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Author Topic: Archeological perspective of the peopling of Ireland  (Read 4410 times)
Mike Walsh
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« on: May 01, 2009, 11:32:05 PM »

I thought this was a nice summary timeline of Ireland from a modern archeologist's point of view.  This is copied today from another forum:
Quote from: Alan the Archeologist
What archaeology tells us about Irelands peopling is this:

1. Mesolithic-Ireland was likely settled from north Britain c. 8000BC by peoples who probably were located in the southern/mid North Sea area prior to arriving in the isles.

2. Early Neolithic-Ireland and Britain seem to have been mainly settled very quickly and homogeneously by a single group who likely arrived from NE France to SE England and spread through the isles from there across a 400 year period. There was probably another more minor input into western Britain and Ireland from NW France.

3. Mid- Later Neolithic-Ireland had strong contacts with all of western Britain from Cornwall to the Orkneys indicated by exchange items. There was possibly some much lighter contact with NW France shown by similar ideas in monuments, art etc although this was shadowy, did not extend to mundane artefacts and was clearly mainly contact rather than settlement.

4. Beaker period-Ireland suddenly became part of a really major network that extended beyond the isles for the first time. The beakers that have an agreed origin point to the Middle and Lower Rhine and south, eastern and northern Britain while the burial traditions and deposition habits of beaker are more like western Britain and NW France. It is suspected that Ireland's paramount position in NW European metallurgy came from Atlantic contacts via NW France. It seems likely that NW France is the common denominator or link between the NW European beaker types and the Atlantic burial and metallurgical traditions and it was likely crucial in terms of the beaker influence in Ireland.

5. Bronze Age-A lot of the mundane culture and burial traditions are purely insular with no continental parallels. There is a lot of similarity of mundane culture and ritual monuments/burial traditions within and between the isles but not much with the continent. The exception is metalwork where ideas seem to have flowed in a confusing network whose directions seem to have varied greatly over time although Central European influence seemed to steadily grow as the period went on. Ideas like 'Atlantic Bronze Age' have no real basis. On the basis of settlement, burial, ritual etc traditions it is very hard to see continental settlement on any sort of scale into the isles in this period although trade contact shown in metalwork, ore and influences must have been frequent.

6. Iron Age-influences came from west-Central and Europe via Britain in the Hallstatt C and La Tene periods. The influences are relatively weak and like the Bronze Age largely confined to metalwork. Ireland is especially insular in terms of the monuments, burial traditions and mundane material culture and seems different from both the continent and Britain (which itself has a lot of insularity-house shapes etc). This has lead many to feel that no large scale invasions took place in the Iron Age in Ireland although I think there is enough to suggest some small scale. I would say the same is also true for Scotland and much of the rest of Britain.

In general I would think that most archaeologists feel that the main populating events were the Mesolithic and/or the Early Neolithic with a much lesser (but ultimately significant??) input in the beaker period, very little movement in the Bronze Age other than flotsam brought by elite contact (marriages, craftsmen etc??) and perhaps some small groups of war bands etc in the Iron Age. I doubt many archaeologists would disagree hugely with that summary.

You will note that Iberia is conspicuously absent from this summary which I would say few archaeologists would find much to disagree with.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2009, 11:32:43 PM by Mike » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2009, 03:01:50 PM »

I thought it was excellent. Many thanks to Alan for taking the trouble.
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rms2
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« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2009, 03:49:15 PM »

From The Celtic Realms, by Myles Dillon and Nora Chadwick, page 4:

Quote
The Celtic settlement of the British Isles is more difficult [i.e., than that of Iberia] to trace. It seems now that we must choose between two extremes. About 2000 BC came Bell-Beaker people, whose burials are in single graves, with individual grave goods. The remarkable Wessex Culture of the Bronze Age which appears about 1500 BC is thought to be based upon this tradition. The grave goods there suggest the existence of a warrior aristocracy 'with a graded series of obligations of service . . . through a military nobility down to craftsmen and peasants', as in the Homeric society. This is the sort of society which is described in the Irish sagas, and there is no reason why so early a date for the coming of the Celts should be impossible. We shall see that there are considerations of language and culture that tend rather to support it.

