Friday, 6 December 2013

Now eat bread...

A Hittite cuneiform script from Bogazkoy/ Hattusas reads:

nu ninda en e-iz-za-te-ni
wa-a-tar-ma e-ku-ut-te-ni

ninda is a sumerogram, which reads as bread in what ever language one uses.

wa-a-tar is a phonetic translation from cuneiform.

The Anatolian (Hittite) word wa-a-ter dates to around 1500 BC.
The English word, water is harder to date.

e-iz is quite close to eats..
nu is a lot like now.

The Romans of AD 43 were not very interested in what post 'Iron Age' Brits had to say...which is a shame.

The sentence:
Now eat bread and drink water in Welsh is:
bellach yn bwyta bara ac yfed dŵr
In Basque:
orain jan ogia eta ura edan

In Catalan:
Ara coma pa i begui aigua
In Irish:
anois itheann arán agus uisce a ól

We are taught that at the time of Ceaser's invasion the entire population of Britain spoke Celtic, but to be honest there really isn't much correspondence between Celtic and English now; which either indicates that the British were relieved of their language, or the Roman's killed so many people that no one was left on the mainland who remembered how to speak it.

Years latter this was attempted in the  'The Act of Union of 1536. Passed by King Henry VIII. which outlawed the Welsh language, only in recent years has Welsh been taught to the Welsh!

English is mainly Germanic, Norman or medieval Latin. So an English speaker can recognise French and Spanish words, and bits of Norse.

Gildas (6th century AD) and Bede (7th century) tell of Saxons and Angles invading over the 5th and 6th centuries. Gildas, in particular, tells tales of murder and mayhem, of "rivers of blood". To be sure there are long ditches cut in the land,  indicating fortifications and trouble; the Wansdyke for instance, and a Saxon burial sites (over the road from The Sanctuary- at the start of the Ridgeway). There was war, there was plenty of blood.

But all the remaining Celtic speakers killed by the Saxons?
I don't think so.

Which leaves the question, what language was spoken by those Ancient Britons left in England to be slaughtered when the legions left?

Well looking at monuments, there are large, chambered, round barrows- often with a cruciform interior- and usually part of a group of monuments in Ireland, Jersey, Anglesea and Orkney. There are long, narrow chambered tombs in Wessex and over towards the right of the country. Simplifying things massively, it looks to me as there are two similar but slightly different Neolithic traditions represented here.

The large, complex barrows (Newgrange and Meas Howe both with their midwinter alignment), the Hougue Bie in Jersey, Bryn Celli Dhu indicate a migration of people, or close ties with people, from north-east France, north-east Spain.

Tacitus reported that between Britain and Gaul "the language differs but little."

Meanwhile the find of quern stone in one of the post holes at the Sanctuary, that had originated in Germany, the probable home of the man known as 'the Amesbury Archer', and the jewelry made of amber in Bronze Age barrows, indicates that Britain had, at least by the Bronze Age, plenty of links with eastern Europe.

And then there are the horses...

Again the Sanctuary and the horse bone buried in the post hole, and miles further on, along the Ridgeway, the Uffington Horse...last dated to Bronze Age, not Iron Age.

Anyway, the problem really starts with Herodotus, who 2500 years ago said that:

 "The Nile starts at the distance from its mouth equal to the river Ister (Danube) begins from the Keltoi and the city of Pyrene and so runs that it divides Europe in the midst (now the Keltoi are outside the Pillars of Heracles and border upon the Kynesians, who dwell furthest towards the sunset of all those who have their dwelling in Europe)". 

The Pillars of Hercules is the bottom corner of Spain, and the Pyrene if he means the Pyrenees, is Spain again...

Basically it is more likely that Indo-European languages spread to Britain with agriculture, and Celtic had arrived up the coast and across the sea from Spain..

This also means that that most Celtic of all art, La Tene and Hallstat may not be Celtic at all. The Celts being in fact, from the Mediterranean regions..

Ultimately, Hittite does seem to have more in common with English than Celtic, and the main reason why this is surprising is the idea that the original language in this country was only Celtic...