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Indo-Europeans : The Anatolian Hypothesis

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 9, 2013

The Map of Indo-European Migrations

Expansion of farming societies

Bayesian Phylogeography

Mapping of the Origin of Indo-European

In this paper we identify the homeland of the Indo-European language family by adapting ‘phylogeographic’ methods initially developed by epidemiologists to trace the origins of virus outbreaks. Instead of comparing viruses, we compare languages and instead of DNA, we look for shared cognates – words that have a common origin, such as “mother,” “mutter” and “madre” – across various Indo-European languages. We use the cognates to infer a family tree of the languages and, together with information about the location of each language, we trace back through time to infer the location at the root of the tree – the origin of Indo-European.

Mapping of the Origin of Indo-European

This theory, proposed by archaeologist Colin Renfrew at Cambridge University, holds that the Indo-European languages were spread not by marauding horsemen from the Caucuses but with the expansion of agriculture from Anatolia between 8000 and 9500 years ago.

Radiocarbon analysis of the earliest Neolithic sites across Europe provides a fairly detailed chronology of agricultural dispersal. This archaeological evidence indicates that agriculture spread from Anatolia, arriving in Greece at some time during the seventh millennium BC and reaching as far as the British Isles by 5500 years ago.

Renfrew maintains that the linguistic argument for the Kurgan theory is based on only limited evidence for a few enigmatic early Indo-European word forms. He points out that parallel semantic shifts or widespread borrowing can produce similar word forms across different languages without requiring that an ancestral term was present in a proto-language.

Renfrew also challenges the idea that Kurgan social structure and technology was sufficiently advanced to allow them to conquer whole continents in a time when even small cities did not exist. Far more credible, he argues, is that Proto-Indo-European spread with the spread of agriculture – a scenario that is also thought to have occurred across the Pacific, Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Support for the Anatolian hypothesis has come from an unlikely source. New Zealand biologists Atkinson and Gray have applied computer modelling techniques to the problem, the same kind of programs that evolutionary biologists use to infer the best evolutionary trees based on DNA sequences. Atkinson and Gray used a similar model to determine the most probable set of language trees, together with estimated dates for branching.

Their database was the vocabulary of 87 Indo-European languages. Atkinson and Gray looked at what linguists call cognates: words that are so similar in form and meaning, and so systematic in sound correspondences, that they must have a common origin. For example, a cognate that might be ‘quattro’ in Italian is a cognate with ‘quatre’ in French; or ‘brother’ in English is cognate with ‘brata’ in Polish. These are words that must have a common origin.

The tree and the date estimates are consistent with the times predicted by a spread of language with the expansion of agriculture from Anatolia. The branching pattern is broadly consistent with archaeological evidence indicating that between the eighth and fourth millennia BC a culture based on cereal cultivation and animal husbandry spread from Anatolia into Greece and the Balkans and then out across Europe.

Hittite appears to have diverged from the main early Indo-European stock around 8700 years ago, perhaps reflecting the initial migration out of Anatolia. Indeed, this date exactly matches estimates for the age of Europe’s first agricultural settlements in southern Greece. Following the initial split, the language tree shows the formation of separate Tocharian, Greek, and then Armenian lineages, all before 6000 years ago, with all of the remaining language families formed by 4000 years ago.

Interestingly, the dates hypothesized for the Kurgan expansion correspond to a period of rapid spread on the computer model. According to computer time estimates, many of the major Indo-European sub-families – Indo-Iranian, Balto-Slavic, Germanic, Italic and Celtic – diverged between six and seven thousand years ago. This is intriguingly close to the proposed time of the Kurgan expansion.

Thus it seems possible that there were two distinct phases in the spread of Indo-European: an initial phase, involving the movement of Indo-European with agriculture, out of Anatolia into Greece and the Balkans some 8500 years ago; and a second phase (perhaps the Kurgan expansion) which saw the subsequent spread of Indo-European languages across the rest of Europe and east into Persia and Central Asia.

Linguists generally remain unconvinced, pointing to the failure of the Anatolian hypothesis on at least two major counts. In the first place, if the Europeans, on the one hand, and the Indo-Iranians, on the other, had once lived together as agriculturists in Anatolia, they ought to have a common vocabulary for agricultural items, which unfortunately is not the case.

Secondly, the Hittite language of Anatolia, which is the hypothetical linguistic source, was a minority language probably spoken by the elites, whereas the common language was non-Indo-European. This is hardly tenable with the concept of the Indo-Europeans having originated from this area.

While the Anatolian theory enjoyed brief support when first proposed, the Indo-Europeanist community in general now rejects it, its majority clearly favouring the Kurgan hypothesis postulating a 4th millennium expansion from the Pontic steppe. While the spread of farming undisputedly constituted an important event, most see no case to connect it with Indo-Europeans in particular, seeing that terms for animal husbandry tend to have much better reconstructions than terms related to agriculture. The linguistic community further notes that linguistic evidence suggests a later date for Proto-Indo-European than the Anatolian theory predicts.

The main strength of the farming hypothesis lies in its linking of the spread of Indo-European languages with an archeologically known event (the spread of farming) that is often assumed as involving significant population shifts. On archaeogenetic evidence, the actual population shift (associated with Y-chromosomal haplogroup G) was still minor compared to the component of autochthonous continuity (going back to the re-settlement of Europe following the last glacial maximum), but it was probably slightly larger than the component due to later migrations.

Around 6500 BC, while lpeople carrying haplogroup J2, based in Anatolia, the Natufians, occur in the Balkans (Starčevo-Körös-Cris culture), in the Danube valley (Linear Pottery culture), and possibly in the Bug-Dniestr area (Eastern Linear pottery culture), Mesopotamia, Iran-India and the Arabean Peninsula and Egypt, the neolithic Shulaveri Shmou culture with background from the Hassuna and Halaf cultures arrives from Anatolia to Caucasus. The Kazbeg is around 60 % haplogroup J2. There was both an migration of people carrying haplogroup J2 and R1a from Central Asia to India, where they still constitutes the higher classes.

Haplogroup J2 is found mainly in the Fertile Crescent, the Mediterranean (including Southern Europe and North Africa), the Iranian plateau and Central Asia. More specifically it is found in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey, Israel, Greece, Italy and the eastern coasts of the Iberian Peninsula, and more frequently in Iraqis 29.7% (Sanchez et al. 2005), Lebanese 29.7% (wells et al. 2001), Syrians 29%, Sephardic Jews 29%, Kurds 28.4%, Iranians 24%.

Kura Araxes culture, developing out of the Shulaveri Shomu culture and contemporary with the Maykop culture, is the next step before the Yamna and Catacombe culture. Around 5000 BC Archaic Pre-Proto-Indo-European, located in Anatolia, splits into splits into Anatolian, Archaic Proto-Indo-European and Early Steppe Proto-Indo-European (the ancestor of Tocharian). After 3000 BC the Greek, Armenian, Albanian, Indo-Iranian and Balto-Slavic families develop. Proto-Greek speakers move southward into Greece; Proto-Indo-Iranian moves northeast into the steppe area.

The Afanesevo culture constitutes the Tocharians, while the Androvono culture constitutes the Iranians. The Armenians is Caucasic by haplogroup but have a language coming from the Phrygians, the proto Greeks, the connection between the Greeks and the Indo-Aryans, who in their migration both migrated to the Southwst Asia and to India.

However the Armenians kept until moder days to live and to constitute a sizeable nation in the territory reaching from Lebano/Turkey to the modern days Armenia. They constituted the territory called the Armenian Highland, south of Caucasus. The Kurds, having the same roots as the Armenians, migrated, after being colonised by the Iraniansin their migration to Caucasus around 1000 BC, to the southeast, where the created Media, but have now returned to the Caucasus. The Armenians and other Christian peoples like the Assyrians has been slaughtered and got stolen their land. The people of Lebanon constitutes the Phonicians. Even if the genetical landscape continues to be more or less the same, the Arabification, Kurdification and Turkification changes the culture landcapes.

Geneticist Pierre Zalloua has charted the spread of the Phoenicians out of the eastern Mediterranean by identifying an ancient type of DNA which some Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians share with Maltese, Spaniards and Tunisians. A seafaring civilization which reached its zenith between 1200 and 800 BC, the Phoenicians’ earliest cities included Byblos, Tyre and Sidon on Lebanon’s coast. But their link to Lebanon, whose borders were drawn as recently as 1920, has long been a subject of controversy in a country split between an array of religious communities. «Negotiating these waters is a very delicate job,» Zalloua said. «The Phoenicians were the Canaanites—and the ancestors of today’s Lebanese.» «as many as 1 in 17 men living today on the coasts of North Africa and southern Europe may have a Phoenician direct male-line ancestor.»

The Phoenicians are credited with spreading the Phoenician alphabet throughout the Mediterranean world. It was a variant of the Semitic alphabet of the Canaanite area developed centuries earlier in the Sinai region, or in central Egypt. Phoenician traders disseminated this writing system along Aegean trade routes, to coastal Anatolia, the Minoan civilization of Crete, Mycenean Greece, and throughout the Mediterranean. This alphabet has been termed an abjad or a script that contains no vowels. A cuneiform abjad originated to the north in Ugarit, a Canaanite city of northern Syria, in the 14th century BC. Their language, Phoenician, is classified as in the Canaanite subgroup of Northwest Semitic. Its later descendant in North Africa is termed Punic. The earliest known inscriptions in Phoenician come from Byblos and date back to ca. 1000 BC.

Seeking to set themselves apart from their Muslim compatriots, some Lebanese Christians have drawn on the Phoenician past to try to forge an identity separate from the prevailing Arab culture. «Whenever I use the word ‘Phoenician’, people say ‘this guy is trying to say we are not Arabs’,» said Zalloua, himself a Christian. But after five years of research, the scientist says his work has shown what Lebanese have in common. «We had a great history — let’s look at it,» he said. The genetic marker which identifies descendants of the ancient Levantines is found among members of all of Lebanon’s religious communities, he said. «It’s a story that can actually unite Lebanon much more than anything else.»

Haplogroup G, from Caucasus, the Ossetians is around 60 % of haplogroup G, is both connected with the Hattians in Asia Minor and with the Tocharians in the east. Haplogroup E is more to the south, around the Meditteranian cost, like in the Levant, Greece etc. The Semitic language, developed in close contact with the Egyptians, where the people who became semites went to in the Gaerzean period, the Predynastic Egyptian cultural phase given the sequence dates 40–65 by Sir Flinders Petrie and later dated c. 3400–3100 BC. Evidence indicates that the Gerzean culture was a further development of the culture of the Amratian period, which immediately preceded the Gerzean, but contact with western Asia during this time may have inspired the building of mud-brick niched architecture, the use of cylinder seals, and the adoption of certain ornamental motifs.

Gerzean culture was contemporary with that at Al-Madadi in the north and was characterized by a buff-coloured pottery with pictorial decorations in dark red paint; the use of a tubular drill with abrasive for stonecutting; pear-shaped mace heads; ripple-flaked flint knives; and an advanced metallurgy. Toward the end of the period, pictographic writing on pottery, slate palettes, and stone appeared, under kings employing pharaonic iconography. Lapis lazuli trade, in the form of beads, from its only known prehistoric source – Badakshan, in northeastern Afghanistan – also reached ancient Gerzeh. Some symbols on Gerzean pottery resemble traditional hieroglyph writing, contemporaneous to pre-cuneiform Sumerian script. There is also strong archaeological evidence of Egyptian settlements in southern Israel during the Protodynastic Period (generally dated 3200 BC – 3000 BC), which have been regarded as colonies or trading entrepôts.

The Dynastic culture, which immediately followed the Gerzean, developed directly out of the Gerzean and the other Upper Egyptian cultures that preceded it; gradually, during the last part of the Gerzean, the rulers in Hierakonpolis were able to create not only a cultural but also a political unification of all of Egypt, ushering in the successive dynasties of pharaonic Egypt.

The Amorites, with their Good Hadad, later understood as Seth, is quite interesting in this aspect. From the Levant, or the Arabian Peninsula the semites conquered the area occupied by the Sumerians as Akkadians.

The origin of the Etruscans (the present day Tuscany, Italy), one of the most enigmatic non-Indo-European civilizations, is under intense controversy. We found novel genetic evidences on the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) establishing a genetic link between Anatolia and the ancient Etruria. By way of complete mtDNA genome sequencing of a novel autochthonous Tuscan branch of haplogroup U7 (namely U7a2a), we have estimated an historical time frame for the arrival of Anatolian lineages to Tuscany ranging from 1.1 ± 0.1 to 2.3 ± 0.4 kya B.P. Thus the linguistic relationship between the names of some of the deities of the Hurrians and the Etruscans were then put to the light.

Haplogroup J2 (M172), widely believed to be associated with the spread of agriculture from Mesopotamia, Levant and Anatolia, is a subdivision of haplogroup J. It is further divided into two complementary clades, J2a-M410 and J2b-M12. J-M67 is most frequent in the Caucasus (especially Armenia and Georgia), and J-M92, which indicates affinity between Anatolia and southern Italy. Whereas J-M67* and J-M92, a subclade of haplogroup J2a that has been implicated in the ancient Greek colonization, show higher frequencies and variances in Europe and in Turkey. J-M102 illustrates population expansions from the southern Balkans. Likewise, J-M47 and J-M68 characterize very few Near Eastern and Asian samples.

Haplogroup J2a-M410, who belonged to the agricultural innovators who followed the rainfall, has been proposed that was linked to populations on ancient Crete by examining the relationship between Anatolian, Cretan, and Greek populations from around early Neolithic sites. In India it is largely confined to the upper castes with little occurrence in the middle and lower castes and is completely absent from south Indian tribes and middle and lower castes.

Haplogroup J2b-M12 was associated with Neolithic Greece (ca. 8500 – 4300 BCE) and was reported to be found in modern Crete (3.1%) and mainland Greece (Macedonia 7.0%, Thessaly 8.8%, Argolis 1.8%).

Sephardic Jews have about 29% of haplogroup J2 and Ashkenazi Jews have 23%, or 19%. It has been reported that a sample of Italian Cohens belong to Network 1.2, a group of Y chromosomes characterized by a value of the DYS413 marker less or equal to 18. This deletion has been placed in the J2a-M410 clade. However, other Jewish Cohens belong to haplogroup J1 (see Cohen modal haplotype).

Haplotype R1b, with DYS393=12, has been referenced in the literature as Haplotype 35, or ht35. They can be found in high numbers in Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. The members of this haplotype are thought to be descended from early R1b’s who found shelter in Anatolia during the Last Glacial Maximum instead of in Iberia.

Descendants can be found in high numbers in the Armenian Highland and Armenia with smaller numbers throughout the Middle East, in Jewish populations, in Southeastern Europe, and in the Caucasus Mountains. There is also a sizable pocket of ht35 in Uyghur populations in western China, which is theorized to be a remnant of the Tocharians, an Indo-European speaking people that inhabited the Tarim Basin in Central Asia until later being absorbed by various Turkic peoples. Ht35 is also present in Britain in areas that were found to have a high concentration of Haplogroup J, suggesting they arrived together, most likely with the arrival of Roman soldiers.

The haplogroup is the most frequent in the Caucasus (found at over 60% in ethnic North Ossetian males and around 30% in Georgian males). Kabardinian people, of northwestern Caucasus, are known to be 29% G. Armenians are known to have around 11% of their males in HgG. G2′s are not Indo-European. They are very ancient Caucasians. Their language family was independent from all other language families. Hattis were likely related to Etruscans. Not to be confused by Hittites, Hattis were not Indo-European. They were likely Anatolian. The haplogroup G2 is seen in Uyghur Turks at 5%, Anatolian Turks at 11%, heavily concentrated on the Black Sea part, and Etruscan Tuscany people in Italy at around 15%. Uyghurs, related to the ancestors of today’s Turkey’s Turks, are a mix of European and Asian genes, almost 60 European-40% Asian.

We found traces of recent Near Eastern gene flow still present in Tuscany, especially in the archaeologically important village of Murlo. The samples from Tuscany show eastern haplogroups E3b1-M78, G2*-P15, J2a1b*-M67 and K2-M70 with frequencies very similar to those observed in Turkey and surrounding areas, but significantly different from those of neighbouring Italian regions. The microsatellite haplotypes associated to these haplogroups allow inference of ancestor lineages for Etruria and Near East whose time to the most recent common ancestors is relatively recent (about 3,500 years BP) and supports a possible non autochthonous post-Neolithic signal associated with the Etruscans.

Not only the modern Genetics prove that but even good old biological anthropologists and archaeologists had figured that out. Etruscans descend from Minor Asia because he found Urartian-like artifacts inside the tombs of the elit of the Etruscans along with similar burial customs. It is well known that Etruscan language descends from the Northwestern Caucasian linguistic group, the so called Circasian.

It is descended from the Diakonof’s Alarodian family of Urarto-Hurrian languages (Hurrian and Urartian are so closely related that they were either one language or at least two extremely similar languages in the past). Some others say that it is descended from the Northeastern Caucasian group (the so called Dagestani). Anyway both groups are very similar and quite different from the Southern Caucasian linguistic group (the Cartvelian, the group from which the Hattians occured) at which Georgians constitute the greatest nation in numbers.

The Hurrians had expanded in Northern Syria, Caucasus, Zagros (where in addition with other tribes formed the Mittani and the Kassites) and when the original Hittites (the Nesites of Kanesh) were weakened due to internal political strife, the Hurrians took the opportunity and entered Minor Asia. That’s why we have Later Hittite royal names of Hurrian origin, like Urshi-Teshub, taking over.

Only latter with the Kingdom of Kizzuwatna and the Luwians coming to power were the Hurrians pushed south and southwestern to the Aegean and the Mediterranean shores of Anatolia, where they created people of mixed origin like the Cilicians, the Lycians, the Pisidians, the Sidites etc. by merging with the Luwian original stock that was settled there.

After the Greeks sacked Troy, new peoples entered Anatolia from the West. These where the Phrygians and proto Armenians, both Indoeuropean (as the Luwians were too). That forced Hurrians and the other neighboring peoples to evacuate their lands and to become thieves, pirates and to give birth to the phenomenon of the Sea Peoples who traveled across all Mediterranean and reached even to Italy. There they conquered Proto Italian tribes and formed the Villanova culture.

That culture gave birth to the nation of Etruscans who in later times was separated in northern and southern Etruscans. The southern were destroyed by Roman conquest, but the northern still survive (racially speaking) in Raetia, a canton of Switzerland, where they speak the Raetoromanic language, a mix of some Etruscan with Latin. For example they have the word Zinake and the Etruscans had it too (it’s the equivalent of Tinake in Hurrian). They also have words with Etruscan suffixes even nowadays.

The discovery of a sophisticated city with monumental architecture, plumbing, stonework, and a large population contradicts the idea that Hurrians were a roving mountain people in a strange land. Far from being yet another rough nomadic tribe, such as the Amorites or Kassites who were latecomers to the Mesopotamian party, the Hurrians and their unique language, music, deities, and rituals may have played a key role in shaping the first cities, empires, and states. The language has died, the music faded, and the rituals are forgotten. But thanks to the sculptors, stone masons, and seal carvers at Urkesh, Hurrian creativity can shine once again.

That idea is at odds with a long-held belief among scholars that the Hurrians arrived much later from the Caucasus or some other distant region to the northeast, drawn to the fringes of civilization after the rise of the great southern Sumerian centers of Ur, Uruk, and Nippur. Scholars long assumed that the Hurrians arrived in the middle of the third millennium B.C., and eventually settled down and adopted cuneiform as a script and built their own cities. That theory is based on linguistic associations with Caucasus’ languages and the fact that Hurrian names are absent from the historical record until Akkadian times.

The haplogroups G and J, representing the peoples of the Middle East. The high mountains blocked progress of the glaciers that were covering most of Europe and Asia, allowing a refuge for humans and animals. Haplogroup G is still common in the Caucasus region (including Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan) and in the neighboring Near East. Men expanding out of the Near East carried G across much of southern Europe and northern Africa. A separate, smaller migration carried G eastward, where it is seen in low frequencies in groups as far east as China.

Alternatively, the haplogroup arose on the southwestern slopes of the Himalayas, such as Kashmir, which better explains its presence in south, southeastern, central and southwestern Asia. It is known the Indo-European Scythian people originated in central Asia; the ancestors of the Ossetians moved to the Caucasus after the Mongol advance.

Regardless of origin, whether on the northern edge of the Middle East or its far eastern edge, due to its genesis in southern Asia and its relatively great time depth, the members carrying this haplogroup were incorporated into many ancient ethnic groups in the greater region, from proto-Indo-Europeans north of the Middle East on the Russian steppes, to Semitic language speakers to Dravidian speakers and likely Babylonians as well. As further genetic testing of archeological remains continues, the history of haplogroup G will be known with more detail in the future.

Kura Araxes culture, developing out of the Shulaveri Shomu culture and contemporary with the Maykop culture, is the next step before the Yamna and Catacombe culture are all recognizerd as having haplogroup G. The initial distribution of haplogroup G in Europe may reflect a migration of agriculture-bringing Anatolian people into the Mediterranean Basin. Armenians are known to have around 11% of their males in HgG. The presence of haplogroups I, J and G in the population Finistérienne witnesses the migration of people from the Indo-European cradle to Western Europe.

A genetic study based on modern male Anatolian y-chromosome DNA has revealed gene flow from multiple geographic origins which may correspond to various migrations over time. The predominant male lineages of Anatolian males are shared with European and neighboring Near Eastern populations (94.1%). Lineages related to Central Asia, India, and Africa were far less prevalent among the males sampled. No specific lineage was determined or identified as «Hittite», however the y-chromosome haplogroup G-M201 was implied to have a possible association with the Hattians.

Kurdish languages belong to the Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. What is the genetic relationship between Indo-European speaking Kurdish groups and other West Asian Indo-European and non-Indo-European speaking groups? For both mtDNA and the Y-chromosome, all Kurdish groups are more similar to West Asians than to Central Asian, Caucasian, or European groups, and these differences are significant in most cases. However, for mtDNA, Kurdish groups are all most similar to European groups (after West Asians), whereas for the Y-chromosome Kurds are more similar to Caucasians and Central Asians (after West Asians) than to Europeans.

It has been suggested that some Near Eastern mtDNA haplotypes, among them Kurdish ones from east Turkey, presumably originated in Europe and were associated with back-migrations from Europe to the Near East, which may explain the close relationship of Kurdish and European groups with respect to mtDNA. Subsequent migrations involving the Caucasus and Central Asia, that were largely male-mediated, could explain the closer relationship of Kurdish Y-chromosomes to Caucasian/Central Asian Y-chromosomes than to European Y-chromosomes. Kurds migrated into the Caucasus at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries from Turkey and/or Iran

When compared with published data from other Kurdish groups and from European, Caucasian, and West and Central Asian groups, Kurdish groups are most similar genetically to other West Asian groups, and most distant from Central Asian groups, for both mtDNA and the Y-chromosome. However, Kurdish groups show a closer relationship with European groups than with Caucasian groups based on mtDNA, but the opposite based on the Y-chromosome, indicating some differences in their maternal and paternal histories. The genetic data indicate that the Georgian Kurdish group experienced a bottleneck effect during their migration to the Caucasus, and that they have not had detectable admixture with their geographic neighbours in Georgia. Our results also do not support the hypothesis of the origin of the Zazaki speaking group being in northern Iran; genetically they are more similar to other Kurdish groups.

The Hurrians, inhabiting largely the area of modern Kurdistan, spread widely to many parts of the Ancient Near East long before the second millennium BC. The area later occupied by Hurrians was the centre of the Chalcolithic Halaf culture, and Hurrians are thought to have also been the Khirbet Kerak culture of Syro-Palestine. However, in most parts the Hurrians made up only a minority of the population. A Hurrian population majority existed only in the Khabur River Valley and in the kingdom of Arrapha. By the first millennium BC the Hurrians had been assimilated with other peoples, except perhaps in the kingdom of Urartu. It was generally believed that they came from the Armenian Mountains.

Most Indo-Europeanists’ estimates of dating PIE lie between 4500 and 2500 BC: It is unlikely that late PIE (even after the separation of the Anatolian branch) post-dates 2500 BC, since Proto-Indo-Iranian is usually dated to just before 2000 BC. On the other hand, it is not very likely that early PIE predates 4500 BC, because the reconstructed vocabulary strongly suggests a culture spanning the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age, perhaps with knowledge of the wheel, metalworking and the domestication of the horse. This conflicts with the early Neolithic (8th millennium) date of Gray and Atkinson, which, even if accepted, loses significance in distinguishing between the Anatolian and the Kurgan model with Renfrew’s 2003 revision postulating a secondary Urheimat in 5000 BC, not 7000 BC.

Early separation (5000 BC) of «Northwestern IE» (Germanic, Celtic and Italic, compare Alteuropäisch) from «Balkan PIE» (Graeco-Aryan-Balto-Slavic) postulates 1500 years of common evolution of Graeco-Aryan-Balto-Slavic after separation from the Northwestern dialects. This is incompatible with the Kurgan topology of the Indo-European family tree, and with mainstream linguistics which places Balto-Slavic no closer to Indo-Iranian than to Germanic or Italic.

Reconstructions of a Bronze Age PIE society based on vocabulary items like «wheel» do not necessarily hold for the Anatolian branch, which is more frequently admitted to have possibly separated in the Chalcolithic. In Renfrew’s revised 2003 scheme, thus, the «wheel» or «horse» criticism applies only to the «Northwestern IE»/»Balkan PIE»/»Early Steppe PIE» split at 5000 BC.

Renfrew’s revised «Indo-Hittite» scenario has thus approached the Kurgan model at least in terms of time depth, with a split of «PIE proper» in 5000 BC, essentially proposing a time frame of the order of one millennium earlier than that of the mainstream view, as opposed to four millennia in earlier versions.

Indo-European languages originate in Anatolia

Proto-Indo-European homeland in Neolithic Anatolia (Bouckaert et al.)

Indo-European origins: Neolithic Anatolia still the best hypothesis

Ancient central European mtDNA across time

The Cradle of Indo-Europeans

The Mis-Mapping of the Indo-European Homeland

Proto-Indo-European Urheimat hypotheses

Proto-Indo-Europeans

Posted in Indo-Europeans | Leave a Comment »

Bayesian Phylogeography

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 9, 2013

A simple example of a phylogeny is a family tree where the leaves of the tree represent the children in the family and branches represent relationships between parents and children. The tree represents different clans inside a larger family.

Likewise, a language phylogeny is a tree representation of the closeness of various languages. Dutch and Flemish are sister-languages that have a very close common ancestor. English is a cousin language, which is a bit further away from Dutch and Flemish. The Scandinavian languages are far cousins.

The place where lines come together in the language ‘family tree’ represent older languages that gave rise to the child languages in the tree.

Below, an example of a phylogeny for ancient languages (From Ringe).

Bayesian Phylogeography

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The Eurasian Steppes

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 8, 2013

File:PazyrikHorseman.JPG

Horseman, Pazyryk felt artifact, c. 300 BC.

The Alans

Archaeologists recognize a complex of inter-related and relatively mobile cultures living on the Eurasian steppe, part of which protrudes into Europe as far west as Ukraine. These cultures from the late Neolithic and into the Iron Age, with specific traits such as Kurgan burials and horse domestication, have been associated with the dispersal of Indo-European languages across Eurasia.

Haplogroup R1a

Haplogroup R1a probably branched off from R1* around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum (19,000 to 26,000 years before present). Little is know for certain about its place of origin. Some think it might have originated in the Balkans or around Pakistan and Northwest India, due to the greater genetic diversity found in these regions. The diversity can be explained by other factors though.

The Balkans have been subject to 5000 years of migrations from the Eurasian Steppes, each bringing new varieties of R1a. South Asia has had a much bigger population than any other parts of the world (occasionally equalled by China) for at least 10,000 years, and larger population bring about more genetic diversity. The most likely place of origin of R1a is Central Asia or southern Russia/Siberia. The oldest identified presence of European mtDNA around Mongolia and Lake Baikal dates back to over 6,000 years ago.

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

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

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

The migration of the R1b people to central and Western Europe left a vacuum for R1a people in the southern steppe around the time of the Catacomb culture (2800-2200 BCE).

Haplogroup R-M17

R-M17 is the most common subclade within the family of Y DNA lineages referred to as R1a or R-M420, which share in common the M420 SNP mutation, and before the discovery of M420, R-M17 was itself referred to as R1a.

Archaeologists recognize a complex of inter-related and relatively mobile cultures living on the Eurasian steppe, part of which protrudes into Europe as far west as Ukraine. These cultures from the late Neolithic and into the Iron Age, with specific traits such as Kurgan burials and horse domestication, have been associated with the dispersal of Indo-European languages across Eurasia.

Nearly all samples from Bronze and Iron Age graves in the Krasnoyarsk area in south Siberia belonged to R-M17 and appeared to represent an eastward migration from Europe.

In central Europe, Corded Ware period human remains at Eulau from which Y-DNA was extracted appear to be R-M17(xM458) (which they found most similar to the modern German R-M17* haplotype.

The modern distribution of R-M17 is distinctive. There are two widely separated areas of high frequency, one in South Asia, around India, and the other in Eastern Europe, around Poland and Ukraine. The demographic reasons for this are the subject of on-going discussion and attention among population geneticists and genetic genealogists, however, such patterns could be the combined result of (i) migrations and admixture, (ii) natural selection, and (iii) random genetic drift.

Despite deserved criticism by most archaeologists and anthropologists, even prominent historians and archaeologists have recently attempted to “marry” the evidence from the social sciences with that of genetic anthropology. Whilst the notion that genes, language and culture are co-eval is highly questionable, the link between R1a and “Indo-Europeans” remains a topic of considerable scholarly interest.

Until 2012, there was extensive scholarly debate as to the origins of haplgroup R-M17. This was a result of (i) a lack of further phylogenetic resolution of R-M17 into ‘daughter’ sub-clades and (ii) the evidently erroneous belief that measure of “STR diversity” can unambigiuosly qualify as to which population harbours the ‘oldest’ R-M17 haplogroups.

A large corpus of scholars had found that Indian, or more generally, South Asian populations, had the highest STR diversity.

On the basis of these studies, and using the Evolutionary Effective Mutation Rate, several of the above authors concluded that R-M17 has been present in South Asian populations since the Neolithic, having originated there. They further used this evidence to refute the hypothesis that R-M17 arrived with Indo-European invaders from the north.

However, the use of this mutation rate has received criticism, as it should not be used with haplogroup populations which clearly show evidence of population expansion, such as R-M17. Thus, using this mutation rate could artificially ‘blow out’ the actual age of R-M17 by as much as three-fold. Indeed, authors using the contrary, “germline mutation rate” (which is the rate empirically observed in father-son studies) arrive at more recent age estimates. In fact, Busby et al recently argued that the use of STR diversity in calculating ‘ages’ of haplogroups is highly problematical. Other studies variously proposed Eastern European, Central Asian and even Western Asian origins for R – M17.

The decade-long debate as to which Eurasian region possessed the most diverse, hence oldest, STR values within R-M17 has been effectively put to an end with the discovery of R-M17 sub-clades. SNPs offer a clearer and more robust resolution than STRs. These findings have actually been known for a few years by genealogical companies and enthusiast genealogists, however, two academic, peer-reviewed papers were finally produced by Pamjav et al (2012, 2013). They discovered that all their tested Indian R-M17 samples belong to the Z-93 sub-clade, which is a derivative, “daughter” branch of R-M17.

In contrast, Eastern European populations belong to different daughter branches of R-M17, namely Z- 280 and M-458. The former is widely distributed over south-eastern, central-eastern and eastern Europe, and as far as Central Asia.(Pamjav 2012) Indeed, Central Asia “is an overlap zone for the R1a1-Z280 and R1a1-Z93”, being found in Mongol and Uzbek populations . On the other hand, M-458 is more geographically restricted to central-eastern Europe.

