Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

On the origin of the Indo-Europeans

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 12, 2016

The start of our civilization in the Armenian Highland – 12000 BC

Bilderesultat for armenian highlands

Bilderesultat for armenian highlands

Bilderesultat for gobekli tepe

Bilderesultat for gobekli tepe

Göbekli Tepe Infographic

Gobekli Tepe / Portasar

Hurrians

Urartu

Armenia

Proto Indo-Europeans

The Hurrians (transliteration: Ḫu-ur-ri), also called Hari, Khurrites, Hourri, Churri, Hurri or Hurriter, were a people of the Bronze Age Near East. They spoke a Hurro-Urartian language called Hurrian, and lived in Anatolia and Northern Mesopotamia.

It is argued on linguistic evidence that proto-Armenian came in contact with Urartian at an early date (3rd-2nd millennium BC), before the formation of the Urartian (Araratian) kingdom. The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms. The present-day Armenians are an amalgam of the Indo-European groups with the Hurrians and Urartians.

The earliest historical records of Anatolia stem from the southeast of the region and are from the Mesopotamian-based Akkadian Empire during the reign of Sargon of Akkad in the 24th century BC. Scholars generally believe the earliest indigenous populations of Anatolia were the Hattians and Hurrians.

The Hattians spoke a language of unclear affiliation, and the Hurrian language belongs to a small family called Hurro-Urartian, all these languages now being extinct; relationships with indigenous languages of the Caucasus have been proposed but are not generally accepted. The region was famous for exporting raw materials, and areas of Hattian- and Hurrian-populated southeast Anatolia were colonised by the Akkadians.

Trialetian is the name for an Upper Paleolithic-Epipaleolithic stone tool industry from the area south of the Caucasus Mountains and to the northern Zagros Mountains. It is tentatively dated to the period between 14,000 / 11,000 BCE and 6,000 BCE.

The name of the archaeological culture derives from sites in the district of Trialeti in south Georgian Khrami river basin. These sites include Barmaksyzkaya and Edzani-Zurtaketi. In Edzani, an Upper Paleolithic site, a significant percentage of the artifacts are made of obsidian.

The Caucasian-Anatolian area of Trialetian culture was adjacent to the Iraqi-Iranian Zarzian culture to the east and south as well as the Levantine Natufian to the southwest. Alan H. Simmons describes the culture as “very poorly documented”. In contrast, recent excavations in the Valley of Qvirila river, to the north of the Trialetian region, display a Mesolithic culture. The subsistence of these groups were based on hunting Capra caucasica, wild boar and brown bear.

The Natufian culture /nəˈtjuːfiən/ was an Epipaleolithic culture that existed from around 12,500 to 9,500 BC in the Levant, a region in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was unusual in that it was sedentary, or semi-sedentary, before the introduction of agriculture.

The Natufian communities may be the ancestors of the builders of the first Neolithic settlements of the region, which may have been the earliest in the world. Some evidence suggests deliberate cultivation of cereals, specifically rye, by the Natufian culture, at Tell Abu Hureyra, the site of earliest evidence of agriculture in the world. Generally, though, Natufians exploited wild cereals. Animals hunted included gazelles.

According to Christy G. Turner II, there is an archaeological and physical anthropological reason for a relationship between the modern Semitic-speaking populations of the Levant and the Natufians.

The Khiamian (also referred to as El Khiam or El-Khiam) is a period of the Near-Eastern Neolithic, marking the transition between the Natufian and the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A. Some sources date it from about 10,000 to 9,500 BCE. It currently dates between 10,200 and 8800 BC according to the ASPRO chronology.

The Khiamian owes its name to the site of El Khiam, situated on banks of the Dead Sea, where researchers have recovered the oldest chert arrows heads, with lateral notchs, the so-called “El Khiam points”. They have served to identify sites of this period, which are found in Israel, as well as in Jordan (Azraq), Sinai (Abu Madi), and to the north as far as the Middle Euphrates (Mureybet).

Aside from the appearance of El Khiam arrow heads, the Khiamian is placed in the continuity of the Natufian, without any major technical innovations. However, for the first time houses were built on the ground level itself, and not half below ground as was previously done. Otherwise, the bearers of the El Khiam culture were still hunter-gatherers, and agriculture at that time was then still rather primitive, based on what has been reported on sites of this period.

Newer discoveries show that in the Middle East and Anatolia some experiments with agriculture were being made by 10,900 BC. and that there may already have been experimenting with wild grain processing by around 19,000 BC at Ohalo II.

The Khiamien also sees a change occur in the symbolic aspects of culture, as evidenced by the appearance of small female statuettes, as well as by the burying of aurochs skulls. According to Jacques Cauvin, it is the beginning of the worship of the Woman and the Bull, as evidenced in the following periods of the Near-Eastern Neolithic.

The Levantine corridor is the relatively narrow strip between the Mediterranean Sea to the northwest and deserts to the southeast which connects Africa to Eurasia. This corridor is a land route of migrations of animals between Eurasia and Africa. In particular, it is believed that early hominins spread from Africa to Eurasia via the Levantine corridor and Horn of Africa. The corridor is named after the Levant.

The Levantine Corridor is the western part of the Fertile Crescent, the eastern part being Mesopotamia. Botanists recognize this area as a dispersal route of plant species. Through genetic studies, researchers have found that the Levantine corridor was more important through Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods for bi-directional migrations of peoples (and certain chromosomes[clarification needed]) between Africa and Eurasia than was the Horn of Africa.

The first sedentary villages were established around fresh water springs and lakes in the Levantine corridor by the Natufian culture. The term is used frequently by archaeologists as an area that includes Cyprus, where important developments occurred during the Neolithic revolution.

Zarzian culture is an archaeological culture of late Paleolithic and Mesolithic in Southwest Asia. The period of the culture is estimated about 18,000–8,000 years BC. It was preceded by the Baradostian culture in the same region and was related to the Imereti culture of the Caucasus. The culture was named and recognised of the cave of Zarzi in Iraqi Kurdistan. Here was found plenty of microliths (up to 20% finds). Their forms are short and asymmetric trapezoids, and triangles with hollows.

