Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Àth Cliath

On the Wiki page "History of roads in Ireland" we can read that according to an entry in the Annals of the Four Masters for AD 123, there were five principal highways (Irish: slighe) leading to Tara (Irish: Teamhair) in Early Medieval Ireland. The entry in the Annals claims that these routes were 'discovered' at the birth of Conn of the Hundred Battles:

"The night of Conn's birth were discovered five principal roads leading to Teamhair, which were never observed till then. These are their names: Slighe Asail, Slighe Midhluachra, Slighe Cualann, Slighe Mhór, Slighe Dala. Slighe Mhór is that called Eiscir Riada, i.e. the division line of Ireland into two parts, between Conn and Eoghan Mór."

In reality, the ancient road system (such as it was - there cannot have been a developed national system) fanned out not from Tara but from Dublin.

The Slighe Assail went due west towards Lough Owel in Co. Westmeath, then to Cruachain. The Slighe Midluachra went towards Slane, through the Moyry Pass north of Dundalk, round the base of Slieve Fuaid, near Newtownhamilton in Co. Armagh, to Emain Macha, ending at Dunseverick on the north coast of Co. Antrim. The Slighe Cualann ran south-east through Dublin, crossing the River Liffey via a "hurdle-ford", then went south "through the old district of Cualann, which it first entered a little north of Dublin, and from which it took its name". The Slighe Dala ran towards and through Ossory in Co. Kilkenny. Finally, the Slighe Mhór ("Great Highway") joined the Esker Riada. It then, more-or-less, followed the Esker Riada to Co. Galway.

It is believed that this "hurdle bridge" was built across the river Liffey in 1014 AD.

In "A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland..." which was published by Joyce, P. W. (Patrick Weston) in 1906, we can read in the section entitled "Bridges" that the place chosen for the erection of a bridge was very usually where the river had already been crossed by a ford; for, besides the convenience of retaining the previously existing roads, the point most easily fordable was in general most suitable for a bridge. There is no evidence to show that the Irish built stone bridges before the Anglo-Norman invasion. Bridges were very often built of planks laid across the stream from bank to bank if it was narrow enough, or supported on rests of natural rock or on artificial piers if the river was wide: a kind of bridge occasionally used at the present day. Sometimes bridges were constructed of strong hurdles supported on piles; like that across the Liffey which gave Dublin its old name. These timber bridges of the several kinds were extremely common, and they are frequently mentioned in old authorities.

The fact that both articles talk about the "hurdle bridge" across river Liffey, which "gave Dublin its old Gaelic name" is actually very interesting.

This is because the old Gaelic name for Dublin is "Baile Atha Cliath" which translates literally as "town of the hurdle ford" and not as "town of the hurdle bridge".

Irish "baile" meaning "home, settlement". From Old Irish "baile", meaning "place; settlement; farm, farmstead; (fortified) village, town, city".

Irish "áth" meaning "ford, river crossing". From Old Irish "áth" meaning "ford, open space or hollow between two objects, a shallow area of the river that can be crossed on foot", from Proto-Celtic *yātus meaning "ford", from Proto-Indo-European *yeh₂- meaning "ride, go".


Irish "cliath" meaning wattled, latticed frame; hurdle. From Old Irish clíath, from Proto-Celtic *klētā. Cognate with French claie (From Gaulish *cleta attested in medieval Latin clida) and Welsh clwyd, both meaning hurdle, wattle (stick) fence.


There are other towns of the same name, such as Àth Cliath in East Ayrshire, Scotland, which is Anglicised as Hurlford.

So before any permanent bridge was built, river Liffey was crossed at the ford.

The ford's exact location is a mystery today. It is proposed that it could have been somewhere near Usher's Island (when it still was an island), maybe a hundred yards west of what is now the Father Mathew Bridge, near St Paul's Church.



So ford is basically a river crossing. The place where you can "walk across the river".

I came across this artist's impression of the "hurdled ford":


I doubt that this is actually what the "hurdle ford" looked like. This half submerged structure would not provide any benefits to the people crossing the river. They would still get wet. But there is another type of wooden structure that would fit the description of a "Àth Cliath":


This is the type of a primitive wooden river crossing that can be seen in remove rural areas all over the world. The most primitive type consists of one or two long logs placed across the river. They are supported either by the banks alone or by the banks and wooden stakes stuck into the river bed.


The walking surface can be made wider and more stable by nailing or tying short cross logs on top of the original two logs spanning the river.


If you spread the logs spanning the river and make the cross logs wider, and add you get something like this, a narrow corduroy road bridge.