Furthermore, this study found that the undifferentiated, ‘parental’ M-198 existed in the European populations, but was not found in the Indian groups sampled (consisting of 256 Malaysian Indians, 301 Roma, 203 Dravidians from India).

Nevertheless, the authors concluded that “This pattern implies that an early differentiation zone of R1a1-M198 conceivably occurred somewhere within the Eurasian Steppes or the Middle East and Caucasus region as they lie between South Asia and Eastern Europe”, from where “South Asian’ Z-93 and “European” Z-283 sub-clades differentiated and spread in opposite directions.

The Corded Ware Culture and the Settlement of Europe

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

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

The forest-steppe origin of this culture is obvious from the introduction of corded pottery and the abundant use of polished battle axes, the two most prominent features of the Corded Ware culture.

This is also probably when the satemisation process of the Indo-European languages began since the Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian language groups belong to the same Satem isogloss and both appear to have evolved from the the Catacomb culture.

Ancient DNA testing has confirmed the presence of haplogroup R1a1a in samples from the Corded Ware culture in Germany (2600 BCE), from Tocharian mummies (2000 BCE) in Northwest China, from Kurgan burials (circa 1600 BCE) from the Andronovo culture in southern Russia and southern Siberia, as well as from a variety of Iron-age sites from Russia, Siberia, Mongolia and Central Asia.

A lot of Western and Northern European R1a that is negative for the marker Z284 falls under the root R1a1a1* (M417), or even in the older R1a1a (M17) and R1a1 (SRY10831.2). The former are descended from the oldest known expansion of R1a out of the Forest-Steppe, the Corded Ware Culture.

However, Klyosov et al. (2009) found that a substantial percentage of R1a in Northwest Europe, particularly in Norway, England, Ireland and Iceland, had a repeat value of 10 (instead of 12) at the STR marker DYS388. Among them, some individuals were identified as carrying the mutation L664. The origin of the older subclades (M17 and SRY10831.2) is still unclear (perhaps Mesolithic hunter-gatherers roaming around Europe).

Germanic languages probably did not appear before the Nordic Bronze Age (1800-500 BCE). Proto-Germanic language probably developed as a blend of two branches of Indo-European languages, namely the Proto-Balto-Slavic language of the Corded-Ware culture (R1a-Z283) and the later arrival of Proto-Italo-Celto-Germanic people from the Unetice culture (R1b-L11). This is supported by the fact that Germanic people are a R1a-R1b hybrid, that these two haplogroups came via separate routes at different times, and that Proto-Germanic language is closest to Proto-Italo-Celtic, but also shares similarities with Proto-Slavic.

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

It is likely that a minority of R1a people accompanied this R1b migration. Those R1a men would have belonged to the L664 subclade, the first to split from the Yamna core. These early steppe invaders were not a homogeneous group, but a cluster of tribes. It is possible that the R1a-L664 people were one or several separate tribes of their own, or that they mixed with some R1b lineages, notably R1b-U106, which would become the main Germanic lineage many centuries later.

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

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

The first genuine Germanic tongue has been estimated by linguists to have come into existence around (or after) 500 BCE, just as the Nordic Bronze Age came to an end, giving way to the Pre-Roman Iron Age. The uniqueness of some of the Germanic vocabulary points at borrowing from native pre-Indo-European languages (Germanic substrate theory).

The Celtic language itself is known to have borrowed from Afro-Asiatic languages spoken by Near-Eastern immigrants to Central Europe. The fact that present-day Scandinavia is composed of roughly 40% of I1, 20% of R1a and 40% of R1b reinforces the idea that the Germanic ethnicity and language had acquired a tri-hybrid character by the Iron Age.

The Baltic branch is thought to have evolved from the Fatyanovo culture (3200-2300 BCE), the northeastern extension of the Corded Ware culture. Early Bronze Age R1a nomads from the northern steppes and forest-steppes would have mixed with the indigenous Uralic-speaking inhabitants (N1c1 lineages) of the region. This is supported by a strong presence of both R1a and N1c1 haplogroups from southern Finland to Lithuania and the adjacent part of Russia.

The origins of the Slavs go back to circa 3500 BCE with the northern Yamna culture. The M412 and Z280 lineages spread around Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and western Russia, and would form the core of the Proto-Slavic culture. The high prevalence of R1a in Balto-Slavic countries nowadays is not only due to the Corded Ware expansion, but also to a long succession of later migrations from Russia, the last of which took place from the 5th to the 1th century CE.

The Slavic branch differentiated itself when the Corded Ware culture absorbed the Cucuteni-Tripolye culture (5200-2600 BCE) of western Ukraine and north-eastern Romania, which appears to have been composed primarily of I2a1b (M423) lineages descended directly from Paleolithic Europeans, with a small admixture of Near-Eastern immigrants (notably E1b1b, G2a, J and T). Thus emerged the hybrid Globular Amphora culture (3400-2800 BCE) in what is now Ukraine, Belarus and Poland.

It is surely during this period that I2a2, E-V13 and T spread (along with R1a) around Poland, Belarus and western Russia, explaining why eastern and northern Slavs (and Lithuanians) have between 10 and 20% of I2a1b lineages and about 10% of Middle Eastern lineages (18% for Ukrainians). After just a few centuries, this hybridised culture faded away into the dominant Corded Ware (2800-1800 BCE) and Catacomb (2800-1800 BCE) cultures.

The Corded Ware period was followed in the steppes by the Srubna culture (1800-1200 BCE), and around Poland by the Trzciniec culture (1700-1200 BCE). The last important Slavic migration is thought to have happened in the 6th century CE, from Ukraine to Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, filling the vacuum left by eastern Germanic tribes who invaded the Roman Empire.

Historically, no other part of Europe was invaded a higher number of times by steppe peoples than the Balkans. Chronologically, the first R1a invaders came with the westward expansion of the Yamna culture (from 4200 BCE), a succession of steppe migrations that lasted about 2000 years. Then came the Thracians (1500 BCE), followed by the Illyrians (around 1200 BCE), the Huns and the Alans (400 CE), the Avars, the Bulgars and the Serbs (all around 600 CE), and the Magyars (900 CE), among others.

These peoples originated from different parts of the Eurasian steppes, anywhere between Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which is why such high STR diversity is found within Balkanic R1a nowadays. It is not yet possible to determine the ethnic origin for each variety of R1a, apart from the fact that about any R1a is associated with tribes from Eurasian steppe at one point in history.

The Karasuk culture

Karasuk is a language family proposed by George van Driem of the University of Leiden that links the Yeniseian languages, sometimes known as Yeniseic or Yenisei-Ostyak; occasionally spelled with -ss-, a language family whose languages are and were spoken in the Yenisei River region of central Siberia, with the Burushaski language of northern Pakistan.

The evidence for Karasuk is mostly morphological. For example, the second-person singular prefixes on intransitive verbs are [ɡu-, ɡó-] in Burushaski and [ku-, ɡu-] in Ket.

The Karasuk hypothesis, linking Yeniseian to Burushaski, has been proposed by several scholars, notably by A.P. Dulson and V.N. Toporov. George van Driem, the most prominent current advocate of the Karasuk hypothesis, postulates that the Burusho people took part in the Indo-Aryan migration out of Central Asia that resulted in the Indo-European conquest of the Indus Valley that resulted in the Indo-European conquest of the Indian sub-continent, while other Karasuk peoples migrated northwards to become the Yenisei. These claims have recently been picked up by linguist Roger Blench.

While Yeniseian, which share many contact-induced similarities with the South Siberian Turkic languages, Samoyedic languages, and Evenki, has been demonstrated to be related to the Na-Dene languages of North America, as part of a newly named Dene–Yeniseian family, the relevant morphological correspondences between Na-Dene and Yeniseian have not been found in Burushaski.

Until 2008, few linguists had accepted connections between Yeniseian and any other language family, though distant connections have been proposed with most of the ergative languages of Eurasia.

In 2008, Edward Vajda of Western Washington University presented evidence for a genealogical relation between the Yeneisian languages of Siberia and the Na–Dené languages of North America.

At the time of publication (2010), Vajda’s proposals had been favorably reviewed by several specialists of Na-Dené and Yeniseian languages—although at times with caution—including Michael Krauss, Jeff Leer, James Kari, and Heinrich Werner, as well as a number of other respected linguists, such as Bernard Comrie, Johanna Nichols, Victor Golla, Michael Fortescue, Eric Hamp, and Bill Poser (Kari and Potter 2010:12).

One significant exception is the critical review of the volume of collected papers by Lyle Campbell and a response by Vajda published in late 2011 that clearly indicate the proposal is not completely settled at the present time. Two other reviews and notices of the volume appeared in 2011 by Keren Rice and Jared Diamond.

As noted by Tailleur and Werner, some of the earliest proposals of genetic relations of Yeniseian, by M.A. Castrén (1856), James Byrne (1892), and G.J. Ramstedt (1907), suggested that Yeniseian was a northern relative of the Sino-Tibetan languages. These ideas were followed much later by Kai Donner and Karl Bouda.

Bouda, in various publications in the 1930s through the 1950s, described a linguistic network that (besides Yeniseian and Sino-Tibetan) also included Caucasian, and Burushaski, some forms of which have gone by the name of Sino-Caucasian. The works of R. Bleichsteiner and O.G. Tailleur, the late Sergei A. Starostin and Sergei L. Nikolayev have sought to confirm these connections.

Others who have developed the hypothesis, often expanded to Dené–Caucasian, include J.D. Bengtson, V. Blažek, J.H. Greenberg (with M. Ruhlen), and M. Ruhlen. George Starostin continues his father’s work in Yeniseian, Sino-Caucasian and other fields.

The Karasuk language family is named after the Karasuk culture (ca. 1500–800 BC), a group of Bronze Age societies which existed in Central Asia during the Bronze Age (from the Aral Sea or the Volga River to the upper Yenisei catchment) in second millennium BCE.

The Karasuk culture preceded by the Afanasevo culture, the earliest Eneolithic archaeological culture found until now in south Siberia, occupying the Minusinsk Basin, Altay and Eastern Kazakhstan, and Andronovo culture.

The remains from the Karasuk culture are minimal and entirely of the mortuary variety. At least 2000 burials are known. The Karasuk period persisted down to c. 700 BC. From c. 700 to c. 200 BC, culture developed along similar lines. Vital trade contact is traced from northern China and the Baikal region to the Black Sea and the Urals, influencing the uniformity of the culture.

The economy was mixed agriculture and stockbreeding. Arsenical bronze artefacts are present. Their settlements were of pit houses and they buried their dead in stone cists covered by kurgans and surrounded by square stone enclosures.

Industrially, they were skilled metalworkers, the diagnostic artifacts of the culture being a bronze knife with curving profiles and a decorated handle and horse bridles. The pottery has been compared to that discovered in Inner Mongolia and the interior of China, with bronze knives similar to those from northeastern China.

It is generally believed that the culture has its origin in Mongolia, Northern China and Korea, characterized by Altaic idioms. Other scholars have suggested a connection with the Yeniseian and Burushaski people, even suggesting a Karasuk languages group. Another possibility is that it was an early example of a Turkic culture and it perhaps could also be seen as a place of the first westward migration of early Turkic peoples.

Ancient DNA extracted from the remains of two males who dated back to the Karasuk culture were determined to be of Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a. Extracted mtDNA from two female remains from this cultural horizon revealed they possessed the Haplogroup U5a1 and U4 lineages. The study determined that the individuals had light hair and blue or green eyes.

The Bronze Age

The Bronze Age in the ancient Near East began in the 4th millennium BC. Cultures in the ancient Near East (often called, “the cradle of civilization”) practised intensive year-round agriculture, developed a writing system, invented the potter’s wheel, created a centralized government, law codes, and empires, and introduced social stratification, slavery, and organized warfare. Societies in the region laid the foundations for astronomy and mathematics.

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 highlands of Anatolia. The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade, and copper, silver and even tin were accessible from the Hurrian-dominated countries Kizzuwatna and Ishuwa situated in the Anatolian highland. Gold was in short supply, and the Amarna letters inform us that it was acquired from Egypt. Not many examples of Hurrian metal work have survived, except from the later Urartu. Some small fine bronze lion figurines were discovered at Urkesh.

The Maykop culture

The Maykop culture (also spelled Maikop), ca. 3700-3000 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 in the Kuban River valley.

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.

After the discovery of the Leyla-Tepe culture in the 1980s it was suggested that elements of the Maykop culture migrated to the south-eastern slopes of the Caucasus in modern Azerbaijan.

In 2010, nearly 200 Bronze Age sites were reported stretching over 60 miles between the Kuban and Nalchik rivers, 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.” Radiocarbon dates for various monuments of the Maykop culture are from 3950 – 3650 – 3610 – 2980 calBC.

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. The Maykop culture is believed to be one of the first to use the wheel.

In the early 20th century, researchers established the existence of a local Maykop animal style in the found artifacts. 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. Attributed to the Maykop culture are petroglyphs which have yet to be deciphered.

The Maykop nobility enjoyed horse riding and probably used horses in warfare. It should be noted that 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.

The construction of artificial terrace complexes in the mountains is evidence of their sedentary living, high population density, and high levels of agricultural and technical skills. The terraces were built around the fourth millennium BC. and all subsequent cultures used them for agricultural purposes. The vast majority of pottery found on the terasses are from the Maykop period, the rest from the Scythian and Alan period. The Maykop terraces are among the most ancient in the world, but they are little studied. The longevity of the terraces (more than 5000 years) allows us to consider their builders unsurpassed engineers and craftsmen.

Recent discoveries by archaeologist A. Rezepkin include: The most ancient bronze sword, dating from the second third of the 4-th Millennium BC. It was found in a stone tomb near Novosvobodnaya, and is now on display in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. It has a total length of 63 cm and a hilt length of 11 cm. The most ancient column. The most ancient stringed instrument, resembling the modern Adyghian shichepshin, dating from the late 4th Millennium B.C., now also in the Hermitage museum.

Because of its burial practices, it is in terms of the Kurgan hypothesis of Marija Gimbutas seen as an Indo-European intrusion from the Pontic steppe into the Caucasus. However, critics point out that: … where the evidence for barrows is found, it is precisely in regions which later demonstrate the presence of non-Indo-European populations. — J.P.Mallory, In Search of the Indo-Europeans

The culture 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. It has been linked to the Lower Mikhaylovka group and Kemi Oba culture, and more distantly, to the Globular Amphora and Corded Ware cultures, if only in an economic sense.

However: Such a theory, it must be emphasized, is highly speculative and controversial although there is a recognition that this culture may be a product of at least two traditions: the local steppe tradition embraced in the Novosvobodna culture and foreign elements from south of the Caucasus which can be charted through imports in both regions. — J.P. Mallory, EIEC, Maykop Culture

Gamkrelidze and Ivanov, whose views are somewhat controversial, suggest that the Maykop culture (or its ancestor) may have been a way-station for Indo-Europeans migrating from the South Caucasus and/or eastern Anatolia to a secondary Urheimat on the steppe. This would essentially place the Anatolian stock in Anatolia from the beginning, and at least in this instance, agrees with Colin Renfrew’s Anatolian hypothesis.

Considering that some attempt has been made to unite Indo-European with the Northwest Caucasian languages, an earlier Caucasian pre-Urheimat is not out of the question (see Proto-Pontic). However, most linguists and archaeologists consider this hypothesis highly unlikely, and prefer the Eurasian steppes as the genuine IE Urheimat.

The Yamna culture

The Yamna culture, “Pit [Grave] Culture”, from Russian/Ukrainian яма, “pit”) is a late copper age/early Bronze Age culture of the Southern Bug/Dniester/Ural region (the Pontic steppe), dating to the 36th–23rd centuries BC. The name also appears in English as Pit Grave Culture or Ochre Grave Culture.

The culture was predominantly nomadic, with some agriculture practiced near rivers and a few hillforts.

The Yamna culture was preceded by the Sredny Stog culture, Khvalynsk culture and Dnieper-Donets culture, while succeeded by the Catacomb culture and the Srubna culture.

Characteristic for the culture are the inhumations in kurgans (tumuli) in pit graves with the dead body placed in a supine position with bent knees. The bodies were covered in ochre. Multiple graves have been found in these kurgans, often as later insertions.

Significantly, animal grave offerings were made (cattle, sheep, goats and horse), a feature associated with Proto-Indo-Europeans (including Proto-Indo-Iranians).

The earliest remains in Eastern Europe of a wheeled cart were found in the “Storozhova mohyla” kurgan (Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, excavated by Trenozhkin A.I.) associated with the Yamna culture.

The Yamna culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans (PIE) in the Kurgan hypothesis of Marija Gimbutas. It is the strongest candidate for the Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language, along with the preceding Sredny Stog culture, now that archaeological evidence of the culture and its migrations has been closely tied to the evidence from linguistics.

Pavel Dolukhanov argues that the emergence of the Pit-Grave culture represents a social development of various local Bronze Age cultures, representing “an expression of social stratification and the emergence of chiefdom-type nomadic social structures”, which in turn intensified inter-group contacts between essentially heterogeneous social groups.

It is said to have originated in the middle Volga based Khvalynsk culture and the middle Dnieper based Sredny Stog culture. In its western range, it is succeeded by the Catacomb culture; in the east, by the Poltavka culture and the Srubna culture.

The Catacomb culture

The Catacomb culture, ca. 2800–2200 BC, refers to a group of related cultures in the early Bronze Age occupying essentially what is present-day Ukraine.

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 Catacomb culture in the Pontic steppe was succeeded by the Srubna culture from ca the 17th century BC.

The name Catacomb culture comes from its burial practices. These are similar to those of the Yamna culture, but with a hollowed-out space off the main shaft, creating the “catacomb”. Animal remains were incorporated into a small minority of graves.

In certain graves there was the distinctive practice of what amounts to modelling a clay mask over the deceased’s face, creating an obvious if not necessarily correct association to the famous gold funeral mask of Agamemnon (see also Tashtyk culture).

The economy was essentially stock-breeding, although traces of grain have been found. There seem to have been skilled specialists, particularly metal-workers.

The origin of the Catacomb Culture is disputed. Jan Lichardus enumerates three possibilities: a local development departing from the previous Yamna Culture only, a migration from Central Europe, or an oriental origin. The culture is 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.

The Catacomb culture was ousted by the Srubna (Timber-grave) culture from ca. the 17th century.

The linguistic composition of the Catacomb culture is unclear. Within the context of the Kurgan hypothesis expounded by Marija Gimbutas, an Indo-European component is hard to deny, particularly in the later stages. Placing the ancestors of the Greek, Armenian and 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 Greek-Armenian-“Aryan”(=Indo-Iranian) ancestors (Graeco-Aryan, Graeco-Armenian), and the Catacomb culture that of the “unified” (to ca. 2500 BC) and then “differentiated” Indo-Iranians.

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 Srubna culture

The Srubna culture (Timber-grave culture), was a Late Bronze Age (18th-12th centuries BC) culture. It is a successor to the Yamna culture (Pit Grave culture) and the Poltavka culture.

It occupied the area along and above the north shore of the Black Sea from the Dnieper eastwards along the northern base of the Caucasus to the area abutting the north shore of the Caspian Sea, west of the Ural Mountains to come up against the domain of the approximately contemporaneous and somewhat related Andronovo culture.

The name comes from Russian cруб (srub), “timber framework”, from the way graves were constructed. Animal parts were buried with the body.

The economy was mixed agriculture and livestock breeding. The historical Cimmerians have been suggested as descended from this culture.

The Srubna culture is succeeded by Scythians and Sarmatians in the 1st millennium BC, and by Khazars and Kipchaks in the first millennium AD.

The Afanasevo culture

When R1b crossed the Caucasus in the Late Neolithic, it split into two main groups. The western one (M269 & L23) would settle the eastern and northern of the Black Sea. The eastern one (M269 + L23 + M73) migrated to the Don-Volga region, where horses were domesticated circa 4600 BCE. R1b probably mixed with indigenous R1a people and founded the Repin culture (3700-3300 BCE) a bit before the Yamna culture came into existence in the western Pontic Steppe.

R1b would then have migrated with horses along the Great Eurasian Steppe until the Altai mountains in East-Central Asia, where they established the Afanasevo culture (c. 3600-2400 BCE). Afanasevo people might be the precursors of the Tocharian branch of Indo-European languages alongside haplogroup R1a.

The R1b people who stayed in the Volga-Ural region were probably the initiators of the Poltavka culture (2700-2100 BCE), then became integrated into the R1a-dominant Sintashta-Petrovka culture (2100-1750 BCE) linked to the Indo-Aryan conquest of Central and South Asia.

Nowadays R1b is found at higher frequencies among ethnic minorities of the Volga-Ural region in Russia than among Slavic Russians. R1b is also present in many Central Asian populations, the highest percentages being observed among the Uyghurs (20%) of Xinjiang in north-west China, the Yaghnobi people of Tajikistan (32%), and the Bashkirs (47%, or 62.5% in the Abzelilovsky district) of Bashkortostan in Russia (border of Kazakhstan).

Conventional archaeological understanding tended to date the Afanasevo culture at around 2000–2500 BC. However radiocarbon gave dates as early as 3705 BC on wooden tools and 2874 BC on human remains. The earliest of these dates have now been rejected, giving a date of around 3300 BC for the start of the culture.

The culture is mainly known from its inhumations, with the deceased buried in conic or rectangular enclosures, often in a supine position, reminiscent of burials of the Yamna culture, believed to be Indo-European. Settlements have also been discovered. The Afanasevo people became the first food-producers in the area by breeding cattle, horses, and sheep. Metal objects and the presence of wheeled vehicles are documented. These resemblances to the Yamna culture make the Afanasevo culture is a strong candidate to represent the earliest cultural form of a people later called the Tocharians.

The Tocharians or Tokharians were inhabitants of medieval oasis city-states on the northern edge of the Tarim Basin (modern Xinjiang, China). 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 languages of the Uyghur tribes.

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 northwest India where they founded the Kushan Empire.

The culture became known from excavations in the Minusinsk area of the Krasnoyarsk Krai, southern Siberia, but the culture was also widespread in western Mongolia, northern Xinjiang, and eastern and central Kazakhstan, with connections or extensions in Tajikistan and the Aral area.

The Afanasevo culture was succeeded by the Andronovo culture as it spread eastwards, and later the Karasuk culture.

The Tarim mummies

In 1934 Swedish archaeologist Folke Bergman discovered some 200 mummies of fair-haired Caucasian people in the Tarim Basin in Northwest China (a region known as Xinjiang, East Turkestan or Uyghurstan). The oldest of these mummies date back to 2000 BCE and all 7 male remains tested by Li et al. (2010), were positive for the R1a1 mutations. The modern inhabitants of the Tarim Basin, the Uyghurs, belong both to this R1b-M73 subclade (about 20%) and to R1a1 (about 30%).

The first theory about the origins of the Tarim mummies is that a group of early horse riders from the Repin culture (3700-3300 BCE) migrated from the Don-Volga region to the Altai mountain, founding the Afanasevo culture (c. 3600-2400 BCE), whence they moved south to the Tarim Basin.

Another possibility is that the Tarim mummies descend from the Proto-Indo-Iranian people who expanded all over Central Asia around 2000 BCE from the Sintashta-Petrovka culture. An offshoot would have crossed the Tian Shan mountains, ending up in the Tarim Basin.

This theory has the merit of matching the dating of the Tarim mummies. Either way, most of the mummies tested for mtDNA belonged to the Mongoloid haplogroup C4, and only a few to European or Middle Eastern haplogroups (H, K and R).

There is some controversy regarding the possible link between the Tarim mummies and the Tocharian languages, a Centum branch of the Indo-European family which were spoken in the Tarim Basin from the 3rd to 9th centuries CE. It is easy to assume that the Tarim mummies were Proto-Tocharian speakers due to the corresponding location and the Indo-European connection.

However, the Tarim mummies predate the appearance of Tocharian by over two millennia, and Tocharian is a Centum language that cannot be descended from the Satem Proto-Indo-Iranian branch. Other Centum branches being all related to haplogroup R1b, and Tocharian being the only eastern Centum language, it is possible that the Tocharian speakers is instead associated to the Central Asian R1b1b1 (M73) subclade, also found among the modern Uyghurs inhabiting the Tarim basin.

Indo-Iranians

Proto-Indo-Iranian speakers, the people who later called themselves ‘Aryans’ in the Rig Veda and the Avesta, originated in the Sintashta-Petrovka culture (2100-1750 BCE), in the Tobol and Ishim valleys, east of the Ural Mountains. It was founded by pastoralist nomads from the Abashevo culture (2500-1900 BCE), ranging from the upper Don-Volga to the Ural Mountains, and the Poltavka culture (2700-2100 BCE), extending from the lower Don-Volga to the Caspian depression.

The Sintashta-Petrovka culture, associated with R1a-Z93 and its subclades, was the first Bronze Age advance of the Indo-Europeans west of the Urals, opening the way to the vast plains and deserts of Central Asia to the metal-rich Altai mountains. The Aryans quickly expanded over all Central Asia, from the shores of the Caspian to southern Siberia and the Tian Shan, through trading, seasonal herd migrations, and looting raids.

Horse-drawn war chariots seem to have been invented by Sintashta people around 2100 BCE, and quickly spread to the mining region of Bactria-Margiana (modern border of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan). Copper had been extracted intensively in the Urals, and the Proto-Indo-Iranians from Sintashta-Petrovka were exporting it in huge quantities to the Middle East. They appear to have been attracted by the natural resources of the Zeravshan valley for a Petrovka copper-mining colony was established in Tugai around 1900 BCE, and tin was extracted soon afterwards at Karnab and Mushiston. Tin was an especially valued resource in the late Bronze Age, when weapons were made of copper-tin alloy, stronger than the more primitive arsenical bronze. In the 1700’s BCE, the Indo-Iranians expanded to the lower Amu Darya valley and settled in irrigation farming communities (Tazabagyab culture). By 1600 BCE, the old fortified towns of Margiana-Bactria were abandoned, submerged by the northern steppe migrants. The group of Central Asian cultures under Indo-Iranian influence is known as the Andronovo horizon, and lasted until 800 BCE.

The Indo-Iranian migrations progressed further south across the Hindu Kush. By 1700 BCE, horse-riding pastoralists had penetrated into Balochistan (south-west Pakistan). The Indus valley succumbed circa 1500 BCE, and the northern and central parts of the Indian subcontinent were taken over by 500 BCE. Westward migrations led Old Indic Sanskrit speakers riding war chariots to Assyria, where they became the Mitanni rulers from circa 1500 BCE. The Medes, Parthians and Persians, all Iranian speakers from the Andronovo culture, moved into the Iranian plateau from 800 BCE. Those that stayed in Central Asia are remembered by history as the Scythians, while the Yamna descendants who remained in the Pontic-Caspian steppe became known as the Sarmatians to the ancient Greeks and Romans.

The Indo-Iranian migrations have resulted in high R1a frequencies in southern Central Asia, Iran and the Indian subcontinent. The highest frequency of R1a (about 65%) is reached in a cluster around Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and northern Afghanistan. In India and Pakistan, R1a ranges from 15 to 50% of the population, depending on the region, ethnic group and caste. R1a is generally stronger is the North-West of the subcontinent, and weakest in the Dravidian-speaking South (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh) and from Bengal eastward. Over 70% of the Brahmins (highest caste in Hindusim) belong to R1a1, due to a founder effect.

Maternal lineages in South Asia are, however, overwhelmingly pre-Indo-European. For instance, India has over 75% of “native” mtDNA M and R lineages and 10% of East Asian lineages. In the residual 15% of haplogroups, approximately half are of Middle Eastern origin. Only about 7 or 8% could be of “Russian” (Pontic-Caspian steppe) origin, mostly in the form of haplogroup U2 and W (although the origin of U2 is still debated). European mtDNA lineages are much more common in Central Asia though, and even in Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. This suggests that the Indo-European invasion of India was conducted mostly by men through war, and the first major settlement of women was in northern Pakistan, western India (Punjab to Gujarat) and northern India (Uttar Pradesh), where haplogroups U2 and W are the most common.

The Abashevo culture

The Abashevo culture is a later Bronze Age (ca. 2500-1900 BCE) archaeological culture found in the valleys of the Volga and Kama River north of the Samara bend and into the southern Ural Mountains. It receives its name from a village of Abashevo in Chuvashia. Artifacts are kurgans and remnants of settlements.

The Abashevo culture was preceded by the Yamna culture and was the easternmost of the Russian forest zone cultures that descended from Corded Ware ceramic traditions.

The economy was mixed agriculture. Cattle, sheep, goat, as well as other domestic animals were kept. Horses were evidently used, inferred by cheek pieces typical of neighboring steppe cultures (as well to those of (earliest) Mycenae). The population of Sintashta derived their stock-breeding from Abashevo, although the role of the pig shrinks sharply.

It follows the Yamna culture and Balanovo culture in its inhumation practices in tumuli. Flat graves were also a component of the Abashevo culture burial rite, as in the earlier Fatyanovo culture. Grave offerings are scant, little more than a pot or two. Some graves show evidence of a birch bark floor and a timber construction forming walls and roof.

There is evidence of copper-smelting, and the culture would seem connected to copper mining activities in the southern Urals. The Abashevo culture was an important center of metallurgy and stimulated the formation of Sintashta metallurgy.

The Abashevo ethno-linguistic identity can only be a subject of speculation, reflecting both northern penetration of the earlier Iranian steppe Poltavka culture as well as an extension of Fatyanovo-Balanovo traditions.

Skulls of the Abashevo differ from those of the Timber grave, earlier Catacomb culture, or the Potapovka culture. Abashevo probably witnessed a process of assimilation which presupposses a bilingual population. There were likely contacts with Uralic-speakers, and this is a convenient place for the origin of some loan-words into Uralic. Some of the Volosovo culture of the region were absorbed into the Abashevo populace, as corded-impressed Abashevo pottery is found side by side with comb-stamped Volosovo ceramics sometimes in the same structure at archaeological sites.

It occupied part of the area of the earlier Fatyanovo-Balanovo culture, the eastern variant of the earlier Corded Ware culture, but whatever relationship there is between the two cultures is uncertain. The pre-eminent expert on the Abashevo culture, A. Pryakhin, concludeded that it originated from contacts between Fatyanovo / Balanovo and Catacomb / Poltavka peoples in the southern forest-steppe.

The Abashevo culture played a significant role in the origin of Sintashta, and early Abashevo ceramic styles strongly influenced Sintashta ceramics. It does not pertain to the Andronovo culture and genetically belongs to the circle of Central European cultures of the Fatyanovo culture type corded ware ceramics. It was succeeded by the Srubna culture and the Sintashta culture.

The Sintashta culture

The Sintashta culture, also known as the Sintashta-Petrovka culture or Sintashta-Arkaim culture, is a Bronze Age archaeological culture of the northern Eurasian steppe on the borders of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, dated to the period 2100–1800 BCE.

Due to the assimilation of tribes in the region of the Urals, such as the Pit-grave, Catacomb, Poltavka, and northern Abashevo into the Novokumak horizon, it would seem inaccurate to provide Sintashta with a purely Aryan attribution.

The people of the Sintashta culture are thought to have spoken Proto-Indo-Iranian, the ancestor of the Indo-Iranian language family. This identification is based primarily on similarities between sections of the Rig Veda, an Indian religious text which includes ancient Indo-Iranian hymns recorded in Vedic Sanskrit, with the funerary rituals of the Sintashta culture as revealed by archaeology.

There is however linguistic evidence of a list of common vocabulary between Finno-Ugric and Indo-Iranian languages. While its origin as a creole of different tribes in the Ural region may make it inaccurate to ascribe the Sintashta culture exclusively to Indo-Iranian ethnicity, interpreting this culture as a blend of two cultures with two distinct languages is a reasonable hypothesis based on the evidence.

