Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Haplogroup R1b

Two important subclades of Haplogroup R1a1a appear to broadly divide the European and Asian parts of this large clade: R-Z283 (R1a1a1b1) appears to encompass most of the R1a1a found in Europe (Pamjav 2012), while R-Z93 (R1a1a1b2) appears to encompass most of the R1a1a found in Asia.

These two subclades descends from Haplogroup R1a1a (M17)/(M198), which makes up the vast majority of all R1a over its entire geographic range. R1a1a descends it self from Haplogroup R1a1 (SRY1532.2), that originated as a single mutation of one male, the R1a1 originator considered to be the ancestor of all individuals carrying R1a1.

Haplogroup R1a1 descends from R1a (M420), which descends from Haplogroup R1 (M173), which it self is descends of Haplogroup R (M207). Haplogroup R1* and R2* might have originated in southern Central Asia (between the Caspian depression and the Hindu Kush).

Haplogroup R

Haplogroup R (M207) is believed to have arisen around 20,000-34,000 years ago (Karafet 2008), somewhere in Central Asia or South Asia, where its ancestor Haplogroup P-M45 is most often found at polymorphic frequencies (Wells 2001). It has been proven by ancient DNA to be at least 23,000 years.

Haplogroup R is found throughout all continents, but is fairly common throughout Europe, South Asia and Central Asia. Small frequencies are found in Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Indigenous Australians (Kayser 2003). It also occurs in Caucasus, Near East, West China, Siberia and some parts of Africa.

The two currently defined subclades are R1 (M173) and R2 (M479). Haplogroup R1 have a possible time of origin for 26,000 years ago while haplogroup R2 is estimated to be 12,000 years old.

The origins of R1 remain unclear. Haplogroup R is part of the family of haplogroup P (M45), and a sibling clade, therefore, of haplogroup Q (M242), which is common in the Americas and Eurasia. In Eurasia, Q’s geography includes eastern areas such as Siberia.

Based on these ancestral lineages, an inferred origin for R1 to the east of the West Asia. For example, Kivisild 2003 believes the evidence “suggests that southern and western Asia might be the source of this haplogroup” and “Given the geographic spread and STR diversities of sister clades R1 and R2, the latter of which is restricted to India, Pakistan, Iran, and southern central Asia, it is possible that southern and western Asia were the source for R1 and R1a differentiation.”

Soares 2010 felt in their review of the literature, that the case for South Asian origins is strongest, with the Central Asian origin argued by (Wells 2001) being also worthy of consideration.

Haplogroup R2 is defined by the presence of the marker M479. The paragroup for the R2 lineage is found in Pakistan, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and among Tatars in Bashkortostan in Russia and Ossetins in North Caucasus.

Haplogroup R1a (M420) probably branched off from R1* around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum 19,000 to 26,000 years ago. 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.

R1a is present at high frequency of 40 % plus from the Czech Republic across to the Altai Mountains in Siberia and south throughout Central Asia. Absolute dating methods suggest that this marker is 10–15,000 years old, and the microsatellite diversity is greatest in southern Asia.

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.

Haplogroup R1a1 (SRY1532.2) is defined by SRY1532.2, also referred to as SRY10831.2. SNP mutations understood to be always occurring with SRY1532.2 include SRY10831.2, M448, L122, M459, and M516.

This family of lineages is dominated by the R-M17 branch, which is positive for M17 and M198. The paragroup R-SRY1532.2* is positive for the SRY1532.2 marker but lacks either the M17 or M198 markers.

The R-SRY1532.2* paragroup is apparently less rare than R1* but still relatively unusual, though it has been tested in more than one survey.

Underhill 2009 for example report 1/51 in Norway, 3/305 in Sweden, 1/57 Greek Macedonians, 1/150 Iranians, 2/734 Ethnic Armenians, and 1/141 Kabardians.(Underhill 2009) While Sahoo 2006 reported R-SRY1532.2* for 1/15 Himachal Pradesh Rajput samples (Sahoo 2006).

Haplogroup R1a1a (M17)/(M198) makes up the vast majority of all R1a over its entire geographic range. It is defined by SNP mutations M17 or M198, which have always appeared together in the same men so far.

Two important subclades of haplogroup R1a1a appear to broadly divide the European and Asian parts of this large clade: R-Z283 (R1a1a1b1) appears to encompass most of the R1a1a found in Europe (Pamjav 2012), while R-Z93 (R1a1a1b2) appears to encompass most of the R1a1a found in Asia.

