Professor John T. Koch

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Professor John T. Koch AM, PhD, FLSW 

Senior Fellow and Project Leader

Tel: 01970 636543
E-mail: jtk@wales.ac.uk



Organize, carry out, and supervise original research, publication and outreach activities in multidisciplinary Celtic studies

Professor John T. Koch (PhD Harvard 1985) is a historical linguist specializing in early Celtic languages. He has a unique multi­disciplinary profile.

His research includes Indo-European origins of Celtic names, words and grammar. His publications have, from the first, addressed archaeology as well as language and literature.

He has led multidisciplinary projects combining linguistics and archaeology over the past 20 years, also genetics for the past 13.

These include two AHRC-funded projects based at CAWCS, ‘Culture and Celtic Speech’ and ‘Atlantic European in the Metal Ages: Questions of Shared Language’.

Professor Koch has extensive experience mapping archaeological and linguistic data with GIS. He is one of very few linguists fully engaged in the ongoing archaeogenetic revolution.

Keenly motiv­ated to make sense of today’s tsunami of ancient DNA data, he is a recognized world expert, often invited to speak on this subject at international conferences.

Fellow, Learned Society of Wales

John Koch has taught the undergraduate module ‘Introduction to the Celtic languages’ at UWTSD and previously a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate units covering various Celtic languages and literatures, as well as study of the languages and archaeology of prehistoric, ancient and medieval Celtic-speaking groups.

He has supervised PhD on the inscriptions of Pictland, the writings of the Classical authors on the ancient Celts, Welsh poetry of the princes, compounds of the verb ‘to be’ in the Brythonic languages, and the phonetic basis and historical evolution of lenition in Welsh.

John Koch’s main research interests are reflected in the lists of his publications and special lectures listed here. These include: early Welsh poetry and prose literature; early Irish literature and history; the ancient and medieval Celtic languages; the Indo-European background of the Celtic languages; the Indo-European homeland problem; historical linguistics and linguistic reconstruction; phonetics and phonology; comparative syntax; Greek and Roman literary references to the ancient Celts; the archaeology of the ancient and medieval Celtic-speaking groups; contacts between prehistoric and early historic Celtic- and Germanic-speaking peoples; contacts between Celtic-speaking groups and the ancient non-Indo-European languages of western Europe (Palaeo-Basque, Iberian, Etruscan); dialectology of the Celtic languages; Celtic and Indo-European mythology and ideology; early Christianity in the Celtic-speaking countries; archaeogenetics, Bronze Age Europe; the Romanization of north-west Europe; typography and publishing for the Celtic languages and Celtic studies scholarship; archaeological science.

John Koch’s university education included archaeology, as well as Celtic languages and literatures. He has taught in both fields at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The breadth of his multidisciplinary expertise is reflected in the sizeable reference works:

Koch, J. T. (2012) (general editor and principal contributing author, with A. Minard, ed.) The Celts: History, Life and Culture, 2 vols. (Santa Barbara and Oxford: ABC-Clio), 958pp [ISBN (print) 978–1–59884–964–6, (e-book) 978–1–59884–965–3]

Koch, J. T., with R. Karl, A. Minard and S. Ó Faoláin (2007) An Atlas for Celtic Studies. Archaeology and Names in Ancient Europe and Early Medieval Ireland, Britain, and Brittany, Celtic Studies Publications 12 (Oxford: Oxbow Books) [series editor: J. T. Koch]

Koch, J. T. (2006) (ed.) Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia, 5 vols. (Santa Barbara and Oxford: ABC-Clio)

Since 2000 John Koch has been the director of the small academic publisher Celtic Studies Publications (CSP-Cymru Cyf)

Representative Publications

  1. leading international peer-reviewed journals
  2. peer-reviewed conference proceedings

Koch, J. T. (2018) ‘Rock art and Celto-Germanic vocabulary: shared iconography and words as reflections of Bronze Age contact’, Adoranten