The Sintashta culture emerged from the interaction of two antecedent cultures. Its immediate predecessor in the Ural-Tobol steppe was the Poltavka culture, an offshoot of the cattle-herding Yamnaya horizon that moved east into the region between 2800 and 2600 BCE. Several Sintashta towns were built over older Poltovka settlements or close to Poltovka cemeteries, and Poltovka motifs are common on Sintashta pottery.

Sintashta material culture also shows the influence of the late Abashevo culture, a collection of settlements in the forest steppe zone north of the Sintashta region that were also predominantly pastoralist.

The Abashevo culture was already marked by endemic intertribal warfare; intensified by ecological stress and competition for resources in the Sintashta period, this drove the construction of fortifications on an unprecedented scale and innovations in military technique such as the invention of the war chariot.

Increased competition between tribal groups may also explain the extravagant sacrifices seen in Sintashta burials, as rivals sought to outdo one another in acts of conspicuous consumption analogous to the North American potlatch tradition.

The earliest known chariots have been found in Sintashta burials, and the culture is considered a strong candidate for the origin of the technology, which spread throughout the Old World and played an important role in ancient warfare. Sintashta settlements are also remarkable for the intensity of copper mining and bronze metallurgy carried out there, which is unusual for a steppe culture.

Because of the difficulty of identifying the remains of Sintashta sites beneath those of later settlements, the culture was only recently distinguished from the Andronovo culture. It is now recognised as a separate entity forming part of the ‘Andronovo horizon’.

The first Sintashta settlements appeared around 2100 BCE, during a period of climatic change that saw the already arid Kazakh steppe region become even more cold and dry. The marshy lowlands around the Ural and upper Tobol rivers, previously favoured as winter refuges, became increasingly important for survival. Under these pressures both Poltovka and Abashevo herders settled permanently in river valley strongholds, eschewing more defensible hill-top locations.

The Sintashta economy came to revolve around copper metallurgy. Copper ores from nearby mines (such as Vorovskaya Yama) were taken to Sintashta settlements to be processed into copper and arsenical bronze. This occurred on an industrial scale: all the excavated buildings at the Sintashta sites of Sintashta, Arkaim and Ust’e contained the remains of smelting ovens and slag.

Much of this metal was destined for export to the cities of the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) in Central Asia. The metal trade between Sintashta and the BMAC for the first time connected the steppe region to the ancient urban civilisations of the Near East: the empires and city-states of Iran and Mesopotamia provided an almost bottomless market for metals. These trade routes later became the vehicle through which horses, chariots and ultimately Indo-Iranian-speaking people entered the Near East from the steppe.

The Sintashta-Petrovka culture is succeeded by the Fedorovo (1400–1200 BCE) and Alekseyevka (1200–1000 BCE) cultures, still considered as part of the Andronovo horizon.

Sintashta

Sintashta is an archaeological site on the upper Ural River in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. It is the remains of a fortified settlement dating to the Bronze Age, c. 2800–1600 BC, and is the type site of the Sintashta culture.

Sintashta is situated in the steppe just east of the Ural Mountains. The site is named for the adjacent Sintashta River, a tributary to the Tobol. The shifting course of the river over time has destroyed half of the site, leaving behind thirty one of the approximately fifty or sixty houses in the settlement.

Sintashta is often pointed to as the premier proto-Indo-Iranian site, and it is conjectured that the language spoken was still in the Proto-Indo-Iranian stage. There are similar sites “in the Volga-Ural steppe”

The site has been characterised “fortified metallurgical industrial center” and the ritual activities evident at associated cemeteries linked to Proto-Indo-Iranian traditions.

It is famed for its grave-offerings, particularly chariot burials. These inhumations were in kurgans and included all or parts of animals (horse and dog) deposited into the barrow.

There is evidence of copper and bronze metallurgy taking place in every house excavated at Sintashta, again an unprecedented intensity of metallurgical production for the steppe.

The settlement consisted of rectangular houses arranged in a circle 140 m in diameter and surrounded by a timber-reinforced earthen wall with gate towers and a deep ditch on its exterior.

The fortifications at Sintashta and similar settlements such as Arkaim, an archaeological site situated in the Southern Urals steppe, 8.2 kilometres (5.1 mi) north-to-northwest of Amurskiy, and 2.3 km (1.4 mi) south-to-southeast of Alexandronvskiy, two villages in the Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, just to the north from the Kazakhstan border, were of unprecedented scale for the steppe region.

The site is generally dated to the 17th century BC. Earlier dates, up to the 20th century BC, have been proposed. It was a settlement of the Sintashta-Petrovka culture.

Although the settlement was burned and abandoned, much detail is preserved. Arkaim is similar in form but much better preserved than neighbouring Sintashta, where the earliest chariot was unearthed. The site was protected by two circular walls.

The 17th century date suggests that the settlement was about co-eval to, or just post-dating, the Indo-Aryan migration into South Asia and Mesopotamia (the Gandhara grave culture appearing in the Northern Pakistan from ca. 1600 BC, the Indo-European Mitanni rulers reached Anatolia before 1500 BC, both roughly 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) removed from the Sintashta-Petrovka area), and that it was either an early Iranian culture, or an unknown branch of Indo-Iranian that did not survive into historical times.

Five cemeteries have been found associated with the site, the largest of which (known as Sintashta mogila or SM) consisted of forty graves. Some of these were chariot burials, producing the oldest known chariots in the world. Others included horse sacrifices – up to eight in a single grave – various stone, copper and bronze weapons, and silver and gold ornaments.

The SM cemetery is overlain by a very large kurgan of a slightly later date. It has been noted that the kind of funerary sacrifices evident at Sintashta have strong similarities to funerary rituals described in the Rig Veda, an ancient Indian religious text often associated with the Proto-Indo-Iranians.

Radiocarbon dates from the settlement and cemeteries span over a millennium, suggesting an earlier occupation belonging to the Poltavka culture. The majority the dates, however, are around 2100–1800 BC, which points at a main period of occupation of the site consistent with other settlements and cemeteries of the Sintashta culture.

The older Sintashta culture (2100–1800), formerly included within the Andronovo culture, is now considered separately, but regarded as its predecessor, and accepted as part of the wider Andronovo horizon.

The Andronovo culture

The Andronovo culture is a collection of similar local Bronze Age cultures that flourished ca. 1800–1400 BCE in western Siberia and the west Asiatic steppe. It is probably better termed an archaeological complex or archaeological horizon. The name derives from the village of Andronovo (55°53′N 55°42′E), where in 1914, several graves were discovered, with skeletons in crouched positions, buried with richly decorated pottery. Two sub-cultures have been since distinguished, during which the culture expands towards the south and the east: Alakul (1800–1400 BCE) and Fedorovo (1700–1300 BCE).

The geographical extent of the culture is vast and difficult to delineate exactly. On its western fringes, it overlaps with the approximately contemporaneous, but distinct, Srubna culture in the Volga-Ural interfluvial. To the east, it reaches into the Minusinsk depression, with some sites as far west as the southern Ural Mountains, overlapping with the area of the earlier Afanasevo culture.

Additional sites are scattered as far south as the Koppet Dag (Turkmenistan), the Pamir (Tajikistan) and the Tian Shan (Kyrgyzstan). The northern boundary vaguely corresponds to the beginning of the Taiga. In the Volga basin, interaction with the Srubna culture was the most intense and prolonged, and Federovo style pottery is found as far west as Volgograd.

Towards the middle of the 2nd millennium, the Andronovo cultures begin to move intensively eastwards. They mined deposits of copper ore in the Altai Mountains and lived in villages of as many as ten sunken log cabin houses measuring up to 30m by 60m in size. Burials were made in stone cists or stone enclosures with buried timber chambers.

In other respects, the economy was pastoral, based on cattle, horses, sheep, and goats. While agricultural use has been posited, no clear evidence has been presented. The Andronovo culture is strongly associated with the Indo-Iranians and is often credited with the invention of the spoke-wheeled chariot around 2000 BCE. It is also notable for regional advances in metallurgy.

Most researchers associate the Andronovo horizon with early Indo-Iranian languages, though it may have overlapped the early Uralic-speaking area at its northern fringe.

The identification of Andronovo as Indo-Iranian has been challenged by scholars who point to the absence of the characteristic timber graves of the steppe south of the Oxus River. Sarianidi (as cited in Bryant 2001:207) states that “direct archaeological data from Bactria and Margiana show without any shade of doubt that Andronovo tribes penetrated to a minimum extent into Bactria and Margianian oases”.

Based on its use by Indo-Aryans in Mitanni and Vedic India, its prior absence in the Near East and Harappan India, and its 16th–17th century BCE attestation at the Andronovo site of Sintashta, Kuzmina (1994) argues that the chariot corroborates the identification of Andronovo as Indo-Iranian. Klejn (1974) and Brentjes (1981) find the Andronovo culture much too late for an Indo-Iranian identification since chariot-wielding Aryans appear in Mitanni by the 15th to 16th century BCE. However, Anthony & Vinogradov (1995) dated a chariot burial at Krivoye Lake to around 2000 BCE.

Mallory (as cited in Bryant 2001:216) admits the extraordinary difficulty of making a case for expansions from Andronovo to northern India, and that attempts to link the Indo-Aryans to such sites as the Beshkent and Vakhsh cultures “only gets the Indo-Iranians to Central Asia, but not as far as the seats of the Medes, Persians or Indo-Aryans”.

Eugene Helimski has suggested that the Andronovo people spoke a separate branch of the Indo-Iranian group. He claims that borrowings in the Finno-Ugric languages support this view.

Vladimir Napolskikh has proposed that borrowings in Finno-Ugric indicate that the language was specifically of the Indo-Aryan type. An alternative possibility for the language of Andronovo may be Burušaski (now spoken in Kašmīr) or Ĥapirti (Elamitic), anciently spoken in Ĥuzistan.

Since older forms of Indo-Iranian words have been taken over in Uralic and Proto-Yeniseian, occupation by some other languages (also lost ones) cannot be ruled out altogether, at least for part of the Andronovo area: i. e., Uralic and Yeniseian.

The earliest historical peoples associated with the area are the Cimmerians and Saka/Scythians, appearing in Assyrian records after the decline of the Alekseyevka culture, migrating into the Ukraine from ca. the 9th century BCE (see also Ukrainian stone stela), and across the Caucasus into Anatolia and Assyria in the late 8th century BCE, and possibly also west into Europe as the Thracians (see Thraco-Cimmerian), and the Sigynnae, located by Herodotus beyond the Danube, north of the Thracians, and by Strabo near the Caspian Sea. Both Herodotus and Strabo identify them as Iranian.

Out of 10 human male remains assigned to the Andronovo horizon from the Krasnoyarsk region, 9 possessed the R1a Y-chromosome haplogroup and one haplogroup C-M130 (xC3). mtDNA haplogroups of nine individuals assigned to the same Andronovo horizon and region were as follows: U4 (2 individuals), U2e, U5a1, Z, T1, T4, H, and K2b.

90% of the Bronze Age period mtDNA haplogroups were of west Eurasian origin and the study determined that at least 60% of the individuals overall (out of the 26 bronze and Iron Age human remains’ samples of the study that could be tested) had light hair and blue or green eyes.

A 2004 study also established that, during the Bronze/Iron Age period, the majority of the population of Kazakhstan (part of the Andronovo culture during Bronze Age), was of west Eurasian origin (with mtDNA haplogroups such as U, H, HV, T, I and W), and that prior to the thirteenth to seventh century BC, all Kazakh samples belonged to European lineages.

In southern Siberia and Kazakhstan, the Andronovo culture was succeeded by the Karasuk culture (1500–800 BCE), which is sometimes asserted to be non-Indo-European, and at other times to be specifically proto-Iranian. On its western border, it is succeeded by the Srubna culture, which partly derives from the Abashevo culture.

The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex

The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (or BMAC, also known as the Oxus civilization) is the modern archaeological designation for a Bronze Age civilisation of Central Asia, dated to ca. 2300–1700 BCE, located in present day northern Afghanistan, eastern Turkmenistan, southern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan, centered on the upper Amu Darya (Oxus River).

Its sites were discovered and named by the Soviet archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi (1976). Bactria was the Greek name for the area of Bactra (modern Balkh), in what is now northern Afghanistan, and Margiana was the Greek name for the Persian satrapy of Margu, the capital of which was Merv, in modern-day southeastern Turkmenistan.

Sarianidi’s excavations from the late 1970s onward revealed numerous monumental structures in many sites, fortified by impressive walls and gates. Reports on the BMAC were mostly confined to Soviet journals, until the last years of the Soviet Union, so the findings were largely unknown to the West until Sarianidi’s work began to be translated in the 1990s.

There is archaeological evidence of settlement in the well-watered northern foothills of the Kopet Dag during the Neolithic period. This region is dotted with the multi-period hallmarks characteristic of the ancient Near East, similar to those southwest of the Kopet Dag in the Gorgan Plain in Iran. At Jeitun (or Djeitun), mudbrick houses were first occupied c. 6000 cal. BCE.

The inhabitants were farmers who kept herds of goats and sheep and grew wheat and barley, with origins in southwest Asia. Jeitun has given its name to the whole Neolithic period in the northern foothills of the Kopet Dag. At the late Neolithic site of Chagylly Depe, farmers increasingly grew the kinds of crops that are typically associated with irrigation in an arid environment, such as hexaploid bread wheat, which became predominant during the Chalcolithic period.

During the Copper Age, the population of this region grew. Vadim Mikhaĭlovich Masson, who led the South Turkmenistan Complex Archaeological Expedition from 1946, sees signs that people migrated to the region from central Iran at this time, bringing metallurgy and other innovations, but feels that the newcomers soon blended with the Jeitun farmers. By contrast a re-excavation of Monjukli Depe in 2010 found a distinct break in settlement history between the late Neolithic and early Chalcolithic eras there.

Major Chalcolithic settlements sprang up at Kara-Depe and Namazga-Depe. In addition there were smaller settlements at Anau, Dashlyji and Yassy-depe. Settlements similar to the early level at Anau also appeared further east – in the ancient Delta of the River Tedzen, the site of the Geoksiur Oasis. About 3500 BCE the cultural unity of the culture split into two pottery styles: colourful in the west (Anau, Kara-Depe and Namazga-Depe) and more austere in the east at Altyn-Depe and the Geoksiur Oasis settlements. This may reflect the formation of two tribal groups.

Around 3000 BCE it seems that people from Geoksiur migrated into the Murghab Delta, where small, scattered settlements appeared, and reached further east into the Zerafshan Valley in Transoxiana. In both areas pottery typical of Geoksiur was in use. In Transoxiana they settled at Sarazm near Pendjikent. To the south the foundation layers of Shahr-i Shōkhta on the bank of the Helmand River in south-eastern Iran contained pottery of the Altyn-Depe and Geoksiur type. Thus the farmers of Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan were connected by a scattering of farming settlements.

In the Early Bronze Age the culture of the Kopet Dag oases and Altyn-Depe developed a proto-urban society. This corresponds to level IV at Namazga-Depe. Altyn-Depe was a major centre even then. Pottery was wheel-turned. Grapes were grown. The height of this urban development was reached in the Middle Bronze Age c. 2300 BCE, corresponding to level V at Namazga-Depe.[5] It is this Bronze Age culture which has been given the BMAC name.

The inhabitants of the BMAC were sedentary people who practised irrigation farming of wheat and barley. With their impressive material culture including monumental architecture, bronze tools, ceramics, and jewellery of semiprecious stones, the complex exhibits many of the hallmarks of civilization. The complex can be compared to proto-urban settlements in the Helmand basin at Mundigak in western Afghanistan and Shahr-i Shōkhta in eastern Iran, or at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in the Indus Valley.

Sarianidi regards Gonur as the “capital” of the complex in Margiana throughout the Bronze Age. The palace of North Gonur measures 150 metres by 140 metres, the temple at Togolok 140 metres by 100 metres, the fort at Kelleli 3 125 metres by 125 metres, and the house of a local ruler at Adji Kui 25 metres by 25 metres.

Each of these formidable structures has been extensively excavated. While they all have impressive fortification walls, gates, and buttresses, it is not always clear why one structure is identified as a temple and another as a palace. Mallory points out that the BMAC fortified settlements such as Gonur and Togolok resemble the qala, the type of fort known in this region in the historical period. They may be circular or rectangular and have up to three encircling walls. Within the forts are residential quarters, workshops and temples. Extensive irrigation systems have been discovered at the Geoksiur Oasis.

Models of two-wheeled carts from c. 3000 BCE found at Altyn-Depe are the earliest complete evidence of wheeled transport in Central Asia, though model wheels have come from contexts possibly somewhat earlier. Judging by the type of harness, carts were initially pulled by oxen, or a bull. However camels were domesticated within the BMAC. A model of a cart drawn by a camel of c. 2200 BCE was found at Altyn-Depe.

The discovery of a single tiny stone seal (known as the “Anau seal”) with geometric markings from the BMAC site at Anau in Turkmenistan in 2000 led some to claim that the Bactria-Margiana complex had also developed writing, and thus may indeed be considered a literate civilization. It bears five markings strikingly similar to Chinese “small seal” characters, but such characters date from the Qin reforms of roughly 100 AD, while the Anau seal is dated by context to 2,300 BCE. It is therefore an unexplained anomaly. The only match to the Anau seal is a small jet seal of almost identical shape from Niyä (near modern Minfeng) along the southern Silk Road in Xinjiang, assumed to be from the Western Han dynasty.

Interactions with other cultures

BMAC materials have been found in the Indus civilisation, on the Iranian plateau, and in the Persian Gulf. Finds within BMAC sites provide further evidence of trade and cultural contacts. They include an Elamite-type cylinder seal and an Harappan seal stamped with an elephant and Indus script found at Gonur-depe.

The relationship between Altyn-Depe and the Indus Valley seems to have been particularly strong. Among the finds there were two Harappan seals and ivory objects. The Harappan settlement of Shortugai in Northern Afghanistan on the banks of the Amu Darya probably served as a trading station.

There is evidence of sustained contact between the BMAC and the Eurasian steppes to the north, intensifying c. 2000 BCE. In the delta of the River Amu Darya where it reaches the Aral Sea, its waters were channeled for irrigation agriculture by people whose remains resemble those of the nomads of the Andronovo Culture. This is interpreted as nomads settling down to agriculture, after contact with the BMAC. The culture they created is known as Tazabag’yad.

About 1800 BCE the walled BMAC centres decreased sharply in size. Each oasis developed its own types of pottery and other objects. Also pottery of the Andronovo-Tazabag’yab culture to the north appeared widely in the Bactrian and Margian countryside. Many BMAC strongholds continued to be occupied and Andronovo-Tazabagyab coarse incised pottery occurs within them (along with the previous BMAC pottery) as well as in pastoral camps outside the mudbrick walls. In the highlands above the Bactrian oases in Tajikistan, kurgan cemeteries of the Vaksh and Bishkent type appeared with pottery that mixed elements of the late BMAC and Andronovo-Tazabagyab traditions.

As argued by Michael Witzel and Alexander Lubotsky, there is a proposed substratum in Proto-Indo-Iranian which can be plausibly identified with the original language of the BMAC. Moreover, Lubotsky points out a larger number of words apparently borrowed from the same language, which are only attested in Indo-Aryan and therefore evidence of a substratum in Vedic Sanskrit. Some BMAC words have now also been found in Tocharian.

Michael Witzel points out that the borrowed vocabulary includes words from agriculture, village and town life, flora and fauna, ritual and religion, so providing evidence for the acculturation of Indo-Iranian speakers into the world of urban civilization.

The Bactria-Margiana complex has attracted attention as a candidate for those looking for the material counterparts to the Indo-Iranians, a major linguistic branch that split off from the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Sarianidi himself advocates identifying the complex as Indo-Iranian, describing it as the result of a migration from southeastern Iran.

Bactrian Margiana material has been found at Susa, Shahdad, and Tepe Yahya in Iran, but Lamberg-Karlovsky does not see this as evidence that the complex originated in southeastern Iran. “The limited materials of this complex are intrusive in each of the sites on the Iranian Plateau as they are in sites of the Arabian peninsula.”

A significant section of the archaeologists are more inclined to see the culture as begun by farmers in the Near Eastern Neolithic tradition, but infiltrated by Indo-Iranian speakers from the Andronovo culture in its late phase, creating a hybrid. In this perspective, Proto-Indo-Aryan developed within the composite culture before moving south into the Indian subcontinent.

As James P. Mallory phrased it: It has become increasingly clear that if one wishes to argue for Indo-Iranian migrations from the steppe lands south into the historical seats of the Iranians and Indo-Aryans that these steppe cultures were transformed as they passed through a membrane of Central Asian urbanism. The fact that typical steppe wares are found on BMAC sites and that intrusive BMAC material is subsequently found further to the south in Iran, Afghanistan, Nepal, India and Pakistan, may suggest then the subsequent movement of Indo-Iranian-speakers after they had adopted the culture of the BMAC.

However, archaeologists like B. B. Lal have seriously questioned the BMAC and Indo-Iranian connection, and thoroughly disputed the proclaimed relations.

While others maintain there is insufficient evidence for any ethnic or linguistic identification of the BMAC solely based on material remains, in the absence of written records.

Altyndepe

Altyndepe (the Turkmen for “Golden Hill”) is a Bronze Age (BMAC) site in Turkmenistan, near Aşgabat, inhabited in the 3rd to 2nd millennia BC, abandoned around 1600 BC. The site is notable for the remains of its “proto-Zoroastrian” ziggurat.

Models of two-wheeled carts from c. 3000 BC found at Altyn-Depe are the earliest complete evidence of wheeled transport in Central Asia, though model wheels have come from contexts possibly somewhat earlier. Judging by the type of harness, carts were initially pulled by oxen, or a bull. However camels were domesticated within the BMAC. A model of a cart drawn by a camel of c. 2200 BC was found at Altyn-Depe.

Gonur Tepe is an archaeological site of about 55 hectares in Turkmenistan that was inhabited by Indo-Iranian peoples until sometime in the 2nd millennium BCE dating back to 2500 BCE. It’s located about 60km north of Mary, Turkmenistan (the capital city of Mary Province).

The site was discovered by Greek-Russian archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi. Sarianidi discovered a palace, a fortified mud-brick enclosure, and temples with fire altars which he believes were dedicated to the Zoroastrian religion. He also found what appears to be the boiler for the ritual drink soma, which is mentioned in the Rigveda and also in the Avesta as haoma. Sarianidi says he also found dishes with traces of cannabis, poppy and ephedrine. According to Sarianidi, this discovery strengthens the theory that these were the ingredients of soma.

The northern part of the complex had a central citadel-like structure about 100m by 180m (350 by 600 feet) in size. A southern complex is about 1.5 hectares in size. The site was most likely abandoned after the Murghab River’s course moved to the west. Gonur is among the largest ruins in the Morghab’s delta region; over 150 ancient settlements dating to the early Bronze Age (2500-1700 BCE) have been found there.

Tepe Fullol (also known as Khush Tepe) is a village in northern Afghanistan where the treasure of Fullol was found, consisting of twenty vessels in gold and silver dated to the Bronze Age. It was accidentally discovered in 1965 by Afghan farmers in a grave cache and provided the first evidence of the Oxus civilisation (also known as BMAC) in northern Afghanistan.

Tepe Fullol is situated in Baghlan Province at the junction of the Khost and Sai valleys. On the basis of iconographic comparisons, the treasure has been dated to between 2600 and 1700 BC. There is also a mound, covering an area 14 by 18 metres (46 by 59 ft) and 20 metres (66 ft) high.

The area’s wealth probably derived from precious materials extracted from the nearby mountains , in particular lapis lazuli from Badakshan, which were widely traded. The vessel’s designs include animal imagery, such as a boar, a stag, snakes and bearded bulls (the latter derived from distant Mesopotamia), indicating that at this early date Afghanistan was already part of an extensive network of trade and cultural exchanges.

Elamo-Dravidians

Namazga V and Altyndepe were in contact with the Late Harappan culture (ca. 2000-1600 BC), and Masson (1988) tends to identify the culture as Proto-Dravidian.

Proto-Dravidian is the proto-language of the Dravidian languages. It is thought to have differentiated into Proto-North Dravidian, Proto-Central Dravidian and Proto-South Dravidian around 1500 BC, although some linguists have argued that the degree of differentiation between the sub-families points to an earlier split.

As a proto-language, Proto-Dravidian has been reconstructed and is not itself found in the historical record. Due to a dearth of comparative linguistic research in Dravidian studies, not many details as to the grammar, epoch, or location of Proto-Dravidian are known.

Quite a few ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilisations flourished in territories where J2 lineages were preponderant. This is the case of the Hattians, the Hurrians, the Etruscans, the Minoans, the Greeks, the Phoenicians (and their Carthaginian offshoot), the Israelites, and to a lower extent also the Romans, the Assyrians and the Persians. All the great seafaring civilisations from the middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age were dominated by J2 men.

There is a distinct association of ancient J2 civilisations with bull worship. The oldest evidence of a cult of the bull can be traced back to Neolithic central Anatolia, notably at the sites of Çatalhöyük and Alaca Höyük. Bull depictions are omnipresent in Minoan frescos and ceramics in Crete. Bull-masked terracotta figurines and bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus (dating back as far as the Neolithic, the first presumed expansion of J2 from West Asia). The Hattians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaaites, and Carthaginians all had bull deities (in contrast with Indo-European or East Asian religions).

The presence of Haplogroup J2 in India, including the subclades M410 and M241 has been an often overlooked clue to the origins of M172. Sengupta et al, in 2005 worked to explain the presence of M172 in India. Their paper provides an immediate acknowledgement of the proposed spread of proto-Elamo-Dravidian speaking peoples into India originating from the Indus Valley and southwest Persia.

The idea that M172 may have been carried into India with proto-Elamo-Dravidian groups is supported by the frequencies of Haplogroup J in one of the only remaining Dravidian Speaking ethnic groups in the Iranian Plateau, the Brahui. 28% of the Brahui, an ethnic Dravidian speaking group from Western Pakistan were found to carry the mutation defining Haplogroup J. Overall Haplogroup J2 in India represented 9.1% of this very populous nation.

In Pakistan, M172 accounted for 11.9% of the Y-Chromosomes typed. Sengupta’s paper broke down the frequencies of Haplogroup J2 into various caste and language groups. J2 was found to be significantly higher among Dravidian castes at 19% than among Indo-European castes at 11%.

J2a-M410 in particular may be a strong candidate for a proposed migration of proto-Dravidian peoples from the Iranian Plateau or the Indus Valley since J2a M410 is a very high component of the haplogroup J2 chromosomes found in Pakistan. Over 71% of the M172 found in Pakistan was M410+.

Another interesting characteristic in the distribution of M172 and more specifically, M410, in India was its higher frequencies in Upper Caste Dravidians. M410+ chromosomes were found in 13% of Upper Caste Dravidians. Sengupta goes on to suggest an Indian origin of Dravidian speakers but from a Y chromosome perspective, the paper seems to acknowledge M172 arriving in India from Middle Eastern and Indus Valley Civilizations.

Despite an apparent exogenous frequency spread pattern of J2a toward North and Central India from the west, it is premature to attribute the spread to a simplistic demic expansion of early agriculturists from the Middle East….it may also reflect subsequent Bronze Age Harappans of uncertain provenance.

Subclades of M172 such as M67 and M92 were not found in either Indian or Pakistani samples which also might hint at a partial common origin. And while there may be multiple events and origins for M172 lineages in India, it does seem likely that the Indus Valley and Elamo-Dravidian speaking groups may be the origin of some of the M172 found in India today.

The sacred bull of Hinduism, Nandi, present in all temples dedicated to Shiva or Parvati, does not have an Indo-European origin, but can be traced back to Indus Valley civilisation. Minoan Crete, Hittite Anatolia, the Levant, Bactria and the Indus Valley also shared a tradition of bull leaping, the ritual of dodging the charge of a bull. It survives today in the traditional bullfighting of Andalusia in Spain and Provence in France, two regions with a high percentage of J2 lineages.

The Kelteminar culture

The Kelteminar culture (5500–3500 BCE) was a Neolithic archaeological culture of sedentary fishermen occupying the semi-desert and desert areas of the Karakum and Kyzyl Kum deserts and the deltas of the Amu Darya and Zeravshan rivers in the territories of ancient Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, dated to the 6th-3rd millennium BCE.

The culture was discovered and first excavated in 1939 by the USSR Chorasmian Archaeological and Ethnographic Expedition under leadership of S.P. Tolstoy, who first described it. It is named after a site of the same name. The Kelteminar culture was replaced by the Tazabagyab culture.

The Kelteminar people practised a mobile hunting, gathering and fishing subsistence system. Over time, they adopted stockbreeding. The Kelteminar economy was based on sedentary fishing and hunting.

Scientists hold that Kelteminar culture is related to the Pit–Comb Ware culture and belongs to the Finno-Ugric peoples. The Kelteminar culture is cited as an argument against existence of an Indo-European ancestral homeland in Central Asia.

The Kelteminar people lived in huge houses (size 24m x 17m and height 10m), which housed the whole tribal community of about 100-120 people. They adorned themselves with beads made of shells. They manufactured stone axes and miniature trapezoidal flint arrowheads. For cooking, they used clay vessels produced without the potter’s wheel.

With the Late Glacial warming, up to the Atlantic Phase of the Post-Glacial Optimum, Mesolithic groups moved north into this area from the Hissar (6000–4000 BCE). These groups brought with them the bow and arrow and the dog, elements of what Kent Flannery has called the “broad-spectrum revolution”.

Tepe Hissar

Tepe Hissar is a prehistoric site located just south of Dāmḡān in northeastern Persia. To the north lie valleys rich in flint, lead, wood, fruit, deer, stag, boar, fish and fowl; to the south, the periphery of the great desert (kavir), with known occurrences of copper, gold, turquoise, semi-arid fauna, and herds of gazelles and onagers. Hissar Valley is a vast intermountain hollow with the rivers Kafirnigan, Karatag and Shirkent.

The sacred book of Zoroastrians «Avesta» mentioned this area as «Shumon». For the first time the word «Hissar» («hissor») as a name of a settlement, city or an administrative unit was mentioned in the 11th century. Then this word designated a site of ancient settlement with state armies, crafts, and a market. Way back then the city was the center of the most independent part of Samanid state.

Tepe Hissar shows habitation of settled farmers and herdsmen who lived near Damghan in northeastern Iran during the Aeneolithic period and the Bronze Age. The oldest levels date from the second half of the fourth millennium BC. and are characterized by modeled ceramics with geometric decorations (Hissar I-A).

The subsistence economy was based on agriculture. From Hissar II onward plant remains indicate “an agricultural system based on cereals [glume and free-threshing wheats, naked and hulled barley] and the utilization of local fruit [olive, grapevine] plant resources”. Lentil seeds and legumes were also present. Cattle and sheep figurines indicate herding activities (Mashkour).

Generally, bodies were buried on their sides in a flexed position in simple pits. In period II, however, rare brick cist graves appear.

Based on his analysis of burial ceramics, Erich Schmidt identified three major periods. Period I was subdivided into IA (earliest), IB and IC. The separation between IC and IIA is unclear; the term IC/IIA better reflects this uncertainty.

Period II(B) and III(B and C) are well-defined; IIIA is ephemeral. The 1976 radiocarbon determinations support the following chronology: IC/IIA: about 3980-3865 cal. BCE, IIB: c. 3365-3030 cal BCE, IIIB: ca. 2400-2170 cal. BCE; and IIIC 2170-1900 cal. BCE (Voigt and Dyson, I, pp. 173-74).

Period IB should then be about 4000 BCE and earlier, while IA should be sometime after 5000 BCE, since it clearly follows the Cheshmi Ali (Čašma ʿAli)-Sialk II painted ware horizon of about 5500 BCE (Esfandiari).

