February 02, 2015

Strong (?) linguistic and archaeological evidence for steppe Indo-Europeans

In a new paper in Annual Review of Linguistics, David Anthony and Don Ringe make the archaeological and linguistic case for the steppe IE homeland hypothesis. It is very useful to see the evidence presented concisely in this way. Of course, I don't think that the evidence for the steppe IE hypothesis is "so strong" as it is said to be in the paper's abstract.

The authors first discuss the phylogeny of IE languages:
It seems clear that the ancestor of the Anatolian subgroup (which includes Hittite) separated from the other dialects of PIE first, so from a cladistic point of view Anatolian is half the IE family (e.g., Jasanoff 2003). Within the non-Anatolian half, it appears that the ancestor of the Tocharian subgroup (whose attested languages were spoken in Xinjiang, today in western China, until approximately the tenth century ce) separated from the other dialects before the latter had diverged much (e.g., Winter 1998, Ringe 2000). It follows that an item inherited by two or more of the daughter subgroups can be reconstructed for “early” PIE only if it is attested in at least one Anatolian language and at least one non-Anatolian language, and such an item can be reconstructed for the ancestor of the non-Anatolian subgroups only if it is attested in one or both of the Tocharian languages and in some other IE language. 
This doesn't seem to be evidence for the steppe hypothesis, but rather for the Anatolian one. The authors hypothesis a pre-4000BC Out-of-Steppe migration into the Balkans (migration left), but that takes you only into the Balkans and not into all the places in Anatolia where IE languages were spoken historically (right). The hypothesis that pre-4000BC Proto-Anatolians migrated from the steppe must bridge quite a lot of ground to reach the historical Anatolians of the 2nd and 1st millennium BC. It must also explain that the physical anthropological change in Anatolia in the Chalcolithic and the Bronze Age is associated with migration of brachycephals which seems incompatible with movements from either the Copper Age Balkans or the Pontic-Caspian steppe that were occupied by gracile and robust dolicho-mesocephals respectively. Migration 1 is of course possible but it is hardly a better explanation for the first-order split of Anatolian vs. post-Anatolian Indo-European than expansions from the Neolithic "womb of nations" that included Anatolia. Arrows 1 and 2 do harmonize with the proposed linguistic phylogeny. But, why would steppe Indo-Europeans first migrate southwest, then east, and then west? What was the cause of this particular sequence of migrations (which is invoked to harmonize the the linguistic evidence)? I am perfectly willing to consider linguistic replacement in Anatolia (it happened at least twice in recorded history, first with Greek and then with Turkish), but the case is not particularly strong that it happened from a pre-4000BC Out-of-Steppe movement via the eastern Balkans. As for the Tocharians, their recorded language of the 1st millennium AD is 4ky removed from movement 2 to the Altai, so even if future discoveries convincingly prove this movement, the yawning gap of 4 thousand years will remain. My analysis of modern Uygurs shows that the Caucasoid element in the Turkic inhabitants of Eastern Turkestan (which presumably includes the Indo-European element) is complex, and perfectly compatible with a non-steppe, but rather West Asian ultimate origin of Tocharians.

.
The authors next discuss the wheel vocabulary (left). The idea is that wheeled vehicles weren't known when farmers colonized Europe, so if PIE has terminology for wheeled vehicles, then it has to be later. I don't find these arguments convincing, because words change meanings, and PIE doesn't have a word for wheeled vehicle, but for a variety of its components, each of which might have meant something else originally.

But, even if one concedes wheeled vehicles, it's still the case that neither Anatolian nor Tocharian has a repertoire of many terms for wheeled vehicles. So, all the wheel vocabulary proves (if one accepts it at all) is that post-Anatolian or even post-Tocharian languages had wheeled vehicles. This then provides a chronological constraint to the spread of post-Anatolian (or post-Tocharian) IE languages after the invention of wheeled vehicles, but tells us absolutely nothing about where they spread from (and hence the steppe hypothesis) but only when they spread. Thus, the wheel vocabulary is consistent with a whole number of theories that propose a spread of IE languages after the invention of wheeled vehicles and provides no special support for the steppe hypothesis over others.

The authors next discuss the lexical borrowings into Proto-Uralic and Proto-Finno-Ugrian. But, this only shows that early Uralic and Finno-Ugrian speakers came into contact with early Indo-Europeans, not that Indo-Europeans originated near Uralic and Finno-Ugrian speakers. Moreover, the authors also mention that PIE shows evidence of contacts with Proto-Kartvelian speakers. By the same line of argument, the PIE homeland should be close to Georgia where Proto-Kartvelian languages were presumably spoken. Indeed, Uralic languages are very widely spoken from Europe to eastern Siberia and the Uralic geographical constraint is much weaker than the Kartvelian one, as there are many parts of Eurasia (including the Pontic-Caspian steppe) that Uralic languages may have been spoken of, but a very small part of Eurasia (the southern Caucasus and northeastern Anatolia) for which any evidence of Kartvelians exists. The authors suggest that a steppe PIE explains both Proto-Uralic and Proto-Kartvelian borrowings as the steppe is between presumable speakers of these two language families. True, but Northeast and Northwest Caucasian speakers lie between Proto-Kartvelians and the steppe. A PIE origin on the steppe must bypass the NW/NE Caucasian speakers to bring Indo-Europeans in contact with Kartvelians, and a PIE origin in highland West Asia must bypass the same to bring them into contact with Uralic speakers. In sum, I don't see at all how the evidence from lexical borrowings favors the steppe hypothesis strongly.

The authors next discuss the archaeological implications of placing the homeland on the steppe and discuss how it may have been carried out. I continue to think that the spread of metallurgy is the most obvious candidate for an enabling factor. Having the capacity to build and trade metal objects, or kill people with metal weapons gives one obvious advantages that are unquestionable in every circumstance in the way that flocks of cattle and sheep, horses, and wheeled vehicles are not. Not only Indo-Europeans but also Semitic speakers may have been enabled by metallurgy to spread their languages. Neither Indo-Europeans nor Semites may have been master metallurgists, but metallurgical progress enabled language spread just as other technological innovations (e.g., stirrups, firearms, ocean-worthy boats) did in more recent history.

The authors then criticize past work on phylogenetic modeling of languages and end their article with this sentence:
Work currently in progress by the team of Chang, Hall, Cathcart, and Garrett promises to fill that gap.
An article by these authors is listed in the journal Language website, albeit without the actual text of the article yet:
Ancestry-constrained phylogenetic analysis supports the Indo-European steppe hypothesis 
Will Chang, Chundra Cathcart, David Hall and Andrew Garrett, University of California, Berkeley 
Discussion of Indo-European origins and dispersal focuses on two hypotheses. Qualitative evidence from reconstructed vocabulary and correlations with archaeological data suggest that Indo-European languages originated in the Pontic-Caspian steppe and spread together with cultural innovations associated with pastoralism, beginning c. 6500–5500 BP. An alternative hypothesis, according to which Indo-European languages spread with the diffusion of farming from Anatolia, beginning c. 9500–8000 BP, is supported by statistical phylogenetic and phylogeographic analyses of lexical traits. The time and place of the Indo-European ancestor language therefore remain disputed. Here we present a phylogenetic analysis in which ancestry constraints permit more accurate inference of rates of change, based on observed changes between ancient or medieval languages and their modern descendants, and we show that the result strongly supports the steppe hypothesis. Positing ancestry constraints also reveals that homoplasy is common in lexical traits, contrary to the assumptions of previous work. We show that lexical traits undergo recurrent evolution due to recurring patterns of semantic and morphological change.
It's not clear what the article itself shows. If this is simply a criticism of the "old" dates of the first PIE split proposed by Gray/Atkinson and Bouckaert et al., then this does not really support the steppe hypothesis uniquely, but rather argues against the Neolithic Anatolian one. However, there are many hypotheses other than these two (including my Bronze Age expansion of Indo-European languages hypothesis from West Asia which is somewhat related to that of Stanislav Grigoriev) that can accommodate a later split of PIE.

To conclude, I think that archaeology and linguistics have failed to make a convincing case for steppe Proto-Indo-Europeans. It is certainly a respectable and popular theory but the evidence for it is hardly "so strong" as to create serious problems for other hypotheses. Hopefully, archaeogenetics will succeed where archaeology and linguistics (despite their valiant efforts) have failed.

Annual Review of Linguistics Vol. 1: 199-219 (Volume publication date January 2015) DOI: 10.1146/annurev-linguist-030514-124812

David W. Anthony1 and Don Ringe2

The Indo-European Homeland from Linguistic and Archaeological Perspectives

Archaeological evidence and linguistic evidence converge in support of an origin of Indo-European languages on the Pontic-Caspian steppes around 4,000 years BCE. The evidence is so strong that arguments in support of other hypotheses should be reexamined.

Link

103 comments:

Grognard said...

Wheel argument makes sense to me. Besides, there is really no way someone could believe that IE language speakers are the original european farmers anyway.

Showing that their spread had real impact on genetics is another story and one that doesn't have any evidence so far.

Nathan said...

I.E. could not have originated in Anatolia , because Hattic (a non I.E. language) is a substratum language in Hittite.

Kurti said...

One day it will turn out PIE came from, where animal domestication originated and the Steppes were just a layover/Secondary homeland to some of the Indo Europeans. Mark my words. People thought I was crazy when years before the founding of Mal'ta I argued that "Gedrosia" and "North European" might have some common origin and the "Amerindian/Asian affinity is because of that origin. People said no it is just coincidence.

https://anthropologynet.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/animal-domestication-time-frame.jpg

Kurti said...

@Grognard Certanly not early farmers, but a group of pastoralists from slighter further east.

Nirjhar007 said...