Silva, M., M. Oliveira, D. Vieira, A. Brandão, T. Rito, J. B. Pereira, R. M. Fraser, B. Hudson, F. Gandini, C. Edwards, M. Pala, J. T. Koch, J. F. Wilson, L. Pereira, M. B. Richards, P. Soares (2017) ‘A genetic chronology for the Indian Subcontinent points to heavily sex-biased dispersals’, BMC Evolutionary Biology 17 (88): 1–18 [DOI: 10.1186/s12862-017-0936-9]

Koch, J. T. (2016) ‘Bannauenta, Borough Hill, and Welsh mynwent’, Studia Celtica 50: 169–74

Koch, J. T. (2014) ‘On the debate over the classification of the language of the South-Western (SW) inscriptions, also known as Tartessian’, Journal of Indo-European Studies 42/3–4: 336–427

Koch, J. T. (2014) ‘A decipherment interrupted: proceeding from Valério, Eska, and Prósper’, Journal of Indo-European Studies 42/3–4: 487–524

Koch, J. T. (2013) ‘La fórmula epigráfica tartesia a la luz de los descubrimientos de la necrópolis de Medellín’, Acta Palaeohispanica XI, Palaeohispanica 12: 347–57

Gibson, C., P. Bray, K. Cleary, F. Fernández Palacios, J. T. Koch (2019) ‘Mapping the flow: introduction to Atlantic Europe and the Metal Ages project’, in D. Brandherm (ed.) Aspects of the Bronze Age in the Atlantic Archipelago and Beyond: Proceedings from the Belfast Bronze Age Forum 9–10 November 2013, Archæologia Atlantica – Monographiæ III (Hagen: Curach Bhán Publications): 77–99

Koch, J. T. (2013) ‘Las inscripciones del suroeste y el Tarteso de la arqueología y de la historia’, in J. Alvar and J. Campos (eds.) Tarteso, el emporio del metal (Córdoba: Editorial Almuzara): 541–58

Koch, J. T. (2013) ‘Waiting for Gododdin: thoughts on Taliesin and Iudic-Hael, Catraeth, and unripe time in Celtic studies’, in A. Woolf (ed.) Beyond the Gododdin: Dark Age Scotland in Medieval Wales (St Andrews: The Committee for Dark Age Studies, University of St Andrews): 177–204

Koch, J. T. (2012) ‘Tartessian as Celtic and Celtic from the West: both, only the first, only the second, neither’, in D. le Brise (ed.) Aires Linguistiques Aires Culturelles. Études de concordances en Europe occidentale (Brest: Centre de Recherche Bretonne et Celtique / Université de Bretagne Occidentale): 77–92

Koch, J. T. (2010) ‘Paradigm Shift? Interpreting Tartessian as Celtic’, in B. Cunliffe and J. T. Koch (eds.) Celtic from the West: Alternative Perspectives from Archaeology, Genetics, Language and Literature, Celtic Studies Publications 15 (Oxford: Oxbow Books): 185–301 [series editor: J. T. Koch. viii + 388pp]

  1. peer-reviewed multi-authored books
  2. research monographs

Koch, J. T., with F. Fernández (2019) ‘A case of identity theft? Archaeogenetics, Beaker People, and Celtic origins’, in B. Cunliffe and J. T. Koch (eds.) Exploring Celtic Origins: New Ways Forward in Archaeology, Linguistics, and Genetics, Celtic Studies Publications 22 (Oxford: Oxbow Books): 38–79 [series editor: J. T. Koch. xii + 214pp]

Cunliffe, B., and J. T. Koch (2019) ‘A dialogue at the crossroads’, in B. Cunliffe and J. T. Koch (eds.) Exploring Celtic Origins: New Ways Forward in Archaeology, Linguistics, and Genetics, Celtic Studies Publications 22 (Oxford: Oxbow Books): 192–206 [series editor: J. T. Koch. xii + 214pp]