The inhabitants lived in adobe brick dwellings. The settlement had a burial ground. Earthenware made on a potter’s wheel, and paintings depicting goats, leopards, and birds were found in subsequent levels (Hissar I-B and II-A); metallurgy was well-developed. The culture of this period exhibits ties with the cultures of central Iran (Sialk III) and southern Turkmenia (Namazga Tepe III).

From the beginning full-time craft specialists mass-produced standardized painted pottery (Hissar I-IIA). Hissar I ware, handmade in IA and wheel-made in IB, consisted of painted buff, painted red, and plain utility ware; a crude late painted ware still occurred in period IIB, along with a coarse ware tempered with crushed slag (Pigott, Howard, and Epstein). Hissar I painted ware is decorated with geometric, plant, and animal motifs (gazelles, ibexes, and birds). Shapes consist of small cups and bowls, and bowls (shallow and deep) on pedestal stems with flaring bases.

Gray ceramics, gradually displacing the painted pottery, appear in the first half of the third millennium BC. (Hissar II-B). Burnished grey ware becomes predominant in period IIB and III, produced in a reducing fire from the same local clays. In IIB cups on high pedestal stands appear; in III canteens and bottle-pitchers replaced them. As with pottery, the uniformity and skill seen in the artifacts (and the quantity of slag and furnace linings) suggests full-time specialists. In Hissar I daggers, knife blades, arrowheads, pins, tacks, points, and needles were made.

In Hissar II and III copper artifacts increase in quality and variety and include personal ornaments (earrings, pendants, bracelets, bands), tools and weapons (bidents, lances, mattocks, chisels, maceheads), and luxury items (vessels, mirrors, boxes and intricately cast pins and rods). Lab study shows “remarkable technological conservatism persisting from Hissar I through III”. In Hissar IIB lead, silver, and gold were added to copper for the first time.

While western connections are visible in the ceramics and button-seals of Hissar I, many connections with Margiana (Marv) and Bactria occur in Hissar IIIC. These include mini-columns, alabaster discs, animal figurines, bidents, tridents, axe-adzes, compartmented copper stamp seals, lanceheads with bent tangs, metal horns, cosmetic bottles, beads with incised circles, etc.

Four rich burials from 1931 belong to this period as does a large “hoard” of pottery copper, gold and alabaster objects (most likely a cenotaph like those found in Baluchistan and Central Asia; Amiet, 1986). The 1976 excavations produced one clay or tablet with signs and nine blank pillow-shaped tablets in Hissar II.

The Hissar culture reached its golden age between the second half of the third millennium BC. and the early part of the second millennium BC. (Hissar III; similar to Namazga Tepe V and VI and more distantly resembling the Maikop culture). While the Hissar III culture continues Near Eastern traditions, the copper artifacts are related to the early Kuban culture of the northern Caucasus, especially Tsarskaya, which like the Majkop slightly earlier clearly represents a fusion of Near Eastern and Kurgan traditions.

Burial sites with rich inventories have been found. An isolated dwelling, apparently belonging to a wealthy patriarchal family, was excavated; this evidence points to the decay of the primitive communal system.

Seima-Turbino Phenomenon

The Altai Mountains in what is now southern Russia and central Mongolia have been identified as the point of origin of a cultural enigma termed the Seima-Turbino Phenomenon. It is conjectured that changes in climate in this region around 2000 BC and the ensuing ecological, economic and political changes triggered a rapid and massive migration westward into northeast Europe, eastward into China and southward into Vietnam and Thailand across a frontier of some 4,000 miles.

This migration took place in just five to six generations and led to peoples from Finland in the west to Thailand in the east employing the same metal working technology and, in some areas, horse breeding and riding.

It is further conjectured that the same migrations spread the Uralic group of languages across Europe and Asia: some 39 languages of this group are still extant, including Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian and Lappish.

However, recent genetic testings of sites in south Siberia and Kazakhstan (Andronovo horizon) would rather support a spreading of the bronze technology via Indo-European migrations eastwards, as this technology was well known for quite a while in western regions.

Seima-Turbino refers to burial sites dating around 1500 BC found across northern Eurasia, from Finland to Mongolia. The buried were nomadic warriors and metal-workers, travelling on horseback or two-wheeled chariots. These nomads originated from the Altai Mountains. The culture spread from these mountains to the west. Although they were the precursor to the much later Mongol invasions, these groups were not yet strong enough to attack the important social sites of the Bronze Age.

These cultures are noted for being nomadic forest and steppe societies with metal working, sometimes without having first developed agricultural methods. The development of this metalworking ability appears to have taken place quite quickly.

Bronze metallurgy in China originated in what is referred to as the Erlitou (Wade–Giles: Erh-li-t’ou) period, which some historians argue places it within the range of dates controlled by the Shang dynasty. Others believe the Erlitou sites belong to the preceding Xia (Wade–Giles: Hsia) dynasty.

The U.S. National Gallery of Art defines the Chinese Bronze Age as the “period between about 2000 BC and 771 BC,” a period that begins with Erlitou culture and ends abruptly with the disintegration of Western Zhou rule. Though this provides a concise frame of reference, it overlooks the continued importance of bronze in Chinese metallurgy and culture.

Little is known about the arrival of Proto-Greek speakers from the steppes. The Mycenaean culture commenced circa 1650 BCE and is clearly an imported steppe culture. The close relationship between Mycenaean and Proto-Indo-Iranian languages suggest that they split fairly late, some time between 2500 and 2000 BCE.

Archeologically, Mycenaean chariots, spearheads, daggers and other bronze objects show striking similarities with the Seima-Turbino culture (c. 1900-1600 BCE) of the northern Russian forest-steppes, known for the great mobility of its nomadic warriors (Seima-Turbino sites were found as far away as Mongolia). It is therefore likely that the Mycenaean descended from Russia to Greece between 1900 and 1650 BCE, where they intermingled with the locals to create a new unique Greek culture.

The Qijia culture

The Qijia culture (2400 BC – 1900 BC) was an early Bronze Age culture distributed around the upper Yellow River region of Gansu (centered in Lanzhou) and eastern Qinghai, China, it is regarded as one of the earliest bronze cultures. Johan Gunnar Andersson discovered the initial site at Qijiaping in 1923. Qijia culture was a sedentary culture, based on agriculture, and breeding pigs, which were also used in sacrifices.

Qijia culture is distinguished by a presence of numerous domesticated horses, and practice of oracle divination, the metal knives and axes recovered apparently point to some interactions with Siberian and Central Asian cultures, in particular with the Seima-Turbino complex. Archeological evidence points to a plausible early contacts between the Qijia culture and Central Asia.

During the late stages of the culture, the Qijia culture retreated from the west and suffered a reduction in population size. Qijia culture produced some of the earliest bronze and copper mirrors found in China. Extensive domestication of horses are found at many Qijia sites.

The archaeological site at Lajia, Huangniangniangtai, Qinweijia, and Dahezhuang are associated with the Qijia culture.

Since this is significantly later than the discovery of bronze in Mesopotamia, bronze technology could have been imported rather than discovered independently in China. While there may be reason to believe that bronzework developed inside China separately from outside influence, the discovery of European mummies in Xinjiang suggests a possible route of transmission from the West.

The Tagar culture

The Tagar culture, named after an island in the Yenisey River opposite Minusinsk, succeeded the Karasuk culture. The civilization was one of the largest centres of bronze-smelting in ancient Eurasia.

The Tagar culture was a Bronze Age archeological culture which flourished between the 7th and 3rd centuries BC in South Siberia (Republic of Khakassia, southern part of Krasnoyarsk Territory, eastern part of Kemerovo Province)

The Tagar tribes, whose people use the same burial places, indicating a continuity in settlements, are thought to have been Caucasoids of the Scythian circle. They lived in timber dwellings heated by clay ovens and large hearths. Some settlements were surrounded by fortifications. They made a living by raising livestock, predominantly large horned livestock and horses, goats and sheep. Harvest was collected with bronze sickles and reaping knives.

Their artifacts were heavily influenced by Scythian art from Pazyryk culture, an Iron Age archaeological culture (ca. 6th to 3rd centuries BC) identified by excavated artifacts and mummified humans found in the Siberian permafrost in the Altay Mountains and nearby Mongolia. Perhaps the most striking feature of the culture are huge royal kurgans fenced by stone plaques, with four vertical stelae marking the corners.

Ancient DNA extracted from the remains of six males who dated back to the Tagar culture were determined to be of Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a. Extracted mtDNA from two female remains from this cultural horizon revealed they possessed the T3 and H lineages. The study determined that the majority of the individuals had light hair and blue or green eyes.

The Pazyryk culture

The Pazyryk culture is an Iron Age archaeological culture (ca. 6th to 3rd centuries BC) identified by excavated artifacts and mummified humans found in the Siberian permafrost in the Altay Mountains and nearby Mongolia.

The type site are the Pazyryk burials, a number of Iron Age tombs found in the Siberian permafrost in the the Pazyryk Valley of the Ukok Plateau in the Altai Mountains, Siberia, south of the modern city of Novosibirsk, Russia; the site is close to the borders with China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Numerous comparable burials have been found in neighboring western Mongolia.

Archaeologists have extrapolated the Pazyryk culture from these finds: five large burial mounds and several smaller ones between 1925 and 1949, one opened in 1947 by Russian archaeologist Sergei Rudenko. The burial mounds concealed chambers of larch-logs covered over with large cairns of boulders and stones.

The Pazyryk burials are a number of Iron Age tombs found in the Pazyryk Valley of the Ukok plateau in the Altai Mountains, Siberia, south of the modern city of Novosibirsk, Russia; the site is close to the borders with China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Numerous comparable burials have been found in neighboring western Mongolia.

Ordinary Pazyryk graves contain only common utensils, but in one, among other treasures, archaeologists found the famous Pazyryk Carpet, the oldest surviving wool-pile oriental rug. Another striking find, a 3-metre-high four-wheel funerary chariot, survived superbly preserved from the 5th century BC.

The mummies are buried in long barrows (or “kurgans”) similar to the tomb mounds of western Scythian culture in modern Ukraine. In fact, some of the first Bronze Age Scythian burials documented by modern archaeologists include the kurgans at Pazyryk in the Ulagan (Red) district of the Altai Republic, south of Novosibirsk in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia (near Mongolia).

Other undisturbed kurgans have been found to contain remarkably well-preserved remains, comparable to the earlier Tarim mummies of Xinjiang. Bodies were preserved using mummification techniques and were also naturally frozen in solid ice from water seeping into the tombs.

They were encased in coffins made from hollowed trunks of larch (which may have had sacral significance) and sometimes accompanied by sacrificed concubines and horses. The clustering of tombs in a single area implies that it had particular ritual significance for these people, who were likely to have been willing to transport their deceased leaders great distances for burial.

Many artifacts and human remains have been found at this location, including the Siberian Ice Princess, indicating a flourishing culture at this location that benefited from the many trade routes and caravans of merchants passing through the area.(State Hermitage Museum 2007) The Pazyryk are considered to have had a war-like life.

Other kurgan cemeteries associated with the culture include those of Bashadar, Tuekta, Ulandryk, Polosmak and Berel. There are so far no known sites of settlements associated with the burials, suggesting a purely nomadic lifestyle.

The tombs are Scythian-type kurgans, barrow-like tomb mounds containing wooden chambers covered over by large cairns of boulders and stones, dated to the 4th – 3rd centuries BCE.

The spectacular burials at Pazyryk are responsible for the introduction of the term kurgan, a Russian word of Turkic origin, into general usage to describe these tombs. The region of the Pazyryk kurgans is considered the type site of the wider Pazyryk culture. The site is included in the Golden Mountains of Altai UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The bearers of the Pazyryk culture were horse-riding pastoral nomads of the steppe, and some may have accumulated great wealth through horse trading with merchants in Persia, India and China.

Trading routes between Central Asia, China and the Near East passed through the oases on the plateau and these ancient Altai nomads profited from the rich trade and culture passing through. There is evidence that Pazyryk trade routes were vast and connected with large areas of Asia including India, perhaps Pazyryk merchants largely trading in high quality horses.

This wealth is evident in the wide array of finds from the Pazyryk tombs, which include many rare examples of organic objects such as felt hangings, Chinese silk, the earliest known pile carpet, horses decked out in elaborate trappings, and wooden furniture and other household goods. These finds were preserved when water seeped into the tombs in antiquity and froze, encasing the burial goods in ice, which remained frozen in the permafrost until the time of their excavation.

The Pazyryk culture has been connected to the Scythians, Iranic equestrian tribes who were mentioned as inhabiting large areas in the central Eurasian steppes starting with the 7th century BC up until the 4th century AD, whose similar tombs have been found across the steppes. The Siberian animal style tattooing is characteristic of the Scythians.

It has been suggested that Pazyryk was a homeland for these tribes before they migrated west. There is also the possibility that the current inhabitants of the Altai region are descendants of the Pazyryk culture, a continuity that would accord with current ethnic politics: Archaeogenetics is now being used to study the Pazyryk mummies.

Craniological studies of samples from the Pazyryk burials revealed the presence of both Mongoloid and Caucasoid components in this population. quoting G. F. Debets on the physical characteristics of the population in the Pazyryk kurgans, records a mixed population. The men would seem to be part Mongoloid and the women Europoid.

The Scythians

The historical appearance of the Iranic equestrian Scythians coincided with the rise of equestrian semi-nomadism from the Carpathian Mountains of Europe to Mongolia in the Far East during the 1st millennium BC.

The “classical Scythians” known to ancient Greek historians were located in the northern Black Sea and fore-Caucasus region, and their territories during the Iron Age were known to classical Greek sources as “Scythia”.

However, other Scythian groups encountered in Near Eastern and Achaemenid sources existed in Central Asia. Moreover, the term “Scythian” is also used by modern scholars in an archaeological context, i.e. any region perceived to display attributes of the “Scytho-Siberian” culture.

Large burial mounds (some over 20 metres high), provide the most valuable archaeological remains associated with the Scythians. They dot the Eurasian steppe belt, from Mongolia to Balkans, through Ukrainian and south Russian steppes, extending in great chains for many kilometers along ridges and watersheds.

From them archaeologists have learned much about Scythian life and art. Some Scythian tombs reveal traces of Greek, Chinese, and Indian craftsmanship, suggesting a process of Hellenization, Sinification, and other local influences among the Scythians.

Kurgan barrows were characteristic of Bronze Age peoples, from the Altay Mountains to the Caucasus, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria. The Ipatovo kurga, a cemetery of kurgan burial mounds, located near the town of Ipatovo in Stavropol Krai, Russia, some 120 kilometers (75 mi) northeast of Stavropol, revealed a long sequence of burials from the Maykop culture c. 4000 BC down to the burial of a Sarmatian princess of the 3rd century BC, excavated 1998–99.

Modern interpretation of historical, archaeological and anthropological evidence has proposed two broad hypotheses when it comes to the origin of the Scythians. The first, formerly more espoused view by Soviet-era researchers, roughly followed Herodotus’ (third) account, stating that the Scythians were an Iranian group who arrived from Inner Asia, i.e. from the area of Turkestan and western Siberia.

An alternative view explains the origin of the Scythian cultural complex to have emerged from local groups of the “Timber Grave” (or Srubna) culture (although this is also associated with the Cimmerians). This second theory is supported by anthropological evidence which has found that Scythian skulls are similar to preceding findings from the Timber Grave culture, and distinct from those of the Central Asian Sacae.

Others have further stressed that “Scythian” was a very broad term used by both ancient and modern scholars to describe a whole host of otherwise unrelated peoples sharing only certain similarities in lifestyle (nomadism), cultural practices and language. The 1st millennium BC ushered a period of unprecedented cultural and economic connectivity amongst disparate and wide-ranging communities.

A mobile, broadly similar lifestyle would have facilitated contacts amongst disparate ethnic groupings along the expansive Eurasian steppe from the Danube to Manchuria, leading to many cultural similarities. From the viewpoint of Greek and Persian ancient observers, they were all lumped together under the etic category “Scythians”.

Accounts by Herodotus of Scythian origins has been discounted recently; although his accounts of Scythian raiding activities contemporary to his writings have been deemed more reliable. Moreover, the term Scythian, like Cimmerian, was used to refer to a variety of groups from the Black Sea to southern Siberia and central Asia.

“They were not a specific people”, but rather variety of peoples “referred to at variety of times in history, and in several places, none of which was their original homeland”. The Bible includes a single reference to Scythians in Colossians 3:11, immediately after mentioning barbarian, possibly as an extreme example of a barbarian.

Early physical analyses have unanimously concluded that the Scythians, even those in the east (e.g. the Pazyryk region), possessed predominantly “Europioid” features, although mixed ‘Euro-mogoloid” phenotypes also occur, depending on site and period.

Numerous ancient mitochondrial DNA samples have now been recovered from Bronze and Iron Age communities in the Eurasian steppe and Siberian forest zone, the putative ‘ancestors’ of the historical Scythians. Compared to Y-DNA, mtDNA is easier to extract and amplify from ancient specimens due to numerous copies of mtDNA per cell.

The earliest studies could only analyze segments of mtDNA, thus providing only broad correlations of affinity to modern ‘west Eurasian’ or ‘East Eurasian’ populations. For example, a 2002 study, the mitochondrial DNA of Saka period male and female skeletal remains from a double inhumation kurgan at the Beral site in Kazakhstan was analysed. The two individuals were found to be not closely related. The HV1 mitochondrial sequence of the male was similar to the Anderson sequence which is most frequent in European populations. On the other hand the HV1 sequence of the female suggested a greater likelihood of Asian origins.

More recent studies have been able to type for specific mtDNA lineages. For example a 2004 study studied the HV1 sequence obtained from a male “Scytho-Siberian” at the Kizil site in the Altai Republic. It belonged to the N1a maternal lineage, a geographically “west Eurasian lineage” Another study by the same team, again from two Scytho-Siberian skeletons found in the Altai Republic, were phenotypically males “of mixed Euro-Mongoloid origin”. One of the individuals was found to carry the F2a maternal lineage, and the other the D lineage, both of which are characteristic of “East Eurasian” populations.

These early studies have been eloborated by an increasing number of studies by Russian scholars. Conclusions which might be drawn thus far, from an mtDNA persepctive, are (i) an early, Bronze Age mixture of both west and east Eurasian lineages, with western lineages being found far to the East, but not vice-versa; (ii) an apparent reversal by Iron Age times, with increasing presence of East Eurasian lineages in the western steppe; (iii) the possible role of migrations from the sedentary south: the Balkano-Danubian and Iranian regions toward the steppe.

Ancient Y-DNA data was finally provided by Keyser et al in 2009. They studied the haplotypes and haplogroups of 26 ancient human specimens from the Krasnoyarsk area in Siberia were dated from between the middle of the 2nd millennium BC and the 4th century AD (Scythian and Sarmatian timeframe). Nearly all subjects belong to haplogroup R-M17.

The authors suggest that their data shows that between Bronze and Iron Ages the constellation of populations known variously as Scythians, Andronovians, etc. were blue- (or green-) eyed, fair-skinned and light-haired people who might have played a role in the early development of the Tarim Basin civilization.

Moreover, this study found that they were genetically more closely related to modern populations of eastern Europe than those of central and southern Asia. The ubiquity and utter dominance of R1a Y-DNA lineage contrasts markedly with the diversity seen in the mtDNA profiles.

However, this comparison was made on the basis of STRs. Since the 2009 study by Keyser et al, population and geographic specific SNPs have been discovered which can accurately distinguish between “European” R1a (M458, Z 280) and “South Asian” R1a (Z93)(Pamjav 2012.

Re-analyzing ancient Scytho-Siberian samples for these more specific subclades will further elucidate if the Eurasian steppe populations have an ultimate Eastern European or South Asian origin, or perhaps, both.

This, in turn, might also depend on which population is studied, i.e. Herodotus’ European “classical’ Scythians, the Central Asian Sakae or un-named nomadic groups in the far east (Altai region) who also bore a ‘Scythian” cultural tradition.

The Saka

The Pazyryk culture flourished between the 7th and 3rd century BC in the area associated with the Sacae, a Scythian tribe or group of tribes of Iranian origin. B. N. Mukerjee has said that it is clear that ancient Greek and Roman scholars believed, all Sakai were Scythians, but not all Scythians were Sakai.

Modern confusion about the identity of the Saka is partly due to the Persians. According to Herodotus, the Persians called all Scythians by the name Sakas. Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus, AD 23–79) provides a more detailed explanation, stating that the Persians gave the name Sakai to the Scythian tribes “nearest to them”. The Scythians to the far north of Assyria were also called the Saka suni “Saka or Scythian sons” by the Persians. The Assyrians of the time of Esarhaddon record campaigning against a people they called in the Akkadian the Ashkuza or Ishhuza. Hugo Winckler was the first to associate them with the Scyths which identification remains without serious question.

They were closely associated with the Gimirrai, who were the Cimmerians known to the ancient Greeks. Confusion arose because they were known to the Persians as Saka, however they were known to the Babylonians as Gimirrai, and both expressions are used synonymously on the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in 515 BC on the order of Darius the Great. These Scythians were mainly interested in settling in the kingdom of Urartu, which later became Armenia. The district of Shacusen, Uti Province, reflects their name. In ancient Hebrew texts, the Ashkuz (Ashkenaz) are considered to be a direct offshoot from the Gimirri (Gomer).

Pliny also mentions Aseni and Asoi clans south of the Hindukush. Bucephala was the capital of the Aseni which stood on the Hydaspes (the Jhelum River). The Sarauceans and Aseni are the Sacarauls and Asioi of Strabo.

Asio, Asi/Asii, Asva/Aswa, Ari-aspi, Aspasios, Aspasii (or Hippasii) are possibly variant names the classical writers have given to the horse-clans of the Kambojas. The Old-Persian words for horse, “asa” and “aspa, have most likely been derived from this.”

If one accepts this connection, then the Tukharas (= Rishikas = Yuezhi) controlled the eastern parts of Bactria (Chinese Ta-hia) while the combined forces of the Sakarauloi, Asio (horse people = Parama Kambojas) and Pasinoi of Strabo occupied its western parts after being displaced from their original home in the Fergana valley by the Yuezhi. Ta-hia (Daxia) is then taken to mean the Tushara Kingdom which also included Badakshan, Chitral, Kafirstan and Wakhan According to other scholars, it were the Saka hordes alone who had put an end to the Greek kingdom of Bactria.

The language of the original Saka tribes is unknown. The only record from their early history is the Issyk inscription, a short fragment on a silver cup found in the Issyk kurgan. (Eastern) Saka or Sakan is a variety of Eastern Iranian languages. It is a Middle Iranian language.

The inscription is in a variant of the Kharoṣṭhī script, and is probably in a Saka dialect, constituting one of very few autochthonous epigraphic traces of that language. Harmatta (1999) identifies the language as Khotanese Saka, tentatively translating “The vessel should hold wine of grapes, added cooked food, so much, to the mortal, then added cooked fresh butter on”.

The only known remnants of what is nowadays called the Saka language is Khotanese Saka language of the ancient Buddhist kingdoms of Khotan and Tumshuq in the Tarim Basin, in what in now southern Xinjiang, China, which was ruled by the Saka. The language there is widely divergent from the rest of Iranian belongs to the Eastern Iranian group. It also is divided into two divergent dialects. The two kingdoms differed in dialect, their speech known as Khotanese and Tumshuqese. Both dialects share features with modern Wakhi and Pashto, but both of the Saka dialects contain many borrowings from the Middle Indo-Aryan Prakrit. Many Prakrit terms were borrowed from Khotanese into the Tocharian languages.

Tumshuqese was more archaic than Khotanese, but it is much less understood because it appears in fewer manuscripts compared to Khotanese. According to the LINGUIST List, Khotanese and Tumshuqese are distinct Eastern Iranian languages. Khotanese is classified under the Southeastern Iranian family. Tumshuqese is classified as a “Sakan-Tumshuqese” language under the “Sogdian-Khotanese” subgroup, which in turn belongs to the Scythian branch of the Northeastern Iranian group of languages.

The two known dialects of Saka are associated with a movement of Scythian people. No invasion of the region is recorded in Chinese records and one theory is that two tribes of Saka, speaking the dialects, settled in the region in about 200 BC before the Chinese accounts commence.

The Tashtyk culture

The Tashtyk culture, named after an island in the Yenisey River opposite Minusinsk, succeeded the Tagar culture. The Tashtyk culture, an archaeological culture that flourished in the Yenisei valley in Siberia from the first to the fourth century CE, perhaps equivalent to the Yenisei Kirghiz.

According to recent historical findings, Kyrgyz history dates back to 201 BC. The early Kyrgyz lived in the upper Yenisey River valley, central Siberia (see Yenisei Kirghiz for details). Chinese and Muslim sources of the 7th–12th centuries AD describe the Kyrgyz as red-haired with fair complexion and green (blue) eyes.

First appearing in Chinese records of the Grand Historian as Gekun or Jiankun, and later as part of the Tiele tribes, they were once under the rule of Göktürks and Uyghurs. The descent of the Kyrgyz from the autochthonous Siberian population is confirmed on the other hand by the recent genetic studies (The Eurasian Heartland: A continental perspective on Y-chromosome diversity).

Remarkably, 63% of the modern Kyrgyz men share Haplogroup R1a1 (Y-DNA) with Tajiks (64%), Ukrainians (54%), Poles (56%) and even Icelanders (25%). Haplogroup R1a1 (Y-DNA) is believed to be a marker of the Proto-Indo-European language speakers.

Kyrgyz genesis legend tells about an ancestor and father of all Kyrgyzes Kyzyl Taigan (Red Dog). A daughter of the khan was in the habit to take long walks in a company of 40 maidens-servants. Once, on return home after her usual walk, the Princess saw that her native aul was ravaged by an enemy. In the aul they found only one alive creature, a red dog.

The princess and her 40 maids become mothers, in a company with only one male attraction, a red dog. By the number of matrons, the posterity of 40 maidens, kyrk-kyz, began to be called Kyrgyz people. The cult of the Heavenly Dog was widespread between the tribes west and east of the ancient China.

The Kyrgyz state reached its greatest expansion after defeating the Uyghur Khaganate in 840 AD. Then Kyrgyz quickly moved as far as as the Tian Shan range and maintained their dominance over this territory for about 200 years.

In the 12th century, however, the Kyrgyz domination had shrunk to the Altay Range and the Sayan Mountains as a result of the rising Mongol expansion. With the rise of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, the Kyrgyz migrated south. Various Turkic peoples ruled them until 1685, when they came under the control of the Oirats (Dzungars).

Tashtyk settlements and hill-forts have been unearthed throughout the Yenisei region, particularly the Sayan canyon area. Their most imposing monuments were immense barrows-crypt structures; these have yielded large quantities of clay and metal vessels and ornaments. In addition, numerous petrographic carvings have been found.

During his excavations of the Oglahty cemetery south of Minusinsk, Leonid Kyzlasov discovered a number of mummies with richly decorated plaster funerary masks showing Western Eurasian features, though this would not rule out some East Asian admixture, as revealed by ancient DNA (see below). There were also intact fur hats, silk clothes, and footwear (now in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg).

Some of the graves contained leather models of human bodies with their heads wrapped in tissue and brightly painted. Inside the models there were small leather bags probably symbolising the stomach and containing burned human bones. Scaled-down replicas of swords, arrows and quivers were placed nearby.

Extracted mitochondrial DNA from five female Tashtyk remains of 100–400 AD from Bogratsky region, Abakano-Pérévoz I, Khakassia Republic, revealed that four possessed the Western Eurasian HV, H, N9a, and T1 haplogroups, while the other carried the East Asian haplogroup C. The Western Eurasian Y-DNA haplogroup R1a1a was extracted from one male. The same haplogroup was found among the remains of the preceding Tagar culture. The study determined that the majority of the individuals had light hair and blue or green eyes.

The Hunza people

The Hunza people, or Hunzakuts, descend from the principality of Hunza. The Burusho or Hunzakuts (Hunza people), are an ethnic group indigenous to the Hunza and Yasin valleys of Gilgit Baltistan in northern Pakistan. The Hunzas are predominantly Shia Ismaili Muslims. Their language, Burushaski, has not been shown to be related to any other.

The Burusho claim to be descendants of the soldiers who came to the region with Alexander the Great’s army in the 4th century BC. In 2008 the Macedonian Institute for Strategic Researches “16.9” organized a visit by Hunza Prince Ghazanfar Ali Khan and Princess Rani Atiqa as descendants of the Alexandran army.

The Hunza delegation was welcomed at the Skopje Airport by the country’s prime minister Nikola Gruevski, the head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church Archbishop Stephen and the then-mayor of Skopje Trifun Kostovski. Academics dismiss the idea as pseudoscience and doubts exist that party leaders actually believe the claims either.

Burusho legend maintains that they descend from the village of Baltir, which had been founded by a soldier left behind from the army of Alexander the Great—a legend common to much of Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. However, genetic evidence supports only a very small, 2% Greek genetic component among the Pashtun ethnic group of Pakistan and Afghanistan, not the Burusho.

DNA research groups the male ancestry of the Hunza with speakers of Pamir languages (Afghans) and the Sinti Romani (Gypsies), due primarily to the M124 marker (defining Y-DNA haplogroup R2a), which is present at high frequency in all three populations. However, they have also an East Asian genetic contribution, suggesting that at least some of their ancestry originates north of the Himalayas.

The Hunzakuts and the region of Hunza has one of the highest literacy rates as compared to other similar districts in Pakistan. Hunza is a major tourist attraction in Pakistan, and many Pakistani as well as foreign tourists travel to the region to enjoy the picturesque landscape and stunning mountains of the area.

The district has many modern amenities and is quite advanced by Asian standards. Local legend states that Hunza may have been associated with the lost kingdom of Shangri La. The people of Hunza are by some noted for their exceptionally long life expectancy, others describe this as a longevity narrative and cite a life expectancy of 53 years for men and 52 for women, although with a high standard deviation.

A variety of NRY Haplogroups are seen among the Burusho. Most frequent among these are R1a1 – a lineage associated with Central/Southern Eurasians and likely related to the Bronze Age migration into South Asia c. 3000 BCE; and R2a, probably originating in South/Central Asia during the Upper Paleolithic. The subcontinental lineages of haplogroup H1 and haplogroup L3 are also present, although haplogroup L, defined by SNP mutation M20, reaches a maximum of diversity in Pakistan.

Other Y-DNA haplogroups reaching considerable frequency are haplogroup J2, associated with the spread of agriculture in, and from, the neolithic Near East, and haplogroup C3, of Siberian origin and possibly representing the patrilineage of Ghenghis Khan. Also present at lower frequency are haplogroups O3, an East Eurasian lineage, and Q, P, F, and G.

The Hunza live alongside the Wakhi and the Shina. The Wakhi reside in the upper part of Hunza locally called Gojal. Wakhis also inhabit the bordering regions of China, Tajikstan and Afghanistan and also live in Gizar and Chitral district of Pakistan. The Shina-speaking people live in the southern part of Hunza. They have come from Chilas, Gilgit, and other Shina language speaking areas of Pakistan.

Shina is a language from the Dardic sub-group of the Indo-Aryan languages, while Wakhi is an Indo-European language in the branch of Eastern Iranian language family and is intimately related to other Southeastern Iranian languages in the Pamir languages group.

Wakhi is one of several languages that belong to the Pamir language group. A reflection of this is the fact that the Wakhi people are occasionally called Pamiris. The origin of this language is Wakhan in Afghanistan and it is, according to sources, more than four thousand years old. It is spoken by the inhabitants of the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan, parts of Gilgit–Baltistan (the former NAs) of Pakistan, Gorno-Badkhshan (mountainous-Badakhshan, in Russian) region of Tajakistan, and Xinjiang in western China.