@Dienekes
''To conclude, I think that archaeology and linguistics have failed to make a convincing case for steppe Proto-Indo-Europeans. It is certainly a respectable and popular theory but the evidence for it is hardly "so strong" as to create serious problems for other hypotheses. Hopefully, archaeogenetics will succeed where archaeology and linguistics (despite their valiant efforts) have failed.''
I don't think Steppe hypothesis will be proven as a scientific one Dienekes its just a Creationist argument OTOH a Homeland In Asia makes way more sense as far as i can
see from Studying Linguistics,Archaeology,Archaeotexts,Physical Anthropological Data etc.

Krefter said...

Grognard. There's alot of genetic evidence.

http://eurogenes.blogspot.com/2015/01/a-little-more-teasing-half-of-our.html

Т said...

I am Slavic speaker so I noticed something in "wheel map". There is no Slavic commom word for wheel.

Common Slavic word for wheel is "kolo".
It is strange for me that other linguists have not included it.

eurologist said...

Dienekes, I largely agree with your criticism. I still think an origin along the western side of the Pontic is arguable from the location, as a putative migration center, and from the fact that it was an early cradle of gold, copper, and both arsenic and tin bronze metallurgy.

Furthermore, I think one should keep an open mind about some Anatolian and Central-European Neolithic languages being sister groups to Archaic PIE - which would explain the ease of later PIE introduction into both areas, but also colorations and substrates that make Celtic and Germanic different and make Anatolian appear so archaic.

Finally, the figure with the red time line makes no sense, to me, at all. Firstly, there is no way that Armenian/Greek split after Celtic/Italic/Germanic. Secondly, Germanic is not in any way part of the Indo-Iranian/Balto-Slavic continuum. It is IMO mostly related to Italic - but keeping some derivations from pre-Greek. Its influences from Indo-Iranian are very few, from Slavic only very recent, and even from Baltic documented to be after Uralic and Finno-Ugrian contacts. Exactly what you would expect if the Proto-Germanic language continuum was spoken in much of Central, N-Central, and E-Central Europe very early on.

Mike Thomas said...

Where the mentioned papers are correct is chronology. Their location, however, is off IMHO. Anthony et al are off because they have a fixation on the steppe; Garrett et al simply because they altogehter do not consider it.

Va_Highlander said...

If PIE spread with pastoralism out of the Pontic-Caspian steppe, then did pastoralism also bring some language to the region, when it arrived there from the south? If so, what language was that? If not, why not? What essential quality did PIE-speakers possess that the folks from, presumably, the southern Caspian region did not?

I suspect it's significant that Anthony is pushing an initial PIE expansion date within centuries of, if my data is correct, the arrival of ovicaprids in the southern Urals. Such curious coincidences are not atypical, when considering the Kurgan hypothesis. I'm reminded of the striking coincidence of PIE-speaking nomads hypothetically arriving in the Altai within a few centuries of the indisputable arrival of elements from southern Central Asia in the Zarafshan Valley.

Such coincidences, in a hard science, would demand an explanation, some compelling argument why PIE must have spread from southern Russia and could not have spread from southern Turkmenistan.

Dienekes said...

I.E. could not have originated in Anatolia , because Hattic (a non I.E. language) is a substratum language in Hittite.

Hittite is not the only Anatolian language, and Anatolia is a big place. Also, the "substratum" argument is not serious, because all Indo-European languages have substrata.

Nirjhar007 said...

@Dienekes
''Hittite is not the only Anatolian language, and Anatolia is a big place. Also, the "substratum" argument is not serious, because all Indo-European languages have substrata.''
Iranian languages are the purest in case of substrata there is no doubt if we study them also for example Kurdish dialect still has the archaic Laryngeals alive for words in their vocabulary.

Nirjhar007 said...

@Va Highlander
'' I'm reminded of the striking coincidence of PIE-speaking nomads hypothetically arriving in the Altai within a few centuries of the indisputable arrival of elements from southern Central Asia in the Zarafshan Valley''
Can we see what ''indisputable arrival of elements'' you are referring to please??
PIE originated around West Asia there is no way you can dispute that.

spagetiMeatball said...

Man, people are still taking the anatolia argument seriously. Polako is going to have a field day when he gets here.

Kurti said...

Funny is also that they propose a Balkan route into Anatolia while any history account agrees that the came from eastern Direction. Even allot of archeologist agree with that. I don't buy that "Hittites came from the Balkans" theory.

postneo said...

Some flaws in this paper which are completely glossed over.

A steppe(north caspian) hypothesis works only for Europe since archeology does not support movement from the steppes to either anatolia, iran or south asia.

south caspian center works for anatolia, iran and india and there is archeological support.

The distance between the two centers a south caspian and north caspian is not too great. Moreover archeology does support movement from the south to the north caspian in the relevant time frame.

This modified scenario does satisfy the required criteria. It probably occurred to these guys. Perhaps it was not very palatable.

Simon_W said...

I think the relationships of PIE with early languages of other families are really the crucial point. Mutual borrowing of words is one thing, another thing are similarities even in the grammatical area. Personally I don't know much about Uralic, but according to wikipedia it's most often considered the closest relative of IE, not only because of lexical relations, but also many morphological and grammatical parallels, e.g. in the pronominal system. We don't have to assume a genetical relationship between Uralic and IE, but at least the contacts seem to have been very close and intimate, if they even yielded similarities in the pronouns. The contacts with Kartvelian seem to have been rather lexical and, perhaps, phonetical.

Thus David Anthony wrote in his work „The horse, the wheel, and language“:
„Proto-Indo-European also had contact with the languages of the Caucasus Mountains, primarily those now classified as South Caucasian or Kartvelian, the family that produced modern Georgian. These connections have suggested to some that the Proto-Indo-European homeland should be placed in the Caucasus near Armenia or perhaps in nearby eastern Anatolia. The links between Proto-Indo-European and Kartvelian are said to appear in both phonetics and vocabulary, although the phonetic link is controversial. (...) Johanna Nichols has shown from the phonology of the loans that the Proto-Indo-European/Proto-Kartvelian/Proto-Semitic contacts were indirect – all the loan words passed through unknown intermediaries between the known three. One intermediary is required by chronology, as Proto-Kartvelian is generally thought to have existed after Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Semitic. The Semitic and Caucasian vocabulary that was borrowed into Proto-Indo-European through Kartvelian therefore contains roots that belonged to some Pre-Kartvelian or Proto-Kartvelian language in the Caucasus. This language had relations, through unrecorded intermediaries, with Proto-Indo-European on one side and Proto-Semitic on the other. (...) Many experts agree that Proto-Indo-European shared some features with a language ancestral to Kartvelian but not necessarily through a direct face-to-face link. Relations with the speakers of Proto-Uralic were closer. So who were the neighbors? Proto-Indo-European exhibits strong links with Proto-Uralic and weaker links with a language ancestral to Proto-Kartvelian. The speakers of Proto-Indo-European lived somewhere between the Caucasus and Ural Mountains but had deeper linguistic relationships with the people who lived around the Urals.“

According to the latest news on the upcoming Yamnaya paper from the Reich lab, the Yamnaya population was a 50-50 mix of EHG with an Armenian-like West Asian population that also had ANE. I think it's perfectly conceivable that the latter population spoke a language related to Kartvelian; this might reconcile the Kartvelian links of PIE with a steppe origin.

a said...

Let's call the language used as a standard in determining PIE and people who spoke it by their correct name. Nešili "language of Neša" not Hittite.

They built a fortified city in rugged terrain, and put two lions at the entrance.["Ḫattuša]
They engaged a military superpower[Egypt] in probably one of the largest chariot battles of all time.[Battle of Kadesh-1274 B.C]

They knew of iron and used a PIE word wiyana, just like proto Kartvelian and proto Armenian.

Simon_W said...

On the other hand, if the parallels between IE and Uralic are mainly the effect of heavy early IE influence upon Uralic, this would still allow a PIE origin in West Asia.

I agree that the phylogeny of IE, with the early, deep split between Anatolian and the rest, would rather favour a West Asian origin. If the Anatolian branch was the result of an early IE wave into the Balkans, I'd expect more of a continuum to other IE branches.

Also the argument with the brachycephals is a good point. The Hittites, the earliest IE population of Anatolia, introduced a brachycephalic type that wasn't in place prior to them. And the Balkans and the PC steppe don't seem like a likely source for that type. Somehow, the proponents of a steppe origin would have to theorize that this brachycephalic type was originally not associated with Anatolian IEs, and only by chance arrived in Anatolia at the same time as the first IEs.

And lastly, I'd say the West Asian people who presumably introduced herding on the steppe are more likely to have enforced their language than the foragers who adopted the new way of life.

EastPole said...

We are all waiting now for David Reich et al. paper. If it turns out that Slavs are the populations most similar to the ancient Yamnaya and Corded Ware populations in terms of autosomal DNA and Y-DNA, then the only linguistic model which fits the genetics will be this:

http://i1076.photobucket.com/albums/w443/priwas/fala-1.jpg

andrew said...

The rise of the Hittites from a chiefdom with just a couple of cities to their conquest of almost all of Anatolia, Northern Mesopotamia and the Northern Levant is almost entirely historically attested as is significant detail about the linguistically non-Indo-European people that they conquered. It is not just that there was a substrate, but that we know a lot about where and when it was and what the substrate language that influenced the Indo-European Hittite language looked like. There were one or two Indo-European Anatolian languages other than Hittite attested prior to the rise of the Hittites ca. 2000 BCE, but we know from contemporaneous Akkadian and Hittite accounts that they were minority pockets in Anatolia ca. 2000 BCE. Archaeological evidence of metallurgy use by the Hittites (a technology they were historically known for) corroborates the historical accounts. And, most Indo-European Anatolian language are attested only after the Hittite Empire falls in Bronze Age collapse ca. 1200 BCE, likely bearing a similar relationship to Hittite to that of Latin to the Romance languages, i.e. fragmentation after loss of political unity.

Eurologist is likewise very likely right in concluding that the apparent antiquity and divergence of the Anatolian language is due to a substrate influence quite different from that experienced by other Anatolian languages, rather than the antiquity of its split.

