on the principle of wave migration
is a more or less standard view of the Indo-European migration showing the spread
of Indo-European language groups from an unknown PIE Urheimat area, which was
situated somewhere near the Black or Caspian Sea before 2000 BC within the area
bordered by the red dotted line. The center-of-gravity point of Indo-European
language groups corresponding to the area of maximum language diversity is difficult
to determine precisely, but it seems to be located in the Ponto-Caspian steppes,
probably within the Don-Volga-Caucasus triangle.
map is based on the wave migration hypothesis, which states that all human
migrations tend to occur symmetrically choosing most suitable
routes and avoiding inaccessible territories that impose geo-climatic constraints
on the expansion. This allows to make rather detailed predictions of routes to
India and Europe, since the number of physically allowable or economically viable
passages in Eurasia tends to be rather limited. Most migrations must have proceeded
along river valleys and arable land, and therefore can finally be reconstructed,
especially if paleoclimatic and paleogeographic changes are taken into consideration.
addition, this approach allows to pinpoint an idealized Urheimat for each ethnic
group, which is represented by an imaginary spot in space-time, centered on the
focus of the correspondent circular migration wave.
the mechanism of migration
likely error that people often make is assuming that the Indo-European migration
was part of a powerful military aggression. This idea was popularized by Gimbutas,
and was probably due to her psychological impressions of WWII. However, the
slow pace of the migration reveals that this was unlikely for most of the
time; rather we should assume that the migration was occurring in the form of
gradual branching of homesteads of Indo-European farmers and cattle breeders.
This process was generally dependent on the population growth rates during the
late Neolithic/Eneolithic when the agricultural and technological advances increased
birth rate, decreased mortality, and positively affected population dynamics.
Consider a simple example when a family of cattle raisers showed some
positive demographic growth and had 2.5 grown-up children, so now they needed
some extra pasture territory for their cattle and had to expand into a nearby
empty field; as a result we have gradual, relatively peaceful expansion over time.
It is true, however, that this field could have belonged to adstrate hunter/gatherers,
but the contact with them did not have to be necessarily of a military type. It
was likely to be occurring through intermarriages, acquiring the language of the
more technologically advanced IE culture, migratory displacement, etc. Instead
of imposing one's culture by force, it can be more effective to rather culturally
seduce into it by offering new survival opportunities, such as more food and more
efficient methods of transportation.
Apparently, this relatively peaceful
spread displaced all the indigeneous languages by genetically integrating their
speakers into the new-economy community and making the old-world languages fade
At times, there could also have been some fast, aggressive
military expansions, skirmishes or erratic movements associated with social unrest,
but generally this process seems to be rather steady, slow and peaceful, taking
decades, ultimately thousands of years, and, for most of the time, probably even
occurring at a constant rate (which can supposedly be calculated under
certain conditions, hence, in theory, providing the possibility for dating PIE
using purely geographical, non-glottochronological assumptions).
migration vs. fixed homeland
should be cautious with the traditional term "homeland", or "'Urheimat",
which now sounds more metaphorical than factual. In a real demographic process,
migrations hardly ever stop at all and can hardly produce a once-and-for-all fixed,
permanent region in space-time, associated with a historical homeland. Essentially,
instead of asking, "Where do these people belong?", we should
rather say, "What was the spatial and linguistic status of a particular
ethnic group at a specific period of time?".
This continuous migration
approach finally explains the difficulty of establishing an exact point in space
where the Indo-Europeans supposedly came from, because possibly, in reality, no
such geographic location ever existed. Accordingly, what we should do is attempt
to determine population distribution for every period of time, which can finally
be represented as an animation of changing migration maps that display a migration
history of a particular ethnic group during the historical period in question.
there can be convincing arguments for placing the PIE homeland virtually anywhere
within the red dotted line, and there are sometimes as many PIE Urheimat theories
as debate participants. On the other hand, an attempt to determine migration
histories and consider the whole matter from the continuos-migration
perspective should settle a number of tricky questions in the Indo-European studies
and remove apparent contradiction among different theories, some of which may
in fact represent nothing but different temporal and spatial stages of the same
we will still use the suitable traditional term "homeland" in many occasions,
keeping in mind that this is just an idealized abstract concept describing a temporary
historical stage of a continual process.
continual migration may stop at times, becoming static, because something has
impeded its movement, for instance, in a situation when a migration wave is being
blocked by geographic obstacles, or it begins to split up into smaller currents
after running into a mountain range, etc. But in most other cases we observe a
rather dynamic, changing picture.
this viewpoint, as mentioned above, an idealized homeland should simply coincide
with the focus of a symmetric migration wave that, at further expansion, can produce
other secondary waves according to the Huygens-Fresnel
principle in optics thus creating secondary language branches.