The Pamiris are composed of people who speak the Pamiri languages, the indigenous language in the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous province, and adhere to the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam.

The Pamiris share close linguistic, cultural and religious ties with the people in Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan, the Sarikoli speakers in Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County in Xinjiang Province in China, the Wakhi speakers in Afghanistan and the Wakhi speakers in Upper Hunza Gojal region of Northern mountainous areas of Pakistan.

In the Pamiri languages, the Pamiris refer to themselves as Pamiri or Badakhshani, a reference to the historic Badakhshan region where they live.

The Pamir languages are a group of the Eastern Iranian languages, spoken by numerous people in the Pamir Mountains, primarily along the Panj River and its tributaries. This includes the Badakhshan Province of northeastern Afghanistan and the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province of eastern Tajikistan.

Smaller communities can be found in the adjacent areas of Pakistan where many have settled in recent decades. Sarikoli, one of the languages of the Pamir group, is spoken beyond the Sarikol Range on the Afghanistan-China border, and thus qualifies as the easternmost of the extant Iranian languages.

The Ethnologue lists Pamir languages along with Pashto as Southeastern Iranian, however, according to Encyclopedia Iranica, Pamir languages and Pashto belong to the North-Eastern Iranian branch. The only other living member of the Southeastern Iranian languages is Pashto. Members of the Pamir language group include Shughni, Sarikoli, Yazgulyam, Munji, Ishkashimi language, Wakhi, and Yidgha. They have the subject–object–verb syntactic typology.

The vast majority of Pamir languages speakers in Tajikistan and Afghanistan also use Tajik (Persian) as literary language, which is—unlike the languages of the Pamir group—a Southwestern Iranian tongue. The language group is endangered, with total number of speakers roughly around 100,000 (as of 1990).

Ossetic is among the remnants of the Scytho-Sarmatian dialect group which was once spoken across Central Asia. Other surviving languages closely related to Ossetic are Yaghnobi, Pashto and Pamiri languages, all spoken more than 2,000 km to the east in Afghanistan, northwestern Pakistan and some parts of Tajikistan.

The Xiongnu

The Xiongnu were ancient nomadic-based people that formed a state or confederation located north of China. Most of the information on the Xiongnu comes from Chinese sources. What little is known of their titles and names comes from Chinese transliterations of their language.

The identity of the ethnic core of Xiongnu has been a subject of varied hypotheses, because only a few words, mainly titles and personal names, were preserved in the Chinese sources. Proposals by scholars include Turkic, Mongolic, Yeniseian, Tocharian, Iranian, and Uralic. They also possibly practiced Tengriism. The name Xiongnu may be cognate to the name Huns, but the evidence for this is controversial.

Chinese sources from the 3rd century BC report them as having created an empire under Modu Chanyu, the supreme leader after 209 BC. This empire stretched beyond the borders of modern-day Mongolia. After defeating the previously dominant Yuezhi in the 2nd century BC, Xiongnu became a dominant power on the steppes of central and eastern Asia. They were active in regions of what is now southern Siberia, Mongolia, Southern Mongolia, Gansu and Xinjiang. Relations between early Chinese dynasties and the Xiongnu were complex, with repeated periods of military conflict and intrigue alternating with exchanges of tribute, trade, and marriage treaties.

From 209 BC Modu Chanyu united the steppe tribes of Mongolia into the first large Steppe empire. Soon the new Han Dynasty was paying them tribute. From 133 BC Emperor Wu adopted an aggressive policy and pushed Chinese power west and north. Around 50 AD, following the second Xiongnu civil war, the southern Xiongnu submitted to China while the Northern Xiongnu remained independent. By around 100 AD the Xiongnu had been replaced by the Xianbe. Xiongnu remnants and descendents remained on the northern frontier and in the period around 250-450 AD they formed several short-lived dynasties in North China.

The original geographic location of the Xiongnu is disputed among steppe archaeologists. Since the 1960s, the geographic origin of the Xiongnu has attempted to be traced through an analysis of Early Iron Age burial constructions. No region has been proven to have mortuary practices that clearly match that of the Xiongnu.

The sound of the first Chinese character has been reconstructed as /hoŋ/ in Old Chinese. The Chinese name for the Xiongnu was a pejorative term in itself, as the characters have the meaning of “fierce slave”. The Chinese characters are pronounced as Xiōngnú in modern Mandarin Chinese.

The supposed Old Chinese sound of the first character has a possible similarity with the name “Hun” in European languages. The second character appears to have no parallel in Western terminology. Whether the similarity is evidence of kinship or mere coincidence is hard to tell. It could lend credence to the theory that the Huns were in fact descendants of the Northern Xiongnu who migrated westward, or that the Huns were using a name borrowed from the Northern Xiongnu, or that these Xiongnu made up part of the Hun confederation.

As in the case of the Rouran with the Avars, oversimplifications have led to the Xiongnu often being identified with the Huns, who populated the frontiers of Europe. The connection started with the writings of the 18th-century French historian Joseph de Guignes, who noticed that a few of the barbarian tribes north of China associated with the Xiongnu had been named “Hun” with varying Chinese characters. This theory remains at the level of speculation, although it is accepted by some scholars, including Chinese ones, the majority of Anglophone scholars flatly reject it. DNA testing of Hun remains has not proven conclusive in determining the origin of the Huns.

Ancient DNA tests have revealed that the Xiongnu were already a hybrid Eurasian people 2,000 years ago, with mixed European and North-East Asian Y-DNA and mtDNA. Modern inhabitants of the Xiongnu homeland have approximately 90% of Mongolian lineages against 10% of European ones.

Autosomal, Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA analyses from the Krasnoyarsk area, South Siberia, dated from between the middle of the second millennium BC. to the fourth century AD. reveal that whereas few specimens seem to be related matrilineally or patrilineally, nearly all subjects belong to haplogroup R1a1-M17 which is thought to mark the eastward migration of the early Indo-Europeans.

In the Bronze and Iron Ages, south Siberia was a region of overwhelmingly predominant European settlement, suggesting an eastward migration of Kurgan people across the Russo-Kazakh steppe. The south Siberians were blue (or green)-eyed, fair-skinned and light-haired people and might have played a role in the early development of the Tarim Basin civilization.

It is likely that some mtDNA lineages were carried to southern Siberia from the Volga–Ural region. Incidentally, in the fifth century BC, Herodotus mentioned transit trade occurring in Central Asia along a route that stretched from the Urals in the west to the Altai and the Minusinsk Basin in the east (Hemphill and Mallory 2004).

In Altai, the presence of the R1a1 haplogroup in the middle of the fifth century BC is confirmed by the sample SEB 96K2 of Ricaut et al. (2004) which was found to belong to this Y-haplogroup. The boundary of the eastern European influence seems to be fixed at the peri-Baikal area since no R1a1 haplogroup was found in the Xiongnu specimens of the Northern border of Mongolia.

Analysis performed on Xiongnu specimens revealed that whereas none of the specimens from the Egyin Gol valley bore this haplogroup, the Scytho-Siberian skeleton from the Sebÿstei site exhibited R1a1 haplogroup.

The finding that the Bronze Age population, like that of Krasnoyarsk Siberians belonged exclusively -as far as sampling allows- to Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a1 raises the issue of when and how exactly the diverse extant Y-chromosome gene pool of Central Asia came about.

We can now confidently say that even at the early age of ~4ky BP an R1a1-bearing population of presumably western Eurasian origin had acquired a mixed mtDNA gene pool consisting of both west- and east-Eurasian mtDNA, which agrees with what was presented in the aforementioned documentary, in which many of the seemingly Caucasoid mummies had East Eurasian mtDNA.

The boundary of the Europeoid movement is clearly fixed at Lake Baikal. To the east of Baikal no palaeoanthropological find bears any traces of Europeoid admixture.

Virtually all R1a today seems to trace back to the founding lineage of 5,000 ya. That means that before the most succesful clade of R1a arose, haplogroup R1a must have been very limited, in geography and/or frequency, such that today we can hardly find any traces of members of R1a who might belong to a clade ancestral to the super-succesful R1a clade that was born 5,000 years ago.

Haplogroup R1a1a is widely distributed inEurasia: it is mainly found in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South Asia, Siberia,ancient Siberia, but rare in East Asia.

In the 1920s, Pyotr Kozlov’s excavations of the royal tombs at Noin-Ula in northern Mongolia that date to around the 1st century CE, provided a glimpse into the lost world of the Xiongnu. Other archaeological sites have been unearthed in Inner Mongolia and elsewhere; they represent the Neolithic and historical periods of the Xiongnu’s history.

Those included the Ordos culture, many of them had been identified as the Xiongnu cultures. The region was occupied predominantly by peoples showing Mongoloid features, known from their skeletal remains and artifacts. Portraits found in the Noin-Ula excavations demonstrate other cultural evidences and influences, showing that Chinese and Xiongnu art have influenced each other mutually. Some of these embroidered portraits in the Noin-Ula kurgans also depict the Xiongnu with long braided hair with wide ribbons, which are seen to be identical with the Turkic Ashina clan hair-style.

Well-preserved bodies in Xiongnu and pre-Xiongnu tombs in the Mongolian Republic and southern Siberia show both ‘Mongoloid’ and ‘Caucasian’ features but are predominantly Mongoloid with some admixture of European physical stock, nonetheless the Xiongnu shared many cultural traits with their Indo-European neighbors, such as horse racing, sword worship. Analysis of skeletal remains from sites attributed to the Xiongnu provides an identification of dolichocephalic Mongoloid, ethnically distinct from neighboring populations in present-day Mongolia.

Russian and Chinese anthropological and craniofacial studies show that the Xiongnu were physically very heterogenous, with six different population clusters showing different degrees of Mongoloid and Caucasoid physical traits. These clusters point to significant cross-regional migrations (both east to west and west to east) that likely started in the Neolithic period and continued to the medieval/Mongolian period.

Presently, there exist four fully excavated and well documented cemeteries: Ivolga, Dyrestui, Burkhan Tolgoi, and Daodunzi. Additionally thousands of tombs have been recorded in Transbaikalia and Mongolia. In addition to these, the Tamir 1 excavation site from a 2005 Silkroad Arkanghai Excavation Project is the only Xiongnu cemetery in Mongolia to be fully mapped in scale. Tamir 1 was located on Tamiryn Ulaan Khoshuu, a prominent granitic outcrop near other cemeteries of the Neolithic, Bronze Age, and Mongol periods. Important finds at the site included a lacquer bowl, glass beads, and three TLV mirrors. Archaeologists from this project believe that these artifacts paired with the general richness and size of the graves suggests that this cemetery was for more important or wealthy Xiongnu individuals.

The TLV mirrors are of particular interest. Three mirrors were acquired from three different graves at the site. The mirror found at feature 160 is believed to be a low-quality, local imitation of a Han mirror, while the whole mirror found at feature 100 and fragments of a mirror found at feature 109 are believed to belong to the classical TLV mirrors and date back to the Xin Dynasty or the early to middle Eastern Han period.

The archaeologists have chosen to, for the most part, refrain from positing anything about Han-Xiongnu relations based on these particular mirrors. However, they were willing to mention the following: “There is no clear indication of the ethnicity of this tomb occupant, but in a similar brick-chambered tomb of late Eastern Han period at the same cemetery, archaeologists discovered a bronze seal with the official title that the Han government bestowed upon the leader of the Xiongnu. The excavators suggested that these brick chamber tombs all belong to the Xiongnu (Qinghai 1993).”

Classifications of these burial sites make distinction between two prevailing type of burials: “(1). monumental ramped terrace tombs which are often flanked by smaller “satellite” burials and (2) ‘circular’ or ‘ring’ burials.” Some scholars consider this a division between “elite” graves and “commoner” graves. Other scholars, find this division too simplistic and not evocative of a true distinction because it shows “ignorance of the nature of the mortuary investments and typically luxuriant burial assemblages [and does not account for] the discovery of other lesser interments that do not qualify as either of these types.”

A study based on mitochondrial DNA analysis of human remains interred in the Egyin Gol Valley of Mongolia concluded that the Turkic peoples originated from the same area and therefore are possibly related.

A majority (89%) of the Xiongnu mtDNA sequences can be classified as belonging to Asian haplogroups, and nearly 11% belong to European haplogroups. This finding indicates that the contacts between European and Asian populations were anterior to the Xiongnu culture, and it confirms results reported for two samples from an early 3rd century BC. Scytho–Siberian population (Clisson et al. 2002).

Another study from 2004 screened ancient samples from the Egyin Gol necropolis for the Y-DNA haplogroup N-Tat. The Egyin Gol necropolis, located in northern Mongolia, is ~2300 years old and belongs to the Xiongnu culture. This Tat-polymorphism is a biallelic marker – that defines the N1c (N3-Tat) Y-DNA haplogroup – what has so far been observed only in populations from Asia and northern Europe. It reaches its highest frequency in Yakuts and northern Uralic peoples, with significant parts also in Buryats and northeastern Siberian populations. Opinions differ about whether the geographic origin of the T-C mutation lies in Asia or northern Eurasia. Zerjal et al. suggested that this mutation first arose in the populations of Central Asia; they proposed Mongolia as a candidate location for the origin of the T-C polymorphism. In contrast, for Lahermo et al. the wide distribution of the mutation in north Eurasian populations suggests that it arose in northern Eurasia. According to them, the estimated time of the C mutation is ~2400–4440 years ago. (According to some more recent researches of the Y-DNA Hg N the presence of N1c and N1b in modern Siberian and other Eurasian populations is considered to reflect an ancient substratum, probably speaking Uralic languages.) Concerning the Xiongnu people, two of them from the oldest section harboured the mutation, confirming that the Tat polymorphism already existed in Mongolia 2300 years ago. The next archaeogenetical occurrence of this N-Tat ancient DNA was found in Hungary among the so-called Homeconqueror Hungarians. Also three Yakuts’ aDNA from the 15th century, and of two from the late 18th century were this haplogroup.

Additionally two mtDNA sequence matches revealed in this work suggest that the Xiongnu tribe under study may have been composed of some of the ancestors of the present-day Yakut population.

Another study of 2006, using genetic and archeological data from a Siberian grave of Pokrovsk recently discovered near the Lena River and dated from 2,400 to 2,200 years B.P., as well as modern Buryats, Khanty, Mansi, Evenk, and Yakuts, provided evidence for the existence of early contact between autochthonous hunters of the Siberian taiga and nomadic horse breeders from the Altai-Baikal area (Mongolia and Buryatia). The similarity of the mitochondrial haplotype of the Pokrovsk subject with a woman of the Egyin Gol necropolis of the 2nd/3rd century AD ( mtDNA D haplogroup) shows that this contact would have occurred by the end of the Xiongnu period, and possibly prior to the 3rd century BC.. This contact could have been through either the expansion of the Xiongnu and other steppe peoples westwards to new areas of Siberia, or northwards along riverways. The Yenisei (Ienissei) river in particular contributed to extensive east-west gene flow. The combined evidence demonstrates the close relationship between the Xiongnu and the Siberian populations.

Another 2006 study observed genetic similarity among Mongolian samples from different periods and geographic areas including 2,300-year-old Xiongnu population of the Egyin Gol Valley. This results supports the hypothesis that the succession over time of different Turkic and Mongolian tribes in the current territory of Mongolia resulted in cultural rather than genetic changes. Furthermore, it appears that the Yakuts probably did not find their origin among the Xiongnu tribes as previously hypothesised.

A research study of 2006 focused on Y-DNAs of the Egyin Gol site, and besides the confirmation of the above mentioned two N3-Tats, it also identified a Q-M242 haplogroup from the middle period and a C-M130 haplogroup from the later (2nd century AD).

The Q-M242 is one of the haplogroups of the indigenous peoples of the Americas (though this is not this subclade), and minor across Eurasia. Only two groups in the Old World are high majority Q-M242 groups. These are the Samoyedic Selkups (however, only 1 study made) and the Yeniseian Kets. They live in western and middle Siberia, together with the Ugric Khantys. The Kets originally lived in southern Siberia. The Uralic-Samoyedics were an old people of the Sayan-Baikal region, migrated northwest around the 1st/2nd century AD. According to the Uralistic literature the swift migration and disjunction of the Samoyedic peoples might be connected to a heavy warring in the region, probably due to the dissolution of the Xiongnu Empire in the period of the Battle of Ikh Bayan. The mutation defining haplogroup C-M130, is restrained in North and Eastern-Asia and in America (Bergen et al. 1998. 1999.) (Lell et al. 2002.). The highest frequencies of Haplogroup C3 are found among the populations of Mongolia and the Russian Far East, where it is generally the modal haplogroup. Haplogroup C3 is the only variety of Haplogroup C-M130 to be found among Native Americans, among whom it reaches its highest frequency in Na-Dené populations.

A research project of 2007 (Yi Chuan, 2007) was aimed at the genetic affinities between Tuoba Xianbei and Xiongnu populations. Some mtDNA sequences from Tuoba Xianbei remains in Dong Han period were analyzed. Comparing with the published data of Xiongnu, the results indicated that the Tuoba Xianbei presented some close affinities to the Xiongnu, which implied that there was a gene flow between Tuoba Xianbei and Xiongnu during the two southward migrations.

A recent examination in a Xiongnu cemetery in Duurlig Nars revealed a Western Eurasian male with maternal U2e1 and paternal R1a1 haplogroups and two other DNAs: a female with mtDNA haplogroup D4 and a male with Y-haplogroup C3 and mtDNA haplogroup D4.

A study of 2010 analysed six human remains of a nomadic group, excavated from Pengyang, Northern China. From the mtDNA, six haplotypes were identified as three haplogroups: C, D4 and M10. The analyses revealed that these individuals were closely associated with the ancient Xiongnu and modern northern Asians. The analysis of Y chromosomes from four male samples that were typed as haplogroup Q-M242 indicated that these people had originated in Siberia.

Xiaohe culture

The Tarim Basin, located on the ancient Silk Road, played a very important role in the history of human migration and cultural communications between the West and the East. However, both the exact period at which the relevant events occurred and the origins of the people in the area remain very obscure, but analyses of both Y chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) derived from human remains excavated from the Xiaohe cemetery, the oldest archeological site with human remains discovered in the Tarim Basin thus far, has been done.

Besides the East Eurasian lineage, two West Eurasian mtDNA haplogroups H and K were found among the Xiaohe people. H lineage is the most common mtDNAhaplogroup in West Eurasia, but haplogroup H with a 16260T was shared by only nine modern people in Genbank, including one Italian, one German, one Hungarian,one Portuguese, one Icelander and four English people.

Mitochondrial DNA analysis showed that the Xiaohe people carried both the East Eurasian haplogroup (C) and the West Eurasian haplogroups (H and K), whereas Y chromosomal DNA analysis revealed only the West Eurasian haplogroup R1a1a in the male individuals.

Haplogroup K, a western Eurasian–specific haplogroup, is mainly distributed in Europe, central Asia, and Iran. However, haplogroup K with 16134T, found in the Xiaohe people, has not been found in modern people to our knowledge.

Given the unique genetic haplotypes and the particular archaeological culture, the time of this admixture could be much earlier than the time at which the Xiaohe people were living at the site. This means that the time of their mingling was at least a 1000 years earlier than previously proposed. The admixture probably occurred elsewhere, before immigration into the Tarim Basin. The Xiaohe people might well have been an admixture at the time of their arrival. Afanasievo and other steppe cultures is identified as related to the Xiaohe people. This is not very surprising as the Afanasievo people were described in the anthropological literature as prominent-nosed Caucasoids of western origin, although individual skulls show Mongoloid influences.

The admixture took place in Siberia, and an already admixed population found its way to Xiaohe by ~4ky BP. Quite often we find in the northern belt from Europe to China populations with typically Western/Eastern Y-haplogroups accompanied by the “opposite” (Eastern/Western) mtDNA. This is due to the patriarchal nature of mobile Eurasian societies (whether nomads or hunters) in which the “clan” maintains its Y-chromosome gene pool but incorporates foreign females.

Thus, the absence of non-R1a1 chromosomes can be explained by the fact that non-R1a1 male individuals were not incorporated into the “western” tribe that made its way across Eurasia from Europe to China, but Eastern Eurasian-mtDNA bearing females were gradually absorbed; such would have been plentiful among the indigenous Mongoloid populations that lived east of the Urals since the Paleolithic. Thus, at the eastern end of this migration, we ended up with an R1a1-pure/East Eurasian mtDNA-heavy population.

Years later, the pendulum of Eurasian migration swung backwards, with some of the Asian R1a1-bearing individuals returning towards Europe (starting with the Scythians) to meet their distant cousins, this time shedding whatever east Eurasian mtDNA gene pool they had acquired, for the regular west Eurasian mtDNA gene pool that would have been reinforced in the return journey.

Turkic speakers and R1a

The present-day inhabitants of Central Asia, from Xinjiang to Turkey and from the Volga to the Hindu Kush, speak in overwhelming majority Turkic languages. This may be surprising as this corresponds to the region where the Indo-Iranian branch of Indo-European speakers expanded, the Bronze-Age Andronovo culture, and the Iron-Age Scythian territory.

So why is it that Indo-European languages only survives in Slavic Russia or in the southern part of Central Asia, in places like Tajikistan, Afghanistan or some parts of Turkmenistan? Why don’t the Uyghurs, Uzbeks, Kazakhs and Kyrgyzs, or the modern Pontic-Caspian steppe people (Crimean Tatars, Nogais, Bashkirs and Chuvashs) speak Indo-European vernaculars? Genetically these people do carry Indo-European R1a, and to a lesser extent also R1b, lineages. The explanation is that Turkic languages replaced the Iranian tongues of Central Asia between the 4th and 11th century CE.

Proto-Turkic originated in Mongolia and southern Siberia with such nomadic tribes as the Xiongnu. It belongs to the Altaic linguistic family, like Mongolian and Manchu (some also include Korean and Japanese, although they share very little vocabulary in common).

It is unknown when Proto-Turkic first emerged, but its spread started with the Hunnic migrations westward through the Eurasian steppe and all the way to Europe, only stopped by the boundaries of the Roman Empire.

The Huns were the descendants of the Xiongnu. Ancient DNA tests have revealed that the Xiongnu were already a hybrid Eurasian people 2,000 years ago, with mixed European and North-East Asian Y-DNA and mtDNA. Modern inhabitants of the Xiongnu homeland have approximately 90% of Mongolian lineages against 10% of European ones.

It appears that Turkic quickly replaced the Scythian and other Iranian dialects all over Central Asia. Other migratory waves brought more Turkic speakers to Eastern and Central Europe, like the Khazars, the Avars, the Bulgars and the Turks. All of them were in fact Central Asian nomads who had adopted Turkic language, but had little if any Mongolian blood. Turkic invasions therefore contributed more to the diffusion of Indo-European lineages (especially R1a1) than East Asian ones.

Turkic languages have not survived in Europe outside the Pontic-Caspian steppe. Bulgarian language, despite being named after a Turkic tribe, is actually a Slavic tongue with a mild Turkic influence. Hungarian, sometimes mistaken for the heir of Hunnic because of its name, is in reality an Uralic language (Magyar). the The dozens of Turkic languages spoken in the world today have a high degree of mutual intelligibility due to their fairly recent common origin and the nomadic nature of its speakers (until recently). Its two main branches Oghuz and Oghur could be seen as two languages about as distant as Spanish and Italian, and languages within each branch like regional dialects of Spanish and Italian.

Posted in Caucasus, Central Asia, Indo Aryans, Indo-Europeans | Leave a Comment »

The IE Homeland – In the Northern part of the Near East

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 7, 2013

The problem of the initial place from which the original Indo-European dialects spread over Eurasia has been studied by several generations of scholars. Few alternative points of view have been proposed: first an area near the North Sea (in the works of some scholars of the border of the 19th and 20th centuries), then the North coast of the Black Sea (an old idea of Schrader revived by Maria Gimbutas and her followers) or an area closer to the more eastern (Volga-Ural) parts of Central Eurasia.

40 years ago we suggested first in a talk at a conference, then in a series of articles and in a resulting book (published in Russian in 1984) that the Northern part of the Near East (an area close to North-East Syria and North Mesopotamia) may be considered as a possible candidate for the Indo-European homeland; similar suggestions were made by C. Renfrew and other scholars in their later works.

Recent research on these topics has brought up additional evidence that seems to prove the Near Eastern hypothesis for the time that had immediately preceded the dispersal of the Indo-European protolanguage.

Indirect evidence on the early presence of Indo-Europeans in the areas close to the Near East can be found in the traces of ancient contacts between linguistic families in this part of Eurasia. Such contacts between Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Kartvelian have been suggested in the work of T. Gamkrelidze and G. Mach’avariani more than 60 years ago.

The following studies have established a number of important loanwords from Proto-Indo-European in Proto-Kartvelian. Particularly interesting discoveries in this field were made by the late G. A. Klimov. He has found many new common elements of the two families in addition to a relatively long list in our joint work.

The main difficulty in interpreting the results of his investigations is connected to the problem of a possible common Nostratic origin both of Proto-Indo-European and of Proto-Kartvelian. If these two linguistic families were originally cognate, then some part of the correspondences found by Klimov and other scholars might be traced back to the early period of Proto-Nostratic (more than 10 000 years ago).

Only those words that were not inherited from this ancient time are important as a proof of the later presence of Proto-Indo-European in the area close to the Proto-Kartvelian (to the southwest of the Transcaucasian area in which the latter spread in the historic time).

In our book, published in 1984, we suggested some common terms shared by these languages, explaining them as possible traces of later Indo-European (probably Indo-Iranian) migrations through the Caucasus. The study of this problem has been enriched through the recent research on Proto-North Caucasian.

S. L. Nikolaev and S. A. Starostin have compiled a large etymological dictionary of this family, furthering the comparative studies started by Prince N. S. Trubetzkoy. Starostin has gathered a large collection of the terms of material culture common to North Caucasian and Indo-European. They include many names of domestic animals and animal body parts or products of cattle-breeding, plants and implements. In a special work on this subject Starostin suggested that all these terms were borrowed in the area of the Near East to the South of Transcaucasia in the early 5th mil. BC.

Although we still use the traditional term “North Caucasian”, it is not geographically correct even if applied to such living languages as Abkhaz and to the extinct Ubykh (spoken originally at the southern part of the South-West Transcaucasian area). Since both Hurro-Urartian and Hattic (two ancient dialects of this linguistic group) were spoken in the regions to the South of Transcaucasia already in the 3rd mil. BC, it becomes possible to pinpoint the homeland of the whole family (which at that time was not North Caucasian) in the same area close to the supposed Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Kartvelian homelands.

The fricative š in the Hurrian name for ‘horse’, eššə, and an affricate *č (> š) in the forms of the other North Caucasian dialects correspond to the Proto-Indo-European palatal stop *k’ that has become an affricate *č and then a fricative š /s in the Indo-European languages of the satəm type. Similar changes are present in the other borrowings discussed by Starostin. He supposed that the common words discovered by him were mostly borrowed from Proto-North Caucasian (or from a dialect of it) into Proto-Indo-European.

The opposite direction of borrowing from an Indo-European dialect of a satəm type can be suggested due to the typologically valid laws of sound change. But no matter which direction of the borrowing should be chosen, the existence of these loanwords is beyond doubt. They clearly point to the location of the Indo-European homeland.

In our monograph we suggested that several words shared by Semitic and Indo-European (such as the ancient term for ‘wine’, Hittite wiyana­) can be considered Proto-Indo-European borrowings (as distinct from the rest of the most ancient old Semitic or Afro-Asiatic loanwords in Proto-Indo-European).

S. A. Starostin suggested that a large number of (mainly West) Semitic words that did not have correspondences in the other Afro-Asiatic languages had been borrowed from Proto-Indo-European. He came to the conclusion: “the original Indo-European (Indo-Hittite) homeland was somewhere to the North of the Fertile Crescent from where the descendents of Indo-Hittites could have moved in two directions (starting with early 5th millennium BC) to the South where they came into the contact with the Semites, and indeed could have driven a part of them further to the South, and to the North (North-East) whence they ultimately spread both to Europe and to India”.

The interference of the early dialects of Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Semitic and Proto-Kartvelian to which the early Proto-“North” Caucasian can be added might have led to the formation of a sort of linguistic zone (Sprachbund) that not only shared many words pertaining to a new farming economy, but also had several phonological and grammatical features in common.

After we had published our hypothesis on the Near Eastern homeland of the Indo-Europeans, several scholars asked us why, at a time when writing had already been invented, there were no written documents testifying to the presence of Indo-Europeans in these areas. It seems that now there are several possible answers to the question.

The great specialist on Iranian, W. B. Henning, who had worked for many years on the problem of the name of Tocharians, suggested in a posthumous article that their early ancestors were Gutians who had invaded Mesopotamia in ca. 2350—2200 BC. In an article written after we had already published our book, we have developed Henning’s idea (based mainly on the etymological links of Near Eastern Guti and Tukri and Central Asian names of corresponding Indo-European Kuchean and Tocharian ethnic groups), also paying attention to the possible explanation of some names of Gutian kings preserved in Sumerian texts.

Recently it has been suggested that an unknown “Pre-Sumerian” language, reconstructed on the basis of the phonetic values of many cuneiform signs, was an archaic “Euphratic” Indo-European dialect spoken in Southern Mesopotamia in the second half of the 4th mil. BC. According to this hypothesis, the phonetic values of approximately one hundred of the early signs that are different from the Sumerian ones go back to the Euphratic words.

A large number of Anatolian personal names (of a very archaic Indo-European type) have been found in the Old Assyrian texts from trade colonies in Asia Minor. The continuation of the excavations in Kanish that have yielded more than 23000 cuneiform tablets has made it possible to discover in them many Anatolian Indo-European names and loanwords.

The Old Assyrian documents in Kanish are encountered in the archaeological levels II and Ib dated by the first centuries of the 2nd mil. BC (on the base of the recently found lists of eponyms); they precede Old Hittite texts for ca. 250 years. At that time the two Anatolian groups of dialects — a Northern (Hittite) one, displaying centum dialect features, and a Southern (Luwian), partly similar to the satəm languages — were already quite distinct.

From the very beginning, the idea of the Indo-European homeland in the Near East was connected to the discovery of a possible link between the appearance of speakers of Indo-European dialects in Europe and the spread of the new farming technology. This trend of thought has been developed in the archeological works of Sir Colin Renfrew. Subsequent attempts to support this hypothetical connection were made by comparing genetic data on the time and space characteristics of the European population.

The farming terms common to Indo-European and other linguistic families discussed above show that the innovations were not restricted to one group of languages and were transmitted and exchanged between different ethnic formations.

The area of the interference of these families coincides with the kernel of the rising farming in the Near East. That process of global (multilingual and multicultural) change had led to the diffusion of the results of the Neolithic revolution. The main directions of this diffusion coincide with the trends of the Indo-European migrations, but the new objects might have been introduced earlier than some of their Indo-European names and the latter might precede the coming of those who coined the terms.

The spread of Near Eastern innovations in Europe roughly coincides with the split of Proto-Indo-European (possibly in the early 5th mil. BC), but some elements of the new technology and economy might have penetrated it much earlier (partly through the farmers close to the Tyrrhenian population as represented 5300 years ago by the genome of the Tyrolean Iceman).

The diffusion took several thousand years and was probably already all over Europe ca. 3550 BC. At that time Indo-European migrations were only beginning. The speakers of the dialects of Proto-Indo-European living near the kernel of the technological revolution in Anatolia should have acquired the main results of this development.

The growth of farming economy in Europe became more active with the split of the proto-language and the dispersal of the Indo-Europeans. The astonishing scope and speed of that process were afforded by the use of the domesticated horse and wheeled vehicles. The Indo-Europeans did not have to be pioneers in this field, but they were probably skillful in spreading other peoples’ innovations.