Andy Burns states “The Zarzian of the Zagros region of Iran is contemporary with the Natufian but different from it. The only dates for the entire Zarzian come from Palegawra Cave, and date to 17,300-17,000BP, but it is clear that it is broadly contemporary with the Levantine Kebaran, with which it shares features. It seems to have evolved from the Upper Palaeolithic Baradostian.”

There are only a few Zarzian sites and the area appears to have been quite sparsely populated during the Epipalaeolithic. Faunal remains from the Zarzian indicate that the temporary form of structures indicate a hunter-gatherer subsistence strategy, focused on onager, red deer and caprines. Better known sites include Palegawra Cave, Shanidar B2 and Zarzi.” The Zarzian culture seems to have participated in the early stages of what Kent Flannery has called the broad spectrum revolution.

The Zarzian culture is found associated with remains of the domesticated dog and with the introduction of the bow and arrow. It seems to have extended north into the Gobustan (Kobystan, Qobustan) region and into Eastern Iran as a forerunner of the Hissar and related cultures.

Belbaşı is a cave and a late Paleolithic/Mesolithic site in southern Turkey, located southwest of Antalya. Belbaşı culture is a term sometimes used to describe the prehistoric culture whose clearly identifiable traces in the site were explored in the 1960s, as well as being sometimes used to include also the succeeding Mesolithic/proto-Neolithic culture of Beldibi Cave nearby, at only a few kilometers distance to the north; or, in a wider sense, to cover the entire sequence constituted by half a dozen caves west of Antalya, encompassing, in this sense, also the Neolithic sites at, from south to north, Çarkin, Öküzlü and Karain caves.

Other sources may start the sequence at Beldibi, thus referring to a Beldibi culture, or treat each cave individually. Such a sequence from late Paleolithic to Neolithic in such closely located sites is unknown elsewhere. Since the proto-Neolithic of Beldibi being a development from the Mesolithic of Belbaşı is only a possibility, although a strong one, sources differ in their choice of terms for the cultures concerned. The lithic assemblage of both cultures were based upon microliths.

Belbaşı culture shows indications of an early connection to the Kebaran industry assemblages of Palestine. Their settlements were stable, typical of Natufian culture sites in this respect, and many later evolved into agricultural villages, similar to Jericho’s forerunner Tell es-Sultan, settled around 7800 BC.

Their most lasting effect was felt not in the Near East, where they seem to have left no permanent mark on the cultural development of Anatolia after 5000 BC, but in Europe, for it was to this new continent that the neolithic cultures of Anatolia introduced the first beginnings of agriculture and stockbreeding.

The Mal’ta-Buret’ culture is an archaeological culture of the Upper Paleolithic (c. 24,000 to 15,000 BP) on the upper Angara River in the area west of Lake Baikal in the Irkutsk Oblast, Siberia, Russian Federation. The type sites are named for the villages of Mal’ta (Мальта), Usolsky District and Buret’ (Буреть), Bokhansky District (both in Irkutsk Oblast).

According to research published in 2013 and 2016 the Mal’ta people belonged to an extinct population closely related to a population who contributed substantially to the genetic ancestry of Siberians, Native Americans and Bronze Age Yamnaya people. The Mal’ta-Buret’ population were also found to be genetically close to modern-day Native Americans, Kets, Nganasans and Yukaghirs.

The term “Ancient North Eurasian” (ANE) is the name given in genetic literature to an ancestral component that represents descent from the people of the Mal’ta-Buret’ culture or a population closely related to them. According to 2016 genomic study, it was found that global maximum of ANE ancestry occurs in modern-day Native Americans, Kets, Nganasans and Yukaghirs.

Genomic study also indicates that the Yamnaya invasion from steppes introduced “Ancient North Eurasian” admixture into Europe. “Ancient North Eurasian” genetic component is visible in tests of the Yamnaya people, which makes up 50% of their ancestry. as well as modern-day Europeans (5%-18% ANE admixture), but not of Europeans predating the Bronze Age.

Perhaps the best example of Paleolithic portable art is something referred to as “Venus figurines”. Until they were discovered in Mal’ta, “Venus figurines” were previously found only in Europe. Carved from the ivory tusk of a mammoth, these images were typically highly stylized, and often involved embellished and disproportionate characteristics (typically the breasts or buttocks). It is widely believed that these emphasized features were meant to be symbols of fertility.

Discussing this easternmost outpost of paleolithic culture, Joseph Campbell finishes by commenting on the symbolic forms of the artifacts found there: We are clearly in a paleolithic province where the serpent, labyrinth, and rebirth themes already constitute a symbolic constellation, joined with the imagery of the sunbird and shaman flight, with the goddess in her classic role of protectress of the hearth, mother of man’s second birth, and lady of wild things and of the food supply.

The Yamna or Yamnaya culture, also called Pit Grave Culture and Ochre Grave Culture, was a late Copper Age/early Bronze Age culture of the Southern Bug/Dniester/Ural region (the Pontic steppe), dating to 3,500 – 2,300 BCE. Their culture is materially very similar to that of the people of the Afanasevo culture, their contemporaries in the Altai Mountains; furthermore, genetic tests have confirmed that the two groups are genetically indistinguishable.

Yamna and Yamnaya are borrowed from Ukrainian: Ямна культура and Russian: Ямная культура respectively, and both mean “pit-grave”. The root in both cases is яма (yama) meaning “pit”. The people of the Yamnaya culture were the likely result of admixture between eastern European hunter-gatherers (via whom they also descend from the Mal’ta-Buret’ culture or other, closely related people) and a Near Eastern people, with some research identifying the latter as hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus and other a Chalcolithic population from what is now Iran.

They are also closely connected to later, Bronze Age cultures which spread throughout Europe and Central Asia, especially the Corded Ware people, but also the Bell Beakers as well as the peoples of the Andronovo, Sintashta, and Srubna cultures. In these groups, there are present several aspects of the Yamna culture (e.g., horse-riding, burial styles, and to some extent the pastoralist economy). Studies have also established that these populations derived large parts of their ancestry from the steppes.