Ling, J., and J. T. Koch (2018) ‘A sea beyond Europe to the north and west’, in J. Dodd and E. Meijer (eds.) Giving the Past a Future: Essays in Archaeology and Rock Art Studies in Honour of Dr. Phil. h.c. Gerhard Milstreu (Oxford: Archaeopress): 96–111

Koch, J. T., and F. Fernández Palacios (2017) ‘Some epigraphic comparanda bearing on the “pan-Celtic god” Lugus’, in R. Haeussler and A. King (eds.) Celtic Religions in the Roman Period: Personal, Local, and Global (Aberystwyth: Celtic Studies Publications): 37–56 [series editor: J. T. Koch. xiv + 532pp]

Koch, J. T. (2016) ‘Phoenicians in the West and the break-up of the Atlantic Bronze Age and Proto-Celtic’, in J. T. Koch, B. Cunliffe, K. Cleary, C. Gibson (eds.) Celtic from the West 3: Atlantic Europe in the Metal Ages: Questions of Shared Language (Oxford: Oxbow Books): 431–76 [series editor: J. T. Koch. xii + 539pp]

Koch, J. T. (2015) ‘Some Palaeohispanic implications of the Gaulish inscription of Rezé (Ratiatum)’, in G. Oudaer, G. Hily, H. Le Bihan (eds.) Mélanges en l’honneur de Pierre-Yves Lambert (Rennes: Université de Rennes 2): 333–46

Koch, J. T. (2014) ‘Once again, Herodotus, the Κελτοί, the source of the Danube, and the Pillars of Hercules’, in C. Gosden, S. Crawford and K. Ulmschneider (eds.) Celtic Art in Europe: Making Connections: Essays in Honour of Vincent Megaw on his 80th Birthday (Oxford: Oxbow Books): 6–18

Koch, J. T. (2013) ‘Prologue: Ha C1a ≠ PC (the earliest Hallstatt Iron Age cannot equal Proto-Celtic)’, in J. T. Koch and B. Cunliffe (eds.) Celtic from the West 2: Rethinking the Bronze Age and the Arrival of Indo-European in Atlantic Europe, Celtic Studies Publications 16 (Oxford: Oxbow Books): 1–16 [series editor: J. T. Koch. viii + 237pp]

Koch, J. T. (2013) ‘Out of the flow and ebb of the European Bronze Age: Heroes, Tartessos, and Celtic’, in J. T. Koch and B. Cunliffe (eds.) Celtic from the West 2: Rethinking the Bronze Age and the Arrival of Indo-European in Atlantic Europe, Celtic Studies Publications 16 (Oxford: Oxbow Books): 101–46 [series editor: J. T. Koch]

Koch, J. T. (2020) Celto-Germanic: Later Prehistory and Post-Proto-Indo-European Vocabulary in the North and West (Aberystwyth: Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies), 186pp [e-book]

 

Koch, J. T. (2019) Common Ground and Progress on the Celtic of the South-western (SW) Inscriptions (Aberystwyth: Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies), 136pp [e-book]

Koch, J. T. (2013; first edn. 2009) Tartessian: Celtic in the South-West at the Dawn of History, Celtic Studies Publications 13, revised and expanded edn. (Aberystwyth: Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies), xii + 332pp

Koch, J. T. (2013) Cunedda, Cynan, Cadwallon, Cynddylan: Four Welsh Poems and Britain 383–655 (Aberystwyth: Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies), vi + 328pp

Koch, J. T. (2011) Tartessian 2: The Inscription of Mesas do Castelinho, ro and the Verbal Complex, Preliminaries to Historical Phonology (Aberystwyth: Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies), vi + 198pp

Koch, J. T. (1997) The Gododdin of Aneirin: Texts and Context from Dark-Age North Britain (Historical Introduction, Reconstructed Text, Translation, Notes) (Cardiff: Uni­versity of Wales Press), 410pp

