THE BASQUE – A COMPLEX RIDDLE
(Second draft – posted on January 16, 2013 by David McMillin)
The Basques are an ethnic group who live in the areas bordering the Bay of Biscay, extending into the western edge of the Pyrenees Mountains that straddle parts of north-central Spain and south-western France. Situated along the western of edge of Europe, Basque country has a mild, damp climate that is largely hilly and wooded. With regard to our investigation of Atlantis, the people and land of Pyrenees is thought to provide an ideal setting for migrating Atlanteans seeking refuge in reaction (or preparation) to the various periods of destruction of Atlantis as described in previous chapters.
Due to the uniqueness of the Basque language, genetics, and culture much research and scholarly investigation has been invested in understanding Basque origins and the source of the apparent distinctiveness. The accumulated scientific literature is fascinating yet complex – and to some, disturbing. Especially in the emerging field of genetic anthropology where some researchers have come to doubt the uniqueness of Basque genetics compared to other European populations, concluding: "A genome-wide survey does not show the genetic distinctiveness of Basques." (Laayouni et al, 2010, p. 455); and “The Basques may not be who we think they are.” (Kahn, 2010). In this chapter we will be reviewing this complex scientific literature using the Cayce perspective as a framework for sorting out some of the confusions that have arisen.
For some Atlantologists (and true believers in this or that metaphysical tradition), the complex riddle of Basque distinctiveness is simple: Before Atlantis was destroyed there was an exodus to various adjacent lands including the region of the Pyrenees. Thus Basque distinctiveness, in large measure, equals the Atlantis effect. The distinctive Basque language (Euskara) is really just a modern version of Atlantean – that’s why it doesn’t appear to have any known origin amongst historical or ancient peoples. Extremely old and sophisticated cave paintings in Basque regions (or areas that might have previously been inhabited by Basque ancestors) are remnants of Atlantean culture expressed with stone age technology. Likewise, the biological distinctiveness of the Basque reflects merely reflects underlying Atlantean anatomy, physiology and genetics. And so on … As noted in the theosophical tradition:
Palæolithic European man of the Miocene and Pliocene times was a pure Atlantean, as we have previously stated. The Basques are, of course, of a much later date than this, but their affinities, as here shown, go far to prove the original extraction of their remote [Atlantean] ancestors. (Blavatsky, 1888, p.707)
Even if Atlantis has a part to play in solving the riddle of the Basques, it may not be quite as simple as some have supposed or as ridiculous as others have scoffed. Let’s begin by digesting a bit of background from the Cayce readings.
The Cayce Perspective
Surprisingly, the dozens of Cayce readings that discuss the Pyrenees and nearby regions in France, Spain and Portugal never actually use the term Basque to describe the people and culture of that region.
This is noteworthy given the uniqueness of the Basque people and connections that many have made between Atlantis and the Basques. For example, even though there is relatively little information provided in the Cayce readings regarding the indigenous peoples of North America (“native American Indians”), a reading given in 1936 describes the past life of a woman among “the Iroquois; those of noble birth, those that were of the pure descendants of the Atlanteans, those that held to the ritualistic influences from nature itself.” (ECR 1219-1) Note that she was said to have been among those of “noble birth.” Thus the reading was not necessarily stating that all Iroquois peoples of that time (or their modern descendants) were “pure descendants of the Atlanteans.” These sorts of distinctions are helpful when trying to sort out modern genetic data used to ascertain migrations and origins of ancient peoples.
And yet, even though many more readings were given for individuals with past lives as Atlanteans who were said to have migrated to the Pyrenees region, there are NO general statements as to the relative purity of modern Basques (or any other groups in what we now call France, Spain, or Portugal) as “pure descendants of the Atlanteans.” Perhaps this is because, as modern scientific research has indicated and we will review in the sections that follow, the origins of the Basque people are more complex than some Atlantologists (and Cayce enthusiasts, for that matter) have assumed. Perhaps, even considering the widely assumed distinctiveness of Basque language, biology, and culture, it is still a result of various mixtures of peoples over a very long period of time. Due to the relative isolation of the Basque homeland, some of the distinctiveness of the various donor groups has been maintained to provide clues of this complex process of blending and assimilation.
Possible Causcasus and North African Influences.
Even though the Cayce readings do emphatically state that Atlanteans migrated (over a wide range of time in distinct periods as we have discussed in previous chapters) to regions of France, Spain, and Portugal that includes the present homeland of the Basque, the process of blending, mixing, and assimilating with local peoples of that region is complex. For example in a reading given in 1937 for a ten-year-old girl, a past life in the Pyrenees was described thusly:
Before that we find the entity was in the land now known as or called the Pyrenees, or the land where the Atlanteans landed and combined their efforts in developments with the [people of the] Pyrenees, the Carthaginians as later were known – or the Carpathians. (ECR: 1489-1)
This reading goes on to describe her activity at that time:
In the activity there the entity was a leader, yet a seducer of those that were in authority; and became the ruler that allowed the creating of too much lewdness in the activities of the religious service and worship. The name then was Ame-lee. (ECR: 1489-1)
Please note that this reading does not specifically state that she was an Atlantean or that the incarnation was at the time of Atlantean migrations to the Pyrenees, although the context does suggest that likelihood. Even though many readings that discuss Atlantean past lives provide a temporal context (date or association with a period of destruction, etc), no timeframe was provided in this case. In the sequence of past lives given for the girl, the previous one was at the time of the Hebrew prophet Nehemiah in the fifth century B.C.E., so presumably the incarnation that references Atlantis was in ancient times.
Also note the sexual nature of the activity described in this reading, perhaps indicating a mixing with the local peoples who inhabited “the land where the Atlanteans landed.” This important point is relevant to the question as to whether migrating Atlanteans may have intermixed with indigenous locals, or maintained genetic purity that might be measurable by modern genetic analysis. The reading does clearly state that the Atlanteans “combined their efforts in developments” with the local peoples. So there was social interaction at some level.
The issue of relative purity and isolation of genetic type associated with Atlantean migrations into the Pyrenees could be related to which group of Atlanteans formed the nucleus of the migration. If the Law of One predominated, then genetic isolation (purity) might predominate. If the followers of Belial predominated, then intermixture of genetic material would probably be the rule. In the instance above, the “lewdness” noted might indicate more of a Belial influence.
The modern Basque population is represented by various subgroups, each with varying degrees of heterogeneity (e.g., Calderón et al, 2000; Touinssi et al, 2004; Cardoso et al, 2011). Considering that Atlantean migrations into the Pyrenees are reported in the readings as occurring over a period of 40,000 years and associated with multiple periods of destruction of the homeland (see Chapter 10 on Periods of Destruction), some variability and genetic heterogeneity could be expected from such widely separated displacements.
With regard to the origins of the peoples of the Pyrenees as described in reading 1489-1 above, note that two possibilities are provided: “The Carthaginians as later known – or the Carpathians.” The first designation is suggestive of a North African origin from the region that we now call Carthage. In ancient history, Carthaginians were identified as descendents of Phoenician colonists who struck out from modern-day Lebanon. At about 800 B.C.E. these adventurous sailors and traders established a major city named Carthage in Tunis, North Africa. Subsequently, Carthage prospered and expanded becoming one of the great powers of the western Mediterranean.
Obviously, the Carthaginians of 800 B.C.E. were not the ancestors of the ancient peoples of the Pyrenees described by Cayce at the time of Atlantean migrations. Hence, the observation in the reading: “the Carthaginians as later known.” Whether Cayce was referring to some indigenous peoples of North Africa in the region that was later conquered by the Phoenicians and is now known as “Carthaginian”; or, whether this reading was referring to the ancestors of the Phoenicians themselves is not clear. Incidentally, the ancestors of the ancient Phonecians could fall within the broader designation of “Carpathian” as described below. As the title of this chapter indicates, this is a complex subject.
The other possible source of the original people of the Pyrenees as mentioned in reading (1489-1) is the “Carpathians.” The Cayce readings actually describe the geographical region of the Carpathians quite explicitly as: “Southern part of Europe and Russia, and Persia and that land. Caucasian mountains.” (364-13)
Thus the readings lay out two possible origins for the peoples of the Pyrenees that correspond remarkably closely to two leading models provided by mainstream science: North Africa and the near east (i.e., southeastern Europe extending down into the Caucasus region). This opens the possibility of an integrative approach that can contribute to solving the complex riddle of the Basque by combining migratory Atlantean influences blended with indigenous stone age peoples who themselves followed migratory patterns as theorized by mainstream linguists and genetic anthropologists.
Let’s begin with the riddle of the Basque language. As we review the varied and diverse theories and models pertaining to Basque language, it is important to keep in mind these important concepts from the Cayce readings:
Languages of France, Spain and Portugal. With regard to European destinations, the migrating Atlanteans settled in France, Portugal, and Spain (e.g. ECR: 315-4). Thus if there is a residue or linguistic artifact from such an Atlantean influence, we might expect to find it in the languages of those regions, particularly the Aquitanian of southern France, the Basque in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain, and the Iberian of Spain and Portugal (the so-called "Iberian Peninsula").
Languages of North Africa and Eurasia. When the migrating Atlanteans landed, there were already indigenous peoples in the region (ECR: 1489-1). As discussed above, Northern Africa (“Carthaginian”) and Eurasia (“Carpathian”) were specifically mentioned in the readings. Thus, if Atlanteans intermixed with the indigenous populations, we might expect to find some of these influences as well. Furthermore, some Atlanteans were said to have migrated to Northwest Africa (specifically Morocco, ECR: 364-3), thus if there was any subsequent interactions between the peoples of Northwest Africa and the Southwest Europe, one might expect to find linguistic artifacts (and genetic traces) of such exchanges as well.
All of the above possibilities are well represented in the literature. We will consider each in turn.
Basque (traditionally known as Euskara) is the ancestral language of the Basque people of the Pyrenees. Though geographically surrounded by Indo-European languages, Basque is classified as a language isolate, a distinction that may be attributed to the qualities of the people and the land itself:
Romans never regarded the Basques as a threat and otherwise left them in peace…. This lack of Roman interest undoubtedly resulted from a perception that the mountainous Basque terrain, with little agricultural land, no cities, few obvious resources, and harbors that faced uselessly (from the Roman point of view) onto the Atlantic, was simply too insignificant to be worth the trouble of colonization. And the same lack of Roman interest is very largely what guaranteed the unique survival of the Basque language. (Trask, 1997, p. 11)
Some scholars regard Basque as the last remaining descendant of the pre-Indo-European languages of Western Europe. Anthropologists have even postulated that the Basque language inherited directly from Cro-Magnon humans (Ripley, 1899). Such reasoning is based on association of certain words with stone-age context. For example, the Basque word for knife means literally "stone that cuts," and their word for ceiling means "top of the cavern" (Blanc, 1854). In its most extreme form (the Vasconic substratum hypothesis) Basque is regarded as the only survivor of a larger family that once extended throughout most of Europe (Bammesberger & Vennemann, 2003). This model proposes that after the last Ice Age, the Vasconic languages used by the ancestors of the modern inhabitants of the Basque region of northern Spain and Southern France resettled Western Europe. They gave names to the rivers and other geographic features that persisted until these designations were replaced by Indo-European languages.
