Friday, 30 October 2020

Prometheus


Eurasian mythologies all contain myths about the invention of plough, oxen cart, potter's wheel, weaving loom, metal, writing...

In the myths they were either invented by gods and then given to heroes who gave them to people, invented by gods and then stolen by heroes who gave them to people or invented by heroes who gave them to people...

In reality, based on the archaeological records, these are all things invented during neolithic - chalcolithic - bronze age period...

Why were the inventions of these, from our point of view, "ordinary things", attributed to mythical beings?

Because, from the point of view of the people who made the myths,  each one of these things was so mind blowing, so incredibly impossible to be invented by an ordinary human, that it had to have been invented by some superhuman, a hero or a god...

So why is the invention of fire making among these things? Archaeologist believe that making of fire was invented by primitive humans. If so, it had been known for, eeeee, hundreds of thousands of years, and was a common knowledge by the time the Eurasian myths were made...

So why do we have the myth of Prometheus? Prometheus who "stole fire from the thunder god Zeus" and gave it to people. Remember, originally, before the invention of the fire drill, only thunder gods could make fire. Using lightning.    People had to "find fire" and "steal it"...

By the way, fire drill was invented by Hermes, "the god of thieves"...Fire drill was considered by Greeks to be such an amazing invention, that only god could have invented it...

This makes no sense...Unless fire making was not invented by primitive humans, and wasn't already known by everyone for hundreds of thousands of years by the time Greeks made their myths...

If the invention of the fire drill happened during Neolithic, then this world changing event was, at the time when Greeks made their myths, still in the ancestral memory as something totally awesome...Hence the mythical origin of fire making...

But what about all the evidence of the human use of fire since, like, forever? Well, using fire is one thing. Every man can pick up a burning branch ignited by a lightning and bring it home (cave, hut...). Once there, he can light his own fire...

And then he can keep this fire burning...You know all the "eternal fire" beliefs across Eurasia, and how "house fire should never die"...Why would these beliefs exist if making fire was "nothing" since Palaeolithic...Fire dies, you light the new one. No biggie...

Yet...To the Greeks it seems, making fire was something completely different...It was like magic. Something only gods could invent and heroes had to steal from them...

I remember reading an interview with a documentary film maker, who visited some remote island tribes somewhere in the 1960's. The crew arrived on the island in a helicopter and they thought that the "primitive natives" would be gobsmacked by the "flying machine"...

It turned out they were most impressed by a lighter...

Monday, 26 October 2020

Burren

This is an amazing photo by Rob Shaw of the Poulnabrone (Irish: Poll na Brón) dolmen. Around 33 human remains were found buried underneath it which were dated to between 5800 BP (or is it calibrated BP?) and 5200 BP (or is it calibrated BP?)...


The dolmen is located in Burren, a barren limestone area in the north of the county Claire, West of Ireland...


Pollen analysis indicates that in the Mesolithic period the Burren looked completely different from today, with most of the uplands covered in a mixture of deciduous, pine and yew trees. No clear evidence of Mesolithic settlements or camp sites in the area has yet been discovered. 

However, by the Neolithic, c. 5100BP (5800 calibrated BP), settlers had clearly arrived and began changing the landscape through deforestation, likely by overgrazing and burning, and the building of stone walls. 

These people also constructed Megalithic sites like the Poulnabrone dolmen. In total 70 megalithic tombs were built in the Burren area...

Now the remains found in the Poulnabrone dolmen showed signs of arthritis, illness and malnutrition. In most cases the physical condition of the remains indicated lives spent in hard physical labour. Everyone died by the age of 30...So agriculture was not very successful, I would say...

Today I came across this interesting paper: "Farming and woodland dynamics in Ireland during the Neolithic"

In it we can read about "the Elm Decline", the decimation of the Irish elms which is thought to be a result of a disease which affected only elms. The event is dated to around 5100BP (5800 calibrated BP). 

Interestingly the earliest evidence of the Neolithic landnam (the clearance of forested land for (usually short-term) agricultural purposes) is from the period immediately after the Elm Decline. The effects of this land clearance can be seen in substantial reductions in arboreal pollen (frequently in all taxa) and correspondingly large increases in the non-arboreal pollen component. Basically trees were replace by grasses. 