Recent work on the Botai culture of North Kazakhstan makes it possible to suppose a contribution of the Proto-Yeniseian people to the development of horse domestication. For approximately fifteen hundred years serious preparatory work on horse domestication and the use of wheeled vehicles had been going on in different parts of Eurasia. Then, almost suddenly, the results are witnessed.

On the border of the 3rd and 2nd mil. BC both of these important innovations appear together, usually in a context implying the presence of Indo-Europeans: traces of Near East-type chariots and the ritual use of the horse are clear in (probably Ancient Iranian) Margiana (Gonur), we see chariots on the Anatolian type of seals in Kanish; Hurrian sculptures and other symbols of horse abound in Urkeš as if foretelling the future Mespotamian-Aryan and Hurrian excellent training of horses in Mitanni (as later in Urartu).

One of the first examples of the sacrificial horses used together with chariots in an archaic ritual was found in Sintashta; the following studies of the cities of the Transuralian Sintashta-Arkaim area made it clear that some Indo-European (and maybe Iranian as well) elements were at least partly present there.

The movement of Indo-Europeans to the north of the Caspian Sea in the northeast direction documented in the Sintashta-Arkaim complex led them much farther to the Altai-Sayany area where recent genetic investigations found traces of a Caucasoid element.

Another Indo-European group moving in a parallel eastward direction using the South Silk Road caused the presence of a similar anthropological group among the population of Central Asia. It may be supposed that the Caucasoid anthropological type of the Iranian and/or Tocharian population of Eastern Turkestan, attested in the mummies recently found there as well as in the contemporary images of the native people, should be considered as the result of these migrations from the West to the East.

The problem whether the boats played a role comparable to that of chariots at the time of early migrations is still to be decided by maritime archaeology. It seems that before the efficient use of chariots and horses, long-term mass movements were hardly possible.

The first changes in the geographical position of separate dialects, e.g. when the Anatolians separated the Greeks from the rest of the East Indo-European group (that included the Armenians and Indo-Iranians), were caused by rather small-scale migrations close to the original homeland in the Near East.

Posted in Indo-Europeans, The Fertile Crescent | Leave a Comment »

Indo-European Homeland and the Indo-Europeans

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 3, 2013

Indo-European Homeland

Modern linguists have placed the Proto-Indo-European homeland in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe, a distinct geographic and archeological region extending from the Danube estuary to the Ural mountains to the east and North Caucasus to the south.

The Neolithic, Eneolithic and early Bronze Age cultures in Pontic-Caspian steppe has been called the Kurgan culture (7000-2200 BCE) by Marija Gimbutas, due to the lasting practice of burying the deads under mounds (“kurgan”) among the succession of cultures in that region. It is now known that kurgan-type burials only date from the 4th millenium BCE and almost certainly originated south of the Caucasus.

Horses were first domesticated around 4600 BCE in the Caspian Steppe, perhaps somewhere around the Don or the lower Volga, and soon became a defining element of steppe culture. Nevertheless it is unlikely that R1b was already present in the eastern steppes at the time, so the domestication of the horse should be attributed to the indigenous R1a people.

Haplogroup R-M17, sometimes referred to as R-M198, is particularly common in a large region extending from South Asia and Southern Siberia to Central Europe and Scandinavia. It is the most common subclade within the family of Y DNA lineages referred to as R1a or R-M420, which share in common the M420 SNP mutation, and before the discovery of M420, R-M17 was itself referred to as R1a.

The decade-long debate as to which Eurasian region possessed the most diverse, hence oldest, STR values within R-M17, has been effectively put to an end with the discovery of R-M17 sub-clades. SNPs offer a clearer and more robust resolution than STRs. They shows that all their tested Indian R-M17 samples belong to the Z-93 sub-clade, which is a derivative, “daughter” branch of R-M17.

Exactly when and where R-M17 arose requires further elucidation. The major limitations precluding an equivocal conclusion include the need for: (i) greater population sampling (ii) more ancient DNA data, and (iii) more robust and consistent methodology in estimating haplogroup ages and their phylogeographic relationships. The observed data currently suggests that haplogroup R1a likely differentiated in the region between Eastern Europe and South Asia.

In contrast, Eastern European populations belong to different daughter branches of R-M17, namely Z- 280 and M-458. The former is widely distributed over south-eastern, central-eastern and eastern Europe, and as far as Central Asia. Indeed, Central Asia is an overlap zone for the R1a1-Z280 and R1a1-Z93″, being found in Mongol and Uzbek populations. On the other hand, M-458 is more geographically restricted to central-eastern Europe.

Furthermore, the undifferentiated, parental M-198 existed in the European populations, but was not found in the Indian groups. This pattern implies that an early differentiation zone of R1a1-M198 conceivably occurred somewhere within the Eurasian Steppes or the Middle East and Caucasus region as they lie between South Asia and Eastern Europe, from where South Asian Z-93 and European Z-283 sub-clades differentiated and spread in opposite directions.

Nearly all samples from Bronze and Iron Age graves in the Krasnoyarsk area in south Siberia belonged to R-M17 and appeared to represent an eastward migration from Europe. In central Europe, Corded Ware period human remains at Eulau from which Y-DNA was extracted appear to be R-M17(xM458) (which they found most similar to the modern German R-M17* haplotype.

Haplogroup R1b STR variance in Europe forms a cline from east to west, which is more consistent with an entry into Europe from Western Asia with the spread of farming. The proposal of a southeastern origin of R1b were supported by three detailed studies based on large datasets published in 2010. These detected that the earliest subclades of R1b are found in western Asia and the most recent in western Europe.

While age estimates in these articles are all more recent than the Last Glacial Maximum, all mention the Neolithic, when farming was introduced to Europe from the Middle East as a possible candidate period. The exact dating of the migration or migrations responsible for this distribution is unclear, not ruling out migrations as early as the Mesolithic or as late as Hallstatt, but more probably Late Neolithic.

Ancient DNA of human remains from the Late Neolithic Bell Beaker site of Kromsdorf, Germany, belong to the Y haplogroup R1b. However, analysis of ancient Y DNA from the remains of populations derived from early Neolithic settlements such as the Mediterranean Cardium and Central and North European LBK settlements have found an absence of males belonging to haplogroup R1b.

The Paleolithic origins of R1b are not entirely clear to this day. Haplogroup R1* and R2* might have originated in southern Central Asia (between the Caspian depression and the Hindu Kush). A branch of R1 would have developed into R1b, then R1b1 and R1b1a in the northern part of the Middle East around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum (circa 20,000 years ago), while R1a migrated north to Siberia. Some of the oldest forms of R1b are found around the Caucasus, in Iran and in southern Central Asia, a vast region where could have roamed the nomadic R1b hunter-gatherers during the Ice Age.

R1b1a presumptively moved to northern Anatolia and across the Caucasus during the Neolithic, where it split into R1b1a1 (M73) and R1b1a2 (M269). The Near Eastern leftovers evolved into R1b1c (V88), now found at low frequencies among the Lebanese, the Druze, and the Jews. The Phoenicians (who came from modern day Lebanon) spread this R1b1c to their colonies, notably Sardinia and the Maghreb.

R1b1a2 (the most common form in Europe) and R1b1a1 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, from the Atlantic coast of Europe to the Indian subcontinent, including almost all Europe (except Finland and Bosnia-Herzegovina), Anatolia, Armenia, European Russia, southern Siberia, many pockets around Central Asia (notably Xinjiang, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan), without forgetting Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal. The history of R1b and R1a are intricately connected to each others.

The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from 3400 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end, but it may have disappeared as early as 2600 or 2700 BC. The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; thence it spread to Georgia by 3000 BC (but never reaching Colchis), and during the next millennium it proceeded westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van, and finally down to the borders of present day Syria. Altogether, the early Trans-Caucasian culture, at its greatest spread, enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km.

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 (see section below).

Late in the history of this culture, its people built kurgans of greatly varying sizes, containing greatly varying amounts and types of metalwork, with larger, wealthier kurgans surrounded by smaller kurgans containing less wealth. They are also remarkable for the production of wheeled vehicles (wagons and carts), which were sometimes included in burial kurgans. This trend suggests the eventual emergence of a marked social hierarchy.

The culture is closely linked to the approximately contemporaneous Maykop culture of Transcaucasia. The Kura-Araxes culture was contiguous, and had mutual influences, with the Maikop culture in the Northwest Caucasus. Similarities between some features and objects of the Maikop and Kura-Araxes cultures, such as large square graves, the bold-relief curvilinear ornamentation of pottery, ochre-coloured ceramics, earthen hearth props with horn projections, flint arrowheads, stone axes and copper pitchforks are indicative of a cultural unity that pervaded the Caucasus in the Neolithic Age.

Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. Some authors subsume Hurrians and Urartians under Northeast Caucasian as well as part of the Alarodian theory. The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are also 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, this culture (and perhaps that of the Maykop culture) is identified with the speakers of the Anatolian languages.

The Anatolian branch is generally considered the earliest to split from the Proto-Indo-European language, from a stage referred to either as Indo-Hittite or “Middle PIE”; typically a date in the mid-4th millennium BC is assumed. Statistical research by Quentin Atkinson and others using Bayesian inference and glottochronological markers favors an Indo-European origin in Anatolia, though the method’s validity and accuracy are subject to debate.

The oldest Indo-European language is Anatolian. Luwian (or, to English speakers, Luvian) may well have been the language of Homer’s Troy, destroyed ca. 1250 BC. Hittite, the oldest and most richly attested of these languages, was spoken in Central Anatolia by historical Hittite kings (ca. 1650-1180 BC) and, before that, probably as early as 2000 BC at Kanesh (Kultepe).

The Armenian language, the Indo-European language spoken by the Armenians, shows a large percentage of loans from Iranian languages, something that initially led linguists to erroneously classify Armenian as an Iranian language. The distinctness of Armenian was only recognized when Hübschmann (1875) used the comparative method to distinguish two layers of Iranian loans from the older Armenian vocabulary.

W. M. Austin (1942) concluded that there was an early contact between Armenian and Anatolian languages, based on what he considered common archaisms, such as the lack of a feminine and the absence of inherited long vowels. However, unlike shared innovations (or synapomorphies), the common retention of archaisms (or symplesiomorphy) is not necessarily considered evidence of a period of common isolated development.

Soviet linguist Igor Diakonov (1985) noted the presence in Old Armenian of what he calls a Caucasian substratum, identified by earlier scholars, consisting of loans from the Kartvelian and Northeast Caucasian languages such as Udi. Noting that the Hurro-Urartian peoples inhabited the Armenian homeland in the second millennium b.c., Diakonov identifies in Armenian a Hurro-Urartian substratum of social, cultural, and animal and plant terms such as ałaxin “slave girl” (< Hurr. al(l)a(e)ḫḫenne), cov “sea” (< Urart. ṣûǝ “(inland) sea”), ułt “camel” (< Hurr. uḷtu), and xnjor “apple(tree)” (< Hurr. ḫinzuri).

Some of the terms he gives admittedly have an Akkadian or Sumerian provenance, but he suggests they were borrowed through Hurrian or Urartian. Given that these borrowings do not undergo sound changes characteristic of the development of Armenian from Proto-Indo-European, he dates their borrowing to a time before the written record but after the Proto-Armenian language stage.

Graeco-Aryan (or 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 3rd millennium BC. The Phrygian language would also be included. 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-Armeno-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Indo-European Homeland to be located in the Armenian Highland. 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-Armeno-Aryan 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).

In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, Greco-Aryan is also known as “Late PIE” or “Late Indo-European” (LIE), suggesting that Greco-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. By 2500 BC, Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had separated, moving westward and eastward from the Pontic Steppe, respectively.

If Graeco-Aryan is a valid group, Grassmann’s law may have a common origin in Greek and Sanskrit. (Note, however, that Grassmann’s law in Greek postdates certain sound changes that happened only in Greek and not Sanskrit, which suggests that it cannot strictly be an inheritance from a common Graeco-Aryan stage. Rather, it is more likely an areal feature that spread across a then-contiguous Graeco-Aryan-speaking area after early Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had developed into separate dialects but before they ceased being in geographic contact.)

The Yamna culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans (PIE) in the Kurgan hypothesis of Marija Gimbutas. It is the strongest candidate for the Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language, along with the preceding Sredny Stog culture, now that archaeological evidence of the culture and its migrations has been closely tied to the evidence from linguistics.

Pavel Dolukhanov argues that the emergence of the Pit-Grave culture represents a social development of various local Bronze Age cultures, representing “an expression of social stratification and the emergence of chiefdom-type nomadic social structures”, which in turn intensified inter-group contacts between essentially heterogeneous social groups.

The linguistic composition of the Catacomb culture is unclear. Within the context of the Kurgan hypothesis expounded by Marija Gimbutas, an Indo-European component is hard to deny, particularly in the later stages. Placing the ancestors of the Greek, Armenian and 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 Greek-Armenian-“Aryan”(=Indo-Iranian) ancestors (Graeco-Aryan, Graeco-Armenian), and the Catacomb culture that of the “unified” (to ca. 2500 BC) and then “differentiated” Indo-Iranians.

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.

Little is known about the arrival of Proto-Greek speakers. The Mycenaean culture commenced circa 1650 BCE and is clearly an imported steppe culture. The close relationship between Mycenaean and Proto-Indo-Iranian languages suggest that they split fairly late, some time between 2500 and 2000 BCE.

Mycenaeans rose in prominence ca. 1600 BC and stayed in control of Greece until about 1100 BC. Evidence shows that they spoke an early form of Greek. They took control of Crete ca. 1450 BC. An abundance of Mycenaean pottery is found in Italy and Sicily, suggesting that they were in contact and traded with the Mycenaeans. Due to the influence of Minoan Crete the further south the site, the more the pottery is influenced by Minoan styles.

Mycenaean Greek, named after Mycenae, one of the major centres of Mycenaean Greece, is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language, spoken on the Greek mainland, Crete and Cyprus in the 16th to 12th centuries BC, before the hypothesised Dorian invasion which was often cited as the terminus post quem for the coming of the Greek language to Greece.

The language is preserved in inscriptions in Linear B, a script first attested on Crete before the 14th century BC. Most instances of these inscriptions are on clay tablets found in Knossos in central Crete, and in Pylos in the southwest of the Peloponnese. Other tablets have been found at Mycenae itself, Tiryns and Thebes and at Chania in Western Crete.

The tablets remained long undeciphered, and every conceivable language was suggested for them, until Michael Ventris deciphered the script in 1952 and by a preponderance of evidence proved the language to be an early form of Greek.

Compared with later Ancient Greek, Mycenaean preserves a number of archaic features of its Indo-European heritage. It also preserves PIE forms. This means that determining the actual pronunciation of written words is often difficult, and makes use of a combination of the PIE etymology of a word, its form in later Greek, and inconsistent spelling. Even so, for some words the pronunciation is not known exactly, esp. when the meaning is unclear from context or the word has no descendants in the later dialects.

The Dorian invasion is a concept devised by historians of Ancient Greece to explain the replacement of pre-classical dialects and traditions in southern Greece by the ones that prevailed in Classical Greece. The latter were named Dorian by the ancient Greek writers after the historical population that owned them, the Dorians.

Despite nearly 200 years of investigation, the historicity of the Dorian invasion has never been established. The meaning of the concept has become to some degree amorphous. The work done on it has mainly served to rule out various speculations. The possibility of a real Dorian invasion remains open.

Armenian Modal Haplotype, also known in the literature as Haplotype 35 (ht35), as opposed to the Western European ‘haplotype 15’, which comprises the Proto-Italo-Celtic P312/S116 and the Proto-Germanic U106/S21. It is associated with R1b1b2 characterized by DYS393=12.

This branch of R1b was the first that emerged from the Pontic Steppe. Greek and Anatolian branches of Indo-European people, including the Hittites, Lydians, Phrygians and Armenians, is included in the group. The Trojans also probably belonged to this group.

It includes R1b-L23/S141, its subclade L51/M412/S167, and its two subclades L11/S127/L151 (in central an northern Europe) and Z2103 (in Anatolia and Assyria). Altogether they are known as ‘haplotype 35’ (ht35)

Haplogroup R1b and R1a

It is not yet entirely clear when R1b crossed over from eastern Anatolia to the Pontic-Caspian steppe. This could have happened during or just after the Neolithic, or both. The genetic diversity of R1b being greater around the Caucasus it is hard to deny that R1b evolved there before entering the steppe world. It is possible that a first R1b migration from Anatolia in the 5th or even 6th millennium BCE introduced sheep into the steppe, an animal whose wool would play an important role in Celtic and Germanic (R1b branches of the Indo-Europeans) clothing traditions up to this day.

Another migration across the Caucasus happened shortly before 3700 BCE, when the Maykop culture, the world’s first Bronze Age society, appeared apparently out of nowhere in the north-west Caucasus. The origins of Maykop are still uncertain, but archeologists have linked it to contemporary Chalcolithic cultures in Assyria and western Iran.

Archeology also shows a clear diffusion of bronze working and kurgan-type burials from the Maykop culture to the Pontic Steppe, where the Yamna culture developed soon afterwards (from 3500 BCE). Kurgan (a.k.a. tumulus) burials would become a dominant feature of ancient Indo-European societies and were widely used by the Celts, Romans, Germanic tribes, and Scythians, among others.

Middle Eastern R1b people had been living and blending to some extent with the local R1a foragers and herders at the steppes for over a millennium, perhaps even two or three. The close cultural contact and interactions between R1a and R1b people all over the Pontic-Caspian Steppe resulted in the creation of a common vernacular, a new lingua franca, which linguists have called Proto-Indo-European (PIE).

Linguistic similarities exist between PIE and Caucasian and Hurrian languages in the Middle East on the one hand, and Uralic languages in the Volga-Ural region on the other hand, which makes the Pontic Steppe the perfect intermediary region.

During the Yamna period cattle and sheep herders adopted wagons to transport their food and tents, which allowed them to move deeper into the steppe, giving rise to a new mobile lifestyle that would eventually lead to the great Indo-European migrations. This type of mass migration in which whole tribes moved with the help of wagons was still common in Gaul at the time of Julius Caesar, and among Germanic peoples in the late Antiquity.

The Yamna horizon was not a single, unified culture. In the south, along the northern shores of the Black Sea coast until the the north-west Caucasus, was a region of open steppe, expanding eastward until the Caspian Sea, Siberia and Mongolia (the Eurasian Steppe).

The western section, between the Don and Dniester Rivers (and later the Danube), was the one most densely settled by R1b people, with only a minority of R1a people (5-10%). The eastern section, in the Volga basin until the Ural mountains, was inhabited by R1a people with a substantial minority of R1b people (whose descendants can be found among the Bashkirs, Turkmans, Uyghurs and Hazaras, among others).

The northern part of the Yamna horizon was forest-steppe occupied by R1a people, also joined by a small minority of R1b (judging from modern Russians and Belarussians, the frequency of R1b was from seven to nine times less lower than R1a).

The western branch would migrate to the Balkans and Greece, then to central and Western Europe, and back to their ancestral Anatolia in successive waves (Hittites, Phrygians, Armenians, etc.). The eastern branch would migrate to Central Asia, Xinjiang, Siberia, and South Asia (Iran, Pakistan, India). The northern branch would evolve into the Corded Ware culture and disperse around the Baltic, Poland, Germany and Scandinavia.

Recent studies suggest that haplogroup R1b1a2-M269, which is the most common lineage in the European populations, was spread with first farmers via Anatolia to Europe during the Neolithic transition. These studies, however, did not include indigenous populations from the Armenian plateau, though it has played a key role in the ancient human migrations since early Paleolithic.

Y-chromosomal data collected in three Armenian geographic groups from eastern and western parts of the Armenian plateau, and comparative datasets of various European populations used to assess the genetic contribution of the region, shows that the frequency of haplogroup R1b1a2-M269 in eastern Armenian populations is higher compared with eastern European populations (including Anatolia) and lower than in Western Europe.

The rate of the variance and age of the R1b1a2-M269 is the highest in western Armenian population among all datasets considered, and that this haplogroup has been spread of north- and westward. In addition, there is a strong correlation between the genetic and geographic distances of the populations studied thus reflecting the directions of pre-Neolithic and Neolithic migrations from the Near East.

The origins of R1b are not entirely clear to this day. Some of the oldest forms of R1b are found in the Near East and around the Caucasus. Haplogroup R1* and R2* might have originated in southern Central Asia (between the Caspian and the Hindu Kush). A branch of R1 would have developed into R1b* then R1b1* in the northern part of the Middle East during the Ice Age.

Whereas R1b1 is found is such places as the Levant or Cameroon, R1b1b mostly likely originated in north-eastern Anatolia. It presumptively moved to northern Anatolia and across the Caucasus during the early Neolithic, where it became R1b1b.

The Near Eastern leftovers evolved into R1b1a (M18), now found at low frequencies among the Lebanese and the Druze.The Phoenicians (who came from modern day Lebanon) spread this R1b1a and R1b1* to their colonies, notably Sardinia and the Maghreb.

The subclades R1b1b1 and R1b1b2 (the most common form in Europe) are closely associated with the spread of Indo-European languages, as attested by its presence in all regions of the world where Indo-European languages were spoken in ancient times, from the Atlantic coast of Europe to the Indian subcontinent, including almost all Europe (except Finland and Bosnia-Herzegovina), Anatolia, Armenia, Europan Russia, southern Siberia, many pockets around Central Asia (notably Xinjiang, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan), without forgetting Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal.

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

These cultures from the late Neolithic and into the Iron Age, with specific traits such as Kurgan burials and horse domestication, have been associated with the dispersal of Indo-European languages across Eurasia.

The dramatic expansion of the Proto-Indo-Europeans was possible thanks to an early adoption of bronze weapons and the domestication of the horse in the Eurasian steppes (circa 4000-3500 BCE). Archaeologists recognize a complex of inter-related and relatively mobile cultures living on the Eurasian steppe, part of which protrudes into Europe as far west as Ukraine.

The history of R1b and R1a are intricately connected to each others. While the southern Steppe culture is believed to have carried predominantly R1b (M269 and M73) lineages, the northern forest-steppe culture would have been essentially R1a-dominant.

Haplogroup R1a probably branched off from R1* around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum (19,000 to 26,000 years before present). Little is know for certain about its place of origin. Some think it might have originated in the Balkans or around Pakistan and Northwest India, due to the greater genetic diversity found in these regions.

The diversity can be explained by other factors though. The Balkans have been subject to 5000 years of migrations from the Eurasian Steppes, each bringing new varieties of R1a.

South Asia has had a much bigger population than any other parts of the world (occasionally equalled by China) for at least 10,000 years, and larger population bring about more genetic diversity. The most likely place of origin of R1a is Central Asia or southern Russia/Siberia.

The first forays of steppe people into the Balkans happened between 4200 BCE and 3900 BCE, when horse riders crossed the Dniester and Danube and apparently destroyed the towns of the Gumelnita, Varna and Karanovo VI cultures in Eastern Romania and Bulgaria.

A climatic change resulting in colder winters during this exact period probably pushed steppe herders to seek milder pastures for their stock, while failed crops would have led to famine and internal disturbance within the Danubian and Balkanic communities.

The ensuing Cernavoda culture (Copper Age, 4000-3200 BCE), Coțofeni culture (Copper to Bronze Age, 3500-2500 BCE) and Ezero culture (Bronze Age, 3300-2700 BCE), in modern Romania, seems to have had a mixed population of steppe immigrants and people from the old tell settlements. These steppe immigrants were likely a mixture of both R1a and R1b lineages, with a probably higher percentage of R1a than later Yamna-era invasions.

The steppe invaders would have forced many Danubian farmers to migrate to the Cucuteni-Trypillian towns in the eastern Carpathians, causing a population boom and a north-eastward expansion until the Dnieper valley, bringing Y-haplogroups G2a, I2a1 (probably the dominant lineage of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture), E1b1b, J and T in what is now central Ukraine.

This precocious Indo-European advance westward was fairly limited, due to the absence of Bronze weapons and organised army at the time, and was indeed only possible thanks to climatic catastrophes which reduced the defences of the towns of Old Europe. The Carphatian, Danubian, and Balkanic cultures were too densely populated and technologically advanced to allow for a massive migration.

In comparison the forest-steppe R1a people successfully penetrated into the heart of Europe with little hindrance, due to the absence of developed agrarian societies around Poland and the Baltic. The Corded Ware (Battle Axe) culture (3200-1800 BCE) was a natural western expansion of the Yamna culture, reaching as far west as Germany and as far north as Sweden and Norway.

DNA analysis from the Corded Ware culture site of Eulau confirms the presence of R1a (but not R1b) in central Germany around 2600 BCE. The Corded Ware tribes expanded from the northern fringe of the Yamna culture where R1a lineages were prevalent over R1b ones.

The expansion of R1b people into Old Europe was slower, but proved inevitable. In 2800 BCE, by the time the Corded Ware had already reached Scandinavia, the Bronze Age R1b cultures had barely moved into the Pannonian steppe.

They established major settlements in the Great Hungarian Plain, the most similar habitat to their ancestral Pontic Steppes. Around 2500 BCE, the western branch of Indo-European R1b were poised for their next major expansion into modern Germany and Western Europe.

By that time, the R1b immigrants had blended to a great extent with the indigenous Mesolithic and Neolithic populations of the Danubian basin, where they had now lived for 1,700 years.

The strongly partriarchal Indo-European elite remained almost exclusively R1b on the paternal side, but absorbed a high proportion of non-Indo-European maternal lineages. Hybridised, the new Proto-Indo-European R1b people would have lost most of their remaining Proto-Europoid or Mongolid features inherited from their Caspian origins (which were still clearly visible in numerous individuals from the Yamna period). Their light hair, eye and skin pigmentation, once interbred with the darker inhabitants of Old Europe, became more like that of modern Southern Europeans.

The Indo-Europeans’s bronze weapons and horses would have given them a tremendous advantage over the autochthonous inhabitants of Europe, namely the native haplogroup I (descendant of Cro-Magnon), and the early Neolithic herders and farmers (G2a, J, E1b1b and T). This allowed R1a and R1b to replace most of the native male lineages, although female lineages seem to have been less affected.

A comparison with the Indo-Iranian invasion of South Asia shows that 40% of the male linages of northern India are R1a, but less than 10% of the female lineages could be of Indo-European origin. The impact of the Indo-Europeans was more severe in Europe because European society 4,000 years ago was less developed in terms of agriculture, technology (no bronze weapons) and population density than that of the Indus Valley civilization. This is particularly true of the native Western European cultures where farming arrived much later than in the Balkans or Central Europe.

Greece, the Balkans and the Carpathians were the most advanced of European societies at the time and were the least affected in terms of haplogroup replacement. Native European Y-DNA haplogroups (I1, I2) also survived better in regions that were more difficult to reach or less hospitable, like Scandinavia, southern Switzerland, Sardinia or the Dinaric Alps.

The R1a people of the Corded Ware culture would come across far less populous societies in Northern Europe, mostly descended from the lighter Mesolithic population (haplogroup I1 and I2), and therefore retain more of their original pigmentation (although facial traits evolved considerably in Scandinavia, where the I1 inhabitants were strongly dolicocephalic and long-faced, as opposed to the brachycephalic and broad-faced steppe people).

The forest-steppe origin of this culture is obvious from the introduction of corded pottery and the abundant use of polished battle axes, the two most prominent features of the Corded Ware culture.

The migration of the R1b people to central and Western Europe left a vacuum for R1a people in the southern steppe around the time of the Catacomb culture (2800-2200 BCE). The first expansion of the forest-steppe people occured with the Corded Ware Culture.

This is also probably when the satemisation process of the Indo-European languages began since the Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian language groups belong to the same Satem isogloss and both appear to have evolved from the the Catacomb culture.

Ancient DNA testing has confirmed the presence of haplogroup R1a1a in samples from the Corded Ware culture in Germany (2600 BCE), from Tocharian mummies (2000 BCE) in Northwest China, from Kurgan burials (circa 1600 BCE) from the Andronovo culture in southern Russia and southern Siberia, as well as from a variety of Iron-age sites from Russia, Siberia, Mongolia and Central Asia.

The first major expansion of R1a, thought to have been the dominant haplogroup among the northern and eastern Proto-Indo-European language speakers, that evolved into the Indo-Iranian, Thracian, Baltic and Slavic branches, took place with the westward propagation of the Corded Ware culture from the northern forest-steppe in the Yamna homeland. This was the first wave of R1a into Europe, the one that brought the Z283 subclade to Germany and the Netherlands, and Z284 to Scandinavia.

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

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

This is supported by the fact that Germanic people are a R1a-R1b hybrid, that these two haplogroups came via separate routes at different times, and that Proto-Germanic language is closest to Proto-Italo-Celtic, but also shares similarities with Proto-Slavic. Germanic languages probably did not appear before the Nordic Bronze Age (1800-500 BCE).

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

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

The R1b conquest of Europe happened in two phases. For nearly two millennia, starting from circa 4200 BCE, steppe people limited their conquest to the rich Chalcolithic civilisations of the Carpathians and the Balkans. These societies possessed the world’s largest towns, notably the tell settlements of the Cucuteni-Tripolye culture.

Nothing incited the R1b conquerors to move further into Western Europe at such an early stage, because most of the land north and west of the Alps was still sparsely populated woodland. The Neolithic did not reach the British Isles and Scandinavia before circa 4000 BCE. Even northern France and most of the Alpine region had been farming or herding for less than a millennium and were still quite primitive compared to Southeast Europe and the Middle East.

North-west Europe remained a tribal society of hunter-gatherers practising only limited agriculture for centuries after the conquest of the Balkans by the Indo-Europeans. Why would our R1b “conquistadors” leave the comfort of the wealthy and populous Danubian civilisations for the harsh living conditions that lie beyond ? Bronze Age people coveted tin, copper, and gold, of which the Balkans had plenty, but that no one had yet discovered in Western Europe.

R1b-L51 is thought to have arrived in Central Europe (Hungary, Austria, Bohemia) around 2500 BCE, approximately two millennia after the shift to the Neolithic in these regions. Agrarian towns had started to develop. Gold and copper had begun to be mined. The prospects of a conquest were now far more appealing.

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

The Proto-Italo-Celto-Germanic R1b people had settled in what is now Germany by 2300 BCE, where they founded the Unetice culture, probably the first culture in which R1b-L11 lineages played a major role.

It is interesting to note that the Unetice period happen to correspond to the end of the Maykop (2500 BCE) and Kemi Oba (2200 BCE) cultures on the northern shores of the Black Sea, and their replacement by cultures descended from the northern steppes. It can therefore be envisaged that the (mostly) R1b population from the northern half of the Black Sea migrated westward due to pressure from other Indo-European people (R1a) from the north, for example that of the burgeoning Proto-Indo-Iranian branch, linked to the contemporary Poltavka and Abashevo cultures.

Judging from the propagation of bronze working to Western Europe, those first Indo-Europeans reached France and the Low Countries by 2200 BCE, Britain by 2100 BCE and Ireland by 2000 BCE, and Iberia by 1800 BCE.

It is doubtful that the Bell Beaker culture (2800-1900 BCE) in Western Europe was already Indo-European because its attributes are in perfect continuity with the native Megalithic cultures. The Beaker phenomenon started during the Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic in Portugal and propagated to the north-east towards Germany.

During the same period Bronze Age steppe cultures spread from Germany in the opposite direction towards Iberia, France and Britain. It is more likely that the beakers and horses found across Western Europe during that period were the result of trade with neighbouring Indo-European cultures, including the first wave of R1b into Central Europe.

It is equally possible that the Beaker people were R1b merchants or explorers who travelled across Western Europe and brought back tales of riches poorly defended by Stone Age people and waiting to be conquered by the more advanced Indo-Europeans, with their bronze weapons and horses.