From page 214 of the same book:

Quote
If we suppose that the Celts emerge as a separate people about 2000 BC, Goidelic may be a very early form of Celtic, and Gaulish (with British) a later form; and the first Celtic settlements of the British Isles may be dated to the early Bronze Age (c. 1800 BC), and even identified with the coming of the Beaker-Folk in the first half of the second millennium. This was suggested by Abercromby long ago (Bronze Age Pottery ii 99) and more recently by Crawford, Loth and Hubert. It would mean a lapse of time, a thousand years, between the first settlements and the Belgic invasions that Caesar mentions, quite long enough to explain the absence of any trace of Goidelic in Britain outside the areas of later Irish settlement. It would accord well with the archaic character of Irish tradition, and the survival in Ireland of Indo-European features of language and culture that recur only in India and Persia, and, for language, in Hittite or in Tokharian dialects of Central Asia.

. . . If the earliest Celtic settlements date from the Bronze Age, the question whether the invaders were Goidels or Brythons does not arise. Linguistic features that distinguish the Brythons may be much later, some of them innovations . . . which spread from a centre on the Continent and never reached the 'lateral' areas of Ireland and Spain. Rhys suggested this long ago.

It is also interesting that a recent study of the T-13910 lactase persistence allele found that it increases in frequency as one moves north and west in Britain:

http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/GENEALOGY-DNA/2009-04/1240758664

The T-13910 lactase persistence allele is thought to have arisen on the Eurasian steppe less than 10,000 years ago.
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« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2009, 09:56:33 PM »

Alan R's views on the Archeological perspective of the peopling of Ireland are well known. I don't get the constant re-hashing of the same old song. Yada, Yada, Yada, Irish Mythology and Irish Oral Histories are not accurate.

Oral history has a place in our historical analysis. I, myself, have delved into twentieth century oral history projects to gain better insight into past events. Those who fail to recognize the importance of, at least considering, the oral history of a people are doomed to biased analysis and interpretation.

The key phrase I take away from his below March 2008 posting on Rootsweb DNA L List is "current understanding". "Current understanding" in this industry at least is always evolving and maturing. Who knows what the "current understanding" in archeological circles will be next year or the year after that. With increased knowledge the "current understanding" of an industry changes or improves the current thinking within an industry.     

http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/GENEALOGY-DNA/2008-03/1206448799

From: Alan R <al_r25@btopenworld.com>
Subject: Re: [DNA] Ethnoancestry is first to test for the new R1b SNP - S116
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2008

"Current understanding of marine technology (new Irish book out recently) at this period basically rules out this sort of wide open sea crossing in the Mesolithic."

 
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Mike Walsh
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« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2009, 10:56:42 PM »

Here is another good tidbit from Alan.  He is not a linguist, but I find him very credible.   ... but if you like the Irish legends, brace yourself.   
I interpret that he is saying the Gaels were first (Indo-European speaking type anyway), not last.   He agrees with what I gather from Henry Hubert in the "The History of the Celts", the Goidels (early or proto-Gael) were first.
Quote from: Alan the Archeologist
......(I am certain all Celts spoke with Q at one point) or that the links were later and at a time when Q had basically become set in stone in Ireland and later P-Celts coming into Ireland accepted the Q form. The theory of P being in Ireland before Q is pretty much discredited these days. It in iitself is an O'Rahilly idea and he based that on the book of invasions, a very dubious source. It is likely that P-Celtic came into Ireland after 300BC from Britain and Gaul on a small scale but did not stick. I suspect that these settlers are assocaited with the La Tene material in Ireland. The term Ivernic for P-Celtic is very unfortunate. The Iverni or Errain had a name linked to the name of the island and probably were the late Bronze Age peoples and more than any of the groups almost certainly spoke the old Q-Celtic form. If anyone (temporarioy) brought P-Celtic to Ireland it was probably later Iron Age settlers like the Cruithin. Laigin, Fir Bolgs, Fir Domnainn etc. It is a great pity that O'Rahilly took up the book of invasions idea that somehow THE Gaels were a late final wave of Q-Celts who displaced P-Celtd. Linguists, historians and archaeologists have long since rejected O'Rahilly's ideas and his interpretation of the various peoples and his proposed sequence of invasions are rejected. His book has such prominance simply because all the progress since him has been published in a peacemeal fashion in journals etc rather than in a big single ''answer to everything' scheme in a large book like O'Rahilly. Many of his other ideas are long rejected too such as his ones about Tara being the early base of the Connachta etc. His equating of the Fir Bolg and Errain seems completely wrong too. He was a clever man but he tried to answer everyhting in one huge thesis and seems to have got a lot wrong through being over ambitious. Its a pity his book is still treated as a bible of Irish history and mythology by the general public when so much of it has been refuted in the couple of generations since he published..
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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2009, 11:18:46 PM »