Examples from Ce´ide Fields and Lough Sheeauns and the pollen record from Garrynagran, which lies immediately to the south of Ce´ide Fields show that landnam involved clearance and sustained farming activity over several centuries (c. 300 –500 years).

The farming was mainly animal herding. Grain was grown, but as a minor element in the farming economy. 

However, farming completely stops around 4500BP (5200 calibrated BP)...After this point we see evidence of woodland regeneration facilitated by low levels of farming and possibly more or less complete abandonment of farming in several parts of Ireland. By the end of this period 4000BP (4500 calibrated BP), blanket bog had already expanded or was about to undergo widespread expansion. At Ce´ide Fields, it already extended over the greater part of the fields that had been enclosed in the earlier Neolithic by stone walls.

So here is the question: Why did agriculture in Neolithic Burren last such a short period of time and why was it so unsuccessful that people literally starved and died young from diseases and malnutrition?

I don't know if what I will present here will answer this question or open even more questions, but here it goes:

This is the chart of the polar temperature variation in last 10,000 years


We can see that the temperature has been going up and down madly all the time and that for most of the time it was much higher than today. But I am not going to talk about climate change here. I want to talk about specific dramatic temperature rises and drops which occurred during the time of the Early Neolithic settlements in the Burren area. What I want to see is if the sudden changes in climate were responsible for the relatively short span and unsuccessfulness of the Neolithic agriculture in the Burren area.

Now in order to do this analysis we need to decide which archaeological dates should we match with  the above temperature chart dates. The archaeological dates are given in BP (before present) and calibrated BP...

Apparently, the BP dates retrieved using C14 carbon dating "are not identical to calendar dates". This "has to do with the fact that the level of atmospheric radiocarbon (carbon-14 or 14C) has not been strictly constant during the span of time that can be radiocarbon-dated". Uncalibrated radiocarbon ages can be converted to calendar dates by means of calibration curves "based on comparison of raw radiocarbon dates of samples independently dated by other methods, such as dendrochronology (dating on the basis of tree growth-rings) and stratigraphy (dating on the basis of sediment layers in mud or sedimentary rock)". 

The quotes are not here because I don't agree with calibration. There are here because calibration is not an exact science...And calibrated dates are not "the correct dates". They are just "better dates". I talked about the problems with C14 dates calibration in my article "Linkardstown cists". 

The problem with calibration is that calibration wildly changes the dates obtained by C14 carbon dating. As you can see from the above dates for the arrival of the first farmers to the Burren, calibration makes the dates 700 years earlier...700 years is a lot of time, especially when you want to correlate dates from one part of the world with dates from another, to determine the direction of population movement and cultural influence...But that's the best we have at the moment...

Let's plot the calibrated dates from the Burren onto the Polar temperature chart to see if we can spot anything interesting. 


And here is the important bit enlarged



You can see that our poor Neolithic Farmers arrived to the Burren right during the sudden cooling (green line) caused most likely by an eruption of the Hekla volcano on Iceland which happened around 5900BP. Volcano eruptions of Hekla type spew huge amount of ash into the atmosphere and cause basically nuclear winters...Not very good for agriculture...

They somehow get through this "bad patch" and are doing "ok" for a while (temperatures rising to the halfway point between the green and the purple line). When something else causes a temperature drop that makes the one caused by Hekla eruption look like a "minor bad weather spell". 

This time we can't blame Hekla for what's going on...We can blame the so Called "Piora Oscillation". The climate got progressively colder and damper and eventually made agriculture impossible. Which is why by the time this period is over, we see no traces of agriculture in the Burren any more. 

As the temperature starts to rise (after the purple line), the forests start to recover. 

But then around 5100BP we have another catastrophic climate change with huge temperature dip. We are talking about ice age conditions...


So what is this big dip? And, is it possible that this dip could be an indication that the calibration of the Irish C14 carbon dates is wrong? Have a look at what we get when we plot the actual C14 dates and not the calibrated ones on the above Ice Core Temperature chart.



Now our Neolithic Farmers arrive to Ireland right after the previous big dip which coincides with the Piora Oscillation, some time before 5200BP. They enjoy relative prosperity. They build Newgrange between 5200BP and 5100BP...

But then, just when they are getting comfortable, about 200 years after they arrived, they hit the beginning of the giant temperature dip. And then everything goest to hell...The temperature plummets. The climate becomes so cold and wet that it makes agriculture impossible. The bogs cover the fields...

