Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

On the origin of the Greeks – The Graeco-Armeno-Aryan family and the origin of the Indo-European languages

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 23, 2018

“Minoans, Mycenaeans, and modern Greeks also had some ancestry related to the ancient people of the Caucasus, Armenia, and Iran,” said co-lead author Dr. Iosif Lazaridis, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard Medical School.

Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically similar, having at least three-quarters of their ancestry from the first Neolithic farmers of western Anatolia and the Aegean, and most of the remainder from ancient populations related to those of the Caucasus and Iran.

However, the Mycenaeans differed from Minoans in deriving additional ancestry from an ultimate source related to the hunter–gatherers of eastern Europe and Siberia, introduced via a proximal source related to the inhabitants of either the Eurasian steppe or Armenia. 

The Minoan civilization was an Aegean Bronze Age civilization on the island of Crete and other Aegean Islands which flourished from about 2600 to 1600 BC, before a late period of decline, finally ending around 1100. It preceded the Mycenaean civilization of ancient Greece.

The civilization was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of British archaeologist Arthur Evans. It has been described as the earliest of its kind in Europe, with historian Will Durant calling the Minoans “the first link in the European chain”.

The term “Minoan”, which refers to the mythical King Minos, originally described in the pottery of the period. Minos was associated in Greek mythology with the labyrinth and the Minotaur, which Evans identified with the site at Knossos (the largest Minoan site). According to Homer, Crete once had 90 cities.

The Minoan period saw trade between Crete, Aegean and Mediterranean settlements, particularly the Near East. Through their traders and artists, the Minoan cultural influence reached beyond Crete to the Cyclades, the Old Kingdom of Egypt, copper-bearing Cyprus, Canaan and the Levantine coast and Anatolia.

“Horns of Consecration” is an expression coined by Sir Arthur Evans to describe the symbol, ubiquitous in Minoan civilization, that represents the horns of the sacred bull: Sir Arthur Evans concluded, after noting numerous examples in Minoan and Mycenaean contexts, that the Horns of Consecration were “a more or less conventionalised article of ritual furniture derived from the actual horns of the sacrificial oxen”

The much-photographed porous limestone horns of consecration on the East Propyleia at Knossos (illustration, right) are restorations, but horns of consecration in stone or clay were placed on the roofs of buildings in Neopalatial Crete, or on tombs or shrines, probably as signs of sanctity of the structure.

The symbol also appears on Minoan seals, often accompanied by double axes and bucrania, which are part of the iconography of Minoan bull sacrifice. Horns of consecration are among the cultic images painted on the Minoan coffins called larnakes, sometimes in isolation; they may have flowers between the horns, or the labrys.

Excavations in the past twenty years have strongly suggested that the Minoan “horns” have their origins in Anatolia. In Anatolia, horned objects which we consider served as precursors of the Minoan “horns of consecration” fall into three classes.

Examples of the first of these classes have been found in EB II hearths at Beycesultan in western Anatolia and at Tarsus, ocated on the mouth of the Berdan River (Cydnus in antiquity), which empties into the Mediterranean.

Survivals of this type of “horns” are also found in Late Bronze Age Kusura C and Beycesultan III–II. The second class consists of the pot-stands or andirons connected with Khirbet Kerak ware in the ‘Amuq, Palestine, north-east Anatolia, and the Caucasus.

Dark Faced Burnished Ware or DFBW is the earliest form of pottery developed in the western world. Some notable examples of Dark Faced Burnished Ware (DFBW) were found at Tell Judaidah (and nearby Tell Dhahab) in Amuq as well as at Ras Shamra and Tell Boueid in north western Syria.

Neolithic Ras Shamra, also known as Ugarit was important enough to be fortified with a wall early on, perhaps by 6000 BCE, though the site is thought to have been inhabited earlier. Ugarit was important perhaps because it was both a port and at the entrance of the inland trade route to the Euphrates and Tigris lands.

