Indo-Aryan invasion

Jacob Baltuch jacob.baltuch at EURONET.BE
Mon Mar 2 22:30:08 UTC 1998

Edwin Bryant wrote:

>This is an important point.  There was an early mouvement among certain
>scholars to consider India as the homeland (since it appeared to have the
>oldest language at the time).  THis was then modified, somewhat, by
>scholars such as Muller who preferred "somewhere in Asia" and no more.
>THe first serious attempt to propose an European homeland was in 1851 by
>Robert Latham on the grounds outlined by Lars, above.  Using a biological
>model, Latham argued that languages are akin to species which demonstrate
>a greater variety of forms nearest their geographical center of origin.
>Europe was more heterogeneous, therefore nearest the homeland, and Indo-Ir
>more homogeneous, therefore peripheral to it. A similar principal was
>articulated more recently by Dyen who noted that it is less likely that a
>large number of different languages migrated from an area as a collection
>of distinct groups.  The area of the most diverse collection of languages,
>then, is prima facie evidence for supposing the origin of those languages
>to be in that very area.

I don't think it is entirely fair to equate Lars's argument with
the above. My understanding was that the lack of diversity in IA
is taken by him as a negative argument, not as a positive argument
to find the IE homeland in any one particular place, which is what
the scholars quoted above were doing.

Indeed, it doesn't seem that any particular place whether currently
or historically in the IE area has enough diversity to be immediately
identified as the homeland based on this admittedly simple argument.

But for most other places where the homeland has been proposed, there
are reasonable and obvious explanations of why this is so: secondary
expansions which can homogenize a previously more diverse area, movement
of populations which resulted even in some areas ceasing to be IE
speaking at all (Turkey, Central Asia to a large extent). None of
these explanations seem to be available for India. Thus it is only
with India that, as a negative argument, this seems to create some

(So I feel a bit disappointed how Edwin dismissed it, I was hoping
that it would be adressed more substantially, if at all. I think
to avoid identifying Lars's point with others too quickly, it could
be put in this simple question form: "Is the linguistic diversity
one finds in India (from the point of view of IE) consistent with
a 5000 to 7000 year continuous presence (to date) of IE there?")

On the other hand Erik does seem to understand Lars's point the same
way as me, seems to recognize that it is something to be answered and
tries to address it as such. A priori his explanation is fairly
reasonable (note linguistic homogeneity of Egyptian culture throughout
its history, although on a much more limited land area and with a much
higher degree of (proven) political centralization) but it is of course
predicated on assumptions that one may or may not share about the
old Indian Sindhu-Sarasvati/IVC/Harappan culture (is everyone happy? :),
which shows incidentally how intricately connected all those questions
seem to be.

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