From Giovanni Battista Belzoni: Egyptian race portrayed in the Book of Gates.

The ‘Dynastic Race’ and the Biblical ‘Japheth’ Part II: Ethnology and Influence

In Part I, the author pieced together the possible genealogy to be found in Mesopotamia and Egypt, taking as his starting point the Biblical account of human developments in the region after the deluge, which, of course, begins with Noah and his family. Part I concluded with the assertion that a New Race referred to as a ‘Dynastic Race’ was evident in the region. What further clues to the ethnology of this race can be found?

Read Part 1 here

Beaker Folk Links

Since the physical character of the New Race detected among the early Mesopotamians and Egyptians is not typically Hamitic but rather Japhetic, we may reasonably inquire whether these newcomers might not be related to the Beaker folk who were widely dispersed in Europe as well as in North Africa in the late chalcolithic era (corresponding to Danube III, ca.2900-1800 BC).

The “Beaker” folk are brachycephalic and interred in a contracted position in graves aligned in a north-south axis rather than the east-west axis followed by the roughly contemporaneous Corded Ware folk. They seem to have been effective traders as well as warriors, the graves of the latter being especially richly supplied with funerary goods. Cremations too were performed by this community but these may have been reserved for the upper classes or castes. Cremations in Moravia are seen to be especially furnished with beakers.

Brachycephalic heads are wide and flat, represented here by skull C

Brachycephalic heads are wide and flat, represented here by skull C (Encyclopædia Britannica, Public Domain )

Though it is uncertain where this type originated, some claiming Andalusia as the original habitat and others Germany, the Beaker folk may perhaps be identified with the Alpine or Armenoid branch of the Japhetites, or ‘Indo-Europeans’. The Alpine type is said to have the same round skull as the Beaker folk except that it has a rounded occipital bone whereas the Beaker type has a flattened occipital bone. J.P. Mallory has recently suggested that the Beaker Folk may be classified as a ‘North-west Indo-European’ group ancestral to the Celts, Germans, Slavs and Italics. However,  it is not likely that they were a ‘north-western’ people since the northern Āryans are dolicocepalic rather than brachycephalic. Also, even the Corded Ware culture of northern Europe seems to have been borne by mostly dark-eyed, dark-haired people with a skin color that was somewhat darker than that of the average modern European. Childe may thus have been more accurate in believing that they were of “East Mediterranean stock”.

A Prehistoric earthenware vessel, part of a beaker-culture pottery group dated in the early Bronze Age (Europe 1970 and 1470 BC)

A Prehistoric earthenware vessel, part of a beaker-culture pottery group dated in the early Bronze Age (Europe 1970 and 1470 BC) ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Almagro-Gorbea has suggested that the Beaker folk were proto-Celts. Brachycephaly is indeed attested in some areas associated with the Celts such as Central Europe and France, but it is perhaps representative more of the southern Bretonic branch of the Celts than of the northern. Further, it must be noted that the first flowering of Celtic culture does not appear until the Hallstatt Culture of the 9 th century BC, though this may have derived from the Urnfield Culture of Central Europe (ca.1300-750 BC).

Back to the Bible

If we resort again to the Biblical account in Genesis 10, we note that the generations of Japheth are listed first in the Table of Nations (verse 2), even though Japheth is mentioned only second [in the Jahvist version] or third [in the Priestly version] in verse 1 of Genesis 10. It is possible that the priority given to Shem in the first verse of Genesis 10 is due only to the need to extol the Semitic race among the Hebrews who composed the Bible. If, on the other hand, one followed the Indo-Āryans - who may be identified with the Medes or Madai as eldest sons of Japheth along with Gomer (the Cimmerians or Celts) and Magog (the Magi or Iranians) - in their veneration of the Vedas as the original wisdom of mankind, it will be necessary to regard Japheth as the first son of Noah, and Shem and Ham as younger manifestations of the original Noachidian culture.

Table of Nations according to Genesis 10.

Table of Nations according to Genesis 10. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

If Japheth is indeed the elder son, it is still puzzling that there is very little archaeological evidence of the cultural development of this branch before the Hurrian, Semitic and Hamitic ones of Ubaid, Elam, Akkad and Sumer. In the Biblical ‘Table of Nations’ we note that the sons of Japheth listed in Genesis 10:2 are located mainly in Anatolia and in the Balkans. The eldest son of Japheth called Gamer (representing the Cimmerians, or Celts) is followed by Magog (the Magi, or Iranians) and Madai (Medes), Javan (Greeks), Tubal (uncertain), Meschech (Cappadocians, according to Josephus) and Tiras (Thracians, according to Josephus).

Diodorus Siculus ( Bibliotheca Historica V,32) states that the Celts living close to the Black Sea were scattered “as far as Scythia” and the northernmost of these Celtic tribes were the wildest and most powerful having apparently “wandered across and laid waste the whole of Asia, under the then name of Cimmerians”.

