March 12, 2011

Some curious archaeology news from the Atlantic Islands

Found via Archaeology in Europe and quite worth a mention here, I believe:

A Chalcolithic Age (late Neolithic by British standards) handbag preserved in bog. The piece of basketry to the left was part of a very extended design used by people, usually women, through the World since at least Neolithic times. The first such design is claimed to be from West Asia c. 4800 BCE, while this Irish specimen (from Tyford, Wesmeath) seems to have "only" 5000 years of age.

Full story at Irish Times.

Of similar age, 5500 years, is the first complete Neolithic (Chalcolithic by pan-European chronology) pot  found in Britain. The site of Didcot in Oxfordshire has also yielded well preserved Iron Age housing and other materials. 

Full story at BBC

Finally big myths are being shaken: Romans may not have built "Roman roads" after all. Iron Age Britons were already building them long before the Romans arrived. If that was the case in the then rather remote island, I presume it's probably also in other parts of Europe.

The Independent wonders, quite legitimately, what did the Romans do for us (if they did not build our roads)? In truth the notion of the Roman Empire as a force of culture and civilization may well be very much misplaced, after all, Romans learned everything but war from their Etruscan neighbors.


  1. Maju: "Finally big myths are being shaken: Romans may not have built "Roman roads" after all. Iron Age Britons were already building them long before the Romans arrived. If that was the case in the then rather remote island, I presume it's probably also in other parts of Europe."

    The same happened in what is now Germany. The Romans took advantage of the left-over "Germanic-Celtic" infrastructure in the south to quickly dominate everything between Alsace, Switzerland/southern Swabia, southern Bavaria, and the Czech and Austrian areas. North of that, it was just one logistic disaster after another. The Romans tried to use the few west-east waterways north of the Danube, with little success. They simply could not provide their troupes and horses with sufficient food, fodder, and material, and eventually, gave up. While the local inhabitants knew they would simply need to purposefully sabotage local infrastructure to slow and get rid of the invaders.

  2. I see, thanks for the feedback.

    I imagine anyhow than rather than "Germanic-Celtic", we should be talking of just Celtic because Germanics arrived to the area more or less at the same time the Romans did. It were the Celts who before that had that fascinating network of towns and trade that pretty much describes La Tène culture and late ancient Celtic culture in general.

    Krutas argues that it was this process into civilization of the Celts which made them vulnerable, as the expansive Germanics and then the Romans too, only had to grab and destroy these towns (oppidae) in order to demolish the new Celtic political structures.

    It must also be said that it was Germanic expansion what mostly brought the Romans to Celtic lands anyhow. Probably Caesar would have never invaded Gaul if there was no Germanic threat right across the Alps, at Helvetia, in turn pushing the Helvetii against other Celts, etc.

  3. I am seeing that the hate against Romans (and Italians) is always very strong. I think that nobody would hate who wasn’t worth. Good sign. Today 700.000.000 of people speaks Latin and also English is Latin at 55%. I wouldn’t want that the problem Maju has with Spaniards becomes a problem against Romans. I, personally, sympathize with Basque and support their independence, that nothing would subtract to the Spanish world.
    Now I am doing a test to an American Flickinger, from Swiss descent but before the family came from Weissenburg, the ancient Biriciana where stayed the I Auriana Hispanorum.and other Roman troops. I am R1b1b2a (now R1b1a2a) S136+. Hope that soon I’ll be able to say where my haplotype came from, so diffused in all the ancient Roman world.
    Probably I am an Etruscan and I haven’t anything against Romans. Read Schulze (Etruskischen un Lateinischen Eigennamen) and you will know that the most important Romans had an Etruscan surname.

  4. You know what I hate, Gioello? Victimism!

    You will never read a sentence of my hand in the pathetic terms you just used and have used elsewhere, and which I have read of certain people from other ethnicities with the same attitude of blaming others all the time instead of assuming the facts that every nation has pros and cons, ups and downs and is made of mortals anyhow, not some sort of demi-gods.

    I won't ever write a sentence that reads "I see that hatred against Basques... blah-blah"... in fact, as part Italian I feel offended by your mischaracterization of the motherland of my grandfather and my mother that you do that way. People may have all kind of opinions on Italians or any other nation but I have never felt anywhere that Italians are particularly hated.

    Italians are perceived as any other normal European people (if there is such thing as a "normal European people"). Italy is praised for some stuff, notably the Renaissance. Ancient Romans are also praised (too much IMO) while Ancient Etruscans are not enough recognized probably (they were the ones to civilize the Romans, and teach them engineering and how tow write).

    So quit whining, please!

    If archaeologists find that "Roman roads" are not Roman after all, that is indeed interesting. Personally I always thought that the attribution of everything civilized to Romans was very much out of the mark, specially in the Mediterranean. However I was somewhat surprised that it was also the case in Atlantic Europe, notably in such a remote place (then) as Britain.

    "Probably I am an Etruscan and I haven’t anything against Romans".

    Maybe you don't but if you read The Etruscan Smile (by J.L. Sampedro), there is a funny and revealing paragraph at the beginning, when the well-off Milanese guy is bringing his old Sicilian father (an ex-partisano of little culture) to live with him to Milan. When they stop at an Etruscan museum half way, the father becomes fascinated by their work and asks the son:

    - What happened to the Etruscans?
    - The Romans destroyed them.
    - Ah, damn Romans, it's always the Romans!

  5. I didn’t think to you, Maju, when I spoke of hate, but to Eurologist, whom I don’t know who he is, but probably a Celt or a German. I know you are in part of Italian descent and, being your positions often those of an “izquierdo”, I don’t ever polemize with those ideas, being the opposite of mine.
    Etruscans weren’t destroyed by Romans, simply they began to speak Latin, like the most part of Western Europeans. A paper of Ferri on Modena province, the Etruscan Mutina, found R1b at 67,7% and many were close to me. Perhaps you know that I think that Etruscans.Rhaetians and Camuns were the most ancient Italians (and Europeans), I think those R-M269 and R-L150- (this SNP has been resuscitated) that generated all the Western European population.

  6. When you said:

    "I wouldn’t want that the problem Maju has with Spaniards becomes a problem against Romans".

    I understood you were talking about me.

    As far as I know, Eurologist is from Low Saxony or somewhere nearby and I could also detect his "Germanic favoritism" in that one, when he melted Germanics and Celts rather happily in something that looks pretty much not Germanic. But, well, that is not the same as "hating Italians".

    "Etruscans weren’t destroyed by Romans, simply they began to speak Latin"...

    By force. The Etruscans revolted against Rome and there was quite of a genocide (possibly directed specially against the aristocrats) by Rome: the Etruscan language was since then persecuted and banished.

    Things are not as pretty as we want to imagine them: violence is pretty much around every corner of history. In other places violence was also part of the Roman imperial strategies (as well as those of others). Possibly the most infamous genocide by Rome was that against the Jews, however it was not the only one (remember the destruction of Carthage or that of Numantia, forcing Cantabrians to live in the valleys, etc.) Rome was a militarist and merciless state, though it also used the carrot, of course.

    Rome is a fact of history, a referential one no doubt, but not necessarily a pretty fact.

    As for you speculations on Y-DNA clades, I cannot follow what you may have in mind. You may want to start a blog explaining the details of your theories and post a link, preferably in a related thread.


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