Celtic from the West: Alternative Perspectives from Archaeology, Genetics, Language and Literature [Paperback]

Barry Cunliffe (Editor); John T. Koch (Editor)

ISBN: 9781842174753 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Series: Celtic Studies Publications | Volume: 15 | Year of Publication: 2012 | Language: English 384p, 83 b/w illus, 39 colour & b/w maps

Celtic from the West


This book is an exploration of the new idea that the Celtic languages originated in the Atlantic Zone during the Bronze Age, approached from various perspectives pro and con, archaeology, genetics, and philology. This Celtic Atlantic Bronze Age theory represents a major departure from the long-established, but increasingly problematical scenario in which the story of the Ancient Celtic languages and that of peoples called Keltoí Celts are closely bound up with the archaeology of the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures of Iron Age west-central Europe. The Celtic from the West proposal was first presented in Barry Cunliffe's Facing the Ocean (2001) and has subsequently found resonance amongst geneticists. It provoked controversy on the part of some linguists, though is significantly in accord with John Koch's findings in Tartessian (2009). The present collection is intended to pursue the question further in order to determine whether this earlier and more westerly starting point might now be developed as a more robust foundation for Celtic studies. As well as having this specific aim, a more general purpose of Celtic from the West is to bring to an English-language readership some of the rapidly unfolding and too often neglected evidence of the pre-Roman peoples and languages of the western Iberian Peninsula.

Celtic from the West is an outgrowth of a multidisciplinary conference held at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth in December 2008. As well as the 11 chapters, the book includes 45 distribution maps and a further 80 illustrations. The conference and collaborative volume mark the launch of a multi-year research initiative undertaken by the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies [CAWCS]: Ancient Britain and the Atlantic Zone [ABrAZo].

Contributors: (Archaeology) Barry Cunliffe; Raimund Karl; Amílcar Guerra; (Genetics) Brian McEvoy & Daniel Bradley; Stephen Oppenheimer; Ellen Rrvik; (Language & Literature) Graham Isaac; David Parsons; John T. Koch; Philip Freeman; Dagmar S. Wodtko.

Table of Contents

Part I: Archaeology
1. Celticization from the West: The Contribution of Archaeology (Barry Cunliffe)
2. The Celts from Everywhere and Nowhere: A Re-evaluation of the Origins of the Celts and the Emergence of Celtic Cultures (Raimund Karl)
3. Ancillary Study: New Discovered Inscriptions from the South-west of the Iberian Peninsula (Amílcar Guerra)

Part II: Genetics
4. Western Celts? A Genetic Impression of Britain in Atlantic Europe (Ellen C. Røyrvik)
5. Irish Genetics and Celts (Brian P. McEvoy and Daniel G. Bradley)
6. A Reanalysis of Multiple Prehistoric Immigrations to Britain and Ireland Aimed at Identifying the Celtic Contributions (Stephen Oppenheimer)

Part III: Language and Literature
7. The Origins of the Celtic Languages: Language Spread from East to West (G. R. Isaac)
8. Tracking the Course of the Savage Tongue: Place-names and Linguistic Diffusion in Early Britain (David N. Parsons)
9. Paradigm Shift? Interpreting Tartessian as Celtic (John T. Koch)
10. Ancillary Study: Ancient References to Tartessos (Philip M. Freeman)
11. Ancillary Study: The Problem of Lusitanian (Dagmar S. Wodtko

Reviews & Quotes

"Its fair to say that this book succeeds in re-thinking preceding ideas about Celts in a very approachable (and visually satisfying) way. In the introduction the authors set themselves the challenge of 'stimulating a breadth of original thinking, rather than launching an Atlantic Celtic thesis as a manifesto. The breadth of scholarly writing here ensures the volume achieves that aim with considerable gusto."
Current World Archaeology
Current World Archaeology

"The arguments are complex, and involve, as Barry says, leaving the comfort and familiarity of archaeological concepts to try to understand the methods of linguists and geneticists, but the book presents a powerful body of evidence from these sources to suggest that proto-Celtic came from the eastern Mediterranean with Bronze-Age traders seeking metal ores, and that it became the lingua franca of the mining and trading communities of the Atlantic tin trade, which might help to explain the apparent anomaly of a Phoenician gene marker being found in DNA samples from people living on Anglesey."
SALON - The Society of Antiquaries Online Newslett
SALON - The Society of Antiquaries Online Newsletter

"Its great strength is that it is multidisciplinary, consisting of chapters by archaeologists, geneticists and philologists... Overall, whatever you may think about the 'Celtic debate', this is an important book that provides easy access to multiple strands of evidence.'"
British Archaeology
British Archaeology

"...Koch's analysis reflects the authors superior scholarship…"
Bryn Mawr Classical Review
Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"Nominated for <b>2011 Book of the Year</b> by <i>Current Archaeology</i>:<br> This agenda-setting volume suggests Celtic speakers came not from Iron Age central Europe but rather from the Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean.'"
Current Archaeology
Current Archaeology

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