What is undeniable is that the following Unetice (2300-1600 BCE), Tumulus (1600-1200 BCE), Urnfield (1300-1200 BCE) and Hallstatt (1200-750 BCE) cultures were linked to the diffusion of R1b to Europe, as they abruptly introduce new technologies and a radically different lifestyle.

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

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

In France, R1b-L21 is mainly present in historical Brittany (including Mayenne and Vendée) and in Lower Normandy. This region was repopulated by massive immigration of insular Britons in the 5th century due to pressure from the invading Anglo-Saxons. However, it is possible that L21 was present in Armorica since the Bronze age or the Iron age given that the tribes of the Armorican Confederation of ancient Gaul already had a distinct identity from the other Gauls and had maintained close ties with the British Isles at least since the Atlantic Bronze Age.

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

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

The uniqueness of some of the Germanic vocabulary points at borrowing from native pre-Indo-European languages (Germanic substrate theory). The Celtic language itself is known to have borrowed from Afro-Asiatic languages spoken by Near-Eastern immigrants to Central Europe. The fact that present-day Scandinavia is composed of roughly 40% of I1, 20% of R1a and 40% of R1b reinforces the idea that the Germanic ethnicity and language had acquired a tri-hybrid character by the Iron Age.

The Bronze Age did not appear in Iberia until 1800 BCE, and was mostly confined to the cultures of El Argar and Los Millares in south-east Spain, with sporadic sites showing up in Castile by 1700 BCE and in Extremadura and southern Portugal by 1500 BCE.

These Early Bronze Age sites typically did not have more than some bronze daggers or axes and cannot be considered proper Bronze Age societies, but rather Copper Age societies with occasional bronze artefacts (perhaps imported).

These cultures might have been founded by small groups of R1b adventurers looking for easy conquests in parts of Europe that did not yet have bronze weapons. They would have become a small ruling elite, would have had children with local women, and within a few generations their Indo-European language would have been lost, absorbed by the indigenous languages.

Iberia did not become a fully-fledged Bronze Age society until the 13th century BCE, when the Urnfield culture (1300-1200 BCE) expanded from Germany to Catalonia via southern France, then the ensuing Hallstatt culture (1200-750 BCE) spread throughout most of the peninsula (especially the western half). This period belongs to the wider Atlantic Bronze Age (1300-700 BCE), when Iberia was connected to the rest of Western Europe through a complex trade network.

It is hard to say when exactly DF27 entered Iberia. Considering its overwhelming presence in the peninsula and in south-west France, it is likely that DF27 arrived early, during the 1800 to 1300 BCE period, and perhaps even earlier, if R1b adventurers penetrated the Bell Beaker culture, as they appear to have done all over Western Europe from 2300 BCE to 1800 BCE. The Atlantic Bronze Age could correspond to the period when DF27 radiated more evenly around Iberia and ended up, following Atlantic trade routes, all the way to the British Isles, the Netherlands and western Norway (where M153 and SRY2728 make up about 1% of the population).

Posted in Europa, Haplogroups, Indo-Europeans | Leave a Comment »

Craniological and dental signatures of Out-of-Armenia

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 2, 2013

Undertaken here is a multidimensional craniometric analysis of more than 254 ethnic groups of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages from the territory of Eurasia. On the basis of the received information, cluster analysis was done and has shown the genetic condensations of ethnoses and vectors of relatives or, conversely, distinctions between them.

Craniometric and odontologic investigation of the Bronze Age is interesting and in connection with discussion about the origin of Indo-Europeans and about the place of their ancestral home. Different aspects of the problem of the ancestral home of Indo-Europeans are far from completely resolved and generate lively debate in the pages of scientific publications.

New anthropological data allowed identification of alien Mediterranean characteristics influencing various ethnic Eurasian groups and revealed evidence of a migratory stream from the Armenian highlands and the Caucasus. This research provided new evidence of patterns of ethnic contact and intermixture in Western Eurasia.

One can see a clear link between the Armenian highlands samples and the Western Europe samples (the Arcvakar sample – 17 close phenetic links are revealed). The samples from the Georgia (Samtavro /Late Bronze Age – II period) and Iran (Tepe Gissar III), Uzbekistan (Sapallitepe) are identified as the samples with closest affinities samples from Ukraine (Shirochanski) and Poland, Germany (Corded Ware culture) in particular.

This suggests that some of the European genes do actually stem from this area. So, mediterranean connections from Armenian highlands, Georgia and Central Asia are distinctly fixed in Western Europe and in the Middle-Late Bronze Age.

If true, it is suggested that the dispersal of the Indo-European languages have been accompanied by migration and some gene flow from the Armenian highlands homeland to the various historical seats of the Indo-European languages. The different rates of genetic drift and external gene flow may have contributed to the morphological differentiation and diversification amongst the different Eurasian populations.

Cluster analysis has revealed a craniological series having analogies (on a complex of craniometric, odontologic characters) with representatives of the population of the Armenian highlands, the Caucasus, the Near East and Central Asia. The initial starting area (or one of the intermediate areas), as indicated by the anthropological data, would seem to be the Armenian highlands, and the Caucasus as a whole.

Craniological and dental signatures of Out-of-Armenia

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Archaeological Evidence on the Westward Expansion of Farming Communities from Eastern Anatolia to the Aegean and the Balkans

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 2, 2013

The beginnings of the Neolithic way of life in Europe and the role played by the Anatolian Peninsula in this process are much-debated issues that involve a number of distinct topics. In this debate, it should not be overlooked that distinct from Europe, at least a portion of the Anatolian plateau had been part of the “Neolithic world” for at least 4,000 years before the appearance of the earliest claimed Neolithic culture in Europe. Accordingly, in viewing the interaction between southeastern Europe and the Aegean with the Anatolian Peninsula, the core area of primary Neolithization has to be considered.

Archaeological Evidence on the Westward Expansion of Farming Communities from Eastern Anatolia to the Aegean and the Balkans

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Euphratic – A phonological sketch

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 29, 2013

There is an interesting monograph by Fournet & Bomhard on the Indo-European Elements in Hurrian (pdf). I will leave the linguistic details to the experts, as I doubt that many people are competent in both Proto-Indo-European and Hurrian to assess the authors’ thesis. However, this is the bit that captured my attention:

Hurrian cannot be considered an Indo-European language — this is so obvious that it barely needs to be stated. Traditional Indo-European languages, such as Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Gothic, Old Irish, Old Church Slavic, Tocharian, etc., are clearly related to each other through many common features and shared innovations that are lacking in Hurrian.
However, that is not the end of the argument. In the preceding chapters, we presented evidence that Hurrian and Proto-Indo-European “[bear] a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could have been produced by accident; so strong that no philologer could examine [them] without believing them to have sprung from some common source.” In this chapter, we will discuss our views on what that common source may have been like. In so doing, we will have to delve deeply into prehistory, well beyond the horizon of what is traditionally reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European in the traditional handbooks.
Our discussion now comes to an end. In the course of this book, we have attempted to show, through a careful analysis of the relevant phonological, morphological, and lexical data, that Urarto-Hurrian and Indo-European are, in fact, genetically related at a very deep level, as we indicated at the beginning of this chapter by quoting from the famous Third Anniversary Discourse (1786) of Sir William Jones. We propose that both are descended from a common ancestor, which may be called “Proto-Asianic”, to revive an old, but not forgotten, term.

On the basis of genetic data I have recently proposed an origin of the Indo-Aryans in the Transcaucasus, based on their possession of a genetic component related to that of modern Northeast Caucasian speakers and the putative relationship of the latter with the Hurro-Urartian group. If the Hurrian-Indo-European “Proto-Asianic” hypothesis is true, then it would strengthen that hypothesis as it would place the Proto-Indo-Europeans in the vicinity of the Hurrians.

In the following paper the primary correspondences between Indo-Euro-pean terms and their Sumerian counterparts, for which a loan status has been argued (Whittaker 1998, 2001, 2004, 2004/05, 2005, 2008, 2009), aretabulated for convenience of comparison. It has been postulated that alexical exchange took place in Southern Mesopotamia in the mid-4th mil-lennium BC, persisting down into the early 3rd millennium. Tis contactinvolved an Indo-European group which I have dubbed the Euphrateans, a pre-equestrian society whose pastoral and agricultural economy, alongwith the bulk of their material culture, makes them largely indistinguishable from other Near Eastern groups of this time.

Over the course of the Late Uruk and Early Dynastic periods (late 4thand early 3rd mill. BC), the Euphrateans would have come into contactwith speakers of different languages in the Mesopotamian crossroads, of which the best-documented ones are Sumerian, an isolate, and Akkadian, aSemitic tongue. Although Sumerian and Akkadian have bestowed uponeach other a vast number of elite and mundane loans, there are a signifi-cant number of terms in both languages that have been regarded by severalgenerations of Assyriologists as having come from an unidentified sourceor sources.

A good number of these terms are of an advanced technicalnature or of local reference, suggesting contact within Mesopotamia or itsimmediate environs, and it is these words that are the subject of this paper. As I will attempt to demonstrate, many of the words in question resembleattested and reconstructed vocabulary in Proto-Indo-European and itsearly descendants. Most importantly, the terms are for the most part poly-syllabic (unlike the great majority of Sumerian lexemes) but unsegment-able, whereas the Indo-European terms can frequently be broken downinto two or more morphemes each, which argues for the latter as thesource of the former. In some cases, the Indo-European term (for example,the ancestor of English axe) is itself likely to have been a loan from anunidentified language at some point prior to the separation of Euphratic from the Indo-European continuum.

Of relevance to the question as to when the contact took place is,among other things, a body of structural evidence from the Mesopotamianwriting system. A considerable number of phonetic values in early cunei-form have no known source or motivation, which again suggests inheritance from an independent language, one associated with the early development of the script, and probably with the initial stage known as proto-cuneiform. Since writing at this early date was confined to Egypt, Mesopotamia and Elam to the east, each of which had quite distinct systems of writing, the probable source of these values must be sought within Meso-potamia itself, in a proto-cuneiform script developed for administrativepurposes by the Euphratean elite. This scenario is reminiscent of the one documented for the Japanese script, which is based on a Chinese modeland preserves logographic and syllabic values derived over a long period from several stages of Chinese influence.

Furthermore, even those Assyriologists who deny the possibility of anearly non-Sumerian, non-Semitic element in the population of 4th-millennium Mesopotamia (despite the fact that, in recorded history, Mesopotamia has always been a crossroads for a wide variety of ethnic groups and languages) frequently concede that many of the early placenames and names of deities in Southern and Central Mesopotamia lack arecognizable morphological and lexical affnity to Sumerian or Semitic. Anumber of these names have been discussed in the papers cited above,where details of the proposed scenario can be found.

The brief phonological sketch laid out here is, of course, highly tenta-tive. It is meant to be viewed as a preliminary attempt to retrieve from aseries of alleged loanwords certain patterns of correspondence that may cast light as much on Sumerian as on the Indo-European donor language itself. It goes without saying that much work remains to be done before thephonology of Euphratic can be considered understood in its essence. Fu-ture work on the proto-cuneiform corpus, both on the contexts in whichsigns occur and on phonetic (rebus) usage within these archaic texts, com-plemented by rigorous studies of sign-value accretion in the writing sys-tem that evolved out of the Uruk-period script, has the potential to refineour understanding of the languages of early Mesopotamia and help us re-think the manner in which Indo-European evolved.

Although many aspects of Euphratic phonology remain uncertain, andmany others as yet unexplored, a number of regular patterns of correspon-dence between Indo-European and Mesopotamian languages can nonethe-less be discerned that are suggestive of early and prolonged historical con-tact, a contact that had run its course centuries before the first documentsin Hittite and Greek were set down.

It has not always been possible to determine accurately the nature of a given correspondence, for examplewhether a specific lexical relationship involves sound changes that havetaken place in the donor language rather than the receiver, or whether par-ticular loans are earlier or later than others. Nor is it possible to determine,at least with the kind of precision that one wishes, the exact qualities of many Euphratic and Sumerian phonemes reflected in the lexical transfer.

Nevertheless, a start has been made, and there is good reason to believethat this picture will continue to undergo refinement as fresh data from Mesopotamia and fresh insights from Assyriological and Indo-Europeanistresearch emerge.

Euphratic – A phonological sketch by Gordon Whittaker

Posted in Indo-Europeans, The Fertile Crescent | Leave a Comment »

The Root of Our Civilization

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 19, 2013

There seems to be a different major haplogroup to be prevalent in each of four sets of populations that occupy distinct geographic regions and belong to different linguistic branches of the North Caucasian family spoken by the Caucasus populations.

The haplogroup frequencies correlated with geography and, even more strongly, with language. Within haplogroups, a number of haplotype clusters were shown to be specific to individual populations and languages.

The data suggested a direct origin of Caucasus male lineages from the Near East, followed by high levels of isolation, differentiation and genetic drift in situ. Comparison of genetic and linguistic reconstructions covering the last few millennia showed striking correspondences between the topology and dates of the respective gene and language trees, and with documented historical events. Overall, in the Caucasus region, unmatched levels of gene-language co-evolution occurred within geographically isolated populations, probably due to its mountainous terrain.

Hhaplogroup E1b1b1 has a more Mediterranean distribution and is conspicuously absent in the North Caucasus. Unfortunately no downstream markers were typed, but (a) its presence in small amounts in NW Caucasians (1-1.7%) together with a similar low frequency (1.5%) in Georgians, (b) its absolute absence among Nakho-Dagestanians, except for one Lezghin, suggest to me that it arrived to the region from the west, and is probably a low-frequency trace of Ancient Greek colonies of the Black Sea, just as it is associated with Greek colonists in the West Mediterranean and Sicily.

There is a little haplogroup L in the North Caucasus. L-M27 and L-M317 seems concentrated in the Northwest, while L-M357 is found only in Nakh speakers. The detection of L-M357 in North but not South Iran may be related with this population, and also the L-rich population of Syria, especially from the eastern inland area.

Haplogroup T is in this region found in 2 NW Caucasians, 1 Ossete and a couple of Lezgins, but unfortunately with no fine phylogenetic resolution.

At least two population events in the Caucasus are documented archaeologically, which allows additional comparison with these “historical” dates. In both cases, the historical (archaeological) date is similar to a genetic estimate based on the “genealogical” mutation rate.

The correspondence seems remarkable; the only major discrepancy is for Iranic (Indo-European) Ossetes who group with NW Caucasians genetically, which makes sense as the Ossetes are probably to a large extent NW Caucasians that underwent a language shift at the influence of the Alans.

Speaking of the Ossetes, their negligible R1a1-M198 frequency (0.4-0.8%) should be a warning that Iranic steppe nomads does not equal R1a1. While a limited contribution of Alans to the Ossetes is expected, it is not expected that Ossetes will have two of the lowest M198 frequencies in the Caucassus: in all probability R1a1 was not particularly important among Alans, and, by implication Sarmatians.

There seems to be a correspondence between Y-chromosome haplogroups and language groups. Overall, the most frequent haplogroups in the Caucasus were G2a3b1-P303 (12%), G2a1a-P18 (8%), J1*-M267(xP58) (34%), and J2a4b*-M67(xM92) (21%), which together encompassed 73% of the Y chromosomes, while the other 24 haplogroups identified comprise the remaining 27% .

Haplogroup G2a3b1-P303 comprised at least 21% (and up to 86%) of the Y chromosomes in the Shapsug, Abkhaz and Circassians. Haplogroup G2a1a-P18 comprised at least 56% (and up to 73%) of the Digorians and Ironians (both from the Central Caucasus Iranic linguistic group), while not being found at more than 12% (average 3%) in other populations.

Interestingly, G2a3 is one of the lineages of early Central European farmers. G2 is also, curiously, one of the West Eurasian lineages that are found in very small quantities in India, especially among upper caste Hindus. We are beginning to make connections across space and time, even though the patterns are far from clear yet.

Two of the modal haplogroups in this paper are G2a1a-P18 (Iranic, 56-73%) and G2a3b1-P303 (NW Caucasians, 21-86%). Battaglia et al. (2008) also found a high frequency of G2a* in Georgians and Balkars (~30%, also modal in both populations). It appears that G2a is a mainly West (both NW and SW) Caucasian phenomenon within the context of this region.

Haplogroup J2a4b*-M67(xM92) comprised 51-79% of the Y chromosomes in the Ingush and three Chechen populations (North-East Caucasus, Nakh linguistic group), while, in the rest of the Caucasus, its frequency was not higher than 9% (average 3%).

To make things more interesting, the Nakh groups (Ingush and Chechens) have J2a4b*-M67(xM92) as their modal haplogroup. Nakh is also a Northeast Caucasian language subfamily, like Dagestani, and indeed NE Caucasian is also called Nakho-Daghestanian.

Haplogroup J1*-M267(xP58) comprised 44-99% of the Avar, Dargins, Kaitak, Kubachi, and Lezghins (South-East Caucasus, Dagestan linguistic group) but was less than 25% in Nakh populations and less than 5% in the rest of Caucasus.

Surpisingly, even in the Caucasus and in Anatolia, the region where this haplogroup is thought to have originated, there are wide discrepancies between regions. For example, the Kubachi and Dargins from Dagestan in the Northeast Caucasus have over 80% of J1 lineages, while in their Ingush neighbours, 200 km to the north, it barely reaches 3%. East Anatolia around Lake Van sees over 30% of J1, whereas south-west Anatolia has only 2%. Even within Kurdistan frequencies vary greatly. The small sample sizes for each region is surely to blame.

The prevalence of J1*-M267(xP58) in Dagestan is well known (or suspected) from previous studies. Notice that J-P58, if we use the genealogical rate has an age of ~5.4ky in Semitic groups, and this is in concordance with the 5,750 years ago origin of Semitic languages based on Bayesian phylogenetics. So, it is clear that part of haplogroup J1 was prevalent in ancient Semitic groups, another, disjoint part in ancient Dagestani groups.

It would be tempting to think that Proto-Nakho-Dagestanians were J1-dominated, as J1 exists in both Nakh (16-25%) and Dagestani (58-99%) groups, whereas J2a4b-M67 (the Nakh modal haplogroup) is nearly completely absent in Dagestanians.

Like haplogroup G, J1 might have been of the principal lineages to bring domesticated animals to Europe. Both G and J1 reach their maximal frequencies in the Caucasus, some ethnic groups being almost exclusively J1 (Kubachis, Kaitaks, Dargins, Avars), while others have extremely high levels of G (Shapsugs, North Ossetians). Most of the ethnic groups in the North Caucasus have between 20 and 40% of each haplogroup, which are by far their two dominant haplogroups.

Haplogroup J1 is a Middle Eastern haplogroup, which probably originated in eastern Anatolia, near Lake Van in central Kurdistan. Eastern Anatolia being the region where goats, sheep and cattle were first domesticated in the Middle East, haplogroup J1 is almost certainly linked to the expansion of pastoralist lifestyle throughout the Middle East and Europe.

The Haplogroup J1e found among Dagestanis in high Percentage is found in high Percentage among Semitic further south. This Haplogroup originated somewere in Mesopotamia, Zagros migrated North and South (Arabian Peninsula). In South it mutated to a own subclade what is distinct from Caucasian.

In Arabic countries, J1 climaxes among the Marsh Arabs of South Iraq (81%), the Sudanese Arabs (73%), the Yemeni (72%), the Bedouins (63%), the Qatari (58%), the Saudi (40%), the Omani (38%) and the Palestinian Arabs (38%). High percentages are also observed in the United Arab Emirates (35%), coastal Algeria (35%), Jordan (31%), Syria (30%), Tunisia (30%), Egypt (21%) and Lebanon (20%). Most of the Arabic J1 belongs to the J1c3 variety.

While Proto-Indo-European is dated to 6400 BC., in agreement with the work of Gray and Atkinson, Kitchen et al. (2009) estimate for Semitic languages somewhat less than 3,750 BC. All in all, it’s good to see different researchers using different techniques, but coming up with similar solutions.

It is increasingly clear that while the Proto-Indo-Europeans originated in the Neolithic Near East, the Proto-Semites followed them by about three thousand years. In the latter case there is also a Y-chromosome marker (J-P58) with an apparent age in impeccable agreement with the linguistic evidence, now that the genealogical-“evolutionary” mutation wars seem to have been won.

This also brings into focus the weakness of the argument that Anthony (2007) (p. 76) brings to the table by hypothesizing that the first farmers of northern Syria were Afro-Asiatic speakers like the Semites of the Near Eastern lowlands. Semites come into the picture 5,000 years after the onset of the Neolithic, and 3,000 years after the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Their relationship with Afroasiatic speakers of Africa make it quite likely that they lived in the south, probably in Arabia, and certainly not in eastern Anatolia or northern Syria.

Indeed, the recent discovery that haplogroup J1*(xP58) is associated with Northeast Caucasian languages, together with the absence or paucity of J1 in most African Afroasiatic speakers suggests to me that the J-P58 Proto-Semites may be the result of the transfer of an African language on a basically West Asian population. Such a scenario might also explain some of the -incorrectly quantified, but nonetheless existent- African genetic components in both Jews and Arabs, as well as the pastoralist/dry-climate J1 associations.

Frequencies og haplogroup J1 in Europe and West Asia tend to vary considerably from one regional community to the next. The highest local percentages in Europe are found in Greece, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal and hardly ever exceed 5% of the population. However Italy, France and Spain also have areas where J1 appears completely absent. Even in northern Europe, where the nation-wide frequencies are below 0.5%, very localised pockets of J1 have been observed in Scotland, England, Belgium, Germany and Poland. Larger sample sizes are needed to get a clearer picture of the distribution of J1 in Europe.

In the South Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan), haplogroup J2 comes into the admixture and is in fact slightly higher than either J1 or G. Most of the Caucasian J1 is at present J1*, meaning that at present no common SNP has been identified that could form a new subclade. Armenia stands out of the lot by having a substantial J1c3d minority (at least one third of all J1, i.e. roughly 4% of the population).

The Caucasus is most probably the source of Indo-Europeans which migrated Northward and created the Kurgan culture from there they migrated in all directions. The Urartain, Hurrians and Gutians, proberly early Tocharians, are somehow the missing link between Indo-Europeans and Caucasians. My opinion is that this three groups were the first one which separated from Northeast-caucasians (in Dagestan) and created the Proto Indo-Europeans.

I think Proto Indo-Europeans could have been just one of many language in some Caucasus valley that found its way onto the steppes. Goats, sheep & cows were domesticated somewhere in the Middle-East & it’s known that the Proto-Indo-Europeans made a living herding those animals. So maybe some Caucasians went to the Pontic-Caspian steppe to find grassland for their herds, much like the Turks came to eastern Europe for the same reason.

The Lezgians are an ethnic group living predominantly in southern Dagestan and northeastern Azerbaijan and who speak the Lezgian language, one of seven branches of the Northeast Caucasian language family. The Samur languages (also called Nuclear Lezgic) are the principal component of the Lezgic branch of the Northeast Caucasian languages.

The Lezgic languages are relevant to the glottalic theory of Indo-European, as several have undergone the voicing of ejectives that has been postulated but widely derided as improbable in that family. A similar change has taken place in non-initial position in the Nakh languages.

The Northeast Caucasian or Dagestanian (Daghestanian) languages constitute a language family spoken in the Russian republics of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, in northern Azerbaijan and northeastern Georgia, as well as in diaspora populations in Russia, Turkey, and the Middle East. They were formerly called Nakho-Dagestanian (Nakh-Dagestanian), and sometimes Caspian, the latter together with Pontic for the Northwest Caucasian languages.

The most common term, Northeast Caucasian, contrasts the three established families of the Caucasus language area: Northeast Caucasian, Northwest Caucasian, and South Caucasian (Kartvelian). This may be shortened to East Caucasian, especially by those linguists who accept the North Caucasian languages as a language family.

Some linguists such as Sergei Starosin think that the Northeast and Northwest Caucasian languages should be joined into a putative North Caucasian family, citing shared vocabulary and typological features as evidence. This proposed family does not usually include the neighboring Kartvelian languages. This hypothesis is not well demonstrated.

The older term Nakho-Dagestanian reflected an erstwhile primary division of the family into Nakh and Dagestanian branches, a view which is no longer widely accepted. The rare term Caspian (that is, bordering the Caspian Sea) is only used in opposition to Pontic (that is, bordering the Black Sea) for the Northwest Caucasian languages.

The Lezgic family, along with a couple of other families (Avar–Andic, Tsezic, Lak, Dargin, and Khinalug), forms the Daghestanian part of the Nakh–Daghestanian language family (the Nakh part is constituted by Chechen, Ingush and related small languages).

Some linguists – notably I. M. Diakonoff and S. Starostin – also see similarities between the Northeast Caucasian family and the extinct languages Hurrian and Urartian. Hurrian was spoken in various parts of the Fertile Crescent in the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC. Urartian was the language of Urartu, a powerful state that existed between 1000 BC or earlier and 585 BC in the area centered on Lake Van in current Turkey.

The two extinct languages have been grouped into the Hurro-Urartian family. Diakonoff proposed the name Alarodian for the union of Hurro-Urartian and Northeast Caucasian. The Alarodian family was first proposed by Fritz Hommel (1854–1936). The term comes from the name that Herodotus used to refer to the kingdom of Urartu.

The connection between the Northeast and North-central families was based on claimed similarities in phonetics and grammar, such as sentence structure and an ergative case system. However, neither of these characteristics is limited to languages of this area, and neither constitutes the extensive evidence required to demonstrate a genetic relationship. The Hurro-Urartian languages were included on the basis of grammatical and lexical similarities. However the genetic relationships between these languages is not clear.

The Proto-Northeast Caucasian language had many terms for agriculture, and Johanna Nichols has suggested that its speakers may have been involved in the development of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent. They had words for concepts such as yoke, as well as fruit trees such as apple and pear that suggest agriculture was already well developed when the proto-language broke up.

”Yoke“, one of the most archaic and productive terms in Indo-European, present from prehistorical times in all the branches of the family, could be one of the keys for unlocking the enigma of the original cradle of the Indo-Europeans. ”Yoke“ appears to be one of the linguistic proofs that the ancestors of today‘s Europeans, Iranians and Indians spread out from a region in the vicinity of the Caucasus, and that the Proto-Indo-Europeans were in direct contact with both South Caucasians and North Caucasians.

The term is of vast antiquity and presents a remarkably regular form: Hittite iúkan, Vedic Sanskrit (yugá, meaning yoke, but also: pair; yoga comes from the same root), Ancient Greek ζυγόν (zugόn), Latin iugum, Gothic juk (German Joch), Old Church Slavonic igo, Lithuanian jungas, etc. So enduring was this root that it remains productive to our days in the sense of (re)uniting something, as under a “yoke”, into a “junc-tion”… that when the modern Lithuanian language had to invent the notion of a political “Union”, as in the European Union, it used the old jug-/jung- : Europos Są-junga…

Gamkrelidze and Ivanov, in their groundbreaking The Indo-European language and the Indo-Europeans (Индоевропейский язык и индоевропейцы, Tbilisi, 1984) have convincingly reorganised the traditionally accepted phonetic system of the Proto-Indo-European by giving the voiced consonants (b, g, d) the value of the Caucasian ejectives, which are unvoiced gutturals (p‘, t‘, q‘, this last sounding like the Semitic q). From this perspective, the famous law of the German ”Lautvershiebung“, whereby the Indo-European voiced sounds become un-voiced in German (cf. Latin iug-um – Gothic juk) loses its relevance: it is Germanic (and Armenian) which prove to be more archaic, closer to the pan-Caucasian sound system, while the other branches of the I-E family have innovated by voicing the q‘ into g. The root would thus be: *juq‘ -, and not *jug-, as accepted historically.

From Indo-European, the term has passed, in its voiced form, as an archaic loan into the South-Caucasian (Kartvelian) languages: Georgian uγel, Mingrelian uγu, Svan uγwa.

The Indo-european etymologies proposed traditionally are unconvincing and circular, like: ”from verb *yeug- (join, unite)“. It is here that a comparison, never effectuated, with the North-East Caucasian languages, totally unrelated to the South Caucasian Kartvelian languages, brings a possible solution.

Chechen, and all the languages from Daghestan, present a rare particularity: they are ”class languages“. All words are distributed between various nominal classes corresponding to our grammatical genders. Where Indo-European languages have historically three grammatical genders, Chechen has six. These are indicated by a set of four markers appended initially to words: v- indicates masculinity, like in: vasha = brother; y- indicates a female person, like in

yisha = sister, but it can also be the mark of some neuters, alternating with b- and d- to produce various notions. The set of v-, y-, b-, d- initial markers are also appended to verbs and adjectives, which change their beginning according to the gender of the ruling noun.

This creates a heavy but predictable grammatical machinery, and also an easily analysable lexical corpus. Thus, from the root -q‘-, ”to divide“ / ”to reunite”, Chechen possesses the set vuq‘, yuq‘, buq‘, duq‘ : thus, duq‘ and vuq‘ commonly indicate the yoke; yuq‘ is the ”middle“, or a ”pair“… buq‘ is the spine, the backbone, or a mountain ridge…

The Chechen series is extremely productive, yuq‘ being the most used, and, besides various verbs with meanings going from ”reunite“ to ”put together“ and ”put in the middle“ (cf. Latin derivatives, from jugum > con-jugare, sub-jugare, etc., or Sanskrit yoga, from the same root), yuq‘ can also take on temporal values: Chechen yuq‘-yuq‘a = from time to time, periodically (cf. Sanskrit yugá, ”period of time“, in parallel with ”yoke“); and, very important from a socio-cultural point of view, to get married, to ”go under the same yoke“: hence the Latin con-iux, spouse, (under the same con-jug-al yoke), the notion being borrowed as well into Old Georgian: me-uγle = spouse.

The morphological and semantical concordances between Chechen yuq‘ (and the other Daghestani languages) on the one hand, Indo-European *yuq‘ on the other are too systematical, coherent and symmetrical to be due to mere chance. The disturbing fact is that the root *yuq‘- is unexplained in Indo-European, while in Chechen-Daghestani it is native, part of the system of indicators of nominal classes y-, v-, b-, d-…

The word seems thus to have been borrowed by the Indo-Europeans from the North-Caucasians… together with the tool it designated : the ”yoke“ itself.

Quite consistent with the idea that Proto-Indo-European is related to the West Asian autosomal component. This component occurs at a a level  greater than 50% level in modern North Caucasian speakers, is absent in Europe prior to 5,000 years ago, and occurs at levels greater or equal to 10% in most present-day Indo-European speakers from Europe.

There seems to have been early contacts between Proto-Indo-European (PIE) and the languages of the Caucasus. Although we were not able to find certain proofs of lexical borrowing between PIE and North Caucasian, there are a few undeniable areal-typological parallels in phonology and grammar.

Some features generally attributed to PIE are not found in the majority of languages of North and Northeastern Eurasia, while they are common, or universally present, in the languages of the Caucasus (especially North Caucasus). Those features include the high consonant-to-vowel ratio, tonal accent, number suppletion in personal pronouns, the presence of gender and the morphological optative and, possibly, the presence of glottalized consonants and ergativity.

In the early 6th century BC, the Urartian Kingdom was replaced by the Armenian Orontid dynasty. In the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in 521/0 BC by the order of Darius the Great of Persia, the country referred to as Urartu in Assyrian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in Elamite.

Aleppo has scarcely been touched by archaeologists, since the modern city occupies its ancient site. The site has been occupied from around 5000 BC, as excavations in Tallet Alsauda show.

Aleppo appears in historical records as an important city much earlier than Damascus.

The first record of Aleppo comes from the third millennium BC, when Aleppo was the capital of an independent kingdom closely related to Ebla, known as Armi to Ebla and Armani to the Akkadians. Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla’s alter ego. Naram-Sin of Akkad destroyed both Ebla and Armani in the 23rd century BC. In the Old Babylonian period, Aleppo’s name appears as Ḥalab (Ḥalba) for the first time.

Scholars such as Carl Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi.

