Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The development of the Germanic languages

Posted by Fredsvenn on March 17, 2015

https://haplogroupi2b1ismine.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/nordicbronzeage.jpg

The expansion of the Germanic tribes 750 BC – AD 1

(after the Penguin Atlas of World History 1988):

Red: Settlements before 750 BC
 Orange: New settlements by 500 BC
   Yellow: New settlements by 250 BC
   Green: New settlements by AD 1
So how comes that modern Scandinavians belong essentially to three haplogroups (I1, R1a and R1b) that haven’t been found in Mesolithic Scandinavian samples?

I1 would have been the first to penetrated into Scandinavia during the farming transition that lasted roughly from 4,200 to 2,300 BCE. The most likely explanation for the replacement of Mesolithic paternal lineages (I* and I2) by I1 throughout Nordic countries, including Lapland and Finland, is that the few farmers and stock breeders that did spread around Scandinavia were almost exclusively I1 men (through a founder effect).

Haplogroup R* originated in North Asia just before the Last Glacial Maximum (26,500-19,000 years ago). This haplogroup has been identified in the remains of a 24,000 year-old boy from the Altai region, in south-central Siberia (Raghavan et al. 2013). This individual belonged to a tribe of mammoth hunters that may have roamed across Siberia and parts of Europe during the Paleolithic.

Autosomally this Paleolithic population appears to have contributed mostly to the ancestry of modern Europeans and South Asians, the two regions where haplogroup R also happens to be the most common nowadays (R1b in Western Europe, R1a in Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia, and R2 in South Asia).

The oldest forms of R1b (M343, P25, L389) are found dispersed at very low frequencies from Western Europe to India, a vast region where could have roamed the nomadic R1b hunter-gatherers during the Ice Age.

It has been hypothetised that R1b people (perhaps alongside neighbouring J2 tribes) were the first to domesticate cattle in northern Mesopotamia some 10,500 years ago. R1b tribes descended from mammoth hunters, and when mammoths went extinct, they started hunting other large game such as bisons and aurochs.

The three main branches of R1b1 (R1b1a, R1b1b, R1b1c) all seem to have stemmed from the Middle East. The early R1b cattle herders would have split in at least three groups.

The southern branch, R1b1c (V88), is found mostly in the Levant and Africa. The northern branch, R1b1a (P297), seems to have originated around the Caucasus, eastern Anatolia or northern Mesopotamia, then to have crossed over the Caucasus, from where they would have invaded Europe and Central Asia. R1b1b (M335) has only been found in Anatolia.

It is not yet entirely clear when R1b crossed over from eastern Anatolia to the Pontic-Caspian steppe. This might have happened with the appearance of the Dnieper-Donets culture (c. 5100-4300 BCE).

The first clearly Proto-Indo-European culture was Sredny Stog (4600-3900 BCE), when small kurgan burials begin to appear, with the distinctive posturing of the dead on the back with knees raised and oriented toward the northeast, which would be found in later steppe cultures as well.

There is evidence of population blending from the variety of skull shapes. Towards the end of the 5th millennium, an elite starts to develop with cattle, horses and copper used as status symbols.

Another migration across the Caucasus happened shortly before 3700 BCE, when the Maykop culture, the world’s first Bronze Age society, suddenly materialized in the north-west Caucasus, apparently out of nowhere.

The origins of Maykop are still uncertain, but archeologists have linked it to contemporary Chalcolithic cultures in Assyria and western Iran. Archeology also shows a clear diffusion of bronze working and kurgan-type burials from the Maykop culture to the Pontic Steppe, where the Yamna culture developed soon afterwards (from 3500 BCE).

Kurgan (a.k.a. tumulus) burials would become a dominant feature of ancient Indo-European societies and were widely used by the Celts, Romans, Germanic tribes, and Scythians, among others.

The Proto-Indo-Europeans expanded from the Yamna culture (3300-2500 BCE). Their dramatic expansion was possible thanks to an early adoption of bronze weapons and the domestication of the horse in the Eurasian steppes (circa 4000-3500 BCE).

The southern Pontic Steppe culture is believed to have carried predominantly R1b (M269 and M73) lineages, while the northern forest-steppe culture would have been essentially R1a-dominant.

R1a is thought to have been the dominant haplogroup among the northern and eastern Proto-Indo-European language speakers, that evolved into the Indo-Iranian, Thracian, Baltic and Slavic branches.

The first expansion of the forest-steppe people occured with the Corded Ware Culture. People from the Corded Ware Culture propely spoke a mixture of Proto-Balto-Slavic and non-IE pre-Germanic.

