Professor John T. Koch MA, PhD, FLSW

John Koch Eskasoni2018_2
  Position: Senior Fellow and Project Leader, Ancient Britain and the Atlantic Zone Project
Tel.: 01970 636543
Fax: 01970 639090
Postal address:

Professor John T. Koch,
University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies,
National Library of Wales,
SY23 3HH

Prof John T. Koch (PhD Harvard 1985)is a historical linguist specialising 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 10. These include two AHRC-funded projects based at CAWCS, ‘Culture and Celtic speech’ and ‘Atlantic European in the metal ages—questions of shared language’. He 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, Koch is a recognised world expert, often invited to speak on this subject at international conferences.

1.    representative publications

a.    leading international peer-reviewed journals

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

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.

Koch, J. T., 2009 ‘A Case for Tartessian as a Celtic Language’, Palaeohispanica 9, 339–51.

Koch, J. T., 2005 ‘De sancto Iudicaelo rege Historia and its Implications for the Welsh Taliesin’, Heroic Poets and Poetic Heroes in Celtic Tradition: A Festschrift for Patrick K. Ford, CSANA Yearbook 3–4, eds J. F. Nagy, L. E. Jones, 247–62. Dublin, Four Courts Press.

Koch, J. T., 2003 ‘Celts, Britons, and Gaels—Names, Peoples, and Identities’, Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion 2002, NS 9.41–56.

Koch, J. T., 1995 ‘The Conversion of Ireland and the Emergence of the Old Irish Language, AD 367–637’, Emania 13, 39–50.

Koch, J. T. 1992 ‘Further to tongu do dia toinges mo thuath [“Mi a dyngaf dynged it”], &c.’, Études Celtiques 29, 249–61.

Koch, J. T. 1992 ‘Gallo-Brittonic Tasc(i)ouanos “Badger-slayer” and the Reflex of Indo-European *gwh’, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 1, 101–18.

Koch, J. T. 1991 ‘Ériu, Alba, and Letha: When was a Language Ancestral to Gaelic First Spoken in Ireland?’, Emania 9, 17–27.

Koch, J. T., 1987 ‘Prosody and the Old Celtic Verbal Complex’, Ériu 38, 141–74.

Koch, J. T., 1985–6 ‘When was Welsh Literature First Written Down?’, Studia Celtica 20/21, 43–66.

Koch, J. T., 1983 ‘The Loss of Final Syllables and Loss of Declension in Brittonic’, Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies 30/3–4, 201–33.

b.    peer-reviewed conference proceedings

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’, 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, ed. D. Brandherm, 77–99. Hagen, Curach Bhán Publications.

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

Koch, J. T., 2013 ‘Waiting for Gododdin: Thoughts on Taliesin and Iudic-Hael, Catraeth, and Unripe Time in Celtic Studies’, Beyond the Gododdin: Dark Age Scotland in Medieval Wales, ed. A. Woolf, 177–204. St Andrews.

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

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

Koch, J. T. 2000 ‘On the Origins of the Old Irish Terms Goídil and Goídelc’, Origins and Revivals: Proc. 1st Australian Conference of Celtic Studies, ed. G. Evans et al., 3–16. Sydney, University of Sydney Celtic Studies Foundation.

Koc*h, J. T. 1999 ‘The Place of Y Gododdin in the History of Scotland’, Celtic Connections: Proceedings of the Tenth International Congress of Celtic Studies, Vol. 1. Language, Literature, History, Culture, eds R. Black, W. Gillies,  & R. Ó Maolalaigh, 199–210. Tuckwell Press: East Linton.

c.     peer-reviewed multi-authored books

Koch, J. T., with F. Fernández 2019 ‘A case of identity theft? — Archaeogenetics, Beaker People, and Celtic origins’, Exploring Celtic Origins: New ways forward in archaeology, linguistics, and genetics, edsB. Cunliffe & J. T. Koch, 38–79.Oxford, Oxbow Books. [Series Editor J. T. Koch, pp. xii + 214]

Cunliffe, B. & J. T. Koch 2019 ‘A dialogue at the crossroads’, Exploring Celtic Origins: New ways forward in archaeology, linguistics, and genetics, Celtic Studies Publications 22, eds. B. Cunliffe & J. T. Koch, 192–206. Oxford, Oxbow Books.  [Series editor: J. T. Koch]

