Basque women in Bayonne (1852)

Scientists Believe they Have Found the Origins of the Unique Basque Culture

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The Basque people have been an enigma to anthropologists for years. With a unique language, traditions, and customs, Basque origins have long been a mystery. Researchers now believe they have finally pinpointed the beginnings of this special group of people - from the results of a study of eight ancient skeletons found in a cave in northern Spain.

According to the BBC, by studying the genomes of human skeletons from El Portalón, Atapuerca, Mattias Jakobsson (a population geneticist) and his team from Uppsala University in Sweden believe that prehistoric Iberian farmers are the closest match to the modern Basques. This new information contradicts the previously held belief that the Basque ancestors we earlier groups of pre-agricultural hunter gatherers.

The cave of El Portalon is well-known to archaeologists, as Dr. Cristina Valdiosera, one of the lead authors in the current study said:

“The El Portalon cave is a fantastic site with amazing preservation of artifact material. Every year we find human and animal bones and artifacts, including stone tools, ceramics, bone artifacts and metal objects, it is like a detailed book of the last 10,000 years, providing a wonderful understanding of this period. The preservation of organic remains is great and this has enabled us to study the genetic material complementing the archaeology.”

Illustration of life at El Portalon Cave during the Neolithic and Copper Age

 Illustration of life at El Portalon Cave during the Neolithic and Copper Age ( Maria de la Fuente )

The eight skeletons from the new study are evenly divided between males and females. There is one male child included in the burials. By using radiocarbon dating, it has been shown that the remains are from between 5,500 – 3,500 years ago (Chalcolithic period/Copper Age and Bronze Age). The later age of most of the individuals and the artifacts found with them (such as pottery) suggest that they were farmers, not hunter gatherers.

Jakobsson and the team extracted DNA from the ancient ancestors and sequenced their genomes. They then took this information and compared their genetic profiles to various prehistoric and modern Europeans. The results showed that the ancient farmers had a mix of genes coming from earlier hunter-gatherers and other farming groups. However, the most shocking information is that the prehistoric farmers from the study are most closely related to modern Basques .

This information is surprising, and even the researchers admit that they did not expect this outcome. How can they explain the genetic and cultural uniqueness of the Basques, so linked to the eight El Portalon skeletons, yet so distinct from other European groups? The rationalization they have provided is that the ancient ancestors to the Basques arrived in the region, mixed with some other framers and hunter gatherers…and then were isolated.

One of the skeletons from the current El Portalon cave study

One of the skeletons from the current El Portalon cave study ( MyNewsDesk)

They are still uncertain exactly why the group became separated from others. Jakobsson told the BBC: “It's hard to speculate, but we've been working with Basque historians and it's clear from the historical record that this area was very difficult to conquer.”

"One of the great things about working with ancient DNA is that the data obtained is like opening a time capsule. Seeing the similarities between modern Basques and these early farmers directly tells us that Basques remained relatively isolated for the last 5,000 years but not much longer," Dr. Torsten Günther told Phys.org.

5,000 years is still a relatively long time for a culture. That time has provided sufficient differences between the modern Basques and non-Basques living in the Iberian region. The unique non Indo-European language used by Basques is just one of the features still unexplained.

Title page of a Medieval Basque Language Book

Title page of a Medieval Basque Language Book ( Wikimedia Commons )

Spoken language is not identified by artifacts or genes, thus modern researchers can only make assumptions on what could be the origins of Euskara (the Basque language.) Researchers in the current study have suggested that the early farmers from this study passed on a language that was present before the Indo-European languages swept across the continent. Nonetheless, they agree that it may be instead that the Basque language predates the farmers and descended from earlier hunter gatherers who maintained their language despite the incoming farmers. Ez dakigu…

Featured Image: Basque women in Bayonne (1852) ( Wikimedia Commons )

Comments

I am 1005 basque my parents are from Vizcaya,they were born in Altamira not to far from Guernica.As a matter of fact I was married in Spain to a beautiful Basque girl from the same village my parents were from.
My mother knew my mother in law when they were young girsl.I speak Basques even though I was born in Brooklyn,N.Y. no other option my mother didn't speak english,by the way she is 101 years old and lives with my sister in Dover,New Jersey,while me and my family now live in Miami.