From 2800 BCE, a large-scale cultural and genetic upheaval hit Scandinavia with the arrival of the Indo-Europeans from Eastern Europe, who introduced the Copper Age and Early Bronze Age practically without Neolithic transition.

The first Indo-Europeans to reach Scandinavia were the Corded Ware people from modern Russia, Belarus and Poland, who are thought to have belonged predominantly to haplogroup R1a.

The second major Indo-European migration to Scandinavia was that of haplogroup R1b, the branch that is thought to have introduced Proto-Germanic languages, as an offshoot of the Proto-Celto-Germanic speakers from Central Europe.

R1b probably entered Scandinavia from present-day Germany as a northward expansion of the late Unetice culture (2300-1600 BCE). People from the Nordic Bronze Age (1800-500 BCE) probably spoke a Proto-Germanic language, which for over a thousand years acquired vocabulary from the Corded Ware language.

Proto-Germanic language probably developed as a blend of two branches of Indo-European languages, namely the Proto-Balto-Slavic language of the Corded-Ware culture (R1a-Z283) and the later arrival of Proto-Italo-Celto-Germanic people from the Unetice culture (R1b-L11).

According to the Germanic substrate hypothesis, first proposed by Sigmund Feist in 1932, Proto-Germanic was a hybrid language mixing Indo-European (R1b, and to a lower extent R1a) and pre-Indo-European (native Nordic I1) elements.

This hybridisation would have taken place during the Bronze Age and given birth to the first truly Germanic civilization, the Nordic Bronze Age (1700-500 BCE).

This is supported by the fact that Germanic people are a R1a-R1b hybrid, that these two haplogroups came via separate routes at different times, and that Proto-Germanic language is closest to Proto-Italo-Celtic, but also shares similarities with Proto-Slavic.

Haplogroup I1 is the most common I subclade in northern Europe. It is found mostly in Scandinavia and Finland, where it typically represent over 35% of the male Y-chromosomes.

Associated with the Norse ethnicity, I1 is found in all places invaded by ancient Germanic tribes and the Vikings. Other parts of Europe speaking Germanic languages come next in frequency. Germany, Austria, the Low Countries, England and the Scottish Lowlands all have between 10% and 20% of I1 lineages.

Haplogroup I is the oldest major haplogroup in Europe and in all probability the only one that originated there (apart from very minor haplogroups like C6 and deep subclades of other haplogroups).

It is thought to have arrived from the Middle East as haplogroup IJ sometime between 40,000 and 30,000 years ago, and developed into haplogroup I approximately 25,000 years ago. In other words, Cro-Magnons most probably belonged to IJ and I (alongside older haplogroups like F and C6).

The I1 branch is estimated to have split away from the rest of haplogroup I some 20,000 years ago. I1 is defined by at least 25 unique mutations, which indicates that this lineage experienced a serious population bottleneck. Men belonging to this haplogroup all descend from a single ancestor who lived between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago.

It has been speculated that I1 evolved in isolation in Scandinavia during the late Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods, when hunter-gatherers from southern Europe recolonised the northern half of the continent from their LGM refugia. The oldest attested evidence of postglacial resettlement of Scandinavia dates from 11,000 BCE with the appearance of the Ahrensburg culture.

However, evidence emerged (Szécsényi-Nagy et al. 2014) from the testing of Early Neolithic Y-DNA from western Hungary that haplogroup I1 was in fact present in central Europe at the time of the Neolithic expansion.

A single I1 sample was identified alongside a G2a2b sample, both from the early Linear Pottery (LBK) culture, which would later diffuse the new agricultural lifestyle to most of Poland, Germany and the Low Countries.

It is therefore possible that I1 lineages were among the Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers assimilated by the wave of East Mediterranean Neolithic farmers (represented chiefly by Y-haplogroup G2a). There is also evidence from the Neolithic samples of the Early Neolithic Starčevo and Cardium Pottery cultures that haplogroup I2a lived alongside G2a farmers both in south-east and south-west Europe.

The most likely hypothesis at present is that I1 and I2 lineages were dispersed around Europe during the Mesolithic, and that some branches prospered more than others thanks to an early adoption of agriculture upon contact with the Near Eastern farmers who were slowly making their way across the Balkans and the Mediterranean shores.

Both the Funnelbeaker and Pitted Ware cultures represent a merger between the Neolithic (farming) and Mesolithic (hunter-gatherer) lifestyles.

