Home Interview with the Author, by Norm Goldman

J.F. del Giorgio Author of The Oldest Europeans Interviewed

Norm Goldman, Editor of Book Pleasures

Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of Bookpleasures.com is honored to have as our guest, Dr. J.F. del Giorgio author of The Oldest Europeans.

Good day Dr. J.F. del Giorgio and thanks for agreeing to participate in our e-interview.

Norm:

You mention in the Acknowledgements to your book that it was the meaning of certain names in Mesopotamia that was the seed that started The Oldest Europeans. Would you please elaborate?

Dr. J.F. del Giorgio

Yes. We had invited a colleague to dinner. He and his wife are of Basque origin. I made a joking remark about Basques and Neandertals. My friend looked at me and then asked for a Bible, «with good maps of the Near East»—he added. I produced three different Bibles and a few additional maps. Then I sat in awe at a wonderful, uninterrupted, three-hour lecture about geography and Basque names, and quite a lot of data on the side. I learned that Basque names were always related to places, and that they described the characteristic of the place. Now, the biblical Ur, of the Chaldeans, the birthplace of patriarch Abraham was situated on the river Euphrates in ancient times (now the river does not pass through that place anymore). So, what does the name Ur mean in Basque? Water, and it is quite an adequate name for a Basque city on the margin of a river.

He kept pointing at names. Take the valley of Aran, in Israel. Aran means valley in Basque!! It was an astounding trip in time. Lots of names and places followed, and all the time they exhibited an astonishing agreement. Coincidence? My head kept bubbling for weeks, I remember. So, more than thirty years ago, the seed of the book started to grow.

Norm:

Your book contains a tremendous amount of detailed information and as you mention, «it is a short review of prehistoric Europe». How did you go about deciding which information to include and which to exclude in a book that is only 246 pages? Did you not feel at times that you were overburdening your readers with some much information?

Dr. J.F. del Giorgio

I cut, cut, cut. I even cut whole chapters. But I felt at the same time that I was making people pay attention to their surroundings. I had to make them notice that their nearly forgotten ancestor’s story is everywhere. The only way was to provide them with data, not just to tell them but also to let them see. The amount of evidence is overwhelming.

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Norm:

Why do you feel that this was an important book for you to write and for all of us to read at this time?

Dr. J.F. del Giorgio

We are living in fast changing times; everything seems to be in upheaval. A few wrong moves and we will pop out into some giant nuclear fireworks. We need to know who we are and where do we come from. I think that women’s rights are the most important issue nowadays. More than half the population of the earth has very limited rights or no rights at all. It is a time when is convenient to take a look at the origin of most of our institutions and beliefs. People show interest in a movie like Helen of Troy because their hearts and minds feel a need to understand that conflict. That old war still is an unresolved issue, and keeps generating tensions. The Oldest Europeans shows its links to women’s rights. The book explores the reasons why that ancient drama and those who struggled in it still deeply move us.

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Norm:

I notice you refer several times to Arana Goiri. Why do you believe his contribution is important in understanding the oldest Europeans?

Dr. J.F. del Giorgio

He was one of the first intellectuals to link some ancient European cultures to the Basques, something that was disregarded (even considered risible) by the main academic contemporary thought. Now, genetics (and also other biological markers) have proved him right. He was also very sensitive to the presence and distribution of Basque names in the ancient world. He and other Basque intellectuals were derided for that. I remember that while doing research in the Basque House in Madrid, their president asked me not to point any relationship between Basque names and ancient topography. They were afraid of even mentioning the subject. I complied. Nevertheless, a few years later some top linguists in Germany started to study precisely that field using the most modern academic methods. They arrived at the same conclusions that Arana Goiri and other Basques had reached many years ago. So, I suddenly became free to cover that subject in The Oldest Europeans.

Curiously, there is a very interesting cloud of silence about any possible Euzkan cultural influence. In almost any book about ancient Greece, for instance, it can be found that thalassa was a Pelasgian name for the sea. It could be expected that someone would have explored any linguistic link with those ancient Europeans, the Basques. None did it, to my knowledge. Tala is linked to water in Basque. Yes, a remarkable cloud of silence still persists about that ancient culture, as there is a thunderous silence about ancient women’s role in society.

I thought it was a good time to vindicate those formidable women and Arana Goiri as well.

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Norm:

What do you mean when you say that Euzko societies were matrilineal and matrifocal and why is this important in our understanding of the first Europeans?

Dr. J.F. del Giorgio

That is the key to the whole book. The family structure is the most important attribute in any society. Just like cells typify and foretell the possible attributes of a body. Matrilineality means that Euzkos traced their ascent through maternal lines. Modern occidental societies tend to do the opposite. Power among the Euzkos was transferred not from a king to a prince but from a queen to a princess. Kings came to power only because they married the Queen of the realm. Women had a surprising religious power. Children who grew in those societies rejected the accumulation of power by a male leader.

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Norm:

Can you explain some of your research techniques, and how you found sources for your book?

Dr. J.F. del Giorgio

Years of training in gathering mountains of data for lab work and then make sense out of it helped. I got many insights through travel (and enjoyed the travels!) Actually many of the ideas presented in the book had been growing by themselves through visits to museums and historical sites. Avid research in libraries in Europe and America helped a lot. Being member of a university staff, I had an easy access to scientific articles on many of the main subjects. Many articles on DNA research, for instance, simply appeared on my desk. In universities and alike institutions you just need to point your fields of interest—people around will spontaneously help. Sometimes they were until then unknown people, who responded in unexpected, inspiring ways.

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Norm:

What challenges or obstacles did you encounter while writing your book? How did you overcome these challenges?

Dr. J.F. del Giorgio

It is not always easy to get the information you need. My main problems, anyhow, were physical. I suffered a stroke while in New York. It was followed by two minor additional episodes. It was hard to recover, but all in all I think that I have done well. It delayed the book, but a lot of key scientific data kept appearing and I then was able to profit from it.

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Norm:

How important is the use of modern technology and DNA in our understanding of history and where do you think this will all lead?

Dr. J.F. del Giorgio

DNA techniques are rewriting history. It is changing our view on many supposed migrations. It reveals the ties between peoples—the dream of ancient sightseers. Some terrible episodes are known only through DNA tests—extinctions or near-extinctions at global or local levels. Lineages, invasions, expansions, the DNA research is throwing light on all those fields. It is difficult to foresee what will follow. Many surprises will come. We are just witnessing the first fruits of the pioneers. Techniques are becoming more and more refined by the day; the number of genetic markers keeps growing and so our understanding of their meanings. In a few years it will be possible to discern which were the biological challenges those populations had to confront. A whole new world is at hand!

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Norm:

What is next for Dr. J.F. del Giorgio?

Dr. J.F. del Giorgio

The Sounds of the Stone, my next book. It will cover many of the subjects that I started to develop in The Oldest Europeans.

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Norm:

Thanks once again for participating in our interview and good luck with your book!

Dr. J.F. del Giorgio

Thank you!

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