Paired Horse and PIE breakup

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal mcv at WXS.NL
Sat Nov 7 21:08:04 UTC 1998

Jacob Baltuch <jacob.baltuch at EURONET.BE> 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.

If that is your impression, then I haven't been explaining myself.

Demography is certainly a powerful model for language spread. It has
been estimated that mesolithic hunter-gatherers numbered 1 in every
10 km2.  Early Neolithic techniques allowed 5 persons per km2.  A
5000% increase.  That is hard to beat.

But that is not the reason I'm dissatisfied with the "standard
theory".  Please note that I'm not trying to deconstruct anything.
I do accept all the *evidence* assembled in favour of a Ponto-Caspian
homeland.  I do believe that during the Yama/Kurgan cultural phase
(3500 BC-2500 BC), and maybe beginning slightly before that,
Indo-European peoples spread out from there east and west and
established themselves in the Hungarian plain / the Balkans and in
Central Asia.  There is good archaeological evidence for that, and it
makes sense both linguistically (explaining the affinities between
Greek and Sanskrit) and historically (Magyars, Turks, Huns etc. have
done similarly in teh past).

But I simply don't believe that this can be the whole story.  There's
the lack of archaeological evidence for "Kurgan" invasions anywhwere
else in Europe.  There's the lack of historical precedent: no nomad
invasion from the steppe has ever penetrated into Europe much beyond
Hungary.  Attila was the most successful of all, but his empire was
extremely short-lived and left no linguistic traces at all.  And most
importantly, the "Kurgan" hypothesis provides no insights into the
linguistic subgrouping of Indo-European.  More specifically, it fails
to explain the position of Hittite (and the Anatolian lgs. in

Even if all IE languages spread out from the Pontic-Caspian between
4000 and 3000 BC, in several different waves (and there's precious
little evidence for that), and assuming of course that the Hittites
were the first to leave, that only gives the rest of IE at most 1000
years or so to develop all the innovations that separate it from
Anatolian.  I say that's impossible.  At least two millennia seems
like a much more credible margin (my date of 5500 BC, coinciding with
the split off of the Danubian/LBK-complex).

The Hittite evidence is crucial.  If I may point out the parallel
with linguistics: ever since the discovery of Hittite and its
recognition as an IE language (by Hrozny in 1915), Hittite has forced
Indo-Europeanists to reconsider many of the basic assumptions
underlying the traditional (basically Indo-Greek) view of IE, because
many things in the Hittite grammar couldn't comfortably be derived
from the traditional model.  So why should this not affect the
homeland question as well?  The Ponto-Caspian steppe is indeed the
homeland of "Indo-Greek" (Eastern IE), I do not doubt that.  But
Hittite cannot be derived from it.

Some other points:

>>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.

As I said, there is pretty good evidence to link Etruscan (and
therefore Lemnian) to IE, especially to Anatolian/Hittite, consistent
with 7000 BC as an approximate date of separation.  The linguistic
vs. geographical terminology is a little confusing of course.  In my
map for, say, 4000 BC, the "Etruscoids" are in Greece and Anatolia,
possibly also in the Balkans, the "Hittite/Anatolians" are in the
Balkans or the Tripolye area (Romania/W.Ukraine), and the "Greeks"
are in the Ukraine.  It would be some time before everyone was in
their proper place (3000 ~ 2500 BC or so for Hittite and Greek, 1200
BC for Etruscan).

>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?

No, that is one of Renfrew's more silly theories.  There is
sufficient evidence in SW Europe for non-IE speakers, especially in
Spain with Iberian, Tartessian? and Basque.  Italy and France (apart
from Basque-speaking Aquitania) are less clear (Etruscan being a
recent arrival from the Aegean, not a pre-IE survival), but we have
the Novilara stela from E.Italy in a non-IE, non-Etruscan language,
and the toponymic evidence for non-Celtic elements in Ligurian.
Which is another thing that is absent in the area from the Low
Countries through Germany to Poland: traces of the pre-IE
inhabitants.  If the LBK/TRB (5500-3000 BC) people were not IE, we
would expect to find something.

>If not, why
>do you feel you need IE for the expansion northwards thru the Balkans,
>etc. but not in this other case?

Completely different circumstances.  The expansion of Neolithic
techniques (pottery, sheeps and goats before wheat and barley) from
Greece to Italy, S. France and Iberia (Painted and Cardial Ware and
related cultures) was initially a purely littoral affair, spreading
fairly rapidly along the Mediterranean coast to essentially sedentary
coast-dwellers (crustacean and mollusk eaters, presumably).  Few if
any population movements were involved, and it was more a spread of
ideas to people already pre-adapted to receiving them.

The "wave of advance" model only works if there's lots of free space
available for agriculture, and even then only if the geographical/
climatic conditions don't vary too much (see the 1000-year delay
[6500-5500] when the Neolithic hit temperate Europe), and provided
the local hunter/gatherers don't beat you to it by converting to
agriculture themselves (see the other 1000-year delay [5300-4200]
when LBK hit Denmark, where the locals (Ertebolle-Ellerbek culture,
another group of mollusk and crustacean eaters) were numerically
strong enough and had adopted a number of Neolithical techniques [not
farming, though] to resist being integrated until the TRB phase).

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

Why not?  All it means is "heavenly father" ("father-heaven", to be

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal
mcv at

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