PIE breakup in ca. 1750 B.C.

Chris Beetle bvi at AFN.ORG
Thu Oct 29 21:03:07 UTC 1998

At 08:27 PM 10/27/98 GMT, you wrote:
>"N. Ganesan" <naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
>>The widely published Professor of Classics is saying that
>>PIE breakup occured in ca. 1750 B.C. Is he is correct? Otherwise,
>>are there any reviews where his theory is shown to be wrong?
>I found one review on the Net, by Bill Darden, Dept. of Slavic, Univ.
>of Chicago, which isn't very favourable of either one of the recent
>proposals to put the IE homeland in Anatolia [Renfrew, Gamqrelidze &
>Ivanov, Drews]. See: <http://www.indoeuropean.org/page4a.html>.
>In general, theories about the IE homeland (or the homeland of any
>linguistic group) cannot be shown to be correct or incorrect.  They
>must remain a matter of speculation.  We can say whether this or that
>alternative is more or less likely, given the known present (or
>historically recorded) distribution and divergence of the languages,
>and given the proposed correlations with archaeological findings.
>But without a time machine we can never be sure.
>>Robert Drews, The coming of the Greeks: Indo-European conquestd
>>in the Aegean and the Near East, Princeton University press, 1988
>>(available in both hard cover and paperback editions)
>>page 197:
>>" Some dubious assumptions about the PIE speakers are interlocked and
>>of long standing. One of these assumptions is that when poised on the
>>threshold of history, the PIE speakers were a numerous people, making
>>up a fair portion of the world's population. For such a multitude,
>>a spacious home must be imagined, and a second assumption is that
>>the IE homeland was a vast territory, perhaps covering much of
>>Eastern Europe or the Eurasian steppe. From this homeland, the
>>Indo-Europeans are supposed to have set out, in prehistoric times, in
>>a series of massive Volkerwanderungen; eventually, they came to rest
>>in the lands in which during historical times the IE languages were
>>spoken. The beginnings of these mass migrations are placed between ca.
>>and ca. 2000 B.C., and the reasons for the migrations are seldom
>> An alternative picture is more likely. At the end of the third
>>the PIE-speaking community was no larger than the Hurrian, the Sumerian,
>>the Hattic, or the Proto-Anatolian and was only a fraction the size
>>of the Semitic. The PIE-speaking community remained intact, playing no
>>significant historical role, until the second quarter of the second
>>millennium. In the late seventeenth or early sixteenth century,
>>and then whole communities of PIE speakers began leaving their native
>>lands (probably in the lake district of eastern Anatolia). None of these
>>movements of PIE speakers involved a population much larger than that
>>of one Mesopotamian city of the first rank. Nor were the movements
>>Wanderungen at all. The relocations - some of them apparently by sea-
>>were well planned and organized, and their leaders knew where they were
>>going and what they would do when they got there. The PIE speakers'
>>object in leaving their native lands was to take control of societies
>>that were vulnerable and that could profitably be exploited.
>> Takeovers rather than Volkerwanderungen are what seem to have plagued
>>the ancient world in second millennium B.C. The IE takeovers appear to
>>have been analogous to the hyksos takeover of Egypt, and to the Kassite
>>and Hurrian takeovers of various communities in the Fertile Crescent
>>(the Kassites and Hurrians may have been neighbors of the PIE
>>speakers before they set out on their adventures). For all of these
>>intruders, chariotry was essential: it was their mastery of chariot
>>warfare that made it possible for the intruders to conquer and then to
>>dominate lands from Egypt and Greece to India. The takeovers were
>>motivated, it need hardly be said, by the desire for power and wealth."
>If this is what Drews proposes, then it is the least likely scenario
>of the three I have seen for an Anatolian origin of IE.
>The view held by most (but not all) Indo-Europeanists, archaeologists
>and historians, which we can call the "standard" view on IE origins,
>is basically the one first proposed by Marija Gimbutas and
>subsequently refined and argumented in Mallory's "In Search of the
>Indo-Europeans".  According to this theory, the origins of the IEans
>lie in the Eurasian steppe, where by 4500BC we find the Sredny Stog
>(in the western steppe [Ukraine] north of the Black Sea) and
>Khvalynsk (eastern steppe, north and east of Caspian) cultures, which
>are seen as ancestral to IE culture.  At the economical level, these
>early steppe societies were more based on keeping livestock as well
>as hunting and fishing than exclusively on agriculture.  The horse
>(native to the steppe lands) appears to have been first domesticated
>in the Sredny Stog cultural area, c. 4000 BC, which was to lead to
>the nomadic way of life that has predominated in the Eurasian steppe
>ever since (or at least until the expansion of the Russian Empire in
>modern times).  The first step was the evolution of the Yamna
>(Pit-Grave or "Kurgan") culture c. 3500 BC out of the Khvalynsk and
>Sredny Stog cultures.
>Now having domesticated the horse is not something necessarily
>exclusive to Indo-Europeans, so in order to make this theory work, it
>has to be established that the historical distribution of the IE
>languages finds its origins in the Yamna and Khvalynsk/Sredny Stog
>cultures of 4500-3500 BC.  We have to find evidence from migrations
>out of this area into regions where IE languages are later found.
>Cases have been made for early expansions eastwards
>(proto-Tocharians?) and westwards into the Balkan peninsula.
>The history and origin of the Tocharians (which we find in Chinese
>Turkestan in the first centuries AD speaking an IE language not