The physical anthropology source cited notes a Chalcolithic migration of "brachycephals" to Anatolia and then a subsequent Hittite migration ca. 2000 BCE of individual of a "pure Alpine type". Two waves of migration, the former quite possibly bringing in the Hattic civilization, the latter associated with the Hittites. This may not argue for a Steppe origin, but it does argue powerfully, taken together with the historical evidence, points strongly to an early Bronze Age arrival of the Indo-European languages to Anatolia and an origin from outside Anatolia.

Meanwhile, Tocharians, while they show up in the Tarim Basin ca. 2000 BCE, as Mallory demonstrates archaeologically, arrived there from NW of the Tarim Basin from a people who arrived from the Steppe ca. 3500 BCE, making it much older than other branches on Indo-European including Anatolian.

Not all mysteries are solved with these observations, but lots of theories are ruled out by them.

bellbeakerblogger said...

I hate to be a hater with snakes in hand, bug eyes and all...

but why should we look for PIE origins in the place in which none of the basal twigs occur (according to their own phylogeny)

I notice they steered clear of Proto-Tocharian's geographic origin, or postulated Euphratean. They also fail to unpack the 'Westernization' of Luwian or Old Hittite.

Sorry, I could pick at this for days. No strong evidence.

Simon_W said...

By the way, I found it disturbing how the authors of the present article put down the Armenian highland theory, imho the most promising alternative to the steppe theory, with just a few lines: that it was based on the controversial glottalic hypothesis and that it lacked archeological support. I'd say the latter is definitely not the case. The early appearance of kurgan burials in Transcaucasia, at least as old as in Yamnaya, is certainly evidence, and Grigoriev has accumulated more evidence for influence emerging out of eastern Anatolia, Armenia and Transcaucasia at just the right time. And with the genetic findings of the upcoming Yamnaya paper the credit for the Armenian theory should explode to unforeseen heights. Instead the authors of the present article present Renfrew's Anatolian theory as the only serious competitor of the steppe theory, although it has been largely disproved long ago. But maybe they were just happy about having a rival theory that's not too strong.

aniasi said...

While I accept many of your arguments, I must disagree with your use of cephalic indexes and robust-gracile categories as somehow representing the genetic and ethnic heritage of a population. Franz Boas found that it took only a few generations to change morphology in populations, and his conclusions were found to be reproducible in a mathematically modelled study by Gravlee. You yourself have also posted several articles showing that genetic heritage and physical traits don't correlate, such as Kostenki.

andrew said...

As far as the physical anthropology issue goes, I'm not sure that Dienekes' interpretation is correct.

Maps from the time that this kind of racial typology was common largely contrast brachycephalic typically of the Steppe region, with Mediterranean population to the South of Anatolia and the Nordic populations which have similar Cephalic indexes (with Nordic having different coloration and tending to be taller). The Alpine type was within the barchycephalic population and very typical of the Steppe.

See

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cephalic_index#mediaviewer/File:PSM_V50_D602_World_cephalic_index_map.jpg

and

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

"gracile and robust dolicho-mesocephals" is what you would expect from the Levant and Persian, not the Pontic-Caspian steppe.

Thus, the physical anthropology evidence cited tends to favor, rather than to disprove a Pontic-Caspian steppe origin.

Grognard said...

Krefter, I would expect if the languages truly came from migration and replacement then there would be dramatic proof of it. Or that there will be dramatic proof of it.

I see all the time that R1B supposedly came to europe this way. That would be much more major than r1a moving into east and northern europe. Obviously there must have been some genetic turnover but even if this is a correct analysis ANE is only a small part of europe's makeup.

Big question is still when r1b shows up, or the R* it split off from.

I'd also say origins are not even close to certain. The 'west asian' components in the 'australoid' skull fround in european russia show this is the case. A lot of these elements have been here "forever" and may even have originated here - remember these come from evolution and drift not that occurs daily, the differences were not all apportioned millions of years ago or anything.

So yes I'm sure it had some effect. I am not sure it had as big an effect as many people throw around so carelessly though. I am not even sure we know where domestication and farming originate either for that matter, let alone the exact details of PIE. Which will always be difficult to know because it's impossible to go back in time and test it.

Mike Thomas said...

Eurologist- the centre of gravity argue why Id a weak one
Anyhow ; there is nothing more Central North knthe ponto-caspian space cf just south of it - anatolia- Northern Iran arc

Mike Thomas said...

VA highlander
"f PIE spread with pastoralism out of the Pontic-Caspian steppe, then did pastoralism also bring some language to the region, when it arrived there from "

Good point . Typifies the reductionist approach of kurgan hypothesis . Happily ignore data which does not fit with their model ; ie that pastoralism was an off shoot of Southern centres (balkans or / and Causasus ) ; and the apprent southern genetic intrusion to yamnaya - pending the reich paper.

Moreover ; the blog supporters of the steppe hypothesis ; like our friend Krefter above ; are very malleable with the interpretation of genetic data; happily "bending " the evidence to accomodate expansions from the steppe.

Mike Thomas said...

"I.E. could not have originated in Anatolia , because Hattic (a non I.E. language) is a substratum language in Hittite."


This is more an issue of sociolinguistic dynamics than "who was first". Some people lack basic understanding in linguistics ; yet feel strongly speculate based on lack of any solid knowledge

Bill Lipton said...

The genetic IE spread tracked in the 2011 book "Grandpa Was A Deity: How a Tribal Assertion Created Modern Culture" begins with the Russian origin bringing the wheel into Indus Valley region and then spreading west.
But a component went, via the Altai Mts, into China creating a unified mythology in the serpent-female deity that was common to both in that early period.
As the book points out, there are multiple astro-archaeological site, and mythologies to support the evidence of the yDNA.
The idea that the "Indo-European languages originated in the Pontic-Caspian steppe and spread together with cultural innovations associated with pastoralism," makes sense within the of settlement of some of the nomadic population, and continued travel of other members of that same tribal group.

German Dziebel said...

The Pontic Steppe model remains the most sound. On the wheel vocabulary see http://kinshipstudies.org/2015/02/03/indo-european-words-for-wheel-evidence-for-transition-from-agriculture-to-pastoralism/.

Davidski said...

Does Slavic have non-Indo-European substrata? I've read and heard (video below) that the only substrata in Slavic languages is Indo-European.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFZhWfL0ocY&list=PLAXoDomeFLX90fTHi0W8lYBtEoZHSBH2i&index=13

In any case, there are no convincing non-Indo-European hydronyms on the southern Russian steppe.

eurologist said...

I am Slavic speaker so I noticed something in "wheel map". There is no Slavic commom word for wheel.

Common Slavic word for wheel is "kolo".
It is strange for me that other linguists have not included it.


T,

That is most likely a German loanword. E.g., in northern German "kullern" means to roll, usually an object or a person on the ground.

see, e.g., pages 49-50 in:

http://www.bkge.uni-oldenburg.de/download/woerterbuch-teschenerdialekt/woerterbuch-k.pdf

eurologist said...

...continued:

Then there is also the German word Kugel, meaning "sphere" or "ball."

Valikhan said...

http://qz.com/336504/a-massive-data-dive-proves-that-languages-and-genes-evolve-together/
https://qzprod.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/alleles-phonemes-map_colorcorrected.jpeg?w=1024

Jim said...

"Also, the "substratum" argument is not serious, because all Indo-European languages have substrata."

And usually these are thought to show the IE language in question is intrusive. That is certainly the case in India; in fact the case is strong enough that it has evoked an outraged countervailing proposal that PIE formed in India itself.

Substratum arguments for Celtic and Germanic are conjectural and have been for decades.

Stoneville Inc said...

Hi Dienekes, what do you think of the Zagros as the source of PIE ?

Nirjhar007 said...

@Wesolowski
''Does Slavic have non-Indo-European substrata? I've read and heard (video below) that the only substrata in Slavic languages is Indo-European.''
Their phonology is Uralic which other Indo-Euroean Languages lack which may suggest their language was also before the Indo-European arrival from West Asia, Phonology is something which is quite basal and can't be suggested as a matter of drift or evolution.
They also have Non-IE LBK type words not found in Asian I-E languages.

Nirjhar007 said...

@Bill
'' How a Tribal Assertion Created Modern Culture" begins with the Russian origin bringing the wheel into Indus Valley region and then spreading west.''
Sahr-i-sokhta has evidence of Spoked wheels from ~3000 bc.

Mike Thomas said...

@ Andrew –
Your comments are interesting but ultimately fallible. Just because Hittites conquered the Hattic kingdom, it doesn’t mean they came from very far away. Anatolia, much more than Europe in the LN and EBA, was a culturally and linguistically diverse place- likely with widely divergent linguistic groups living in close proximity as communities were self-sfficient and could diverge widely from one another. As for craniometry – that’s just poseudoscience.

@ Davidski

The purity of IE hydronyms in Nth Pontic region actually speaks of a recent colonization, not a ‘homeland’. And Thomas and Kaufmanhave argued for a Uralic substratum in all Slavic (vs solely nth Russian, which is expetced).

Gary Moore said...

The steppe origin of Indo-European is more likely. As I pointed out in a post on a previous article, Neolithic Eastern Europe did have a cultural connection with Southern Siberia across the steppe belt. Moreover, much of the core lexicon of Proto Indo-European is based on archaic North American, not western Eurasian, languages - probably by way of a back migration from the Americas around the time of the 8.2 Kiloyear Event. The most direct route for such a population that reached southern Siberia would be across the steppe belt, which would channel their migration to the Pontic region. At some point, the language jumped from the original group to populations characterized by YHG R1a and R1b, which would go a long way to explaining the Native American component of modern Europeans.

Major missing pieces of the puzzle are the extinct Balkan languages. Aside from a few scattered words, we have almost no idea what these languages were like or their relationship to known Indo-European langages. I think it is more likely that Pre-Hittite arrived in Anatolia through the Caucasus route and not by way of the Balkans.