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.

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.

Origin

Haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA) is the dominant paternal lineage of Western Europe. In human genetics, Haplogroup R1b is the most frequently occurring Y-chromosome haplogroup in Western Europe and in parts of sub-Saharan Central Africa (for example around Chad and Cameroon). R1b is also present at lower frequencies throughout Eastern Europe, Western Asia, Central Asia, and parts of North Africa, South Asia, and Siberia.

Due to European emigration it also reaches high frequencies in the Americas and Australia. While Western Europe is dominated by the R1b1a2 (R-M269) branch of R1b, the Chadic-speaking area in Africa is dominated by the branch known as R1b1c (R-V88). These represent two very successful “twigs” on a much bigger “family tree.”

Early research focused upon Europe. In 2000 Ornella Semino and colleagues argued that R1b had been in Europe before the end of Ice Age, and had spread north from an Iberian refuge after the Last Glacial Maximum. Age estimates of R1b in Europe have steadily decreased in more recent studies, at least concerning the majority of R1b, with more recent studies suggesting a Neolithic age or younger.

Only Morelli et al. have recently attempted to defend a Palaeolithic origin for R1b1b2. Irrespective of STR coalescence calculations, Chikhi et al. pointed out that the timing of molecular divergences does not coincide with population splits; the TMRCA of haplogroup R1b (whether in the Palaeolithic or Neolithic) dates to its point of origin somewhere in Eurasia, and not its arrival in western Europe.

Barbara Arredi and colleagues were the first to point out that the distribution of 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. A 2009 paper by Chiaroni et al. added to this perspective by using R1b as an example of a wave haplogroup distribution, in this case from east to west.

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. Myres et al. (August 2010), and Cruciani et al. (August 2010) both remained undecided on the exact dating of the migration or migrations responsible for this distribution, not ruling out migrations as early as the Mesolithic or as late as Hallstatt but more probably Late Neolithic.

They noted that direct evidence from ancient DNA may be needed to resolve these gene flows. Lee et al. (May 2012) analysed the ancient DNA of human remains from the Late Neolithic Bell Beaker site of Kromsdorf, Germany identifying two males as belonging to the Y haplogroup R1b. 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 Spread

The Dnieper River is one of the major rivers of Europe (fourth by length), rising near Smolensk and flowing through Russia, Belarus and Ukraine to the Black Sea. The total length is 2,145 kilometres (1,333 mi) with a drainage basin of 504,000 square kilometres (195,000 sq mi).

The river is noted for its dams and hydroelectric stations. The Dnieper is an important navigable waterway for the economy of Ukraine and is connected via the Dnieper-Bug Canal to other waterways in Europe.

In antiquity, the river was known to the Greeks as the Borysthenes and was part of the Amber Road. Arheimar, a capital of the Goths, was located on the Dnieper, according to the Hervarar saga.

Genetic studies based on modern male Scandinavian DNA suggest the advent of Ahrensburg “culture” may be associated with the bearers of the Haplogroup R1a1, that are postulated to have originally expanded to Europe and brought the reindeer hunters of the Ahrensburg “culture” from the Dniepr-Don Valley in Ukraine during the Late Glacial Maximum and reached Scandinavia between 13,000 and 7600 years ago.

Archaeological evidences have suggested that the core of the oldest populations colonising Scandinavia 11 000–12 000 thousand years ago came from the present Germany. They probably went through the Jutland and the now submerged Doggerland, and then headed northward via the ice-free coastal area of Norway.

Their lithic tools suggest they belonged to the Ahrensburgian culture,that thrived in central and eastern Europe (artifacts have been found in Poland, Lithuania and Russia) in the so called ‘Late Glacial’, that is at the end of the LGM, when the increase of temperature and precipitation triggered the recession of the ice sheets.

The analysis of many Ahrensburg sites and the related lithic tools has suggested that this culture started from the Dniepr valley in Ukraine, one of the sites were humans found refuge during the LGM.

The analysis of Y chromosome polymorphisms in present European populations has indicated that Eu 19 (that is also characterised by other Y chromosome markers: 49a,fht11, SRY 1532G) expanded between 13 000 and 7600 years ago from the Dniepr-Don Valley area, probably when groups that initially sought refuge in that area during the LGM were allowed to migrate by the improved climatic conditions to those regions of Europe previously covered by ice.