Thus, using this model, the uniqueness of the Basque language is simply a matter of survival. The isolated mountains on the southwestern edge of Europe provided a refuge from ice age glaciers and later migrating farmers from the near east bringing a new technology and lifestyle, including the Indo-European language that has become dominant in much of the world.
Although the hypothetical Vasconic substratum hypothesis has been criticized by historical linguists (Baldia & Pageb, 2006), it does find resonance with theories that seek to associate Basque origins to the earliest human inhabitants of western Europe. This includes the Cro-Magnon (now called anatomically modern humans), and their descendents in the Franco-Cantabrian region of Southern France and Northern Spain who apparently repopulated much of Europe as the glaciers retreated at the end of the last ice age (as will be discussed in a later section on Basque genetics).
The Relationship Between Basque, Aquitanian, and Iberian
If the Basque peoples are descended from Paleolithic migrants (whether Cro-Magnon or their descendents) and the Basque language, to some extent is representative of such ancient origins, one might expect to find evidence of similar languages in geographical proximity to the Pyrenees. In fact, some scholars have conjectured that the dead languages of Aquitania to the north in France, and Iberia to the south in Spain and Portugal (the “Iberian Pennisula”) represent such extinct sister languages that may shed some light on Basque origins.
Aquitanian. Highly regarded linguist and Basque scholar R. L. Trask (1997) has observed that archaeological, toponymical and historical evidence strongly suggests that the Vasconic language or group of languages from Aquitania represents a precursor or ancestral form of the Basque language. Considering that in ancient times the extent of habitation of Basque ancestors likely extended much further (both north and south) than it current location in the western Pyrenees, this is a very plausible hypothesis (Harrison, 1974).
The ancient Aquitanian language was, of course, an ancestral form of Basque, as we can easily see by examining the personal names and divine names of the Aquitanian-speakers, which are all that is recorded of Aquitanian. (Trask, 1996)
As a matter of fact, the Aquitanian language is considered by many to be Old Basque: this because of the coincidence between Aquitanian personal name bases and the Basque lexicon (i.e., meanings of the names can be determined using a Basque lexicon). According to Gorrochategui (1993), most Aquitanian names have admissible interpretations by the Basque lexicon, especially the names of Aquitanian deities. (Leonard, 2001a)
Iberian. The Iberian language was spoken by the people of the eastern and southeastern regions of Spain before it became extinct by the 1st or 2nd centuries C.E. Like Basque, Iberian is speculated to be a language isolate. The language itself remains largely unknown. Links with other languages have been claimed, especially the Basque language, but they have not been clearly demonstrated to the satisfaction of modern scholarship.
The Caucasus Connection
Some linguists think that Basque (Euskara) could be related to languages from the Caucasus. It has even been suggested that populations in the Basque region and the Caucasus, could be remnants of a Mesolithic European population that maintained a link to a common ancestral language due to geography – both inhabit mountainous regions not well suited to agriculture (Bertorelle et al, 1995). Thus both groups were relatively immune to the wave of Neolithic farmers who left their Indo-European language to descendents as they moved across Europe.
Keep in mind that mainstream anthropology is heavily invested in the “out of Africa” model of human origins. Thus all ancient human activity tends to be explained in terms of movement from out of Africa at certain times via certain routes. The dominant current view is that early Europeans left Africa between 50 and 80 thousand years ago, wandered into Asia, split up and walked eastward, eventually arriving in Australia and the Americas. Western migrations from Asia passed through the near east (i.e., the Caucasus) before moving on into Europe, including the southwestern areas of the Pyrenees and Iberian peninsula. (e.g., Cann et al, 1987; Stringer & Andrews, 1988; Oppenheimer, 2003). Therefore, to look for a possible early association between Basque and the Caucasian languages is not as odd as it might at first appear.
At any rate, the linguistic commonalities between these distinctive non-Indo-European tongues have been documented by Bengston:
While Basque basic vocabulary has some resemblances with many languages, a careful study of the 50 most basic words of Basque shows that the most systematic resemblances are with the (North) Caucasian languages…. Basque has at least 17 cognates with East Caucasian languages within the 50 most stable meanings. According to George Starostin data like these indicate that the (North) Caucasian language family is the closest relative of Basque, and that their ancestor languages diverged approximately nine millennia ago (ca. 6,880 BCE). (Bengston, 2011, p. 50)
Bengston concludes: “Taken together, the lexical, morphological, and phonological evidence indicates that the closest relative of Basque is the Caucasian language family.” (Bengston, 2011, p. 55) Thus, based on linguistics, Bengston hypothesizes a common ancestor of Basque and ancient peoples of Caucasia which he calculates as having parted ways about 9,000 years ago, a couple of millennia too late to have been present for an Atlantean migration preceding the final destruction of Atlantis as described in the Cayce readings. However, keep in mind that Bengston’s chronology is an approximation based on current theories of ancient migrations that have a tendency to be adjustable based on the latest radiocarbon dating by archaeologists or findings of genetic anthropology.
The North African Hypothesis
Another theory of early human migrations out of Africa include a more northwesterly route into the Iberian peninsula. Thus, not surprisingly, Basque has also been linked to non-Arabic languages from the north of Africa. For example, Tovar (1957) suggests that the Basque and Berber languages of North Africa are closely related. Similarly, Harrison believes that the Basque language has a North African origin:
Indeed that Basque should have many words in common with the member of all the North African group of languages is not surprising, since modern opinion ever more inclines to credit the Basque with a North African origin . . . (Harrison, 1974)
Krutwig observed that the native language of the inhabitants of the Canary Islands (in the Atlantic off the coast of north Africa) was so similar to Basque that a Basque bishop was appointed for the Canary Islands after the Spanish conquest, because he understood the aboriginal language (Krutwig 1978).
The Berber-Ibero-Basque Language Complex
Atlantologist R. Cedric Leonard has documented a fairly complex theory of Basque language that is broadly consistent with what one might expect based on the Cayce readings. In summary, the Cayce readings indicate that Atlantean migrations to the east from Atlantis spanned a significant geographical region from North Africa (Morocco) along the western edge of Europe (Portugal, Spain and France). Thus one might expect to find some similarity in the languages and culture of these peoples, as has been cited above.
What I will endeavor to show here is that the various dialects of what I believe was the original language of the Atlanteans accompanied the Cro-Magnon people as they swept into the western portions of Europe and Africa from Atlantis. The remains of this phenomenon exist to this day in what I call the Berber-Ibero-Basque Language Complex. This complex stretched from Morocco in North Africa, across Gibraltar into the Iberian peninsula, on up into the Dordogne Valley of France and Brittany [the Aquitanian region], continuing northward to the British Isles. If such an Atlantic language did exist, we will have identified the Atlantean language, at least provisionally. At the very least, we can ask if such a unified, widespread language did not come from Atlantis, from where did it come? (Leonard, 2001a)
We will be considering Leonard’s supposition about a possible Cro Magon/Atlantean connection in a later section on archaeology. For now, the main point of his theory is that waves of Atlanteans (at various times) settled along the south-western edge of Europe and north-western coast of Africa bringing with them a language that is best represented in modern linguistic scholarship as the ancestor of Berber, Iberian, and Basque languages as we now know them.
Naturally, over the thousands of years and multiple migrations that have occurred in the western European landscape, there would have been an evolution of each of the branches in Leonard’s linguistic tree, resulting in the acknowledged divergences that are evident. So while the Basque language is unique and may be a relic of Paleolithic times, it may also represent a piece of a more complex puzzle of human interactivity that includes an Atlantean component.
A unique language is not the only exceptional feature of the Basque people. Reports of Basque genetic distinctiveness began with observations of extreme frequencies of certain blood types (Etcheverry 1945). Specifically, Basque populations tend to display relatively high frequency of Rh-negative blood types, among the highest in Europe (Boyd and Boyd 1937; Chalmers et al. 1949), and a relatively low frequency of type B blood (Alberdi et al. 1957; Nijenhuis 1956). Thus, the Basque became one of the most extensively studied populations in Europe, thought to be a genetically isolated remnant of an ancient population (Calafell and Bertranpetit 1994; Cavalli-Sforza 1988).
Not surprisingly, the apparent uniqueness of Basque Rh-negative blood types was conceptually tied to ancient patterns of migrations and geographical isolation (much as we have discussed previously with regard to possible explanations of the distinctive Basque Language:
A possible explanation is that once Europe was inhabited mainly or entirely by Rh negative people, and later an invasion of predominantly or entirely Rh positive people took place. The pressure of invaders was less important in the present day Basque area than in the rest of Europe; and therefore, the mixture of earlier inhabitants to invaders was in favor of the former. The existence of an unstable point at 50%-positives: 50%-negatives has helped maintain the gene frequencies near the Western Pyrenees around the present value. (Cavalli-Sforza, 1988, p.129)
Based on both linguistic and genetic evidence, as reviewed by Dupanlou et al. (2004), numerous authorities accept that the Basques represent the most direct descendents of the hunter-gathers who inhabited Europe before the spread of agriculture from the near east (Menozzi et al., 1978; Bertranpetit & Cavalli-Sforza, 1991; Cavalli-Sforza & Piazza, 1993; Bertranpetit et al., 1995; Semino et al., 2000; Wilson et al., 2001).
The main components in the European genomes appear to derive from ancestors whose features were similar to those of modern Basques and Near Easterners, with average values greater than 35% for both these parental populations, regardless of whether or not molecular information is taken into account. (Dupanlou et al, 2004, p. 1366)
Post-Glacial Expansion into Europe
… the Britons – as termed, or those peoples who had been or were then as the descendants of those from the Pyrenees. (ECR: 207-1)
The entity was among those that set sail [from Atlantis] for the Egyptian land, but entered rather into the Pyrenees and what is now the Portuguese, French and Spanish land. And there STILL may be seen in the chalk cliffs there in Calais the activities, where the marks of the entity's followers were made, as the attempts were set with those to create a temple activity to the follower of the law of One. (ECR: 315-4)
The Cayce readings portray the pre-destruction exodus of Atlanteans as widespread with important implications for understanding the origins of the peoples of the destination lands – in this case, Europe. As the reading excerpts above note, expansion by the peoples of the Pyrenees may have made a significant contribution to human habitation of Europe, especially the British Isles and France. Is it plausible that followers of an Atlantean migrant who passed through the Pyrenees on the way to Egypt may have journeyed to the north coast of France and made marks upon the white chalk cliffs of Calais while attempting to set up a temple? Is it plausible that ancient peoples from the Pyrenees could have journeyed up into the British Isles to become the founding peoples of modern Britains?
