How the Neanderthals Became the Basques – What Happened to the Neanderthals?’ If the Current Reasoning is Correct, Their Descendants are Still With Us – We Call Them the Basques

How the Neanderthals became the Basques

David Noel


Ben Franklin Centre for Theoretical Research

PO Box 27, Subiaco, WA 6008, Australia.

What happened to the Neanderthals?

From a combination of old and new evidence, it appears that at last we have a satisfactory answer to the age-old question of ‘What Happened to the Neanderthals?’. If the current reasoning is correct, their descendants are still with us, and we call them the Basques.

This theory therefore simultaneously answers a second age-old question, ‘What is the Origin of the Basques’? 

Robert J Sawyer has recently published his book “Hominids” [2], a fictional account of an interaction between Sapiens humans and Neanderthals, but drawing on the latest scientific research about Neanderthals. 

This research included studies of DNA extracted from bones of Neanderthal remains. The account mentions five months of painstaking work to extract a 379-nucleotide fragment from the control region of the Neanderthal’s mitochondrial DNA, followed by use of a polymerase chain reaction to reproduce millions of copies of the recovered DNA. 

This was carefully sequenced and then a check made of the corresponding mitochondrial DNA from 1,600 modern humans: Native Canadians, Polynesians. Australians, Africans, Asians, and Europeans. Every one of those 1,600 people had at least 371 nucleotides out of those 379 the same; the maximum deviation was just 8 nucleotides. 

But the Neanderthal DNA had an average of only 352 nucleotides in common with the modern specimens; it deviated by 27 nucleotides. It was concluded that Homo sapiens and Neanderthals must have diverged from each other between 550,000 and 690,000 years ago for their DNA to be so different. 

In contrast, all modern humans probably shared a common ancestor 150,000 or 200,000 years in the past. It was concluded that Neanderthals were probably a fully separate species from modern humans, not just a subspecies: Homo neanderthalensis, not Homo sapiens neanderthalensis. 

Looking now at the evidence for the theory that the Basques are descended principally from Neanderthals, everything suddenly falls into place, and the supposition becomes almost self-evident. 

Location: The ‘home country’ of the Neanderthals is well known to have been western Europe. One source says that they “dominated this area for at least a quarter of a million years”. Many of the best Neanderthal specimens have originated from the Iberian Peninsular. The Basque Country, lying on the western side of the Pyrenees and on the border between Spain and France, fits in neatly with this location. 


Some Neanderthal sites. Note concentration in the Basque area. From [12]

The Basques are well-known to have distinctive body characteristics. Kurlansky says “Ample evidence exists that the Basques are a physically distinct group. There is a Basque type with a long straight nose, thick eyebrows, strong chin, and long earlobes” [1]. 

Basque skulls tend to be built on a different pattern. In the early 1880s, a researcher reported “Someone gave me a Basque body and I dissected it, and I assert that the head was not built like that of other men” [1]. 

These qualitative differences are indicative, but quantitative evidece, with presence or absence of features, or items being present in different numbers, has greater weight nin deciding whether specimens belong to the same or different species. Powerful quantitative evidence comes from a consideration of blood factors. 

Human blood is classified according to various parameters, the most important of which are ABO and Rhesus characteristics. In ABO, blood may contain the ‘A’ factor (giving A-group blood), 

the ‘B’ factor (B-group), both ‘A’ and ‘B’ (AB blood), or neither (O blood). 

The A and B factors act as antigens, and if blood containing one or both of them is transferred to a person whose blood does not already contain them, and therefore has the corresponding antibody, adverse reactions occur. 

Group O blood contains neither antigen but has both antibodies, 

and can typically be transferred without reaction to any recipient.

Some 55% of Basques have Group O blood, one of the highest percentages in the world [3]. 


Blood Groups. From [11]

Even stronger evidence comes from the Rhesus factor, discovered only in 1940. The blood of most humans (and, apparently, all other primates [6]) contains this factor, and is called Rhesus-positive or Rh+ blood. Blood lacking this factor is called Rhesus-negative. 

The Basques are well-known to have the highest percentage (around 33%) of Rhesus-negative blood of any human population [2], and so are regarded as the original source of this factor. In the United States, some 15% of the ‘European’ population are Rh-negative, while the percentage in the ‘Asian’ and ‘Black’ population is much less than this. 

Possession of Rh-negative blood can be a major disadvantage for a human population. 

A Rh-negative woman who conceives a Rh-positive child with a Rh-positive man will typically bear her first child without special problems. 