In fact this Y chromosome lineage, is by far more frequent is eastern Europe with a decreasing westward gradient. In addition it is much more diversified in eastern European populations. The highest degree of diversification was observed in Ukranians.

It is then possible that Ahrensburgian men, as well as most of the men descending from the Ukranian LGM refuge bore Eu19 Y chromosomes. The microsatellite haplotypes linked to M17 in Norwegian individuals represents indeed a subset of the repertoire observed in eastern Europe. In particular it was observed the prevalence of the 15.3/1 (21/19 repeats) and of the 16.5/1 (23/19 repeats) haplotypes with their relative derivatives.

The Eu19 16.5/1 haplotype is also very common in eastern Europe, while Eu 19 15.3/1 haplotype is common in Norway, but very rare elsewhere. This peculiar pattern of microsatellites affiliated with EU19 may be explained by a founder effect, subsequent isolation in Norwegians (and possibly the Scandinavians) and eventual in loco expansion, as also observed elsewhere.

If it seems reasonable to assume that most of the Ahrensburgian men bore the Eu19 Y chromosomes, it cannot be excluded that they mixed with other groups before moving northward to Norwegian coasts. In particular, late glacial central Europe was characterised by the expansion of northern Balkan groups, where the frequency of M170 Y chromosomes (EU 7) was probably very high.

In addition, based on the differentiation of haplogroup V in Scandinavia, it also seems that groups coming from the northern Spain refuge entered Norway. Should this be true, it is likely that M173 Y chromosomes (EU18) also entered Norway during the late glacial.

R1a is also 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).

With the exception of rather recent migrants from the Urals, it has been proposed that the appearance of domestic economies in Scandinavia arrived from central and northern Europe.

These populations would have likely been Indo-European speakers that possibly fostered the Proto Baltic-Slavic-Germanic linguistic unity to the Baltic area and to north-eastern Europe. Specifically the Corded Wares culture from Central Europe (present Germany) and the Battle-Axe culture from Jutland.

The spread of agriculture correlated with the Corded Wares–Battle Axe cultures and possibly involved the displacement of some of the previous populations, but in other cases, such as Poland and northern Russia it was mainly a cultural phenomenon. In Norway, hunting and fishing became a secondary source of sustenance. However it is debated if this was a consequence of the displacement of the previous populations, or of a cultural switch driven by a few newcomers.

The present German gene pool shows a high frequency of Eu7 and Eu18 haplotypes. These haplotypes, which account for about 75% of the Norwegian Y chromosome pool, are then likely to have been brought to Norway by those groups who also brought the Indo-European languages and the agriculture.

However, at present, it is not possible to evaluate how much this migration impacted the Norwegian gene pool. First, because it is not possible to distinguish between lineages brought in the late glacial time and those brought 5–6000 years ago.

In addition, non-random mating phenomena may also play a role. It is possible that these cultures were composed of a subset of elite males, who reduced the reproductive success of other males and then the Y chromosome may emphasise the real genetic contributions of the central European migration to Norway.

It has to be noticed that also part of the Eu19 lineage could have entered Norway with the migrations that brought the transition to agriculture. In fact, although very low in Germany, this lineage is very high in Poland, Hungary and in the former Czeckslovakia. However the network of microsatellite haplotypes attached to this lineage seems to suggest a long time in loco differentiation.

Either because of late glacial or of more recent migrations the Norway Y chromosome gene pool appears to be very close to present day Germans. In fact the st and the Fst data indicate Germans and a few other Central European populations as being the closest to the Norwegians.

When we compare our results with those based on different polymorphic systems, we can infer that these conclusions are also valid for Swedish, while Finns and Saami had a quite different genetic history with a great impact of Uralic Finno-Ugric speaking population.

Ornella Semino et al. propose a postglacial spread of the R1a1 gene from the Ukrainian LGM refuge, subsequently magnified by the expansion of the Kurgan culture into Europe and eastward. The greatest variation in R1a1a is found in South Asia particularly North India. This conclusively proves that South Asia is the most probable source of R1a1a. Wells suggests the origin, distribution and age of R1a1 points to an ancient migration, possibly corresponding to the spread by the Kurgan people in their expansion across the Eurasian steppe around 3000 BC.