Neolithic farmers from Germany penetrated late into Scandinavia and in small numbers. There is archeological evidence that Neolithic farmers settled in southern Scandinavia and lived side by side with hunter-gatherers for several centuries during the Funnelbeaker culture.

Skoglund et al. 2012 tested and compared the DNA of one Neolithic farmer and three hunter-gatherers from Sweden dating from 5,000 years ago. It turned out that the farmer was much closer genetically to modern Mediterranean people while the hunter-gatherers’s DNA resembled that of modern Northeast Europeans, and perhaps even more that of the Finns and Samis than Scandinavians.

Scandinavian hunter-gatherers would have adopted the new Neolithic lifestyle little by little, using pottery and keeping domesticated animals (sheep, cattle, pigs and goats) to complement their traditional diet of fishing and game hunting.

The cultivation of wheat, barley and legumes was fairly limited due to the cold climate. The cold climate was actually a barrier to the expansion of farmers from the continent. This is why Scandinavians retained a greater percentage of Mesolithic ancestry than virtually all other Europeans, apart from the Samis, Finns, Balts and Russians.

Sami

Three Y chromosome haplogroups dominate the distribution among the Sami: N1c (formerly N3a), I1 and R1a. The most common haplogroup among the Sami is N1c, with I1 as a close second.

Haplogroup R1a in Sami is mostly seen in the Swedish Sami and Kola Sami populations, with a low level among the Finnish Sami. Haplogroup I1 is the most common haplogroup in Sweden, and the Jokkmokk Sami in Sweden have similar structure as among Swedes and Finns for haplogroup I1 and N1c.

Tambets and colleagues suggested that N1c and R1a probably reached Fennoscandia from eastern Europe, where these haplogroups can be found in high frequencies. However the two haplogroups have a distinctly different linguistic distribution.

R1a1a is common among Eastern Europeans speaking Indo-European languages, while N1c correlates closely with the distribution of the Finno Ugrian languages. For example N1c is common among the Finns, while haplogroup R1a is common among all the neighbours of the Sami.

Haplogroup N (M231) is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup typical of northern Eurasia. It is considered relatively young, having populated the north of Eurasia after the last Ice Age. It is a descendant of East Asian macro-haplogroup NO, and is believed to have originated in Indochina or southern China approximately 15,000 to 20,000 years ago.

Males carrying the marker apparently moved northwards as the climate warmed in the Holocene. The absence of haplogroup N-M231 in the Americas indicates that its spread across Asia happened after the submergence of the Bering land bridge.

It is suggested that it arose in southeast Asia 19.4±4.8 ky years ago, and then migrated in a counter-clockwise path from modern day regions of Mongolia and northern China to as far as northeastern Europe.

Haplogroup N-231 has a wide geographic distribution throughout northern Eurasia, and it also has been observed occasionally in more southerly areas, including Southeast Asia, Nepal, Southwest Asia, and Southern Europe.

Its highest frequency occurs among the Finnic and Baltic peoples of northern Europe, the Ob-Ugric and Northern Samoyedic peoples of western Siberia, and the Siberian Turkic-speaking Yakuts. It is also carried by about 10% to 20% of Russians.

Haplogroup N1* and N1c were both found at high frequency (26 out of 70 samples, or 37%) in Neolithic and Bronze Age remains (4500-700 BCE) from the West Liao River valley in Northeast China by Yinqiu Cui et al. (2013).

Among the Neolithic samples, haplogroup N1 made up two thirds of the samples from the Hongshan culture (4700-2900 BCE) and all the samples from the Xiaoheyan culture (3000-2200 BCE), hinting that N1 people played a major role in the diffusion of the Neolithic lifestyle around Northeast China, and probably also to Mongolia and Siberia.

The N1c1 subclade found in Europe likely arose in Southern Siberia 12,000 years ago, and spread to north-eastern Europe 10,000 years ago. It is associated with the Kunda culture (8000-5000 BCE) and the subsequent Comb Ceramic culture (4200-2000 BCE), which evolved into Finnic and pre-Baltic people.

The Indo-European Corded Ware culture (3200-1800 BCE) progressively took over the Baltic region and southern Finland from 2,500 BCE. The merger of the two gave rise to the hybrid Kiukainen culture (2300-1500 BCE). Modern Baltic people have a roughly equal proportion of haplogroup N1c1 and R1a, resulting from this merger of Uralic and Slavic cultures.

A small percentage of N1c1 is found among all Slavic, Scandinavian populations, as well as in most of Germany (except the north-west). Its origin is uncertain at present, but it most probably spread with the Iron Age and early Medieval (Proto-)Slavic tribes from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine toward East Germany.