What a bunch of nonsense. Altamira is NOT in Vizcaya/Bizkaia nor even in the Basque region (country is a mistranslation of the French word pays). Altamira is in the Cantabria region and they don't speak Basque there. Now stop making things up.

Read the article again (or at all) it's about genetic similarities not geographical location. It is stating that modern day Basque genetics most closely match that of of the individuals found in prehistoric times in the Iberian peninsula. More than any other present day population. Populations move about and interbreed over time.

Why not explore the Atlantis origin? Ignoring for a a moment the silly Smithsonian model of chimp 4M years ago.. to Lucy in Ethiopia.. whose progeny went 10K Km walkabouts to become Chinese, German, Indian etc.. Atlantis and Mu destroyed each other in 9498BC, (The Pleiadian Mission by Randolph Winters). By then the Atlantians had migrated to Pyranees etc. http://therhnegativefactor.webs.com/chapter6.htm

For the same reasons they don't explore the Santa Claus-Bigfoot-Dr. Who connection.

I am fascinated by the Basque culture and its uniqueness, as well as the Finno-Ugric uniqueness. I am a History Teacher specializing in ancient history, cultures, and customs. I would really like to have conversations with you. Please write back!

Julaine

I have been told that our last names Arrambide, Gracia, Trevino are Basque names. Does anyone know where limon comes from?

Arrambide is definitely Basque. I assume you meant Garcia? Which I think is Castilian. Trevino sounds Galician to me, so you may have almost all of Norther Spain. Basque last names usually end in the suffix -iz, -aga, -ea, -ain, -txe, and -oa.

Actually I just read that Garcia is a Castilianized version of the Basque last name Garziandia.

It is most ocmmon surname in Peninsular Spain... I woudl not go making assumptions on its origin. Treviño is located south of the Basque country. Before anyone starts its administrative status is of no relevance, I am meaning geographical position.

Basque were small Land owners and lived in family groups, that were commonly isolated even from each other.

In fact there was no "single" basque language, that is XIX century built, different dilaects were spoken ass per regions or even valleys, such was the isolation of the people in there,To the extent that distant comunities had difficulties to understad each other dialect. Stil today, a Euskaldunberri (native Basque speaker) will need to make and effort to be understood by an Euskaldunsarra (Which has learned the "batua" or "unified" versión of the Basque language developped since XIX cent.).

And all this is a región quite small.

No big mistery in the Basque isolation, it was a way of making thier living, isolated and tied to the land they lived from. It was not very rich región, and people were stubborn, and mostly minded their own bussiness, so no one cared much (well, there WAS a roman harbor close to Bilbao, but...) until the brits found out they could ship cheap coal from the Basque country to fuel their Steel industry and could bring back cheap ores for the Basque one, a perfect bussiness, that helped develop a burgeois capitalistic class and the main cities.

"Euskaldunsarra" = Euskal-dun (The one who possesses the Language) + zaharra (old) = Speaker of one of the many old Basque dialects

"Euskaldunberri" = Euskal-dun (The one who possesses the Language) + berri (new) = Speaker of "batua" unified modern Basque dialect.

Very interesting site!

The Basque region (country is a mistranslation from the French word pays) is NOT "located between Spain and France". It IS in Spain and France,

Andorra is located between Spain and France.

It is not Basque region (where does that come from?). It is Basque country, because all the translations, Pays Basque (France), Basqueland (German), Pais Vasco (Spain), come from the basque one, Euskal Herria, which actually means town of the basque people.

Among the theories advanced for the Basque origins is that they come from Armenia. The exhibits to prove the thesis are the numerous Basque place names and words which are similar to Armenian, plus certain Basque legends which say Armenia is the original homeland of the Basques. Linguistic exhibits are recognized by scholars as legitimate. I would like to know where does "Armenia, the homeland of the Basques" theory stand now. Thank you.

You're the only one on this thread that has it right lol

The Basque people also have the highest percentage of Rh-negative blood.
Rh-negative blood is rare, and to this date, science has no explanation for this mystery.

The Basques are remenents of Atlantis. The shining Isles of Ireland were the Eastern most part of the continent sized island that sank into the sea.

Quite so, Josh. Cayce said so. http://therhnegativefactor.webs.com/chapter6.htm. See my earlier comment.