  1. reference works
  2. translations

Koch, J. T. (2012) (general editor and principal contributing author, with A. Minard, ed.) The Celts: History, Life and Culture, 2 vols. (Santa Barbara and Oxford: ABC-Clio), 958pp [ISBN (print) 978–1–59884–964–6, (e-book) 978–1–59884–965–3]

Koch, J. T., and J. Carey (2003; first pub. 1994) (eds.) The Celtic Heroic Age: Literary Sources for Ancient Celtic Europe & Early Ireland & Wales, Celtic Studies Publications 1, fourth edn. (Aberystwyth: Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies), 488pp

Invited presentations to internationally established conferences and/or international advanced schools

2020 ‘Celto-Germanic and North-West Indo-European vocabulary: resonances in myth and rock art iconography’, ‘Indo-European Interfaces: Building Bridges between Mythology, Linguistics and Archaeology’ conference, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala, Sweden, October 2020

2019 ‘ “Celtic from the West” and the archaeogenetics revolution’, invited lecture delivered to the departments of Archaeology and Early and Medieval Irish and open to the public, University College Cork, Ireland, November 2019

2019 ‘Proto-Vikings? Bronze Age contact between Scandinavia and the Atlantic West and Celto-Germanic vocabulary’, invited lecture delivered to the departments of Archaeology and Early and Medieval Irish, University College Cork, Ireland, November 2019

2018 ‘Formation of the Indo-European branches in the light of the archaeogenetic revolution’, ‘Genes, Isotopes and Artefacts: How Should We Interpret the Movement of People throughout Bronze Age Europe?’ conference, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria, December 2018

2018 ‘The origins of the Basques and Celts in Atlantic Europe in the light of new discoveries’, ‘ “Indigenous Peoples” Roots in the North Atlantic’ congress, Unama’ki College, Cape Breton University, Canada, September 2018

2018 (with J. Ling) ‘A sea beyond Europe to the north and west’: how metal trade, maritime interaction and language transformed Atlantic Europe 1400/1300–900 BC’, ‘When Archaeology Meets Linguistics and Genetics’ conference, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, May 2018

2016 ‘Thinking about Indo-European and Celtic myths in the 2nd and 3rd millennia’, keynote lecture, 4th Annual Colloquium on ‘Thinking about Celtic Mythology in the 21st Century, with special reference to archaeology’, University of Edinburgh, UK, November 2016

2016 ‘(Re-)Situating Proto-Celtic in time and space in the light of new ancient DNA evidence’, workshop on ‘Indo-European migrations and Celtic origins: aDNA and linguistic evidence’, Internationales Wissenschaftsforum, University of Heidelberg, Germany, September 2016

2015 ‘Before the Branches: towards a new understanding of (Late) Proto-Indo-European and Copper-to-Bronze Age Europe’, lecture, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, December 2015

2015 ‘Indo-European in Atlantic Europe at the protohistoric horizon and before: some recent work and its possible implications’, international symposium on Linguistics, Archaeology and Genetics, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany, October 2015

2014 ‘What can historical linguistics tell us today about (1) the pre-Roman languages of Britain and (2) how they came to be there?’, ‘Iron Age Britain and Celtic Diasporas – Population Continuity, and Movements into, out of and around Great Britain, c.800 BC–AD 400’, an academic workshop, University of Leicester, UK, November 2014

2014 (with F. Fernández) ‘Gods epigraphically attested in ancient times with counter­parts in the Early Medieval texts from the British Isles’, XIIIth F.E.R.C.AN. [fontes epigraphici religionum celticarum antiquarum] workshop (international and interdisciplinary conference on ‘Celtic’ religion(s)), University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter, UK, October 2014

2014 ‘Indo-European from the east and Celtic from the west: reconciling models for languages in later prehistory’, keynote lecture, Seventh Colloquium of the Societas Celto-Slavica, Bangor, UK, September 2014