The Saami of Lapland were the last hunter-gatherers of Europe. But even they turned to stock breeding by domesticating the indigenous reindeer, better suited to the harsh local climate than cattle, pigs, sheep and goats.

Reindeer domestication appears to have originated with North Asian N1c1 people. And indeed modern Saami are primarily N1c1 people with only a minority of Scandinavian paternal lineages (I1, R1b, R1a).

The presence of R1a and R1b, and its very modern proportion to I1 (using central Sweden as a reference) indicates that I1, R1a and R1b incorporated the Saami gene pool together relatively recently (probably in historical times, from or after the Viking age).

N1c1 lineages, however, may have not have arrived that early either. N1c1 is associated with the diffusion of the Uralic languages.

According to a phylogenetic reconstruction of the Uralic languages by Honkola et al. (2013), the Proto-Finnic and Proto-Samic split from each others only 2,500 years ago, and Samic dialects started diversifing less than 1,000 years ago.

In all likelihood all trace of the Mesolithic inhabitants of Lapland has been wiped out on the Y-chromosomal side, just as in most of Scandinavia.

Germanic languages

Proto-Germanic, also called Common Germanic or Ur-Germanic, is the unattested, reconstructed proto-language of all the Germanic languages. Proto-Germanic is itself descended from Proto-Indo-European (PIE).

Proto-Germanic is generally agreed to have begun about 500 BC. Its hypothetical ancestor between the end of Proto-Indo-European and 500 BC is termed Pre-Proto-Germanic. Whether it is to be included under a wider meaning of Proto-Germanic is a matter of usage.

It is possible that Indo-European speakers arrived on the plains of southern Sweden and Jutland, the center of the Urheimat or “original home” of the Germanic peoples, prior to the Nordic Bronze Age, which began about 4500 years ago.

This is the only area where no pre-Germanic place names have been found. The region was certainly populated before then; the lack of names must indicate an Indo-European settlement so ancient and dense that the previously assigned names were completely replaced.

The Neolithic, Eneolithic and early Bronze Age cultures in Pontic-Caspian steppe has been called the Kurgan culture (4200-2200 BCE) by Marija Gimbutas, due to the lasting practice of burying the deads under mounds (“kurgan”) among the succession of cultures in that region.

It is now known that kurgan-type burials only date from the 4th millenium BCE and almost certainly originated south of the Caucasus. The genetic diversity of R1b being greater around eastern Anatolia, it is hard to deny that R1b evolved there before entering the steppe world.

It is not yet entirely clear when R1b crossed over from eastern Anatolia to the Pontic-Caspian steppe, but it is likely that the Dnieper-Donets culture marked the transition of indigenous R1a and/or I2a1b people to early agriculture with an influx of Near Eastern farmers from ‘Old Europe’. Mitochondrial DNA sequences from Dnieper-Donets culture show clear similarities with those of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture in the Carpathians (haplogroups H, T and U3).

Small kurgan burials begin to appear in the Sredny Stog (4600-3900 BCE) culture, with the distinctive posturing of the dead on the back with knees raised and oriented toward the northeast, which would be found in later steppe cultures as well. There is evidence of population blending from the variety of skull shapes. Towards the end of the 5th millennium an elite start to develop with cattle, horses and copper used as status symbols.

Another migration across the Caucasus happened shortly before 3700 BCE, when the Maykop culture, the world’s first Bronze Age society, suddenly materialized in the north-west Caucasus, apparently out of nowhere.

The origins of Maykop are still uncertain, but archeologists have linked it to contemporary Chalcolithic cultures in Assyria and western Iran. Archeology also shows a clear diffusion of bronze working and kurgan-type burials from the Maykop culture to the Pontic Steppe, where the Yamna culture developed soon afterwards (from 3500 BCE).

Kurgan (a.k.a. tumulus) burials would become a dominant feature of ancient Indo-European societies and were widely used by the Celts, Romans, Germanic tribes, and Scythians, among others. Linguistic similarities exist between PIE and Caucasian and Hurrian languages in the Middle East on the one hand, and Uralic languages in the Volga-Ural region on the other hand.

From 2800 BCE, a large-scale cultural and genetic upheaval hit Scandinavia with the arrival of the Indo-Europeans from Eastern Europe, who introduced the Copper Age and Early Bronze Age practically without Neolithic transition.

The first Indo-Europeans to reach Scandinavia were the Corded Ware people from modern Russia, Belarus and Poland, who are thought to have belonged predominantly to haplogroup R1a. These people shared some similar maternal lineages as Scandinavian I1 inhabitants, including mtDNA haplogroups U2e, U4 and U5, but also brought many new lineages such as H2a1, H6, W and various subclades of I, J, K and T.

