Paired Horse and PIE breakup

Jacob Baltuch jacob.baltuch at EURONET.BE
Sat Nov 7 17:14:00 UTC 1998

Miguel wrote:

>But I do agree with Renfrew that there's a striking similarity
>between the expansion of Indo-European languages across Europe and
>the expansion of agriculture across the same area.

But your theory is based on nothing else than this "striking similarity"
and attempting to deconstruct all the evidence assembled in favor of
what you call the "standard theory", and that includes the argument of
the lack of archeological signs of an invasion in northern Europe which
may be a problem for the usual theory -- btw certainly not as much as what
it is made out to be -- but certainly does not add any probability to your
own theory.

Your theory is probably based on the belief that language replacement
functions according to one model only (demographic imbalance) and you
want to find that demographic imbalance as a result of a neolithic "wave of
advance". I'd say that simply denotes a lack of imagination. It is in
fact probable, as in many historical situations, that language replacement
can occur according to a variety of models and not one simple model fits
all historical situations. So you do not need to posit demographic imbalance
in favor of the "winner" of the process. My rule of thumb is, if one's
picture of a historical situation is only based on a simple deductive
argument, it is probably wrong. Of course you need models if you've got
nothing else, but in this case we have face to face a simplistic deductive
model (together with some deconstruction of the evidence painstakingly
assembled by the other theory) and on the other hand a detailed careful
set of inductive arguments stemming from linguistics, archeology, mythology,
poetry, etc. Even if the inductive argument has some holes in it, there
is no doubt in my mind as to which one is going in the right direction.

But the most important point is, again, you have got not one single
serious positive argument of your own to defend your theory. Assuming your
deconstruction was pertinent, you would only have succeeded
in showing that we don't know anything, or that we don't know as much as
we thought we knew, but certainly not in showing that your own theory is
more probable (than it would otherwise be).

>It is easy to see how this came about: the Anatolian farmers, when they
>crossed over into Greece...

Into Greece??? By a very wide agreement I believe pre-Greek language(s) of
Greece are considered non-IE as I'm sure you know. I'm really curious
what you do to be able to disregard that. I wonder also how you explain to
yourself the fact that agriculture spread also around the Mediterranean
coast from Turkey and Greece as far as Spain and then northwards to France
and Britain. Do you maintain that it was by speakers of IE? If not, why
do you feel you need IE for the expansion northwards thru the Balkans,
etc. but not in this other case?

>Frankly, I have never looked at this comparative mythology /
>comparative religion angle too closely.  And what I've seen of it
>doesn't convince me at all.  I think there are great differences
>between Roman and Indic religions.  And there are similarities
>between all religions, be they Indo-European or otherwise.

For example 'jupiter', 'zeus pater' and 'dyauH pitaa' are just
coincidences? Or go back to the neolithic?

Btw, my questions are slightly rhetorical. I know you'll find a way
to deconstruct such evidence, that is to find some alternative
explanation that will be just marginally possible, but the thing is
you have got to do that for a long list of items and one can start
asking if it is not stretching it a bit that for every single one of
those items it is precisely the less probable scenario that happened
just so that your own theory becomes possible? (Incidentally 'less
probable' does not refer here to a rigorous computation of probabilities
which I doubt it is even possible to do but to the intuitive sense
that allow specialists to estimate that one scenario or another
is more plausible)

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