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 first expansion of the forest-steppe people occured with the Corded Ware Culture (see Germanic branch below). 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 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.

Across Caucasus

The Tell Halaf/Ubaid culture are tied both to the Southern Levant and then to the Trancausia area and possibly inspiring both Kura-Axes and Maykop development. There are some very early branches of Haplogroup R1b1a2 (M269) in the Near East, as well as the non M269 R1b1c (V88) that may have expanded into Africa from there. The Kura-Axes and Maykop area becomes core to the Circumpontic Metallugy Province. We have M269 L23xL51 in the Caucasus and Anatolia and L51 types of R1b showing up with Bell Beakers, metallurgists, in Western Euroope. 

The Paleolithic origins of R1b are not entirely clear to this day. 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. 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.

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.

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.

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 (3500-2500 BCE) developed soon afterwards (from 3500 BCE).

Middle Eastern R1b people had been living and blending to some extent with the local R1a foragers and herders 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. 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.

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.

Maykop was an advanced Bronze Age culture, actually one of the very first to develop metalworking, and therefore metal weapons. The world’s oldest sword was found at a late Maykop grave in Klady kurgan 31. Its style is reminiscent of the long Celtic swords, though less elaborated.

Horse bones and depictions of horses already appear in early Maykop graves, suggesting that the Maykop culture might have been founded by steppe people or by people who had close link with them. However, the presence of cultural elements radically different from the steppe culture in some sites could mean that Maykop had a hybrid population.

Without DNA testing it is impossible to say if these two populations were an Anatolian R1b group and a G2a Caucasian group, or whether R1a people had settled there too. The two or three ethnicities might even have cohabited side by side in different settlements.

The one typical Caucasian Y-DNA lineage that does follow the pattern of Indo-European migrations is G2a3b1, which is found throughout Europe, Central Asia and South Asia. In the Balkans, the Danube basin and Central Europe its frequency is somewhat proportional to the percentage of R1b.

Maykop people are the ones credited for the introduction of primitive wheeled vehicles (wagons) from Mesopotamia to the steppes. This would revolutionise the way of life in the steppe, and would later lead to the development of (horse-drawn) war chariots around 2000 BCE.

Cavalry and chariots played an vital role in the subsequent Indo-European migrations, allowing them to move quickly and defeat easily anybody they encountered. Combined with advanced bronze weapons and their sea-based culture, the western branch (R1b) of the Indo-Europeans from the Black Sea shores are excellent candidates for being the mysterious Sea Peoples, who raided the eastern shores of the Mediterranean during the second millennium BCE.

The rise of the IE-speaking Hittites in Central Anatolia happened a few centuries after the disappearance of the Maykop and Yamna cultures. Considering that most Indo-European forms of R1b found in Anatolia today belong to the R1b-Z2103 subclade, it makes little doubt that the Hittites came to Anatolia via the Balkans, after Yamna/Maykop people invaded Southeast Europe.

The Maykop and Yamna cultures were succeeded by the Srubna culture (1600-1200 BCE), possibly representing an advance of R1a1a people from the northern steppes towards the Black Sea shores, filling the vacuum left by the R1b tribes who migrated to Southeast Europe and Anatolia.

There is substantial archaeological and linguistic evidence that Troy was an Indo-European city associated with the steppe culture and haplogroup R1b. The Trojans were Luwian speakers related to the Hittites (hence Indo-European), with attested cultural ties to the culture of the Pontic-Caspian steppe.

The Hittites (c. 2000-1178 BCE) were the first Indo-Europeans to defy (and defeat) the mighty Mesopotamian and Egyptian empires. There are two hypotheses regarding the origins of the Hittites. The first is that they came from the eastern Balkans and invaded Anatolia by crossing the Bosphorus. That would mean that they belonged either to the L23 or the Z2103 subclade.

The other plausible scenario is that they were an offshoot of the late Maykop culture, and that they crossed the Caucasus to conquer the Hattian kingdom (perhaps after being displaced from the North Caucasus by the R1a people of the Catacomb culture). In that case the Hittites might have belonged to the R1b-M269 subclade.

The first hypothesis has the advantage of having a single nucleus, the Balkans, as the post-Yamna expansion of all Indo-European R1b. The Maykop hypothesis, on the other hand, would explain why the Anatolian branch of IE languages (Hittite, Luwian, Lydian, Palaic) is so archaic compared to other Indo-European languages, which would have originated in Yamna rather than Maykop.