The first major expansion of R1a took place with the westward propagation of the Corded Ware (or Battle Axe) culture (2800-1800 BCE) from the northern forest-steppe in the Yamna homeland. This was the first wave of R1a into Europe, the one that brought the Z283 subclade to Germany and the Netherlands, and Z284 to Scandinavia.

The Corded Ware R1a people would have mixed with the pre-Germanic I1 and I2 aborigines, which resulted in the first Indo-European culture in Germany and Scandinavia, although that culture could not be considered Proto-Germanic – it was simply Proto-Indo-European at that stage, or perhaps or Proto-Balto-Slavic.

The second major Indo-European migration to Scandinavia was that of haplogroup R1b, the branch that is thought to have introduced Proto-Germanic languages, as an offshoot of the Proto-Celto-Germanic speakers from Central Europe. R1b probably entered Scandinavia from present-day Germany as a northward expansion of the late Unetice culture (2300-1600 BCE).

The R1b branch of the Indo-Europeans is thought to have originated in the southern Yamna culture (northern shores of the Black Sea). It was the first one to move from the steppes to Europe, invading the Danube delta around 4200 BCE, then making its way around the Balkans and the Hungarian plain in the 4th millennium BCE.

It is likely that a minority of R1a people accompanied this R1b migration. Those R1a men would have belonged to the L664 subclade, the first to split from the Yamna core. These early steppe invaders were not a homogeneous group, but a cluster of tribes.

It is possible that the R1a-L664 people were one or several separate tribes of their own, or that they mixed with some R1b lineages, notably R1b-U106, which would become the main Germanic lineage many centuries later.

The R1b-R1a contingent moved up the Danube to the Panonian plain around 2800 BCE, brought to an end the local Bell Beaker (circa 2200 BCE) and Corded Ware (c. 2400 BCE) cultures in Central Europe, and set up the Unetice culture (2300-1600 BCE) around Bohemia and eastern Germany. Unetice can be seen as the source of future Germanic, Celtic and Italic cultures, and is associated with the L11 subclade of R1b.

The late Unetice culture expanded to Scandinavia, founding the Nordic Bronze Age. R1a-L664 and R1b (L11 and U106) presumably reached Scandinavia at this time. People from the Nordic Bronze Age probably spoke a Proto-Germanic language, which for over a thousand years acquired vocabulary from the indigenous Corded Ware language, itself a mixture of Proto-Balto-Slavic and non-IE pre-Germanic.

The first genuine Germanic tongue has been estimated by linguists to have come into existence around (or after) 500 BCE, just as the Nordic Bronze Age came to an end, giving way to the Pre-Roman Iron Age.

The uniqueness of some of the Germanic vocabulary points at borrowing from native pre-Indo-European languages. The fact that present-day Scandinavia is composed of roughly 40% of I1, 20% of R1a and 40% of R1b reinforces the idea that the Germanic ethnicity and language had acquired a tri-hybrid character by the Iron Age.

Germanic languages probably did not appear before the Nordic Bronze Age (1800-500 BCE). Proto-Germanic language probably developed as a blend of two branches of Indo-European languages, namely the Proto-Balto-Slavic language of the Corded-Ware culture (R1a-Z283) and the later arrival of Proto-Italo-Celto-Germanic people from the Unetice culture (R1b-L11).

This is supported by the fact that Germanic people are a R1a-R1b hybrid, that these two haplogroups came via separate routes at different times, and that Proto-Germanic language is closest to Proto-Italo-Celtic, but also shares similarities with Proto-Slavic.

According to the Germanic substrate hypothesis, first proposed by Sigmund Feist in 1932, Proto-Germanic was a hybrid language mixing Indo-European (R1b, and to a lower extent R1a) and pre-Indo-European (native Nordic I1) elements. This hybridisation would have taken place during the Bronze Age and given birth to the first truly Germanic civilization, the Nordic Bronze Age (1700-500 BCE).

The Proto-Italo-Celto-Germanic R1b people had settled in what is now Germany by 2300 BCE, where they founded the Unetice culture. Judging from the propagation of bronze working to Western Europe, those first Indo-Europeans reached France and the Low Countries by 2200 BCE, Britain by 2100 BCE and Ireland by 2000 BCE, and Iberia by 1800 BCE.

