Tuesday, February 25, 2014
We Turks of Ireland
As the putative descendant of Celts, I was interested and mildly distressed to learn from Stephen Oppenheimer in Prospect magazine that, more than likely, those of us whose ancestors came from Ireland have no connection at all to the Celtic cultures of Central Europe but are actually Anatolian, i.e., Turkish, in origin, via the Mediterranean littoral and the Basque Country. And it's the fault of that Greek bloke Herodotus, who off-handedly said the race he called "Keltoi" came from the Danube regions, whereas what he meant to say was the Pyrenees, placing us squarely in the Basque Country. What silly old Herodotus did with his Danube comment was reinforce the idea that the Halstatt and La Tène cultures of central Europe, with their elaborate metalwork and swirling, typically Celtic shapes, were the proto-Celts of Ireland, Scotland, etc. Not so, apparently; that art was just the fashion of the times everywhere. So forget the old notion of the Celtic "rump" pushed outward by Roman expansion; our lot got started in Turkey much earlier, says Oppenheimer.