2014 ‘Indo-European and non-Indo-European in Atlantic Europe in later prehistory and the emergence of Celtic’, Tercer congreso internacional Atlantiar, Irun, Spain, May 2018

2013 ‘Referring back to the Bronze Age from the dawn of Palaeohispanic literacy: the SW inscriptions interpreted as nativism’, Bronze Age Forum, Queen’s University Belfast, UK, November 2013

2011 ‘Las inscripciones del suroeste y el Tarteso de la arqueología y de la historia’, I Congreso Internacional: Tarteso el Emporio del Metal, Universidad de Huelva, Spain, December 2011

2011 ‘Tartessian as Celtic and Celtic from the West: both, only the first, only the second, or neither’, ‘Aires Linguistiques/Aires Culturelles’ conference, CRBC, Brest, France, June 2011

2010 ‘Archaeology and Language in Ancient Atlantic Europe’, Colloque International ‘La langue Bretonne des Origines / Origines de la langue Bretonne’, CRBC, Rennes 2, France, April 2010

2010 ‘Out of the flow and ebb of the European Bronze Age: heroes, Tartessos, and Celtic’, University of California Celtic Colloquium, Los Angeles, USA, March 2010

2009 ‘A case for Tartessian as a Celtic language’, X Colóquio Internacional sobre Línguas e Culturas Paleo-hispânicas, Museu Nacional de Arqueologia, Belém, Lisboa, Portugal, February 2009

2008 ‘People called Keltoi, the La Tène Style, and Ancient Celtic Languages: the threefold Celts in the light of geography’, O’Donnell Celtic Studies Lecture, given at Swansea University, Bangor University and Aberystwyth University, UK, April–May 2008

2008 ‘Was the Atlantic Zone the Celtic homeland? Early linguistic evidence’, O’Donnell Celtic Studies Lecture, University of Edinburgh, UK, April 2008

2006 ‘On the “historical” Taliesin poetry’, Rudolph Thurneysen Memorial Lecture, University of Bonn, Germany, October 2006

2004 ‘Waiting for Gododdin: further thoughts on the Cynfeirdd problem, Catraeth, and unripe time in Celtic studies’, keynote lecture, Celtic Studies Association of North America, University of Toronto, USA, April 2004

2000 ‘Re-thinking the Dark Ages for the 21st century: modern identity and Britain’s heroic age’, O’Donnell Celtic Studies Lecture, University of Edinburgh, UK, May 2000

1999 ‘Observations on ethnic identity, multiculturalism, and the future of Celtic studies’, plenary lecture, 11th International Congress of Celtic Studies, University College Cork, Ireland, July 1999

 

Organization of international conferences in the field of the applicant (membership in the steering and/or organizing committee)

2020 workshop: ‘Mining, Metals, and Long-distance Contacts in Bronze Age Wales and Beyond’, Bangor University and Great Orme archaeological site

2017 workshop: ‘Rock Art and Metal: Late Bronze Age Contact between Scandinavia and the Iberian Peninsula’, Gothenburg University

2015 forum: ‘Beaker People, Archaeogenetics, and Celtic Origins’, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

2014 XIIIth international and interdisciplinary conference on ‘Celtic’ religion(s) (F.E.R.C.AN), Lampeter

2014 forum/workshop: ‘Atlantic Europe in the Metal Ages –Questions of Shared Language’, Cardiff University

2012 forum: ‘New Light on the Ancient West: Recent Work in Archaeology, Genetics, and Linguistics on Later Prehistory and Protohistory’, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

2011 forum: ‘Ancient Britons, Wales, and Europe – New Research in Genetics, Archaeology, and Linguistics,’ National Museum of Wales, Cardiff

2010 forum: ‘Rethinking the Bronze Age and the Arrival of Indo-European in Atlantic Europe’, Oxford

 

Major Grants

AHRC ‘Culture and Celtic Speech’ 2000–5

AHRC ‘Atlantic Europe in the Metal Ages: Questions of Shared Language’ 2013–16