Ugarit had close connections to the Hittite Empire, sent tribute to Egypt at times, and maintained trade and diplomatic connections with Cyprus (then called Alashiya), documented in the archives recovered from the site and corroborated by Mycenaean and Cypriot pottery found there.

The city reached its heyday between 1800 and 1200 BC, when it ruled a trade-based coastal kingdom, trading with Egypt, Cyprus, the Aegean, Syria, the Hittites, and much of the eastern Mediterranean.

Alashiya, also spelled Alasiya, was a state which existed in the Middle and Late Bronze Ages, and was situated somewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was a major source of goods, especially copper, for Ancient Egypt and other states in the Ancient Near East. It is referred to in a number of the surviving texts and is now thought to be the ancient name of Cyprus, or an area of Cyprus.

The name of the state transliterated as “Alashiya” is found on texts written in Egyptian, Hittite, Akkadian, Mycenean (Linear B) and Ugaritic. It corresponds to the Biblical Elishah. Alashiya had sizable copper production during the Bronze Age.

The Hurrians had a reputation in metallurgy. The Sumerians borrowed their copper terminology from the Hurrian vocabulary. Copper was traded south to Mesopotamia from the Armenian Highland.

The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade. Khabur ware, a specific type of pottery named after the Khabur River region, in northeastern Syria, where large quantities of it were found, is characterized by reddish painted lines with a geometric triangular pattern and dots. The pottery’s distribution is not confined to the Khabur region, but spreads across northern Iraq and is also found at a few sites in Turkey and Iran.

Other finds of DFBW have been made at Yumuktepe in Mersin on the Mediterranean coast of southern Anatolia where comparative studies were made defining different categories of ware that have been generally grouped as DFBW.

It is thought to have come as a development of White Ware and takes its name from the often dark coloured choice of clays from which it is made. DFBW has long been considered the forebear of the more polished examples such as Ancient Greek pottery. Fine painting on Greek pottery goes back to the Minoan pottery and Mycenaean pottery of the Bronze Age, some later examples of which show the ambitious figurative painting that was to become highly developed and typical.

After many centuries dominated by styles of geometric decoration, becoming increasingly complex, figurative elements returned in force in the 8th century. From the late 7th century to about 300 BC evolving styles of figure-led painting were at their peak of production and quality and were widely exported.

Ghassulian culture, a culture and an archaeological stage dating to the Middle and Late Chalcolithic Period in the Southern Levant (c. 4400 – c. 3500 BC), correlates closely with the Amratian (4000 to 3500 BC), a culture of prehistoric Upper Egypt, and also seems to have affinities (e.g., the distinctive churns, or “bird vases”) with early Minoan materials in Crete.

The Ghassulian culture has been identified at numerous other places in southern Palestine, especially in the region of Beersheba. Its type-site, Teleilat Ghassul (Teleilat el-Ghassul, Tulaylat al-Ghassul), is located in the eastern Jordan Valley near the northern edge of the Dead Sea, in modern Jordan.

The Ghassulian stage was characterized by small settlements of farming peoples, immigrants from the north, who built mud-brick, trapezoid-shaped houses or underground dwellings and created remarkable polychrome wall paintings. Their pottery was highly elaborate, including footed bowls and horn-shaped drinking goblets, indicating the cultivation of wine.

Their pottery was elaborate in style, and included footed bowls and horn-shaped goblets. Several samples display the use of sculptural decoration or of a reserved slip (a clay and water coating partially wiped away while still wet). The Ghassulians also smelted copper. Evidence indicates that they buried their dead in stone dolmens.

Natufian culture also demonstrates the earliest domestication of the dog, and the assistance of this animal in hunting and guarding human settlements may have contributed to the successful spread of this culture.

In the northern Syrian, eastern Anatolian region of the Levant, Natufian culture at Cayonu and Mureybet developed the first fully agricultural culture with the addition of wild grains, later being supplemented with domesticated sheep and goats, which were probably domesticated first by the Zarzian culture of Northern Iraq and Iran, which like the Natufian culture may have also developed from Kebaran.