We will explore some specific implications of these readings in a later section. For now, the focus will be on the genetic anthropology of Europe with an eye on patterns of migration from the adopted lands of the Atlanteans that was centered in the Pyrenees.
Just as repetitive destructive geophysical events fractured and eventually completely destroyed Atlantis, climate patterns likely played a significant role in how the descendents of the migrating Atlanteans adapted to their new environments, interacted with other peoples, and expanded into available areas that became available with the ending of the ice age.
So let us look more closely at the role of major climatic changes in Europe that occurred subsequent to the final destruction of Atlantis. During the final period of Atlantean civilization, Northern and Central Europe was covered with glaciers that had caused previous Paleolithic populations to become extinct or retreat to the south during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) about 20,000 years ago. As the climate changed and European weather warmed, there was a gradual re-peopling of Europe from southern refuge areas.
In particular, researchers and scholars describe a “Franco-Cantabrian refuge.” For archaeologists and historians, the Franco-Cantabrian region encompasses an area that stretches from northern Spain to southeastern France. With regard to the origins and migrations of ancient peoples, the Franco-Cantabrian area is important in that it afforded a “refuge” during the last ice age when glaciers covered much of northern Europe. Hence we find the designation of “Franco-Cantabrian glacial refuge” for this very special region centered on the Pyrenees.
Considering that many authorities agree that the extent of Basque habitation in ancient times exceeded present boundaries, when speaking of the peoples of the Franco-Cantabrian region we might well be describing the ancestors of the modern Basques. Also keep in mind that this area falls within the region where migrating Atlanteans took refuge prior to the final destruction of that fabled land – Portugal, Spain, and France. (ECR: 315-4)
According to the findings of recent genetic research, the Franco-Cantabrian glacial refuge did more than simply provide shelter for the early Paleolithic peoples of that region (presumably the distant ancestors of the modern Basque). The refuge also provided the seed stock of modern humans who went forth to repopulate Europe as the glaciers retreated. To the extent that these people may have included a mixture of Atlantean bloodstock, one might expect that there was an Atlantean contribution to culture and genetics of western European peoples, to some extent or other.
The Franco-Cantabrian refugia hypothesis is supported by both archaeological findings (Housley et al. 1997; Richards 2003) and also by genetic studies focusing on mitochondrial DNA (Torroni et al. 1998; 2001) and Y-chromosomes (Semino et al., 2000; Cinnioğlu et al., 2004; Rootsi et al., 2004).
In particular, the genetic research of Achilli et al. (2004) strongly supports the Franco-Cantabrian refuge model in the timeframe just described:
This survey showed that both subhaplogroups display frequency peaks, centered in Iberia and surrounding areas, with distributions declining toward the northeast and southeast – a pattern extremely similar to that previously reported for mtDNA haplogroup V. Furthermore, the coalescence ages of H1 and H3 (~11,000 years) are close to that previously reported for V. These findings have major implications for the origin of Europeans, since they attest that the Franco-Cantabrian refuge area was indeed the source of late-glacial expansions of hunter-gatherers that repopulated much of Central and Northern Europe from ~15,000 years ago. (Achilli et al., 2004, p. 910)
Biological support for the Franco-Cantabrian refuge model comes from studies of other species. Of note, genetic evidence for post-glacial expansions from Iberia for species across multiple taxa, has been reported, including: plants (Grivet & Petit, 2002), mammals (Melo-Ferreira et al., 2007; Michaux et al., 2003), birds (Griswold & Baker, 2002), reptiles (Guicking et al., 2008), and amphibians (Rowe et al., 2006).
A recent study based on entire mtDNA sequences questions the Franco-Cantabrian refugia hypothesis (Garcia et al., 2011). Whether or not this model accounts for all or even most of the repopulation of post-glacial Europe remains to be determined.
Are The Basques Really Different?
If the ancient peoples of the Pyrenees and Iberia moved out to repopulate Europe at the end of the last ice age leaving genetic traces as has been documented by some of the studies cited thus far (and especially as has been surmised by the supporters of the Franco-Iberian Glacial Refuge theory), one might expect that Basque’ genetics would not really be quite so unique as has traditionally been assumed.
Basques are a cultural isolate, and, according to mainly allele frequencies of classical polymorphisms, also a genetic isolate. We investigated the differentiation of Spanish Basques from the rest of Iberian populations by means of a dense, genome-wide SNP array. We found that F ST distances between Spanish Basques and other populations were similar to those between pairs of non-Basque populations. The same result is found in a PCA of individuals, showing a general distinction between Iberians and other South Europeans independently of being Basques. Pathogen-mediated natural selection may be responsible for the high differentiation previously reported for Basques at very specific genes such as ABO, RH, and HLA. Thus, Basques cannot be considered a genetic outlier under a general genome scope and interpretations on their origin may have to be revised. (Laayouni et al, 2010, p. 455)
Our results indicate that Basque-speaking populations fall within the genetic Western European gene pool, that they are similar to geographically surrounding non-Basque populations, and also that their genetic uniqueness is based on a lower amount of external influences compared with other Iberians and French populations. Our data suggest that the genetic heterogeneity and structure observed in the Basque region result from pre-Roman tribal structure related to geography and might be linked to the increased complexity of emerging societies during the Bronze Age. The rough overlap of the pre-Roman tribe location and the current dialect limits support the notion that the environmental diversity in the region has played a recurrent role in cultural differentiation and ethnogenesis at different time periods. (Martínez-Cruz, et al. 2012, p. 1537)
Thus the assumption of Basque distinctiveness based on classic blood group data (type O Rh-negative) is being questioned. As noted by Khan (2010), “Over the years with the rise of Y and mtDNA phylogenetics this distinctiveness has taken a hit.”
There are practical reasons why blood group data was analyzed and interpreted first. But there’s now evidence that blood group distributions are not random, and may emerge as responses to disease pressures. In other words, they aren’t neutral markers which give a good sense of ancestry. This particular issue, combined with Basque genetic (at least on those loci) and linguistic uniqueness, make it understandable why a thesis of Basque local antiquity would be attractive. But the old order must now likely give to the new. (Khan, 2010)
The question of Basque genetic distinctiveness is likely to remain open until more data is collected and analytic techniques are refined further. Likewise, the debate over the possible role of peoples from the Franco-Cantebrian refuge in the repopulation of Europe after the last glacial maximum will also continue for some time. Most likely the truth lies somewhere in middle and migrations from out of the Pyrenees into Europe as described in the Cayce readings will remain a plausible scenario that may also explain some of the complexities of the Basque genetic riddle.
The British Question
… the Britons – as termed, or those peoples who had been or were then as the descendants of those from the Pyrenees. (ECR: 207-1)
Historically the term Briton can be used synonymously with Britain, or more specifically as the region of Britain that now called Wales and southwestern England. Based on the context of the reading (in association with Viking invasions), the Cayce quote above seems to be referring to the broader use of Briton as British (i.e., English, Welsh, Irish, and Scottish). Thus the question arises: If the Franco-Cantebrian Refuge model is in any way accurate with regard to the expansion of post-glacial migrations from out of the Pyrenee’s region into northern and central Europe, could such a migration have been a significant (or even dominant) factor in the peopling of Britain?
The work of geneticist Steven Oppenheimer, culminating in his book “Origins of the British,” addresses this question directly and affirmatively:
The genetic evidence shows that three quarters of our [British] ancestors came to this corner of Europe as hunter-gatherers, between 15,000 and 7,500 years ago, after the melting of the ice caps but before the land broke away from the mainland and divided into islands. Our subsequent separation from Europe has preserved a genetic time capsule of southwestern Europe during the ice age, which we share most closely with the former ice-age refuge in the Basque country. The first settlers were unlikely to have spoken a Celtic language but possibly a tongue related to the unique Basque language. Another wave of immigration arrived during the Neolithic period, when farming developed about 6,500 years ago. But the English still derive most of their current gene pool from the same early Basque source as the Irish, Welsh and Scots…. So, based on the overall genetic perspective of the British, it seems that Celts, Belgians, Angles, Jutes, Saxons, Vikings and Normans were all immigrant minorities compared with the Basque pioneers, who first ventured into the empty, chilly lands so recently vacated by the great ice sheets. (Oppenheimer, 2006)
Thus Oppenheimer concludes that British ancestry mainly traces back to the Palaeolithic Iberian people, now represented best by the Basques. With 75-95% of British Isles (genetic) matches derived from ancient Iberia, Ireland, coastal Wales, and central and west-coast Scotland are almost entirely made up from Iberian founders. The rest of the non-English parts of the British Isles have similarly high rates. England has relatively lower rates of Iberian types with significant heterogeneity, but no English sample has less than 58% of Iberian samples.
If Oppenheimer and Cayce are right about British origins, one might expect to find physical/archaeological evidence of this influence. In particular, could the ancient earthworks and stone monuments so common throughout Britain represent a distant Atlantean connection (Michell, 1972)? We will consider this possibility in a later section.
A North African Connection?
Evidences of this lost civilization [Atlantis] are to be found in the Pyrenees and Morocco on the one hand, British Honduras, Yucatan and America upon the other. (ECR: 364-3)
Before that we find the entity was in the land now known as or called the Pyrenees, or the land where the Atlanteans landed and combined their efforts in developments with the [people of the] Pyrenees, the [North African] Carthaginians as later were known – or the Carpathians. (ECR: 1489-1)
As noted, the Cayce readings mention Atlantean migrations to northwest Africa preceding the final destruction as well as France, Spain and Portugal with special emphasis on the Pyrenees as a final destination for some, but also as a portal for others to distant lands, primarily Egypt. Reading 1489-1 mentions that the indigenous people of the Pyrenees at the time of the Atlantean migration were descended from Carthaginians (“as later were known”). We have discussed the meaning of this reading excerpt above. The point is simply that northwest Africa, particularly in the areas now called Morocco and along the western edge of the Mediterranean in the vicinity of the region now called Carthage, has some important Atlantean connections that are relevant to the complex riddle of the Basque.
Apart from any Atlantean associations in the Cayce readings, recognition of the North African connection with Atlantis may be important for understanding the Basque language as has been discussed in a previous section. So let’s take a closer look at the findings of genetic anthropology as it pertains to North Africa and the Basques.