The first city of Troy dates back to 3000 BCE, right in the middle of the Maykop period. Troy might have been founded by Maykop people as a colony securing the trade routes between the Black Sea and the Aegean. The founding of Troy happens to coincide exactly with the time the first galleys were made. Considering the early foundation of Troy, the most likely of the two Indo-European paternal haplogroups would be R1b-M269 or L23.

R1b1a2

R1b1a2 (2011 name) is defined by the presence of SNP marker M269. R1b1a2* or M269(xL23) is found at highest frequency in the central Balkans notably Kosovo with 7.9%, Macedonia 5.1% and Serbia 4.4%. Kosovo is notable in also having a high percentage of descendant L23* or L23(xM412) at 11.4% unlike most other areas with significant percentages of M269* and L23* except for Poland with 2.4% and 9.5% and the Bashkirs of southeast Bashkortostan with 2.4% and 32.2% respectively. Notably this Bashkir population also has a high percentage of M269 sister branch M73 at 23.4%. Five individuals out of 110 tested in the Ararat Valley, Armenia belonged to R1b1a2* and 36 to L23*, with none belonging to subclades of L23.

European R1b is dominated by R-M269. It has been found at generally low frequencies throughout central Eurasia, but with relatively high frequency among Bashkirs of the Perm Region (84.0%). This marker is also present in China and India at frequencies of less than one percent. The table below lists in more detail the frequencies of M269 in various regions in Asia, Europe, and Africa.

The frequency is about 71% in Scotland, 70% in Spain and 60% in France. In south-eastern England the frequency of this clade is about 70%; in parts of the rest of north and western England, Spain, Portugal, Wales and Ireland, it is as high as 90%; and in parts of north-western Ireland it reaches 98%. It is also found in North Africa, where its frequency surpasses 10% in some parts of Algeria.

As discussed above, in articles published around 2000 it was proposed that this clade been in Europe before the last Ice Age, but by 2010 more recent periods such as the European Neolithic have become the focus of proposals.

A range of newer estimates for R1b1b2, or at least its dominant parts in Europe, are from 4,000 to a maximum of about 10,000 years ago, and looking in more detail is seen as suggesting a migration from Western Asia via southeastern Europe. Western European R1b is dominated by R-P310.

It was also in this period between 2000 and 2010 that it became clear that especially Western European R1b is dominated by specific sub-clades of R-M269 (with some small amounts of other types found in areas such as Sardinia).

Within Europe, R-M269 is dominated by R-M412, also known as R-L51, which according to Myres et al. (2010) is “virtually absent in the Near East, the Caucasus and West Asia.” This Western European population is further divided between R-P312/S116 and R-U106/S21, which appear to spread from the western and eastern Rhine river basin respectively.

Myres et al. note further that concerning its closest relatives, in R-L23*, that it is “instructive” that these are often more than 10% of the population in the Caucasus, Turkey, and some southeast European and circum-Uralic populations. In Western Europe it is also present but in generally much lower levels apart from “an instance of 27% in Switzerland’s Upper Rhone Valley.”

In addition, the sub-clade distribution map, Figure 1h titled “L11(xU106,S116)”, in Myres et al. shows that R-P310/L11* (or as yet undefined subclades of R-P310/L11) occurs only in frequencies greater than 10% in Central England with surrounding areas of England and Wales having lower frequencies.

This R-P310/L11* is almost non-existent in the rest of Eurasia and North Africa with the exception of coastal lands fringing the western and southern Baltic (reaching 10% in Eastern Denmark and 6% in northern Poland) and in Eastern Switzerland and surrounds.

In 2009, DNA extracted from the femur bones of 6 skeletons in an early-medieval burial place in Ergolding (Bavaria, Germany) dated to around 670 AD yielded the following results: 4 were found to be haplogroup R1b with the closest matches in modern populations of Germany, Ireland and the USA while 2 were in Haplogroup G2a.

Population studies which test for M269 have become more common in recent years, while in earlier studies men in this haplogroup are only visible in the data by extrapolation of what is likely. The following gives a summary of most of the studies which specifically tested for M269, showing its distribution in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia as far as China and Nepal.

