Although they now live all over the world—with a great many in the Western United States—the known homeland of the people called the Basques is in the western Pyrenees Mountains of southwestern France and northwestern Spain. Physically, they look like most southern Europeans, such as Sicilians or Greeks, having, in most cases, relatively dark skin, eyes, and hair. Their one physical peculiarity, not readily visible, is that many have Rh-negative blood, which, in most parts of the world, is rare. Their oddest cultural trait is language, Euskara, which is not an Indo-European language like Spanish, French, Russian, or most other European tongues. In fact, no one has been able to prove any link between Euskara and any other living language on Earth. Although it is not the world’s only language isolate, and it does appear to have descended from Aquitanian of southwestern France and to be related to the original Iberian of Spain and Portugal, both of these are now extinct. Linguists theorize that Euskara and Aquitanian are Vasconic, a hypothetical group of related European languages that may have existed before Indo-Europeans moved in, perhaps as far back as 5000 BP (before the present), or even earlier. The Basques, being isolated mountain people, were able to preserve their original language.
Enthusiasts have wondered if the Basques might not be descendants of Atlantean colonists who arrived in southwestern Europe after their home was flooded. This may be true, but the evidence indicates that, most likely, the Basques are descended from the prehistoric Europeans. Euskara has words that seem to indicate a connection to the Stone Age, which could mean that it is one of the oldest languages on Earth. The Basque word for stone is “haitz” and knife is “aizto.” Ax is “aizkora” and hoe is “aitzur.” But, as we shall see, the Basques may yet have at least an indirect connection to Atlantis.
Around 43,000 BP in Eastern Europe, and between 40,000 and 36,000 BP further west, the Mousterian (Neanderthal) culture was replaced by the Aurignacians, with flint and bone weapons and tools, stone statuettes, bone flutes, atlatls, and their famous cave paintings. Although Aurignacian culture was more technologically advanced than the Mousterian, we need to consider that there is no proof that Neanderthals were a separate species from us. It is likely that they were simply another race of Homo sapiens sapiens. Anthropologists no longer use the term “Cro-Magnon,” but the term was once applied to the first Aurignacian people. Their men averaged five feet, nine inches tall (the same as modern Americans, Frenchmen, British, Canadian, and Australian men). Stocky and very muscular, the Cro-Magnons had brains averaging around 1,600 cubic centimeters—larger than ours. Recovered DNA seems to indicate they were relatively dark complexioned, like modern southern Europeans—and Basques. Their culture was gradually replaced by the Gravettian from about 29,000 to 22,000 BP, and then the Solutrean from 22,000 to 17,000 BP, and the Magdalenian from perhaps 17,000 to 12,000 BP.
Beginning about 5500 BP, according to genetic studies on human remains in the El Portalon cave in the Atapuerca archaeological site in northern Spain, a population of early farmers, some apparently from North Africa, migrated into the Iberian Peninsula and interbred with the hunters already living there, and today’s Basques appear to be descended from this mixed group. But, as we shall see, this is not the only possible link between the Basques and North Africa. As for the language, we may never know if it was North African or early European in origin or, more likely, a blending of the two.
Some archaeologists have theorized that the Solutreans (or a closely related coastal people who lived on the now submerged continental shelf of western Europe) may have been seafarers and that some of them made it all the way to America. Solutrean stone spear points are similar to prehistoric points found in sites like Cactus Hill, Virginia, and these in turn are similar to the later Clovis points found over much of North America. But there is a time gap between the last known Solutreans and the Cactus HiIl points. Also many anthropologists claim that there was no European DNA in the first Americans. Other experts, however, differ, and the entire argument has been twisted by political correctness, which, increasingly, is perverting modern science. Also, if the Solutreans did reach America, they may have been all but wiped out in the Younger Dryas event, and the few survivors might have joined tribes of Americans from Asia, who adapted spear point technology to their own use. Expect this controversy to continue. But whether or not the Solutreans (presumably related to the modern Basques) made it across the Atlantic or not, there is plenty of other evidence for prehistoric seafaring.
If some kind of Atlantean empire or culture indeed existed, it might have been a seafaring culture located on the continental shelves around the Atlantic. During the last ice age, when so much water was locked up in the vast ice sheets, these areas were largely dry land. Sea levels, at the time, were up to 400 feet lower than today. The coasts of Spain, France, and Portugal—as well as the coast of North Africa—would have been further west. Florida was much larger than now, and the entire Gulf region of what is now the United States extended further south. The Bahamas had a much greater land area, as did some other Caribbean and Atlantic islands—like the Azores and the Canaries. Some 275 miles southwest of Portugal is the Horseshoe chain of seamounts, including the. now submerged. Ampere Seamount. During the last ice age, however, the Ampere was partly above water. Composed of extinct volcanoes, the seamounts had formed on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. At the end of the ice age, and subsequent to their rapid submergence in rising seas, the seamounts slowly sank even deeper, as plate tectonics carried them away from the Ridge, and while, under the weight of glacial meltwater, the seafloor itself sank still further. Indeed, there was quite a bit of now-submerged real estate in and around the Atlantic and Caribbean, and there is no need to invoke the sinking of an entire continent to explain the Atlantis legend.