However, because of intermingling of fluids between mother and foetus, 

the first pregnancy builds up antibodies to Rh+ blood in the woman which typically attack the blood of her subsequent Rh+ children, causing them to miscarry, be stillborn, or die shortly after birth (infant haemolytic disease [6]). 

This phenomenon is unknown elsewhere in nature, although it can occur with artificial crosses between species, as in mule production [6]. 

The scenario so far then is this. Around 600,000 years ago, in southern Europe, 

a species of man separated off from the ancestral line, and we call this species Homo neanderthalensis, the ‘N-people’. 

The blood of this species contained none of the factors A, B, or Rh. 

Much later, possibly around 200,000 years ago in Africa, the main human line had picked up the A, B, and Rh factors (possibly from other primates, the Rhesus factor is named after the Rhesus monkey or macaque), and by then could be classed as Homo sapiens, the ‘S-people’. 

In competition between related species or races, antibodies in their blood are a powerful genetic advantage for those who possess them when competing against those who don’t. 

History has many examples of European settlers who quite unintentionally won out against native populations because the latter had no antibodies against diseases such as measles which the Europeans brought with them. 

In the present scenario, a woman of the N-people (Basque, Rh-) who partnered with a man of the S-people (non-Basque, Rh+) would be likely to bear no more than a single child of the partnership. ‘Mixed marriages’ in humans are not usually genetically disadvantageous, but in this case they would be. The effect would be a continuing reduction in the N-people population as ‘mixed’ couples produced only a single child, half the nominal population-maintenance rate. 

There are other physical characteristics of humans which are typically associated with Rh-negative blood, but which in the present scenario would be regarded as belonging to the N-people. These include early maturity, large head and eyes, high IQ [6], or an extra vertebra (a ‘tail bone’ — called a ‘cauda’), lower than normal body temperature, lower than normal blood pressure, and higher mental analytical abilities [5]. 

Another highly distinguishing feature of the Basques is their language, which is related to no other on earth. 

According to [3], its ancestor was “spoken in western Europe before (possibly long before) the ancestors of all other modern western European languages”. 

This source states that the most strenuous efforts at finding other relatives for Basque have been complete failures. 

People have unsuccessfully tried to connect Basque with Berber, Egyptian and other African languages, with Iberian, Pictish, Etruscan, Minoan, Sumerian, the Finno-Ugric languages, the Caucasian languages, the Semitic languages, with almost all the languages of Africa and Asia, living and dead, and even with languages of the Pacific and of North America. Basque absolutely cannot be shown to be related to any other language at all [3]. 

The structure of the Basque language is also very distinctive, it is said to contain only nouns, verbs, and suffixes. The language strongly defines the Basque people [8]. In the Basque Language, called Euskera, there is no word for Basque. The only word defining a member of the group is Euskaldun, or Euskera speaker. The land is called Euskal Herria — the land of Euskera speakers. 

In the present scenario, Basque is the descendant of a spoken language originated by the N-people, independently of (and possibly at a much earlier time than) the languages of the S-people. 

In an interesting study, Philip Lieberman [7] has looked at the mouth cavities and other presumed speech production features of Neanderthal fossils. According to his evaluation, Neanderthal people would have had difficulty in pronouncing the vowel ‘ee’. This vowel is missing from normal Basque pronunciation [9]. 

If the present scenario is valid, then the Basques, mostly stemming from the N-people, would of course be somewhat distinct genetically. In [3] the question is asked, “Are the Basques genetically different from other Europeans?” , with the answer, “Apparently, yes. Recently the geneticist Luiga Luca Cavalli-Sforza has completed a gene map of the peoples of Europe, and he finds the Basques to be strikingly different from their neighbours. The genetic boundary between Basques and non-Basques is very sharp on the Spanish side. On the French side, the boundary is more diffuse: it shades off gradually toward the Garonne in the north. These findings are entirely in agreement with what we know of the history of the Basque language”. 

The social relationships of the Basques with the rest of the world have been quite unusual for a distinctive human group. 

While always protecting their unique and separate identity, they have also always striven to interact, cooperate with, and sometimes lead the rest of the world. 

Kurlansky points out the remarkable contributions the Basques have made to world history [1]. They were the explorers who connected Europe to the other continents in the Age of Exploration, in trade they were among the first capitalists, experimenting with tariff-free international trade and monopoly breaking, 

and in the industrial revolution they became leading shipbuilders, steelmakers, and manufacturers. 

At the same time, the Basques have always been regarded as ‘different’, 

and so inevitably subjected to discriminatory treatment and (sometimes savage) persecution, as in the Franco years [3]. 