The details of this migration model should be disccussed elsewhere.
broad homeland hypothesis
alternative plausible suggestion to the classical Gimbutas' theory could be that
the Proto-Indo-European language was spread on the broad territory that included
all of the Ponto-Caspian steppe and even some areas in Kazakhstan which
were uniformly covered by people speaking nearly one single language even during
the late stages of the expansion. This is corroborated by the evidence from Kazakhstan,
where the Kazakh language, originally spoken by horse-breeding nomads, does not
show much dialectical differentiation and seems to be surprisingly uniform for
the large territory it covers.
hypothesis also finds support in the possible general ethnogeographic principle,
according to which people tend to occupy as much territory as their environmental
adaptation would allow (see ethnogeography),
as well as the aforementioned principle of symmetric expansion predicting that
a uniform geoclimatic zone would lead to the formation of stationary migration
waves that would bounce off the habitat boundaries finally covering all available
territory with similar landscape and climate.
fact, the climate is the only obstacle for the eastward expansion from the Pontic
steppes since the continental isotherms in Eurasia tend to run from north to south
along the meridians causing more severe winters, less precipitation, and more
drastic temperature seasonal variance as one moves east, further into the continent
— a fact that possibly explains why the Indo-European distribution seems to be
skewed along the northwest-to-southeast axis.
other respects, there seem to be few natural obstacles that impede migration to
the east, e.g., frozen rivers could be crossed in winter. Consequently, almost
nothing would have precluded the Proto-Indo-Europeans from occupying all of the
Ponto-Caspian grassland territory and move further into Kazakhstan.
a result, the diversification of the Proto-Indo-European dialects could have occurred
in a natural way as their speakers reached the steppe boundaries and adapted to
new types of geographic environment.
reasons for the dispersal could also be technological
often assumed that the Indo-European expansion could have resulted from some sort
of accidental catastrophe, such as the flooding of the Black Sea. Even though
this hypothesis cannot be excluded or could correspond to early stages of the
PIE expansion, a more plausible explanation should view the Indo-European spread
from the evolutionary perspective deducing its causes from the ability of the
Proto-Indo-European peoples to adapt to their environment. In humans, this adaptation
can only be achieved through more effective technology, superior tools and more
advanced level of civilization. In fact, there are several phenomena that can
be regarded as candidates for unique Indo-European technological inventions: (1)
the invention of agriculture by 8000 BC (as suggested by Renfrew, 1987); (2) horse
domestication by 4000-2500 BC; (3) the invention of the wheel and heavy carts
(before Sumerians, c. 3000 BC?); (4) the invention of light, spoked wheel and
fast horse-drawn chariot (first attested in Sintashta, c. 2100-1700 BC).
kind of the earliest heavy cart was probably very similar in design to the two-wheel
carts still in use in some parts of Mongolia, offering a unique insight
into the early history of wheeled vehicles, as can be seen in the image below.
It is also known as Bulgaric (Chuvash) urapa and Turkic araba, arba,
so evidently its use extended across Eurasia, but its unique, localized usage
by Indo-Europeans is unlikely.
heavy carts in western Mongolia
the other hand, the use of horse-drawn chariot and light carts seems to be particularly
typical of the early Indo-European cultures and rather ubiquitous on their territory.
The chariot was the only effective ancient mean of transport, the indispensable
ship of the steppe allowing them to reach as far as India and the Atlantic. In
the battlefield, it was so efficient that its use in Ukraine extended well into
the 20th century when the tachankas
with machine guns were used during the Russian Civil War (1917–1920s) and apparently
horses in the Askania-Nova
on Manych-Gudilo Island, Kalmykia
monument in Kakhovka, Ukraine
it is plausible to infer that it was the wheel, the horse-drawn carts and the
chariot that turned the Proto-Indo-Europeans into what we know them to be: the
ancient conquerors of Eurasia and the world.
migration of main the Indo-European branches and the location of their foci
historical conventions, plausible hypotheses, and even some educated guesses have
been used to elucidate the position of individual homelands of Indo-European peoples.