Fanty said...

An ethymology page claims kolo is from Indoeuropean "kʷekʷlom", meaning "circle"

Wich may also the source for German "Kegel" (english: Cone) and German "Kugel" (english Shpere, Orb, Bullet)

-----
Differnt stuff that just came to my mind after reading "substratum". ;-)

For German "Substratum" (words derived from the pre-indoeuropean anchestors of Germans or simply "exlusive" Germanic words that dont show up in any other language, except in those that derrived that word from German in historical times) words, its words that have to do with the ocean, beach, tides, names for the parts of a boat or a ship.
Words for what sailors do while sailing a ship.

That would suggest pre-indoeuropean achestors of Germans (TBK?) would be seafaring people and Indoeuropeans had not been.

Nathan said...

" Hittite is not the only Anatolian language, and Anatolia is a big place. Also, the "substratum" argument is not serious, because all Indo-European languages have substrata."


Substratum language in Indo-Aryan is 1 proof of I.E. not being autochthonous to the Indian Subcontinent.

alex said...

To me it looks from the map that recent IE languages may come from Tripyllia-Cucuteni culture area after attack by pastoralists from the east (maybe indo-iranians). Situation looks very similar to Hun invasion that caused several migrations. IE languages could have come to TC area from Anatolia through Balkans and become isolated from homeland. In Journal of Indo-European studies (vol 40) Axel Kristinsson proposed TC culture area as a source of IE languages from the viepoint of his cyclic expansion theory. Still, i have no idea how to explain tocharian.

eurologist said...

"Iranian languages are the purest in case of substrata there is no doubt if we study them also for example Kurdish dialect still has the archaic Laryngeals alive for words in their vocabulary."

Nirjhar007,

If anything, this points to a very swift and total conversion to PIE - which we know was also driven by a dominant culture of religious leaders at the time.

"Funny is also that they propose a Balkan route into Anatolia while any history account agrees that the came from eastern Direction. Even allot of archeologist agree with that. I don't buy that "Hittites came from the Balkans" theory."

Kurti,

I don't see that as problematic, since the western Pontic was the culturally most advanced at the time, including metallurgy, and clearly had trade connections not only with Anatolia but circum-Pontic.

"If it turns out that Slavs are the populations most similar to the ancient Yamnaya and Corded Ware populations in terms of autosomal DNA and Y-DNA, then the only linguistic model which fits the genetics will be this:

http://i1076.photobucket.com/albums/w443/priwas/fala-1.jpg"


EastPole,

The concept of "Slavs" post-dates linguistic classifications by 2,000 - 3,000 years. As a reminder, much of Central and Eastern Europe spoke Germanic languages before the historic and rather late Slavic expansions, and also Baltic and Illyrian before Slavic expansions.

Mark Maz said...

@eurologist

That is most likely a German loanword. E.g., in northern German "kullern" means to roll, usually an object or a person on the ground.

IE loanwords into Slavic. You must be joking.
But then we also have "cullo" from Spanish which means a nice round ass.

sykes.1 said...

Kurti has a point. The argument from language has to be combined with the available DNA data.

Are we back to accepting Renfrew's model?

Va_Highlander said...

andrew:

"Meanwhile, Tocharians, while they show up in the Tarim Basin ca. 2000 BCE, as Mallory demonstrates archaeologically, arrived there from NW of the Tarim Basin from a people who arrived from the Steppe ca. 3500 BCE"

I don't think that there is compelling evidence for this conjecture, to be honest.

So far as I'm aware, the only cultural connection between the earliest Tarim mummy people and the Afanasiev peoples are round-bottomed grass baskets interred with the former, which some believe resemble pottery typical of the latter. However, that pottery tradition is not at all unique to Afanasiev -- who incidentally also produced non-round-bottomed pots -- is found over a vast geographic area, and predates the arrival of these hypothetical steppe migrants by some thousands of years.

Simon_W said...

Andrew, do you really believe the present-day cephalic index of a given region is the same as it was 5 kya? We don't have to consider the present-day cephalic index, because there are plenty of ancient skulls.

Simon_W said...

Eurologist, if Germanic isn't as close to Balto-Slavic as it is to Italo-Celtic, how do you explain this net:

http://dienekes.blogspot.ch/2011/11/splits-or-waves-trees-or-webs.html

It's based on the data here:

http://www.languagesandpeoples.com/Eng/SupplInfo/AnttilaNeighborNet.htm

The graph shows many separating lines to Celtic and much fewer to Baltic.

Simon_W said...

Mike Thomas,

"As for craniometry – that’s just poseudoscience."

LOL, no it isn't. Only what andrew made of it - conjecture based on dubious wikipedia maps of the present-day distribution of a single trait - is. Multivariate craniometric studies are science and useful.

Nirjhar007 said...

@Eurologist
''If anything, this points to a very swift and total conversion to PIE - which we know was also driven by a dominant culture of religious leaders at the time.''
Don't make circular arguments please.

Nathan Paul said...

Dienekes,

Totally agree with "Hopefully, archaeogenetics will succeed where archaeology and linguistics have failed" We also need to add script for this.


Each of us are basically making ethnocentric arguments. Not sure your womb of nations is exception.


Research is dominated by Bible belt and people.

Pre Phonecians there is no good script for even mighty Greeks and Romans. Aramac derived from Phoenicians. Now all the western research, wiki say Indic scripts are derived from Aramac.

Whereas Iranian avesta and Indic scripts are clearly older and more phonetically organized.
Phoenicians magically appeared in across the border in your mythical J2 Aryan homeland and became root of all scripts.

Backlands of Israel when great Egyptian and Greek civilizations are at its peak created the mother script for all other civilizations. Man oh Man. Bible Bible.

BMAC was brought up to push Indus civilization back by all the researchers.

Uni parental geentic flow conveniently pushed back but the biggest discussion is only on R1*

By your own and western wiki admissions

Indus civilization one of the three early civilizations of the Old World, and the most widespread among them, most populated of them and now sparsely populated.


May be Womb of Nations and languages need to shift little east which not too far from your argument.

Steppe hypothesis? Civilizations comes up in plains and valleys but languages originate in mountains by isolated tribes?
God bless all.

andrew said...

"Andrew, do you really believe the present-day cephalic index of a given region is the same as it was 5 kya? We don't have to consider the present-day cephalic index, because there are plenty of ancient skulls."

The ancient skulls referenced in the source by Dienekes is looking a ancient skulls, with Mediterranean cephalic index skulls in Anatolia being replaced by brachycephalic in the Copper Age and early Bronze Age.

Dienekes assertion that Pontic-Caspian skulls were not brachycephalic is not supported by any evidence, and is contrary to what one would expect. Also, brachycephalic does not automatically imply either gracile or robust, although brachycephalic and robust often accompany each other. Brachycephalic refers to skull shape. Gracile or robust refers to skeletal plan in the rest of the body.

Some comparison data between ancient and modern populations in these respects can be found at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1325007/

But I was not able to locate the raw data to make a direct comparison.

There are quotes from the source cited by Dienekes and related sources midway down the page at http://www.forumbiodiversity.com/archive/index.php/t-10408-p-18.html

This again supports the notion that the invasion was from the North and not the South.

"I must disagree with your use of cephalic indexes and robust-gracile categories as somehow representing the genetic and ethnic heritage of a population. Franz Boas found that it took only a few generations to change morphology in populations, and his conclusions were found to be reproducible in a mathematically modelled study by Gravlee."

I don't necessarily disagree with this point, but a few generations is still a century. When you are looking at substantially contemporaneous shifts in cephalic index, this is still powerful evidence of demic migration of an ethnically different population resulting in population genetic shift, even if local environmental conditions make the distinction disappear a couple of generations later.

"Does Slavic have non-Indo-European substrata? I've read and heard (video below) that the only substrata in Slavic languages is Indo-European."

Yes and no. Proto-Slavic was an exclusively Balkan language until ca. 6th century CE and Proto-Slavic probably has some non-Indo-European substrate from ca. 2000-2500 BCE. But, during Slavic expansion from this proto-language commencing in the 6th century and running its course within the next few hundred years, the vast majority of the region spoke either Eastern Germanic languages (which were also recent migration period arrivals), or lost Indo-European languages descended from the language of the Corded Ware people that Slavic replaced. The Corded Ware language probably had a substrate influence of the LBK language that twice diluted, may have influenced Slavic as well. There are likely a few pockets of the current range of the Slavic languages where there probably were Uralic substrates that previous waves of Indo-European had not wiped out, but probably only in a few relict pockets that might show up today as odd regional dialect variations in Russian.

Re: Hittite origins in the Balkans v. Eastern Anatolia

The Anatolian languages attested pre-Hittite empire are in Western Anatolia, and none of the non-Hittite languages are attested in Eastern Anatolia, and Indo-Europeans are attested in mainland Greece before they are attested in Anatolia. The historical and archaeological record doesn't provide much else in the way of hints to favor one direction v. another. The Black Sea coast of Anatolia seems to be one of the last places that Indo-Europeans were attested, so they probably didn't arrive from the middle.

capra internetensis said...

The wheel argument seems pretty sound to me, though as already noted this only narrows down the time frame, not the location. There is a caveat, though: related languages which are in contact sometimes borrow terms from one another and in doing so change the phonology to match the sound changes that would have happened had the term been inherited - because they know those other guys pronounce things funny. So the wheel terms could spread across already divergent branches which were still in contact. However, this wouldn't be plausible in the case of deeply diverged and widely separated branches - it isn't going to go all the way from Western Europe to India. But you could have the break-up of post-Anatolian happen a little while before the spread of wheeled vehicles, in the Late Neolithic.

There are umpteen different theories about the early branching pattern of Indo-European languages; whichever one you pick will lead to a different centre-of-gravity for IE. (And that is leaving aside the wilder hypotheses like Euphratic.)