In my book ‘Matrix Thinking’ [4] I have examined the underlying forces driving interactions between human groups, using the term SIOS, and the way groups recognize and act on differences between those inside and outside their own group. 

Genetic differences are one of the most powerful recognition signals in this process, and so it cannot be unexpected that the Basques have suffered in this way. Nowadays such events are regarded in a very negative light, as pointlessly discriminatory. 

In the Basque case there is some rare justification for this — a non-Basque man pairing with a Basque women might have expected to have only one child of the marriage, before recent medical procedures got round the Rhesus-negative problem. 

Language differences are also very powerful SIOS recognition signals, and it is interesting to look at the Basque case. 

The Basque language, while retaining its own distinct structure, has heavily borrowed words from other languages. Other languages have borrowed very few words from Basque, regarded as an ‘inferior’ language, and those that have come over often have had an uncomplimentary sense. 

As an example, Spanish has borrowed ‘izquierdo’ (meaning left, as in left-handed) from Basque, and words meaning ‘left’ often have a negative connotation (in English, ‘gauche’ and ‘sinister’ are from the French and Latin for ‘left’). 

It has been suggested [5] that the Basques were the original inhabitants of Europe, 

and the architects of Stonehenge and similar megalithic structures. 

These constructions apparently used a unique system of measurement based on the number 7 (instead of 10, 12, or 60), representing a separate origin of a mathematical system.

To round out the present scenario, it is suggested that the present world population is a complex hybrid mixture of at least two human species, 

one classed as Homo neanderthalensis, the other (or others –

– if the A and B blood factors originated from separate species) as Homo sapiens. The genes from these species are now so intermixed (as in cultivated roses) as to make the species name indeterminate. 

Further genetic analysis, concentrating on the Basques, may reveal more on this. Research should cover both nuclear DNA, controlling sexually-inherited traits such as blood groups, and mitochondrial DNA, passed on unchanged from mother to child. For reasons given above, the N-people mitochondrial DNA may have now been bred out completely from modern world populations. 

Perhaps the Human Genome project needs extension to cover the possible mix of origins. It would also be of interest to check whether any known Neanderthal skeletons had an extra vertebra. 

There is an extensive website covering recorded Neanderthal fossils [10], and the information there generally supports the suggestion that the species have merged, with later N-people more similar to the S-people than older specimens. 

Supplement 1

When the article above was first made available on the Web in 2002, nine years, it contained some perhaps controversial suggestions. 

Among these suggestions were that the Neanderthals had not become extinct as a result of competition with ‘superior’ modern humans; that instead, Neanderthals had merged with other humans to form a mixed, single modern species (Homo sapiens); and that the Basque people of the western Pyrenees had the largest genetic inheritance from the Neanderthals in their DNA. 

The influence of blood groups on human inheritance was looked at, and it was explained that while the nuclear DNA (the main DNA considered in inheritance) of Basques might well have more Neanderthal inheritance than average, their mitichondrial DNA (passed on directly from mother to child) might have had all Neanderthal components bred out. 

This was because infant haemolytic disease, where a Rhesus-negative mother mating with a Rhesus-positive man was likely to have only a single child survive, would mitigate against outbreeding Basque women having many descendants. 

Nine years on, these suggestions are no longer controversial, and are becoming widely accepted. For example, a recent article [13] says: 

People of European descent may be 5% Neanderthal, according to a DNA study that questions whether modern humans left Africa and replaced all other existing hominids.

It also mentions: 

The researchers agree with recent studies that conclude Neanderthals did not contribute any mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, genetic material that is passed from mothers to children.

An extensive National Geographic article on Neanderthals [14] had some interesting reconstructions of what Neanderthal women are thought have looked like. 

The Basque Myth – The Basque Myth & the Danubian Corridor

The Basques share with the Celts the privilege of indulging in unrivaled extravagance on the subject of themselves. —Miguel de Unamuno quoting Ampère, HISTORY OF FRENCH LITERATURE BEFORE THE TWELFTH CENTURY, 1884

The Basques seem to be a mythical people, almost an imagined people. Their ancient culture is filled with undated legends and customs. Their land itself, a world of red-roofed, whitewashed towns, tough green mountains, rocky crests, a cobalt sea that turns charcoal in stormy weather, a strange language, and big berets, exists on no maps except their own.