Researchers studying remains found in an ancient Basque cemetery (over 1300 years old) have noted a fascinating link between Basque ancestors and the peoples of North Africa:
We analyzed the hypervariable region I (HVR-I) sequence variability of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of individuals buried at Aldaieta (6th–7th centuries AD) in order to find out more about the biosocial implications of this cemetery. The results, fully authenticated by means of diverse criteria (analysis of duplicates, replication in an independent laboratory, quantification of target DNA, and sequencing and cloning of polymerase chain reaction products), suggest that Aldaieta largely consists of autochthonous individuals who shared common funereal customs with the late Ancient North Pyrenean cemeteries of Western Europe (the Reihengra¨- berfelder), a cultural influence possibly accompanied by a certain genetic flow. The presence at Aldaieta of an mtDNA lineage originating in Northwest Africa testifies to the existence of contact between the Iberian Peninsula and Northwest Africa prior to the Moorish occupation. Both this latter discovery and the high frequency of haplogroup J at the Aldaieta cemetery raise questions about the generally accepted belief that, since ancient times, the influence of other human groups has been very scarce in the Basque Countr. (Alzualde et al, 2006, p. 394).
Alzuade et al. go on to observe that other authors have documented a prehistoric relationship between the Iberian Peninsula and Northwest Africa (Pereira et al., 2000; Larruga et al., 2001; Maca-Meyer et al., 2003a; Brion et al., 2003; Flores et al.,
2004). Maca-Meyer et al. (2003b), on the basis of the phylogeography of haplogroup U6, affirmed that this prehistoric relationship must have existed 10,000 years ago at most. In conclusion, the authors note:
… the discovery in Aldaieta of a lineage of mtDNA coming from Northwest Africa supports the existence of contact between the Iberian Peninsula and Northwest Africa across the Straits of Gibraltar prior to the Moorish occupation in historical times. Finally, these results suggest that the ancient Basque population had biological contact with foreign populations. This evidence leads us to play down the importance of genetic isolation as the main factor contributing to the genetic peculiarities described in the present-day Basque population. (Alzualde et al, 2006, p. 403)
As genetic anthropologists seek to understand patterns of inheritance by phylogeographic analysis, unusual and unexpected findings sometimes arise that beg the question of ancient migrations and intermixtures of apparently diverse peoples. For example, researchers studying the mtDNA lineages of Slavs have noted lineages of apparent West African origin. The researchers were able to rule out relatively recent sources such as the Moorish occupation of Spain and the slave trade. After careful analysis, migrations to Eastern Europe through Iberia approximately 10,000 years ago appears to be the best explanation for some of the anomalies:
Results of phylogeographic analysis suggest that at least part of the African mtDNA lineages found in Slavs (such as L1b, L3b1, L3d) appears to be of West African origin, testifying to an opportunity of their occurrence as a result of migrations to Eastern Europe through Iberia. However, a prehistoric introgression of African mtDNA lineages into Eastern Europe (approximately 10, 000 years ago) seems to be probable only for European-specific subclade L2a1a, defined by coding region mutations at positions 6722 and 12903 and detected in Czechs and Slovaks. Malyarchuk et al, 2008, p. 1091)
The researchers go on to suggest:
… the presence of North African M1 mtDNA in the Basques remains that pre-date the Muslim invasion (eighth century) points to the prehistoric arrival of M1 lineages in Iberia. Therefore, since most of the African lineages found in eastern European populations are present in West Africa, their migration to eastern Europe likely took them through Iberia. In this respect, a possible explanation for presence of African mtDNA lineages in gene pools of eastern Europeans is that the Franco-Cantabrian refuge area of southwestern Europe might be the source of late glacial expansions leading to dispersal of some Northwest African mtDNAs in central and northeastern parts of Europe. It has been previously shown that ancient Iberian carriers of West Eurasian haplogroups H1, H3, V, U5b1b and U8a have participated in demographic reexpansion to repopulate Central Europe in the last interglacial periods (10 000–15 000 years ago). According to the data obtained in our study, it seems probable that Northwest Africans also contributed their mtDNA lineages to ancient Iberians, and further, via their gene pool migrations, to Europeans. (Malyarchuk et al, 2008, p. 1095)
A similar pattern of migration and genetic diffusion has been noted by Achilli et al. (2005) with regard to a possible North African Berber influence via the Iberian peninsula into North European Scandinavia thousands of years ago:
The sequencing of entire human mitochondrial DNAs belonging to haplogroup U reveals that this clade arose shortly after the “out of Africa” exit and rapidly radiated into numerous regionally distinct subclades. Intriguingly, the Saami of Scandinavia and the Berbers of North Africa were found to share an extremely young branch, aged merely 9,000 years. This unexpected finding not only confirms that the Franco-Cantabrian refuge area of southwestern Europe was the source of late-glacial expansions of hunter-gatherers that repopulated northern Europe after the Last Glacial Maximum but also reveals a direct maternal link between those European hunter-gatherer populations and the Berbers. (Achilli et al, 2005, p. 883)
Genetic, cultural, geological, and linguistic evidence also supports the hypothesis that people coming from a fertile Saharan area emigrated towards the north (southern Europe, Mesopotamia, the Mediterranean Islands, and the North African coast) when the climate changed drastically to hotter and drier ca 10,000 years B.C. (Arnaiz-Villena, et al, 1997)
To summarize, recent genetic research does seem to support the possibility of a North African presence in the Pyrenees when the migrating Atlanteans landed there, as described in reading 1489-1. Now let’s consider the possibility of an ancient Caucasian presence in the Pyrenees as was also mentioned in that same reading.
A Caucasus Connection?
As has been noted, the Cayce reading maintain that Atlanteans migrating to the Pyrenees landed to find an indigenous population with mixed ancestry – North African (“Carthaginian” as now called) and Carpathian (Southeastern European/Northwestern Asian or Eurasian). Thus the modern Basques might be expected to show a genetic connection to these two regions. We have already reviewed a possible Basque/North African connection, which seems plausible, based on recent genetic studies. A possible Eurasian (and specifically “Caucasus”) connection is more problematic.
From a mainstream anthropological perspective, connections between the ancestors of the modern Basques and the peoples of Eurasia does make some sense. From this viewpoint, all modern human populations are thought to be derived “out of Africa” with migrations into Asia before splitting up and heading in different directions. Therefore, therefore prehistoric European peoples are thought to be descended from groups that settled in Eurasia before moving on into the rest of Europe in paleolithic times. Given the interest in a shared linguistic tradition linking Basque with the Caucasus (as described in a previous section), genetic associations might also be found. At least such was the reasoning of researchers in the 1980’s as represented by Piazza et al.:
If Basques share a common genetic ancestry with Caucasian speaking and North-African populations, this occurred before the introduction of Neolithic farming. This may support the idea that the Basques are the descendants of a Paleolithic population. (Piazza, et al, 1988)
Writing in 1988, before the widespread use of modern genetic anthropology, Piazza et al. were merely expressing a reasonable assumption about Basque origins that could be scientifically tested. Since then, considerable research has been done. However, thus far the results fail to support the hypothesis:
Genetic distances between speakers of Basque and Caucasian languages are compared with those between controls, i.e. contiguous populations speaking Indo-European and Altaic. Although some statistical tests show an excess of genetic similarity between Basque and South Caucasian speakers, most results do not support their common origin. If the Basques and the Caucasian-speaking populations share common ancestors, recent evolutionary phenomena must have caused divergence between them, so that their gene frequencies do not appear more similar now than those of random pairs of populations separated by the same geographic distance. (Bertorelle et al., 1995, p. 256))
The Caucasus and the Iberian peninsula have been connected from a linguistic (Basque and Kvartelian languages), toponimic and historic perspectives. They also represent places (e.g. Dmanisi in Georgia and Atapuerca in Northern Spain) where the oldest hominoid remains in Europe are being discovered and studied. These circumstances prompted us to study the genetic background of the Svans (living on the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus in the Republic of Georgia) in comparison with Basques from the semi-isolated Arratia valley as well with other Northern Spanish and Western European populations…. However, haplotypes reported as characteristic for Basques were not found in the Svans…. In conclusion, the Svan population shows considerable polymorphism. These observations suggest a mixture of alleles in Svans from geographically distinct areas, and probably do not support a common ancestor for these Caucasian inhabitants and people from Northern Spain. (Sánchez-Velasco & Leyva-Cobián, 2001, p. 223)
A controversial hypothesis in linguistics is that the Caucasian and Basque languages are related, remnant pre-Indo-European languages (Gamkrelidze & Ivanov, 1990; Ruhlen, 1991) of paleolithic antiquity. If so, one might expect to see evidence of a genetic relationship between Basque and Caucasus group. However the results did not indicate any such relationship … (Nasidze & Stoneking, 2001, p. 1204)
There are several possible explanations for these findings when viewed from the perspective of the Cayce readings:
1. The use of the term Carpathian in the readings is broader than the Caucasus region. Actually, the readings define the Carpathian region as extending from the “Southern part of Europe and Russia, and Persia and that land. Caucasian mountains” (364-13), with the Caucasus region being the extreme southeastern area of Carpathia. Despite the interest in researching the Basque/Caucasus connection due to previous theories about language connections and theoretical migrations of humans out of Africa, perhaps genetic research between Basque and peoples further north within the Carpathian region would be more supportive of the rather vague statement in reading 1489-1.
2. The original contribution of the Carpathian genetics to the indigenous peoples of the Pyrenees 12,000 years ago or more (at the time of Atlantean migration) was small and has been diluted over time by genetic drift, etc.
3. Further genetic studies may yet uncover connections between these populations. Genetic anthropology is still in its infancy, with breakthroughs in technology, interpretation, and additional sampling of populations still occurring. As with all things genetic, the future is uncertain. However, current findings do suggest a lack of connection between the ancestors of the Basque and Caucasus peoples.
4. The readings are mistaken about an ancient connection between Basque ancestors and “Carpathian” peoples.
mtDNA X and the Atlantean Hypothesis
Before moving on to archaeological findings pertaining to Basque origins and possible Atlantean connections, there is one more area of genetic research to consider: The mitochrondial DNA haplogroup X Atlantean hypothesis as proposed by Van Auken & Little (2000) and expanded upon by Little et al. (2001, 2002 & 2006).
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis is a powerful tool for researchers seeking to unravel patterns of interaction and migration of ancient populations. The enigma of mtDNA haplogroup X derives from its widespread global distribution without a clear point of origin or significant areas of distinct localization.
The Atlantean mtDNA haplogroup X hypothesis proposes that between 28,000 B.C.E. and 10,000 B.C.E. Atlanteans bearing haplogroup X migrated from their homeland in the Atlantic Ocean eastward to Western Europe and westward to the Americas.