Ringe's tree is pretty typical, except for putting Indo-Iranian as a sister to Balto-Slavic, rather than I-I next to Greco-Armenian and B-S next to Germanic. The latter gives I-I a more "southern" position.

To the layman there seems to be no clear winner here.

andrew said...

"Eurologist, if Germanic isn't as close to Balto-Slavic as it is to Italo-Celtic, how do you explain this net"

The figure in that article shows that East Germanic is equidistant (4 steps) from Italic and Baltic, and that Slavic is one step removed from Baltic relative to East Germanic, while Celtic is one step removed from Italic relative to East Germanic (which, of course, is the dead language family of the Goths, Visgoths and Vandals).

It does not support a closer relationship of Germanic to Italic-Celtic than to Balto-Slavic, but does not support a closer relationship to Balto-Slavic either. It also supports the historically supported close relationship of Slavic to Albanian (1 step), since Slavic expansion began ca. 6th century CE in an area geographically adjacent to the east of Albania.

David Jacobson said...

Trying to fit very simple patterns to subject with few known facts seems to be a tendency of the human mind. How could the concept of an Indo European people make any sense in a prehistoric world. That world was made up of small groups of widely dispersed people. How could they have spoken one language? How could the settlement of Europe only involved one group of people? The geography between Europe and India has two major paths. One goes South of the Caspian Sea between Anatolia, the Caucuses, and Turkmenistan. Agriculture spread along this path before it spread to Europe. Its quite possible that some of the many peoples interacting over this geography spokes some kind of proto Indo European language. The second path goes over the steppes from Ukraine North of the Caspian Sea and down through the area around the major rivers that flow North from the Himalayan mountains. Particularly after the domestication of the horse, nomadic people traveled long distances in this geography. It is highly likely that some of them spread languages and genes between Europe and India. But, it is highly unlikely that there is any simple tree of languages or of the history of any particular people.

Nathan said...

What about the region with the greatest diversity of I.E. branches?Isn't that the Balkans?

mooreisbetter said...


The puzzle of Indo-European origins is quite simple to me.

They came from the area just northeast of the Black Sea.

To me, the simple(st) arguments based on hydronymy are conclusive.

The PIE word for "flowing water" was "don." The word made it into historical Indo-Iranian languages like Scythian and Ossetic.

The original, pre-Dumezilian word referred to a natural force, i.e., the flow or force of water. Later, it came to mean "God" in the anthropomorphic sense. Compare Greek Posei-don, i.e., the master of waters (Neptune).

Anyway, as we have seen time and time again in language development, the original word is short, and the rest come later in time, are longer, and modify it. In other words, if we wanted to know which came first, Orleans, France, or New Orleans, USA, the answer is clearly Orleans, France.

Here, the PIE word for river was Don. The Don river is in that region. Thus, they simply called their native, "original" river "The River." (Force of flowing water).

Then, they moved a little west. They named the next river they encountered the Donets. It probably meant "little river" or eastern river, or whatever.

A little further west, they encountered the Danube. Etc.

As the wave of settlers expanded in many directions, they continued to name rivers based on their first original hydronym. See Dniester, Dnieper, etc.

Other areas of first encounter, like the aforementioned Greek region listed above, preserved references. But note there is only one river called simply "Don."

Coincidentally, this is also where R1a is most heavily concentrated. To me, it really is this simple.

Nirjhar007 said...

@Capra
''Ringe's tree is pretty typical, except for putting Indo-Iranian as a sister to Balto-Slavic, rather than I-I next to Greco-Armenian and B-S next to Germanic. The latter gives I-I a more "southern" position.''
What ''Southern'' position exactly can you tell us?
BTW I-I specially Indo-Aryan show ample affinity to ALL IE languages that exist so making it closer to any particular Branch is nothing but Idiotic.

Nirjhar007 said...

@Nathan
''BMAC was brought up to push Indus civilization back by all the researchers.''
Please read this-http://new-indology.blogspot.in/2013/02/indo-iranians-new-perspectives.html

Grognard said...

Cephalic indexes are like any physical feature and vary between family members. And large groups don't suddenly change dramatically unless their identity has changed.

China isn't going to suddenly become dolichocephalic one day any more than it would suddenly become blonde.

postneo said...

@capra

The strength of the Steppe hypothesis is arguably horse husbandry, not the chronology of the wheel.

they could have focused on the spread of horse related terms in the daughter languages. Why don't they do that? They did a decent job with the wheel...

Ponto said...

To me the arguments about the homeland of I.E languages are based not on logic or study but on eurocentric desires for I.E languages to have a European origin even if it is on Europe's backside above the Pontic steppes towards the Caspian Sea. Anything other than Asia.

Yamna had predecessors, and it most likely was in Asia not Europe. It is about time to accept this, and the reasons that R1a1a is as Asian as European due to the movements of I.E languages out of Asia towards the west, Europe, and towards the south, Central Asia and South Asia. Stop whitewashing the language or the haplogroup.

eurologist said...

"To me it looks from the map that recent IE languages may come from Tripyllia-Cucuteni culture area after attack by pastoralists from the east (maybe indo-iranians). Situation looks very similar to Hun invasion that caused several migrations. IE languages could have come to TC area from Anatolia through Balkans and become isolated from homeland."

Alex,

I partially agree with you - I have often stated the importance of the early civilizations and advanced metallurgy of the western Pontic in the spread of PIE. However, I believe the initiation was climatic, not an eastern invasion of steppe tribes. IOW, the rich, smart, and resourceful inhabitants of the novel W Pontic cities diversified East when the climate became dry (they had learned from and joined and dominated the eastern pastoralists) but also migrated NW, W, and S/ SW at the same time in search for better agricultural conditions - thus initiating an abrupt spread of IE.

"IE loanwords into Slavic. You must be joking."

Mark Maz,

Germanic - not IE. There are hundreds such words that are attested - some even going back the other way 'round into German. And most of them very recent, i.e., roughly around MHD or, very approximately, 800 - 1,300 AD, that is, coinciding with the last Slavic expansions into German-speaking areas and subsequent reverse re-conquests.

"Eurologist, if Germanic isn't as close to Balto-Slavic as it is to Italo-Celtic, how do you explain this net:

http://dienekes.blogspot.ch/2011/11/splits-or-waves-trees-or-webs.html"


Simon_W,

I see absolutely no contradictions to my statements, especially given the error bars on such data. Indo-Iranian is diametrically opposed to Germanic - how could anyone claim those belonging to the same Sprachbund??? Slavic is also quite far removed from Germanic, despite the past ~1,200 - 1,600 years of close proximity, and I already stated that Baltic was the first contact point of other IE languages into Germanic (while Italic is clearly closest in derivation, and Uralic is not measured, here).

Mike Thomas said...

Andrew, and other on Celtic, GErmanic and Baltic

It is wrong to compare which Germanic is closer to - Celtic or Slavic. The answer is Neither ! Ans you cannot make comparisons. Becuae (relatively modern) languages like Ce, Ge and Sl are secondary or tertiary reticulations of earlier 'Indo-European' lects; and not primary branches which can be arrganed into an higher order viz-aviz each other (apart from Balto-Slavic and INdo-Iranian).

Slavic substrate;
I siuspect that the situation is far more complex than the nice , neat but otherwise entirely unsubstantiated wikipedia-esque account which Adnrew gives. As I satated earlier, THomas and Kaufman have argued for Uralic substrate on all Slavic languages, and not just Russian 0 where it would be obviously expected. Given that Im not an expert comparative linguist, I cannot comment on it further.

@ Dave jacobson
"It is highly likely that some of them spread languages and genes between Europe and India. But, it is highly unlikely that there is any simple tree of languages or of the history of any particular people."

Exactly right. IN fact, there were no "proto-Indo-Eureopans' , at least not the way understood by most people. There was no 'pan-IE' culture, ethos or Gods. Unsubstantiated speculation from scholars of yesteryear regurgitated due to scholarly malaise and inaptitude.


Simon_W said...

Andrew, I'm currently unable to find an online source for measurements of the Yamnaya population. The German anthropologist Andreas Vonderach described them as Cromagnoid, robust, cranium both long and broad with a mesocranic index, face medium broad, nose narrow, orbits low. The absolute measurements were clearly more gracile than in the Dnepr-Donets hunter-gatherers. According to V.V. Bunak, the Yamnaya type goes into a „Pontic“ direction and has southern relations. I've seen a table with measurements in one of Bunak's articles. The Yamnaya sample has a cranial index of 74.0, that is dolichocranic, it has a height-length index of 72.0, not very low, but still low, an upper facial index of 52.0, i.e. medium broad shaped, and a bizygomatic breadth of 136.7 mm, which is quite a lot. Yet also Bunak points out that the Yamnaya population had clearly smaller head- and facial measurements than the Dnepr-Donets population, and moreover a stronger facial relief. He compares the type to modern Pontic and Caucasian forms. Notice that a cranial index of 74.0 is far from anything brachycephalic, which starts with an index of 80.0, it's actually not even mesocranic, which starts with an index of 75.0. In the steppe to the east of the Yamnaya population there was first a similar type with a broader shaped face, that is, more clearly Cromagnoid. Presumably these were not yet to the same extent West Asian admixed. Later this Eurasian steppe type changed and became brachycephalic, of a type that has been called Pamirid: broad faced, planoccipital, brachycephalic. The first true brachycephals in the northern Pontic steppe were the Sarmatians, and they were typically Pamirid, testifying their eastern origin.

Simon_W said...

Also, @ andrew

„The Anatolian languages attested pre-Hittite empire are in Western Anatolia, and none of the non-Hittite languages are attested in Eastern Anatolia, and Indo-Europeans are attested in mainland Greece before they are attested in Anatolia.“

By Anatolian languages do you mean IE languages of the Anatolian branch? If so, your claim is clearly wrong. The western Anatolian Lydian, Carian and Sidetic are all late attested. Contemporaneous with Hittite were Luwian and Palaic, and these were not in Western Anatolia. And I doubt that Indo-Europeans are indubitably attested in mainland Greece before they are attested in Anatolia, because Hittite is the earliest attested IE language.

