military equipment, were directly inspired by Alpine Celtic ones.

The Romans became more technologically and culturally advanced than their northern cousins thanks to the influence of their Near-Eastern neighbours, the Etruscans (immediately north of Rome) and the Greeks (to the south). The Romans combined the best elements of Celtic and Greco-Etruscan culture and technology to become a superpower.

The Celts were said to be fiercer warriors than the Greeks, who were themselves stronger than the Persians (they never let themselves conquered, even in the heyday of Darius and Xerxes). Even Alexander the Great feared the Alpine/Danubian Celts, and made sure to secure peace with them before setting off to conquer the Middle East. The Celts invaded Greece a few decades after Alexander's death, and sacked Delphi in 279 BCE. Those were the same Alpine Celts that had sacked Rome in 390 BCE, and besieged it again in 367 BCE.

Until the 3rd century, the Alpine Celts were the strongest military power in Europe, and the fastest expanding culture. The La Tène culture spread well beyond Gaul and Italy, to Iberia, Britain, the Balkans and Anatolia.

If the Romans were in fact close relatives of those Celts, equipped with the Greek advances in agriculture, ship-building, military strategy, and political structure, it is no wonder that they defeated everybody else so easily.

Roman relations with their Alpine Celtic cousins

Many Eastern Gaulish tribes (e.g. Sequani. Aedui) allied themselves to Julius Caesar during the Conquest of Gaul. In fact they had long had good relations with Rome and were the ones who requested Caesar's assistance to fight other tribes. Before Caesar's time the Aedui had attached themselves to the Romans, and were honoured with the title of brothers and kinsmen of the Roman people. Perhaps it is no wonder that the Romans had the hardest time defeating the tribes closest to them, the Suebi and the Belgae.

This also explains why the Romans called the Suebi and other Celts of modern south-west Germany the "Germani". The Latin Germani comes from germanus (from germen, "seed" or "offshoot"). The term was used to mean that they were the genuine Celts (descendants of the Hallstatt and La Tène Celts), as opposed to the other tribes of Gaul. Or it meant that they, Romans, descended from the same "seed" as these Germani from the Black Forest, or saw each others as offshoots of the same tribe.

The Roman provinces of Germania match exactly the regions where R1b-S28 has the highest frequency, around modern Belgium (Germania Inferior), and around the Baden-Württemberg (Germania Superior).

This may be why the name Germanicus was used in the Rome aristocracy, like for Emperors Caligula (Germanicus Julius Caesar) and Claudius (Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus). It may have been a reference to the Roman's origins in Germania. In any case they didn't think of these Germani as contemptible or inferior, otherwise they would not have named members of the imperial family after them. It was closer to an honorific title.

Conclusion

If this theory is confirmed, it would mean that the original Romans were an offshoot of the Alpine/Black Forest Celts, just like the Belgae, and the Galatians of Anatolia.

Naturally the Romans unified Italy and annexed Greece before conquering Gaul, so by the time of Julius Caesar, being Roman meant being Greco-Roman. It terms of haplogroups of the Y-chromosome, it means an admixture of Italo-Celtic R1b-S28 (and probably also G2a3, which arrived in Europe during the Neolithic) with Greco-Etruscan J2 and E1b1b.
 
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It is interesting to note that there was a major collapse of Bronze-Age civilisations around 1,200 BCE from Greece to Egypt, just after the beginning of the Bronze-Age in Europe and the invention of the Naue Type II sword by the Proto-Celts from the Danube region.

Barbarians invaded the palace-states of Mycenaean Greece, Hittite Anatolia, Assyria and Egypt, sacked their cities dry and caused a severe depopulation. Nobody knows for sure who these barbarians were, nor if it was a single group or various tribes from Europe, Central Asia and the Arabian peninsula. The worst hit region were Greece and Anatolia, suggesting that the invaders could well have been first and foremost European.

From this website:

From archaeological evidence it would appear that the Griffzungenschwert [Naue Type II sword] evolved in the 'barbarian' regions of Austria and Hungary, some variants going back to ca. 1450 b.c. It was only around 1200, however, that the Naue Type II took the civilized world by storm. By no coincidence this was at the same time as the destruction of cities throughout Greece and the Near East; an era which saw the end of the Hittite Empire and the beginning of Egypt's final decline. The archaeological record shows that swords of the Naue Type II began to be adopted by the defenders of these besieged lands around 1200. Although there is no hard evidence, logic suggests that the sword was, out of sheer necessity, copied by the city-dwellers from the weapons used by the raiders who had come to destroy them.

A reversal in culture occurred between the Near East and Europe; the collapse of the former coincides with the rise of the Urnfield culture of the 12-13th centuries BCE, immediately followed by the Celtic Hallstatt culture (1200-475 BCE).