Diodoro Siculus (fl. 1st century BC) as depicted in a 19th century fresco

Diodoro Siculus (fl. 1 st century BC) as depicted in a 19 th century fresco ( Public Domain )

Diodorus describes the Celts as being tall, blond and well-built, but he may be referring more particularly to the northern Goidelic Celts, that is, the Irish and Scottish. The southern Celts, however, seem to have been more conservative in their tradition since they still bear the original name of the race, Cymry. Indeed, the priority of the southern Celts appears also in the reference in Parthenius of Nicaea’s Erotica Pathemata (30, 1-2) to Celtine as a daughter of Bretannus (whose name is borne by the southern Celtic Bretons), who fell in love with Heracles and gave birth to Celtus (who represents the Celts).

Celts and Scythians

Although the Celts are generally considered western - or centum-language speaking - Japhetites, the sons of Gamer, in the biblical Table of Nations, indeed include Ashkenaz (the Scythians, who are eastern, shatem-language speaking Japhetites), Riphath (Paphlagonians, according to Josephus) and Thokarmah (Phrygians, according to Josephus, or Armenians, according to Hippolytus of Rome). The Celts and the Scythians are thus closely associated, as is indicated by Strabo (XI,7,2), who states that the Greek authors called all the northern populations Scythians or Celtoscythians. Also, Asclepiades of Thrace (4 th c. BC) refers to the legendary king Boreas as a king of the Celts while in other authors he appears as a king of the Scythians, though the Scythians are younger than the Cimmerians.

The close relation between the later Celts and the Scythians is further attested in the 14 th century Irish Auraicept na n-Éces , which states that the Scythian king Fenius Farsa traveled along with [the Celt] Goidel mac Ethéoir to Shinar (Sumer) to study the confused languages at the tower of Nimrod and there devised the northern Celtic language Goidelic as well as the esoteric system of writing called Ogham. This suggests that the Celto-Scythian race came into contact with the Hamitic in Babel and benefited at least linguistically from the Semitic-Hamitic culture of Mesopotamia.

The four races of the world according to ancient Egypt: a Libyan ("Themehu"), a Nubian ("Nehesu"), an Asiatic ("Aamu"), and an Egyptian ("Reth"). An artistic rendering by Heinrich Menu von Minutoli based on a mural from the tomb of Seti I.

The four races of the world according to ancient Egypt: a Libyan ("Themehu"), a Nubian ("Nehesu"), an Asiatic ("Aamu"), and an Egyptian ("Reth"). An artistic rendering by Heinrich Menu von Minutoli based on a mural from the tomb of Seti I. ( Public Domain )

While the Scythian connection may help to explain the incidence of brachycephaly among the Beaker folk, the importance of this affiliation is further highlighted by the fact that the beakers themselves are traceable back to the Yamnaya Culture of the Ukraine, though it must be noted that the Yamnaya folk seem to have been genetically related to the Afanasievo as well. The Yamnaya dating from 3500-2800 BC was the predecdessor of the Hut Grave and Catacomb Grave culture of 2800-2000 BC, from which the Indo-Iranian, or Āryan, Andronovo culture (1800-1400 BC) is derived. The Andronovo culture is also related to the Sintashta culture of the southeast Urals (2300-1900 BC), which may also have been proto-Āryan (Indo-Iranian). Sintashta has recently been associated with the Corded Ware pottery of continental northern and eastern Europe (ca.2900-2300 BC) that is roughly contemporaneous with the period of the Bell Beaker pottery in southern and central Europe and Britain.

Nomads and the Coming of Dionysus

At this point we must note that the ancient Āryans, or Indo-Iranians, seem originally to have been nomadic peoples akin to the Scythians, as is attested by the language of the Old Avesta, wherein the cosmos is viewed as an enormous tent. We may remember also Megasthenes’ report that

The Indians were in old times nomadic, like those Scythians who did not till the soil, but roamed about in their wagons, as the seasons varied, from one part of Scythia to another, neither dwelling in towns nor worshipping in temples; and that the Indians likewise had neither towns nor temples of the gods, but were so barbarous that they wore the skins of such wild animals as they could kill … they subsisted also on such wild animals as they could catch, eating the flesh raw, - before, at least, the coming of Dionysus into India. Dionysus, however, when he came and had conquered the people, founded cities and gave laws to these cities, and introduced the use of wine among the Indians, as he had done among the Greeks, and taught them to sow the land, himself supplying seeds for the purpose … It is also said that Dionysus first yoked oxen to the plough, and made many of the Indians husbandmen instead of nomads, and furnished them with the implements of agriculture; and that the Indians worship the other gods, and Dionysus himself in particular, with cymbals and drums, because he so taught them … and that he instructed the Indians to let their hair grow long in honour of the god ….