Now in my post "Togher wooden trackways" I talked about a millenniums long Irish tradition of building wooden walkways (toghers). They are basically corduroy roads and bridges built all over the country across marshes and bogs from Bronze age until Early medieval time.


Exactly the same construction can be used, supported on parallel logs lying on stakes stuck into the river bed, to build bridges. Like this one:


So if there ever was "Àth Cliath" across river Liffey, it probably went through these evolution steps, from a simple logs crossing to the logs bridge. 

But, I can hear people saying, cliath means hurdle. 

In my post "Kolac - Golac" I talked about the existence of a whole cluster of words based on the base word "cleath" meaning stick, pole. 

cleath, -eithe, -eatha, f., a goad, a wattle, pole, stake; a fishing-rod.
cleath thiomána, a goad.
cleath-ailpín, a short stick with a knob.
cleathach, -aighe, a., ribbed, composed of wattle-work (cage, basket, granary).
cleathar, -air, pl. id., m., a stake, a pole; a pile or post; fig., a prince, a chief.
cleatharáil, -ála, f., a severe beating, a dressing, a flogging.
cleath-chur, m., a planting of trees; hence the correlative or collateral branches of a pedigree 

I also talked about the fact that this cluster has its cognate, and possible root, in Slavic word "kol" meaning "stake, stick" and which comes from the word "gol" meaning "naked, bare, stripped" of leaves, branches, which is how you make sticks and stakes. I also talked about the Slavic word "klada" which means log (a tree trunk stripped of branches) and which probably comes from the same root "kol, gol". 

Now if we look at the above walkways we can see that they are made from stakes (Irish cleath, Slavic kol) and logs (Slavic klada). If a Slavic person wanted to describe the walkway construction he could describe it as "koljat, koljast" (made of kolje, stakes, sticks).

That takes care of "cliath". It actually doesn't have to mean hurdle. It can mean anything made from stripped off branches, trunks (sticks, stakes, logs). 

Now about the word "Àth". In Irish the word means ford, the place where you can walk across rivers. The official etymology states that this word comes from "Proto-Celtic *yātus meaning ford, from Proto-Indo-European *yeh₂- meaning ride, go". I would not agree with this. The proposed "Proto Celtic" root was never attested. The only descendant is Gaelic Àth (pronounced "oh" but which used to be pronounced "oth"). 

In my post "Odin the wandering deity" I talked about the Serbian word "od" meaning "walking". This Serbian word comes from Proto Slavic "xodъ" and has cognates in all Slavic languages. It also has a cognate in Ancient Greek "ὁδός" (odos), alternative "οὐδός" (oudós) – Homeric (used only once in Odyssey) meaning "way, road, path", basically something you "od", walk on. 

The official etymology says that these words come from Proto-Indo-European *sodos, from *sed- (“to sit”)!!! I don't have to say how ridiculous this sounds...The root has to be preserved in Slavic "od, hod" meaning "walk, walking"...Road, path, way is what you walk on and derives its meaning from the fact that you walk on it...

Now if the Irish "Àth" meaning "ford, walkway, place where you can walk across the river" has any cognates, they have to be Slavic "od (hod)" meaning "walk, walking" and Ancient and Modern Greek "ὁδός (odos)" meaning "way, road, path". 

Now knowing all this, let's have a look again at the phrase "Àth Cliath":


Irish: "Àth Cliath (Cleath)" = Ford, Walkway, the place where you walk across the river made of sticks, stakes
Serbian (Slavic): "Od koljat" = Walkway, the place where you walk across the river made of sticks, stakes

Interesting don't you think?

Monday, 17 July 2017

Kolac - Golac

In my post about Prokletija - the Cursing ceremony, I described a strange Serbian custom in which a stake was cursed and stoned in place of an unknown or missing offender. I explained that in South Slavic languages the word "klet, klijet" means curse and I wondered where could that word have come from. 

I then proposed that the word "klet, kliet" could have come into Slavic languages from Irish where we find a whole cluster of words based on the base word "cleath" meaning stick, pole. 

cleath, -eithe, -eatha, f., a goad, a wattle, pole, stake; a fishing-rod.
cleath thiomána, a goad.
cleath-ailpín, a short stick with a knob.
cleathach, -aighe, a., ribbed, composed of wattle-work (cage, basket, granary).
cleathar, -air, pl. id., m., a stake, a pole; a pile or post; fig., a prince, a chief.
cleatharáil, -ála, f., a severe beating, a dressing, a flogging.
cleath-chur, m., a planting of trees; hence the correlative or collateral branches of a pedigree 

When, after this post was published, someone asked me why I believe that this word has come from Irish into Serbian I replied: 

"Because I couldn't find the base word in South Slavic languages that could give the rise to the above word cluster. You find the root words, you find the origin of all the derived words."