Even the "modern", multi core Ice Core Temperature charts, specially "tuned" to correct the "simplistic" chart above show this dip which starts around 5100BP:




Now I know that one of the main criticisms of these charts is that "you can't equate temperature variation data obtained on Greenland to temperature variation of the whole Earth". Fair enough, but Greenland is fairly close to Ireland, and we could be pretty sure that the Irish temperature variation was very similar to the one shown on the Greenland Ice Core Temperature charts...

Soooo...

Oh yeah. The Irish annals tell us that the first people that came to Ireland were Fomorians (The ones who came from across the sea). Then the flood came and Ireland was left depopulated. Then Partholon came. Then another flood came and Ireland was again left depopulated. Then Nemed came...

I talked about this in my post "Partholon and the great flood"...

Now if we plot the calibrated dates on the Greenland Ice Core Temperature chart we get


And if we plot the calibrated dates on the Greenland Ice Core Temperature chart we get


Now the second one actually matches the date of the arrival of the R1b Metalworkers to Ireland sometime after 4500BP. And the Irish annals say that it was Partholon who brought metalwork...

I think this is quite interesting...

So as I said at the beginning of my discussion, not sure if what I just presented here gives us any answers, or opens a lot more questions...

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Giant's Ring

This is the so called Giant's Ring, a late Neolithic henge monument at Ballynahatty, near Shaw's Bridge, Belfast, Northern Ireland...

Inside the enclosure, east of the centre, is a small passage tomb with an entrance passage facing west...

The genetic data obtained from the female remains found inside the tomb, and dated to (3343–3020 cal. BC) shows "predominant ancestry from early farmers" and "haplotypic affinity with modern southern Mediterranean populations such as Sardinians".

Also "she shares higher levels of genetic drift with Early and MN samples from Spain rather than those from Germany...and arguing for the possible passage of farming to Ireland via a southern coastal route rather than via the migrations through central Europe".

From "Neolithic and Bronze Age migration to Ireland and establishment of the insular Atlantic genome

Now this is pointing at the neolithic people (first farmers) migrating into Europe following two routes, both starting in the Balkans: 

1. Up along Morava river to Danube and then up along Danube river into centra Europe and onward to North and Baltic seas and then further into Britain. 

2. Along north mediterranean coast via Italy, France, Spain and further into Ireland. 

Now according to the archaeological data presented in "Farming and woodland dynamics in Ireland during the Neolithic" the first farmers arrived to Ireland some time after "the great elm decline" which is pinned to around 3800BC. 

Now at that time, in the 4th millennium BC, the tourists wanting to travel along the north Mediterranean coast had two options: to walk, or to use the Neolithic seafaring trading routes that we know existed between Balkans and Iberia (via Sicily and Sardinia). I talked about this trading route in my post "Neolithic seafarers". 

So our girl (or one of her ancestors) probably travelled from Sardinia to Iberia by boat (probably along the coast, with stops along the way). And then continued on to Ireland by boat too (along the coast to Brittany and then via Cornwall to Ireland?) as there is no other way to get from Iberia to Ireland...

Interestingly, the same maritime trading/migration route along the North Mediterranean coast and then along the Atlantic coast was described in the Irish Annals as the route taken by the many Invaders of Ireland...Like Partholon who allegedly brought metalwork and cattle to Ireland...


I talked about the legends about Partholon and how it fits the archaeological data in my posts "Parthlon and the great flood" and "Or - Ireland's gold" and the rest of the posts from my series about the "Montenegrian tumuluses" (or Montenegrin tumuli as I discovered you should say in "proper English" 🙂)

Zebu migrations

Ceremonial "buckle"? from Bactria, end of the 3rd mill. BC. Does it depict an Indian Zebu (top) and a Eurasian Auroch (bottom)? Or is this Zebu on both sides?

Geneticists from Trinity college in Dublin, sequenced 67 ancient genomes from both wild and domestic cattle sampled from across eight millennia...

Sequencing Near Eastern wild cattle, or aurochs, allowed the team to unravel the domestication process of this most formidable of beasts...

Genetic similarity to the early domestic cattle of Anatolia concurs with a primary origin in that region. However different local wild populations also made significant additional genetic contributions to herds in Southeast Europe and southern Levant...

These earliest domestic cattle are Bos Taurus. 