Chaldea or Chaldæa, from Greek Chaldaia; Akkadian: Ḫaldu; Hebrew: Kaśdim; Aramaic: Kaldo) was a marshy land located in south eastern Mesopotamia which came to rule Babylon briefly. Tribes of Semitic settlers who arrived in the region from the 10th century BC became known as the Chaldeans or the Chaldees. The Hebrew Bible uses the term Kaśdim and this is translated as Chaldaeans in the Septuagint.

The shared paternal lineages observed today between Armenians and Assyrians, such as R-M269 and J1*, converge, perhaps, 2000-4000 years ago. With the caveat, of course, that predictions based on STR markers may lack significant precision. If we exclude Y-DNA T, Assyrians and Caucasian populations, particularly those of Dagestan, may share a close relationship, as far as the Y chromosome is concerned. Assyrians also show Y chromosome affinities to minority populations of the Levant and Mesopotamia, such as the Syrian Alawites (R-M269), Druze (R-M269 and T), “Babylonian” Jews (T), and Marsh Arabs (J1*).

The ancestral element(s) captured by the Dodecad K12b “Caucasus” component may represent the principal element of the ancient Levantines and Mesopotamians. At least, in my opinion, as far back as the 1st millennium BCE. I believe this to be a possibility because even in the extreme SW Levant (not far from the Asian/African continental divide), the “Caucasus” component remains significant.

Assyria (Akkadian: Aššur), a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, existing from the late 25th or early–2400 until 605 BC., was centered on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia (present day Northern Iraq). The Assyrians came to rule powerful empires at several times. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Aššur (Akkadian: Aššūrāyu; Aramaic: Aṯur; Hebrew: Aššûr; Arabic: Ašūr).

As part of the greater Mesopotamian civilization, Assyria was, at its height, a highly advanced nation for its time in terms of architecture, engineering, agriculture, economics, civil service, mathematics, medicine, literature, military technology, law, astronomy and libraries/record keeping. A number of Assyrian kings showed an early interest in botany and zoology also.

Assyria was also sometimes known as Subartu prior to the rise of the city state of Ashur and, after its fall, from 605 BC through to the late 7th century AD variously as Athura and also referenced as Atouria according to Strabo, Syria (Greek), Assyria (Latin) and Assuristan. The term Assyria can also refer to the geographic region or heartland where Assyria, its empires and the Assyrian people were and still are centred. The modern Assyrian Christian minority in northern Iraq, north east Syria, south east Turkey and north west Iran are the descendants of the ancient Assyrians (see Assyrian continuity).

Assyria was originally one of a number of Akkadian city states in Mesopotamia. In the late 24th century BC, Assyrian kings were regional leaders only, and subject to Sargon of Akkad, who united all the Akkadian Semites and Sumerian-speaking peoples of Mesopotamia under the Akkadian Empire, which lasted from c. 2334 BC to 2154 BC. Following the fall of the Akkadian Empire c. 2154 BC, and the succeeding Sumerian Third Dynasty of Ur, there were a number of other competing Amorite states, such as Isin and Larsa, but Mesopotamia eventually coalesced into two distinct nations: Assyria in the north, and Babylonia in the south.

In the Old Assyrian period of the Early Bronze Age, Assyria had been a kingdom of northern Mesopotamia, initially competing with their fellow Sumero-Akkadian states in southern Mesopotamia for dominance of the region, and also with the Hattians and Hurrians to the north in Asia Minor, the Gutians to the east in the Zagros Mountains and the Eblaites and later Amorites in the Levant to the west.

Chaldea as the name of a country is used in two different senses. In the early period it was the name of a small territory in southern Babylonia extending along the northern and probably also the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is called in Assyrian mat Kaldi “land of Chaldea”. The expression mat Bit Yakin is also used, apparently synonymously. Bit Yakin was likely the chief or capital city of the land. The king of Chaldea is also called the king of Bit Yakin, just as the kings of Babylonia are regularly styled simply king of Babylon, the capital city. In the same way, the Persian Gulf was sometimes called “the Sea of Bit Yakin, instead of “the Sea of the Land of Chaldea.”

Though conquerors, the Chaldeans were rapidly and completely assimilated into the dominant Semitic Akkadian Babylonian culture, as the Amorites before them had been, and after the fall of Babylon in 539 BC the term “Chaldean” was no longer used to describe a specific ethnicity, but rather a socio-economic class.

The homeland of the Semitic Chaldean people was in the far south east of Mesopotamia. It is not certain when they migrated at an unknown period into the country of the Mesopotamian sea-lands about the head of the Persian Gulf. They seem to have appeared there at about the same time that other new Semitic peoples, the Arameans and the Sutu appeared in Babylonia, c. 1000 BC. This was a period of weakness in Babylonia, and its ineffectual kings were unable to prevent new waves of peoples invading and settling in the land.

Though belonging to the same Semitic ethnic group, they are to be differentiated from the Aramean stock; and the Assyrian king Sennacherib, for example, is careful in his inscriptions to distinguish them. When they came to possess the whole of southern Mesopotamia, the name “Chaldean” became synonymous with “Babylonian”, particularly to the Greeks and Jews. In the Hebrew Bible, the prophet Abraham is stated to have originally been from “Ur of the Chaldees” (Ur Kasdim); if this city is to be identified with the Sumerian Ur, it would be within the original Chaldean homeland south of the Euphrates, although Chaldeans were not extant in Mesopotamia at the time of Abraham. On the other hand, the traditional identification with a site in Assyria would then imply the later sense of “Babylonia”, and a few interpreters have additionally tried to identify Abraham’s birthplace with Chaldia, a distinct region in Asia Minor on the Black Sea. According to the Book of Jubilees, Ur Kasdim (and Chaldea) took their name from Ura and Kesed, descendants of Arpachshad.

The language used by the Chaldeans was the Babylonian dialect of Akkadian, the same Semitic language, save for slight peculiarities in sound and in characters, as Assyrian Akkadian. In late periods both the Babylonian and Assyrian dialects of Akkadian ceased to be spoken, and Aramaic took its place across Mesopotamia, and remains the mother tongue of the Assyrian (also known as Chaldo-Assyrian) Christians of Iraq and its surrounds to this day. One form of this widespread language is used in Daniel and Ezra, but the use of the name “Chaldee” to describe it, first introduced by Jerome, is incorrect and a misnomer.

Sumer (from Akkadian Šumeru; Sumerian ki-en-ĝir, approximately “land of the civilized kings” or “native land”) was an ancient civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq, during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age. Although the earliest historical records in the region do not go back much further than ca. 2900 BC, modern historians have asserted that Sumer was first permanently settled between ca. 4500 and 4000 BC by a non-Semitic people who may or may not have spoken the Sumerian language (pointing to the names of cities, rivers, basic occupations, etc. as evidence). These conjectured, prehistoric people are now called “proto-Euphrateans” or “Ubaidians”, and are theorized to have evolved from the Samarra culture of northern Mesopotamia (Assyria).

The Ubaid period is marked by a distinctive style of fine quality painted pottery which spread throughout Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf. During this time, the first settlement in southern Mesopotamia was established at Eridu (Cuneiform: NUN.KI), ca. 5300 BC, by farmers who brought with them the Hadji Muhammed culture, which first pioneered irrigation agriculture.

It appears this culture was derived from the Samarran culture from northern Mesopotamia. It is not known whether or not these were the actual Sumerians who are identified with the later Uruk culture. Eridu remained an important religious center when it was gradually surpassed in size by the nearby city of Uruk. The story of the passing of the me (gifts of civilisation) to Inanna, goddess of Uruk and of love and war, by Enki, god of wisdom and chief god of Eridu, may reflect this shift in hegemony.

Inanna (Cuneiform: MUŠ; Sumerian: Inanna; Akkadian: Ištar) is the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. Inanna can be considered the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk. The famous Uruk Vase (found in a deposit of cult objects of the Uruk III period) depicts a row of naked men carrying various objects, bowls, vessels, and baskets of farm produce, and bringing sheep and goats, to a female figure facing the ruler. This figure was ornately dressed for a divine marriage, and attended by a servant. The female figure holds the symbol of the two twisted reeds of the doorpost, signifying Inanna behind her, while the male figure holds a box and stack of bowls, the later cuneiform sign signifying En, or high priest of the temple. Especially in the Uruk period, the symbol of a ring-headed doorpost is associated with Inanna.

Seal impressions from the Jemdet Nasr period (ca. 3100–2900 BC) show a fixed sequence of city symbols including those of Ur, Larsa, Zabalam, Urum, Arina, and probably Kesh. It is likely that this list reflects the report of contributions to Inanna at Uruk from cities supporting her cult. A large number of similar sealings were found from the slightly later Early Dynastic I phase at Ur, in a slightly different order, combined with the rosette symbol of Inanna, that were definitely used for this purpose. They had been used to lock storerooms to preserve materials set aside for her cult. Inanna’s primary temple of worship was the Eanna, located in Uruk (c.f. Worship).

Inanna’s name derives from Queen of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-anna). The cuneiform sign of Inanna however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin; Cuneiform: SAL.TUG) and sky (Sumerian: an; Cuneiform: AN). These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that originally Inanna may have been a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon, an idea supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, at first she had no sphere of responsibilities. The view that there was a Proto-Euphratean substrate language in Southern Iraq before Sumerian is not widely accepted by modern Assyriologists.

It appears that this early culture was an amalgam of three distinct cultural influences: peasant farmers, living in wattle and daub or clay brick houses and practicing irrigation agriculture; hunter-fishermen living in woven reed houses and living on floating islands in the marshes (Proto-Sumerians); and Proto-Akkadian nomadic pastoralists, living in black tents.

The Ubaidians were the first civilizing force in Sumer, draining the marshes for agriculture, developing trade, and establishing industries, including weaving, leatherwork, metalwork, masonry, and pottery.

However, some scholars such as Piotr Michalowski and Gerd Steiner, contest the idea of a Proto-Euphratean language or one substrate language. It has been suggested by them and others, that the Sumerian language was originally that of the hunter and fisher peoples, who lived in the marshland and the east Arabian littoral region, and were part of the Arabian bifacial culture.

Sumerologist Samuel Noah Kramer asserts “No people has contributed more to the culture of mankind than the Sumerians” and yet it is only comparatively recently that we have built up a knowledge of the existence of this ancient culture.

During the 3rd millennium BC, a close cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians (who spoke a Language Isolate) and the Semitic Akkadian speakers, which included widespread bilingualism. The influence of Sumerian on Akkadian (and vice versa) is evident in all areas, from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. This has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian in the 3rd millennium BC as a sprachbund. Sumer was conquered by the Semitic-speaking kings of the Akkadian Empire around 2270 BC (short chronology), but Sumerian continued as a sacred language.

Subarian is the term used by certain scholars (such as I. J. Gelb & E. A. Speiser) to describe the aboriginal language and inhabitants of Subar-Tu an ancient kingdom in Ararat mentioned in Sumerian records.

The theory is that even the Sumerians originally came down from this area or if not then at least the exonym originated there. Arno Poebel & S.N. Kramer pushed this hypothesis even further to suggest that the original tribe carrying the Sumer/Subar ethnonym was actually the original Shem tribe whose memory is recorded in the Bible (sumerian final -r being an amissable consonant in words with a Semitic form).

Tribes called Subarians were living in an area extending to Zagros Mountains in the north Mesopotamia and to Habur and Balih in the west.The Khabur River (Arabic‎ al-khābūr, Kurdish: Xabûr, Syriac ḥābur/khābur, Turkish: Habur) is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory.

Subarians were known as preliminary Asurians by historians and their country was called Subarto. The Assyrians, also known as Syriacs, Chaldeans, and Aramaeans (see names of Syriac Christians), are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia. They are Semitic people, who speak and write distinct dialects of Eastern Aramaic exclusive to Mesopotamia and its immediate surroundings.

Assyrians trace their ancestry back to the Sumero-Akkadian civilisation that emerged in Mesopotamia circa 4000–3500 BC, and in particular to the northern region of the Akkadian lands, which would become known as Assyria by the 24th century BC. The Assyrian nation existed as an independent state, and often a powerful empire, from the 24th century BC until the end of the 7th century BC.

Subarians are known to have established the first country in the history by making Tel Halief city (Tell Half), which was in the south of Ceylanpınar and Rasulayn (Ra’s al-‘Ayn) 40 km.

Important sites that have been excavated include Tell Halaf, Tell Brak, Tell Leilan, Tell Mashnaqa, Tell Mozan and Tell Barri. The region has given its name to a distinctive painted ware found in northern Mesopotamia and Syria in the early 2nd millennium BCE, called Khabur ware. The region of the Khabur River is also associated with the rise of the kingdom of the Mitanni that flourished c.1500-1300 BC.

The Halaf culture, is a prehistoric period which lasted between about 6100 and 5500 BCE. The period is a continuous development out of the earlier Pottery Neolithic and is located primarily in south-eastern Turkey, Syria, and northern Iraq, although Halaf-influenced material is found throughout Greater Mesopotamia.

While the period is named after the site of Tell Halaf in north Syria, excavated by Max von Oppenheim between 1911 and 1927, the earliest Halaf period material was excavated by John Garstang in 1908 at the site of Sakce Gözü, then in Syria but now part of Turkey. Small amounts of Halaf material was also excavated in 1913 by Leonard Woolley at Carchemish, on the Turkish/Syrian border. However, the most important site for the Halaf tradition was the site of Tell Arpachiyah, now located in the suburbs of Mosul, Iraq.

Although no Halaf settlement has been extensively excavated some buildings have been excavated: the tholoi of Tell Arpachiyah, circular domed structures approached through long rectangular anterooms. Only a few of these structures were ever excavated. They were constructed of mud-brick sometimes on stone foundations and may have been for ritual use (one contained a large number of female figurines). Other circular buildings were probably just houses.

The Halaf period was succeeded by the Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period (~5500 – 5200 cal. BCE) and then by the Ubaid period (~5200 – 4000 cal. BCE).

Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra’s al-‘Ayn are the river’s main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating what is known as the Khabur Triangle, or Upper Khabur area. From north to south, annual rainfall in the Khabur basin decreases from over 400 mm to less than 200 mm, making the river a vital water source for agriculture throughout history. The Khabur joins the Euphrates near the town of Busayrah.

Shulaveri-Shomu culture is a Late Neolithic/Eneolithic culture that existed on the territory of present-day Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Armenian Highlands. The culture is dated to mid-6th or early-5th millennia BC and is thought to be one of the earliest known Neolithic cultures. The Shulaveri-Shomu culture begins after the 8.2 kiloyear event which was a sudden decrease in global temperatures starting ca. 6200 BC and which lasted for about two to four centuries.

Shulaveri culture predates the Kura-Araxes culture and surrounding areas, which is assigned to the period of ca. 4000 – 2200 BC, and had close relation with the middle Bronze Age culture called Trialeti culture (ca. 3000 – 1500 BC). Sioni culture of Eastern Georgia possibly represents a transition from the Shulaveri to the Kura-Arax cultural complex.

In around ca. 6000–4200 B.C the Shulaveri-Shomu and other Neolithic/Chalcolithic cultures of the Southern Caucasus use local obsidian for tools, raise animals such as cattle and pigs, and grow crops, including grapes. 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 Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from 3400 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end, but it may have disappeared as early as 2600 or 2700 BC. The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain.

Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. Some authors subsume Hurrians and Urartians under Northeast Caucasian as well as part of the Alarodian theory.

The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are also 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, this culture (and perhaps that of the Maykop culture) is identified with the speakers of the Anatolian languages.

Shupria (Shubria) or Arme-Shupria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was a Hurrian-speaking kingdom, known from Assyrian sources beginning in the 13th century BC, located in the Armenian Highland, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper. The capital was called Ubbumu. Scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia.

Weidner interpreted textual evidence to indicate that after the Hurrian king Shattuara of Mitanni was defeated by Adad-nirari I of Assyria in the early 13th century BC, he then became ruler of a reduced vassal state known as Shubria or Subartu. The name Subartu (Sumerian: Shubur) for the region is attested much earlier, from the time of the earliest Mesopotamian records (mid 3rd millennium BC).

Together with Armani-Subartu (Hurri-Mitanni), Hayasa-Azzi and other populations of the region such as the Nairi fell under Urartian (Kingdom of Ararat) rule in the 9th century BC, and their descendants, according to most scholars, later contributed to the ethnogenesis of the early Armenians.

Subartu was apparently a polity in Northern Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris. Most scholars accept Subartu as an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east, north or west of there. Its precise location has not been identified. From the point of view of the Akkadian Empire, Subartu marked the northern geographical horizon, just as Martu, Elam and Sumer marked “west”, “east” and “south”, respectively.

The Sumerian mythological epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta lists the countries where the “languages are confused” as Subartu, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (Akkad), and the Martu land (the Amorites). Similarly, the earliest references to the “four quarters” by the kings of Akkad name Subartu as one of these quarters around Akkad, along with Martu, Elam, and Sumer. Subartu in the earliest texts seem to have been farming mountain dwellers, frequently raided for slaves.

Eannatum of Lagash was said to have smitten Subartu or Shubur, and it was listed as a province of the empire of Lugal-Anne-Mundu; in a later era Sargon of Akkad campaigned against Subar, and his grandson Naram-Sin listed Subar along with Armani (Armenians), -which has been identified with Aleppo-, among the lands under his control. Ishbi-Erra of Isin and Hammurabi also claimed victories over Subar.

Three of the 14th century BC Amarna letters, Akkadian cuneiform correspondence found in Egypt, mention Subari as a toponym. All are addressed to Akenaten; in two (EA 108 and 109), Rib-Hadda, king of Byblos, complains that Abdi-Ashirta, ruler of Amurru, had sold captives to Subari, while another (EA 100), from the city of Irqata, also alludes to having transferred captured goods to Subari.

There is also a mention of “Subartu” in the 8th century BC Poem of Erra (IV, 132), along with other lands that have harassed Babylonia. In Neo-Babylonian times (under Nabopolassar, Nebuchadrezzar II and Nabonidus), Subartu was used as a generic term for Assyria. The term was still current under Cambyses II, who mentions Subarian captives.

Subartu may have been in the general sphere of influence of the Hurrians. There are various alternate theories associating the ancient Subartu with one or more modern cultures found in the region, including Armenian or Kurdish tribes. Some scholars, such as Harvard Professor Mehrdad Izady, claim to have identified Subartu with the current Kurdish tribe of Zibaris inhabiting the northern ring around Mosul up to Hakkari in Turkey.

Hurrian names occur sporadically in northwestern Mesopotamia and the area of Kirkuk in modern Iraq by the Middle Bronze Age. Their presence was attested at Nuzi, Urkesh and other sites. They eventually infiltrated and occupied a broad arc of fertile farmland stretching from the Khabur River valley in the west to the foothills of the Zagros Mountains in the east. I. J. Gelb and E. A. Speiser believed Semitic Subarians had been the linguistic and ethnic substratum of northern Mesopotamia since earliest times, while Hurrians were merely late arrivals.

According to the historian Henry Hoyle Howorth (1901), Assyriologist Theophilus Pinches (1908), renowned archaeologist Leonard Woolley (1929) and Assyriologist Ignace Gelb (1944) the Gutians were pale skinned and blonde haired. This identification of the Gutians as fair haired first came to light when Julius Oppert (1877) published a set of tablets he had discovered which described Gutian (and Subarian) slaves as namrum or namrûtum, meaning “light colored” or “fair-skinned”. This racial character of the Gutians as blondes or being light skinned was also taken up by Georges Vacher de Lapouge in 1899 and later by historian Sidney Smith in his Early history of Assyria (1928). Ephraim Avigdor Speiser however criticised the translation of “namrum” as “light colored”.

An article was published by Speiser in the Journal of the American Oriental Society attacking Gelb’s translation. Gelb in response accused Speiser of circular reasoning. In response Speiser claimed the scholarship regarding the translation of “namrum” or “namrûtum” is unresolved.

Linguists classify Armenian as an independent branch of the Indo-European language family. Armenian shares a number of major innovations with Greek, and some linguists group these two languages together with Phrygian and the Indo-Iranian family into a higher-level subgroup of Indo-European, which is defined by such shared innovations as the augment. More recently, others have proposed a Balkan grouping including Greek, Armenian, Phrygian, and Albanian.

The earliest testimony of the Armenian language dates to the 5th century AD (the Bible translation of Mesrob Mashtots). The earlier history of the language is unclear and the subject of much speculation. It is clear that Armenian is an Indo-European language, but its development is opaque. In any case, Armenian has many layers of loanwords and shows traces of long language contact with Hurro-Urartian, Greek and Indo-Iranian.

The large percentage of loans from Iranian languages initially led linguists to erroneously classify Armenian as an Iranian language. The distinctness of Armenian was only recognized when Hübschmann (1875) used the comparative method to distinguish two layers of Iranian loans from the older Armenian vocabulary.

W. M. Austin (1942) concluded that there was an early contact between Armenian and Anatolian languages, based on what he considered common archaisms, such as the lack of a feminine and the absence of inherited long vowels. However, unlike shared innovations (or synapomorphies), the common retention of archaisms (or symplesiomorphy) is not necessarily considered evidence of a period of common isolated development.

Soviet linguist Igor Diakonov (1985) noted the presence in Old Armenian of what he calls a Caucasian substratum, identified by earlier scholars, consisting of loans from the Kartvelian and Northeast Caucasian languages such as Udi. Noting that the Hurro-Urartian peoples inhabited the Armenian homeland in the second millennium b.c., Diakonov identifies in Armenian a Hurro-Urartian substratum of social, cultural, and animal and plant terms such as ałaxin “slave girl” (< Hurr. al(l)a(e)ḫḫenne), cov “sea” (< Urart. ṣûǝ “(inland) sea”), ułt “camel” (< Hurr. uḷtu), and xnjor “apple(tree)” (< Hurr. ḫinzuri). Some of the terms he gives admittedly have an Akkadian or Sumerian provenance, but he suggests they were borrowed through Hurrian or Urartian. Given that these borrowings do not undergo sound changes characteristic of the development of Armenian from Proto-Indo-European, he dates their borrowing to a time before the written record but after the Proto-Armenian language stage.

The Proto-Armenian sound-laws are varied and eccentric (such as *dw- yielding erk-), and in many cases uncertain. For this reason, Armenian was not immediately recognized as an Indo-European branch in its own right, and was assumed to be simply a very eccentric member of the Iranian languages before H. Hübschmann established its independent character in an 1874 publication.

Proto-Indo-European voiceless stops are aspirated in Proto-Armenian, a circumstance that gave rise to an extended version of the Glottalic theory, which postulates that this aspiration may have been sub-phonematic already in PIE. In certain contexts, these aspirated stops are further reduced to w, h or zero in Armenian (PIE *pots, Armenian otn, Greek pous “foot”; PIE treis, Armenian erekʿ, Greek treis “three”).

Another interesting discovery of this study is the lack of European influence in the populations of the North Caucasus. It seems that both R1a1a-M198 and I2a-P37 have a major barrier eastward in the Don river. The former is not strictly a European haplogroup, but it nonetheless experiences a massive drop in frequency, and is negligible everywhere except in Abkhaz-Circassians (NW Caucasus; 10.3-19.7%), with an outlier in Dargins (22%).

This seems to put a limit on the origin of any hypothetical movements across the Eurasian steppe east of the Don river, as haplogroup I2a-P37 is largely absent in Central Asia, and occurs 3 times in 1,525 individuals in this sample. So, while there have been proposals of a Central European origin of some steppe pastoralist groups, these are hard to reconcile with this picture.

As a result of a glotto-chronological approach to the North Caucasian languages, which provides a unique opportunity to make direct comparisons of linguistic and genetic data from the same populations, and lexico-statistical methods to a number of language families using a Bayesian approach to increase the statistical robustness of language classification, to the problem of language time depth.

I have recently speculated about a possible link between the Caucasus region and India based on the appearance of a “Dagestan” component in India, the clear West Asian origin of Ancestral North Indians, as well as a possible linguistic link between Northeast Caucasian, Hurrian, and Indo-European.

A problem with that theory is that the high J1*(xP58) frequency in Dagestan has no counterpart in South Asia. The current study, however, adds data on the Nakh part of the Nakho-Dagestanian (Northeast Caucasian) family, showing this to be J2a4b-M67 dominated. So, while I think that J1*(xP58) may have been present among Proto-Northeast Caucasians, these must have interacted with J2a folk.

J-M67 is clearly intrusive into the Central Caucasus, from the South where a much greater variety of J2a-related lineages is observed among Armenians, North Iranians, and Anatolian Turks.

We now have good coverage of J2a in the entirety of the West Asian region, with the exception of Azerbaijan, and a few patterns are beginning to emerge: The center of the J2a world is somewhere between eastern Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Syria. The Caucasus is a northern extension of this world, just as Greece and Italy are its main western extensions, with a strong extension into Central Asia as far as Xinjiang, and well into South Asia all the way to upper caste South Indian Hindus. In the Caucasus itself J-M67 is dominating Nakh speakers, but with little other J2a related variation. In comparison to Nakhs, J2a seems more varied in Georgians, among Ossetes, and among NW Caucasian speakers.

It is hard to make any pronouncements on how J2a spread northwards from its Transcaucasian cradle, but I would think that the Kura-Araxes and Maikop cultures are fairly good candidates for that spread, with the former being J2a dominated, and the latter being more G2a dominated. I would not, however, dismiss a more recent spread of J2a into the region.

The “Dagestan” genetic component is to be found in South Asia and Europe. This component is modal in populations of Dagestan: Dargins from Urkarah, Lezgins, and Kumyks from Stalskoe.

Dargins and Lezgins are Northeast Caucasian speakers, and while Kumyks are Turkic, this is probably due to a small East Eurasian component in their ancestry, and it’s a fair guess that they too are natives to the region who underwent language shift.

Surprisingly, this component occurs at a high frequency in some South Asian populations, including Telugu and Tamil Brahmins from South India. These are believed to be descended from Indo-Aryan speakers from North India and to have maintained a genetic distinctiveness vis a vis the native inhabitants of South India.

There are two reasons why I think I am picking a really meaningful signal: Differentiation between Tamil and Andhra Pradesh Brahmins and non-Brahmin populations from the same states. The levels of the component in India are as high as any other Eurasian populations save for the Dagestanis immediate neighbors in the Caucasus.

Indeed, if you inspect the project members’ results on this component, you will see that the “Dagestan” component is found at many South Asians who belong to other populations than those available in the public references. Without giving anything away, it’s clear that the “Dagestan” component is found frequently in many parts of India.

The question of the origin of the Indo-Aryans is obviously very difficult, and attempts at tracing their origin use either a type of “geolinguistic trigonometry” to make them fit in the broader context of Indo-European dispersals, or rely on archaeological interpretation of the material culture of sites such as Arkaim or the BMAC.


I’ll leave these speculations to those competent to make them, and I will turn to the concrete: the Mitanni of Syro-Anatolia. Here we have what seems to be Indo-Aryan personal/deity names, as well as numerals in what appears to have been a largerly Hurrian-speaking population.

The Kingdom of the Mitanni flourished in the 2nd millennium BC, a time also generally considered to be that of the earliest Indo-Aryan linguistic monument, the Rigveda.

What is most interesting, however, is that Hurrian, like Urartian are part of the Hurro-Urartian language family, which has been linked by some linguists to Northeast Caucasian.

I won’t comment on whether such a link exists, but a relationship between Hurro-Urartian and Northeast Caucasian coupled with the known proximity of Indo-Aryans with Hurrians would immediately supply an explanation for the “Dagestan” component: it might be the legacy of an absorption of Hurrian elements by the ancestors of the Indo-Aryans while the latter were still in the Near East.

By the 2nd millennium BC, the Indo-Aryan element seems to have been well on its way to disappearance in the region, and we find no trace of it after the demise of the Mitanni. A millennium later came the disappearance of Urartian, replaced by various types of Indo-European (such as Armenian and Iranian), and Semitic. We are fortunate that the Indo-Aryans of Syro-Anatolia left traces of their existence before their demise.

The Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex was excavated by Viktor Sarianidi (here is a trailer for a documentary about it, and a Discover magazine article). According to Sarianidi, it is at least Indo-Iranian (if not specifically Indo-Aryan) and can be traced to the Syro-Anatolian region. The formation of the BMAC begins in the 3rd millennium BC, and it ends its existence in the 2nd, at around the time when Indo-Aryans are said to have made their appearance in the subcontinent. The geographical region of the BMAC (aka Oxus River civilization) is pictured on the left.

Whether we trace it to Anatolia, or, more modestly, to Iran, the likely western origin of the BMAC would almost certainly mean that it could have served as a conduit for the dispersal of the mystery “Dagestan” component to India.

The scenario I have outlined above derives the Indo-Aryans from the Transcaucasus where they pick up the “Dagestan” component, south of the Caspian, to the Oxus River civilization (BMAC) of Turkmenistan, to Afghanistan, and then via the Khyber Pass to Pakistan. The Mitanni are seen as Indo-Aryans who “stayed behind” and became thoroughly Hurrianized in the 2nd millennium BC.

We have one piece of evidence of the association of this component with Indo-Aryans: its presence in Brahmins and absence from low caste and tribal groups.

But, there is a different source of evidence that can potentially complete the argument: the non-Indo-European speakers of Pakistan: the Dravidian Brahui and the Burushaski speakers.

My theory predicts that they should have less of this component than Indo-Aryan and Iranian speakers from Pakistan such as Pathans, Sindhi, and Balochi. To test this, I repeated my South Asian experiment, but this time I added these two populations as well.

The East Asian and Southeast Asian components have “folded back” into one, and the Burusho isolate has formed its own cluster. The component is minimized in tribals, low castes, and non-Indo-European groups of Pakistan (Burusho and Brahui).

I am not going to bet that all the details presented in this scenario are correct. But, this theory seems to make sense of many different pieces of evidence (such as the presence of Indo-Aryans in the Near East) and to harmonize with the genetic evidence. The presence of component #1 in Uygurs and in Pathans may mean that it may have been carried by Indo-Iranians rather than specifically Indo-Aryans.

Posted in Haplogroups, Indo-Europeans, Semitic People, The Fertile Crescent | Leave a Comment »

Indo-European Languages — Centum and Satem Branch

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 19, 2013

The quest for the origins of the Indo-Europeans has all the fascination of an electric light in the open air on a summer night: it attracts every species of scholar or would-be savant who can take pen to hand. For over 200 years, theories have been put forward advocating ages ranging from 4000 to 23,000 years, with hypothesized homelands including Central Europe, the Balkans, and even India. Unfortunately, archaeological, genetic and linguistic research on Indo-European origins has so far proved inconclusive.

In early historical times, Indo-European languages were present in central and northern Europe, southeastern Europe, and much of southern and southwest Asia. Scholars have long theorized about what pre-historic events might have caused this group to become so widespread.

In the late 1700s, William Jones an English judge serving in India, discovered something startling; that Sanskrit possesses striking similarities to Greek, Latin, and Celtic. He theorized that they all sprang from a common source, an even more ancient language that had since become extinct.

Since Jones’ time, linguists have verified and greatly expanded on his discovery. Languages that fall into this Indo-European classification include Romance languages, Germanic languages, including of course English, Balto-Slavic, Indo-Iranian and Celtic, plus extinct languages such as Tocharian, spoken in parts of China, and Hittite, spoken in Asia Minor. It’s a huge and incredibly diverse group that derives from the speech of one ancient and forgotten people. The questions remain of who they were, when they lived, and where they came from.

Language Development – The Indo-Europeans

List of Indo-European languages

Indo-European languages

Indo-European Language Family

Centum-satem isogloss

Centum-satem-isoglossen

Family tree of the Centum group of Indo-European languages

Centum languages

Satem languages

Posted in Indo-Europeans | Leave a Comment »

 
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