By 8500–7500 BC, the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) culture developed out of the earlier local tradition of Natufian in Southern Palestine, dwelling in round houses, and building the first defensive site at Jericho (guarding a valuable fresh water spring).

This was replaced in 7500 BC by Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB), dwelling in square houses, coming from Northern Syria and the Euphrates bend. Like the earlier PPNA people, the PPNB culture developed from the Mesolithic Natufian culture. However, it shows evidence of a northerly origin, possibly indicating an influx from the region of north eastern Anatolia and Southern Caucasus, Armenia.

The culture disappeared during the 8.2 kiloyear event, a term that have been adopted for a sudden decrease in global temperatures that occurred approximately 8,200 years before the present, or c. 6200 BC, and which lasted for the next two to four centuries.

In the following Munhatta and Yarmukian post-pottery Neolithic cultures that succeeded it, rapid cultural development continues, although PPNB culture continued in the Amuq valley, where it influenced the later development of the Ghassulian culture.

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic culture came to an end around the time of the 8.2 kiloyear event. At ‘Ain Ghazal, located along the banks of the Zarqa River near Amman, Jordan, the culture continued a few more centuries as the so-called Pre-Pottery Neolithic C culture. At the site of ‘Ain Ghazal the early Pottery Neolithic (PN) period is dated from 6,400 to 5,000 BC.

During the period of 8500–7500 BC, another hunter-gatherer group, showing clear affinities with the cultures of Egypt (particularly the Outacha retouch technique for working stone) was in Sinai.

This Harifian culture may have adopted the use of pottery from the Isnan culture and Helwan culture of Egypt, which lasted from 9000 to 4500 BC, and subsequently fused with elements from the PPNB culture during the climatic crisis of 6000 BC.

It has been proposed that a Circum Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex developed in the period from the climatic crisis of 6200 BCE. Partly as a result of an increasing emphasis in PPNB cultures upon domesticated animals, and a fusion with Harifian hunter gatherers in the Southern Levant, with affiliate connections with the cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern Desert of Egypt.

Cultures practicing this lifestyle spread southwards along the Red Sea coast and moved east from Syria into southern Iraq. These cultures are represented by the spread of the first Nomadic pastoralists in the Ancient Near East and probably became associated with the first appearance of Semites in this area.

These extended cultures penetrated the Arabian bifacial cultures, which became progressively more Neolithic and pastoral, and extending north and eastwards, to lay the foundations for the tent-dwelling Martu and Akkadian peoples of Mesopotamia.

In the Amuq valley of Syria, PPNB culture seems to have survived, influencing further cultural developments further south. Nomadic elements fused with PPNB to form the Minhata Culture and Yarmukian Culture (6400–6000 BC) located in the central Jordan Valley, on the northern bank of the Yarmouk River.

The Yarmoukian people abandoned their nomadic lifestyle in favor of permanent settlement, marking the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture. It is the oldest culture in the Levant to make use of pottery. The pottery vessels are in a variety of shapes and sizes and were put to various domestic uses.

The Minhata Culture and Yarmukian Culture were to spread southwards, beginning the development of the classic mixed farming Mediterranean culture, and from 5600 BC were associated with the Ghassulian culture of the region, the first chalcolithic culture of the Levant. This period also witnessed the development of megalithic structures, which continued into the Bronze Age.

The reasons for the slow decline of the Minoan civilization, beginning around 1550 BC, are unclear; theories include Mycenaean invasions from mainland Greece and the major volcanic eruption of Santorini. Some of its best art is preserved in the city of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini, which was destroyed by the Minoan eruption.

The Minoan language is the language (or languages) of the ancient Minoan civilization of Crete written in the Cretan hieroglyphs and later in the Linear A syllabary. Though meager, the inscriptions show a language that bears no obvious kinship to Indo-European or Semitic languages; the language appears to be unrelated to Etruscan or any other known ancient language of the Aegean or Asia Minor.