Basqueland begins at the Adour River with its mouth at Bayonne-the river that separates the Basques from the French pine forest swampland of Landes-and ends at the Ebro River, whose rich valley separates the dry red Spanish earth of Rioja from Basqueland. Basqueland looks too green to be Spain and too rugged to be France. The entire area is only 8,218 square miles, which is slightly smaller than New Hampshire.

Within this small space are seven Basque provinces. Four provinces are in Spain and have Basque and Spanish names: Nafaroa or Navarra, Gipuzkoa or Guipúzcoa, Bizkaia or Vizcaya, and Araba or Alava. 

Three are in France and have Basque and French names: Lapurdi or Labourd, Benafaroa or Basse Navarre, and Zuberoa or Soule. An old form of Basque nationalist graffiti is “4 + 3 = 1.”

As with most everything pertaining to Basques, the provinces are defined by language. There are seven dialects of the Basque language, though there are sub-dialects within some of the provinces.

In the Basque language, which is called Euskera, there is no word for Basque. The only word to identify a member of their group is Eushaldun-Euskera speaker. Their land is called Euskal Herria-the land of Euskera speakers. It is language that defines a Basque.

The Central Mystery Is: Who are the Basques? The early Basques left no written records, and the first accounts of them, two centuries after the Romans arrived in 218 B.C., give the impression that they were already an ancient-or at least not a new-people. Artifacts predating this time that have been found in the area-a few tools, drawings in caves, and the rudiments of ruins-cannot be proved to have been made by Basques, though it is supposed that at least some of them were.

Ample evidence exists that the Basques are a physically distinct group. There is a Basque type with a long straight nose, thick eyebrows, strong chin, and long earlobes. Even today, sitting in a bar in a mountainous river valley town like Tolosa, watching men play mus, the popular card game, one can see a similarity in the faces, despite considerable intermarriage. 

Personalities, of course, carve very different visages, but over and over again, from behind a hand of cards, the same eyebrows, chin, and nose can be seen. The identical dark navy wool berets so many men wear-each in a slightly different manner-seem to showcase the long Basque ears sticking out on the sides. In past eras, when Spaniards and French were typically fairly small people, Basque men were characteristically larger, thick chested, broad shouldered, and burly. Because these were also characteristics of Cro-Magnons, 
Basques are often thought to be direct descendants of this man who lived 40,000 years ago.

Less subjective physical evidence of an ancient and distinct group has also surfaced. In the beginning of the twentieth century, it was discovered that all blood was one of three types: A, B, or O. Basques have the highest concentration of type O in the world-more than 50 percent of the population-with an even higher percentage in remote areas where the language is best preserved, such as Soule. Most of the rest are type A.    Type B is extremely rare among Basques. 

With the finding that Irish, Scots, Corsicans, and Cretans also have an unusually high incidence of type O, speculation ran wild that these peoples were somehow related to Basques. 
But then, in 1937, came the discovery of the rhesus factor, more commonly known as Rh positive or Rh negative. Basques were found to have the highest incidence of Rh negative blood of any people in the world, significantly higher than the rest of Europe, even significantly higher than neighboring regions of France and Spain. Cro-Magnon theorists point out that other places known to have been occupied by Cro-Magnon man, such as the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and the Canary Islands, also have been found to have a high incidence of Rh negative.

Twenty-seven percent of Basques have O Rh negative blood. Rh negative blood in a pregnant woman can fatally poison a fetus that has positive blood. Since World War II, intervention techniques to save the fetus have been developed, but it is probable that throughout history, the rate of miscarriage and stillborn births among the Basques was extremely high, which may be one of the reasons they remained a small population on a limited amount of land while other populations, especially in Iberia, grew rapidly.

Before Basque blood was studied as a key to their origins, several attempts were made to analyze the structure of Basque skulls. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, a researcher reported, “Someone gave me a Basque body and I dissected it and I assert that the head was not built like that of other men.”
Studies of Basque skulls in the nineteenth century concluded, depending on whose study is believed, that Basques were either Turks, Tartars, Magyars, Germans, Laplanders, or the descendants of Cro-Magnon man either originating in Basqueland or coming from the Berbers of North Africa.  

Danubian corridor

Or do clothes hold the secret to Basque origins? A twelfth-century writer, Aimeric de Picaud, considered not skulls but skirts, concluding after seeing Basque men in short ones that they were clearly descendants of Scots.
The most useful artifact left behind by the ancient Basques is their language. Linguists find that while the language has adopted foreign words, the grammar has proved resistant to change, so that modern Euskera is thought to be far closer to its ancient form than modern Greek is to ancient Greek. Euskera has extremely complex verbs and twelve cases, few forms of politeness, a limited number of abstractions, a rich vocabulary for natural phenomena, and no prepositions or articles.