Armenia

The geographical distribution of this haplotype is such that it is shared by Armenians and two other populations from the Caucasus. Moreover, it is lacking in most other populations from the Caucasus, as well as in the other populations from further east. On the other hand, it is more frequently found in Europe, where as we know, haplogroup R1b tends to have higher frequencies as well.

The Armenian modal haplotype is also the modal R1b3 haplotype observed by Cinnioglu in Anatolia. According to him, apparently it entered Anatolia from Europe in Paleolithic times, and diffused again from Anatolia in the Late Upper Paleolithic.

An alternative explanation may be that the particular haplotype may have been associated with the movement of the Phrygians into Asia Minor. The Phrygians were an Indo-European people of the Balkans who settled in Asia Minor, and the Armenians were reputed to be descended from them.

It would be interesting to thoroughly study the populations of modern Thrace, Anatolia, and Armenia, and to investigate whether a subgroup of R1b3 chromosomes linked by the Armenian modal haplotype may represent the signature of a back-migration into Asia of Balkan Indo-European peoples.

Combined with advanced bronze weapons and their sea-based culture, the western branch (R1b) of the Indo-Europeans from the Black Sea shores are excellent candidates for being the mysterious Sea Peoples, who raided the eastern shores of the Mediterranean during the second millennium BCE.

The Phrygians and the Proto-Armenians are two other Indo-European tribes stemming from the Balkans. Both appear to have migrated to Anatolia around 1200 BCE, during the ‘great upheavals’ of the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Phrygians (or Bryges) founded a kingdom (1200-700 BCE) in west central Anatolia, taking over most of the crumbling Hittite Empire. The Armenians crossed all Anatolia until Lake Van and settled in the Armenian Highlands. Nowadays 30% of Armenian belong to haplogroup R1b, the vast majority to the L23 subclade.

Armenian DNA Project – News

Kura-Araxes culture

The period between the 4th and 3rd millennia B.C. was the time of great cataclysmic events in the Caucasus; its cultural advances were influenced by changes within its boundaries as well as interactions with the outside world. The most significant occurrence of this epoch was the appearance of a large number of peoples of Mesopotamian cultural identity who contributed to speeding up the rhythm of its cultural development, adding “explosive” character to its progress.

During this period the South Caucasus experienced two powerful waves of Middle Eastern expansion: the first at the time of Late Neolithic culture of Sioni in the 4th-5th millennia B.C., and the second at the period of Tsopi culture in the Late Neolithic Age, at the end of the 5th and the first half of the 4th millennium B.C., which is known as the Uruk expansion era.

Later, in the second half of the 4th and throughout the 3 rd millennium B.C., during the Early Bronze Age the Kura-Araxes culture of the Caucasus spread throughout the greater part of the Caucasus, Eastern Anatolia, northern parts of Iran, Middle East and even Europe.

In this context, recent archaeological finds in the Southern and Northeastern Caucasus gave yet another, entirely new nuance to scientific researches into the ancient past of the Caucasus. They made it clear that incursion of these peoples into the Caucasus was not a onetime event, but continued for a significantly long period.

Reasoning by the topography of the archaeological finds in Mesopotamia, it becomes clear that large masses of migrant settlers from that area did not move straight along the route to Transcaucasia in order to reach the destination faster. Actually, they settled down in every region of the Caucasus, in the mountains and flatlands, in areas where they could maintain a lifestyle familiar to them.

It seems obvious that from that period on, two cultures of the Caucasus that had been at different stages of development could coexist peacefully on the basis of their mutual participation in metallurgical manufacturing; it was this type of communal economy that gave impetus to a speedy development of the local culture. This is well illustrated by the metallurgical items of the Kura-Araxes culture, which is significantly more advanced in comparison with the preAeneolithic culture.

At present the situation has changed drastically. On the basis of a whole series of radiocarbon analyses, it has been proved that burial mounds of the ancient pit-grave culture are of a significantly later period in comparison with Maikop archaeological sites.

This allows scholars to assume that the tradition of building this type of burial mounds emerged precisely in the Maikop culture. Its ties with Levant and Mesopotamian antiquities point to its earlier origin. At the same time, a whole range of chronological data obtained with radiocarbon analysis has established that the settlements and burial mounds of the South Caucasus containing Uruk artefact are coexistent with the Maikop culture and, accordingly, the ancient pit-grave culture and its burial mounds belong to a later period.