Raymond A. Brown, after listing a number of words of pre-Greek origin from Crete suggests a relation between Eteocretan, Lemnian (Pelasgian), Minoan, and Tyrrhenian, coining the name “Aegeo-Asianic” for the proposed language family.

While Eteocretan is possibly descended from the Minoan language of Linear A inscriptions of a millennium earlier, until there is an accepted decipherment of Linear A, that language must also remain unclassified and the question of a relationship between the two remains speculative, especially as there seem to have been other non-Greek languages spoken in Crete.

As the Cretan hieroglyphs are undeciphered and Linear A only partly deciphered, the Minoan language is unknown and unclassified. Indeed, with the existing evidence, it seems impossible to be certain that the two scripts record the same language, or even that a single language is recorded in each. The Eteocretan language, attested in a few alphabetic inscriptions from Crete 1,000 years later, is possibly a descendant of Minoan, but it is itself unclassified.

Tyrsenian (also Tyrrhenian), named after the Tyrrhenians, is a hypothetical extinct family of closely related ancient languages proposed by Helmut Rix (1998), that consists of the Etruscan language of central Italy, the Raetic language of the Alps, and the Lemnian language of the Aegean Sea.

A larger Aegean family including Eteocretan, Minoan and Eteocypriot has been proposed by G. M. Facchetti, and is supported by S. Yatsemirsky, referring to some alleged similarities between on the one hand Etruscan and Lemnian (a language attested in the Aegean, widely thought to be related to Etruscan), and on the other hand some languages such as Minoan and Eteocretan.

If these languages could be shown to be related to Etruscan and Rhaetic, they would constitute a pre-Indo-European family stretching from (at the very least) the Aegean islands and Crete across mainland Greece and the Italian peninsula to the Alps. Facchetti proposes a hypothetical language family derived from Minoan in two branches.

From Minoan he proposes a Proto-Tyrrhenian from which would have come the Etruscan, Lemnian and Rhaetic languages. James Mellaart has proposed that this language family is related to the pre-Indo-European Anatolian languages, based upon place name analysis. From another Minoan branch would have come the Eteocretan language.

A relation with the Anatolian languages within Indo-European has been proposed, but is not generally accepted (although Leonard R. Palmer did show that some Linear A inscriptions were sensible as a variant of Luwian).

If these languages are an early Indo-European stratum rather than pre-Indo-European, they would be associated with Krahe’s Old European hydronymy and would date back to a Kurganization during the early Bronze Age.

A number of mainly Soviet or post-Soviet linguists, including Sergei Starostin, suggested a link between the Tyrrhenian languages and the Northeast Caucasian languages, based on claimed sound correspondences between Etruscan, Hurrian and Northeast Caucasian languages, numerals, grammatical structures and phonologies. This claim was renewed by Ed Robertson (2006).

The language group would have died out around the 3rd century BC in the Aegean (by assimilation of the speakers to Greek), and as regards Etruscan around the 1st century AD in Italy (by assimilation to Latin). Finally, Raetic died out in the 3rd century AD, by assimilation to Vulgar Latin, and later to Germanic in the north.

A new study that aims to investigate the biological origins of the Etruscans has revealed a migration event from the Armenian Highlands into Tuscany (Central Italy) at around 850 BCE. The analysis revealed that people of Tuscany poses a sizable amount of genetic traces from Middle East in particular the Armenian Highlands.

Of all the Mid-East populations tested in the study, Armenians appear to show the least amount of difference with people of Tuscany and the greatest amount of genetic affinity. The data indicate that the admixture event between local Tuscans and Middle Easterners could have occurred in Central Italy about 2,600–3,100 years ago (y.a.). This coincides with the advent of the Etruscan civilization.

Interestingly, these results appears to coincide with the accounts of some ancient historians like Herodotus who theorized that Etruscans emigrated from Asia Minor around 1,200 BCE as the result of a famine. Norwegian scholar Dr. Bugge, also suggested that the Etruscan language was of Armenian extraction.