Peter Hrechdakian said...

Comments by linguist Luc Baronian and others from a thread on this subject from the Facebook page of the Armenian DNA Project:

"This sentence is absurd: "I don't find these arguments convincing, because words change meanings, and PIE doesn't have a word for wheeled vehicle, but for a variety of its components, each of which might have meant something else originally." The two words for wheel could not have "changed meanings". The whole point about the argument is that these words have the same meaning in all the languages where they are found. Had they a different meaning in PIE, the meanings would diverge in the daughter languages. Furthermore, the two words for wheel have TRANSPARENT ETYMOLOGIES: they meant "the thing that goes fast" and "the thing that spins". This is a tell-tale sign that the wheel was a relatively recent introduction in PIE society. The English word "wheel" is derived from kwekwlos (the spinning thing), but we do not recognize the etymology in 2015, because it's been around so long that sound changes have melted it all. Same for the French word "roue" derived from PIE Hroteh (the fast thing): no French speaker who hasn't studied studied IE knows this!

This is really a case where there ARE other possibilities and no linguist in her right mind would conclude that the Steppes hypothesis is correct without any doubt and that it settles the debate. But the arguments are pretty strong and Dienekes (while I appreciate his genetic analyses) is not making a dent in them.

However, his following argument is a good point: "it's still the case that neither Anatolian nor Tocharian has a repertoire of many terms for wheeled vehicles." In other words, it's possible that Anthony et al. are really making a point about PIE minus Anatolian (and perhaps minus Tocharian).

Is it possible for PIE to have originated in Anatolia, spread to the northern bleak sea steppes (minus Anatolian and Toch), disseminated as is largely described by the steppe hypothesis? ... Yes, well it would be an Indo-Hittite model, where the original location is Anatolia, then everybody but Anatolians move to the Steppes. Then the branches (including Armenian) split from there to the rest of Europe and Asia. Most Historical linguistic textbooks do entertain this possibility. But we can't say the case for it is very strong.

Kurti said...

@sykes1

I am not arguing for an Anatolian hypothesis. I am arguing for an Zagros/North Mesopotamian origin.

Why? because this place is still a huge secred with all of the tribal groups whoms traces were blurred by the Akkadians.

We have the Lullubu/Zubari/Gutians (most likely related tribes) mentioned in this region still people not exactly knowing what kind of language they spoke.

We have Hurrian which despite not yet being clear to which family it belongs, shows clear signs of Northeast Caucasian and Indo European features. Some people might argue this as being a prove that Hurrians were mixed of these two components, but what if Hurrians were just a group of the very early Indo Europeans who were still very archaic?

We have the Hurrian/Hattian God of Sky and Storm Teshub, which is clearly the equivalent of the Greek Zeus and the Germanic Thor. We have the sun wheel (swastika) appearing in Mesopotamia, Transcaucasus and Zagros much earlier than anywhere else.
We have the Indo_Iranian Elite suddenly "turning up" among the Hurrians, but yet no single ancient record of any significant movement of Indo_Iranians into this region.

I mean how can a group move into the region establish themselves as the Elite without anyone notice this? I am convinced that this Mitanni Elite was never introduced but a Gutian group already living among them.

Later after the downfall of the Mitanni from the hand of the Assyrians, suddenly the Medes appear on the map. And we know from Greek, Assyrian and Iranian sources that the Medes were often equated with Gutians.

I am trying to say that the Zagros, and Northern Mesopotamia are still the most unexplored regions in Europe.

Dienekes said...

Furthermore, the two words for wheel have TRANSPARENT ETYMOLOGIES: they meant "the thing that goes fast" and "the thing that spins". This is a tell-tale sign that the wheel was a relatively recent introduction in PIE society.

Er, why is that a tell-tale sign that the wheel was a recent introduction in PIE society? Didn't things "go fast" or "spin" before the invention of the wheel.

I think linguists have a much lower threshold than myself on what constitutes convincing evidence.

In any case, the point is that Anatolian lacks the wheel vocabulary, so the wheel vocabulary at most constrains post-Anatolian (and probably post-Tocharian) PIE, and also a temporal constraint on the split of some IE languages is not an argument for the place (steppe or otherwise) where this happened, as the wheel spread far and wide soon after it was invented.

spagetiMeatball said...

Maybe the wheel was invented in PIE homeland on the steppes after anatolian split from PIE?

Thereby facilitating the fast dispersal of Indo-iranian.

Kurti said...

"
I am trying to say that the Zagros, and Northern Mesopotamia are still the most unexplored regions in Europe."

I mean West Asia of course.

Kurti said...

As I wrote in my first post. I think the Pontic_Caspian steppes were just a layover/secondary homeland for some of the Indo European groups, such as the Balto_Slavs and some Indo_Iranians (Pre Scythians) and maybe even Germanic languages.

But it is unlikely the ultimate source for PIE because

1. Indo Europeans had a pastoralist livestyle, so someone from Western Asia brought it and while they could imposte their culture on the pre Yamna Steppe population, why not also their language?

2. The origin of all the ancient Indo European groups can not be simply explained by an expansion from the Steppes. This might be the reason why even Reich gave some hints that the Steppes miught not be the ultimate homeland for all Indo Europeans.

3. Four wheeled, war charriots already known in Western Asia and depicted even on Sumerian reliefs.

If we assume an ultimate origin in Western Asia where domestication was inventend, for example in or around the Zagros.

One wave moving towards Maykop, on their way to there catching up some Proto Kartvellian. And moving from Maykop into the PC Steppes.

Another wave moving towards West over Anatolia into the Balkans all the way further into Europe.

And a third wave (Tocharians) either moving directly from Zagros into Central Asia OR first taking the joney through the Caucasus into the Steppes too and from there to Central Asia.

German Dziebel said...

@ Peter Hrechdakian

"However, his following argument is a good point: "it's still the case that neither Anatolian nor Tocharian has a repertoire of many terms for wheeled vehicles." In other words, it's possible that Anthony et al. are really making a point about PIE minus Anatolian (and perhaps minus Tocharian)."

As I argued (http://kinshipstudies.org/2015/02/03/indo-european-words-for-wheel-evidence-for-transition-from-agriculture-to-pastoralism/), although Anatolian/Tocharian have a different stem for 'wheel' from the rest of Indo-Europeans, it's related to a cognate set that's well represented in other IE languages. What's intriguing is that Hitt hurki, Toch yerkwanto are structurally identical to Arm erkan and show the very same metathesis from PIE *gwreH2won. This suggests that early Indo-Europeans were "playing" with different agricultural terms for 'quern' (and may have formed an early areal grouping in the steppe region) but ultimately Anatolian and Tocharian wheel vocabularies are a subset of corresponding IE cognate sets.

Best to Luc (he was my colleague at Stanford).

Mark Maz said...

@eurologist


"Germanic - not IE. There are hundreds such words that are attested - some even going back the other way 'round into German. And most of them very recent, i.e., roughly around MHD or, very approximately, 800 - 1,300 AD, that is, coinciding with the last Slavic expansions into German-speaking areas and subsequent reverse re-conquests."

That's what I mean. The concept of IE loanwords from German into Slavic is ridiculous . Baltic/Slavic or if you prefer East Europen influence is the original source of IE in German, and most of that influence has little to do with the recent "Slavic expansion". I think that's becoming more obvious, especially in light of recent genetic research. The "attestations" you relay on are more product of that "old school" German science/bias than any real, honest research.

Fanty said...

"Here, the PIE word for river was Don. The Don river is in that region. Thus, they simply called their native, "original" river "The River." (Force of flowing water)."

So and what whos original river would the "Rhine" then be, following that theory?

Because its name bases on the PIE word "reie" = move, flow, run

Pretty basic too. No extras like "Big, small, new,....blue, green, yellow or whatever".

the oldest known name of that river is "Renos". Wich is Gaulish and suposedly means "That, what flows"

Mike Thomas said...

@ Mooreisbetter

"The puzzle of Indo-European origins is quite simple to me."

Simple is , simple does, I guess. No offense, but 13 year old child can render the version of PIE expansion which you just regurgitated.

@ Ponto

"Yamna had predecessors, and it most likely was in Asia not Europe. It is about time to accept this, and the reasons that R1a1a is as Asian as European due to the movements of I.E languages out of Asia towards the west, Europe, and towards the south, Central Asia and South Asia. Stop whitewashing the language or the haplogroup."

Not that I disagree with you, but your reasoning is wrong. Yamnaya did not have predecessors, or originate, in Asia. Its an original 'genesis' right where it began - the Pontic steppe c. late 4th M BC. If anything, more proximate origins are to be sought in the Late Tripolye, on the one hand, and the Majkop phenomenon, on the other.

This issues of where R1a began is different story. Genetics and culture aren't necessary co-eval realities. For the former, only further ancient DNA research will enlighten the matter.

Nirjhar007 said...