It goes without saying that the present-day level of Indo-European studies does
not allow to reconstruct the position of all the Urheimats with 100% accuracy.
Also see a more detailed map
of Indo-Iranian migration.
The center of Indo-Iranian
expansion was probably located near the western Pamir Mountains and along
the Oxus (Amu Darya) River. [Note that many historical records as well as
the presence of dry river beds (the Uzboy(s)) in the area indicate that the Oxus
flowed to the Caspian Sea during the early antiquity!]. As of now, it is suggested
herein that the wave of the Indo-Iranians somehow reached the Pamirs, where it
split into (1) the Proto-Iranian ethnic group that stayed along the Oxus and the
Uzboy, and (2) the Proto-Dardo-Nuristano-Indo-Aryan group that, after inhabiting
the western Pamirs for at least a thousand years, finally reached India by slow
There seems to be only one viable passage to
India going over the northern Hindu Kush to Nuristan, which is consistent
with (1) the present-day geographical distribution of the Nuristani and Dardic
languages, (2) the distribution of archaeological sites in northern India. Even
though another route around the Hindu Kush and along the southern regions
of present-day Afghanistan is also feasible, it left fewer or no traces in the
form of the spread of ancient or modern Indo-Aryan languages, and therefore was
probably not taken. Consequently, the idea of the Nuristan Bridge to India
seems to be very plausible. The late Indo-Iranians reached the upper Oxus in the
Pamir mountains (where it is known as the Panj River), which resulted in the early
separation of the Wakhi ethnic group which exhibits many linguistic peculiarities
and archaisms. From there, they
were probably advancing
very slowly due to the presence of significant geographical obstacles, and finally
reached Nuristan located
on the other side of the Hindu Kush that can essentially be seen as India. They
most likely used the Yarkhun river valley (near the Chitral district) to descend
from the Hindu Kush first towards the Kabul river, and finally to the Indus valley.
set of hypotheses is corroborated by the fact that the Pamir-Nuristan region is
the area of maximum Indo-Iranian language diversity.
Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) located along the Oxus seems to
coincide with the early East Iranian or Proto-Iranian (rather than Indo-Iranian)
habitat, since the newly obtained glottochronolgical dates (see the lexicostatistical
comparison of Indo-European languages) indicate an early separation
of the Iranian and Dardo-Nuristano-Indo-Aryan groups by about 3000 BC, although
this conclusion is preliminary and quite controversial so far.
extreme diversity of the East Iranian languages, which is often underestimated
in other studies. In fact, herein, we no longer maintain the idea of a clear-cut
division of Iranian languages into East and West subgroups. Rather we suppose
that there exists an intricate web of Iranian branches which spread along the
Oxus from the Panj river and the Vakhan corridor in the Pamirs to the southern
coast of the Caspian Sea somewhere between 1500 BC to 500 BC. It's also important
to understand that the Oxus is the main water artery in the region and could metaphorically
bear the name of the "Great Iranian River", serving as the most important
and sometimes the only route for the migration across Central Asia for thousands
Ultimately, it's not at all clear how the early Proto-Indo-Iranians
could have circumnavigated the Caspian Sea. Generally, there are three geographic
alternatives; the early Proto-Indo-Iranians could have traveled:
across the Ustyurt Plateau, the Karakum desert and the steppes of northern
Kazakhstan, which all are arid, inhospitable and presently uninhabited territories
that are difficult to penetrate. More archaeological and especially paleoclimatic
research is needed to clarify this point. Also, note that the Caspian Sea level
has transgressed and regressed many times, and was probably about 5 m (15 ft)
lower circa 3000 BC [see Kasymov, The Caspian Sea, 1987], so at
the time, part of the shallow northern Caspian could be dry, the northern coast
line was most likely located further to the south, and the Proto-Indo-Aryans could
cut some corners when traveling along this route.
around the southern coast of the Caspian Sea (Gilan and Mazendaran
districts of present-day Iran), the area which has highly favorable agricultural
conditions. This hypothesis is contradicted by the absence of the R1a1 haplogroup
in this region, which indicates that it probably had been occupied by other highly
effective agriculturists at the time of the Indo-Iranian arrival.