Other scholars like Vahan M. Kurkjian have identified Urartean art, architecture, language and general cultural traces of kinship to the Etruscans of the Italian peninsula. Armenian genetic traces among the populations of Tuscany therefore corroborate with the Etruscan-Armenian theory.

The technique of casting bronze ornaments spread from Urartu to the neighboring countries, in particular to Phrygia, and then to Europe. Urartian cauldron ornaments have been found in Rhodes, Athens, Boeotia, Delphi, Olympia and in Etruscan tombs.

Urartu, which corresponds to the biblical mountains of Ararat, is the name of a geographical region commonly used as the exonym for the Iron Age kingdom also known by the modern rendition of its endonym, the Kingdom of Van, centered around Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands.

The written language that the kingdom’s political elite used is referred to as Urartian, which appears in cuneiform inscriptions in Armenia and eastern Turkey. Other names used to refer to the language are “Khaldian” (also “Haldian”), or “neo-Hurrian”.

The Hurro-Urartian languages are an extinct language family of the Ancient Near East, comprising only two known languages: Hurrian and Urartian, both of which were spoken in the Taurus mountains area.

It is unknown what language was spoken by the peoples of Urartu at the time of the existence of the kingdom, but there is linguistic evidence of contact between the proto-Armenian language and the Urartian language at an early date (sometime between the 3rd—2nd millennium BC), occurring prior to the formation of Urartu as a kingdom.

The kingdom rose to power in the mid-9th century BC, but went into gradual decline and was eventually conquered by the Iranian Medes in the early 6th century BC. The geopolitical region would re-emerge as Armenia shortly after. Being heirs to the Urartian realm, the earliest identifiable ancestors of the Armenians are the peoples of Urartu.

Although the Minoan language and writing systems (Linear A) remain undeciphered, and are the subject of academic dispute, they apparently conveyed a language entirely different from the later Greek. It is related to the Linear B script, which succeeded the Linear A and was used by the Mycenaean civilization.

Mycenaean Greece (or Mycenaean civilization) was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1600–1100 BC. It represents the first advanced civilization in mainland Greece, with its palatial states, urban organization, works of art and writing system. Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language, .

Ancient DNA analysis reveals Minoan and Mycenaean origins. An analysis of ancient DNA has revealed that Ancient Minoans and Mycenaens were genetically similar with both peoples descending from early Neolithic farmers. They likely migrated from Anatolia to Greece and Crete thousands of years prior to the Bronze Age. Modern Greeks, in turn, are largely descendants of the Mycenaeans, the study found.

Minoans, Mycenaeans, and modern Greeks also had some ancestry related to the ancient people of the Caucasus, Armenia, and Iran. This finding suggests that some migration occurred in the Aegean and southwestern Anatolia from further east after the time of the earliest farmers.

While both Minoans and Mycenaeans had both “first farmer” and “eastern” genetic origins, Mycenaeans traced an additional minor component of their ancestry to ancient inhabitants of Eastern Europe and northern Eurasia. This type of so-called Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) ancestry is one of the three ancestral populations of present-day Europeans, and is also found in modern Greeks.

The difference between the two groups is that the Mycenaeans had 4-16% of DNA of ancestors from Eastern Europe or Siberia. This suggests that a second wave of people from the Eurasian steppe came to mainland Greece by way of Eastern Europe or Armenia.

This type of so-called Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) ancestry is one of the three ancestral populations of present-day Europeans, and is also found in modern Greeks. Modern Greeks share similar proportions of DNA from the same ancestral sources as Mycenaeans, although they have inherited a little less DNA from ancient Anatolian farmers and a bit more DNA from later migrations to Greece.

Genomic studies also indicate that ANE was introduced to Europe by way of the Yamna culture, long after the Paleolithic. The ANE genetic component is visible in tests of the Yamnaya people, and seems to make up 50% of their ancestry indirectly. It is also reported in modern-day Europeans (5%–18% ANE admixture), but not of Europeans predating the Bronze Age.