The Yamna culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans, and is the strongest candidate for the Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language. However, the Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European homeland, proposed by Georgian (Tamaz V. Gamkrelidze) and Russian linguist Vyacheslav Ivanov in 1985, suggests that Proto-Indo-European was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highlands.

They claim that the Indo-European languages came from a language in Armenia to the Pontic steppe from which it expanded, according to the Kurgan hypothesis, into Western Europe. The Hittite, Indo-Iranian, Greek and Armenian branches split from the Armenian homeland. The Indo-Hittite model and does not include the Anatolian languages in its scenario, which are identified with the Kura-Araxes culture.

The phonological peculiarities proposed in the glottalic theory would be best preserved in Armenian and the Germanic languages. Armenian remained in situ and would be particularly archaic despite of its late attestation. Proto-Greek would be practically equivalent to Mycenaean Greek from the 17th century BC and closely associate Greek migration to Greece with the Indo-Aryan migration to India at about the same time (the Indo-European expansion at the transition to the Late Bronze Age, including the possibility of Indo-European Kassites).

The hypothesis argues for the latest possible date of Proto-Indo-European (without Anatolian), roughly a millennium later than the mainstream Kurgan hypothesis. It opposes the Anatolian hypothesis in spite of the geographical proximity of the respective suggested Urheimaten by diverging from the timeframe suggested there by as much as three millennia.J. Grepin wrote in a review that the model of linguistic relationships is “the most complex, far reaching and fully supported of this century”.

Robert Drews says that “most of the chronological and historical arguments seem fragile at best, and of those that I am able to judge, some are evidently wrong”. However, he argues that it is far more powerful as a linguistic model, providing insights into the relationship between the Indo-European and the Semitic and Kartvelian languages.

Hittite is one of the Anatolian languages. It is known from cuneiform tablets and inscriptions erected by the Hittite kings. The script formerly known as “Hieroglyphic Hittite” is now termed Hieroglyphic Luwian. The Anatolian branch also includes Cuneiform Luwian, Hieroglyphic Luwian, Palaic, Lycian, Milyan, Lydian, Carian, Pisidian, and Sidetic.

Hittite lacks some features of the other Indo-European languages, such as a distinction between masculine and feminine grammatical gender, subjunctive and optative moods, and aspect. Various hypotheses have been formulated to explain these contrasts.

Some linguists, most notably Edgar H. Sturtevant and Warren Cowgill, have argued that it should be classified as a sister language to Proto-Indo-European, rather than a daughter language, formulating the Indo-Hittite hypothesis. The parent, Indo-Hittite, lacked the features not present in Hittite, which Proto-Indo-European innovated.

Other linguists, however, have taken the opposite point of view, the Schwund (“loss”) Hypothesis, that Hittite (or Anatolian) came from a Proto-Indo-European possessing the full range of features, but simplified. A third hypothesis, supported by Calvert Watkins and others, viewed the major families as all coming from Proto-Indo-European directly. They were all sister languages or language groups. Differences might be explained as dialectical.

According to Craig Melchert, the current tendency is to suppose that Proto-Indo-European evolved, and that the “prehistoric speakers” of Anatolian became isolated “from the rest of the PIE speech community, so as not to share in some common innovations.” Hittite, as well as its Anatolian cousins, split off from Proto-Indo-European at an early stage, thereby preserving archaisms that were later lost in the other Indo-European languages.

In Hittite there are many loanwords, particularly religious vocabulary, from the non-Indo-European Hurrian and Hattic languages. The latter was the language of the Hattians, the local inhabitants of the land of Hatti before being absorbed or displaced by the Hittites. Sacred and magical texts from Hattusa were often written in Hattic, Hurrian, and Luwian, even after Hittite became the norm for other writings.

In 1981, Hopper proposed to divide all Indo-European languages into Decem and Taihun groups, according to the pronunciation of the numeral ’10’, by analogy with the Centum-Satem isogloss, which is based on the pronunciation of the numeral ‘100’.

The Armenian, Germanic, Anatolian, and Tocharian subfamilies belong to the Taihun group because the numeral ’10’ begins with a voiceless t there. All other Indo-European languages belong to the Decem group because the numeral 10 begins with a voiced d in them.

The Catacomb culture (ca. 2800–2200 BC) is a group of related cultures in the early Bronze Age occupying essentially what is present-day eastern Ukraine and southern Russia.

The culture was the first to introduce corded pottery decorations into the steppes and shows a profuse use of the polished battle axe, providing a link to the West. Parallels with the Afanasevo culture, including provoked cranial deformations, provide a link to the East. It was preceded by the Yamna culture.

The Globular Amphora Culture (GAC), German Kugelamphoren-Kultur (KAK), ca. 3400–2800 BC, is an archaeological culture, thought to be of Indo-European origin, preceding the central area occupied by the Corded Ware culture. It occupied much of the same area as the earlier Funnelbeaker culture. The name was coined by Gustaf Kossinna because of the characteristic pottery, globular-shaped pots with two to four handles. Somewhat to the south and west, it was bordered by the Baden culture. To the northeast was the Narva culture.

The inclusion of animals in the grave is seen as an intrusive cultural element by Marija Gimbutas. The practice of suttee, hypothesized by Gimbutas is also seen as a highly intrusive cultural element. The supporters of the Kurgan hypothesis point to these distinctive burial practices and state this may represent one of the earliest migrations of Indo-Europeans into Central Europe. In this context and given its area of occupation, this culture has been claimed as the underlying culture of a Germanic-Baltic-Slavic continuum.

The Corded Ware culture (German: Schnurkeramik; French: ceramique cordée; Dutch: touwbekercultuur) comprises a broad Indo-European archaeological horizon of Europe between c. 2900 BCE — circa 2350 BCE, thus from the late Neolithic, through the Copper Age, and ending in the early Bronze Age. Corded Ware culture encompassed a vast area, from the Rhine on the west to the Volga in the east, occupying parts of Northern Europe, Central Europe and Eastern Europe.

