- Exposing the truth THEY don't want you to know

North Africans may have beaten Celts to Ireland
The Sunday Times - 28th May 2000
WHEN the Celts landed in Ireland 2,500 years ago, they may have been met by a
population of North Africans, scientists now believe, writes Jan Battles.

Linguists say a study of Irish and other Celtic languages has produced
possible evidence that when the Celts invaded Ireland and Britain there were
already Afro-Asiatic speakers here. Celtic languages - Irish, Scots Gaelic
and Welsh - incorporate grammatical traits found in Afro-Asiatic tongues that
are otherwise unrelated, according to research published last week in Science

Other Celtic languages that were spoken in continental Europe and have since
died out did not have these grammatical quirks. Afro-Asiatic languages are
currently spoken in countries across Northern Africa and the Near East. This
points to the possibility that there was early contact between Celtic and
North African populations in the British Isles.

Orin Gensler, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in
Germany, said the similarities would be explained if, when Afro-Asiatic
people learnt Celtic from the new immigrants, they "perpetuated aspects
of their own grammar into the new language". Gensler has studied many
grammatical features found in both Celtic and Afro-Asiatic languages. He
found many of the shared features were rare in other languages.

Linguists have discovered surprising differences between Celtic languages and
related languages such as French, while seeing striking resemblances between
Celtic and Afro-Asiatic languages that are spoken in countries including
Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.

Gensler examined features of the languages such as the order of words in a
sentence. In Gaelic and Welsh the standard sentence structure is
verbsubject-object, which is a rare sequence. This is also the case in many
Afro-Asiatic languages. Celtic languages that used to be spoken in
continental Europe had the verb in the final or middle position.

Berniece Wuethrich, author of the Science article, said: "The only other
non-linguistic evidence that could point towards this connection is in blood
type, but it is not definitive. Irish and British people have different
proportions of blood types to most Europeans. Where there are comparable
proportions is in the Atlas mountains in Northern Africa, home of the Berber
people." Berber is a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language group.

Geneticists say there is no evidence of North African ancestors in Irish
genes. "There is no particular correspondence between northwest Africa and
this island but that is not to say we won't find something," said Dr Dan
Bradley of the department of genetics at Trinity College. "There is no good
genetic evidence to support what the linguists are saying. You have to keep
an open mind though."

While in general clues about the identity of prehistoric inhabitants are
gleaned from archeological remains and DNA, linguists say that certain
elements of a language can preserve information about ancient times.

It is widely known that when the Celts invaded Ireland there were people
already here. Man is first believed to have arrived on Irish shores about
9,000 years ago - the earliest-known archeological evidence for human
habitation dates to 7,000BC.

Archeologists are not sure of the origins of prehistoric immigrants to
Ireland. A team of scientists in Dublin and Belfast, including Bradley, is
studying the genes of modern Irish people to find evidence of these origins,
a project which is partly funded by the government's millennium fund.