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The pre-Celtic period in the prehistory of Central and Western Europe occurred before the expansion of the Celts or their culture in Iron Age Europe and Anatolia (9th to 6th centuries BC), but after the emergence of the Proto-Celtic language and cultures. The area involved is that of the maximum extent of the Celtic languages in about the mid 1st century BC. The extent to which Celtic language, culture and genetics coincided and interacted during this period remains very uncertain and controversial.
Lusitanian area of Iberia where Celtic presence is uncertain
Proto-Celtic is mainly dated to approximately 800 BC, coincident with the Hallstatt culture, while the earliest possible divergence of pre-proto-Celtic dialects from Proto-Indo-European is mainly dated to between 3000 BC and 2000 BC.
In continental Europe, pre-Celtic languages of the European Bronze Age may be taken to comprise two distinct groups.
It has been suggested that results of large-scale genetic surveys, undertaken since the late 20th century, show that the present-day speakers of pre-Indo-European languages may not solely represent relict populations. For instance, Basques show a dominance of the Y-DNAHaplogroup R1b, which a majority of scholars now propose spread through Europe relatively recently, from the Eurasian steppe and/or southwest Asia in the late Neolithic period or early Bronze Age (4,000 to 8,000 years ago). However, present-day Basques also harbour some very rare and archaic lineages, such as the Paleolithicmitochondrial DNAHaplogroup U8a, and autosomal genetic analysis (the whole genome, not just Y-DNA) has shown that a majority of their ancestry derives from Neolithic farmers and Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, pre-dating the arrival of speakers of Indo-European languages.
In the later Celtic areas there were many disparate archaeological cultures.
When the Celts were first recorded about 600 BC, they were already widespread across Iberia, Gaul, and Central Europe.
In Ireland, the Book of Invasions gives a legendary account of the arrival of incoming peoples.
A simplified map of archaeological cultures of the late Bronze Age (c. 1200 BC):
^Trask, R.L. 1997. The History of Basque. P.9. Citing Bertranpetit and Cavalli-Sforza: "Basques represent descendants of Paleolithic and/or Mesolithic populations and non-Basques later arrivals, beginning with the Neolithic.".
^Hualde, José Ignacio and Jon Ortiz de Urbina. A grammar of Basque. 2003. P.7
...an ethnic island of very ancient peoples isolated by the flood of Indo-European speakers.
^Facchetti, Giulio M. & Negri, Mario. Creta Minoica. Sulle tracce delle più antiche scritture d'Europa. Leo S. Olschki Editore, 'Biblioteca dell'Archivum Romanicum. Serie II: Linguistica' nº 55, 2003. ISBN8822252918.
^Bonfante, Larissa (1990). Etruscan. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN978-0-520-07118-6.
^de Simone, Carlo (2009). "La nuova iscrizione tirsenica di Efestia". Tripodes. 11. pp. 3-58.
^Steinbauer, Dieter H. (1999). Neues Handbuch des Etruskischen. St. Katharinen: Scripta Mercaturae Verlag.