Archeologically, Celtic culture originated in southern Germany and Austria (Urnfield, Hallstatt, La Tène), then spread to the rest of Western Europe. The Proto-Celts had arrived from Romania through the Danube valley during the 2nd millennium BCE. They progressively moved westward, as attested by the early East Hallstatt, followed by the late West Hallstatt, then La Tène even further west.

What if all the European R1b (M269) stem from these Proto-Celts and only colonised/conquered Western Europe after 1,300 BCE ? If the new Naue Type-II swords conferred them enough military advantage to destroy the powerful Near-Eastern civilisations, they would have massacred the Neolithic inhabitants of Western Europe.

This would explain why a Neolithic population primarily composed of I2 and G2a (and maybe so E1b1b), has turned into a predominantly R1b society. I2 and G2a would have become isolated to mountainous regions like Sardinia, the Pyrennees and the Alps - and that is the case. They would have remained more numerous in Eastern Europe because they had mixed with R1b or R1a before the Celtic expansion. Northern Europe also mixed early with the R1b people of the Urnfield culture, so the consequences for I1 and I2b in northern Germany and Scandinavia were less severe than for I2a (and I2b ?) in the West.
 
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Interesting article! (And great work on your site by the way!)
Please allow me to offer some critical remarks.
This also explains why the Romans called the Suebi and other Celts of modern south-west Germany the "Germani". The Latin Germani comes from germanus (from germen, "seed" or "offshoot"). The term was used to mean that they were the genuine Celts (descendants of the Hallstatt and La Tène Celts), as opposed to the other tribes of Gaul. Or it meant that they, Romans, descended from the same "seed" as these Germani from the Black Forest, or saw each others as offshoots of the same tribe.
Linguistically speaking, Suebi is an unmistakably Germanic name. As far as I know the Celtic languages didn't have names/words beginning with /sw-/. The name is a latinisation of Proto-Germanic *Swēbōz, the plural of *Swēbaz, which is derived from a Proto-Germanic root meaning something like 'of ones own, of the people' or 'independent'. The same root can be found in *swēsaz 'own, familiar' (whence Gothic swēs, Old Norse sváss, Old English swǣs, Old High German swās).
If you want to call the Suebi Celts, then you might as well call all the Germanic tribes (an offshoot of the) Celts. However, the Germanic languages are not descended from the Celtic languages. Therefore, the Suebi were either germanised Celts, or a mix of Celts and Germanics, or just plain Germanics who had ousted earlier Celts.
From Germania by Tacitus:
(2.3) But the term 'Germania', they say, is modern and recently applied, since those who first crossed over the Rhine and drove out the Gauls (and now are called the Tungri) were at that time called Germani. Thus the name of a tribe, and not of a people, gradually became dominant, with the result that they were all called Germani, at first by the conquered from the name of the conquerers because of fear, and then, once the name had been devised, also by the Germani themselves.​
So if we can lend Tacitus some credibility, there was ethnic self-awareness among the Germanics. They distinguished themselves from the Gauls, and their language was their own (i.e. non-Celtic). The name Tungri can be explained as a latinisation of Proto-Germanic *Tungrōz, a derivation of the root of *tangrijan 'to press together'. Their name could then mean something like 'those pressed together' > 'the united' or 'those under (demographic) pressure'.
Also, it is very plausible that Germani is simply a Latin translation of Proto-Germanic *Swēbōz. That both meant 'those of the own seed'.
This may be why the name Germanicus was used in the Rome aristocracy, like for Emperors Caligula (Germanicus Julius Caesar) and Claudius (Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus). It may have been a reference to the Roman's origins in Germania. In any case they didn't think of these Germani as contemptible or inferior, otherwise they would not have named members of the imperial family after them. It was closer to an honorific title.
As far as I know the title Germanicus was honorary and first given to Nero Claudius Drusus (and his family) for his efforts in Germania as a military commander. This kind of nomenclature resembles that of Publius Cornelius Scipio, who was named Scipio Africanus after his defeat Hannibal. Germanicus and Africanus are then rather examples of victory titles*; they do not indicate kinship or ancestry.
* The board won't allow me to post URLs, seeing as this is my first post, so you'll have to look it up yourself on Wikipedia.
 
Apparently my formatting got lost in the process of posting. Since I am not allowed to edit my posts, I ask the reader to assume new paragraphs where they are due.
 
If you want to call the Suebi Celts, then you might as well call all the Germanic tribes (an offshoot of the) Celts. However, the Germanic languages are not descended from the Celtic languages. Therefore, the Suebi were either germanised Celts, or a mix of Celts and Germanics, or just plain Germanics who had ousted earlier Celts.

