10 Recent Discoveries Concerning Ancient Europe

9. The Origins Of The Basque

The Basque people of Northeastern Spain and Southern France have always been a mystery. Unlike their neighbors, the Basque mountaineers do not speak a Romance language based on the Latin tongue of ancient Rome. Furthermore, the Basque language is a language isolate, meaning that it doesn’t have any recognizable links with the Indo-European languages of Europe.

In 2015, Mattias Jakobsson of Sweden’s Uppsala University put forth the notion that the Basque are the descendants of Iberian farmers who migrated north and mixed with an indigenous hunter-gatherer population. Basing his argument on Stone Age skeletons found in Northern Spain, Jakobsson believes that Iberians from Southwestern Spain began their move north between 3,500 and 5,500 years ago. After intermarrying with the local population, geographical and cultural isolation helped to preserve the unique Basque DNA. Importantly, although Jakobsson’s research undergirds the long-held belief that the Basque people are separate from modern Europeans, he nevertheless refutes the idea that the Basque are a continuation of a pure Neolithic civilization.

Other genetic researchers have gone further in refuting the notion of Basque uniqueness. Based on a survey of European genomes, some genetic scientists have concluded that the Basque are not unique and share much of their genetic material with other Europeans.

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