Therefore, today we cannot possibly ascribe the emergence of this kind of burial mounds in the Maikop culture as well as similar contemporaneous sites in the South Caucasus to the influence of the steppe zone cultures. Moreover, there were no adverse conditions that would have prevented emergence of this type of burial mounds in the Caucasus itself

Akhundov (2007) recently uncovered pre-Kura-Araxes/Late Chalcolithic materials from the settlement of Boyuk Kesik and the kurgan necropolis of Soyuq Bulaq in northwestern Azerbaijan, and Makharadze (2007) has also excavated a pre-Kura-Araxes kurgan, Kavtiskhevi, in central Georgia.

Materials recovered from both these recent excavations can be related to remains from the metal-working Late Chalcolithic site of Leilatepe on the Karabakh steppe near Agdam (Narimanov et al. 2007) and from the earliest level at the multi-period site of Berikldeebi in Kvemo Kartli (Glonti and Dzavakhishvili 1987). They reveal the presence of early 4th millennium raised burial mounds or kurgans in the southern Caucasus.

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

The 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 name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Its territory corresponds to parts of modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia, Ingushetia and North Ossetia.

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

While broadly (and somewhat imprecisely) defined, these regions constitute on present evidence the original core area out of which the Kura-Araxes ‘culture-historical community’ emerged.

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

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

The 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.

Archaeological evidence of inhabitants of the Kura–Araxes culture had shown that ancient settlements were found along the Hrazdan river, as shown by drawings at a mountainous area in a cave nearby.

Structures within settlements have not revealed much differentiation, nor was there much difference in size or character between settlements, facts that suggest they probably had a poorly developed social hierarchy for at least a significant stretch of their history. Some, but not all, settlements were surrounded by stone walls.

They built mud-brick houses, originally round, but later developing into subrectangular designs with structures of just one or two rooms, multiple rooms centered around an open space, or rectilinear designs.

At some point the culture’s settlements and burial grounds expanded out of lowland river valleys and into highland areas. Although some scholars have suggested that this expansion demonstrates a switch from agriculture to pastoralism, and that it serves as possible proof of a large-scale arrival of Indo-Europeans, facts such as that settlement in the lowlands remained more or less continuous suggest merely that the people of this culture were diversifying their economy to encompass both crop and livestock agriculture.

The economy was based on farming and livestock-raising (especially of cattle and sheep). They grew grain and various orchard crops, and are known to have used implements to make flour. They raised cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, and in its later phases, horses (introduced around 3000 BCE, probably by Indo-European speaking tribes from the North).

There is evidence of trade with Mesopotamia, as well as Asia Minor. It is, however, considered above all to be indigenous to the Caucasus, and its major variants characterized (according to Caucasus historian Amjad Jaimoukha) later major cultures in the region.

In its earliest phase, metal was scant, but it would later display “a precocious metallurgical development which strongly influenced surrounding regions”. They worked copper, arsenic, silver, gold, tin, and bronze. Their metal goods were widely distributed, recorded in the Volga, Dnieper and Don-Donets systems in the north, into Syria and Palestine in the south, and west into Anatolia.

Their pottery was distinctive; in fact, the spread of their pottery along trade routes into surrounding cultures was much more impressive than any of their achievements domestically. It was painted black and red, using geometric designs for ornamentation. Examples have been found as far south as Syria and Israel, and as far north as Dagestan and Chechnya.

The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes, and most certainly, had extensive trade contacts.

Jaimoukha believes that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians. The Kura Araxes culture may have given rise to the later Khirbet Kerak ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.

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

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

The culture is closely linked to the approximately contemporaneous Maykop culture of Transcaucasia. As Amjad Jaimoukha puts it: The Kura-Araxes culture was contiguous, and had mutual influences, with the Maikop culture in the Northwest Caucasus. According to E.I.Krupnov (1969:77), there were elements of the Maikop culture in the early memorials of Chechnya and Ingushetia in the Meken and Bamut kurgans and in Lugovoe in Serzhen-Yurt.

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.

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

More than  forty calibrated radiocarbon dates on Maikop and related materials now support this high  chronology; and the revised dating for the Maikop culture means that the earliest kurgans  occur in the northwestern and southern Caucasus and precede by several centuries those of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) cultures of the western Eurasian steppes (cf. Chernykh and Orlovskaya 2004a and b).