Etxea is the word for a house or home. “At home” is etxean. “To the house” is etxera. “From home” is etxetik. Concepts are formed by adding more and more suffixes, which is what is known as an agglutinating language. This agglutinating language only has about 200,000 words, but its vocabulary is greatly extended by almost 200 standard suffixes. In contrast, the Oxford English Dictionary was compiled from a data base of 60 million words, but English is a language with an unusually large vocabulary. It is sometimes said that Euskera includes just nouns, verbs, and suffixes, but relatively simple concepts can become words of formidable size. Iparsortalderatu is a verb meaning “to head in a northeasterly direction.”

Euskera has often been dismissed as an impossible language. Arturo Campión, a nineteenth-century Basque writer from Navarra, complained that the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy defined Euskera as “the Basque language, so confusing and obscure that it can hardly be understood.” It is obscure but not especially confusing. The language seems more difficult than it is because it is so unfamiliar, so different from other languages. Its profusion of ks and xs looks intimidating on the page, but the language is largely phonetic with some minor pitfalls, such as a very soft b and an aspirated h as in English, which is difficult for French and Spanish speakers to pronounce. The x is pronounced “ch.” Etxea is pronounced “et-CHAY-a.” For centuries Spanish speakers made Euskera seem friendlier to them by changing xs to chs as in echea, and ks, which do not exist in Latin languages, to cs, as in Euscera. To English speakers, Basque spellings are often more phonetic than Spanish equivalents. The town the Spanish call Guernica is pronounced the way the Basques write it-Gernika.

The structure of the language-roots and suffixes-offers important clues about Basque origins. The modern words aitzur, meaning “hoe,” aizkora, meaning “axe,” aizto, meaning “knife,” plus various words for digging and cutting, all come from the word haitz or the older aitz, which means “stone.” Such etymology seems to indicate a very old language, indeed from the Stone Age. Even though the language has acquired newer words, notably Latin from the Romans and the Church, and Spanish, such words are used in a manner unique to this ancestral language. Ezpata, like the Spanish word espada, means “sword.” But ezpatakada means “the blow from a sword,” ezpatajoka means “fencing,” and espatadantzari is a “sword dancer.”

Though numerous attempts have been made, no one has ever found a linguistic relative of Euskera. It is an orphan language that does not even belong to the Indo-European family of languages. This is a remarkable fact because once the Indo-Europeans began their Bronze Age sweep from the Asian subcontinent across Europe, virtually no group, no matter how isolated, was left untouched. Even Celtic is Indo-European. Finnish, Estonian, and Hungarian are the only other living European languages that are not related to the Indo-European group. Inevitably there have been theories linking Finnish and Euskera or Hungarian and Euskera. Did the Basques immigrate from Lapland? Hungarian, it has been pointed out, is also an agglutinating language. But no other connection has been found between the Basque language and its fellow agglutinators.

A brief attempt to tie the Basques to the Picts, ancient occupants of Britain who spoke a language thought to be pre-Indo-European, fell apart when it was discovered the Picts weren’t non-Indo-European at all, but were Celtic.
If, as appears to be the case, the Basque language predates the Indo-European invasion, if it is an early or even pre-Bronze Age tongue, it is very likely the oldest living European language.

If Euskera is the oldest living European language, are Basques the oldest European culture? For centuries that question has driven both Basques and non-Basques on the quest to find the Basque origin. Miguel de Unamuno, one of the best-known Basque writers, devoted his earliest work, written in 1884 when he was still a student, to the question. “I am Basque,” he began, “and so I arrive with suspicion and caution at this little and poorly garnered subject.”

As Unamuno pointed out, and this is still true today, many researchers have not hesitated to employ a liberal dose of imagination. One theory not only has Adam and Eve speaking Euskera but has the language predating their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The name Eve, according to this theory, comes from ezbai, “no-yes” in Euskera. 

The walls of Jericho crumbled, it was also discovered, when trumpets blasted a Basque hymn.

The vagaries of fact and fiction were encouraged by the fact that the Basques were so late to document their language. The first book entirely in Euskera was not published until 1545. No Basques had attempted to study their own history or origins until the sixteenth-century Guipúzcoan Esteban de Garibay. Spanish historians of the time had already claimed that Iberia was populated by descendants of Tubal, Noah’s grandson, who went to Iberia thirty-five years after the Flood subsided. Garibay observed that Basque place-names bore a resemblance to those in Armenia where the ark landed, and therefore it was specifically the Basques who descended from Tubal. Was not Mount Gorbeya in southern Vizcaya named after Mount Gordeya in Armenia?        Garibay traced Euskera to the Tower of Babel.