along the Yaxartes (Syr-Darya) River from the Aral Sea directly to the
Fergana Valley and then further to the Pamirs, which is corroborated by the genetic
distribution of the R1a1 haplogroup and the maximum diversity of the Indo-Iranian
language concentrated near the Pamir mountains. [Note that there are reasons to
believe the Aral Sea has formed only by the beginning of the new era, considering
it is not mentioned in the old Greek and Persian historical records, except as
an allusion to marshland located in that area]
Herein, Proto-Slavic has been integrated into the Balto-Slavic group, which
is consistent with the considerable lexicostatistical and morphological proximity
of Proto-Slavic, Old Prussian, and modern Baltic languages. The hypothesis of
their genetic unity can now be regarded as highly convincing and has been demonstrated
by many authors and many different means (for instance, see the Balto-Slavic
section at this site). In a nutshell, it should also be mentioned that there is
an about 50% cognate match between Lithuanian/Latvian and Slavic in Swadesh-100
here); a 45% match in Swadesh-200 in the study by Girdenis-Mazhulis
(1994), and 47% in the study by Novotna & Blazhek, which demonstrates the
close relationship of Baltic and Slavic groups (cf. only 35% for English-Russian
in Swadesh-100). This is rathet solid evidence for the close proximity of the
Slavic and Baltic language groups, previously argued to be differnt by unscrupulous
authors that apparently did not do any lexical research.
The area of
maximum Balto-Slavic language diversity can be traced to the forested regions
of the upper Dniepr and Pripyat rivers in northern Ukraine and southern
Belarus. Generally, it should be noted that the Dniepr river could have played
a significant role in the northward movement of the Proto-Balto-Slavic peoples
from the Pontic steppes. This area also has high levels of the R1a1 haplogroup
concentration, generally associated with the Satem or Indo-European speakers.
According to the Vistula
Veneti hypothesis, the Proto-Slavic homeland has been placed to
the north of the Carpathian mountains (southeast Poland).
subgroup (preserved in the form of Polabian until 18th century) can be shown to
be a rather separate unity because of the drastic differences between Polabian
and West Slavic languages, which can be explained either by its early separation
from Proto-Slavic or late intense interaction with Middle German (further research
required). The rest of the Slavic languages are sort of a historical Johnny-come-lately
to the Indo-European scene, and many of them probably still preserve much of the
dialectical continuum phenomena (esp. in the western area), therefore their internal
classification should better be viewed and explained from the areal point of view,
rather than the traditional East-West-South tripartite clear-cut division (see
Continuum of Slavic Languages). This traditional internal classification
of Slavic has already been argued by several authors, including Isidore Dyen and
The Celtic languages are shown as several distinct groups because of the
remarkable and obvious differences between Gaulish, Brythonic, and Goidelic branches.
Basically, it is not correct to consider them all as "just Celtic",
since these are in fact very lexicostatistically different (sub)groups with an
early temporal separation. Also, note that we know very little of Lusitanian,
Celtiberian and other obscure early representatives of the Celtic cluster, so
their exact position within the Celtic branch is still questionable. (A possible
inclusion of Proto-Albanian as either part of or close to "Celtic" has
also been considered separately as a plausible hypothesis, see here).
In any case, the late Proto-Celtic homeland should be positioned to the
north of the Alps, somewhere in southern Germany, probably along the upper
Danube. The geographical reasons for this are evident: the Alps constitute
a significant barrier for migration, whereas the Danube, on the other hand, is
a very suitable route to central Europe from the area of the Black Sea.
Moreover, we should shortly consider the frequently mentioned R1b haplogroup and
its relatedness to the early Indo-Europeans. Genetic studies demonstrate that
the areas of Western Europe finally occupied by Celtic speakers have high statistical
concentration of R1b
haplogroup. The R1b is particularly frequent (1) in Basques (88%);
(2) in apparently post-Pictic (herein, regarded as arguably pre-Celtic) population
of northern England (80-90%); (3) in the Hausa population of Sudan (40%) and some
other peoples of sub-Saharan Africa; (4) in Armenians (30%) and Ossetians (40%);
(5) in Bashkirs (Turkic) in the Southern Ural Mountains (85%) (see wiki
for details). These maximum concentration areas should correspond
either to a haplogroup homeland or subsequently formed genetic refugia
that remain after the rest of the territory was diluted by the flood of a differnt
type of DNA brought by new-comers. The latter conjecture seems to be the case,
judging from the multiple nature of these concentration islands characterized
by their location in poorly accessible regions (such as mountains), and the scarcity
of R1b in Asia (e.g. 0.5% in India). Therefore, the origins of this, so to say,
"Sahara-Picto-Vascono-Uralo-Caucasian" haplogroup, which most likely
originated before 15,000 BC, cannot be Indo-European, it should be regarded as
linguistically unrelated to PIE and going back to the Mesolithic.