They had no ancestry from Bos Indicus, or zebu – herds that originate separately further to the east in the Indus Valley...And which we find depicted all over Indus Valley Civilisation pottery. 

I wrote about the use of Zebu as solar calendar marker in Indus Valley Civilisation in my post "Kharif and Rabi season".

By the way, Indus Valley people knew about aurochs too. They are the so called "unicorns" 🙂depicted on the Indus Valley Civilisation seals, like this one


Anyway, during the early 3rd millennium BC we see depictions of the zebu cattle on Jiroft culture artefacts, meaning that by then zebu has already reached Iran, possibly Iraq.

I talked about the use of of Zebu as solar calendar marker in in Jiroft culture in my post "Khafajeh vase"

A dramatic change occurred around 4,000 years ago when we detect a widespread, wholesale influx of zebu genetics from the east...Probably linked to a dramatic multi-century climate event that was experienced across the world, referred to as the 4.2 kya climate event. This event caused terrible flooding in some places and terrible droughts in others. It is now believed that it is the drought caused by this event that may also have initiated the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilisation...

Now cattle don't migrate by themselves. Which means that if huge number of zebus suddenly appeared in Mesopotamia and Anatolia, they were driven there by their owners...

Where did this huge westward migration start? In Indus valley? Or in Iranian river valleys, like Halil river valley, home of the Jiroft culture which suddenly ended around that time?

We can see from the Trinity college study the effect of this migration on the cattle genetics in Western Asia, Europe, North Africa. 

What was the effect of this migration on human genetics in these areas???

Trinity college paper: "Ancient cattle genomics, origins, and rapid turnover in the Fertile Crescent"

Saturday, 24 October 2020

Not so mobile riders



Yamnaya invasion never happened??? 

Summary of the new paper just released: "...findings imply that Caucasian communities were not highly mobile and did not undertake large-scale migrations...during 4th and 3rd millennium BCE..."!!!

The research team analysed the isotopic composition of carbon and nitrogen in bone collagen from the skeletal remains of 150 people, taken from eight sites. The finds date back to a period from about 5000 to about 500 BCE...

In addition, the scientists compared this data with the isotope ratios in the bone collagen of 50 animals, as well as with the local vegetation of that time. The isotope ratios in bone collagen reflect the isotope ratios in the main foodstuffs that a person eats...

As it turns out, the diets of these groups were mainly based on the foodstuffs within the landscapes where their remains were found...

"The communities apparently remained within their respective ecological areas and did not switch between the steppes, forest steppes or higher regions," explains Sandra Pichler from the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Basel, co-author of the study...

So, this means, that there was no "fast, mass migration", otherwise known as "the invasion of mounted steppe warriors" of Europe by Yamnaya (R1b) people during early Bronze Age...

Here is the paper: "Diet and subsistence in Bronze Age pastoral communities from the southern Russian steppes and the North Caucasus"

Now this directly contradicts things like "...Corded Ware people carried mostly Western Steppe Herder (WSH) ancestry and were closely related to the people of the Yamnaya culture, documenting a massive migration into the heartland of Europe from its eastern periphery, the Eurasian steppes..."

The above interpretation of the genetic links between Corded Ware and Yamnaya has already been questioned by archaeologists as being too simple, as it ignores the complex processes involved in archaeological explanations. Now the archaeologists have data to completely destroy the above interpretation. If there was an influx of Yamnaya into Corded ware culture, it was more of a slow diffusion through the steppe / forest boundary, rather than through massive fast migration...

I never really bought into this Yamnaya invasion theory. Because of some practical reasons. 

This is currently accepted map of the westward migration of R1b into Europe...From this great page about R1b on Eurpedia

 

This map seems logical. We are talking about horse riding, wagon pulling, herding warrior tribes from the steppe. It would indeed be the most logical for them to move over land, and if possible over grassland...

But moving into Europe that way on horse back and oxen pulled carts would have been very difficult if not impossible. Europe is predominantly mountainous country, so not suitable for large horse back - oxen cart migration...

If you are lagging your whole belonging on horse back - oxen cart, there are basically only two possible ways into Europe from the Yamna homeland:

But the northern route is blocked by giant forests which once covered most of what is today Poland, Northern Ukraine and East Germany.

