THE DON EVIDENCE
I shall begin with the Don rivers. Perhaps you are familiar with this
evidence, but a review is necessary to obtain a broader picture.
The famous Don river of Russia is prominent in the minds of most
western people. It originates near Moscow and flows approximately 1200
miles southward into the Sea of Azov.
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.
These are transparent "Don" forms. On its lower end it was known as the
Ister since ancient times.
The combination of the Don-Ister name is found in the Dniester of the Ukraine. If Don is married with Ister we obtain Don-Ister, and this is the Dniester name with a contraction of the Don name. The name may be contracted from of an earlier Danastris, but this name is merely a phonetic variation of Don and Ister.
(The Dnieper may also carry a contraction of the Don name.)
The Donets in the Ukraine flows southeast into the Don.
is a local phonetic variation of Don.
Many believe these Don names derive from the Kimmerians, since the Kimmerians
occupied the regions of southern Russia and the Ukraine in ancient times,
circa 600 BCE. The usual etymology assigns the names to an ancient IE word
Unfortunately, those suggested origins, while appealing in their simplicity,
are conditioned by other evidence.
Not so well known is the Don river which originates near Sheffield,
England and flows eastward into the river Humber.
Another Don river originates in the Grampian mountains of Scotland
and flows eastward into the North Sea near Aberdeen.
Still another Don river in western France flows into the Vilaine.
A Don Dara river in Spain flows into the Segre.
Yet another Don river in India flows into the Krishna.
India also has the Dhan and Dhansiri rivers.
Far away in Laos a Don river flows into the Mekong.
We also find the Dyfrdonwy and TryIdonwy rivers in Wales.
Dyfr in Old Welsh meant "water." If the don form in the old IE root
system also means "water" we then have a doublet from different linguistic
As Eilert Ekwall expressed it, "Don is an old river name, Brittanic
which is related to the name Danube and is really an old word for 'water,'
found in Sanskrit danu for rain or moisture."
Without question, the Don name was associated by the ancients with flowing
water. But is this truly the origin of the river names? The widespread
use of the "Don" form suggests an influence that stretches beyond the native
IE languages, whether Keltic, Kimmerian, Hindi, or other, to a more ancient
common origin. The Laos river name may take our investigations even beyond
commonly recognized IE boundaries. If our cultural horizons limit our views,
then we may miss important evidence that goes beyond the Sanskrit danu
or other native "water" origins.
Could it be that "flowing water" reflects an even more remote ancient
concept, a common cultural idea that existed over these regions much farther
removed in time? Would we then begin to understand the origin of the IE
root words in a broader light?
I believe so.
Note that I do not survey the abundant "Don" land names. The river names
are more striking because of their unique geographical definition which
might carry through many generations and movements of people, while land
names might be more transient, dependent upon temporal settlements, changing
more readily with time.
However, if we are to maintain integrity in our research we must objectively
examine pervasive "Don" forms that exist beyond river names.
TITLES OF NOBILITY
A very important element in this examination are the "Don" titles of
nobility from the Iberian peninsula, with their "Dona" counterpart, male
and female, Lords and Ladies. Are they unrelated to the Don river names?
(Portuguese has a phonetic variation in "Dom." This "n-to-m" phonetic
shift is found many places.)
Traditionally the Don and Dona social honorifics are assigned to origin
in the Roman "Dominus" and "Domina" social titles, Lord and Lady. But the
clear, uninflected Don and Dona makes this derivation suspect. Perhaps
the Portuguese Dom leads many to believe the origins were from the Roman
Dominus, but why are the Portuguese Dom and Roman Dominus not phonetic
variations on Don?
The leads to the question of origins. How far back do the titles go?
If there was an influence which affected the Iberian people separately
from the Romans, that is, a source common to both, from whence did it derive?
These titles for nobility find reflection in the "Don" titles of senior
scholars of English Universities. The medieval Dan (Don) Chaucer carried
this title. Importantly, they denote senior academic positions. Linguistic
scholars are not agreed on the origin of the English titles. Although the
phonetic and social affinities with the Iberian Don are recognized, a common
origin is rejected.