They first migrated to Europe, carrying with them a culture that came to be known as Solutrean [Cro Magnon]. As it became obvious that their land was soon going to be completely destroyed, in 10,000 B.C. groups of people bearing the X haplogroup migrated from this central location to several places in the Americas. They carried the same cultural traits to America, where the artifact types came to be called Clovis. Plato called this central location Atlantis – as did Edgar Cayce. (Little et al., 2002, p. 53)
In contrast, the mainstream explanation of haplogroup X presence in the Americas is that it came over the Bering land bridge with the other four major mtDNA haplogroups (A, B, C, D). We will review this controversy in a later chapter on possible Atlantean migrations to the Americas.
Since this section focuses on the Basque land and peoples, we do need to consider the Solutrean Hypothesis as it does offer a non-Atlantean model for the presence of Solutrean technology and haplogroup X in the Americas without invoking either Atlantis or the Bering Land bridge route. The Solutrean Hypothesis postulates that Paleolithic peoples (Solutreans – i.e., Cro Magnon) reached North America in boats via the far North Atlantic about 20,000 years ago from the region of Southern France and Northern Spain which includes the modern Basque Country. This controversial proposal cites distinctive similarities between the stone age toolkits of the Solutreans and the Clovis tool culture in North America. As a means of pre-Columbian transfer of haplogroup X from Europe to the Americas, this hypothesis has been challenged on purely genetic grounds (Fagundes, et al., 2008).
With regard to the Atlantean Hypothesis described above, the frequency of haplogroup X in Basque populations does present some questions. The frequency of haplogroup X in Europeans populations is small – about 2-3% (Reidla et al., 2003). The frequency of haplogroup X amongst Basque populations is probably higher than the European average, but determining a precise frequency is actually difficult with reports ranging from .6% (Young, 2009) in Basques in the southern (Spanish) Pyrenees to possibly 10% or more in other regions. The higher values are uncertain because the two studies reporting higher levels of haplogroup X combined the X and T haplogroups when reporting the data.
Alzualde et al., (2005) reported 12% for combined X and T haplogroups in a study of human remains from a cemetery (6th-7th century AD) located in the Spanish Basque region of the Pyrenees. “In addition, we have also considered the T and X haplogroups jointly, because they were not differentiated in prehistoric populations.” (p.667) Haplogroup T is thought to have originated in Mesopotamia and/or the Fertile Crescent (modern Syria and Turkey) approximately 45,000-50,000 years ago. It was carried by migrants northwest into Europe (at least 10,000 years ago). Presumably Alzualde et al. have attributed a similar origin and distribution to haplogroup X and have therefore grouped them together.
Previously, Izagirre & de la Rua (1999) reported about 10% combined X and T haplogroups when analyzing teeth extracted from bodies in four Basque prehistoric sites in the southern Pyrenees region of Spain. Three other studies that reported haplogroup X levels listed findings in the 2-3% range typical for the rest of Europe. (Achilli et al. 2004; Bertranpetit et al. 1995; Corte-Real et al. 1996)
Putting the Haplogroup X Atlantean Hypothesis into a broader perspective and considering the complex blending of Europeans noted by geneticists, the important question with regard to the Basques, is whether certain specific factors could preserve a relatively pure, homogenous population that can be identified by genetic research. In other words, could a pattern of distinctive origin (i.e., Atlantean) or specific environmental factors (e.g., geographical isolation, climate patterns of Europe during glacial maximums, etc.) produce a unique, identifiable pattern (e.g., haplogroup X) associated with the Basque people. The short answer – sort of. There are some intriguing patterns, to be sure, but they complex.
One important factor in such an equation is the probable size of any possible Atlantean migration – how many Atlanteans migrated to the Pyrenees relative to the local populations and did they intermix with the locals? Keep in mind there could have been multiple periods of migration spanning 40,000 years. At least one reading (ECR: 779-9) mentions “warring of the nations” with regard to Atlantis and the Pyrenees. The possibility of conflict would likely affect any potential integration of Atlanteans into the native population, thus affecting genetic exchanges that might show up in modern analysis. Keep in mind that Plato’s tale of Atlantis also included warfare and a military dimension to Atlantean culture.
According to the Atlantean Hypothesis of haplogroup X, if modern Basques are descended from Atlantean migrants with sufficient numbers and interbreeding to pass along a significant genetic influence, one would expect to find a relatively high level of the haplogroup X in the Basque on a par if not exceeding of that among certain native Americans (Algonquin) or the Druse of northern Palestine. While it is certainly possible that there is a higher level of haplogroup X level amongst the Basque (compared to other European populations), the level is not nearly as robust as one might expect if the Basque are representative of Atlantean genetics as expressed by haplogroup X.
Here are a couple of possible explanations for this outcome:
1. Atlantis is not a valid source of haplogroup X. Genetists trace haplogroup X to a mutation in haplogroup N. Thus haplogroup X could have originated in Eurasia or North Africa and been carried to the various groups and locations where it is now identified by migration as postulated by modern geneticists.
2. Haplogroup X is a valid expression of residual Atlantean genetics, but there was already a significant number of non-Atlanteans present in the Pyrenees when a relatively small number of Atlantean migrants arrived. Hence the effect may have been more cultural than biological. For comparison, consider the Spanish soldiers who influenced the culture of native Americans in central and south America far in excess of the relative numbers of individuals involved. This model is also becoming increasingly popular in explaining the genetic heritage of the modern British people wherein migrations from the Pyrenees and Iberia are thought to have provided the most significant genetic influence in the modern people of Britain, while later (Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Norman) invasions were primarily cultural events that dramatically affected society, rather than dominant biological factors in the development of British genetics (see the British Question above). Likewise, a relatively small group of Atlantean migrants could have left a small but measurable impact with regard to haplogroup X, while having a much stronger cultural impact with regard to language, social functioning, advanced stone age technology, and sophisticated artistic expression (cave paintings).
In addition to the Basque question, the Atlantean Hypothesis for the origin and distribution of haplogroup X is worthy of further consideration in other potential Atlantean migration destinations as will be discussed in other articles dealing with the Americas and Eurasia.
Archaeology is the branch of anthropology that deals with material artifacts in order to understand how people lived. Material objects such as pieces of pottery, tools, and art are used to tell the story of an historical (or pre-historical) group of people. With regard to our present exploration of the Basque and any possible ancient connections with Atlantis, archaeology may be relevant in understanding the meaning of cave paintings and sculptures, stone circles and megaliths, stone tools, housing, clothing, and even religion.
Naturally, the question of ancient technology comes to mind. If Atlanteans were said to have invented and used advanced technology, are there any evidences of it in locations where they are said to have migrated? If not, why not? Let’s begin by considering the Paleolithic setting prior to modern human inhabitation of the Pyrenees region.
Understanding the origins of human occupation of the Basque region of Europe begins with Neanderthal man. Named after the location in Germany where the first remains were discovered, Neanderthals are regarded as an extinct member of the genus Homo (or alternately classified as a separate human species – Homo neanderthalensis). (Tattersall & Schwartz, 1999). Common knowledge of Neanderthals has been so absorbed into modern culture as to be iconic, to the point of serial television commercials featuring these primitive-looking cavemen selling insurance. You get the picture.
In the Franco-Cantabrian region of southern France and northern Spain that is thought to be the ancestral homeland of modern Basques, evidence of Neanderthal habitation has been found in caves at Lezetxiki and Axlor (Rios et al, 2003).
Genetically, some Neanderthal remains appear to be closer to non-African than African anatomically modern humans, which suggests interbreeding between Neanderthals and the ancestors of modern humans in Eurasia. This is thought to have occurred between 80,000 and 50,000 years ago. This intermixture has resulted in 1-4% of the genome of people from Eurasia having been contributed by Neanderthals (Cochran et al, 2009; Green et al, 2010). Duarte et al (1999) claims a skeleton found at Lagar Velho in Portugal (the “child of Lagar”) to be a modern human/Neanderthal hybrid dated to be about 24,000 years ago.
Although modern humans do share some nuclear DNA with the extinct Neanderthals, the two species do not share any mitochondrial DNA (Krings et al, 1997), which in primates is always maternally transmitted. If this observation holds true as genetic data continues to accumulate, it would appear that whereas female humans interbreeding with male Neanderthals were able to generate fertile offspring, the progeny of female Neanderthals who mated with male humans were either rare, absent or sterile (Mason & Short, 2011).
With regard to Cayce’s story of Atlantis, one might conjecture on the use of Neanderthal-type hominids as the lower working class in Atlantean society that was sometimes used for interbreeding with modern humans for pleasure or profit. (e.g., ECR: 5245-1, 3257-1, 3027-2, 2246-1)
The reason for the disappearance of Neanderthals from the fossil record about 25,000 years ago has several theories, including: climate change (Van Andel & Olszewski, 2003; Finlayson & Carrion, 2007), interaction with humans (who replaced them) (McKie, 2009; Jordan, 2001), absorption (the interbreeding theory as described above), and geologic disaster (volcanic eruptions that contributed to their demise) (Golovanova et al, 2010; Bower, 2010).
The exact nature of biological and cultural interaction between Neanderthals and other human groups between 50,000 and 30,000 years ago is currently hotly contested (Finlayson & Carrion, 2007). A popular theory exemplified by Jordan (2001) posits that the Neanderthals were probably out-competed and marginalized to extinction by the Aurignacians (Cro Magnon).
Cro Magnon (Anatomically Modern Humans)
Just as the designation Neanderthal was derived from the location of the first find, another extremely important find made at Abri de Cro-Magnon (rock shelter or cave of Cro-Magnon) in southwestern France a few miles from Aurignac stamped that discovery with a geographical designation. The early human remains thus became known as Cro-Magnon, and the tool kit discovered at the site was labeled "Aurignacian." Both of these terms (Cro-Magnon and Aurignacian) were subsequently adopted by anthropologists as classifications of specific human type and technology.
Scientists are keen on updating terminology from time to time as progress in made in understanding. Thus the current designation for Cro-Magnon is “anatomically modern human.” The change in naming is significant with regard to any possible Atlantean migrations into western Europe or Africa. Whereas as the use of the term Cro-Magnon allowed the discrimination of eastern and western types of early humans, the current “anatomically modern humans” tends to blur that distinction. If individuals from an advanced civilization (i.e., Atlantis) migrated to western europe, one might expect to see differences in the archaeology of that region compared to eastern European modern humans without the benefit of such direct (and presumably, advanced) Atlantean influence. That is the theory put forth by R. Cedric Leonard (2001c) that we will be considering in some detail in this section. Leonard credits his interest in the association of Cro-Magnon culture with Atlantean migrations to the Scottish author Lewis Spence (1874-1955) who published a series of books on Atlantis, including: The Problem of Atlantis (1924) and History of Atlantis (1927).
With a degree in anthropology, Leonard has approached the question of Atlantis from a secular, scholarly perspective without any interest in psychic or spiritual matters. He simply claims to be pursuing a literal interpretation of Plato’s tale of Atlantis. Thus he rightfully falls within the scholarly tradition of Atlantologist. The following summary provides an overview of Leonard’s position.