Considering that southern Germany was the expansion point of Proto-Celtic culture (Unetice, Tumulus and Hallstatt cultures), the 1st-century Suebi must have been mostly Germanised Celts (probably with a Germanic minority).

Also, it is very plausible that Germani is simply a Latin translation of Proto-Germanic *Swēbōz. That both meant 'those of the own seed'.

I like this theory that Germani was merely a Latin translation of the meaning of Suebi.
 
Alright, I decided to delve into my Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic to check my statement that "the Celtic languages didn't have names/words beginning with /sw-/." I was wrong. Proto-Celtic, like Proto-Germanic, retained the Proto-Indo-European /sw-/ at the beginning of words, although it is no longer present in modern Celtic languages. Yet Gaulish still had it. Take for instance the personal name Suadurix 'sweet ruler'. Be that as it may, the Suebi are still Germanic.

However, I must say, it is tempting to think that Germanics are partly descended from some kind of Proto-Celts (from the Hallstatt Culture), and that the remaining Celts can be divided into Gauls and such. I mean, one moment the Celts were supposedly all over Central Europe, and the next a whole bunch of Germanics occupied swaths of that land.

To illustrate my point, I made family tree. Too bad I'm still not allowed to link. So copy and paste the below to your address bar.

i458.photobucket.com/albums/qq308/anlef/Europe.jpg
 
To illustrate my point, I made family tree. Too bad I'm still not allowed to link. So copy and paste the below to your address bar.
i458.photobucket.com/albums/qq308/anlef/Europe.jpg

I basically agree with your graph, except a few things. Indo-European was R1b1b + R1a, so :

- Western IE was R1b1b2

- the Northeastern (or just northern) IE branch split from PIE, not from
Western IE. Balto-Slavic languages are closer to Indo-Iranian languages than to Italo-Celtic. It was indeed R1a.

- the Roman branch was R1b mixed with the Near-Eastern E1b1b, G2a, J and the Paleolithic I2a. The Celtic branch also had Near-Eastern E1b1b, G2a, J + I2a2 from the Carpathians + I2b from Central and N-W Europe. In other words you "skipped" the Neolithic admixture from the Near East/Balkans that spread with the LBK culture. ;)
 
There is also in Albania, Alpine race by 10%, and S28 smw 10 to 15%. There has been a colonization of italic people during roman empire, and maybe today vlachs of Albania are of this stock.
 
Actually, testing for S28 (aka U152) by Ethnoancestry began in 2005. There has been nearly five years of data collection on U152.

I have serious reservations about making the early Celts exclusively R-U152. The clade's distribution also matches that of Allemannic Germans pretty well.

The latest interclade calculations posted on the Rootsweb DNA List also make U152 slightly older than what you have listed.
 
Actually, testing for S28 (aka U152) by Ethnoancestry began in 2005. There has been nearly five years of data collection on U152.

I have serious reservations about making the early Celts exclusively R-U152.

Not exclusively. There would have been R-L21 and R-S116 as well (that's just for the Indo-European lineages, as the indigenous people from Old Europe who became assimilated to the Celts were E1b1b, G2a, J2 and I2).


The clade's distribution also matches that of Allemannic Germans pretty well.

Not so much actually. It matches Baden-Württemberg, but the Alemani never lived in Belgium, France, England or Italy.

In any case S28/U152 almost certainly predates the IE invasion as it was found in Anatolia and Kazakhstan too. I guess that this lineage only became important during the Central European Bronze Age, either because their carriers were more lucky than others in the number/survival of offspring or because it was the lineage of some particularly prolific chiefs/kings.
 
I understand that the Suebi were the first Germanic tribe who entered
south-Germany, Helvetia and France. They were really germanic, perhaps
they came from Sweden.

Probably the Belgae used to live at the east side of the Rhine. But why
not north of Rhine in the actual Netherlands? Many linguists who argue
that the Belgae and Germanic tribes in the Rhine area were celtic wrote
that their persons and tribenames had a celtic and not germanic origin.
They however forgot that perhaps celtic names were "en voque"with the
Germanic tribes as in the 18e century French names in Germany (Louis,
Charlotte) and English names in the Netherlands.

Caesar and Tacitus wrote about the pure Germans who lived in actual North of Netherlands and north and Central Germany and all had fair
hair and blue eyes! The Frisians, Chamavi and Cherusci were germanic
tribes. Probably their haplogroups were R1b, Ia and a little R1a.
The haplogroup Ia was original in North Europe and has arisen there.

But what was the relation between the Germanic Belgae and Germanic
Scandinavians? A difficult and disputed question: when did the Germanic
tribes arrive in Scandinavia? Did anybody read Juergen Udolph's book
about the Germanic places and waternames?
 
. . .
Not so much actually. It matches Baden-Württemberg, but the Alemani never lived in Belgium, France, England or Italy.