(Note also the "Don" titles of the Sicilian and Italian underworlds.)
For the moment I shall include here without discussion the title of
"Dean," used for high administrative position in colleges and universities
throughout English speaking countries, as well as the head of a large cathedral.
It is used today for anyone senior in a profession or field of expertise.
It has a phonetic similarity to "Don," but its origins are traditionally
assigned to the Latin "decanum" and Greek "dekanos," as one set over a
group of ten, or chief to a division of ten. Again, the assignment is assumed
from a cultural horizon which misses the farther origin.
Important to our understanding is the fact that the "Don" titles denote
social position, or social respect. They are used to distinguish individuals
who are differentiated from the common lot. But the titles in Spain and
Portugal go beyond mere social superiority. They connote noble blood, blood
that is different from the commoners. In former times, commoners were not
allowed to use those titles. Then we are back to the question of ultimate
origins. If only "noble" people were allowed to use the titles, how was
the line of descent carried from the ultimate origins? A noble son received
it from his father, he received it from his father, and on back into the
mists of the past. Who was the first Don?
Thus we are faced with a biological element in these traditions. What
would cause a differentiation of "noble" blood from the common lot? Is
it more than mere social evolution differentiating a natural drift into
more powerful community positions? Was there a biological element of blood
origin recognized by the ancients as different from the common lot? Who
started the tradition? How far back does it go? How is it related to the
European marriage traditions of nobility selecting mates only among nobility?
This line of thought then throws us back to the river names. Were the
titles assigned because of respect for some ancient personality with the
"Don" name? Did flowing water symbolize a powerful genetic source which
flowed through the generations? Were the ancients capable of such sophisticated
concept? Did they attempt to honor that ancient noble by association with
THE DON MYTH TRADITIONS
In 1971 I discovered a book called, "The Key." That book triggered my
personal research. It was written by John Philip Cohane, an Irish layman,
who discussed "linguistic fossils," Semitic names which showed pervasively
around the planet, and which he assigned to the influence of Abraham, Sarah,
or other biblical personalities. Unfortunately, his cultural horizon was
limited to 2,000 BCE, thus to prevent him from perceiving the more ancient
and more universal origins of the Semitic influence. In that book he quotes
a Scandinavian folklore source, but does not provide a citation for it.
Hence I do not know how he discovered it. He quoted the biological importance
of an original Don personality as follows:
". . . from whom, so saith antiquity, the pedigree of our kings have
flowed in glorious series, like channels from some parent spring."
From this citation it appears that a "Don" influence may be far more
than a mere word for "flowing water," or unguided social caste evolution.
A review of folk tales and myth quickly confirmed this conclusion.
For example, how did Denmark get its name? The "Danes" were known to
the Romans as "Dani." They were the people of Scandinavia, including modern
Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Old Norse was their common language. Not until
800 CE did they diverge into separate national identities.
Perhaps the "Dani" were the source of Cohane's quote. Perhaps they were
"Dani" because they were descended from that original Don.
According to Welsh mythology, the people of Wales were the "Children
of Don." "Dana" was the mother of Aranrhod, the progenitor of the royal
house of Wales.
In Ireland the royal house of Munster was called the "House of Donn."
"Dana" (or "Danu") was the mother of the Irish gods. In Irish folk tradition
the "Tuatha de Danaan" were the people of the goddess "Dana." Artists among
the Tuatha were known as gods.
It seems reasonable to assume that the Welsh and Irish folk tales came
from some common origin, but was it Keltic? Does it go back beyond identifiable
Keltic traditions and languages? Were these tales borrowed by the people
of the Keltic migrations from an earlier and much older tradition?
The clear "Don" and "Dana" names from Keltic gods are unequivocal in
phonetics and semantics to the "Don" and "Dona" titles of Iberia. In Ireland
and Wales the tradition came down in ancestral identification, while in
Spain and Portugal they were retained in titles of social respect.
