THE ADAMIC PLACE NAMES
With preparation from preceding discussions we are in a better position
to search for Adam. I shall begin the search with place names scattered
throughout Europe, the Near East, into India, and on into the South Pacific.
The most significant of these are carried by rivers in Europe and India.
They bear the name Don or some variant of that name.
The famous Don river of Russia originates near Moscow and flows
approximately 1200 miles southward into the Sea of Azov. Another Don
river originates near Sheffield, England and flows eastward into the river
Humber. A third Don river originates in the Grampian mountains of
Scotland and flows eastward into the North Sea near AberdeenRHDEL.
The Danube flows out of the mountains of Germany, through Austria
and Hungary, between Rumania and Bulgaria, and on into the Black Sea. It
is known as the Donau to Germans, and Duna to Hungarians.
On its lower end it was known as the Ister since ancient timesRHDEL,
Other rivers in Europe also carry the Don form. The Donets
flows southeast into the Don. Donets is a local phonetic
variation of Don. The Dnieper and the Dniester both
flow through Ukraine into the Black Sea. The name Dniester can be
explained from the two names for the Danube. If Don is married with Ister
we obtain Don-Ister, and this is the Dniester name with a contraction of
the Don syllableRHDEL. However, the name may be a contracted
form of an earlier DanastrisAE. This last name carries
the same linguistic meaning with phonetic variation from differences in
If we were to ask a native of Russia to explain the origin of the Don
river names he probably would reply that they are Kimmerian, since the
Kimmerians occupied the regions of southern Russia and the Ukraine in ancient
times, circa 600 BC. He might even tell us the name meant "water" to those
ancient people. But if one were to point out that, as far as we know, the
Kimmerians did not inhabit the British Isles he would be at a loss to explain
the names in England and Scotland.
Importantly, the ancient Greeks did not use the river names used by
the natives. Herodutus, the Greek historian, used Borysthenes for the Dnieper,
Tyras for the Dniester, Ister for the Danube, and Tanais for the Russian
Don. He acknowledged that he did not use the native namesPW:IV.
Dispersion of cultures over a wide geographical span from Ireland to
the regions around the Black Sea is known from the middle of the first
millennium BC for the Keltic tribes. Their influence extended from Ireland
and Wales, to England, France, north Spain, north Italy, Austria, the Balkan
peninsula, and into Rumania and Turkey. The word "Celtic" was originally
pronounced "Keltic" from the Greek "Keltoi," their name for the Keltic
tribes. The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Galatians of Asia
Minor, a Keltic people. A city in modern Rumania is called Galati,
a certain Keltic name. The name Gaul is Keltic, as well as the name
for the Gaels of Scotland and Ireland. In classical mythology Galata
was the ancestress of the Gallic people. The Keltic, Gallic, Galatian,
and Gaelic names are all related linguistically. They derive from a common
word root which I shall discuss in greater depth in a later chapterRHDEL,OED.
The wide geographical dispersion of the Don river names agrees substantially
with the dispersion of the Keltic tribes. This would suggest that the origins
are Keltic. However, as Eilert Ekwall expressed it, "Don is an old river
name, Brittanic Dana, which is related to the name Danube and is
really an old word for 'water,' found in Sanskrit danu for rain
or moistureCODEPN." Don river names beyond the Keltic regions
are known by Dhan, Dhon, and Dhansiri in IndiaTWIG.
These are much beyond the reach of the Kelts, the Kimmerians, or any other
known historical groups from Europe or Asia Minor. If a common cultural
influence existed over this region it is much farther removed in time.
A common cultural influence over this area is known from the Indo-European
languages, including Teutonic, Romance, Keltic, Slavic, Iranian and Indic.
Etymological studies show numerous common words and word elements across
these varied groups of people, originating in some very ancient common
language now lost to human memoryRHDEL. The river names display
the same antiquity.
The common language and name elements, in turn, are related to the distribution
of the so-called Caucasoid race over the same geographical regions. According
to anthropological estimates the Caucasians are approximately 30,000 years
old, appearing on the world scene at the beginning of the last ice age
concurrent with the disappearance of Neanderthal man. From the evidence
of language and race one is inclined to believe there must have been a
common origin to these phenomena. The Don river names are merely another
factor suggesting a common source. If the links in race, language, and
river names date to such remote times they would, indeed, be very ancient.
Other ancient phenomena are common to these regions. The famous cave
paintings of Europe extend from the Iberian peninsula and France into Russia.
Recent studies also show notational systems for recording cycles of the
moon on bone and stone throughout these same regions. Both the cave art
and the notational artifacts date as far back as 30,000 years ago, coincident
with the beginning of Caucasian manROC.
Thus we find five independent phenomena to indicate a cultural and racial
dispersion over wide geographical regions from northwest Europe into India.
Three of those date to 30,000 year ago: Caucasian man, cave art, and notational
artifacts. Two are uncertain in date: the Indo-European languages and the
One might argue that the river names are too tenuous a base on which
to pursue study. The evidence is much too slim. However, the names contribute
to cave art, notational systems, language and race. Furthermore, place
names other than rivers contribute to this body of accumulating evidence,
although the antiquity of the names is uncertain and the linguistics origins
Donmark (Denmark) is the marriage of Don with "mark,"
a Teutonic word meaning "boundary."
Doncaster is a borough of Yorkshire, England on the Don
Donauworth, Germany probably acquired its name from the river.