Yes the Irish and the Basques are two of the most closely related peoples on the planet,according to to DNA data.

I believe what sank beneath the seas was an Island, the City of Atlantis. The Continent portion was the Americas, with which both the Egyptians and later Phonicians (pardon the spelling) and Carthage traded with. Considering that there is a large city sunk off the western Cuban coast, I would suspect that to be the original Atlantis. That being said, the seafarers would have had their influence and trade with many ancient nations, including the Menoians , who may have been a surviving portion of their empire. It would not surprise me one bit if the Basques were as well.

The Urantia book has the complete history of the Basque and Berber peoples

Very interested in this early history unfolding

Surprising many don't know this, the information is abundant!

nisa burkay's picture

Do the Armenians also have a higher RH- population like the Basques?

 

Nisa Carroll Burkay

All the best

World Catastrophe may have been responsible for isolating an established civilization's fragments in mountainous locales such as Armenia, the Pyrenees, the Drakensberg mountains of SA, and other like areas.
I was surprised to learn the Etruscan origin was Armenia. With an original exodus of 45,000 y ago, this group may be the ad mixture to the Basque.

You know, I am over 60; and full Basque on either side of my family tree... and I am from California, which was settled by the Basque a long time ago... and as encroachment occurred, they moved out... and many assimilated into the hispanic culture just for survival in Los Angeles, SF, etc, because of the Prejudice, just like the Native Americans did, so I could not find any info on my own People for decades... the Basque have kept themselves isolated and protected their culture for survival... so now, all of a sudden; there are "experts" about my people everywhere you go... and none of you are even Basque; and most of you never even thought about Cultural Anthropology like I have been avidly studying since age 9.... so how could you know anything? The truth is you don't. So mind your own business, or keep quiet and learn from someone who does; the older gentleman who first posted, about HIS culture has it right; we have survived longer than anyone else but the Jews because we have maintained our culture through word of mouth; not through wanna-be know-it-alls... and my maiden name is Salazar; a very ancient and very Basque sir name, and it does not have any of the suffixes that that person listed... neither does Rodriguez, or Perez.... or we can keep going... Plus, if you even bothered to stay awake during World History 101; you would be able to ascertain that our Land, the Basque Nation has been shrinking for many centuries now; we have been fighting for autonomy since our Country was stolen from us by spain and France, and that is why it is considered as part of those countries... a lot like the American Indian Nations have going on now.

Kind of like the Kurdish people it sounds like. I am woundering if there is a relationship with the Clovis people, whos culture went extinct with the Asteroid / comet Strike of 10500 BC, same time as Atlantis sank. Is there a website with actual Basque history, traditional handed down stories from your elders that we, the public can access?

The Urantia book has their origin evolution and destiny

" The later age of most of the individuals and the artifacts found with them (such as pottery) suggest that they were farmers, not hunter gatherers. "

Spain was 10.000 years ago occupied by Farmers when moors from now Niger broke through the ice barrier at Andalusia and these were the scum of the Earth rapists slave keepers plunderers murderers.

So this could have made the area unique

These remains only take us back to 5500 BC, if that. The Basques may well have been related to the Cro Magnon men who lived in this area 40,000 BC. Without a trail across Europe or Africa for these people to suddenly appear in Western Europe, one has to ask, where did they come from before Western Europe, or did they magically appear there out of nothing?

Very close to the modern Basque land is the location given by Plato for Atlantis. If we ignore all of the claims of Atlantis all over the planet, and go back to the source of the story, the legendary island faced Gadira (modern Cadiz, Spain) and was roughly the size of ancient Libya and Asia Minor -- perhaps 2-3x the size of Texas. We already have 3 pieces of evidence which tend to support the Atlantis event of 9600 BC.

We live in Bayonne, France; it is Euskal Herrria (the Basque land). The Basque language is called Euskara. The Basque people call themselves "Euskaldunak" There are Basque immersion schools here called "Ikastola" Euskara was standardized in the 1960's. The language of Gascogne is also spoken here it is called "Occitan" The road signs are in French, Euskara and Occitan, oh what fun is is to drive here if you are lost.

It would seem the author forgot the unique blood type the Basque peoples. . Their origin is way different than any other Europeans. They are not related.

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