This first wave of R1b presumably carried R1b-L21 lineages in great number (perhaps because of a founder effect), as these are found everywhere in western, northern and Central Europe. The early split of L21 from the main Proto-Celtic branch around Germany would explain why the Q-Celtic languages (Goidelic and Hispano-Celtic) diverged so much from the P-Celtic branch (La Tène, Gaulish, Brythonic), which appears to have expanded from the later Urnfield and Hallstat cultures.

Some L21 lineages from the Netherlands and northern Germany later entered Scandinavia (from 1700 BCE) with the dominant subclade of the region, R1b-S21/U106. The stronger presence of L21 in Norway and Iceland can be attributed to the Norwegian Vikings, who had colonised parts of Scotland and Ireland and taken slaves among the native Celtic populations, whom they brought to their new colony of Iceland and back to Norway. Nowadays about 20% of all Icelandic male lineages are R1b-L21 of Scottish or Irish origin.

In France, R1b-L21 is mainly present in historical Brittany (including Mayenne and Vendée) and in Lower Normandy. This region was repopulated by massive immigration of insular Britons in the 5th century due to pressure from the invading Anglo-Saxons.

However, it is possible that L21 was present in Armorica since the Bronze age or the Iron age given that the tribes of the Armorican Confederation of ancient Gaul already had a distinct identity from the other Gauls and had maintained close ties with the British Isles at least since the Atlantic Bronze Age.

The present-day R1b frequency forms a gradient from the Atlantic fringe of Europe (highest percentage) to Central and Eastern Europe (lowest), the rises again in the Anatolian homeland.

This is almost certainly because agriculture was better established in Eastern, then Central Europe, with higher densities of population, leaving R1b invadors more outnumbered than in the West. Besides, other Indo-Europeans of the Corded Ware culture (R1a) had already advanced from modern Russia and Ukraine as far west as Germany and Scandinavia.

It would be difficult for R1b people to rival with their R1a cousins who shared similar technology and culture. The Pre-Celto-Germanic R1b would therefore have been forced to settled further west, first around the Alps, then overtaking the then sparsely populated Western Europe.

The principal Proto-Germanic branch of the Indo-European family tree is R1b-S21 (a.k.a. U106). This haplogroup is found at high concentrations in the Netherlands and north-west Germany. It is likely that R1b-S21 lineages expanded in this region through a founder effect during the Unetice period, then penetrated into Scandinavia around 1700 BCE, thus creating a new culture, that of the Noridc Bronze Age (1700-500 BCE).

R1b-S21 would then have blended for more than a millennium with preexisting Scandinavian populations, represented by haplogroups I1, I2-M223, R1a-Z284 and to a lesser extent N1c1, which evolved into a relatively unified whole during the Iron Age, the first truly Germanic culture and language, although spread across many tribes.

R1b-S21 became the dominant haplogroup among the West Germanic tribes, but remained in the minority against I1 and R1a in East Germanic tribes, including those originating from Sweden such as the Goths, the Vandals and Lombards.

Haplogroup I1 is the most common I subclade in northern Europe. It is found mostly in Scandinavia and Finland, where it typically represent over 35% of the male Y-chromosomes. Associated with the Norse ethnicity, I1 is found in all places invaded by ancient Germanic tribes and the Vikings. Other parts of Europe speaking Germanic languages come next in frequency. Germany, Austria, the Low Countries, England and the Scottish Lowlands all have between 10% and 20% of I1 lineages.

The Nordic Bronze Age (also Northern Bronze Age) is the name given by Oscar Montelius to a period and a Bronze Age culture in Scandinavian prehistory, c. 1700–500 BC, with sites that reached as far east as Estonia. Succeeding the Late Neolithic culture, its ethnic and linguistic affinities are unknown in the absence of written sources. It is followed by the Pre-Roman Iron Age.

Even though Scandinavians joined the European Bronze Age cultures fairly late through trade, Scandinavian sites present rich and well-preserved objects made of wool, wood, and imported Central European bronze and gold.

Many rock carvings depict ships, and the large stone burial monuments known as stone ships suggest that shipping played an important role. Thousands of rock carvings depict ships, most probably representing sewn plank built canoes for warfare, fishing, and trade. These may have a history as far back as the neolithic period and continue into the Pre-Roman Iron Age, as shown by the Hjortspring boat.

There are many mounds and rock carving sites from the period. Numerous artifacts of bronze and gold are found. No written language existed in the Nordic countries during the Bronze Age. The rock carvings have been dated through comparison with depicted artifacts, for example bronze axes and swords. (There are also numerous Nordic Stone Age rock carvings in the north of Scandinavia, mostly portraying elk.)