As a result, the R1b pre-Celtic clans constituted a different linguo-genetic substrate
that, after the arrival of Indo-Europeans, finally produced what we now know as
"Celtic languages", which were the result of an "imperfect"
acquisition of a certain mainstream Centum proto-language by the local pre-Celtic
Consequently, it's reasonable to assume that the Celtic
languages must have been rather innovative and, in theory, could have preserved
certain features from the R1b linguistic substratum, which was probably essentially
Proto-Vasconic (judging from its 90% concentration among the Basques), although
presently, it would be quite difficult to establish any elements in Celtic going
back to Proto-Basque.
Finally, after the period of Roman Empire, these
Celtic speakers again changed their language by switching to modern Romance and
Germanic languages of Western Europe, such as Spanish, French and English, and
now constitute the majority population of Western Europe, with the Celtic languages
marginalized to the northwest of the British Isles.
[As a digression,
one might also wonder how this unrelated R1b group got to northern and central
Africa; it had probably happened with the migration of Neolithic farmers (after
8000 BC) traveling along the Nile into Sudan, Chad, Cameroon, and the Sahara which
had been more humid before 3000 BC].
seems to be geographically plausible that the early Proto-Germanic speakers moved
to the area of northern Germany from the Black Sea region traveling across southern
Poland to the north of the Carpathian Mountains.
from the high concentration of R1b markers (~50-60%) and the diluted presence
of R1a1 (~10-15%) in Germany, we may deduce the existence of the same R1b substratum
as in the case of the Celtic migration. Apparently, the Germanic languages were
also innovative and may result from an acquisition of the Indo-European superstratum
by the original population of Central Europe.
The Proto-Anatolians (including Hittite as the main representative) could
in fact be nearly autochthonous to Anatolia, having stayed there for quite
an extended period of time. This seems to the most likely hypothesis at the present
point; it is based on the early split of the proto-Anatolian languages from the
main Indo-European stem.
the other hand, if we assume that the Proto-Anatolians moved to Anatolia from
somewhere else, then the eastern route from the Caucasus region would be slightly
more plausible, being supported by such arguments as (1) the relatively early
appearance of Hittites in Anatolia by 1800 BC (whereas the journey around the
Black Sea would have landed them there at about the same time as the Greeks, that
is, about the time of the Trojan War (c.1200-1300 BC), when the Hittite Kingdom
was already in decline); (2) the cuneiform writing and the use of cylindrical
seals borrowed from the Assyrians, which indicates cultural contact with the eastern
cultures rather than with Egypt.
split periods of Proto-Indo-European subbranches can be calculated on the basis
of historical, archaeological, genetic, and, in some cases, glottochronological
The Proto-Germanic stage can roughly be dated between 1800 BC and 250 BC,
which approximately matches the dating of local Nordic Bronze Age culture (1800-500
BC) [The Trundholm sun chariot, the sun wheel sign, the petroglyphs depicting
ships, bronze working, amber trade, burial mounds, etc]. On the other hand, the
glottochronological evidence also tends to place the internal Proto-Germanic split
in the second half of the first millennium BC. For instance, Toporova (2000) (based
on Maurer and Schwartz) provides 500 BC as the date for the start of internal
splitting in Proto-Germanic, whereas Starostin & Burlak (2001) date it to
circa 100 BC (however the latter Starostin's nonlogarithmic glottochronology seems
to yield incorrect dates).
Proto-Celtic can plausibly be dated by the Early Bronze Urnfield culture (1300-750
BC) [wagon chariots including chariot burials, fortified settlements, bronze,
iron, inhumations in urns, burial mounds, etc]. As a result, the Iron Age Hallstatt
(c. 800-475 BC) and La Tene (c. 500-50 BC) cultures are typically associated with
late Proto-Celtic or the early Celtic periods.
The dating for Proto-Albanian (Proto-Illyrian (?)) is very uncertain. Besides,
there are some reasons to believe that Albanian might in fact be connected to
the Celtic languages, albeit this is controversial and deserves a separate discussion
(see the lexicostatistical
comparison of Indo-European languages).