Now this is a great example of what happens when one gets struck with a sudden onset of acute blindness, deafness and dumbness. 

Why?

Because there actually is a word in Serbian which can give the rise to the above cluster.

That word is "kolac" pronounced "kolats". The word means "stick, stake, pole". 



Serbian Kolac is the exact cognate of Irish "Cleath". The pronunciation is slightly different but the root is the same "klt".

The thing is Kolac is not the actual root word in Serbian. The root word is actually "kol". 

kol, kolj, kalj - stake
kolje - stakes
kolina - large stake.
kolinec, kolje - young forest.
koljenika - spindle

In Gaelic (Irish and Scots) we have these words for stake and pilar:


cuaille, g. id., pl. -acha (cuailne), f., a stake, a pole, a club, a baton; do bhuail sé an ch. comhraic, he brandished the battle-staff; cuaille fir, a tall, slender man;

gallan - pilar, standing stone (Originally people used standing wooden totem and demarcation poles which were only much later replaced with standing stones)


In Danish the word "Kølle" means hockey stick, golf club, baton, nightstick, (slang) penis

These words sound very much like kol, gol which are the root words for kolac, golac. I believe that these words have the same root.  

And that the root comes from Serbian.

Why?

This is why. What is the difference between a branch, a sapling and a stick, a stake, a pole? Well, stick, stake, pole are stripped of side branches and leaves. They are made bare, naked. 




Serbian word for naked, bare is "go, gol". This word is the root word of a whole cluster of words:

go, gol, golahan - naked
golać - naked
puž golać - slug
goleti - strip (of clothes, of branches, of vegetation)
ogoleti - make bare, make naked
golet - land stripped of vegetation
golja - poor person, someone who has nothing

If you take a branch and you strip it bare of branches and leaves, if you make it "gol" (bare, naked) you get "kol" (stick, stake, pole). 

I talked about this morphing of the "g" into "k" in my post "Koleno - goleno". There I talked about the Serbian word for knee = koljeno, koleno, kaljen, kalino, kolino, golino which comes from the word "goleno" meaning "naked, bared". 

In my post "Klet" I talked about another South Slavic word "klet, klijet" which means "wooden hut made from poles, logs, sticks". In other Slavic languages and in Baltic languages, this word means a shack, but also more narrowly granary, basket, cage...



Baskets (klet) are made from sticks (kolje) which are branches which were stripped of their leaves, which were made bare (gole) 


The early granaries were basically raised baskets made from sticks, like these primitive granaries from California. 


Which later developed into wattle granaries, like these ones from the Balkans:


And also houses made using wattle and daub technique. 


"Wattling" is a way of building walls by weaving sticks in and out of upright posts. "Daubing" is the method used to weather proof these stick walls using mud or mud mixed with hay. 


Wattle and daub technique was certainly used in Europe in Bronze Age, around 3000 years ago but it could be much older. And it continued to be the main house building technique in continental European villages until very recently.

The second main house, barn building technique in continental European villages was a log cabin, a shack made from interwoven logs, like this Latvian klēts:



These logs are tree trunks which were stripped of the branches and leaves (gol). In Serbian, apart from the word "kol" meaning stick, stake, pole, we also have a word "klada" which means log. This word also comes from the word "gol" meaning "naked, bare". Klada (log) is what bearing, stripping of a tree of its branches and leaves gives us. In Serbian this is "gol + da" = bear, naked + gives...

What happens when you strip branch, sapling of its branches and leaves is that you turn a bushy branch into a smooth stick, stake pole. In Serbian the word for smooth is "gladak".  This word has its cognate in all Slavic languages, but also in Baltic languages, Germanic languages and Latin. But not in Celtic languages. I believe that this word comes from the same root "gol" meaning bare, naked and not from Proto-Indo-European *gʰelh₂- (“to shine”). Shininess is a consequence of smoothness which is a consequence of bareness, nakedness. Incidentally the Serbian word "gol" (naked) comes from Proto-Indo-European *galw- (*kalw- ) meaning naked, bare. There are words in Indoiranian, Baltic, Slavic, Italic and Germanic languages based on this root. But not in Celtic...