>closely related at all to Iranian) is an enigma in itself.  Mallory
>makes an, I think, convincing case for linking the Afanasievo culture
>(<3000 BC) of the Upper Yenisei river to the Proto-Tocharians, based
>on archaeological similarities between Afansievo and the more western
>steppe cultures Sredny Stog/Khvalynsk and its 5th mill. predecessors
>(Dnepr-Donets culture, Samara culture).
>The situation in the Balkans is also obscure.  The "Old European"
>civilization (Karanovo, Starc^evo, Vinc^a) which had flourished there
>from the 7th millennium to c. 4200 BC was suddenly interrupted.  In
>the so-called "Balkan dark ages" (c. 4200-3200 BC) most of the tells
>were abandoned (but in Romania and the Western Ukraine, the "Old
>European" Tripolye culture was apparently unaffected).  Gimbutas and
>others have argued that the fall of Old Europe was due to IE "Kurgan"
>invasions from the steppe.  As in the case of the IVC, others have
>argued that Vinc^a and related cultures collapsed of their own
>account [a further parallel between Vinc^a and the IVC are the
>mysterious signs found on Vinc^a artefacts, which might be the oldest
>writing in the world].
>What seems clear, in any case, is that when the settlements were
>occupied again, 500-1000 years later, things had changed profoundly,
>and cultures like Ozero/Cernavoda (3200 BC) have more in common with
>the Kurgan cultures of the steppe than with the old Vinc^a.  There is
>overall pretty good evidence for direct invasions from the Kurgan
>area into the Balkans (and from there to Greece [Early Helladic I]
>and Anatolia [Troy I]).
>Turning to the east again, the origin of Indo-Iranian can also be
>traced back to the Yamna/Kurgan cultures of the 4th/3rd. millennium.
>By 2000 BC, the area of modern Russian Turkestan is occcupied by the
>Kurgan-derived Andronovo culture, ancestral to the Iranians or the
>Indo-Iranians as a whole, depending on where one wants to put the
>split between the two.  I would favour a slightly early date, making
>Andronovo exclusively Iranian, with the Dardic/Indo-Aryan speakers
>already in Kashmir, watching the IVC collapse.
>So far, I would say the "standard" theory makes a plausible case for
>deriving Tocharian, the IE languages of the Balkans (Thracian,
>Dacian, Illyrian/Albanian, Greek, Phrygian, ?Armenian), and
>Indo-Iranian from the 4th mill. Kurgan area (Eurasian steppe).
>Balto-Slavic, just north of the steppe area, is not so hard to fit in
>either, although evidence for migrations is weak or absent.
>However, when it comes to Northern, Central and Western Europe
>(Germanic, Celtic, Italic) and to the Anatolian languages (Hittite,
>Luwian/Lycian, Lydian), Mallory's case is much weaker.  [And Drews'
>case is pathetically absent].
>The problem with Anatolian is that it's simply too deviant,
>linguistically, to be a recent offshoot of PIE.  We must allow
>Anatolian a lot of time to become so different from the rest, and if
>we want to derive Anatolian, like --say-- Greek, from the Kurgan
>invasions into the Balkans (4200-3200) there just isn't enough time.
>As to NWC-Europe, it is true that at approximately the right time (c.
>3000 BC) an important cultural change took place, whereby the earlier
>seemingly egalitarian and largely vegetarian society of the Neolithic
>(LBK, TRB cultures, etc.) was replaced by a more hierarchic,
>meat-eating, milk-drinking and male-dominated society (Corded Ware
>around the Baltic c. 3000 BC, Bell Beaker in Central Europe,
>spreading to France, Britain, Spain and Italy c. 2500 BC).  But there
>is no sign of migrations or invasions.  And Drews' theory of IE
>"takeovers" falls flat on its face.  There was nothing to take over
>here: no state, no towns, no riches, no large populations to enslave,
>just the vast expanse of the Northern European plain with every now
>and then a farmhouse or a small village.
>These scattered farmers had diffused into the area from the Balkans
>starting from c. 5500 BC.  (by a process Renfrew calls "wave of
>advance", which is exactly the opposite of what Drews suggests:
>nobody was planning anything, and nobody was even aware thwy were
>moving, they were just establishing new farmhouses a couple of miles
>from their parents'.  The net result was the spread of agriculture
>across the European continent).  In my view, they, like the "Old
>European" folk of the Balkans [which were to become the
>Proto-Anatolians] spoke an IE language.  At the same time as they
>spread into Central and Northern Europe, they probably also spread
>into the Eastern parts of Europe and the Ukrainian forest-steppe
>(Dnepr-Donets culture, c. 5300 BC), and some of them even further
>east, eventually all the way to Chinese Turkestan (this would explain
>why Tocharian looks like a "Western" IE language).  The Eastern IE
>dialects (so-called "Indo-Greek") would then have evolved their
>characteristics later as a set of innovations within the Ukrainian
>area, possibly as a result of the Kurgan phenomenon.  It was these
>Eastern ("Kurgan") IEans which, as outlined above, then spread west
>into the Balkans (possibly pushing the "Old Europeans"
>[Proto-Anatolians] back into Greece and Anatolia) and east into Iran
>and India.  The Western IEans (Germanic(-Balto-Slavic) and
>Italo-Celtic), while they did adopt some of the cultural and social
>changes developed by the Kurgan people of the steppe, were never
>subjected to a full scale invasion, and their languages go back, in
>my view, to the original "Danubian" language of the earliest
>LBK/Linear Ware farmers.  As a consequence of the social change in
>the "Bell Beaker" period, Indo-Euroepan languages did spread further
>into areas of SW Europe that had not previously been
>Indo-Europeanized (S. France, Britain?, Spain, Italy).
>Miguel Carrasquer Vidal
>mcv at wxs.nl

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