Deriv; Ancient Celtic dolmen from Poulnabrone, Ireland and carved Egyptian deity Thoth

Thoth’s Storm: New Evidence for Ancient Egyptians in Ireland?

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When ancient Egypt and Ireland are spoken about in the same breath it usually results in the rolling of eyes, polite exits and the sound of murmurs citing pseudo-history and new age babble.
At least, that used to be the case.

Recent discoveries in DNA research have added to already verified archaeological finds to present a scenario that is now more difficult to dismiss.  

The Lia Fáil (Stone of Destiny) atop the Hill of Tara, County Meath, Ireland.

The Lia Fáil (Stone of Destiny) atop the Hill of Tara, County Meath, Ireland. ( CC BY 2.0 )

The Hill of Tara is one of Ireland’s most ancient sacred sites. It is surrounded by many other Neolithic earthworks and tombs and although commonly associated with the Celts, the site pre-dates their arrival in Ireland by thousands of years.

In legend it is the place where the Tuatha De Danann reigned. These were a God-like people who were said to have arrived in Ireland in mysterious ships and had magical powers.

A plate of The Dagda, representing the legendary members of the Tuatha Dé Danann.

A plate of The Dagda, representing the legendary members of the Tuatha Dé Danann. ( Public Domain )

Ritual Burials and Mysterious Bones

During recent and very controversial excavations near Tara a story emerged about a strange skeleton that had been found by workers digging at Lismullin Henge. Some thought it was the remains of a dog, others a badger. But, most curious of all was the claim of some witnesses that the remains were, in fact, those of an ape.

As Con Connor, Arch Druid of Ireland’s Celtic Druid Temple writes, “Why was such a ritual burial in a royal site not cause for focused investigation?”

In her work, A Course of Severe and Arduous Trials , author Lynn Brunet writes that, “Furthermore, the Irish Masonic author, J. A. Penny notes that a skeleton of a Barbary ape had been found at Tara, the mythical center of Ireland and seat of the High King.”

But why would there have been such strange bones buried at this site? These primates are not indigenous to Ireland and the archaeological complex surrounding Tara dates back thousands of years. If bones of an ape had been found at any point, do we have a precedent for such a burial at any other of Ireland’s most ancient sacred places?

In fact we do. During excavations at Eimhain Macha (Navan Fort) in County Armagh, the skull of a Barbary ape was found. When it was carbon dated it was discovered to be roughly 2,500 years old. The question for many archaeologists was how it got to Ireland in the first place, but perhaps a more intriguing enquiry would investigate why.

The Irish-Egyptian Connection

One of the more controversial theories when it comes to the origins of the Irish people is a connection to ancient Egypt. Although there are many Irish legends connecting Tara and Egyptian royalty, these have been impossible to prove.

One of the most intriguing examples of these proposals was the discovery of the skeleton of a 15-year-old boy at The Mound of the Hostages, near Tara, by Dr. Sean O Riordan of Trinity College. Carbon dating showed that the remains were roughly 3,800 years old. A necklace found with the skeleton was made of faience beads and matched similar Egyptian manufacture and design.

The Hill of Tara is an archaeological complex featuring many ancient monuments, such as the ‘Mound of Hostages’, seen above. In tradition Hill of Tara is known as the seat of the High Kings of Ireland.

The Hill of Tara is an archaeological complex featuring many ancient monuments, such as the ‘Mound of Hostages’, seen above. In tradition Hill of Tara is known as the seat of the High Kings of Ireland.  (CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Scotia, Egyptian Royalty

There is also the famous legend of Queen Scotia, an Egyptian princess or queen, depending on which version of the legend you read, who was said to have arrived in Ireland in 1700 BC and was killed by the Tuatha De Danann in a great battle.

Her supposed grave is marked by a giant inscribed stone in County Kerry and its importance has led to local politicians calling for its preservation.

A 15th century depiction of Scota’s voyage from Egypt.

A 15th century depiction of Scota’s voyage from Egypt. ( Public Domain )

An interesting aside is that Scotia’s grave is not far from the island of Skellig Michael, the site of a pre-Christian settlement and a later monastery.

According to the 11th-century  Lebor Gabála É renn (Book of Invasions), Milesius, a great leader of one of Ireland’s invaders lost two of his sons nearby in 1400 BC when a magical storm caused by the Tuatha De Danann submerged their ship. 

Comments

Never mind that we have actual carbon dating of objects that shows when they were made.

One aspect the article got wrong or at least obscured is that the legends did not link the Tautha de Danaan to Egypt as implied.Whether made up or dimnly recalled fact it was the succeeding Milesians who reputedly dwelled in Egypt for a lengthy period.The Milesians were believed to be the ancestral Gaels.The Scotta slain by the Tautha de Danaan was ostensibly a Pharoah's daughter who wed the eponymous leader of the Milesians, either Milidh or Geythalos [eponymous Gael].He died before his people migrated to Ireland but she and her sons lead the 'invasion', which ultimately defeated the Tautha.Hence, if the traditions support a connection between Ireland and Egypt it was via the Gaels. NONE of the other mythic groups were even claimed to have visited Egypt.

David Halpin's picture

Thanks for the comment, Kenneth.

It is often difficult to separate the various groups when looking back upon mythic tradition, especially without a written source. As you correctly write, there are various versions of Scotta, Scotia and a Pharoh’s daughter fleeing from Egypt into Ireland or The British Isles.
In this article the fact that this tradition has been preserved is valuable in that it bridges what was once considered outlandish to very recent DNA findings which may well hint at the story being an even older memory or event.

From my perspective the phonetic connections to the Tuatha De are both interesting and telling. Bear in mind that the DNA findings are less than four weeks old so this is new territory, not just in relation to migratory patterns but also in how we must now look to mythic chronology.
The Milesians being ancestral Gaels (If this is the case) does not exclude an earlier visitation and potential colonial religious influence previous to their arrival. Indeed, the DNA evidence points to this directly.

David.  

David Halpin

Your link to your source article claims that some of the ancestral DNA comes from stone age migrants from what would eventually be the Fertile Crescent (which would be modern day Turkey/Iraq not Egypt) and that the rest appeared to have come from the Pontic Steppes in modern day Russia (again not Egypt.) Your barbary ape skull (the only one that is actually proven to have been an ape skull) only dates to approximately 300 bce at the oldest which easily puts it during a time when trade was going back and forth and when the Irish were already well established. And you decided that Thoth and Tuath are somehow related to each other even though Thoth is spelled completely differently in Egyptian than it is in English. In other words, your article is complete supposition without any actual evidence to back it up.

Very interesting, hope they can get dna or at least use his teeth to see where he had been. Alas, the presence of such a necklace does not an Egyptian make, without additional hard evidence. There were quite extensive trade routes even back then. It does not mean that one group of traders went from Egypt to Eire, albeit this is possible. It is very likely that a Kritian ship took the boy and/or his necklace to Greece. Or even to Spain, and then the boy and/or the necklace traveled to Eire via normal trade routes for the area.

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