In my post "Klet" I pointed at the fact that Latvian klēts, Lithuanian klė́tis, Old Prussian clenan are basically raised log cabins. I mentioned that I have already written in my post "Log cabin" that this type of house construction was brought to Baltic by Slavs. So I concluded the name for these structures must also have been brought to Baltic by Slavs. 

Now that we know about the "kol" (stake) and "gol" (naked) root there is no doubt any more that these words are indeed of Slavic origin. 

But then I said that before Slavs the log cabins were in central Europe built by Celts. Which means that the original name for these structures was Celtic "cleathach" based on the root "cleath" meaning a goad, a wattle, pole, stake, which I already mentioned above.

Well, was it? Or was it the other way round? :) Are these Irish words based on Serbian (Slavic) words "kol" (stick, stake, pole) and "kolje" (sticks, stakes, poles)?

I am glad the attack of blindness, deafness and dumbness was just temporary...

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Klet

In my post about Prokletija - the Cursing ceremony, I described a strange Serbian custom in which a stake was cursed and stoned in place of an unknown or missing offender. I explained that in South Slavic languages the word "klet, klijet" means curse and I wondered where could that word have come from. 

I then proposed that the word "klet, kliet" could have come into Slavic languages from Irish where we find a whole cluster of words based on the base word "cleath" meaning stick, pole. 

cleath, -eithe, -eatha, f., a goad, a wattle, pole, stake; a fishing-rod;

That this is indeed a possibility can be seen from the fact that in South Slavic languages the word "klet, klijet" has another meaning: wooden hut made from poles, logs, sticks. Like this one from Rudno in Serbia:



This word is also present in other Slavic languages with the same meaning. 

Old Church Slavonic клѣть ‎(klětǐ), Russian клеть ‎(klet'), Belarusian клець ‎(klec'), Ukrainian кліть ‎(klit'), Bulgarian клет ‎(klet), Czech klec, Polish kleć. This is kleć (shack) from Kudricze in Polesia in Belarus.



In Baltic languages (Latvian klēts, Lithuanian klė́tis, Old Prussian clenan) and in some Slavic languages the word is found with narrower meaning of granary, cage, crate, basket, container. 

Baltic granaries are made from interwoven logs, like this Latvian klēts:



You can see that this is basically a raises log cabin. I have already written in my post "Log cabin" that this type of house construction was brought to Baltic by Slavs. So the name for these structures must also have been brought to Baltic by Slavs and that Latvian klēts, Lithuanian klė́tis, Old Prussian clenan have Slavic origin. And guess what. Before Slavs the log cabins were in central Europe built by Celts. 

And in Irish, a Celtic language, we find a whole cluster of words based on the base word "cleath" meaning stick, pole. 

cleath, -eithe, -eatha, f., a goad, a wattle, pole, stake; a fishing-rod.
cleath thiomána, a goad.
cleath-ailpín, a short stick with a knob.
cleathach, -aighe, a., ribbed, composed of wattle-work (cage, basket, granary).
cleathar, -air, pl. id., m., a stake, a pole; a pile or post; fig., a prince, a chief.
cleatharáil, -ála, f., a severe beating, a dressing, a flogging.
cleath-chur, m., a planting of trees; hence the correlative or collateral branches of a pedigree 

Which means that the original name for these structures was Celtic cleathach based on the root cleath meaning a goad, a wattle, pole, stake, the building material used for making wooden shacks, both log cabins and wattle and daub ones.

Everything fits perfectly.

Well almost. But more about this in my next post :)

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Koleno - Goleno

It is very interesting is that in Serbian the words for knee, shin (bone), ankle all come from the same "kln, gln" root:

knee = koljeno, koleno, kaljen, kalino, kolino, golino
shin bone, tibia =  golijen, golin, goujeno, koljeno
ankle = gležanj




Basically we have two angles, knee (koleno, goleno) and ankle (gležanj) both made by the same bone shin bone (golijen, golin, goujeno, koljeno) and the bones connecting to it, all having names coming from the same root. And I believe that this root is "gol" meaning "naked".

Why?

Well have a look at these pictures:

Mesolithic clothing


Neolithic clothing

Bronze age clothing
 Iron age clothing


Basically during all this time, when our languages were developing, the working and fighting clothes remained the same length: they ended somewhere around the knees. There is a purely practical reason for this. A tunic or a kilt of that length allows full range of movement while providing enough cover to keep the body worm. Anything longer and you will not be able to spread your legs and walk normally or bend. Anything shorter and your balls will shrink from the cold :)

The part of the leg which was uncovered, naked (goljen in South Slavic languages) is exactly the part from knee (koleno, goleno in Serbian) to ankle (g(o)ležanj in Serbian) which are connected by the same bone, shin bone, (golijen, golin, goujeno, koljeno in Serbian), all the words based on the root "gol" meaning naked.