Leonard’s Cro-Magno/Atantean Hypothesis
Leonard’s hypothesis emphasizes that during the Upper Paleolithic Age (38,000 – 10,000 B.C.E.) two main types of modern humans flourished throughout Europe, Asia and Africa—the eastern and western. The "western" type came to be called Cro-Magnon. The "eastern" type was known by various other names, including Brünn Man, Predmost, or Combe Capelle (depending upon the location of the initial discovery).
Despite the general homogeneity of Upper Paleolithic Man, these two groups, the western and the eastern, may be shown to have differed from each other in certain well-defined ways. (Coon, 1939)
The eastern types were usually shorter, more gracile, and somewhat smaller-brained compared to the western Cro-Magnon type. Keep in mind that brain size is not necessarily imply greater or lesser intelligence – Neanderthal had a larger brain than either. The eastern type averaged about five feet four inches, whereas the typical Cro-Magnon man stood about five feet eleven inches.
The tool kit associated with the "eastern" types is known as the Perigordian, and is merely an extension of the earlier Neanderthal's toolkit (the Mousterian), whereas the various Cro-Magnon tool assemblages are distinctively sophisticated.
Whereas the stunning cave paintings scattered throughout the Pyrenees and Cantabrian mountains are famously recognized as the work of western European Cro-Magnon, the artistic expression of the “eastern” branch of the Upper Paleolithic humans is dominated by small, carved female "fertility" images – relatively crude when compared to the cave art of Chauvet and Lascaux of western Cro Magnon.
The thin and widely scattered occupation sites of the eastern type indicate a wandering peoples somewhat evenly distributed across Europe and the Middle East with no east/west clustering. By contrast, Cro-Magnon sites are usually dense (indicating long, settled occupation in one place) and are clustered toward the western portions of both Europe and Africa. Building remains indicate that both “eastern” and “western” types of Upper Paleolithic humans commonly lived in houses of some sort, and not in caves as is usually thought. (Pfeiffer, 1969)
Thus at about 35,000 B.C.E. a taller, rugged, more powerfully built, human suddenly "invades" the western shores of Europe and North Africa (Bordes, 1968; Clark, 1970; Coon, 1954). This is Cro-Magnon with his Aurginacian tool assemblage.
Professor Francois Bordes, world renowned archeologist and former director of the Laboratory of Prehistory at the University of Bordeaux, believes the Aurignacian tool assemblage of western Cro-Magnon type clearly originates outside of Europe, ready-made, its source a mystery (Bordes, 1968). As noted by Dr. John E. Pfeiffer, professor of anthropology at Rutgers University, they arrive "from some area outside of Western Europe"; with an already "established way of life." (Pfeiffer, 1969)
Archeologist Frank Hibben noted that the Aurignacian industry is "indubitably non-European in origin.” Hibben went on to observe that subsequent excavations and studies have demonstrated that it is "far more complex than previously supposed." (Hibben, 1968) The Aurignacian period comprises the longest lasting of all Cro-Magnon cultures. Pfeiffer made the observation that:
The very coexistence of the Perigordians and Aurignacians in France raises some questions that cannot be answered at present. They apparently hunted in the same regions under the same conditions during the same general period, living as contemporaries for thousands of years. Yet they seem not to have influenced one another appreciably, a surprising state of affairs considering man's capacity for minding his neighbor's business." (Pfeiffer, 1969)
At about 18,000 B.C.E. the Aurignacian culture is "interrupted" by the next Cro Magnon culture known as the Solutrean.
Although Solutrean art is not as abundant as the earlier Aurignacian, notable examples were discovered at Le Fourneau-du-Diable, Le Roc in the Charente, the cave loci at Aragon and Levante (Spain), and a few open-air sites in Andalucia and Extramadura (Hibben, 1968; Bicho, et al., 2007). On the other hand, Solutreans excelled in the creation of extremely delicate blades that could almost be considered an art form in itself. (Pfeiffer, 1969).
Then another Cro Magnon “invasion” occurred at about 14,000 B.C.E. – the Magdalenian occupation. As with previous Cro Magnon arrivals, no formative or “gestation” stages are evident. The culture appears fully formed from regions unknown.
The evidence tells of a powerful people who could live where they wanted to live . . . And there is more than that in the record. Life was changing in response to . . . events which involved geological forces and caused a major population explosion. Surviving signs of the change are everywhere. The most recent Magdalenians . . . occupied three to four times more sites than their predecessors, and occupied a large number of sites that had never been used before. (Pfeiffer, 1969)
The final Cro Magnon “invasion” occurred at about 10,000 B.C.E. (close to the date of the destruction of Atlantis described by Plato). Designated as the Azilian culture, this final manifestation of Cro Magnon concludes forever the Upper Paleolithic Age and the Cro-Magnon invasions. (Note: This phase coincides with the megafaunal extinction of large animals associated with the Younger Dryas Event as discussed in a previous chapter on the Atlantean Periods of Destruction).
DATES (ka = thousands of years ago)
45ka – 30ka
22ka – 17ka
15ka – 7ka
Table 1: Cro-Magnon periods and dates
The Mesolithic Age that follows the Cro Magnon Azilian period has been characterized by scholars as "gloomy" and "uninspired." There was also a significant decrease in population. (Pfeiffer, 1969).
The Azilians hunted in the same regions where the Magdalenians had hunted and occupied many of the same sites. Like most dwindling people, they probably lived to a large extent in the past and told nostalgic legends about their ancestors, the mighty hunters of another age. (Pfeiffer, 1969)
What a perfect description of a people traumatized by a tremendously violent catastrophe! Conditions in Europe after the passing of the Ice Age were actually better; yet the spirit of these people had been broken. They were left in a daze, numbed by unimaginable events. The anthropologists who have detected this despondency are not thinking in terms of world catastrophe, or the loss of a homeland; yet this change in attitude is readily discernible in the Mesolithic remains. (Leonard, 2001c)
In parallel with European Cro-Magnon cultures, four similar “invasions” occurred in North Africa within the same time-frame: the Aterian, Oranian, Mouillian and Capsian (Bordes, 1968; Clark, 1977, et al.).
Leonard interprets the pattern of the archeological record demonstrating strong evidence of four Cro-Magnon “invasions” on both sides of Gibraltar as coming from the west (the direction of Atlantis). Thus he associates the four Cro Magnon periods with Atlantean migrations. The following table (after Leonard, 2001c) correlates the four Cro-Magnon periods for both Western Europe and NorthWestern Africa with possible migrations from out of Atlantis during periods of geophysical disturbance leading to the final destruction as described by Plato.
Table 2: Leonard’s Classification of European and African
Cro-Magnon Periods Within an Atlantean Context
As has been noted, Leonard’s correlations are said to derive from the earlier work of Spence. Spence speculated that the four "invasions" occurred simply because Atlantis was geologically unstable, and every few thousand years underwent serious upheavals, sending hordes of refugees onto several Atlantic islands and the western coasts of the continents of Europe and Africa (Spence, 1926).
Anthropologists are perplexed by the question of Cro Magnon origins (Bordes, 1968). Cro Magnons appeared on the western shores of Europe, Africa and some of the islands immediately to the west of those continents. The sites are always bunched in the west with a decreasing gradient to the east. Cro-Magnon man has traditionally been labeled "Atlantic" due to this distinctive geographical distribution. Abbe' Breuil (1912) designated the areas of Cro-Magnon occupation "Atlantic." Lundman (1977) preferred the term "Paleo-Atlantic" to classify Cro-Magnon culture. Myers (1939) defined Cro-Magnon culture as "a well-marked regional culture of the Atlantic coastal plain."
This scenario of repeated disturbances and migrations is actually quite consonant with the “periods of destruction” and “disturbances” described in the Cayce readings with their associated migrations of Atlanteans to safe lands. For example, the chronology of geophysical disturbances and destructions of Atlantis as put forth by Hutton and Eagle (2004) lists the following dates:
52,722 BP First Geophysical disturbance
30,000 BP “Second period of disturbance"
24,000 BP Period of the "second of the eruptions."
19,400 BP Portion of Atlantis near the Sargasso Sea
Unspecified date between 19,400 and 11,900 BP
12,700 to 11,900 BP Final Destruction
The stereotype of Upper Paleolithic humans prowling about in dense forests, clothed in animal-skins with painted faces, shaggy hair and beards, surviving in dank caves misrepresents the lifestyle of Cro Magnon. In the early Cro Magnon period (Aurignacian) caves were most likely utilized as living quarters during cold winters, but were also used to shelter domesticated animals with the deepest recesses set aside for religious or ceremonial activities.
For the most part, villages consisting of houses were the typical residence for Cro Magnon. Archaeological evidence in the form of pits, hearths, and post hole patterns confirm the use of such residences. Communities of over a thousand inhabitants were not uncommon. Cro-Magnon did not have to pursue migrating herds of animals to survive. (Coon, 1962)
Artistic representations from Cro-Magnon art depict individuals in a realistic style with males short-haired, clean-shaven, wearing shoes, pants with legs, coats, and even hats (Hadingham, 1979). These were not shaggy-haired savages covered in animal skins. The archaeological evidence indicates that clothes were sewn – tailored with collars and sleeves, pants with legs – and wardrobe accessories included bracelets and necklaces. Kuhn (2001) notes that real jewelry begins with Cro Magnon. Numerous bone needles have been found (with tiny eyes), too fragile to penetrate tough hides, but very suitable for sewing cloth. Whitehouse (2000) writes that accessories for ice age women "included caps or snoods, belts and skirts . . . and bracelets and necklaces." The finest weaves are "comparable to not only Neolithic but even later Bronze and Iron Age products." (Soffer et al, 2004) A large variety of weaving techniques have been documented, some of which would require a loom. According to Soffer, Paleolithic people knew how to create fine fabrics that closely resembled linen. (Soffer, et al., 2004)
The fabulous cave art, found mostly in the Pyrenees and Cantabrian Mountains in France, is of Cro-Magnon origin. Some images are portrayed in simulated bas-relief, utilizing the naturally contoured cave wall surfaces. Upon discovery, the quality of perspective and proportion depicted in these paintings astounded the art world (leading some experts to proclaim them as modern fakes). However, the thin mineral coatings deposited on some of the surfaces allowed accurate dating of the paintings, some in excess of 30,000 years (Pfeiffer, 1969; Thorndike, 1977; Hadingham, 1979). This extraordinary cave art appears to have begun with the Aurignacians, ending in Magdalenian times – a Cro Magnon phenomena.