The Corded Ware was genetically strongly related to the Yamnaya culture, suggesting that the Corded Ware culture originated from migrations from the Eurasiatic steppes. The Corded Ware culture may have disseminated the Proto-Germanic and Proto-Balto-Slavic Indo-European languages. The Corded Ware Culture also shows genetic affinity with the later Sintashta culture, where the proto-Indo-Iranian language originated.

The origins and dispersal of Corded Ware culture was for a long time one of the pivotal unresolved issues of the Indo-European Urheimat problem. The Corded Ware culture has long been regarded as Indo-European because of its relative lack of settlements compared to preceding cultures, which suggested a mobile, pastoral economy, similar to that of the Yamna culture, and the culture of the Indo-Europeans inferred from philology.

Its wide area of distribution indicates rapid expansion at the assumed time of the dispersal of Indo-European languages. Indeed, the Corded Ware culture was once presumed to be the Urheimat of the Proto-Indo-Europeans based on their possession of the horse and wheeled vehicles, apparent warlike propensities, wide area of distribution and rapid intrusive expansion at the assumed time of the dispersal of Indo-European languages.

Today this idea has lost currency, as the Kurgan hypothesis is currently the most widely accepted proposal to explain the origins and spread of the Indo-European languages. The Maykop culture (also spelled Maikop, Majkop), ca. 3700 BC—3000 BC, was a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the Western Caucasus region of Southern Russia. It extends along the area from the Taman Peninsula at the Kerch Strait to near the modern border of Dagestan and southwards to the Kura River.

The culture takes its name from a royal burial found in Maykop kurgan in the Kuban River valley. Its inhumation practices were characteristically Indo-European, typically in a pit, sometimes stone-lined, topped with a kurgan (or tumulus). Stone cairns replace kurgans in later interments. The Maykop kurgan was extremely rich in gold and silver artifacts; unusual for the time.

In the early 20th century, researchers established the existence of a local Maykop animal style in the artifacts found. This style was seen as the prototype for animal styles of later archaeological cultures: the Maykop animal style is more than a thousand years older than the Scythian, Sarmatian and Celtic animal styles.

The Maykop people lived sedentary lives, and horses formed a very low percentage of their livestock, which mostly consisted of pigs and cattle. Archaeologists have discovered a unique form of bronze cheek-pieces, which consists of a bronze rod with a twisted loop in the middle and a thread through her nodes that connects with bridle, halter strap and headband. Notches and bumps on the edges of the cheek-pieces were, apparently, to fix nose and under-lip belts.

Some of the earliest wagon wheels in the world are found in Maykop culture area. The two solid wooden wheels from the kurgan of Starokorsunskaya in the Kuban region have been dated to the second half of the fourth millennium.

In the south it borders the approximately contemporaneous Kura-Araxes culture (3500—2200 BC), which extends into eastern Anatolia and apparently influenced it. To the north is the Yamna culture, including the Novotitorovka culture (3300—2700), which it overlaps in territorial extent. It is contemporaneous with the late Uruk period in Mesopotamia.

The Kuban River is navigable for much of its length and provides an easy water-passage via the Sea of Azov to the territory of the Yamna culture, along the Don and Donets River systems. The Maykop culture was thus well-situated to exploit the trading possibilities with the central Ukraine area.

New data revealed the similarity of artifacts from the Maykop culture with those found recently in the course of excavations of the ancient city of Tell Khazneh in northern Syria, the construction of which dates back to 4000 BC. Radiocarbon dates for various monuments of the Maykop culture are from 3950 – 3650 – 3610 – 2980 calBC. After the discovery of the Leyla-Tepe culture in the 1980s, some links were noted with the Maykop culture.

The Leyla-Tepe culture is a culture of archaeological interest from the Chalcolithic era. Its population was distributed on the southern slopes of the Central Caucasus (modern Azerbaijan, Agdam District), from 4350 until 4000 B.C. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture.

The Leyla-Tepe culture of ancient Azerbaijan belongs to the Chalcolithic era. It got its name from the site in the Agdam district. Its settlements were distributed on the southern slopes of Central Caucasus, mostly in Agdam District, from 4350 until 4000 B.C.

Monuments of the Leyla-Tepe were first located in the 1980s by I.G. Narimanov, a Soviet archaeologist. The inhabitants apparently buried their dead in ceramic vessels. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture, that is mostly of much later date.

Among the sites associated with this culture, the Soyugbulag kurgans or barrows are of special importance. The excavation of these kurgans demonstrated an unexpectedly early date of such structures on the territory of Azerbaijan. They were dated to the beginning of the 4th millennium BC.

The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets. It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture. An expedition to Syria by the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the similarity of the Maykop and Leyla-Tepe artifacts with those found recently while excavating the ancient city of Tel Khazneh I, from the 4th millennium BC.

The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region. The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets.

It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture. An expedition to Syria by the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the similarity of the Maykop and Leyla-Tepe artifacts with those found recently while excavating the ancient city of Tel Khazneh I, from the 4th millennium BC.

In 2010, nearly 200 Bronze Age sites were reported stretching over 60 miles from the Kuban River to Nalchik, at an altitude of between 4,620 feet and 7,920 feet. They were all “visibly constructed according to the same architectural plan, with an oval courtyard in the center, and connected by roads.”

The Shulaveri-Shomu culture is a Late Neolithic/Eneolithic culture that existed on the territory of present-day Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Armenian Highlands from 6000 to 4000 BC, and is thought to be one of the earliest known Neolithic cultures. Then came the Kura-Araxes culture which flourished in this area around 4000 – 2200 BC.

Later on, in the middle Bronze Age period (ca. 3000 – 1500 BC), the Trialeti culture emerged in the areas of the preceding Kura-Araxes culture. It is attributed to the late 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC. Sioni culture of Eastern Georgia possibly represents a transition from the Shulaveri to the Kura-Arax cultural complex.