In "Etimologijski rjecnik Hrvatskog ili Srpskog jezika" (Croatian and Serbian etymological dictionary) by Petar Skok we read:

"Prema Sobolevskom se denominacija odnosi na dohistorijsku nošnju bez rukava i nogavica. Na to upućuje i orfološka činjenica da je golijen apstraktum deklinacije í. Znači dakle »golotinja, ono što je golo«"

"According to Sobolevski this word comes from prehistoric clothing without sleeves and legs. This is indicated by the fact that the word goljen means naked, bare"

Now if the word "gol" meaning naked is indeed the root of the word "goleno, koleno" meaing knee, then this raises an interesting question. 

In my post "From knee to knee" I wrote about the strange fact that while in almost all other Indoeuropean languages the word for knee comes from the root "gn, kn" and means knee, angle, in Celtic and Slavic languages the words for knee come from the root "gln, kln". 
The word knee also has additional meanings in Irish and Serbian which are not found in other languages:

Serbian (koleno, koljeno, kaljen, kalino, kolino, golino): knee, angle, generation, step in descent, offspring, family, clan, race, house

Gaelic (glúin): knee, angle, generation, step in descent, step in pedigree

Now if the Serbian word for knee koleno, goleno (kln, gln) comes from the Serbian (Proto Slavic) word for naked gol (gl), then where does the Gaelic word for knee gluin come from? The same Proto Slavic root?

Well actually, the Proto Slavic word "gol" (naked) comes from Proto-Indo-European *galw- (*kalw- ) meaning naked, bare. There are words in Indoiranian, Baltic, Slavic, Italic and Germanic languages based on this root. But not in Celtic...So where does the Gaelic word for knee come from? Slavic languages? Germanic languages? Latin? However only in Slavic languages the words for the bare, naked parts of the leg from knee (koleno, goleno in Serbian) to ankle (g(o)ležanj in Serbian) are based on the root "gol" meaning bare, naked. So...

What do you think?

Monday, 3 July 2017

Winter solstice goat from Macedon

This is silver stater from Aigai (today's Vergina), the first capital of Macedon, depicting an ibex goat, late 6th century BC, currently kept in Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. 




Please note the sun disc above the goat. Remember the link between the ibex goat, the Capricorn zodiac sign and the winter solstice that I explained in my post "Goat"?

Here is the important bit:

Alpine ibex mating season starts in December, and ends in January typically lasting around six weeks. 

Right in the middle of the mating periods of both Alpine and Bezoar ibex is Winter Solstice, 21st of December. And the day after the winter solstice is the beginning of the Capricorn (goat) period, which last from December 22 – January 20...

The solar disc on the coin is placed right above the middle of the goat, symbolizing the winter solstice which falls in the middle of the ibex mating season. 

The solar disc is the symbol found all over the world and in Egypt it was the symbol of the sun, Ra. 

I wrote about this symbol in my post "Bogovo gumno - God's threshing floor". 

I proposed that this symbol represents a stylized threshing floor. 




There are thousands of these stone circles all over the Balkans. Every village and sometimes every house had one. Sometimes they are made of stone, where stone was plentiful, but sometimes they were just a flat piece of land with a stick stack into the middle of it.

In 1950, Serbian ethnographer Nenad Janković published a book on folk astronomy called "Astronomija u predanjima, obicajima i umotvorinama Srba" (Astronomy in legends, customs and oral and written tradition of the Serbs). In it he expressed his great surprise at the ability of ordinary illiterate peasants to tell exact date and time without calendars and clocks. Professor Jankovic states that one of the main instruments used for these calendar and time calculations was the threshing floor. By looking at the shadow cast by the stožer, the central pole at sunrise, they were able to tell the date. And by looking at the shadow cast by the stožer, the central pole during the day they were able to tell the time. Threshing floor is a universal solar observatory, which at the same time can tell the date and the time. The main parts of this solar observatory were solar circle and its center, solar pole, stožer. Or if viewed from above, from heaven, the way Sun God would see it, a circle and a dot representing its center, solar pole, stožer. 



The aboe symbol is usually interpreted to mean sun disc, but I believe that it actually means sun circle, threshing floor and sun cycle observed from the threshing floor.

Greeks called the central solar pole, stožer of the sundial "gnomon" meaning the one which knows. This was because the central stake "new" the time and date.

By the way, Aigai means "The city of goats" :)