When discussing Iron Age Celtic, who they were or their origin, there are more questions than answers. We learned about them through scattered historical records that often cause more confusion than certainties.
For decades, we’ve been learning the theory of the Central European origin of the Celts and the Hallstatt culture. Moreover, Today, recent advances in genetic research and a reinterpretation of archaeological and historical sources. They seem to suggest a different story.
Ister is the ancient name of the Danube river. But this is confusion since he talks about the city of “Pyrene” (obviously located in the Pyrenees mountain range between France and Spain) and the pillars of Heracles (Gibraltar). He also mentions the Cynessi, who were known people in southwestern Iberia. What we have here is a direct source locating the land of the Celts in Iberia, not central Europe.
Iron Age Celtic
It deserves a chapter apart from the “naming conventions” of ancient Greeks and Romans. For example, Caesar begins his commentaries of the Gallic wars explaining that Gaul was to divide into three parts. These are Belgica (north), Aquitania (south) and Celtica (center) where those who call themselves “Celts” live (the Romans called them “Gauls” and this name became extended to all the peoples of “Gallia” who, I assume, didn’t call themselves Celts).
Finally, we have current genetic data. All the peoples currently deemed as “Celtic” in Western Europe, and especially in the British Isles, belong overwhelmingly to the R1B haplogroup, most precisely to a variant known as “West Atlantic Modal haplotype,” which finds its purest form in the Basque Country (Northern Spain/Southern France). Irish and Welsh are almost identical genetically to Basques. Scots, Bretons, Galicians, and the rest of Spaniards, French, and Britons nowadays are also predominantly of this kin. Even in England, the successive invasions by Germanic peoples didn’t affect much the ethnic base, which is still 75% “Celtic.”
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Curiously, the Basques are not Celts, and their language has absolutely nothing to do not only with Celtic but with any other European style. Their style is to believe and to be the remnant of a very ancient language to speak in Europe way before the Indo-European languages spread from the East.
So, where is the birthplace of Celts? They are native western Europeans, the descendants of the first inhabitants of this region who dis repopulation the area after the glacial age (by that time, the British Isles were in unity to mainland because of lower sea levels). Their origin is in the Pyrenees, which was the place were a small group of humans who survived the glacial age.
What’s the origin of the Celtic languages? This is a whole different question, a massive headache, and we can only speculate. The purest “Celts” (the Basques) never spoke Celtic! Celtic is an Indo-European language, which means it was in origination in remote times in the East (India/Iran). All European languages share the same origin (except Basque). The theory tells that it was “imported” into Europe by cultural transmission, with the introduction of new technology: Agriculture.