Proto-Italic can be dated by the Apennine culture which entered the Italian
peninsula by c. 1350 BC. Of course, Latin, as we know it, appears only
by 500 BC after the fall of the Etruscans. The Venetic language, as revealed by
its inscriptions (including a few complete sentences), was also closely related
to the Italic languages, and for this reason not shown separately on the map above.
It is largely accepted that the Proto-Hellenic tribes entered the Balkan peninsula
somewhere between 2000 and 1600 BC. For instance, Bartonek (1987) has 1900
BC for the start of the internal splitting of Proto-Hellenic.
Proto-Thracian was a "satemized" language (apparently close to Balto-Slavic,
not Armenian, as it's often claimed), first attested circa 500 BC, when it was
mentioned by Herodotus. Phrygians must have migrated to Asia Minor at least by
the end of the Hittite Kingdom (c. 1200 BC), which was probably connected to the
migrations of the Sea Peoples. Phrygia began to flourish by 700 BC.
The Indo-European chariots could not be used on the forested landscape, so
any archaeological evidence from this region is difficult to assign to any particular
language group. Arguable glottochronological assessments seem to converge to dates
c. 1000-1500 BC (1250 BC, Starostin (2004); and 1400 BC, Novotna&Blazhek
*Proto-Volgaic [the name is coined herein, hence the asterisk] must have been
a hypothetical branch of PIE that traveled northward along the Volga river, and
left archaeological traces in the form of the Poltavka culture (2700-2100 BC)
[which was similar to the Yamna culture, but with an increased use of metal] and
the later Abashevo /ah-BAH-sheh-voh/ culture (1600-1500 BC, spreading from present-day
Kaluga Oblast to Bashkortostan) [The Abashevo culture includes inhumations in
kurgans, copper-smelting, horses, chariots (Tambov Oblast), the sun and fire cults].
The existence of the *Proto-Volgaic branch is evident not only from
archaeology, it is logically deducible from the present symmetrical expansion
theory, since the Indo-European spread to the north from the Don River is mostly
pre-determined by symmetry considerations, whereas the Volga River
offers a very suitable route for the northeward migration at the point of the
approach between the Don and the Volga. Presently, this "Volgaic" branch
seems to be extinct. Arguably, it could be the pressure from Proto-Volgaic that
prompted the Finno-Ugric peoples to expand in several directions, and finally
made them advance as far as the Urals and the Baltic Sea coast.
*Proto-Arkaim-Sintashta (or *Proto-Andronovo) is another hypothetical branch
of PIE that traveled behind the Ural Mountains creating the Sintashta
(c. 1800 BC) and Arkaim /AR-ka-EEM/ (c. 1600 BC) settlements in to the southwest
of Southern Ural [chariot burials, round fortified towns, inhumations in kurgans,
etc]. Anthony & Vinogradov (1995) dated a chariot burial at Krivoye Lake to
around 2000 BCE, which makes it the earliest spiked wheel ever found.
contuation of this Sintashta-Petrovka culture further into West Siberia is known
as the Andronovo
culture /ahn-DRAW-naw-voh/ (2300-1600 BC). The Andronovo culture can hardly be
seen as the Proto-Indo-Iranian stage:
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... 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. [wiki]
Helimsky (1997) suggested that the Andronovo culture could in fact belong to the
third or forth unknown bracnh of Indo-Iranians. In any case, the ethno-linguistic
attribution of the Andronovo is very controversial.
Proto-Andronovo can also be arguably identified with the very early Proto-Tocharian
branch. Proto-Tocharians were attested in the Turfan Depressin near the Taklamakan
Desert in the form of Caucasoid Tarim mummies datable to c. 1000 BC.
cemetery at Yanbulaq contained 29 mummies which date from 1100–500 BCE, 21 of
which are Caucasoid—the earliest Caucasoid mummies found in the Tarim basin. Notable
mummies are the tall, red-haired "Charchan man" or the "Ur-David"
(1000 BCE); his son (1000 BCE), a small 1-year-old baby with blond hair protruding
from under a red and blue felt cap, and blue stones in place of the eyes... DNA
sequence data shows that the mummies happened to have haplotype characteristic
of western Eurasia in the area of south Russia...The textiles found with the mummies
are of an early European textile and weave type and are similar to textiles found
on the bodies of salt miners in Austria of around 1300 BCE... Han Kangxin (as
cited in Mallory & Mair 2000:236–237), who examined the skulls of 302 mummies,
found the closest relatives of the earlier Tarim Basin population in the populations
of the Afanasevo culture situated immediately north of the Tarim Basin and the
Andronovo culture that spanned Kazakhstan and reached southwards into West Central
Asia and the Altai." [wiki].
the earliest Tocharian texts are attested only in 570 AD.