In 1729, when Manuel de Larramendi wrote the first book of Basque grammar ever published, he asserted that Euskera was one of seventy-five languages to have developed out of the confusion at the Tower of Babel. According to Juan Bautista de Erro, whose The Primitive World or a Philosophical Examination of Antiquity and Culture of the Basque Nation was published in Madrid in 1815, Euskera is the world’s oldest language, having been devised by God as the language of Adam’s Paradise, preserved in the Tower of Babel, surviving the Flood because Noah spoke the language, and brought to present-day Basque country by Tubal.

In one popular legend, the first Basque was Aïtor, one of a few remarkable men who survived the Flood without Noah’s ark, by leaping from stone to stone. However, Aïtor, still recognized by some as the father of all Basques, was invented in 1848 by the French Basque writer Augustin Chaho. After Chaho’s article on Aïtor was translated into Spanish in 1878, the legend grew and became a mainstay of Basque culture. Some who said Aïtor was mere fiction went on to hypothesize that the real father of all Basques was Tubal.

Since then, links have been conjectured with languages of the Caucasus, Africa, Siberia, and Japan. One nineteenth-century researcher concluded that Basques were a Celtic tribe, another that they were Etruscans. And inevitably it has been discovered that the Basques, like so many other peoples, were actually the lost thirteenth tribe of Israel. Just as inescapably, others have concluded that the Basques are, in reality, the survivors of Atlantis.

A case for the Basques really being Jews was carefully made by a French clergyman, the abbot J. Espagnolle, in a 1900 book titled L’Origine des Basques (The Origin of the Basques). For this theory to work, the reader first had to realize that the people of ancient Sparta were Jewish. To support this claim, Espagnolle quotes a historian of ancient Greece who wrote, “Love of money is a Spartan characteristic.” If this was not proof enough, he also argues that Sparta, like Judea, had a lack of artisans. The wearing of hats and respect for elders were among further evidence offered. From there, it was simply a matter of asserting, as ancient Greek historians had, he said, that the Spartans colonized northern Spain. And of course these Spartan colonists who later became Basques were Jewish.

With issues of nationhood at stake, such seemingly desperate hypotheses may not be devoid of political motives. “Indigenous” is a powerful notion to both the French and Spanish states. Both define their history as the struggle of their people, the rightful indigenous occupants, to defend their land against the Moors, invaders from another place, of another race, and of another religion. In Europe, this heroic struggle has long been an essential underpinning of both nationalism and racism. The idea that Basques were in their European mountains, speaking their own indigenous European language, long before the French and the Spanish, is disturbing to French and Spanish nationalists. Unless the Basques can be shown to be from somewhere else, the Spanish and French are transformed into the Moorish role-outside invaders imposing an alien culture. From the sixteenth century on, historians receiving government salaries in Madrid wrote histories that deliberately minimized the possibility of indigenous Basques.

But the Basques like the idea, which most evidence supports, that they are the original Europeans, predating all others. If true, it must have been an isolating experience, belonging to this ancient people whose culture had little in common with any of its neighbors. It was written over and over in the records of those who observed the Basques that they spoke a strange language that kept them apart from others. But it is also what kept them together as a people, uniting them to withstand Europe’s great invasions

Blood of the Gods
Interesting article by the late Mabel Royce, Copyright 1976
Found at:

Are you an Rh Negative blood type? If so you could be a descendant of the ancient astronauts themselves!

About a year and a half ago my sister Bonnie and I were discussing some of the unusual characteristics of our family. Bonnie had a problem with infants haemolytic disease. She has 0 negative blood. She has written a book including this problem called “The Deux” by Venus Thaddeus. One of the questions we asked was why does this haemolytic disease occur? Why, along with the Rh negative blood does our family have such a high IQ (135-140 average). Why so many psychic experiences? Why this urge to ask “why?” Why the early maturity or the large head and eyes? Why have, we always felt we were “different” from other people. And so many other things to set us apart.

We were raised in the church, but we never received answers to the questions we asked. Why doesn’t anyone else ask these same questions? We are not satisfied with the answer “just because”. Are there others out there who ask the same questions? Then we heard about the possibility of the ancient astronauts and the pieces started to fall into place.

