The Greeks really do have near-mythical origins, ancient DNA reveals | Science | AAAS

Ever since the days of Homer, Greeks have long idealized their Mycenaean “ancestors” in epic poems and classic tragedies that glorify the exploits of Odysseus, King Agamemnon, and other heroes who went in and out of favor with the Greek gods.

Although these Mycenaeans were fictitious, scholars have debated whether today’s Greeks descend from the actual Mycenaeans, who created a famous civilization that dominated mainland Greece and the Aegean Sea from about 1600 B.C.E. to 1200 B.C.E., or whether the ancient Mycenaeans simply vanished from the region.

Now, ancient DNA suggests that living Greeks are indeed the descendants of Mycenaeans, with only a small proportion of DNA from later migrations to Greece…

Source: The Greeks really do have near-mythical origins, ancient DNA reveals | Science | AAAS

The title of this piece is a touch misleading, in that it may seem to imply that the ancient Greeks really were descended from the gods, or at least their heroes were. But although the truth is somewhat more prosaic, it is no less interesting!

In addition to the usefulness to historians, archaeologists, mythologists, and students of literature of confirming that there was and is a Mycenaean – and indeed, Minoan – connection with modern Greeks, and a very significant one, this also is further evidence that ancient myths and legends, originally carried down through the oral traditions of a people and only later put to writing, may nonetheless have striking validity.

This is not news to many of us, of course; but it may be to others, who have bought into the popular misrepresentation of “myth” as a synonym for “fallacy.” Leaving aside the 19th centuries discoveries of such men as the highly controversial Heinrich Schliemann (Troy) and the brilliant but political Arthur Evans (Minoan Crete), it is remarkable how many biblical accounts have been either confirmed or at least rendered markedly more probable by archaeological discoveries.

Nowadays, it seems that genetics is following in those hallowed footsteps!

Beckery Chapel near Glastonbury ‘earliest known UK monastic life’ / OrthoChristian.Com

Skeletons found at a site, said in legend to have been visited by King Arthur, are the oldest example of monks found in the UK, archaeologists say.

Source: Beckery Chapel near Glastonbury ‘earliest known UK monastic life’ / OrthoChristian.Com

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

~ William Blake

This may not be the chapel which legend tells was founded by Joseph of Arimathea, when he brought the Holy Thorn (and perhaps, also, the Holy Grail) to Glastonbury — or, then again, it may be — but it is fascinating nonetheless. This ancient chapel near Glastonbury, linked to the Arthurian traditions, houses skeletons indicating the oldest example of a monastic community thus far found in Britain. That alone makes it pretty awesome!

Tomb Of The King – YouTube

One of the things which struck me with great force as I toured England and Scotland in 1985, and Ireland, England, and Wales in 1990, was the tremendous antiquity in which the very land was steeped. It was awe-inspiring enough to touch Roman brick (!), for person born and raised in a country that things 300 years is “old,” but the heritage of the British Isles goes so much further back than that… I was particularly taken by the barrow-mounds, to which I had been first introduced in fictional form through the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. To actually be face-to-face with true barrows, in all their reality (though without, so far as I know, barrow-wights), was a remarkable experience.

But familiarity breeds contempt, they say; and it was with great sadness that I learned, later in life, that not all in Britain share this American-of-British-ancestry’s passion, respect, and even reverence for a past which reaches back thousands of years, yet retains a strange and mystic continuity with the present. Just as Americans seem to think nothing turning areas of great natural beauty into strip malls or housing developments, it seems that there are interests in Britain that think nothing of driving roads through, or building car-parks on top of, ancient structures that have stood for millennia… including the tombs of prehistoric kings and chieftains.

In this haunting song, Damh the Bard sings of one such barrow. I do not know whether it is intended to be entirely representative, or whether he had a specific site in mind when he wrote it, but either way, he evokes the feelings of sadness and frustration I myself feel when I hear of antiquities — whether ancient Oaks or ancient Barrows — bulldozed for the sake of what we so glibly call “progress.” In hopes that we may someday, as humans, outgrow our childish lack of respect for those who came before, I give you Damh the Bard’s “The Tomb of the King.”

The Ancient Paths: Discovering the Lost Map of Celtic Europe, review – Telegraph

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Tim Martin has his eyes opened by an enthralling new history that argues that Druids created a sophisticated ancient society to rival the Romans

Source: The Ancient Paths: Discovering the Lost Map of Celtic Europe, review – Telegraph

More on the wonders — which may have been, if this convincing account is in fact accurate — accomplished by our “primitive” ancestors, known as the Celts… and if some other recent accounts are accurate, there was a great deal more continuity between the Celts and their pre-Celtic and proto-Celtic forebears than has until recently been recognized by scholars!

Some have even argued that the conventional understanding of Celtic migration across Europe may need to be reversed; that what we now know as the “Celtic” peoples of the Halstatt and La Tene cultures in fact arose along the Atlantic coast, evolving out of the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Bronze Age peoples of the West, and crossed Europe heading East.

In any case, this reminds me of some of the lines from Robin Williamson’s magisterial “Five Denials on Merlin’s Grave,” a long prose poem set to music which recounts the mythic history of the British Isles:

“… but let us sing the skill of the master builders
long ago
for it was no peasantry clodding after scrawny cows
who raised the hollow hills and henge stones
but calm and cunning wizards worked these wonders
continuing the snail line, dod flat at ring stand
ruling scribing and pegging out in granite
the windings of the dragon track
that writhes unhewn
in sward and marsh and moss and meadowland
that twines in stellar gravity among the eaves of the cubic sky
serpent bird of Hy Brassail
force of spring
wing sunk
bound free
as we perceive our dream at centrifugal spin
so green leaves grow
the rowan bears the crown
so they, upon the veins of Anu, blazed the eye of Bel
to print a spell of glory in our blinks of lives
rightness of the world self seen
the green
the garden
and poetry attests their artistry thus and otherwise
older yet and wiser far
and I will not forget.”