The name ‘Shulaveri-Shomu’ comes from the town of Shulaveri, in the Republic of Georgia, previously known as Shaumiani, and Shomu-Tepe. In around ca. 6000–4200 B.C the Shulaveri-Shomu and other Neolithic/Chalcolithic cultures of the Southern Caucasus were using local obsidian for tools; were raising animals such as cattle and pigs; and growing crops, including grapes.

The earliest evidence of domesticated grapes in the world has been found in the general “Shulaveri area”, near the site of Shulaveri gora, in Marneuli Municipality, in southeastern Republic of Georgia. Specifically, most recent evidence comes from Gadachrili gora, near the village of Imiri in the same region; carbon-dating points to the date of about 6000 BC.

Many of the characteristic traits of the Shulaverian material culture (circular mudbrick architecture, pottery decorated by plastic design, anthropomorphic female figurines, obsidian industry with an emphasis on production of long prismatic blades) are believed to have their origin in the Near Eastern Neolithic (Hassuna, Halaf).

The flourishing stage of Trialeti culture began near the end of the third millennium BC. At that time, there was already strong social differentiation indicated by rich mound burials. There are parallels to the Early Kurgan culture. Cremation burial was practised. Painted pottery was introduced. Tin bronzes became predominant.

Geographical interconnectedness and links with other areas of the Near East are seen in many aspects of the culture. For example, a cauldron found in Trialeti is nearly identical to the one from Shaft Grave 4 of Mycenae in Greece.

The Trialeti culture shows close ties with the highly developed cultures of the ancient world, particularly with the Aegean, but also with cultures to the south, such as probably the Sumerians and their Akkadian conquerors. Nippur (Sumerian: Nibru, often logographically recorded as EN.LÍLKI, “Enlil City;”) was among the most ancient of Sumerian cities. . One stratum is marked by painted pottery of good make, similar to that found in a corresponding stratum in Susa, and resembling early Aegean pottery more closely than any later pottery found in sumer, Mesopotamia.

Trialeti-Vanadzor painted monochrome and polychrome pottery is very similar to that in the other areas of the Near East. In particular, similar ceramics is known as the Urmia ware (named after Lake Urmia in Iran). Also, similar pottery was produced by the Uzarlik culture, and the Karmirberd-Sevan culture.

Martqopi kurgans are somewhat similar, and are contemporary to the earliest among the Trialeti kurgans. Together, they represent the early stage of the Early Kurgan culture of Central Transcaucasia. This Early Kurgan period, known as Martkopi-Bedeni, has been interpreted as a transitional phase and the first stage of the Middle Bronze Age.

The Trialeti culture was known for its particular form of burial. The elite were interred in large, very rich burials under earth and stone mounds, which sometimes contained four-wheeled carts. Also there were many gold objects found in the graves. These gold objects were similar to those found in Iran and Iraq. They also worked tin and arsenic.

This form of burial in a tumulus or “kurgan”, along with wheeled vehicles, is the same as that of the Kurgan culture which has been associated with the speakers of Proto-Indo-European. In fact, the black burnished pottery of especially early Trialeti kurgans is similar to Kura-Araxes pottery. In a historical context, their impressive accumulation of wealth in burial kurgans, like that of other associated and nearby cultures with similar burial practices, is particularly noteworthy. This practice was probably a result of influence from the older civilizations to the south in the Fertile Crescent.

The Corded Ware culture may have played a central role in the spread of the Indo-European languages in Europe during the Copper and Bronze Ages. According to Mallory, the Corded Ware culture was “the common prehistoric ancestor of the later Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, and possibly some of the Indo-European languages of Italy.” Yet, Mallory also notes that the Corded Ware can not account for Greek, Illyrian, Thracian and East Italic, which may be derived from Southeast Europe.

According to Anthony, the Pre-Germanic dialects may have developed in the Usatovo culture in south-eastern Central Europe between the Dniestr and the Vistula at ca. 3,100-2,800 BCE, and spreaded with the Corded Ware culture. Between 3100-2800/2600 BCE, a real folk migration of Proto-Indo-European speakers from the Yamna-culture took place into the Danube Valley, which eventually reached as far as Hungary, where pre-Celtic and pre-Italic may have developed. Slavic and Baltic developed at the middle Dniepr (present-day Ukraine).

Haak et al. (2015) note that German Corded ware “trace ~75% of their ancestry to the Yamna,” envisioning a west-north-west migration from the Yamna culture into Germany. Allentoft et al. (2015) envision a migration from the Yamna culture towards north-western Europe via Central Europe, and towards the Baltic area and the eastern perifery of the Corded ware culture via the territory of present-day Ukraine, White-Russia and Russia.

According to Gimbutas’ original theory, the process of “Indo-Europeanization” of Corded Ware (and, later, the rest of Europe) was essentially a cultural transformation, not one of physical type. The Yamnaya migration from Eastern to Central and Western Europe is understood by Gimbutas as a military victory, resulting in the Yamnaya imposing a new administrative system, language and religion upon the indigenous groups.

The social organization greatly facilitated the Yamnaya people’s effectiveness in war, their patrilineal and patriarchal structure. The Old Europeans (indigenous groups) had neither a warrior class nor horses. They lived in (probably) theocratic monarchies presided over by a queen-priestess or were egalitarian society. This Old European social structure contrasted with the social structure of the Yamnaya-derived cultures that followed them.

David Anthony (2007), in his “revised Steppe hypothesis” proposes that the spread of the Indo-European languages probably did not happen through “chain-type folk migrations,” but by the introduction of these languages by ritual and political elites, which were emulated by large groups of people, a process which he calls “elite recruitment”.

Yet, in supplementary information to Haak et al. (2015) Anthony, together with Lazaridis, Haak, Patterson, and Reich, notes that the mass migration of Yamna people to northern Europe shows that the “the Steppe hypothesis does not require elite dominance to have transmitted Indo-European languages into Europe. Instead, our results show that the languages could have been introduced simply by strength of numbers: via major migration in which both sexes participated.”