Neanderthal and modern European women. From [14]

Dee  Wagner~Hinkle
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About the Author

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There is extensive biological evidence to the fact that the Basques are strikingly different from their neighboring peoples. Studies have shown a sharp genetic gradient to the rest of the Iberian Peninsula and a diffuse gradient in France, with a strong Basque component in south-west France. These claims are supported by classical studies based on typing of blood groups. A 1947 paper in Nature by Mourant showed the world’s highest occurrence of the Rh- blood type in the Basque population. More recently these data have been backed by DNA studies. The biological evidence also harmonizes well with linguistic data.

Due to their anatomical and genetic singularities the Basques have been considered perhaps the most ancient inhabitants of Europe by biologists and anthropologists, and thus they have been a popular focus of study. The following quote is taken from a 1991 publication by the geneticists Cavalli-Sforza and Bertranpetit in the Annals of Human Genetics:

“…… the major difference in the Iberian Peninsula is that between people originally of Basque and non-Basque descent. The recession in time of the boundaries of the Basque-speaking area seems correlated with the progressive genetic dilution of the Basque genotype in modern populations, as we move away from the Basque area. Clearly there must have been a close relationship in the progressive loss of the Basque language and increasing admixture with neighbors. Most probably, Basques represent descendants of Paleolithic and/or Mesolithic populations and non-Basques later arrivals, beginning in the Neolithic.” (p. 51)

In this work Bertranpetit and Cavalli-Sforza carried out Principal Component Analysis of frequency scores on 54 genetic alleles for blood groups, serum proteins and enzymes, along with geographical scores. The results are compelling, clearly demonstrating the genetic separateness of the Basques. The writers conclude that the Paleolithic and Mesolithic inhabitants of the Basque area remained relatively unchanged by people arriving in the peninsula during the Neolithic, while considerable genetic dilution took place in the surrounding areas. They further hypothesize that this genetic uniqueness is likely tied to a prolonged period of genetic drift in a small population, living in a state of isolation brought about by geographical features of the region and by endogamy tied to separateness of language and culture.

A 2005 paper by Pérez-Miranda et al. reports the analysis of 13 microsatelite genetic loci in European, African and Asian populations. This study also detects a clear genetic separation of the Basques from populations of Europe, the Middle East and North-Africa. The study also suggested a subpopulation structuring within the Basque areas of Spain. Such internal genetic heterogeneities have also been reported by other writers. Gipuzkoa and Northern Navarre displayed the most uniquely Basque genotype, Bizkaia had an intermediate type, while Araba diverged the most from the Basque cluster. This can be explained in terms of geography and economic history, and it agrees with the linguistic map of the Basque country. According to a report issued by the Basque Government in 1995, The continuity of the Basque language, the proportions of people using Euskara as their primary form of communication are 44% in Gipuzkoa, 24% in Bizkaia, 15% in Araba and 14% in Navarra where a significant number of Basque speakers can be found only in the northernmost part of the province. To date, small villages in northern Navarra, Gipuzkoa and western Bizkaia maintain a traditional socioculture of the autochtonous Basque society. Such villages have a deeply rooted farming economy, and consanguinity has traditionally been a part of the marital structure. This way of life is thought to represent the historical organization of Basque society. The variety of dialects in different parts of the Basque territory may also be attributed to their traditional lifestyle, which again would enforce the genetic structuring of subpopulations.

A 2005 study by Diéterlen and Lucotte reports the analysis of TaqI restriction patterns of Y-chromosomes in 3700 samples from 46 localities in Europe, North-Africa and the Middle East. The dominant haplotype in Western Europe was XV. This haplotype has the highest frequency in the Basque Country, and the frequency decreases along a gradient from this focal point. These results are compatible with the theory stating that Basques represent an ancient population in Europe. The observed decline in haplotype frequencies may have resulted from a progressive dilution of originally western European haplotypes due to a Neolithic wave of expansion of Indo-Europeans into the region. Judging by genetic and linguistic data it appears that the inhabitants of the Basque Country were affected to a much lesser degree than other ancient European peoples. However, given the prevalence of haplotype XV in Western Europe it is possible that the genetic substrate prior to the Indo-European expansion was of a type related to the present day Basque type.

Results from analysis of mitochondrial DNA have been more dubious. A few studies have focused on the ancient burial ground of Aldaieta in central Araba. The cemetery is usually dated to the 6th and 7th centuries A.D. Ancient mtDNA (~5000 years old) has also been recovered from Pico Ramos in Western Bizkaia, San Juan Ante Portam Latinam and Longar, the latter two sites being located near the border between southern Araba and Navarre in the Ebro valley. The haplotype frequencies of the three most ancient sites were found to be significantly different form those of present day Basques. Also the frequencies observed at Aldaieta differed from those of the three prehistorical sites as well as from those of modern Basques, displaying some haplotypes related to North-African types in addition to Basque types. These results suggest that there have been evolutionary events taking place in the Basque country since prehistoric times. On the other hand all the sites sampled are located on the fringes of historical and present Basque homelands. As such it should not be surprising that contact with non-Basques would take place in these areas.