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

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

Koch, J. T., 2016 ‘Phoenicians in the West and the Break-up of the Atlantic Bronze Age and Proto-Celtic’, Celtic from the West 3. Atlantic Europe in the Metal Ages: questions of shared language, eds J. T. Koch, B. Cunliffe, K. Clear, C. Gibson, 431–76. Oxford, Oxbow Books. [Series Editor J. T. Koch, pp. xii + 539]

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

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

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

Koch, J. T., 2013 ‘Out of the Flow and Ebb of the European Bronze Age. Heroes, Tartessos, and Celtic’, Celtic from the West 2. Rethinking the Bronze Age and the Arrival of Indo-European in Atlantic Europe, Celtic Studies Publications 16, eds J. T. Koch & B. Cunliffe, 101–146. Oxford, Oxbow Books. [Series editor: J. T. Koch]

Koch, J. T., 2003 ‘The Early Chronology for St Patrick (c. 351–c. 428): Some New Ideas and Possibilities’, Celtic Hagiography and Saints’ Cults, ed. J. Cartwright, 102–22. Cardiff, University of Wales Press.

Koch, J. T., 1999 ‘A Swallowed Onomastic Tale in Cath Maige Mucrama?’, Ildánach Ildírech: A Festschrift for Proinsias Mac Cana, Celtic Studies Publications 4, ed. J. Carey, J. T. Koch, P.-Y. Lambert, 63–80. Aberystwyth, Celtic Studies Publications. [Series editor: J. T. Koch]

Koch, J. T., 1995 ‘Further Thoughts on Indo-European gwh in Celtic’, Hispano-Gallo-Brittonica: Essays in honour of D. E. Evans on his sixty-fifth birthday, ed. J. F. Eska, R. G. Gruffydd, N. Jacobs, 79–95.  Cardiff & Dublin.

d. Research monographs

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. e-book, pp. 136.   

Koch, J. T. 2013 Tartessian: Celtic in the South-west at the Dawn of History, Celtic Studies Publications 13, Aberystwyth, pp. xii + 332. Revised & expanded edition.   First edition 2009. 

Koch, J. T., 2013 Author/editor, Cunedda, Cynan, Cadwallon, Cynddylan: Four Welsh Poems and Britain 383–655, Aberystwyth: University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, pp. vi + 328.

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, pp. vi + 198.

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

e. Reference works

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

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

f. Translations

 Koch, J. T., & J. Carey, eds, 2003 The Celtic Heroic Age: Literary Sources for Ancient Celtic Europe & Early Ireland & Wales. 4th edn. Celtic Studies 1. Aberystwyth. [First published 1994]

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

2018   ‘Formation of the Indo-European Branches in the light of the Archaeogenetic Revolution’, conference ‘Genes, Isotopes and Artefacts. How should we interpret the movement of people throughout Bronze Age Europe?’ Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, 13–14 December 2018

2018   ‘The origins of the Basques and Celts in Atlantic Europe in the light of new discoveries’, congress “Indigenous Peoples” Roots in the North Atlantic’, Unama’ki College, Cape Breton University, Canada, 27–28 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’, conference ‘When Archaeology Meets Linguistics and Genetics’, University of Gothenburg, 2–4 May 2018

2016   (keynote) ‘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, 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 & 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 Fernando 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, The 13th international & interdisciplinary conference on “Celtic” religion(s)’, University of Wales Trinity St David, Lampeter, UK, October 2014

2014   (keynote) ‘Indo-European from the east and Celtic from the west: reconciling models for languages in later prehistory’, 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, Navarra, 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’, conference ‘Aires Linguistiques/Aires Culturelles’, CRBC, Brest, France

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

2010   (keynote) ‘Out of the Flow and Ebb of the European Bronze Age: Heroes, Tartessos, and Celtic’, University of California Celtic Colloquium, Los Angeles, USA

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

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, April–May 2008

2008   ‘Was the Atlantic Zone the Celtic Homeland? Early Linguistic Evidence’, O’Donnell Celtic Studies Lecture, University of Edinburgh, April 2008

2006   ‘On the “Historical” Taliesin Poetry’, Rudolph Thurneysen Memorial Lecture, University of Bonn, 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, 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, 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, July 1999


3. Organization of international conferences in the field of the applicant (membership in the steering and/or organising 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   13th international & interdisciplinary conference on ‘Celtic’ religion(s) (F.E.R.C.AN), Lampeter, Wales

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