Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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PIE and the Tocharians

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on May 6, 2018

The Tangled Roots of English

The ARyans – ARmenians of ARarat

The earliest attestations of the exonym Armenia date around the 6th century BC. In his trilingual Behistun Inscription, Darius I the Great of Persia refers to Urashtu (in Babylonian) as Armina (in Old Persian) and Harminuya (in Elamite). Herodotus, in c. 440 BC, said “the Armenians were equipped like Phrygians, being Phrygian colonists”.

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources.

Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. It is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them. It is remote and difficult to reach and home to the goddess Inana, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk.

Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is a legendary Sumerian account, of preserved, early post-Sumerian copies, composed in the Neo-Sumerian period (ca. 21st century BC). It is one of a series of accounts describing the conflicts between Enmerkar, king of Unug-Kulaba (Uruk), and the unnamed king of Aratta (probably somewhere in modern Iran or Armenia).

Because it gives a Sumerian account of the “confusion of tongues”, and also involves Enmerkar constructing temples at Eridu and Uruk, it has, since the time of Samuel Kramer, been compared with the Tower of Babel narrative in the Book of Genesis.

XXX

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.

With the increase of the human population in the Fertile Crescent from the beginning of the Neolithic (starting 12,000 years ago), selective hunting and culling of herds started replacing indiscriminate killing of wild animals.

The increased involvement of humans in the life of aurochs, wild boars and goats led to their progressive taming. Cattle herders probably maintained a nomadic or semi-nomadic existence, while other people in the Fertile Crescent (presumably represented by haplogroups E1b1b, G and T) settled down to cultivate the land or keep smaller domesticates.

The analysis of bovine DNA has revealed that all the taurine cattle (Bos taurus) alive today descend from a population of only 80 aurochs. The earliest evidence of cattle domestication dates from circa 8,500 BCE in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic cultures in the Taurus Mountains.

The two oldest archaeological sites showing signs of cattle domestication are the villages of Çayönü Tepesi in southeastern Turkey and Dja’de el-Mughara in northern Iraq, two sites only 250 km away from each others. This is presumably the area from which R1b lineages started expanding – or in other words the “original homeland” of R1b.

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

M335 remained in Anatolia, but judging from its extreme rarity today wasn’t very successful, perhaps due to the heavy competition with other Neolithic populations in Anatolia, or to the scarcity of pastures in this mountainous environment.

V88 migrated south to the Levant. Some of them searched for new lands south in Africa, first in Egypt, then colonising most of northern Africa, from the Mediterranean coast to the Sahel.

P297 crossed the Caucasus into the vast Pontic-Caspian Steppe, which provided ideal grazing grounds for cattle. They split into two factions: R1b1a1 (M73), which went east along the Caspian Sea to Central Asia, and R1b1a2 (M269), which at first remained in the North Caucasus and the Pontic Steppe between the Dnieper and the Volga.

It is not yet clear whether M73 actually migrated across the Caucasus and reached Central Asia via Kazakhstan, or if it went south through Iran and Turkmenistan. In any case, M73 would be a pre-Indo-European branch of R1b, just like V88 and M335.

R1b-M269 (the most common form in Europe) is closely associated with the diffusion of Indo-European languages, as attested by its presence in all regions of the world where Indo-European languages were spoken in ancient times. The history of R1b and R1a are intricately connected to each others.

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.

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

Leila-Tepe pottery is very similar to the ‘Chaff-Faced Ware’ of the northern Syria and Mesopotamia. It is especially well attested at Amuq F phase. Similar pottery is also found at Kultepe, Azerbaijan. In 2012, the important site of Galayeri, belonging to the Leylatepe archaeological culture, was investigated. It is located in the Qabala District of Azerbaijan. Galayeri is closely connected to early civilizations of Near East.

The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region (Arslantepe, Coruchu-tepe, Tepechik, etc.). Other sites belonging to the same culture in the Karabakh valley of Azerbaijan are Chinar-Tepe, Shomulu-Tepe, and Abdal-Aziz-Tepe. 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 that has been described as, at the very least, a “kurganized” local culture with strong ethnic and linguistic links to the descendants of the Proto-Indo-Europeans.

This archaeological culture named after the great Maikop kurgan showed innovations in all areas which have no local archetypes and which cannot be assigned to the tradition of the Balkan-Anatolian Copper Age.

Graves and settlements of the 5th millennium BC in North Caucasus attest to a material culture that was related to contemporaneous archaeological complexes in the northern and western Black Sea region. Yet it was replaced, suddenly as it seems, around the middle of the 4th millennium BC by a “high culture” whose origin is still quite unclear.

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, a Syrian village located in Salamiyah Subdistrict in Salamiyah District, Hama, from the 4th millennium BC.

The appearance of Leilatepe tradition’s carriers in the Caucasus marked the appearance of the first local Caucasian metallurgy. Leilatepe metalwork tradition was very sophisticated right from the beginning, and featured many bronze items. This is attributed to migrants from Uruk, arriving around 4500 BCE. Recent research indicates the connections rather to the pre-Uruk traditions, such as the late Ubaid period, and Ubaid-Uruk phases.

The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from about 4000 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end; in some locations it may have disappeared as early as 2600 or 2700 BC. The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; it spread northward in Caucasus by 3000 BC (but never reaching Colchis).

Altogether, the early trans-Caucasian culture enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km, and mostly encompassed, on modern-day territories, the Southern Caucasus (except western Georgia), northwestern Iran, the northeastern Caucasus, eastern Turkey, and as far as Syria.

The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Kura–Araxes culture is sometimes known as Shengavitian, Karaz (Erzurum), Pulur, and Yanik Tepe (Iranian Azerbaijan, near Lake Urmia) cultures. It gave rise to the later Khirbet Kerak-ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.