He is entitled to his opinion, but I do not disregard Indian oral history, either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gujjars

Gujjar

"Some Gujjars also claim that the Gujjar caste is related to the Chechens and the Georgians, and argue that Georgia was traditionally called "Gujaristan" (actually Gorjestan)."
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Mike Walsh
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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2009, 12:11:59 AM »

He is entitled to his opinion, but I do not disregard Indian oral history, either.
...
Agreed.  I don't think Alan is infallible, but he is credible.  I also actually think there must be something to the Milesian myth.  Albeit may not be a large group,   it seems like there must be some folks who've come up the Altantic Coast at some point.  Regardless, I think it is instructive to understand the archeological setting and linguistics.
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« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2009, 01:06:49 AM »

I'll take notice when he does actual genetic research or Y-DNA testing of ancient remains. Until then, for me, he is someone in another field imposing his views without doing the genetic work required in our industry. We can exchange ideas with other disciplines and listen to their opinions, but this belief that archeologists and linguists are expert geneticists is fallacy.
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rms2
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« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2009, 09:10:41 AM »

Well, thus far, the genetic evidence runs counter to the stuff in the mythological Book of Invasions. It should not be totally disregarded perhaps, but it certainly appears to be the usual medieval effort to connect a people to the Bible - you know, Goidel Glas, a Scythian present at the fall of the Tower of Babel, etc. - and give them an ancient and heroic pedigree.

I would be happy if "Goidel Glas" was my y ancestor and an actual Scythian, but I really very seriously doubt it.
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« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2009, 11:46:03 AM »

I don’t believe it is totally accurate, either, but we can’t throw away the entire oral history of a people without considering its value. Does anyone even know Alan R’s last name? Anonymous analysis and interpretation in this industry should go extinct. Is he an archaeologist or student? Putting your surname forward with your theories should be compelled in this industry.   
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« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2009, 01:32:10 PM »

I don’t believe it is totally accurate, either, but we can’t throw away the entire oral history of a people without considering its value. Does anyone even know Alan R’s last name? Anonymous analysis and interpretation in this industry should go extinct. Is he an archaeologist or student? Putting your surname forward with your theories should be compelled in this industry.   


[Alan's name removed by management]

I wouldn't regard the Book of Invasions as "the entire oral history of a people". It's a medieval book that was written in the 11th century. It seems unlikely to me it was passed down orally before that.

What support for that notion is there in older works?
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« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2009, 04:14:55 PM »

Are you kidding? These were legendary narratives spoken and/or poetic.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seancha%C3%AD

Seanchaí

"In the ancient Celtic culture, the history and laws of the people were not written down but memorized in long lyric poems which were recited by bards (filí), in a tradition echoed by the seanchaithe."

OK, Alan R. is an archaeologist specializing in "impact assessment." My question is what makes him an expert in genetic genealogy? Please point me in the direction of his genetic or genealogical research! All I have ever seen from Alan R. is archeological analysis. We are not in the archaeological industry. We are genetic genealogist! My genealogical research can be found beginning at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nolenancestry/page1.html and my genetic research can be found at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nolenancestry/page12.html and http://www.worldfamilies.net/surnames/nolan/.     

[Alan's name and contact info removed by management]
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rms2
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« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2009, 06:03:27 PM »

No, I wasn't kidding. Where is the evidence that the material that went into the Book of Invasions has an unbroken connection to oral tradition?

It is one thing to have an oral tradition. It is another to claim a particular book is an accurate representation of it.

But I know I'm treading on dangerous ground. Some Irishmen seem to be particularly sensitive about that book.

I don't know what you mean by the rest of what you wrote. Alan Reilly is an archaeologist, so what he has to say on archaeology is worth reading. I don't recall anyone saying he is a geneticist or that what he writes is the last word in genetics. Besides, what Mike quoted from him above says nothing about any specific y haplogroups, as I recall. If what Alan wrote runs counter to the Book of Invasions, well, that's a problem for those who really like the Book of Invasions as history rather than as mythology.