The Nordic Bronze Age was characterized first by a warm climate that began with a climate change around 2700 BC (comparable to that of present-day central Germany and northern France). The warm climate permitted a relatively dense population and good farming; for example, grapes were grown in Scandinavia at this time. A wetter, colder climate prevailed after a minor change in climate between 850 BC and 760 BC, and a more radical one around 650 BC.

Not much is known about the Nordic Bronze Age religion, since written sources are lacking. Archaeological finds draw a vague picture of what the religion might have been, but only some possible sects of it and only certain possible tribes. Some of the best clues to the religion of this period come from the rock carvings scattered through Northern Europe.

A pair of twin gods is believed to have been worshipped, and is reflected in a duality in all things sacred: where sacrificial artifacts have been buried they are often found in pairs. A female or mother goddess is believed to have been widely worshipped.

In Germanic paganism, Nerthus is a goddess associated with fertility. Nerthus is attested by Tacitus, the first century AD Roman historian, in his ethnographic work Germania. The name Nerthus is generally held to be a Latinized form of Proto-Germanic Nerþuz, which is the Proto-Germanic precursor to the Old Norse deity name Njörðr, who is a male deity in works recorded in the 13th century.

Nerthus is often identified with the van Njörðr who is attested in various 13th century Old Norse works and in numerous Scandinavian place names. The connection between the two is due to the linguistic relationship between Njörðr and the reconstructed Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, Nerthus being the feminine, Latinized form of what Njörðr would have looked like around the first century.

This has led to theories about the relation of the two, including that Njörðr may have once been a hermaphroditic deity or that the name may indicate the otherwise forgotten sister-wife in a divine brother-sister pair like the Vanir deities Freyja and Freyr.

In Norse Paganism, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

In Norse mythology, Njörun (Old Norse Njǫrun, sometimes modernly anglicized as Niorun) is a goddess attested in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and various kennings (including once in the Poetic Edda).

Scholarly theories concerning her name and function in the pantheon include etymological connections to the Norse god Njörðr and the Roman goddess Nerio, an ancient war goddess and the personification of valor, and suggestions that she may represent the earth and/or be the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr.

Several scholars have suggested that the stem syllable in her name, Njǫr-, may represent the element ner- as in Tacitus’ earth-goddess Nerthus (*Ner-þuz), whose name is etymologically identical with that of the Norse god Njǫrðr, and that Njörun may therefore be a name for the earth.

While developments in historical linguistics ultimately allowed for the identification of Nerthus with Njörðr, various other readings of the name were in currency prior to the acceptance of this identification, most commonly the form Hertha. This form was proposed as an attempt to mirror the Old Norse goddess name Jörð ‘earth’.

Various scholarly theories exist regarding the goddess and her potential later traces amongst the Germanic peoples, including that the figure may be identical to the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr mentioned in two Old Norse sources.

Sacrifices (animals, weapons, jewelry, and men) have been connected to water, and small lakes or ponds were often used as holy places for sacrifice and many artifacts have been found in such locations. Hieros gamos rites may have been common. Ritual instruments such as bronze lurs have been found sacrificed and are believed to have been used in ceremonies.

Bronze Age rock carvings may contain some of the earliest depictions of well-known gods from later Norse mythology. A common figure in these rock carvings is that of a male figure carrying what appears to be an axe or hammer. This may have been an early representation of Thor.

Other male figures are shown holding a spear. Whether this is a representation of Odin or Týr is not known. It is possible the figure may have been a representation of Tyr, as one example of a Bronze Age rock carving appears to show a figure missing a hand. A figure holding a bow may be an early representation of Ullr. Or it is possible that these figures were not gods at all, but men brandishing the weapons of their culture.

Remnants of the Bronze Age religion and mythology are believed to exist in Germanic mythology and Norse mythology; e.g., Skinfaxi and Hrímfaxi and Nerthus, and it is believed to itself be descended from an older Indo-European prototype.

If archaeological horizons are at all indicative of shared language (not a straightforward assumption), the Indo-European speakers are to be identified with the much more widely ranged Cord-impressed ware or Battle-axe culture and possibly also with the preceding Funnel-necked beaker culture or the Pitted Ware culture developing towards the end of the Neolithic culture of Western Europe.

Proto-Germanic then evolved from the Indo-European spoken in the Urheimat region. The succession of archaeological horizons suggests that before their language differentiated into the individual Germanic branches the Proto-Germanic speakers lived in southern Scandinavia and along the coast from the Netherlands in the west to the Vistula in the east around 750 BC.