This would have made the migration down the southern route the most likely. But if you follow that route you eventually get stuck in Hungarian, Slovakian planes, surrounded by high wooded mountains. Where you have to dismount if you want to go any further...

That I am not the first to notice this "one way street into Europe from the steppe" can be seen from this map from "The genetic and cultural barrier of the Pontic-Caspian steppe – forest-steppe ecotone":

The map description: Typical migration routes through European steppes and forest-steppes. Red line represents the persistent cultural and genetic barrier, with the latest evolution in steppe region represented by the shift from dashed line to the north. Arrows show the most common population movements. 

So again, right into the Danube catchment area of Central Europe. 

So the migration of the steppe R1b westward did happen. Just not as an invasion of the hordes of horse riding, Kurgan building warriors, which suddenly burst out of the steppe and wiped out the old Europe...The crossing of the steppe / forest barrier requires a change in lifestyle and adaptation to the new environment. Which takes time and is easiest to achieve through mixing with the local forest population, which already posses the necessary knowhow...

Anyway, this is a completely new study, just released, who knows...I am very curious to see what the archaeological community is going to say about it...

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Larsa goats

Amazing. Bronze statue from the Sumerian city of Larsa representing a group of three Bezoar goats standing on their hind legs on a bowl held by two men...



What is the meaning of this piece?

Well the climatic year in Mesopotamia is divided into two seasons: 

Hot and dry, from late April early May, to late October early November
Cool and wet, from late October early November to late April early May

Bezoar goats mating season starts in late Oct early Nov.


Which coincides with the start of the rain season in Mesopotamia. 

Which is why bezoar goat is the symbol of rain in Mesopotamia, and the calendar marker that marked the beginning of the rain season. I talked about this in several of my posts. For instance "Queen Puabi's cylinder seas"

So Goats of Rain are symbolically filling the vessel with rain water...

I don't know if these are the original colours, or is this just a coincidence caused by some chemical reaction. But they fit perfectly with the symbolism of the piece. The blue goats (rain) filling the green vessel (earth which is getting green again after 6 months of drought)...

So cool...

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Veliki Vetren

In 1997, a group of hunters was chasing a fox up the slopes of the Veliki Vetren peak on Mount Juhor, Central Serbia. 


Finally the fox reached the area which surrounds the peak and which is littered with giant bedrock outcrops. 


There it disappeared in a hole under one of the rocks...


The hunters sent the hound in, and when it emerged back out with the dead fox in its mouth, the hunters noticed that the fox had "a piece of ceramic in its jaws" and that it was entangled "in some rusted irons"...

Tomica Stefanović from the local museum, who heard the story from the hunters, went to the fox hole to see it for himself. And after some poking around, he managed to get out of it a bronze spearhead...


He immediately informed dr Milorad Stojić from the Archaeological institute about his find. The fox hole dig led by dr Stojić unearthed over 400 metal objects: 

Jewellery of Celtic type


Buttons with a Celtic triskelion 


But the most amazing find was a complete equipment for 14 riders. A complete cavalry unit...A Celtic cavalry unit...From the 2nd c. BC...Why was this equipment buried on Veliki Vetren?


Now who were these Celts from Veliki Vetren? Most likely Scordisci, who at that time controlled northern Balkans...Apparently according to dr Milorad Stojić, the historical sources say that Scordisci cavalry units were lead by a leader and two lieutenants. The equipment found on Veliki Vetren confirms this, as three of the cavalry sets were more luxurious than the others. 

The further digs in the area discovered that the whole top of the Veliki Vetren peak was fortified and turned into a Celtic oppidum. 


Celts built the oppidum walls around the existing bedrock outcrops which they incorporated into the walls. 



They also used large boulders to form the rest of the wall


Why would anyone want to build a fortress on Veliki Vetren? Those who controlled the Veliki Vetren peak, controlled the transport along the Morava valley below it, which was the main North-South transport route across the Balkans...

That controlling this part of Serbia was very important throughout Balkan history can be seen from the fact that remnants of 40 fortified settlements were found so far on the mountain Juhor...

So Celtic oppidum on Veliki Vetren was an important military centre, as can be seen from the military equipment found on the site, but it was also an important metallurgical centre, as can be seen from many smelting furnaces found on the site too...

Local villagers say that Veliki Vetren peak "attracts lightning"...Probably because huge amount of metal deposits, particularly slag, located in and around the Celtic oppidum...