Pre-Kura-Araxes/Late Chalcolithic materials from the settlement of Boyuk Kesik and the kurgan necropolis of Soyuq Bulaq in northwestern Azerbaijan, and a pre-Kura-Araxes kurgan, Kavtiskhevi, in central Georgia, can be related to remains from the metal-working Late Chalcolithic site of Leilatepe on the Karabakh steppe near Agdam (Narimanov et al. 2007) and from the earliest level at the multi-period site of Berikldeebi in Kvemo Kartli.

They reveal the presence of early 4th millennium raised burial mounds or kurgans in the southern Caucasus. Similarly, on the basis of her survey work in eastern Anatolia north of the Oriental Taurus mountains, C. Marro (2007)likens chafffaced wares collected at Hanago in the Sürmeli Plain and Astepe and Colpan in the eastern Lake Van district in northeastern Turkey with those found at the sites mentioned above and relates these to similar wares (Amuq E/F) found south of the Taurus Mountains in northern Mesopotamia

The dating of the Maikop culture essentially signifies that there is no chronological hiatus separating the collapse of the Chalcolithic Balkan centre of metallurgical production and the appearance of Maikop and the sudden explosion of Caucasian metallurgical production and use of arsenical copper/bronzes.

More than forty calibrated radiocarbon dates on Maikop and related materials now support this high chronology; and the revised dating for the Maikop culture means that the earliest kurgans occur in the northwestern and southern Caucasus and precede by several centuries those of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) cultures of the western Eurasian steppes.

The calibrated radiocarbon dates suggest that the Maikop ‘culture’ seems to have had a formative influence on steppe kurgan burial rituals and what now appears to be the later development of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) culture on the Eurasian steppes.

In other words, sometime around the middle of the 4th millennium BCE or slightly subsequent to the initial appearance of the Maikop culture of the NW Caucasus, settlements containing proto-Kura-Araxes or early Kura-Araxes materials first appear across a broad area that stretches from the Caspian littoral of the northeastern Caucasus in the north to the Erzurum region of the Anatolian Plateau in the west.

For simplicity’s sake these roughly simultaneous developments across this broad area will be considered as representing the beginnings of the Early Bronze Age or the initial stages of development of the KuraAraxes/Early Transcaucasian culture.

The ‘homeland’ (itself a very problematic concept) of the Kura-Araxes culture-historical community is difficult to pinpoint precisely, a fact that may suggest that there is no single well-demarcated area of origin, but multiple interacting areas including northeastern Anatolia as far as the Erzurum area, the catchment area drained by the Upper Middle Kura and Araxes Rivers in Transcaucasia and the Caspian corridor and adjacent mountainous regions of northeastern Azerbaijan and southeastern Daghestan.

The Kura-Araxes culture originated in the south Caucasian piedmont. Its beginning was virtually the same time as Majkop (C. 3800 – 3500BC), and both likely began due to influences and impulses from the Mesopotamia and/or Iran, whether trade or colonization, etc.

The culture of the Transcaucasian heartland of Georgia, Armenia, eastern Anatolia and Azerbaijan (i.e., the basin of the Kura and Araxes Rivers, sensu lato) is linked to pottery observed in early 3rd millennium BCE sites in Iran (Yanik Tepe ware), southeast Anatolia (Red/Black Burnished ware) and the Levant (Khirbet Kerak ware), thereby establishing the existence of one of the most extensive ceramic provinces of the Ancient Near East.

Notably absent at Cilician sites, but well-represented in the Amuq (Phase H), Red Black Burnished Ware can be traced to earlier traditions in northeastern Anatolia and the Kura and Araxes Valleys of Transcaucasia (modern Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan), where it is referred to as Karaz or Pulur Ware, and later in the southern Levant, where it is called Khirbet Kerak Ware.