Donna Island in Norway displays a female form of the Don name.
Donnemore, Sweden is a compound also of two words, perhaps with
the female form.
Donnenberg, Germany is another inflected form.
Donilov, Russia has the Don with "lov" as a suffix.
Domremy-la-Pucelle is a village in northern France, the birthplace
of Joan of Arc. The interest for our tabulation is that the French pronounce
the name as Donremee. The Don to Dom phonetic shift is common in French
and is found in other languages. It appears often in Don names.
Donegal is a county of Ulster province in North Ireland, but
Dongola is a town and former province on the Nile river in North Sudan.
If the two names are related, deriving from a common origin, the Don influence
extends across Arabia into northeast Africa. Similar names exist in
Danakil, Ethiopia and as far away as Donggala, IndonesiaAE,TWIG.
We also find Don forms in Dunbarton, Scotland, Dunkeld,
Ireland, and in Dunkirk, France. Here the Don-to-Dun phonetic change
is very slight.
Linguistic scholars believe Dun is a Keltic word which means
a place of protection, a fortified location. While it is phonetically close
to Don, scholars do not see a semantic connection. This is an example
of possible shifts in meaning which may take place over time as later cultures
borrowed names from earlier cultures.
But dun is also a Teutonic word, found in Old Norse duna = "thunder," whence also our modern English word thunderOED. As we shall see these forms all come out of that most famous of all ancestors.
The following list shows possible Don names over wide geographical
If we permit a "d" to "t" phonetic shift we also pick up many other
names. A few includeRHDEL,TK.
Many other Tan, Tana, Tam, Tem, Tham, and Them forms are
known, such as the Thames River, England, Thamsham, Norway,
and Tam Ky, Vietnam.
Note the Tanais river name given by Herodotus. This is the Don,
and shows the linguistic connection between the don-tan forms.
If the Don name was carried to southeast Asia it would suggest
the same influence as that which spread across Europe, through the Near
East, and into India. We do not recognize a Caucasoid racial tie. However,
the light skins and features of the natives of Polynesia and Hawaii cause
one to question the genetic origins of those people, other than through
late European explorers.
Returning to the Don evidence we find forms which show a closer
kinship to that familiar name. This is through a prefix. I mentioned that
Athens, Greece came from a more ancient Atana. The same name is found across
the Aegean Sea in Turkey where the city of Adana is still known by that
name. Other names areTWIG.
These don/dom/adon/adom/adam names are the first to show a possible
connection to the biblical Adam. (Adom is the Hebrew pronunciation of Adam.)
These several tabulations show common place names over wide geographical
regions extending in an arc from Europe, across the Near East, through
India, and into the South Seas. Adamawa and Adam Kiri in
Nigeria extends this phenomena across Africa, while Tanacross and
of Alaska, with Adamana of Arizona extend it into North America.
Danchin Huryee and Dandan Oilik appear in Mongolia and China.
The Don names patterns appear to cover wide areas of the globe.
Some persons may object to the random grouping of names which have no
apparent linguistic connection except through some obscure phonetic similarity.
While the Don river names may be intriguing how can we conclude that other
Don names with the many phonetic variations are related? Is Tana
related to Don, except through accidental phonetic similarity? Is Adom
related to Don?
The objection is valid, and deserves attention. What criteria do we
have for establishing relationships among the varied names? Although the
wide patterns are phonetically similar, perhaps they are nothing more than
accidental use of similar sounding names from different languages. How
can one separate those names which are related culturally from those which
are mere accidental homonyms? How do we know they came out of cultural
assignments to ancient personalities or events?
If the names date to remote antiquity, long before recorded history,
how can we show their cultural origins without written evidence? The earliest
written records are no more than 5,000 years old from around the Near East,
and perhaps a few stone monuments scattered across the Mediterranean and
Europe. If the names originate from more ancient times the sources cannot
be traced except through the study of linguistics.
The river names provide important clues to this dilemma. Clearly we
have Don names in Scotland, England, Germany, Russia, and India. We might
add Dyfrdonwy and Trydonwy from Wales. Dyfr in Old Welsh
meant "water," as the don form in the old Indo-European root system
also meant "water." Dyfr is then compounded with don and "wyCH."
Remember Manawydan from Welsh mythology? Here mana is compounded
with "wy" and dan.
Could the wide spread don names be from some source other than
a very famous ancestor? What other cultural object or episode would provide
such prominent influence? Did Henry Hudson get his name from the river,
or did the river receive its name from the man? If people over such wide
areas of the globe wished to honor a common ancestor might they not use
the common name? How long ago did he live? What caused his descendants
to migrate to such far regions? If the river names did not come from an
outstanding personality did they come from some other social or religious
influence? On the face of the evidence we cannot say with unreserved conviction
that the river names came from an individual named Don.
However, we are forced back again to the evidence of race, language,
and cultural artifacts. It seems reasonable to assume the Don name originated
in some very ancient personality long before historic times.
Another possibility is that the name was borrowed from one region to
another, but if so, it had to have profound significance, with active commercial
trade across the face of the planet in ages now lost to human memory. It
is far easier to propose that a very ancient common ancestor was the origin
of that cultural memory.
Considerable evidence contributes to this body of accumulation information, and provides a solution to the linguistic dilemma. The don name carries a significance which casts a strong light on the origins. We can demonstrate more precisely that many of the place names derive from a personality named Don.