Finally it is worth mentioning that the Basque-Caucasian link has been investigated by means of genetic analysis. A 2001 study by Sanchez-Velasco and Leyva-Cobian compared HLA class I and II allele frequencies of the Svan population of the Republic of Georgia to those of other Europeans and East Asians. The authors concluded that no typical Basque haplotypes were found in significant frequencies in the Caucasian population. The populations most closely resembling the Svans were Czechs, Rumanians and Armenians, whereas populations of Northern Spain were clearly separated form this cluster.

Concluding remarks

Today the Basque Country is confined to an area of ~10.000 km2, wedged between the mighty European states of Spain and France. Over millennia of wars, attempted invasion and political domination from neighboring peoples, the Basques have managed to maintain their identity as an ethnic unit. Perhaps most striking is the native Basque language of Euskara, the outlandishness of which has baffled linguists for centuries. Being speakers of a non Indo-European language, it seems reasonable to assume that the Euskaldun represent the only surviving indigenous group of significant non-Indo-European origin in Western Europe today. Thus we have the attractive hypothesis that the Basques are descended directly from the Cro-Magnon. Considering the facts; the first excavations of Cro-Magnon skeletons were carried out at Les Eyzies in the département of Dordogne in the French Basque Country. This is historically part of the Aquitaine region, an extinct language of which has been conserved through written fragments. There is little doubt that Aquitanian is a predecessor of modern day Basque. Physical anthropologists have referred to Basque characteristics as being paleomorphic, i.e. as having a skeletal morphology related to that of the upper Paleolithic. This morphological type is represented chiefly by the Cro-Magnon, as opposed to the Mediterranean type which predominates in the rest of Mesolithic Iberia. Studies of genetic markers have also gone far in concluding that Basques are of separate origin from inhabitants other parts of Europe, having high frequencies of genotypes thought to represent very ancient lineages. One way the Basque-Cro-Magnon link might be tested in the future is by comparison of ancient DNA material from archeological Cro-Magnon remnants with DNA form current autochtonous Basque populations. To the knowledge of this writer such a study has not been undertake to date.


Alfonso-Sánchez et al. (2005), Inbreeding levels and consanguinity structure in the Basque Province of Guipúzcoa (1862-1980), American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 127, 240-252

Alzualde A. et al. (2005), Temporal mitochondrial DNA variation in the Basque Country: Influence of post-Neolithic events, Annals of Human Genetics, 69, 665-679

Alzualde A. et al. (2006), Insights into the “Isolation” of the Basques: mtDNA Lineages from the Historical site of Aldaieta (6th – 7th centuries AD), American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Epub ahead of print

Bertranpetit J. and Cavalli-Sforza L.L. (1991), A genetic reconstruction of the history of the population of the Iberian Peninsula, Annals of Human Genetics, 55, 51-67

Collins R. (1986), The Basques, Basil Blackwell Ltd., Oxford

Diéterlen F. and Lucotte G. (2005), Haplotype XV of the Y-chromosome is the main haplotype in West-Europe, Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 59, 269-272

Dupanloup I. et al. (2004),Estimating the impact of prehistoric admixture on the genome of Europeans, Molecular Biology and Evolution, 21, 1361-1372

García O. et al. (2004), A Basque Country autochtonous population study of 11 Y-chromosome loci, Forensic Science International, 145, 65-68

Iriondo M. et al. (2003), DNA polymorphisms detect ancient barriers to gene flow in Basques, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 122, 73-84

Kurlansky M. (1999), The Basque History of the World, Walker & Company, New York

de Pancorbo M.M. et al. (2001), The Basques according to polymorphic Alu insertions, Human Genetics, 109, 224-233

Pérez-Miranda et al. (2005), Microsatelite data support subpopulation structuring among Basques, Journal of Human Genetics, 50, 403-414

Sanchez-Velasco P. and Levya-Cobian F. (2001), The HLA class I and class II allele frequencies studied at the DNA level in the Svanetian population (Upper Caucasus) and their relationships to Western European populations, Tissue Antigens, 58, 223-233

Trask R.L. (1997), The History of Basque, Routledge, London

HT Wagner-


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