@Moor
''The PIE word for "flowing water" was "don." The word made it into historical Indo-Iranian languages like Scythian and Ossetic.''
Indo-iranian for example Sanskrit has Danu meaning-Dew,Fluid But also Air,Wind and even a class of demons! so the meaning is more versatile.
http://spokensanskrit.de/index.php?script=HK&beginning=0+&tinput=+danu&trans=Translate&direction=AU
And if we see the ACTUAL technical etymology the root is simply for liquid not river!
http://starling.rinet.ru/cgi-bin/response.cgi?root=config&morpho=0&basename=%5Cdata%5Cie%5Cpiet&first=1&off=&text_proto=&method_proto=substring&ic_proto=on&text_meaning=&method_meaning=substring&ic_meaning=on&text_hitt=&method_hitt=substring&ic_hitt=on&text_tokh=&method_tokh=substring&ic_tokh=on&text_ind=&method_ind=substring&ic_ind=on&text_avest=&method_avest=substring&ic_avest=on&text_iran=&method_iran=substring&ic_iran=on&text_arm=&method_arm=substring&ic_arm=on&text_greek=&method_greek=substring&ic_greek=on&text_slav=&method_slav=substring&ic_slav=on&text_balt=&method_balt=substring&ic_balt=on&text_germ=&method_germ=substring&ic_germ=on&text_lat=&method_lat=substring&ic_lat=on&text_ital=&method_ital=substring&ic_ital=on&text_celt=&method_celt=substring&ic_celt=on&text_alb=&method_alb=substring&ic_alb=on&text_rusmean=&method_rusmean=substring&ic_rusmean=on&text_refer=&method_refer=substring&ic_refer=on&text_comment=&method_comment=substring&ic_comment=on&text_any=don&method_any=substring&sort=proto&ic_any=on
So the Sanskrit association with Fluid and Dew etc is more authentic!.

Nirjhar007 said...

@Dienekes
''In any case, the point is that Anatolian lacks the wheel vocabulary, so the wheel vocabulary at most constrains post-Anatolian (and probably post-Tocharian) PIE, and also a temporal constraint on the split of some IE languages is not an argument for the place (steppe or otherwise) where this happened, as the wheel spread far and wide soon after it was invented.''
I totally agree!

mooreisbetter said...

@Fanty - nowhere did I state that there are not other basic river terms. However, only starting with the Don basin do we have a region that is (a) already long postulated to be a strong candidate for a PIE homeland and (b) the hydronymy shows a clear wave theory dispersal.

Think of a rich family. They buy a house. They call it their "house." A few years later, they acquire a chalet in the mountains. They call it, "the vacation house." A few years later, they acquire a property on the shore. They call it, "the beach house."

It's clear they started from the place called, "house."

The Don-Donets-Dniester-Dnieper-Danube reflects this expansion wave most perfectly.

@Mike Thomas. Wow. I thought if I summarized and used small words, that even folks like you might understand the elegance of a simple hypothesis.

I could use big words and fancy terms if you'd like. But in my experience in science, which is extensive - the more big words someone uses, and the more complex someone makes something sound, the less they understand the subject matter.

As my professor always told me, "explain it like you'd explain it to your 15-year-old cousin at the Thanksgiving table." I'm sorry if that was too simple for you.

Grognard said...

I don't think these are ethnocentric arguments about origin of IE. I don't think it really means much of anything to europe, where it originates. Obviously though some sort of proto-IE or proto-proto IE has no doubt existed for 50k years or even longer, it didn't just come out of thin air somehow. Neither did the yamna people, though I HEARTILY doubt that they spread out and broke into many groups such a short time ago.

After all r1a and r1b split off at least 20k years ago and therefore IE and IA must have split off a similarly long time ago as well if the idea that these are the ones who spread IE and IA languages.

For that matter I would not bet on that. Alans were IA and the DNA we had for them showed as G2 y-dna on the one site it's been tested.

For this language group every kooky place is thrown around as an origin but the most obvious would be right in the middle of all the known locations, maybe protoslavs were the ultimate origin.

Someone mentioned the bible and that does raise an interesting point about phoenician alphabet basically springing from thin air. The bible is massively influenced by zoroastrianism if not an outright plagiarization/outgrown of it. I would guess it more likely that the 'people of the book' who also spoke a semitic language and so were related had an IE influence than that an alphabet and religion sprang from absolutely nowhere with no proto-alphabet to draw on and a religion that has many IE/IA-religion elements and stories as its central themes.

eurologist said...

"The concept of IE loanwords from German into Slavic is ridiculous . Baltic/Slavic or if you prefer East Europen influence is the original source of IE in German..."

Mark Maz,

Firstly, you speak in riddles. Please try to be more clear in what you want to say.

Secondly, why should it be ridiculous that loanwords arrive into a directly neighboring area during a ~1,500 year time period? Happens all the time - it would be a total mystery if it weren't the case. Same way as there are German loan words into French and French loanwords into German, after both languages started to consolidate.

Also, hardly anyone argues about the fact that IE came to central and N and NW Europe (and also W and SW Europe) from SE Europe. The questions are when, and where from, initially?

I happen to believe the best explanation is that it happened twice: a pre-proto IE with LBK, from N Anatolia (but not along the Mediterranean route of agriculturalists), which very well might have been in a Sprachbund with the southern Balkan, anyway (the Bosporus was a land bridge), to about the Rhine river, and then again at the beginning of the Bronze age from the culturally advanced Western Pontic (in all directions).

Finally, please refrain from politically-motivated statements - they don't help anyone or anything.

alex said...

I partially agree with you - I have often stated the importance of the early civilizations and advanced metallurgy of the western Pontic in the spread of PIE. However, I believe the initiation was climatic, not an eastern invasion of steppe tribes. IOW, the rich, smart, and resourceful inhabitants of the novel W Pontic cities diversified East when the climate became dry (they had learned from and joined and dominated the eastern pastoralists) but also migrated NW, W, and S/ SW at the same time in search for better agricultural conditions - thus initiating an abrupt spread of IE.

Eurologist,

Of course you may be right. Climate must have played important role. With nomadic invasion i tried to accommodate Kurgan theory into this scenario. As i understand from the literature there was an incursion of pastoralists into the Tripyllia-Cucuteni area (for example evidenced by horse-head scepters) either after previous inhabitants had already left or by facilitating this migration with attacks. Probably the drier climate made new areas more suitable for cattle breeding. In addition to what you said i understand from the more recent history about nomadic invasions that mostly they were unable to impose their language or genetic makeup to more numerous populations and rather assimilated themselves - like mongols in china etc.

andrew said...

IE could very well be a hybrid of two or more languages, rather than having a source in a single proto-language. So there may not have been any meaningful proto-IE language before ca. 4th millenium BCE.

"Someone mentioned the bible and that does raise an interesting point about phoenician alphabet basically springing from thin air. The bible is massively influenced by zoroastrianism if not an outright plagiarization/outgrown of it. I would guess it more likely that the 'people of the book' who also spoke a semitic language and so were related had an IE influence than that an alphabet and religion sprang from absolutely nowhere with no proto-alphabet to draw on and a religion that has many IE/IA-religion elements and stories as its central themes."

The Phoenician alphabet proper is normally dated to 1200 BCE to 1050 BCE and gives rise to Greek, Old Italic, Anatolian and Paleohispanic scripts in the 800s BCE. The Phoenician script proper has its origins in the "Proto-Sinaitic script was in use from ca. 1850 BC in the Sinai by Canaanite speakers. There are sporadic attestations of very short Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions in Canaan in the late Middle and Late Bronze Age[.]" and that in turn was derived/influenced/suggested by derived from Egyptian hieroglyphics which have characters sometimes used as ideograms and sometimes used to convey phonemes (the Phoenician and Proto-Sinaitic alphabets are phonetic only which makes them more portable) (per Wikipedia Phoencian alphabet). The Egyptian hieroglypics date to the Copper Age and parallels developments occurred independently in China and Mesoamerica at similar stages of development. These inferences are pretty reliable in data and analysis because unlike reconstructed oral languages we have contemporaneous examples of written languages. So the alphabet doesn't spring from thin air, and has nothing to do with IE languages which receive this alphabet about 1000 years after it is developed, probably during the Hykos dynasty era in Egypt.

Biblical influence of Zoroastrianism is pretty much limited to the New Testament (which is also strongly influenced by Neo-Platonic philosophy) and very likely is due to Zoroastrian influences on some sects of Judaism arising after the Hebrew Bible canon was closed during Babylonian exile (which was also a period during which the Hebrew Bible canon was probably formulated at the insistence of Babylonian overlords as a requirement to gain toleration for Judaism in that land from a synthesis of sources from the Northern and Southern Hebrew kingdoms (hence, e.g., the duplicate sets of historical books in the Hebrew Bible).

Genesis and Exodus show strong influences from earlier Sumerian mythology (e.g. Genesis, the Flood, the birth of Moses), rather than Zoroastrianism, which was invented 2000 years later or so.

The Pagan religion associated e.g. with Semitic pagan god Baal, predates the arrival of any IE religion in the Levant. Zoroastrianism was an IE religion developed in Persia in part based on the writing of the Avesta, which was written shortly after Indo-Iranian languages arrived in Persia at around the same time of the Sanskrit Rig Veda, at roughly the same time as Judaism emerged as a religion. Other "people of the Book" as Islam uses the phrase, emerged in the 1st century CE (Christian) and the 7th century CE (Muslim), in events that are well attested historically.

Mike Thomas said...

@Mooreisbetter

I apologize if was abrasive

I did not realize that your intention was to spell out in simple terms the basics of the Kurgan hypothesis. I thought everyone here would at least be acquainted with it; and the purpose of discussion here was to go above and beyond, critique, and pick holes.
Sorry again

eurologist said...

Just a quick note on the "Don" hypothesis. The Danube might actually be a good counter-argument. The origin of its second component is highly debated, but it might mean "Au(e)" - the characteristic landscape of the low grounds around a river, especially one that carries wildly different amounts of water over seasons and centuries. So, something like "the river of the many (fertile) valleys."

Now, it is important to realize that in ancient times only the upper Danube was called that (Tonach, Donaw, Donau, Danuvius). The lower Danube was instead the Ister (Ἴστρος) - which is related to other Celtic and/or Germanic river names (Isère, IJssel, Isarco, Isar, etc.). Only about 2,000 years ago cartographers re-discovered that they were one and the same river.

In other words, the naming is very old indeed, and might indicate that the ending was established when IE folks first recognized the true extent and nature of The River they had thought they new.

eurologist said...

