ACCORDING to the results of DNA testing on eight Stone Age skeletons, scientists are of the opinion that the Basque population descends from early farmers who interbred with hunter-gatherers.
This research gives some credence to the claim of the Basques who live in northern Spain and southern France that they are a distinct race with a separate culture and language Euskera from their other Iberian ‘cousins’.
Mattias Jakobsson, of Uppsala University in Sweden, analysed DNA recovered from the skeletons found in a cave in El Portalón, Atapuerca, northern Spain and the results overturn the existing theory that they were an indigenous population isolated for more than 10,000 years.
According to Professor Jakobsson, ‘Our results show that the Basques trace their ancestry to early farming groups from Iberia, which contradicts previous views of them being a remnant population that trace their ancestry to Mesolithic hunter-gatherer groups.’
He went on to say ‘The difference between Basques and other Iberian groups is these latter ones show distinct features of admixture from the east and from north Africa.’
Coincidentally, just one day after these results were published on September 7, Hasier Arraiz, president of Sortu (Basque Socialist Party), announced that he would press for a referendum in 2016 concerning the political future of the Basque Country.