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Mike Walsh
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« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2009, 06:37:01 PM »

.... OK, Alan R. is an archaeologist specializing in "impact assessment." My question is what makes him an expert in genetic genealogy?
I agree that Alan R shouldn't be viewed as a genetic genealogist.  However, I do think understanding the archeology and the linguistics is helpful in terms of trying to understand how genetics relates to deep ancestry (not genealogy but deep ancestry).   If you'll notice, I haven't quoted him on any thoughts he might have related to mapping haplogroups to the situation.  On the other hand, I think it is valid to understand his perspective of the archeology.
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« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2009, 07:02:20 PM »

I’m not an Irish expert. I have already said I do not believe things are 100% accurate in the Book of Invasions, however, there are many sources of Irish Texts: Historical, Legal, and Genealogical. If you or others want to believe they are all fabrications, have at it. Argument is pointless in this industry. I would encourage more genealogical and genetic research in this industry, but all people seem interested in is haplotype comparison.

http://www.ucc.ie/celt/publishd.html#ihlg

Irish Texts: Historical, Legal, Genealogical
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« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2009, 07:28:31 AM »

I’m not an Irish expert. I have already said I do not believe things are 100% accurate in the Book of Invasions, however, there are many sources of Irish Texts: Historical, Legal, and Genealogical. If you or others want to believe they are all fabrications, have at it. Argument is pointless in this industry. I would encourage more genealogical and genetic research in this industry, but all people seem interested in is haplotype comparison.

http://www.ucc.ie/celt/publishd.html#ihlg

Irish Texts: Historical, Legal, Genealogical


Who said that those things you mentioned above were "all fabrications"?

We were talking specifically about the Book of Invasions. Even that may not be 100% fabrication, but obviously much of it is mythological and not based in fact. It is interesting and entertaining, but I wouldn't rely on it as an accurate history of the peopling of Ireland.
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« Reply #16 on: May 04, 2009, 05:53:54 PM »

I just found this thread.  Although registered I have only posted once here before.  As to the subject of this thread, I only posted a short summary of the latest take of say the last 5 years on the peopling of Ireland. It is not my opinion or my research, just a summary of the latest I have heard and read.  Published books on the subject tend to lag behind by many years so I thought it would be helpful to give a summary of the latest thoughts on each period from journal etc.  Some is not all that new but there has been recent major changes in understanding of the Mesolithic and Neolithic initial settlement based on new Mesolithic sites at Howick and Crammond and new very early Neolithic houses in England as well as papers by Sheriden etc.

As for the mythology, that was just a summary of the way views on Irish mythology have gone over the last 30 years or more.  There was a belief that it should be studied from an Indo-European comparitive angle many decades ago which gave way to looking at it from the point of view of the classics in the last few decades.   The latter seemed to show a lot of influence from the bible, classics etc.  Again, I was only summarising what I know of experts work on it and its not my own opinion.

Anyway, as some have said, I have repeated the same stuff a few times on these subjects and its maybe getting old so I wont post again on these sites unless there is a big breakthrough.  I certainly do not want to look like I want archaeology to pull rank on this as nobody really has the answers to this all and there are no clear answers that nearly links evidence across all the disciplines.  Anyway. Good luck with your researches.   

Alan
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« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2009, 07:03:29 PM »

Well, I for one like your posts very much and appreciate them, Alan. I don't think you repeat yourself at all. Your posts on Rootsweb have been some of the best I have ever read on that or any other venue. So, I hope you will keep posting here.
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« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2009, 07:24:31 PM »

Well, I for one like your posts very much and appreciate them, Alan. I don't think you repeat yourself at all. Your posts on Rootsweb have been some of the best I have ever read on that or any other venue. So, I hope you will keep posting here.


Informed opinion is always good and informed debate even better.
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« Reply #19 on: May 05, 2009, 12:40:34 AM »

"Informed opinion is always good and informed debate even better."