I just thought of this - of course the ending in "Donau/ Danube" could be much more simply PIE for "up" (*upo, *up, *eup) - which would simply designate the upper part of The River.

Grognard said...

Andrew, there is script going back much earlier than that which is generally deemed 'pre-writing'. Everything you say about it is basically one interpretation, which doesn't have much more evidence than the whole PIE language debate in the first place. Which may have no real basis in reality, not in the way that many seem to attribute it anyway.

As far as bible goes, same thing. Cross is a symbol associated with indo europeans going back much earlier than the bible. So are other aspects of christianity. If you know enough about it and look at the wiki page on PIE religion then it's striking how much influence there is.

Aside from the bible there is really no hebrew literature, nothing worth speaking of. There's also no such thing as an OT story which doesn't have an outside source.

Recently, egypt (which is the probably the muslim country hardest on extremists) refused to show that biblical movie. The reason being could be chalked up to anti-semitism, but I found it interesting that their beef is they have zero historical evidence that hebrews were ever slaves in Egypt. There is evidence of hebrews as slavemasters and merchants to egypt but not slaves. I am not saying it's all made up as some would say, but when you take all this together it seems very likely this group of tales was transliterated from elsewhere and the original story is more complicated than currently believed.

42 said...

re. river names
I am not a linguist, so I can only compare contemporary names but I had to notice the striking similarities of many rivers in my native Hungarian languages. I wonder if such similarities exist in other languages, if it is just an artifical recent development, or it derives from some old extinct culture.
For example:
Szajna
Rajna
Majna
Duna
Drina
Boszna
Elba
Dráva
Száva
Kupa
Tisza
Volga

Mike Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Thomas said...

Dienekes - why arent you covering / critiquing the new Reich / Haak paper

terryt said...

"IE could very well be a hybrid of two or more languages, rather than having a source in a single proto-language. So there may not have been any meaningful proto-IE language before ca. 4th millenium BCE".

That position is certainly possible given the recent genetic work.

" their beef is they have zero historical evidence that hebrews were ever slaves in Egypt. There is evidence of hebrews as slavemasters and merchants to egypt but not slaves. I am not saying it's all made up as some would say, but when you take all this together it seems very likely this group of tales was transliterated from elsewhere and the original story is more complicated than currently believed".

Agree totally. And something that is often neglected: Canaanite and Hebrew were basically the same language. Same people in fact. In other words the Old Testament is a history of the region's tribal fights.

Pneumatikon said...

Well I could actually accept this. The 3a leading to Italic is perfectly timed to my people's arrival on Crete. And it puts the Anatolian languages in the Taurus Mountain/Konya Plain region deep in the Neolithic.

(I'm J2a-M92. We're probably the ones who made the famous Cycladic figurines. And we pulled pulled Crete out of the Neolithic.)

I didn't actually prove with my video series on the Phaistos Disc that the Minoans spoke the parent Italic language - I simply don't have the expertise - but I think I did a very good job of it. And I'll press the case in my next series that the archaeology and DNA backs me up 100% when I say the base Roman stock is Cretan. So I think it's inevitable that the linguistics will follow.

I might quibble over the Italic-Celtic connection. (Quibble - not reject. I'm agnostic on this.) An alternative theory is the Italics and the Celtics shared metal technology; which is why they have so many similarities. Other than that they're separate languages.

http://youtu.be/-py2wG40_Jc

Jaska said...

Let's remember that genetics can never prove or disprove linguistic results - it can only match or not match them. Every discipline is autonomous. Genetics cannot study language, just like linguistics cannot study genes.

batman said...

Alogaritm proves continuity of language since palelithic time - etc.

http://phys.org/news/2015-02-reveal-oldest-spoken-words.html

Jaska said...

"IE could very well be a hybrid of two or more languages, rather than having a source in a single proto-language. So there may not have been any meaningful proto-IE language before ca. 4th millenium BCE"

Well, such "two-rooted" languages are very, very rare and require very special sociological preconditions.

eurologist said...

"Well, such "two-rooted" languages are very, very rare and require very special sociological preconditions."

Jaska,

Depends on how far back you go.

For example, German today has some unexpected affinity to ancient Greek (e.g., the hal vs. sal conundrum) and to Celtic (e.g., rare toponyms). Some of the basic grammar of Germanic has affinities to Italic - but much of Latin in German is via medieval monks and the renaissance and enlightenment period times. But not all. Some of it is via French in the past ~200 - 500 years, some of it is via English in recent times, some of it is via Normans and then into English and then into German.

A scientist 1,000 years from now with limited means would hardly know how to sort this out. Even less so, e.g., what were the Uralic contact points into PIE versus those into pre-proto Germanic? Is the Germanic substratum of Basque or Uralic origin, or are they actually pretty much the same?

As languages evolve, they are no longer based on a main origin and a smallish substrate, but on a whole history of many impacts of two or three or more languages. For example, the western words (but modified into more mainstream pronunciation) in Japanese today are pretty much of all of the various origins I mention above.

Simon_W said...

The problem that migration 1 only goes into the Balkans and not to Anatolia isn't a very decisive problem. We don't have to assume that the proto-Anatolians went from the steppe to Anatolia in one sweep, all prior to 4000 BC. Instead they may have gone there from the Balkans at much a later date. Even Grigoriev assumes a "back-migration" of Anatolians from the Balkans and he assembled some archeological evidence in favour of this. It's a bit like saying the Romans only moved to Iberia, so how could the language in Latin America be derived from Rome?

Simon_W said...

After having taken a closer look at the paper, I have to commend it for its sophisticated theory of the mechanism of the IE spread. I remember having previously read about the impossibility of an IE spread in Europe after the early Neolithic, in particular with the Corded Ware, because the latter would have needed better military skills than the Romans, if they were to be IE intruders. But this picture of a simple invasion-> conquest -> language imposal mechanism is clearly simplistic. Most of all because the IEs were not an organized state, but small tribal groups in heavy concurrence with each other. Thanks God Anthony and Ringe have come up with a more realistic theory for the mechanism behind the IE spread.

Also, it's interesting that the authors suggest that the Corded people might be derived from a migration of Tripolye C2 and Usatovo people to southeastern Poland. This would be in agreement with archeological convictions that the Corded Ware was rather from somewhere near Poland than from far eastern Europe.
They further suggest that Italo-Celtic is from the Yamnaya wave into the Carpathian Basin - not a new proposal. From a genetic point of view these two proposals seem unlikely at first sight. Because the Corded people from Germany are close to Samara Yamnaya people, whereas BR1 from the Carpathian Basin differs from that quite a bit, because of very low Caucasus-like ancestry and stronger WHG relations.

I would propose that this seeming contradiction may be resolved if BR1 was descended in large part from earlier steppe migrations down the Black Sea into southeastern Europe (and that it hence may be genetically related with the early ancestors of the IE Anatolian branch), and that its ancestors were more culturally Yamnaya-related than genetically.

Simon_W said...

Sorry correction:
"small tribal groups in heavy competition with each other"

Concurrence is a false friend in German...

Erik Thomas said...

There’s been some discussion in this thread about the possibility that Proto-Indo-European was a “mixed” language. However, it seems to me that there’s a lot of misunderstanding about what it means for a language to be “mixed.”

Languages are never random mishmashes of elements from different sources. Following the framework of Thomason & Kaufman, I see language “mixture” as having two basic types: borrowing and interference, the latter of which can result in substrate effects. Borrowing usually involves words, though if there are enough words borrowed, other things can come along for the ride, such as the /oi/ diphthong in English (brought along with borrowed Norman French words during the Middle English period). Interference is the “foreign accent” that second-language learners have; they learn the vocabulary of their new language, but their phonetics and, often, their phonological structure, morphology, and sometimes even their syntax still contain features carried over from their first language. In addition, they have trouble acquiring unusual features, such as uncommon sounds, or complicated features, such as complex inflectional morphology. When a large group shifts languages, especially when they make up the majority of the population and especially when they have only a generation or two to make the shift, substrate features are preserved in the dialect of the second language that they develop.

As for Proto-Indo-European, it shows some borrowing but doesn’t seem to show the hallmarks of interference/substrate effects. A few examples of borrowings into PIE, such as *wīnos ‘wine,’ are well known, and there are other strong candidates for borrowing such as *h2ebol ‘apple’ (because it shows the rare-in-PIE *b and because apples, native to the western Himalayan area, were being disseminated at that time and thus represent a concept that was new then). However, all languages borrow, and PIE doesn’t show clear evidence of unusually heavy borrowing.

As for interference/substrata, PIE doesn’t show strong signs here, either. It has some unusual sounds and phonological contrasts, such as a velar/uvular contrast. According to much current thinking, the so-called “palatal” series, conventionally written as *k, *g, *gh with accent marks over the symbols, was probably velar, while the “velar” series (*k, *g, *gh written without accent marks) was probably uvular. Uvular stops are uncommon in the world’s languages (not super-rare, but uncommon), and they’d likely be one of the first things to disappear if there had been interference. In fact, the velar/uvular distinction did disappear in the daughter languages after the Indo-Europeans spread out and subsumed other groups—either the two series merged with each other, as in “centum” languages, or the so-called palatal series fronted, as in the “satem” languages. Similarly, PIE had voiced aspirates but not voiceless aspirates, a HIGHLY unusual system, and the voiced aspirates later changed in all the daughter languages except Sanskrit and some of its descendants. (No, I don’t want to get into the glottalic theory here except to say that it hasn’t become a majority opinion and it seems to be past its peak of popularity.) Regarding morphology, although some of the nominal morphology of PIE may have been a late development caused by postpositions turning into suffixes, the verb morphology is not as easily explained and a good bit of it had probably been around much longer. Second-language learners tend to have a lot of difficulty with complex morphology and they prefer to use periphrastic constructions (that is, separate words) when they can. Yet PIE retained its complex verbal morphology.

All in all, then, PIE does not look like anything that would result from intensive mixing of different languages.