The calibrated radiocarbon dates suggest that the Maikop ‘culture’ seems to have had a formative influence on steppe kurgan burial rituals and what now appears to be the later development of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) culture on the Eurasian steppes (Chernykh and Orlovskaya 2004a: 97).

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. This trend suggests the eventual emergence of a marked social hierarchy.

Their practice of storing relatively great wealth in burial kurgans was probably a cultural influence from the more ancient civilizations of the Fertile Crescent to the south. They are also remarkable for the production of wheeled vehicles (wagons and carts), which were sometimes included in burial kurgans.

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.

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.

Graeco-Aryan is invoked in particular in studies of comparative mythology, e.g. by West (1999) and Watkins (2001).

R1b1a1

R1b1a1 (2011 name) is defined by the presence of SNP marker M73. It has been found at generally low frequencies throughout central Eurasia, but has been found with relatively high frequency among particular populations there including Hazaras in Pakistan (8/25 = 32%); and Bashkirs in Bashkortostan (62/471 = 13.2%), 44 of these being found among the 80 tested Bashkirs of the Abzelilovsky District in the Republic of Bashkortostan (55.0%). Four R-M73 men were also found in a 523-person study of Turkey, and one person in a 168-person study of Crete.

In 2010, Myres et al. report that out of 193 R-M73 men found amongst 10,355 widespread men, “all except two Russians occurred outside Europe, either in the Caucasus, Turkey, the Circum-Uralic and North Pakistan regions.”

Central Asia

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.

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.

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. 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.

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.

Badakhshan (meaning “Badakh Mountains”) is a historic region comprising parts of what is now northeastern Afghanistan and southeastern Tajikistan. The name is retained in Badakhshan Province which is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, in the far northeast of Afghanistan, and contains the Wakhan Corridor. Much of historic Badakhshan lies within Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province located in the in south-eastern part of the country. The music of Badakhshan is an important part of the region’s cultural heritage.

Badakhshan has a diverse ethno-linguistic and religious community. Tajiks are the majority while a minority of Uzbeks and Kyrgyzs also live there. There are also groups of speakers of several Pamir languages of the Eastern Iranian language group.

During the 20th century within Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in Tajikistan the speakers of Pamir languages formed their own separate ethnic identity as Pamiris. The Pamiri people were not officially recognized as a separate ethnic group in Tajikistan, but in Tajikistan Pamiri movements and associations have been formed.

The main religions of Badakhshan are Ismaili Islam and Sunni Islam. The people of this province have a rich cultural heritage and they have preserved unique ancient forms of music, poetry and dance.

Badakhshan was an important trading center during antiquity. Lapis lazuli was traded exclusively from there as early as the second half of the 4th millennium BC. Badakhshan was an important region when the Silk Road passed through. Its significance is its geo-economic role in trades of silk and ancient commodities transactions between the East and West.

Sar-i Sang is a settlement in the Kuran Wa Munjan District of Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan, famous for its ancient lapis lazuli mines producing the world’s finest lapis. Sar-i Sang lapis lazuli mine, probably dating from proto-historic times. It consists of one old disused shaft and two new shafts. This was the main source of lapis lazuli in the ancient world, with lapis from here occurring in such famous archaeological discoveries as the Royal Treasure of Ur and the Tomb of Tutankhamun.

As the domestication of pack animals and the development of shipping technology both increased the capacity for prehistoric people to carry heavier loads over greater distances, cultural exchanges and trade developed rapidly. In addition, grassland provides fertile grazing, water, and easy passage for caravans. The vast grassland steppes of Asia enabled merchants to travel immense distances, from the shores of the Pacific to Africa and deep into Europe, without trespassing on agricultural lands and arousing hostility.

From the 2nd millennium BC nephrite jade was being traded from mines in the region of Yarkand and Khotan to China. Significantly, these mines were not very far from the lapis lazuli and spinel (“Balas Ruby”) mines in Badakhshan and, although separated by the formidable Pamir Mountains, routes across them were, apparently, in use from very early times.

The Yaz culture is an early Iron Age culture of Bactria and Margiana (ca. 1500-1100 BC). It has been regarded as a likely archaeological reflection of early East Iranian culture as described in the Avesta. So far, no burials related to the culture have been found, and this was taken as evidence of the Zoroastrian practice of exposure or so-called sky burial.

Around 3000 BCE it seems that people from Geoksiur, where extensive irrigation systems have been discovered, 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. 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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

 
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