The man couldn't even have his surname listed or connected to what he was writing on these forums, boards, and lists. He requested that his name be deleted. Anonymous debate! Give me a break! We are entitled to have access to the other persons genetic research to at least determine who they are and assess the validity of their opinions. Where is his genetic research?
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« Reply #20 on: May 05, 2009, 06:27:21 AM »

"Ideas like 'Atlantic Bronze Age' have no real basis. On the basis of settlement, burial, ritual etc traditions it is very hard to see continental settlement on any sort of scale into the isles in this period although trade contact shown in metalwork, ore and influences must have been frequent"
That sentence is very debatable, in fact I debated that with Alan in the DNA forums some months ago. Many archaeologists support the existence of a cultural "Atlantic Bronze Age" area, see Kristian Kristiansen Europe Before History (1998) for an exposition of that with the relevant bibliography.
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« Reply #21 on: May 05, 2009, 06:31:04 AM »

The man couldn't even have his surname listed or connected to what he was writing on these forums, boards, and lists. He requested that his name be deleted. Anonymous debate! Give me a break! We are entitled to have access to the other persons genetic research to at least determine who they are and assess the validity of their opinions. Where is his genetic research?

Who Alan is appears to be known well enough by people who use this board to verify that he is a respected professional archaeologist. I don't think his desire for a certain amount of anonymity is that unusual, and the information that was removed was sufficient to track down quite large amounts of personal information.

Would you not say if you follow the argument that only people who have participated in personal genetic research can post arguments here, then also only people who have conducted personal archaeological and linguistic studies should be allowed to post on those topics, that could be a little limiting.

David Stedman

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« Reply #22 on: May 05, 2009, 07:45:05 AM »

"Informed opinion is always good and informed debate even better."

The man couldn't even have his surname listed or connected to what he was writing on these forums, boards, and lists. He requested that his name be deleted. Anonymous debate! Give me a break! We are entitled to have access to the other persons genetic research to at least determine who they are and assess the validity of their opinions. Where is his genetic research?

Evaluate his arguments then and not his credentials. The argument is the thing, not the supposed authority behind it.

There is plenty of crap being spread around out there by people with Ph.Ds.

Why should someone have to reveal his full name and everything about himself to participate in these discussions?

I am just a lowly school teacher myself, with no real claim to fame, but I will toss in my two cents here and there. If what I say makes sense and can be supported, then that speaks for itself. If it doesn't, would my curriculum vitae alter that?
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« Reply #23 on: May 05, 2009, 12:05:18 PM »

I’m not an archaeologist, and I don’t have a Ph.D. I have a Masters in History. Why in the world would I debate a professional archaeologist with my limited knowledge of that subject? Others may be more qualified to challenge his professional beliefs, but they should have the right to examine his professional repertoire to assess the validity of his claims.

“Would you not say if you follow the argument that only people who have participated in personal genetic research can post arguments here, then also only people who have conducted personal archaeological and linguistic studies should be allowed to post on those topics, that could be a little limiting.”

All I’m saying is that expertise in the archaeological and linguistics fields doesn’t necessarily crossover into genetic genealogy. People can say or do whatever they want. Serious genetic genealogist will provide access to their genetic and genealogical work.

“There is plenty of crap being spread around out there by people with Ph.Ds.”

Precisely, then why should we tolerate anonymity, too? We have a right to know who we are dealing with and examine their body of work.
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« Reply #24 on: May 05, 2009, 02:40:35 PM »

I’m not an archaeologist, and I don’t have a Ph.D. I have a Masters in History. Why in the world would I debate a professional archaeologist with my limited knowledge of that subject? Others may be more qualified to challenge his professional beliefs, but they should have the right to examine his professional repertoire to assess the validity of his claims.

“Would you not say if you follow the argument that only people who have participated in personal genetic research can post arguments here, then also only people who have conducted personal archaeological and linguistic studies should be allowed to post on those topics, that could be a little limiting.”

All I’m saying is that expertise in the archaeological and linguistics fields doesn’t necessarily crossover into genetic genealogy. People can say or do whatever they want. Serious genetic genealogist will provide access to their genetic and genealogical work.

“There is plenty of crap being spread around out there by people with Ph.Ds.”

Precisely, then why should we tolerate anonymity, too? We have a right to know who we are dealing with and examine their body of work.


Personally I would be very hard pressed to argue with anybody with a trained background in any of the above mentioned fields, but I don't think Alan was setting up an argument, but merely stating what current mainstream archaeological thinking is on this subject. Obviously it would be nice to have some input from others in his field to see if this is an accurate picture.

Also I would think that the study of movement of people via genetics, archaeology and development of language ought to find common ground. If there are areas of obvious disagreement then at least one of these fields should go and have another look at their arguments. However would I be going out on a limb if I said it looks like they are converging.
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