Linguist Guus Kroonen points out that speakers of Indo-European languages encountered existing populations in Europe that spoke unrelated, non-Indo-European languages when they migrated further into Europe from the Yamna culture’s steppe zone at the margin of Europe. He focuses on both the effects on Indo-European languages that resulted from this contact and investigation of the pre-existing languages.

Relatively little is known about the Pre-Indo-European linguistic landscape of Europe, except for Basque, as the “Indo-Europeanization” of Europe caused a largely unrecorded, massive linguistic extinction event, most likely through language-shift. Guus Kroonen’s (2015) study purports to show that Pre-Indo-European speech contains a clear Neolithic signature emanating from the Aegean language family and thus patterns with the prehistoric migration of Europe’s first farming populations.

Marija Gimbutas, as part of her theory, had already inferred that the Corded Ware culture’s intrusion into Scandinavia formed a synthesis with the indigenous people of the Funnelbeaker culture, giving birth to the Proto-Germanic language. According to Edgar Polomé, 30% of the non-Indo-European substratum found in modern German derives from non-Indo-European-speakers of Funnelbeaker culture, indigenous to southern Scandinavia.

When Yamnaya Indo-European speakers came into contact with the indigenous peoples during the 3rd millennium BCE, they came to dominate the local populations yet parts of the indigenous lexicon persisted in the formation of Proto-Germanic, thus giving Proto-Germanic the status of being an “Indo-Europeanized” language.

A Genetic study conducted by Haak et al. (2015) found that a large proportion of the ancestry of the Corded Ware culture’s population came from the Yamnaya culture, tracing the Corded Ware culture’s origins to migrations of the Yamnaya from the steppes 4,500 years ago. About 75% of the DNA of late Neolithic Corded Ware skeletons found in Germany was a precise match to DNA from individuals of the Yamnaya culture.

The same study estimated a 40–54% ancestral contribution of the Yamnaya in the DNA of modern Central & Northern Europeans, and a 20–32% contribution in modern Southern Europeans, excluding Sardinians (7.1% or less), and to a lesser extent Sicilians (11.6% or less). Haak et al. also note that their results “suggest” that haplogroups R1b and R1a “spread into Europe from the East after 3,000 BCE.”

In terms of phenotypes, Wilde et al. (2014) and Haak et al. (2015) found that the intrusive Yamnaya population, generally inferred to be the first speakers of an Indo-European language in the Corded Ware culture zone, were overwhelmingly dark-eyed (brown), dark-haired and had a skin colour that was moderately light, though somewhat darker than that of the average modern European.

These studies also showed that light pigmentation traits had already existed in pre-Indo-European indigenous Europeans (in both farmers and hunter-gatherers), so long-standing philological attempts to correlate them with the arrival of Indo-Europeans from the steppes were misguided.

Autosomal DNA tests also indicate that the Yamnaya migration from the steppes introduced a component of ancestry referred to as “Ancient North Eurasian” admixture into Europe. “Ancient North Eurasian” is the name given in genetic literature to a component that represents descent from the people of the Mal’ta-Buret’ culture or a population closely related to them.

The “Ancient North Eurasian” genetic component is visible in tests of the Yamnaya people as well as modern-day Europeans, but not of Western or Central Europeans predating the Corded Ware culture. The people of the Yamnaya culture were the likely result of admixture between eastern European hunter-gatherers (via whom they also descend from the Mal’ta-Buret’ culture or other, closely related people) and a Near Eastern people, with some research identifying the latter as hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus and other a Chalcolithic population from what is now Iran.

The Yamna culture is materially very similar to that of the people of the Afanasevo culture, their contemporaries in the Altai Mountains; furthermore, genetic tests have confirmed that the two groups are genetically indistinguishable.

Goldberg et al. (2016) found that Neolithic farming migration into Europe “was driven by mass migration of both males and females in roughly equal numbers, perhaps whole families” While Bronze age Pontic steppe “migration and cultural shift were instead driven by male migration, potentially connected to new technology and conquest.”

Furthermore, Allentoft et al. (2015) presents surprising genetic evidence of genetic affinity of the Corded Ware Culture with the later Sintashta culture, suggesting that the “Western” or European Neolithic component of Sintashta and its daughter cultures may have come from the Corded Ware culture.

The eastern outposts of the Corded Ware culture are the Middle Dnieper culture and on the upper Volga, the Fatyanovo–Balanovo culture. The Middle Dnieper culture has very scant remains, but occupies the easiest route into Central and Northern Europe from the steppe. If the association of Battle Axe cultures with Indo-European languages is correct, then Fatyanovo would be a culture with an Indo-European superstratum over a Uralic substratum,[citation needed] and may account for some of the linguistic borrowings identified in the Indo-Uralic thesis.

However, according to Häkkinen, the Uralic–Indo-European contacts only start in the Corded Ware period and the Uralic expansion into the Upper Volga region postdates it. Häkkinen accepts Fatyanovo-Balanovo as an early Indo-European culture, but maintains that their substratum (identified with the Volosovo culture) was neither Uralic nor Indo-European. Genetics seems to support Häkkinen.

The language of the Catacomb culture must naturally remain unknown. Within the context of the Kurgan hypothesis expounded by Marija Gimbutas, an Indo-European component is speculated about, particularly in the later stages. Placing the ancestors of the Greek, Albanian and Armenian (perhaps Paleo-Balkan) dialects here is tempting, as it would neatly explain certain shared features.

More recently, the Ukrainian archaeologist V. Kulbaka has argued that the Late Yamna cultures of ca. 3200–2800 BC, esp. the Budzhak, Starosilsk, and Novotitarovka groups, might represent the Balkan-Indo-European-“Aryan”(=Indo-Iranian) ancestors, and the Catacomb culture (to ca. 2500 BC) that of the then still unified Indo-Iranians. However, according to recent glottochronological computations, these splits occurred much earlier.