Indo-Scythians pushing the Greek god Dyonisos with Ariadne in a charriot. Gandhara

Indo-Scythians pushing the Greek god Dyonisos with Ariadne in a charriot. Gandhara. ( Public Domain )

Since Dionysus is the same as the Sumerian god An and the Egyptian Horus the Elder-Osiris, we may assume that the cultural contact being referred to by Megasthenes is that between the earliest Scytho-Indian settlers of India and Elamite proto-Dravidians/Hurrians from the Zagros region. This suggests that the first Scytho-Indians, who may have been eastern and southern Scythians, may have arrived in India before the rise of the Indus Valley civilisation (ca. 3000 BC) - which may have been founded by Elamite Dravidian/Hurrian peoples.

Indeed, the first proto-Indus settlements are observed in Mundigak, Afghanistan, neighboring Elam, around 3000 BC (corresponding to the Jemdet Nasr culture of Mesopotamia). The Kulli culture of southern Baluchistan also resembles Early Dynastic Mesopotamian (ca.2800 BC) in its pottery. The presence of fish-offerings to the deity (most probably Enki) in the ruins of the shrines of the most ancient temples of Eridu (which are of pre-Uruk date) is matched by the ubiquitous presence of fish symbols on the seals of the Indus Valley civilization. This suggests that the Indus culture is as indebted to the earliest, proto-Dravidian/Hurrian religion of Elam and Ubaid as the Sumerian is.

Scythian-Celtic Influence

Given the generally nomadic nature of the Scythians, then, it is not likely that, in spite of the influx of a ‘new’ Scythian-Celtic race, the indigenous Mesopotamians, both proto-Dravidian and proto-Akkadian, were indebted for their urban, temple-building culture to this race, even if the latter may have contributed to their social and political organization. The ‘New Race’ and the Beaker folk may thus have begun their history as a Celtic and Scythian branch of the Japhetic family in the Ukraine which migrated through the Middle East as well at the time of the foundation of Uruk and dynastic Egypt. While this group may have helped in the political organization of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian societies it came into contact with, it seems to have merged successfully with their original Hamitic religious cultures. In Europe, the same Scythian-Celtic branch of the Japhetites seems to have been responsible for the widespread Beaker culture that laid the groundwork for the later Urnfield and Hallstatt cultures of the Celts.

Top image: From Giovanni Battista Belzoni: Egyptian race portrayed in the Book of Gates. ( Public Domain )

By Alexander Jacob


G. Childe, op.cit., (1961 ed.), pp.222-8; cf. R.J. Harrison, The Beaker Folk , London: Thames and Hudson, 1980.

K. Gerhardt, Die Glockenbecherleute in Mittel- und Westdeutschland , Stuttgart: Schweizerbart’sche Verlag, 1953; cf. R.J. Harrison, op.cit., pp.160f.

G. Childe, op.cit, p.226; cf. R.J. Harrison, op.cit., p.51.

R.J. Harrison, op.cit., p.160).

J.P. Mallory, ‘The Indo-Europeanization of Atlantic Europe', in  Celtic from the West 2: Rethinking the Bronze Age and the Arrival of Indo-European in Atlantic Europe , ed. J. T. Koch and B. Cunliffe. Oxford, 2013, p.17-40).

Morten E. Allentoft et al., ‘Population genomics of Bronze Age Eurasia’, Nature, 522 (June 2015), 167-72.

Genesis 10:2.

Josephus, Jewish Antiquities , Bk. I, Ch.6.

Hippolytus of Rome, Chronicon. This work has recently been translated online by. T.C. Schmidt and Nick Nicholas.

Probus ad Virgil. Georg. , II,84.

Herodotus (IV,3), the Scythians considered themselves as the “youngest of all nations”.

R. Harrison, V. Heyd, "The Transformation of Europe in the Third Millennium BC: the example of 'Le Petit-Chasseur I + III' (Sion, Valais, Switzerland)".  Praehistorische Zeitschrift . 82,2 (2007), pp.129–214.

Morten E. Allentoft et al., "Population genomics of Bronze Age Eurasia",  Nature, 522 ((2015), 167–172 (cf. A. Jacob, ‘The Dynastic Race and the Biblical Japheth‘, I,  fn.xviii).

A. Parpola, “The problem of the Aryans and the Soma”, in G. Erdosy (ed.), The Indo-Aryans in South Asia , Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1995, p.356.

J.P. Mallory and V.H. Mair, The Tarim Mummies , pp.260f.

Morten E. Allentoft et al., op.cit.

P.O. Skjaervo, “The Avesta as source for the early history of the Iranians”, in G. Erdosy (ed.), op.cit., p.168.

Herodotus, Histories, I,131.

Arrian, Indica, VII (in R.C. Majumdar, The Classical Accounts of India , Calcutta: Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay, p.220f.).

A. Jacob, Ātman, p.134.

Herodotus (IV,17-20), the Hellenic Scythians (Callipidai) and those north of them were not nomadic but agricultural.

B. and R. Allchin, The Birth of Indian Civilization , Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1968, p.105.

S. Piggott, Prehistoric India to 1000 B.C. , London: Cassell, 1962, p.115.

Enki is the Sumerian counterpart of the Greek Okeanos/Oceanus.

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