The Old Hittite Kingdom dates to 1750–1500 BC. Around 2000 BC, the region
centered in Hattusa, which would later become the core of the Hittite Kingdom,
had been inhabited by people with a distinct culture speaking a non-Indo-European
language (Hattic). The early Hittites borrowed heavily from Assyrian traders —
in particular, the cuneiform writing and the use of cylindrical seals, which might
indicate that Proto-Hittite speakers moved into the area of Hattusa from the Caucasus
Mountains not later than 2300 BC.
Late Proto-Armenian can be roughly dated to c. 1000 BC. The Yerevan City (then-known
as Erebuni) was founded in 782 BC by an Urartian king Argishti I, and by 600 BC
Armenia first emerges in historical records. The earliest testimony of the Armenian
language dates to 410 BC (the Bible translation by Mesrob
It seems that horses were known to the Indo-Aryans, although the scarce evidence
for their presence in the form of horse bones in the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological
Complex (2200-1700 BC) is not sufficient (Mallory) to identify the BMAC with the
Proto-Indo-Iranian Urheimat. [However, some sources in Russian cite Yermolova
(1986) for the presence of horse bones at Kelleli (2000 BC), as well as seal stamps
depicting horses, etc.]. Consequently, the dating of Proto-Indo-Iranian can hardly
be deduced from historical or archaeological records. The current arguable glottochronological
assessment suggests an early splitting of Proto-Indo-Iranian — not later
than 3000 BC. The reason for this quite early dating is the remarkable lexical
difference between modern Iranian, Nuristani and Dardo-Indo-Aryan languages (see
comparison of Indo-European languages).
The Mitanni tribes entered Anatolia at least as early as 1600 BC.
can probably be seen as a branch that separated from the early Proto-Iranian or
Proto-Indo-Iranian stem somewhere before 2000 BC, which later turned westward
traveling along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. As a result, Mitanni, though
poorly attested, seem to preserve the word intial s- in "satta" (seven)
and some other archaic features characteristic of the Indic languages, which are
absent in Iranain languages. But (!), the claim of their direct descent from Indo-Aryans
[such as by Mayrhofer (1986-2000)] seems to be highly implausible! [This point
should be demonstrated separately in detail. In a nutshell, the Mitanni names
can be explained from the Avestan language even better than from Sanskrit; the
Mitanni gods can hardly be seen as Aryan, since the Iranians and Indo-Aryans had
largely the same pantheon; some Mitanni lexical items, such as -mazda in
Priyamazda are in fact recognizably Avestan; the number *eka (one) attested
in Mitanni is not specifically Indic, but can be found in many Iranian languages.
As a result, there's no reason to any assume specific long-range connections to
India, and on the basis of the Occam's razor principle, the Indo-Iranian identification
of Mitanni seems much more plausible].
Late Proto-West-Iranian can be dated to about 1000 BC.
is an extremely poorly attested language traditionally considered to be North
West Iranian, whereas the Median Kingdom first appears in historical records in
836 BC, which is the earliest historical date for a West Iranian language. Moreover,
the lexicostatistical analysis shows that Avestan and Old Persian were quite mutually
readable, which is consistent with the quick propagation of the Zoroastrian faith
in the early Persian society. Therefore, Avestan could also be tentatively placed
into the West Iranian group. Note that the traditional historical dating of Zoroaster's
activity is c. 614 BC (258 years before Alexander), whereas Old Persian appears
to have been first established in written form by 519 BC.
There are difficulties even in demonstrating that East Iranain and Saka languages
once constituted a single proto-state, separate from the main Proto-Iranian stem.
Consequently, we don't have any clear historical dates for their hypothetical
unity. Generally speaking, Proto-Saka(n) does not exhibit the lenition typical
of East Iranian languages, and therefore should probably be seen as a third independent
glottochronological and lexicostatistical assessments (Starostin
(2004), and herein)
tend to view the splitting of Proto-East Iranian, Proto-Avestan, Proto-Saka, and
Proto-West-Iranian as a very complex process mostly occurring somewhere between
1200 and 500 BC.