Grigoryev’s (1998) version of the Armenian hypothesis connects Catacomb culture with Indo-Aryans, because catacomb burial ritual had roots in South-Western Turkmenistan from the early 4th millennium (Parkhai cemetery). The same opinion is supported by Leo Klejn in his various publications.

The Afanasevo culture is the earliest Eneolithic archaeological culture found until now in south Siberia, occupying the Minusinsk Basin and the Altai Mountains from 3300 to 2500 BC. Afanasevan sites have also been claimed for Mongolia and Western China.

Because of its numerous traits attributed to the early Indo-Europeans, like metal-use, horses and wheeled vehicles, and cultural relations with Kurgan steppe cultures, the Afanasevans are believed to have been Indo-European-speaking. According to Allentoft et al. (2015) and Haak et al. (2015) Afanasevo were genetically indistinguishable from Yamnaya people.

Because of its eastern geographical location and early existence, the Afanasevans have been connected to the Tocharian languages. Numerous scholars have suggested that the Afanasevo were responsible for the introduction of metallurgy to China.

The Afanasevo culture was succeeded by the Okunev culture, which is considered as an extension of the local non-Indo-European forest culture into the region. The region was subsequently occupied by the Andronovo, Karasuk, Tagar and Tashtyk cultures, respectively.

Allentoft et al. (2015) study also confirms that Afanasevo culture was replaced by second wave of Indo-European migrations from Andronovo culture during late Bronze Age and early Iron Age. Tarim mummies were also found to be genetically closer to Andronovo culture than to Yamnaya culture or Afanasevo culture.

In 1981, Hopper proposed to divide all Indo-European languages into Decem and Taihun groups, according to the pronunciation of the numeral ’10’, by analogy with the Centum-Satem isogloss, which is based on the pronunciation of the numeral ‘100’.

The Armenian, Germanic, Anatolian, and Tocharian subfamilies belong to the Taihun group because the numeral ’10’ begins with a voiceless t there. All other Indo-European languages belong to the Decem group because the numeral 10 begins with a voiced d in them.

Graeco-(Armeno)-Aryan is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family, ancestral to the Greek language, the Armenian language, and the Indo-Iranian languages. Graeco-Aryan unity would have become divided into Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian by the mid-third millennium BC.

Conceivably, Proto-Armenian would have been located between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, consistent with the fact that Armenian shares certain features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek (s > h).

Graeco-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Indo-European homeland to be located in the Armenian Highlands, the “Armenian hypothesis”. Early and strong evidence was given by Euler’s 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.

Used in tandem with the Graeco-Armenian hypothesis, the Armenian language would also be included under the label Aryano-Greco-Armenic, splitting into proto-Greek/Phrygian and “Armeno-Aryan” (ancestor of Armenian and Indo-Iranian).

The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European homeland, proposed by Georgian (Tamaz V. Gamkrelidze) and Russian linguist Vyacheslav Ivanov in 1985, suggests that Proto-Indo-European was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highlands.

They claim that the Indo-European languages came from a language in Armenia to the Pontic steppe from which it expanded, according to the Kurgan hypothesis, into Western Europe. The Hittite, Indo-Iranian, Greek and Armenian branches split from the Armenian homeland. It is a Indo-Hittite model and does not include the Anatolian languages in its scenario, which are identified with the Kura-Araxes culture.

The phonological peculiarities proposed in the glottalic theory would be best preserved in Armenian and the Germanic languages. Armenian remained in situ and would be particularly archaic despite of its late attestation. Proto-Greek would be practically equivalent to Mycenaean Greek from the 17th century BC and closely associate Greek migration to Greece with the Indo-Aryan migration to India at about the same time (the Indo-European expansion at the transition to the Late Bronze Age, including the possibility of Indo-European Kassites).

The hypothesis argues for the latest possible date of Proto-Indo-European (without Anatolian), roughly a millennium later than the mainstream Kurgan hypothesis. It opposes the Anatolian hypothesis in spite of the geographical proximity of the respective suggested Urheimaten by diverging from the timeframe suggested there by as much as three millennia.

Hittite is one of the Anatolian languages. It is known from cuneiform tablets and inscriptions erected by the Hittite kings. The script formerly known as “Hieroglyphic Hittite” is now termed Hieroglyphic Luwian. The Anatolian branch also includes Cuneiform Luwian, Hieroglyphic Luwian, Palaic, Lycian, Milyan, Lydian, Carian, Pisidian, and Sidetic.

Hittite lacks some features of the other Indo-European languages, such as a distinction between masculine and feminine grammatical gender, subjunctive and optative moods, and aspect. Various hypotheses have been formulated to explain these contrasts.

Some linguists, most notably Edgar H. Sturtevant and Warren Cowgill, have argued that it should be classified as a sister language to Proto-Indo-European, rather than a daughter language, formulating the Indo-Hittite hypothesis. The parent, Indo-Hittite, lacked the features not present in Hittite, which Proto-Indo-European innovated.

Other linguists, however, have taken the opposite point of view, the Schwund (“loss”) Hypothesis, that Hittite (or Anatolian) came from a Proto-Indo-European possessing the full range of features, but simplified. A third hypothesis, supported by Calvert Watkins and others, viewed the major families as all coming from Proto-Indo-European directly. They were all sister languages or language groups. Differences might be explained as dialectical.

According to Craig Melchert, the current tendency is to suppose that Proto-Indo-European evolved, and that the “prehistoric speakers” of Anatolian became isolated “from the rest of the PIE speech community, so as not to share in some common innovations.” Hittite, as well as its Anatolian cousins, split off from Proto-Indo-European at an early stage, thereby preserving archaisms that were later lost in the other Indo-European languages.

In Hittite there are many loanwords, particularly religious vocabulary, from the non-Indo-European Hurrian and Hattic languages. The latter was the language of the Hattians, the local inhabitants of the land of Hatti before being absorbed or displaced by the Hittites. Sacred and magical texts from Hattusa were often written in Hattic, Hurrian, and Luwian, even after Hittite became the norm for other writings.