Clearly, something is going on here which modern scholarship is unwilling
to credit. Conventional views are chained by assumptions of "natural" biological
origins and "normal" social evolution. Those views are also chained by
limited cultural horizons.
Ancient written records refer to the Greek people by two different names:
Acheans and Danaans, or the Achae and Danae. The two names appear equally
Homer, in the "Illiad," tells of the battles between the Trojans and
the Acheans, whom he also names the "Danaans," or "Danae."
The Greeks were explicit in their memory of their ancient ancestor.
According to their traditions "Danaus" was the god ancestor of the Danae.
He shared the throne of Egypt with his half-brother, Aegyptus, but was
driven out with his fifty daughters, the "Danaides." The fifty sons of
Aegyptus followed Danuas and, in the guise of friendship, sought the hands
of the fifty daughters in marriage. Danaus consented but on the wedding
night he gave each daughter a dagger with which they were to kill their
bridegrooms in revenge for the treatment he had received. All followed
his instructions except one, Hypermnestra, who allowed her husband to escape.
He later returned and killed Danaus and all the daughters except Hypermnestra,
and then became king instead.
I shall not here engage in discussion of the symbolic significance of
these folk tales. I will merely remark that they reflect distorted memory
of very ancient traditions, now lost in the mists of time.
We can see that the "Don" influence certainly goes beyond our notions
of Keltic, Iberian, or Roman origins in Don names, myths, and noble titles,
although we find a common bond in Indo-European ancestry.
(Note that I have not discussed the common personal names we find in
the IE traditions. For example, "Donald" means "Old Don." Many of these
THE EARTH MOTHER GODDESS
Other evidence for this common tradition is found in the names for a
goddess from England to India.
"Dana" was a goddess of the ancient Britons. "Dana" (or "Tana") was
an ancient Italian goddess, the earth mother who taught her people magic.
"Danu" was the mother goddess of ancient India.
From these various forms, and degraded social memories, we find a common
theme across IE regions of origins of noble blood from some common pair
named Don and Dona. In Ireland and Wales they are remembered as a pair.
In Greece Don was remembered, but memory of Dona was lost. Among the ancient
Britons, Italians, and Indians the earth mother goddess Dona was remembered
but memory of Don was lost.
At this point I must decide on intellectual integrity. Do I follow the
evidence where it leads me?
We see that assignment of ancestry to a god and goddess pair extends
from the farthest shores of western Europe to the subcontinent, differentiating
"noble" biological stock from common lines. Certainly the Indians did not
invent such assignments independently of the Kelts of Ireland, but must
have inherited traditions from a common source which goes beyond known
historical horizons. At this point we do not know if those common myth
elements began in the same geographical regions and temporal locales as
the IE languages, but we strongly suspect so. The river names were later
local assignments by different people who carried those common traditions.
This fact illustrates my early remark about wide cultural dispersions which
influence local social evolutions, just as the IE languages show local
evolutions away from the mother tongue.
We should carefully regard the fact that these notions of a god and
goddess pair did not derive out of some modern extraterrestrial invention.
The traditions are as old as the hills. All the old IE people believed
them. While modern social mania may defile and pervert such evidence, scholarly
rigor demands that we examine the ancient traditions with a view to what
the evidence is telling us. We should not precondition the evidence by
our modern assumptions of "natural" biological evolution.
The Irish Keltic myths, and Indian Hindu traditions, go so far as to
describe space transport. Among the old Irish scribes "was a diversity
of opinion as to whether the Tuatha came in ships on in clouds through
the air." The Rig Veda also speaks of the eight supreme Hindu
gods known as Adityas as "crossing over the [space] waters in an amphibious
chariot 'with seats where eight may sit.'"
Fortunately, this is not the end of the trail. Much other evidence conditions our views of the past. I shall consider the Iberi connection in Part II. In Part III I shall discuss the blood and color connections of the Semitic Iberi to red hair and skin.