In any case S28/U152 almost certainly predates the IE invasion as it was found in Anatolia and Kazakhstan too. I guess that this lineage only became important during the Central European Bronze Age, either because their carriers were more lucky than others in the number/survival of offspring or because it was the lineage of some particularly prolific chiefs/kings.

While I think R-U152 is probably mainly Celtic, you cannot really argue that no Allemannic Germans ever made it to the places you named above. There was a settlement of Swabians in Anglo-Saxon England. They had a town named for them. Sorry I cannot remember the name of it offhand. The Lombards I believe are classed as an Allemannic tribe, and they most definitely settled in Italy.

As for U152 in Kazakhstan and Anatolia, well, I wouldn't make too much of that quite yet. Those two places have precisely one U152+ apiece. There are plenty of ways one U152 could have ended up in Kazakhstan and one U152 could have wound up in Anatolia.

I think every clade probably had its share of both beggars and kings.
 
While I think R-U152 is probably mainly Celtic, you cannot really argue that no Allemannic Germans ever made it to the places you named above. There was a settlement of Swabians in Anglo-Saxon England. They had a town named for them. Sorry I cannot remember the name of it offhand.

Eastern Britain (modern East Anglia and Kent) had close ties with modern Belgium and northern France since the bronze age. Hallstatt and La Tène artefacts were found in large quantities there, which I think account for the stronger presence of U152 in that part of England nowadays.

The Lombards I believe are classed as an Allemannic tribe, and they most definitely settled in Italy.

The Lombards originated in northern Germany and Frisia, not in the Black Forest.

I think every clade probably had its share of both beggars and kings.

True, but that's not the point. Beggars rarely have the chance to reproduce and pass on their Y-DNA. Ancient kings typically had several wives, or at least concubines. There are enough cases of bronze-age tumuli of kings burried with more than one wife to be sure of it. It was also common practice for historical Germanic tribes, even in early Christian times. Charlemagne had (known) children with 10 women (4 wives and 6 concubines) despite being an ardent Christian. Pre-Christian societies were almost certainly more accommodating to polygamy. Rich Muslim, Hindu and Chinese men have had many wives/concubines throughout history. This is a natural human predisposition. That's why prehistoric and ancient kings or chieftains passed on more DNA and their personal haplotypes turned into haplogroups after a few centuries.
 
Well, there are dialects of Alemannic Walser German (http://www.viswiki.com/en/Walser_German) spoken in Northern Italy, but I won't belabor the argument that U152 could be associated with the Alemanni.

La Tene had a more northerly center of gravity than Halstatt and would fit better with the distribution of L21, but here's what I think. I think the Celtic-speaking peoples were mostly P312 (S116). Both U152 and L21 arose from within that milieu, U152 farther south and east, more in the vicinity of Halstatt, and L21 farther north, more in line with the mislabeled "La Tene" culture. Of course, Halstatt wasn't exclusively U152, and La Tene wasn't exclusively L21.
 
Affinities between Gaulish and Latin

Historical linguist Brigitte Bauer has brought up substantial evidence* that Gaulish and Latin were highly similar languages.

Nicholas Ostler has argued** in the same sense, saying that Latin could only have replaced Gaulish so quickly if the grammatical structure was (nearly) identical and the two languages shared enough similarity in vocabulary to allow for a word-to-word replacement, as was the case with the replacement of Aramaic by Arabic. Iberian and Dacian Celtic were probably also close to Latin, perhaps all derived from a Hallstatt Celtic mother tongue.


* you can read about this in Archaic Syntax in Indo-European: The Spread of Transitivity in Latin and French and The Emergence and Development of SVO Patterning in Latin and French: Diachronic and Psycholinguistic Perspectives

** in this great book on diachronic sociolinguistics Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World
 
Maciamo, a question, the Germanic genes (Lombard) have a strong presence in northern Italy, but it is superior to the genes of the Gauls?
 
The original trend seem to point at a Celtic origin for this haplogroup, with a possible origin in the Black Forest or Switzerland.

Funny coincidence is that some of recent Slavic cultures begun in Black Forest too, actual name Charnoles (means exactly black forest) of NorthWest Ukraine.

http://wapedia.mobi/en/Slavs



I wonder if Veneti/Venedi/Venethi (current Poland) are not the off-shot of La Tene culture. There are neighbors of Celts of Czech area and the timing is right. Also jump through mountains to the south and there are Adriatic Veneti.
http://wapedia.mobi/en/Vistula_Veneti

What kind of R1b dominates in Poland?
 
Maciamo, a question, the Germanic genes (Lombard) have a strong presence in northern Italy, but it is superior to the genes of the Gauls?

What do you mean by superior ?
 

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