Named after the south Levantine type-site of Khirbet Kerak (Beit Yerah), on the southern shores of the Sea of Galilee / Lake Kinneret (in which excavations the ware was first defined during the 1920s), Khirbet Kerak Ware is also known as Red Black Burnished Ware (sometimes hyphenated “Red-Black”) in west Syrian and Amuq Valley contexts. In Transcaucasia – from which area it seems ultimately to have originated – the ware is also referred to as Karaz or Pulur Ware.

The Red Black Burnished Ware is also found in significant quantities along the Syrian coast (at such sites as Ras Shamra – Ugarit and its neighbours) and in the Orontes River valley (the Amuq plain, Hama, Ghab).

The red-black burnished ware (Karaz ware) is recovered in large quantities from the Early Bronze Age (EBA) II and IIIa levels at Tell Ta’yinat, a low-lying ancient tell on the east bank at the bend of the ancient Orontes river along the southwestern edge of the Amuq valley. It is among the most commonly used pottery on the site. This type of pottery diminishes through the end of the last phase of EBA.

The beginning of mobile populations, marked by kurgans and the contemporaneous building of walls at Shengavit, Mokhra Blur, and Ravaz, is already evident in the early 3rd millennium BC. Ultimately, in the homeland, the Kura-Araxes adaptation would be displaced by a more mobile and militaristic one associated with the so-called Kurgan Cultures.

By 3000 BCE, groups bearing this identity had migrated from the south Caucasus to southwest across a wide area from the Taurus Mountains down into the southern Levant, southeast along the Zagros Mountains, and north across the Caucasus Mountains. So the expansion from the southern Caucasus to southwest and southeast mirrors that from Majkop to the Northeast and Northwest.

While broadly (and somewhat imprecisely) defined, these regions constitute on present evidence the original core area out of which the Kura-Araxes ‘culture-historical community’ emerged. Kura-Araxes materials found in other areas are primarily intrusive in the local sequences.

Indeed, many, but not all, sites in the Malatya area along the Upper Euphrates drainage of eastern Anatolia (e.g., Norsun-tepe, Arslantepe) and western Iran (e.g., Yanik Tepe, Godin Tepe) exhibit— albeit with some overlap—a relatively sharp break in material remains, including new forms of architecture and domestic dwellings, and such changes support the interpretation of a subsequent spread or dispersal from this broadly defined core area in the north to the southwest and southeast.

The archaeological record seems to document a movement of peoples north to south across a very extensive part of the Ancient Near East from the end of the 4th to the first half of the 3rd millennium BCE. Although migrations are notoriously difficult to document on archaeological evidence, these materials constitute one of the best examples of prehistoric movements of peoples available for the Early Bronze Age.

The Yamna period is the most important one in the creation of Indo-European culture and society. 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 along with the preceding Sredny Stog culture.

The Yamna people were the likely result of admixture between eastern European hunter-gatherers with high affinity to the Mal’ta–Buret’ culture or other closely related people and hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus (CHG), who probably arrived from somewhere in the Near East, and is identified as related to a Chalcolithic people from the Armenian Highland.

A 2015 genetic study by Haak et al. (2015) argues that their findings of gene flow of a population that shares traits with modern-day Armenians into the Yamna pastoralist culture lends support to the Armenian hypothesis since the Yamna partly descended from a Near Eastern population, which resembles present-day Armenians.

David Reich, in his 2018 publication Who We Are and How We Got Here, states that the most likely location of the population that first spoke an Indo-European language was south of the Caucasus Mountains, perhaps in present-day Iran or Armenia.

This because ancient DNA from people who lived there matches what we would expect for a source population both for the Yamna and for ancient Anatolians. Nevertheless, Reich also states that some, if not most of the Indo-European languages were spread by the Yamna people.

The Catacomb culture (c. 2800–2200 BC) is a group of related cultures in the early Bronze Age in the Pontic steppe occupying essentially what is present-day eastern Ukraine and southern Russia. It was preceded by the Yamna culture.

Within the context of the Kurgan hypothesis 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.