There's hardly any specific evidence for dating this branch. Its geographical
position on the "Indian side" of the Hindu-Kush, and the current lexicostatitical
comparison may indicate its proximity to Indo-Aryan languages.
Lexicostatistically, Dardic can be viewed as the most archaic core of Indo-Aryan
languages with the most phonological and lexical differentiation. One of the Dardic
subgroups seems to have given rise to the Indo-Aryan Prakrits, but the exact details
of this process are unknown and unlcear. Essentially, the question of dating Proto-Dardic
is connected to the emergence of Indo-Aryan languages in India, which can roughly
be dated to 1700 BC.
(1999) identifies "Proto-Dardic" with "Proto-Rigvedic", suggesting
that the Dards are the linguistic descendants of the bearers of proto-Rigvedic
culture ca. 1700 BC, pointing to features in certain Dardic dialects that continue
peculiarities of Rigvedic Sanskrit, such as the gerund in -tvi [wiki].
(with Dardic exluded)
Late Proto-Indo-Aryan can be dated to the period
between 1900-1200 BC. This dating is consistent with the period of the slow decline
of the Harappa (by 1600 BC), Mohenjo-Daro (by 1900 BC), and BMAC (c. 1700 BC)
civilizations, which indicates that certain migration processes could have taken
place in that area around that time, though it is not obvious whether there was
an Indo-Aryan military invasion into the Indus Valley civilaztion, or its disappearance
was due to climatic changes.
regional cultural discontinuity occurred during the second millennium BCE and
many Indus Valley cities were abandoned during this period, while many new settlements
began to appear in Gujarat and East Punjab and other settlements such as in the
western Bahawalpur region increased in size. Shaffer & Lichtenstein (in Erdosy
1995:139) stated that: "This shift by Harappan and, perhaps, other Indus
Valley cultural mosaic groups, is the only archaeologically documented west-to-east
movement of human populations in South Asia before the first half of the first
millennium B.C.." This could have been caused by ecological factors, such
as the drying up of the Ghaggar-Hakra River and increased aridity in Rajasthan
and other places. The Indus River also began to flow east and floodings occurred
[Flam (1981, 1991) and Mackay (1938, 1943)] [wiki].
Cemetery H culture in Pumjab (1900-1300 BC) [including cremation in urns unlike
the Indus civilization where bodies were buried in wooden coffins, the sun or
star motifs, the rice as main crop, the use of mud bricks for building, etc] and
the Gandhara grave culture in Pakistan (1800 BC- 600 BC) [including inhumations,
horse burials, etc.] seem to mark the earliest archaeological presence of the
Vedic Aryans on the Indian subcontinent.
Vedic Sanskrit is often (glottochronologically,
or rather just by the rule of thumb (?)) assigned to about 1000-1200 BC. The oldest
Indo-Aryan kingdoms are known to be well-established by about 700 BC.
The relatively late historical appearance of individual Proto-Indo-European
branches — no earlier than 2000 BC in most cases — leads to the conclusion that
PIE (except for Proto-Anatolian) could have still existed as a single unity, or
a group of closely related dialects somewhere circa 3000-3500 BC. The currrent
analysis rather suggests that the Proto-Indo-European split
occurred circa 4000 BC (without Proto-Anantolian) or circa 5500 BC (with
frequent question is how do these estimations conform to the Gray-Atkinson
model (2003)? Look at their model in the following way. The
Hittite and Tocharian data they added to the preexisting Dyen's datasets are most
likely miscalculated for the simple reason that these data cannot fill in the
200-word lists they used, nor is it easy to find correct cognates for these languages,
nor calculate glottochronological corrections for their greater age in a proper
fashion. What is left of their model is our conclusion that the more or less statistically
robust split must have occurred between 7300 BP and 6500 BP. That was the period
of the differentiation of the main Indo-European branches (Greek, Indo-Iranian,
Balto-Slavic, Italic, Germanic) that have many representatives, which reduces
the possibility of statistical errors. That period is equivalent to 5300-4500
BC, which is just 900 years away from the estimations in the current articles,
and that seems to be pretty close (especially considering both the incompleteness
of the research in this publication and the outdatedness of their Dyen's datasets).
The difference is, of course, due to misjudgments in the determination of cognates
and calibration timing, but, in any case that can be seen as good first approximation