The Hittite language has traditionally been stratified into Old Hittite (OH), Middle Hittite (MH) and New or Neo-Hittite (NH; not to be confused with the “Neo-Hittite” period, which is actually post-Hittite), corresponding to the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms of the Hittite Empire (ca. 1750–1500 BC, 1500–1430 BC and 1430–1180 BC, respectively). These stages are differentiated partly on linguistic and partly on paleographic grounds.

Tocharian, also spelled Tokharian, is an extinct branch of the Indo-European language family. It is known from manuscripts dating from the 6th to the 8th century AD, which were found in oasis cities on the northern edge of the Tarim Basin (now part of Xinjiang in northwest China).

These languages became extinct after Turkic Uyghur tribes expanded into the Tarim Basin in the 9th century AD during the Islamicisation and Turkicisation of Xinjiang. During Uyghur rule, the peoples mixed with the Uyghurs, to produce much of the modern population of what is now Xinjiang. Turkic peoples originally used their own alphabets, like Orkhon and Yenisey runiforms, and later the Uyghur alphabet.

The discovery of these languages in the early 20th century contradicted the formerly prevalent idea of an east–west division of Indo-European language family on the centum–satem isogloss, and contributed to re-invigorated study of the family.

Phonetically, Tocharian is a “centum” Indo-European language, meaning that it merges the palatovelar consonants (*ḱ, *ǵ, *ǵʰ) of Proto Indo-European with the plain velars (*k, *g, *gʰ) rather than palatalizing them to affricates or sibilants.

Centum languages are mostly found in western and southern Europe (Greek, Italic, Celtic, Germanic). In that sense, Tocharian (to some extent like the Greek and the Anatolian languages) seems to have been an isolate in the “satem” (i.e. palatovelar to sibilant) phonetic regions of Indo-European-speaking populations.

The discovery of Tocharian contributed to doubts that Proto-Indo-European had originally split into western and eastern branches; today, the centum–satem division is not seen as a real familial division.

The Tocharians or Tokharians were Indo-European peoples who inhabited the medieval oasis city-states on the northern edge of the Tarim Basin (modern Xinjiang, China) in ancient times. Their Tocharian languages, a branch of the Indo-European family, are known from manuscripts from the 6th to 8th centuries AD, after which they were supplanted by the Turkic language of the Uyghur Kingdom of Qocho which invaded Tarim Basin.

Some scholars have linked the Tocharians with the Afanasevo culture of eastern Siberia (c. 3500 – 2500 BC), the Tarim mummies (c. 1800 BC) and the Yuezhi of Chinese records, most of whom migrated from western Gansu to Bactria in the 2nd century BC and then later to the northwestern Indian subcontinent where they founded the Kushan Empire.

The Tushara Kingdom according to Ancient Indian literature, such as the epic Mahabharata was a land located beyond north-west India. In the Mahabharata, its inhabitants, known as the Tusharas, are depicted as mlechchas (“barbarians”) and fierce warriors.

Modern scholars generally see Tushara as synonymous with the historical Tukhara, also known as Tokhara or Tokharistan – another name for Bactria. This area was the stronghold of the Kushan Empire, which dominated India between the 1st and 3rd centuries CE. (Although the bulk of the Mahabharata was composed some time between the 9th and 4th centuries BCE, it likely did not reach its final form until the 4th century CE.)

The historical Tukhara appears to be synonymous with the land known by Ancient Chinese scholars as Daxia , from the 3rd century BCE onwards. Its inhabitants were known later to Ancient Greek scholars as the Tokharoi and to the Ancient Romans as Tochari. (Modern scholars appear to have conflated the Tukhara with the Tocharians, from the Tarim Basin (in present-day Xinjiang, China) – an ancient Indo-European people.

Subjects of the Tarim Tocharian kingdoms appear to have referred to their lands by names such as Agni, Kuči and Krorän. They are also known to have spoken centum languages, whereas the Tukhara of Bactria spoke a satem language.)

The Tukhara were among Indo-European tribes that conquered Central Asia during the 2nd century BCE, according to both Chinese and Greek sources. Ancient Chinese sources refer to these tribes collectively as the Da Yuezhi (“Greater Yuezhi”). In subsequent centuries the Tukhara and other tribes founded the Kushan Empire, which dominated South Asia.

The account in Mahabharata (Mbh) 1:85 depicts the Tusharas as mlechchas (“barbarians”) and descendants of Anu, one of the cursed sons of King Yayati. Yayati’s eldest son Yadu, gave rise to the Yadavas and his youngest son Puru to the Pauravas that includes the Kurus and Panchalas. Only the fifth son of Puru’s line was considered to be the successors of Yayati’s throne, as he cursed the other four sons and denied them kingship.

The Pauravas inherited the Yayati’s original empire and stayed in the Gangetic plain who later created the Kuru and Panchala Kingdoms. They were followers of the Vedic culture. The Yadavas made central and western India their stronghold. The descendants of Anu, known as the Anavas, are said to have migrated to Iran.

Yavana or Yona refers to a community in Indian texts and history. They are grouped under western countries along with Sindhu, Madra, Kekeya, Gandhara and Kamboja as per the descriptions in the epic Mahabharata. This word has been used in Indian history to refer to Greeks such as those who arrived with Alexander the Great, and Indo-Greeks in the 1st millennium BCE.

Yavanas were described to be beyond Gandhara. There was another country mentioned in the epic as Parama Yona, in the far west of Yavana. This could be the Ionia of Greece, somehow related to Indian Ionians or Yavanas. The name Yavana could be the Sanskritized form of the name Ionia.

King Yayati a king of the Lunar Dynasty is mentioned to have 5 sons, all of whom became the founders of many royal dynasties, one being the Yavanas. Yavana were foreign rulers. The Yavana epithet was applied to those who had converted to Vedic Hinduism. Places in South west China, Indonesia and Greece were all called as Yavana as each of them became Vedic in course of ancient history. Many ancient Indian warriors like Pandu, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva, Karna and Vasudeva Krishna were mentioned as encountering Yavana kings.

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