Cro-Magnons used spear throwers, harpoons, bows and arrows, arrow shaft straighteners, obsidian razors, needles, musical instruments, and bone calendars carved with symbolic notations bordering on writing (Marshack, 1964). They domesticated several species of animals (a so-called "Neolithic" trait), which may have included the horse (Spence, 1926; Thorndike, 1977; Hadingham, 1979). “It might appear as if these are civilized people attempting to make do while surrounded by primitive conditions with no infrastructure!” (Leonard, 2001c)
Archeologists have identified several sites dating as early as 16,300 B.C.E. that present evidence of the practice of agriculture. Uncertain as how to account for such activities, they have been labeled as "a false dawn" (Smith, 1976).
In conclusion, we have four Cro-Magnon invasions (each more advanced than the last) happening over a period of just under 25,000 years—the Aurignacian, Solutrean, Magdalenian and Azilian—the last one occurring just when Atlantis was said to have subsided, and since that magic date, no more Cro-Magnon invasions. ATLANTIS, THE APPARENT SOURCE OF THE INVASIONS, IS GONE. (Leonard, 2001c)
Much of the preceding material for this section paraphrases the Cro Magnon hypothesis put for by Spence and documented by Leonard (2001c). From the Cayce perspective, although Atlantean culture and technology was more advanced that other regions of the world, the readings do, in general, describe the people and cultures of that prehistoric period as more advanced and mobile than is generally accredited by mainstream scholars. Thus, the civilization gap described by Leonard (“western” vs. “eastern” Cro Magnon) is probably not as great as he has portrayed, which is consistent with recent archaeological findings suggesting a more sophisticated culture for the “eastern” Cro Magnon than described above.
What About Advanced Atlantean Technology?
If the Basque people of the Pyrenees are in any way associated with the story of Atlantis, one might expect to find archaeological evidence of the advanced Atlantean technology in the Pyrenees. In the absence of such proof, the Atlantis hypothesis is weak, at best.
An argument can be made for other proposed destinations for migrating Atlanteans. At least Egypt and the Central America do present archaeological evidence of high civilization with a somewhat sophisticated technology (even if several millennia too late by scientific standards) – but what about the Pyrenees? This line of reasoning has been used by archaeologists to debunk the notion of Atlantis as an advanced civilization.
How could an advanced civilization vanish? Think a moment. The more technically advanced a civilization is, the easier it is to destroy. Suppose the United States were to sink into the sea. Suppose the survivors had to flee to remote areas, such as the headwaters of the Amazon, or the heart of Africa, where people live very primitively. The survivors could not take their four-wheel-drive trucks with them; there would be no roads and no fuel. Their radios and TVs would be useless without broadcasting stations. Without credit cards and supermarkets, the majority would have difficulty surviving the first year. Those who did survive would do so by adapting to a life very much like that of the natives of the land to which they came. After a few hundred years, only legends of their homeland would remain. After 12,000 years, it is unlikely that any trace of them could be found. (Cayce et al., 1988, p. 55)
Little et al. (2002) likened the cultural setback of displaced Atlanteans to the movie “Lost” in which Tom Hanks plays the role of an intelligent and sophisticated Federal Express executive who becomes stranded on a remote island. In a short time he adopted a stone-age lifestyle, despite his knowledge and experience with advanced technology.
Another possible explanation for a failure to discover evidence of advanced Atlantean technology in migration destinations is that it did not exist at the time of the final destruction:
The peak of Atlantis technology was before 28,000 B.C., and the majority of the population was killed during the catastrophic events. Their raw materials, factories, and technology suddenly disappeared, sending the few remaining survivors back to the Stone Age. (Little et al., 2002, p. 54)
Note that this explanation is using the “long chronology” for the second period of destruction (as described in the chapter on Periods of Destruction). The short chronology of Hutton and Eagle (2004) would advance the date by at least 10,000 years, but the general pattern of decline is consistent with the readings.
And yet, it would appear that some pretty sophisticated technology did still exist to assist with the general exodus from Atlantis to other lands. For example, a past life of an individual known as Pek-Al was described in which he as said to be “the mathematician, the one who made preparations for those journeys through the air to the Pyrenees; later, with those establishings of the activities in Egypt, the entity took residence there…” (ECR: 2677-1) One could argue that the mode of air travel used for these migrations was crude animal hide balloons (citation), but other readings that discuss the mass exodus prior to the final destruction suggest more advanced technology. For instance, flying machines similar to that described by the Hebrew prophet Ezekial were said to have been utilized for the exodus to the Pyrenees and other destinations:
Before that we find the entity was in the Atlantean land, during those periods particularly when there was the exodus from Atlantis owing to the foretelling or foreordination of those activities which were bringing about the destructive forces. There we find the entity was among those who were not only in what is now known as the Yucatan land, but also the Pyrenees and the Egyptian. For the manners of transportation, the manners of communications through the airships of that period were such as Ezekiel described of a much later date. (ECR: 1859-1)
Presumably the aircraft resembling Ezekiel’s vision that was used to transport Atlanteans to other lands would be considered advanced technology (See Chapter 8 on Atlantean Technology). And yet, if the energy supply for its propulsion was sourced from the great crystal, that technology would have ceased with the final destruction of main power station on Poseidia, as well.
Another reading described fairly advanced Atlantean technology transferred to what is now called Spain:
Before that the entity was in the Spanish land when there were those individual groups taking refuge from Atlantis. The entity was among those Atlanteans who remained [in Spain]. Thus again the interest in things psychic, things mysterious, things unseen. For the entity then was among those who were the interpreters of the seal through which the elements were used for heat, for power, for electrical forces. Thus none of the modern conveniences to the entity are a mystery at all, even though they may not be understood. For the entity has ever expected to see same again. The name then was Real. (3574-2)
Keep in mind that even at its height, Atlantean technology was literally stone age technology – advanced, yes; but stone based. The great crystal (Tuoui Stone) was the basis for an energy grid supporting transportation, utilities, and communication. With the destruction of the main power station and associated infrastructure, that entire aspect of “advanced technology” ceased to exist forever. All that would be left as evidence would be stones.
Decreased Population Size and Loss of Contact: Another explanation for a loss of technology amongst migrating Atlanteans is a decrease in population size and social contact. Anthropologists have looked closely at the effects of population size and contact on the development and maintenance of technology. Since there is likely to be more contact within larger populations, population size is a major factor in the development and maintenance of technology.
For example, Hill et al. (2009) argue that the sporadic appearance of sophisticated tools during the Late Stone Age in Africa can best be explained as a result of climate-induced fluctuations in population size. Thus, the level of technology can increase or decrease based on population size.
Kline & Boyd (2010) studied the tool technology used by islanders of the tropical Pacific Ocean (Oceana), concluding that population size and intergroup contact strongly effect the level of technology achieved and maintained:
Much human adaptation depends on the gradual accumulation of culturally transmitted knowledge and technology. Recent models of this process predict that large, well-connected populations will have more diverse and complex tool kits than small, isolated populations…. For instance, the most knowledgeable net maker may not be copied because he/she is poor, unsociable or dies unexpectedly, and thus her special skills would be lost to the population. The rate of loss owing to cultural drift will be higher in small populations than in larger ones because such random losses are more likely. (Kline & Boyd, 2010, p. 2559)
Keeping in mind the importance of population size and social contact, it is easy to imagine a significant decline in technology over even a few generations of Atlanteans as they were broken up into smaller groups bound for safe lands. It is difficult to assess the level of interaction amongst the various Atlantean groups after the mass exodus preceding the final destruction. Some Cayce readings mention envoys engaged in communications with distant lands with the intent to share knowledge about spiritual principles. The degree to which technology was discussed or shared is uncertain.
In at least one instance the social isolation of the Atlantean groups in the Pyrenees appears to have been significant. This is the case of an Atlantean who was headed to Egypt but became stranded in the Pyrenees and lost contact with other expeditions of migrating Atlanteans. She never knew whether they made it to their destination, suggesting that at least some of the peoples in the Pyrenees were socially isolated from other Atlantean migrants. (ECR: 1782-1)
Spiritual Reformation: Many Cayce readings on Atlantis describe the social split between those who insisted on a spiritual focus and those who were materially minded:
Before that the entity was in the Atlantean land, when there were the breaking ups owing to the activities from the sons of Belial, that would use the spiritual ideals for gratifying of material desires. (ECR: 2509-2)
All the major periods of destruction in Atlantis were linked to the use of spiritual principles for material gain (e.g. ECR: 528-14, 1003-2, 1152-1, 1406-1, 1927-1, 2251-1, 2791-1, 5257-1). The great crystal that was initially used solely for communion and communication with spiritual realms was converted to an energy source for material convenience that became self-indulgent. Thus, each and every period of destruction was associated with a perversion of this pattern of technological self-centeredness.
Perhaps some of the migrating Atlanteans of the Law Of One faction disavowed the high technology that had led to the destruction of their homeland. Perhaps there was a spiritual reformation whereby the emphasis became temple activity focusing on spirituality by applying the tenants of the Law Of One.
Just as the Cayce readings insist that parallels be drawn between the pattern of events on Atlantis and modern times (with the obvious parallels in the advancement of technology and material comfort), one might also draw a connection to some modern movements that emphasize simplicity and spirituality – even an anti-technology mindset. The back-to-nature counterculture of the 1960’s comes to mind. Not necessarily that the followers of the Law Of One were hippies, but rather that some may have pursued a more spirituality based lifestyle that would not leave an archaeological trace of advanced technology. There seemed to be an emphasis on temple building and practicing the Law Of One.
For example, one Atlantean bound for Egypt, was delayed and had to reside in the Pyrenees for a while (ECR: 315-4). At some point, followers of that individual moved north along the coast of modern France to the white, chalk cliffs of Calais and left evidence there of an attempt to build a temple and practice the Law Of One. Hence there seems to have been an emphasis on temple activity and spiritual application for the migrating Atlantean followers of the Law Of One.
An Atlantean Legacy?
Evidences of this lost civilization [Atlantis] are to be found in the Pyrenees and Morocco on the one hand, British Honduras, Yucatan and America upon the other. (ECR: 364-3)
Is there evidence of the lost civilization of Atlantis in the Pyrenees and surrounding areas of France, Spain, and Portugal where the readings state that Atlanteans migrated before the final destruction of their homeland? Whereas some escape destinations eventually produced relatively advanced cultures with highly visible monumental structures (such as the pyramids of Egypt and Mesoamerica), the Pyrenees and adjacent areas appear relatively deficient in such obvious, visible material evidence of Atlantean influence. Let’s consider the possibilities.
Atlantologists point to the remarkable cave paintings of southern France and northern Spain as evidence of an Atlantean contribution to the prehistoric culture of those regions. This reasoning follows from the Cro Magnon as Atlantean refugee hypothesis as put forth by Leonard (2001c).