Dr Stojić believes that the Celtic opidium was destroyed during the campaign against the Scordisci lead by the Cornelius Scipio Asiagenus in 74BC. 

Dr  Milorad Stojić published his findings in a book entitled "Veliki Vetren". He has since retired... 


When the news about the discovery of the Veliki Vetren oppidum hit the archaeological circles, it caused a sensation..."Celtic lexicon" gave it a special place in its list of Celtic sites. Veliki Vetren is the only known Celtic fort and metallurgical centre south of the Sava and Danube rivers. Way out of the "Land of the Celts"...



One of the world's leading Celts researcher, professor Vaclav Kruta, considered Vetren one of the most important European Celtic sites. 

But, promises made by the Serbian government that they will finance further digs on Veliki Vetren never materialised...No other investigation of the site was done by archaeologists and Veliki Vetren was soon forgotten...Well, by the archaeologists and the press. Not by treasure hunters who are the only people who dig around Mount Juhor today, based on numerous holes that can be seen everywhere in an around the Celtic oppidum...

Now this is amazing in itself. But it gets better...

There are many legends related to the "Devil's Town" on Veliki Vetren peak recorded in the villages surrounding the mountain. And the most famous story is the one about the "14 horsemen who came down the mountain on foggy nights and abducted young girls". 

How incredible is this??? 

Now is it just a coincidence that the archaeologists have found exactly 14 sets of cavalry equipment in the "Devil's town"? I mean the number 14 is not one of the usual mythological numbers, like 1, 3, 7, 9, 10, 15, 30, 100 which are found in so many legends...14 is a very non mythological number...So the chance that this number was picked by the legend makers by chance is very very low... So what then? How old is this legend? Is it possible that it is dating to the time when "riders resided in the oppidum on Veliki Vetren" and from it, terrorised the local population in villages below? How then was it preserved to this day? Passed on from father to son in the villages surrounding Veliki Vetren since the 2nd century BC? 

Now this is amazing in itself...But it gets better...

The legend also says that the riders from the Devil's Town "croaked like ravens" which obviously meant that they spoke in, to the local villagers, foreign and incomprehensible language, which to them sounded like croaking of ravens...


Now, believe or not, in the local Serbian dialect spoken in villages around Veliki Vetren, the word for raven is "gal"...So "the Galli (Celts) croaked like Gali (Ravens)"...

What? Is this a coincidence?

Does this have anything to do with "Galli"??? You know, the Celts? 

I am not entirely sure...This could all be just a coincidence...

But:

Serbian word "gal" which means raven also means black...Black like a corvid...It is the word that gave us Kali and Cailleach...I talked about this in my post "Gal"...

This is indeed very interesting, I can hear you say. But what does any of this have to do with Celts? Particularly when we know that the Hellenistic folk etymology connected the name of the Galatians (Γαλάται, Galátai) to the supposedly "milk-white" skin (γάλα, gála "milk") of the Gauls. 

Well I don't know...

It is this picture that makes me wonder:

"Four Provinces Bringing Tribute to Emperor Otto III" is an illustration from the manuscript: "Gospel Book of Otto III" which was made around the year 1000AD.


What is very interesting is that in this medieval depictions of the people of the Holy Roman Empire, each nation was depicted with different racial characteristics: 

Sclavini, Slavs are depicted with dark skin and red straight hair. 
Germanics were depicted with pale skin and blond straight hair. 
Romans were depicted with pale skin and brown curly hair. 

And

Galls were depicted with dark skin and black curly hair. 

Was this deliberate? Was this based on what people thought Slavs, Germanics, Galls and Romans looked like at the time? Or was this random rubbish which means nothing?

If this was deliberate, is it possible that Gali once meant "people with black hair"???

Also, Celts which lived on Veliki Vetren came to the Balkans in the 3rd century BC lead by BrennusApparently: 

The recurrence of the name Brennus makes it possible that it was a title rather than a proper name. Some 19th century scholars connected the name with the modern Welsh word "breenhín", and Irish words "branán, braine, braineach" meaning "a prince, a chief, leader". There is also an Irish name "Bran" with the same meaning. 

Now in Serbian the word "bran" means to defend, "brana" means defence, "Branko" means defender...So is it possible that Celtic Bran (prince, leader, chief) and Serbian Bran (defend), Brana (defence) and Branko (defender) come from the same root? Leader's first duty is defence of his people and his land...