The formative processes of the Kura-Araxes cultural complex, and the date and circumstances of its rise, have been long debated. Inhumation practices are mixed. Flat graves are found but so are substantial kurgan burials, the latter of which may be surrounded by cromlechs. This points to a heterogeneous ethno-linguistic population.

Hurrian and Urartian language elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are highly possible, though the presence of the languages on the lands of the Kura–Araxes culture is more controversial.

In the Armenian hypothesis of Indo-European origins proposed by Georgian Tamaz V. Gamkrelidze and Russian linguist Vyacheslav Ivanov in 1985, this culture (and perhaps that of the Maykop culture) is identified with the speakers of the Anatolian languages.

The two presented the hypothesis in two articles in Vestnik drevnej istorii and then in a much larger work. They claim that the Indo-European languages derive from a language spoken originally in Armenia, later migrating to the Pontic steppe from which it expanded, according to the Kurgan hypothesis, into Western Europe.

The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European homeland suggests that Proto-Indo-European was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highlands. The Hittite, Indo-Iranian, Greek and Armenian branches split off when this Proto-Indoeuropean language was still spoken in the Armenian homeland.

Once the proto-Indo-European language (PIE) and its speakers began to expand from their original homeland, proposed to be in the Caucuses Mountains, differences in dialect would have started to become apparent over time.

One such group were the Anatolians. They apparently were the first to separate from the rest. Proto-Indo-European evolved, and the prehistoric speakers of Anatolian became isolated from the rest of the PIE speech community, so as not to share in some common innovations.

This is generally accepted because they preserved in their language what would seem to be early roots of words that later changed amongst the remaining PIE speakers to their north, showing that they were not part of this evolution and were therefore isolated from it.

In fact, the Anatolian branch is such an early split that some linguists have doubts over whether the Anatolians were even PIE-speakers to start with. They may have formed a ‘cousin’ of PIE rather than a direct descendant of it.

Whether that’s true or not, any split from the other PIE groups seems to have occurred around 3500 BC at the latest, which is the dating largely used here, but it may have been even earlier.

In the Armenian hypothesis of Indo-European origins, this culture (and perhaps that of the Maykop culture) is identified with the speakers of the Anatolian languages. Here one can come to the conclusion that the Kura–Araxes culture developed gradually through a synthesis of several cultural traditions, including the ancient cultures of the Caucasus and nearby territories.

The expansion of Y-DNA subclade R-Z93 (R1a1a1b2) that appears to encompass most of the R1a1a found in Asia is compatible with the archeological records of eastward expansion of West Asian populations in the 4th millennium BCE, culminating in the socalled Kura-Araxes migrations in the post-Uruk IV period.

Inner and Central Asia is an overlap zone for the R -Z280 and R -Z93 lineages, implying that an early differentiation zone of R-M198 conceivably occurred somewhere within the Eurasian Steppes or the Middle East and Caucasus region as they lie between South Asia and Eastern Europe.

R1a1a1, the most frequent subclade of R1a, split into R-Z282 (Europe) and R-Z93 (Asia) at circa 5,800 before present, in the vicinity of Iran and Eastern Turkey. This suggests the possibility that R1a lineages accompanied demic expansions initiated during the Copper, Bronze, and Iron ages.

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 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 Tocharians are perhaps the most mysterious of all of the Indo-European branches. Thankfully, recent DNA evidence has provided a vital ingredient when it comes to telling their story but, despite this, it is a somewhat complicated story.

The core Indo-Europeans began to separate into definite proto languages around 3000 BC. These proto languages soon became unintelligible to each other, although this fragmenting process excludes the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European languages.

The western or centum language section of Indo-Europeans (IEs) would evolve into Celtic, Italic, Venetic, Illyrian, Ligurian, Vindelician/Liburnian and Raetic branches. This group appears to be associated with a specific Y-DNA haplogroup called R1b. A related Y-DNA haplogroup – R1a – is associated with eastern or satem IE languages. It’s the Indo-Iranian/Indo-Aryan, Baltic, and Slavic groups which fall into this latter grouping.

Two groups, however, do not fit perfectly into that tidy pair of east and west IE boxes. One of these involves the Germanic language speakers, who appear to have been founded by R1a/satem people but with a very mixed subsequent heritage.

The other anomaly, one which appears early in the Yamnaya horizon, involves a western group which apparently decided to be different from all the others and head eastwards. It is this group which evolved into the Tocharian branch of Indo-Europeans.

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.

However, the mystery of the Tocharians may be that there is no mystery. The Tocharians are revealed to have been just another West Asian branch of the Indo-European family that, unlike most of its cousins, went east, absorbed Northern Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and South Asian population elements, emerged long enough in history to leave us a written record of their presence, before succumbing to the Xiongnu and the Mongols.

Thankfully, by combining the remnants of their language, and fragments of their DNA in their descendants, we are able to reconstruct the history of this, once forgotten people.

As far as I can tell, the only explanation for the presence of R-M343 in Xinjiang is West Asia, or at least Central Asia west of the Tarim. There it can be found at a high frequency in Armenians, Turks, north Iranians, and Lezgins among others.

Gamkrelidze and Ivanov cited W. N. Henning to the effect that the ancestors of the Tocharians could be identified with the Gutians from the Zagros, a people that attacked the Sumerians and founded a dynasty.

As usual, I don’t presume to know the linguistic evidence for this, but this hypothesis would place the ancestors of the Tocharians in the “right spot”: virtually all of their Caucasoid Y-chromosome gene pool could be explained with an origin in north Iran (The Armenian Highland).

Haplogroup_R1b

Anatolian Languages

Tocharians

Tocharian_Languages

Central Asia_- Tocharians

Tocharian Origins

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