The Canary Islands are some 62 miles west of southern Morocco; when the Castilians of Spain conquered the islands beginning in 1402, they were inhabited by a seemingly rather primitive people, the Guanches. They spoke a language related to North African Berber, an Afro-Asiatic tongue, and are believed to have migrated to the islands by 3000 BP or earlier. A mix of several races, the Berbers are united by culture and language, and those living in the southern Atlas Mountains, nearest the Canaries, have a high percentage of Rh negative blood, as do the current Canary Islanders, partly descended from the Guanches. So they may have been ethnically (but not linguistically) related to the Basques and Iberians. Although the Guanches seemed primitive, with no use of metals, there are a number of small, stepped pyramids in the islands, presumably built either by the Guanches or some, now-vanished, earlier people. And, of course, they, and any possible earlier inhabitants, had to have been capable seafarers who could make, at least, short ocean voyages.
As mentioned earlier, the original inhabitants of Spain and Portugal, the Iberians, appear to have been closely related to the Basques. Ancient peoples like the Phoenicians traded with Tartessos, a city-state in what is now Spain, as far back as 3000 BP. Spain had deposits of tin (needed for bronze) and silver, and the people of the region also traded with other Mediterraneans and with the Celts to the north, along the Atlantic coast. Ancient ruins have been excavated near the Guadalquivir River in southwest Spain that may have been Tartessos, and the Phoenicians had a colony nearby in what is now Cadiz. Tartessos appears to have been buried by river floods and silt. There are also ancient ruins in and around the present-day city of Huelva, and some along the Tinto River, and some in Doñana National Park. Some theorists believe that these ruins may be Atlantis, but Plato’s date for its submergence, 11,600 BP, coincides with a period of rapid glacial melting; prior to that, the coast (and any major seaports) would have been further to the southwest.
A civilization developing in the region, on the (now submerged) continental shelves, would have been positioned to control trade between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, and between Europe and North Africa, and would likely have become rich and powerful. These people could have colonized the islands of the Atlantic, including the Ampere Seamount, and perhaps the Bahamas and other parts of the Caribbean. But early Amerindians likely also colonized these more western regions. We may never know the details—it is possible that either Amerindians conquered the early European colonists or vice versa and one group or the other dominated Atlantis, or may have established a partnership, or there could have been two or more empires or city states. The capital city of Plato’s Atlantis may have been off southwestern Spain, or a city may have been built on one of the islands to the west and it might have achieved dominance. The Atlanteans may also have been involved in the Great Lakes copper trade, with Amerindians bringing the copper down the Mississippi.
While we will never know all the facts, new discoveries are sure to be made, especially with modern technology (submersibles, some of them unmanned, as well as ground-penetrating radar and sonar). Bear in mind that there would have been other civilizations at the time, both coastal seafarers and others inland, and that vast areas around present-day India, Indonesia, and China were dry land during the ice age and are now submerged. We do not know how technologically advanced these cultures were, but they may have had technologies utterly different from our own, and machines (like certain pyramids) harnessing forces unknown to modern science, machines that most modern people cannot recognize as such, hidden in plain sight.
The close of the last major glaciation and the consequently catastrophic rise in sea levels, while virtually destroying many of these cultures, would not have erased all the knowledge accumulated. Some would have survived, and new civilizations would have arisen. Many areas that are now deserts, like the Sahara, most of Arabia, and Asia’s Gobi Desert, were fairly green and well-watered during the warm, wet period of the Holocene Optimum; and there may be ruins waiting to be discovered and, perhaps, even ancient writings that we may someday decode.
There is yet another mystery that may be connected to the Basques. A number of researchers have studied people who believe that they have been abducted by UFO entities—whatever that really means. The researchers discovered that many abductees have green or hazel eyes, but also, many abductees have Rh-negative blood—like many Basques. The Basques are certainly a mysterious people, but then so are all of us. We scarcely understand the present and have now long forgotten our traumatic past, but we could yet have bitter fruit to harvest from sowings made long ago.
Ancient DNA Links Early Farmers to the Basques
In September 2015, an international team led by researchers at Uppsala University reported finding DNA from eight Iberian Stone Age farmers. The subsequent analyses suggested that early Iberian farmers might be the closest ancestors to modern-day Basques, a view that contrasts with other hypotheses linking Basques to earlier pre-farming groups.
The team claimed that it could also demonstrate that farming was brought to Iberia by the same/similar groups that migrated to northern and central Europe and that the incoming farmers admixed with local, Iberian, hunter-gather groups, a process that continued for at least two millennia.
The study is published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Most of the previous studies about the transition from small and mobile hunter-gatherer groups to larger and sedentary farming populations have focused on central and northern Europe; however, much less is known about how this major event unfolded in Iberia. This time, the research team investigated eight individuals associated with archaeological remains from farming cultures in the El Portalón cave from the well-known anthropological site Atapuerca in northern Spain.
“We show that the hunter-gatherer genetic component increases with time during several millennia, which means that later farmers were genetically more similar to hunter-gatherers than their forefathers who brought farming to Europe,” says Dr. Torsten Günther of Uppsala University and one of the lead authors.
Uppsala University. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150907190628.htm
CAPTIONS: Eteneta’s menhir, Branch mountain, in Gipuzkoa, Basque Country (Photo by Ekinez Sortu). Bronze, Basque figurine. (Alava). Archaeological Museum in Vitoria (Photo by Elhuyar Fundazioa). Skeleton of an ancient Basque child unearthed in 2014 (Photo by Eneko Iriarte).