The evolution of Proto-Germanic began with the separation of a common way of speech among some geographically nearby speakers of a prior language and ended with the dispersion of the proto-language speakers into distinct populations with mostly independent speech habits. Between those two points many sound changes occurred.

The following changes are known or presumed to have occurred in the history of Proto-Germanic in the wider sense from the end of Proto-Indo-European up to the point that Proto-Germanic began to break into mutually unintelligible dialects.

The Pre-Proto-Germanic (Pre-PGmc) stage began with the separation of a distinct speech, perhaps while still forming part of the Proto-Indo-European dialect continuum. It contained many innovations that were shared with other Indo-European branches to various degrees, probably through areal contacts, and mutual intelligibility with other dialects would have remained for some time. It was nevertheless on its own path, whether dialect or language.

The Early Proto-Germanic stage began its evolution as a form of centum PIE that had lost its laryngeals and had five long and six short vowels, as well as one or two overlong vowels. The consonant system was still that of PIE minus palatovelars and laryngeals, but the loss of syllabic resonants already made the language markedly different from PIE proper.

Mutual intelligibility might have still existed with other descendants of PIE, but it would have been strained, and this period marked the definitive break of Germanic from the other Indo-European languages and the beginning of Germanic proper, containing most of the sound changes that are now held to define this branch distinctively. This stage contained various consonant and vowel shifts, the loss of the contrastive accent inherited from PIE in favor of a uniform accent on the first syllable of the word root, and the beginnings of the reduction of the resulting unstressed syllables.

By the late Proto-Germanic stage, Germanic had emerged as a distinctive branch and had undergone many of the sound changes that would make its later descendants recognisable as Germanic languages.

It had shifted its consonant inventory from a system rich in plosives to one containing primarily fricatives, had lost the PIE mobile pitch accent in favour of a predictable stress accent, and had merged two of its vowels.

The stress accent had already begun to cause the erosion of unstressed syllables, which would continue in its descendants up to the present day. This final stage of the language included the remaining development until the breakup into dialects, and most notably featured the development of nasal vowels and the start of umlaut, another characteristic Germanic feature.

Loans into Proto-Germanic from other Indo-European languages can be dated relative to each other by which Germanic sound laws have acted on them. Since the dates of borrowings and sound laws are not precisely known, it is not possible to use loans to establish absolute, or calendar, chronology.

Most loans from Celtic appear to have been made before or during the Germanic Sound Shift. These loans would likely have been borrowed during the Celtic Hallstatt and early La Tène cultures when the Celts dominated central Europe, although the period spanned several centuries.

Herwig Wolfram locates the initial stages of Grimm’s Law (also known as the First Germanic Sound Shift or Rask’s rule) in the Jastorf culture, an Iron Age material culture in what is now north Germany, spanning the 6th to 1st centuries BC, forming the southern part of the Pre-Roman Iron Age.

The culture evolved out of the Nordic Bronze Age, through influence from the Halstatt culture farther south. The cultures of the Pre-Roman Iron Age are sometimes hypothesized to be the origin of the Germanic languages.

Grimm’s Law, named after Jacob Grimm, is a set of statements describing the inherited Proto-Indo-European (PIE) stop consonants as they developed in Proto-Germanic (the common ancestor of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family) in the 1st millennium BC.

It establishes a set of regular correspondences between early Germanic stops and fricatives and the stop consonants of certain other centum Indo-European languages (Grimm used mostly Latin and Greek for illustration).

There are also loans from East Iranian. These words could have been transmitted directly by the Scythians from the Ukraine plain, groups of whom entered Central Europe via the Danube, and created the Vekerzug Culture in the Carpathian Basin (6th-5th centuries BC), or by later contact with Sarmatians, who followed the same route.

The term substrate with reference to Proto-Germanic refers to lexical items and phonological elements that do not appear to be descended from Proto-Indo-European. The substrate theory postulates that these elements came from an earlier population that stayed amongst the Indo-Europeans and was influential enough to bring over some elements of its own language.

The theory of a non-Indo-European substrate was first proposed by Sigmund Feist, who estimated that about 1/3 of the Proto-Germanic lexical items came from the substrate.

Research in Germanic etymology continues, and many Germanic words whose origins were previously unclear or controversial now have plausible explanations in terms of reconstructed Indo-European words and morphology.

Thus, the proportion of Germanic words without any plausible etymological explanation has decreased over time. Estimates of that proportion are typically outdated or inflated as many of these proposals were unknown when scholars were compiling lists of unexplained Germanic words.

The Germani: Germanic Peoples Origins and History

Population genetics of the Sami

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