Grigoryev’s (1998) version of the Armenian hypothesis connects Catacomb culture with Indo-Aryans, because catacomb burial ritual had roots in the southwestern Turkmenistan as can be seen at the Parkhai cemetery in the Sumbar Valley Region, which researchers have concluded is from 3000-2250 BC.

The Graeco-Armenian hypothesis originated in 1924 with Holger Pedersen, who noted that agreements between Armenian and Greek lexical cognates are more common than between Armenian and any other Indo-European language.

During the mid-to-late 1920s, Antoine Meillet further investigated morphological and phonological agreements and postulated that the parent languages of Greek and Armenian were dialects in immediate geographical proximity to their patent language, Proto-Indo-European.

Meillet’s hypothesis became popular in the wake of his Esquisse d’une grammaire comparée de l’arménien classique. G. R. Solta does not go as far as postulating a Proto-Graeco-Armenian stage but concludes that the lexicon and the morphology clearly make Greek the language that is the most closely related to Armenian.

Eric Hamp supports the Graeco-Armenian thesis and even anticipates a time that we should speak of Helleno-Armenian (the postulate of a Graeco-Armenian proto-language). James Clackson is more reserved, considers the evidence of a Graeco-Armenian subgroup to be inconclusive and believes Armenian to be in a larger Graeco-Armeno-Aryan family.

Evaluation of the hypothesis is tied up with the analysis of the poorly attested Phrygian language. While Greek is attested from very early times, allowing a secure reconstruction of a Proto-Greek language dating to about the 3rd millennium BC, the history of Armenian is opaque.

Graeco-Armenian (or Helleno-Armenian) is the hypothetical common ancestor of Greek and Armenian that postdates Proto-Indo-European. Graeco-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Armenian hypothesis that the homeland of Indo-European was in the Armenian Highlands.

Graeco-Aryan is also known as Late Proto-Indo-European or Late Indo-European to suggest that Graeco-Aryan forms a dialect group, which corresponds to the latest stage of linguistic unity in the Indo-European homeland in the early part of the 3rd millennium BC.

Proto-Armenian, would have been between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, which would be consistent with the fact that Armenian shares some features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek.

The hypothetical Proto-Graeco-Armenian stage would need to date to the 3rd millennium BC and would be only barely different from either late Proto-Indo-European or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan.

The arrival of the Indo-Europeans coincides with the Mycenaean civilization. The Mycenaean Greeks were the first to introduce Linear B, an Indo-European language, into Greece. Mycenaean culture was distinctly unique from its predecessors in Greece, and is recognized by historians to have been introduced from the east.

By 2500 BC, Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had separated, moving westward and eastward from the Pontic Steppe, respectively. 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, a people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire c. 1531 BC and until c. 1155 BC.

The first extant record of Indic Mitra, in the form mi-it-ra-, is in the inscribed peace treaty of c. 1400 BC between Hittites and the Hurrian kingdom of the Mitanni in the area southeast of Lake Van in Asia Minor. Mitra appears there together with four other Indic divinities as witnesses and keepers of the pact.

The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.

Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which existed in many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. Although the name ‘maryannu’ is plural it takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix.

It is suggested that at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names.

Tutmoses III of Egypt (1500 BC) mentions the people of ‘Ermenen’ paying tribute when he held his court at Ninevah, and says that in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars.” (note: Tutmose III was the first Pharaoh to cross the Euphrates to reach the Armenian Highlands).

Armani, (also given as Armanum) was an ancient kingdom mentioned by Sargon of Akkad and his grandson Naram-Sin of Akkad. It was suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Armani is one of the earliest form of the name Armenia.

However, 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.

Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is a legendary Sumerian account composed in the Neo-Sumerian period (ca. 21st century BC). It is one of a series of accounts describing the conflicts between Enmerkar and the unnamed king of Aratta.

Aratta 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. Aratta is remote and difficult to reach. It is home to the goddess Inanna, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk.

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.

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