The most famous examples include the Lascaux paintings discovered in September 1940 by four teenagers. Despite archaeological evidence dating the paintings to about 17,000 years ago, some art critics denounced the paintings as modern frauds – they were simply too magnificent to have been created by stone age artists – Cro Magnon or not. After a visit to the caves, artist Pablo Picasso declared: We have invented nothing.” With improved dating techniques, archaeologists have confirmed the ancient dating for the Lascaux cave paintings.
A similar pattern of denial by art historians opposed by scientific confirmation occurred with cave paintings at Chauvet, also in southern France. However the radiocarbon dating for Chauvet is in the 30,000 B.C.E. range, many thousands of years before Lascaux, yet with comparable artistic quality. This has led to a revision of ideas about the evolution of prehistoric art. “The Chauvet cave, in particular, indicates that theories assuming a linear progression from simple to more complex composition have to be discarded and that, as early as the Aurignacian period, some artists had mastered design and composition.” (Valladas, 2003, pp. 1490-1491)
Niaux Cave, in the northern foothills of the Pyrenees, is one of the most famous prehistoric caves in Europe. Like Lascaux it contains many prehistoric paintings of superior quality, probably produced between 11,500 – 10,500 B.C.E., a few thousand years later than Lascaux.
The cave at Altamira located near the town of Santillana del Mar in Cantabria, Northern Spain, represents is one of the most important examples of Paleolithic cave painting originating in the Magdalenian and Solutrean periods of the Upper Paleolithic. Stylistically, the caves paintings represent the Franco-cantabrian school, characterized by the realism of its figural representation.
Of course the question is a matter of attribution – does this remarkable collection of artistic expression represent an Atlantean influence, or simply the output of the stone age inhabitants of the region at that time?
Megalithic Stone Structures
Like cave art, the presence of remarkable prehistoric, megalithic structures in the Pyrenees and adjacent areas suggest that Paleolithic inhabitants of the region demonstrated some technological capability. There is a geographical pattern to the early stone constructions that may indicate a cultural variation:
A further striking difference between the two regions [northwestern Pyrenees of France and southwestern Pyrenees of Spain] consists of megaliths: megalithic structures, and above all dolmens, are common in this period in the mountainous north, but unknown in the south. Archaeologists are divided as to whether this difference represents two distinct populations, with their own economies and cultures, or whether it should be interpreted as indicating a single population practicing both agriculture and seasonal transhumance. If dolmens are interpreted as tombs, it is hard to deny the presence of two distinct cultures, but if, as some have suggested, they were merely seasonal shelters for shepherds, a single population becomes entirely plausible. (Trask, 1997, p. 8)
The predominance of megalithic structures on the northern side of the Pyrenees may represent a broader pattern of culture and migration. If one takes seriously the Franco-Cantabrian refuge hypothesis of the repopulation of Europe by peoples from the Pyrenees and Iberian peninsula at the end of the last ice age, the megalithic constructions along the Atlantic coast of France could serve as signposts of such migrations. Of particular note are the stone alignments at Carnac, along the south coast of Brittany in northwestern France.
At Carnac there are long avenues of large stones (called menhirs), often stretching for several hundreds of yards. The stones that make up these alignments were hewn from local rock and erected by the pre-Celtic people of Brittany. Authorities on the subject date the placement of these megaliths during the Neolithic period (4500 B.C.E. – 2000 B. C.E.), although a precise date is difficult to determine since there is little dateable evidence to be found beneath them. About 3300 BC is a commonly accepted date for the site’s main activity.
One of the confounding factors in dating Carnac’s creation is that some of the rows of stones trail off into the ocean waters of the Atlantic. Keep in mind that sea levels rose as the ice began to melt as the last ice age ended. So the origins of the site may date back to the Mesolithic, or possibly the Paleolithic (i.e., Atlantean times). Could the first stones at Carnac have been erected by Atlanteans or their descendants?
My main thrust in this presentation is to suggest (by the numerous submerged portions) that some parts of these megalithic ruins [at Carnac] were constructed much earlier than has been suggested by most authorities; and that the architects must have originated in a society highly developed in the astro- and geo-sciences—and, most importantly, that Atlantis was the likely source of such sophisticated knowledge. (Leonard, 2001b)
Although the Cayce readings do not mention Carnac, there is a reading with connections just a little farther north along the French coast at Calais:
Before that we find the entity was in the land that has been called the Atlantean, during those periods when there was the breaking up of the land and there had been the edict that the land must be changed.
The entity was among those that set sail for the Egyptian land, but entered rather into the Pyrenees and what is now the Portuguese, French and Spanish land. And there STILL may be seen in the chalk cliffs there in Calais the activities, where the marks of the entity's followers were made, as the attempts were set with those to create a temple activity to the follower of the law of One.
Then in the name Apex-l [Apex-el?], the entity lost and gained. Lost during those periods when there were the turmoils and strife that brought about the necessity for the sojourning from the land and the entering into the others. Gained when there was the establishing of the associations with those that had built up the Egyptian land. And, as will be seen from those that may yet be found about Alexandria, the entity may be said to have been the first to begin the establishment of the library of knowledge in Alexandria; ten thousand three hundred before the Prince of Peace entered Egypt for His first initiation there. (315-4)
This reading was given on June 18, 1934. Note that even at that relatively late date there was said to be archaeological evidence (“marks”) of an Atlantean influence along the chalk cliffs at Calais as the followers of Apex-l attempted to create a temple activity there.
Note that Apex-l was not directly associated with this activity. This process could have been undertaken generations after the migration of Atlanteans to the Pyrenees as the ice age ended and Northern Europe became more hospitable to humans. To date, archaeological research in the vicinity of Calais has focused on Roman and medieval times.
Just across the English channel from the chalk cliffs of Calais we find the white cliffs of Dover in England. Until sea levels rose at about 6,000 B.C.E. one could have walked directly from Calais to Dover and thence to any portion of Britain, including Ireland which also was connected by a land bridge.
If the primary group of British ancestors came from the Pyrenees (as hypothesized by Oppenheimer and reviewed in a previous section), the earliest stone structures in that land could also be included as having a distant Atlantean influence. Such theorizing in exemplified by the writings of Michell (The View Over Atlantis,1972; The New View Over Atlantis, 2001).
… while the destruction of this continent and the peoples are far beyond any of that as has been kept as an absolute record, that record in the rocks still remains – as has that influence OF those peoples in that life of those peoples to whom those that did escape during the periods of destruction make or influence the lives of those peoples TO whom they came. (364-3)
Usually when this reading excerpt is cited by Cayce scholars interested in Atlantis, the focus is on the geologic “record in the rocks” rather than the “influence OF those peoples in that life of those peoples to whom those that did escape during the periods of destruction make or influence the lives of those peoples TO whom they came.” In this chapter we have dealt predominately with the possible human (i.e, linguistic, genetic, and archaeological) influences of migrating Atlanteans upon the peoples of the Pyrenees (and more broadly to the adjoining areas). Since there doesn’t appear to be any scientific evidence of any geologic effects of Atlantis on this region, the primary question is whether the modern peoples of the Pyrenees themselves represent the evidence of a potential Atlantean legacy. Are the Basque people and their culture (including their unique language) a distant echo of such a heritage?
As has been demonstrated in the sections of this chapter, the answer is complex. While some have maintained that the language of the Basque has an Atlantean origin, experts in the field have cited connections with the Caucasus and North Africa, just as the Cayce readings indicated. So any possible Atlantean influence is probably an admixture, at best.
Similarly, some have argued for a unique genetic factor (mtDNA X) as a distinctive Atlantean marker. Yet again, the evidence to date is complex with no confirmation of such an association.
Stone age cave paintings and megalithic structures in the Pyrenees and adjacent regions are remarkable, to be sure. But there is no direct evidence of Atlantean influence.
Interestingly, there is just such an intriguing association in the myths, folklore, and legends of the Basque people:
We should not finish without mention of a Basque legend, the Aintzine-koak, which tells how the seafaring forefathers of this ancient people (Basques) arrived in the Bay of Biscay after the “Green Isle,” Atlanitika sank under the waves. (Sweeney, 2010, p. 35)
Atlantida is a national Basque poem describing their ancient greatness in Atlaintika, its fiery collapse into the sea with most of its inhabitants, and the voyage of survivors to southwestern Europe. Although composed in the 19th century, “like many other epics committed to paper long after their first telling,” according to a Reader’s Digest investigation, “it is based on age-old belief and oral tradition.” (Joseph, 2005, p.67)
Key Points To Remember
Complexity: Although the Cayce readings do not use the term “Basque,” numerous references to that geographical region and specifically to the “Pyrenees” suggests that any consideration of Basque origins, language, culture, or genetics (and particularly any possible associations with ancient Atlanteans or their civilization) is a complex matter. This is in contrast to some of the simplistic pronouncements of Atlantologists and Cayce enthusiasts who sometimes imply a simple, direct (or even causal) relationship to explain the apparent distinctiveness of the Basque phenomena.
Integration: As a basic point of departure when considering the Cayce approach to prehistory, the readings tend to portray the peoples and cultures of the ancient past as more advanced and mobile that is generally conceded by modern mainstream researchers and scholars. Thus migrations and intermixtures of peoples and cultures would be viewed as more extensive than is generally acknowledged. This would tend to contribute to increased complexity when attempting to understand prehistoric peoples and events. Interestingly, the complex perspective put forth in the Cayce Readings is consistent with the increasingly complex scientific models currently in vogue that portray the Basque as more interconnected and enmeshed in the peoples of Europe than has been traditionally conceived. Thus the Cayce perspective is more integrative than some approaches that tend to dwell on differences and distinctiveness to the exclusion of connectedness.
Possible Caucasus/North African/Atlantean Blending: As an example of integration, the Cayce readings state that when Atlanteans migrated to the Pyrenees subsequent to the final destruction, there was already in place an indigenous population whose roots could be traced to the Carpathian (Near East) or Carthaginian (North African) regions (in modern terminology). Interestingly, Basque researchers and scholars during the past two centuries have tended to focus on these two regions in terms of the origins of Basque language and genetics, as we have seen in the literature.
An Extended Legacy: The Cayce readings portray the descendents of Atlantean migrants to the Pyrenees region as themselves migrating further into what we now call Europe – specifically into northern France and the British Isles. Of particular interest are the findings of modern genetic anthropologists who have documented migrations from the Pyrenees and Iberia (inclusive of the Basque region) as the foundation or source stock of modern Britains.
Language: With the extinction of its sister languages (Aquitanian and Iberian) modern Basque may have the closest ties to anything resembling an Atlantean linguistic. Leonard’s “Berber-Ibero-Basque Language Complex” is reasonable place to start for anyone wishing to contemplate Atlantean linguistics (i.e., interpret records created by Atlanteans).
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