Also, interestingly

In  Breton word Bran means Raven and Crow. 

In Welsh, word Frân mean crow and word Gigfran means raven. Fran is in old Welsh also spelt Bran, Vran and Uran.

In Irish, word Bran means raven. 

In Serbian we have these two words: 

Bran - defend, protect, be a barrier
Vran - black, Crow

And

As early as the 12th century AD, authors such as Geoffrey of Monmouth (in his Historia Regum Britanniae were connecting the name Brennus with the Welsh personal name Bran (spelt Vran, Uran, Fran in old Welsh) meaning "Crow". 

I wrote about this in my post Bran Vran...

So I don't know what to think really...

It could be all just a coincidence...

PS: Celtic raven helmet from Romania... 


Friday, 16 October 2020

Gal

There are several words in Serbian that mean black. 

The most common one is Crn, which comes from Proto-Slavic *čьrnъ...
Then we have the word Vran...This word means crow, raven in most Slavic languages, so the literal meaning is "like a crow, raven"...
Then we have the word Garav. This word comes from the word "gar" meaning soot, so literal meaning is "like soot"...
Then we have the word "Mrk" cognate with "mrak" (darkness). 

Finally we have a very little known word Gal. It comes from Proto-Slavic Galъ, and is of uncertain origin...

I would like to talk here about this word...

In dialectic dictionaries of Crna Trava region and South Morava region of Serbia we find these interesting words:

Gal - black, dark
Gal - raven


Galica, Galja, Galjka, Galjes, Galjča - black or dark brown cow or sheep.


Galati - make dirty, black (gal)
Galin - black (gal) horse
Gal, Galić - raven, black (gal) bird
Galjan - black, dark person, negro
Galičast - black (gal)
Galovran - black (galo) crow. This one is very interesting. Because black crows don't live in Serbia...


Galka - chough

Both yellow billed


And red billed



Galobela - Sheep with black (galo) head and white (bela) body
Galoš - black (gal) string plated into hair in Serbia

In the same dictionaries we see that "kalj, kal" is the equivalent of "galj, gal":

Kal - dirt, blackness 
Kaljav, Kalovit - muddy, black (kal)



Kaloka - person or sheep with black, dark (kal) rings around their eyes
Kalušast- person or sheep with black, dark (kal) rings around their eyes
Kaljav - dirty, black (kalj)
Kaljuga - muck, blackness (kalj)



"k" and "g" and "l" and "lj" are interchangeable sounds which depend on dialect and pronunciation abilities which gives us "kal", "kalj", "gal", "galj" all with the same meaning "black, dirty"...

Interestingly we find the same root (gal) with the same meaning several other languages:

In Croatian we find

Galka, Galica - chough 

In Bulgarian we find

Gal - pitch black, dirt
Galica - Black corvid, raven, jackdaw, chough
Galata - dirt, black 

In Czech we find

Gał - pitch (black substance)

In Ukrainian and Russian we find

Galka - jackdaw



In Sanskrit, Hindi, Punjabi, Romani we find 

kala - black

In Nepali we find 

kalo - black

This is the root of the name of the Goddess Kali...


And in Gaelic we find 

"Cailleach" 

which has several very interesting meanings: 

Cailleach dhubh - Cormorant. Cormorant literally means the raven of the sea, the black bird of the sea. So Cailleach dhubh basically means "black black bird". I believe that dhubh was added later when the original meaning of the word Cailleach was forgotten. In Serbian cormorant is called Vranac, meaning black like a crow.

Cailleach - old hag winter, old woman (wrapped in black shawl), nun (in black habit). By the way this is how Romans depicted the "winter spirit":


So we have the word kal, kalj, gal, galj meaning black. 

Now, where does this word come from...

Another black bird from the crow family is rook which is in Serbian called "gačac". Here you can hear the sound of rooks. It sounds like "Ga, Ga, Ga". This is why this bird is in Serbian called "gačac", the bird that says "Ga".


One proposal is that the words "gal", "galka", "galica" used for black corvids are onomatopoeic and come from the sound all these corvids make: "ga!"... 

And then the word gal (black) would literally mean "like a bird that says ga" 🙂

This is a very very interesting word indeed...I will come back to it in few of my next posts...