Tag Archives: Indo-Europeans

Horses, apples and proto Indo European

After being (quite rightly, it seems) told off by one of my commenters after claiming proto Indo European was 9,000 years old and from Anatolia, I decided to spend a day doing some digging into the subject. Okay Maju; now I get why the Anatolian hypothesis and 9,000 year old date is lame.

Reason 1

First of all there’s the dating. The technologies that date PIE are the wheel, the axle and metal working terms that include gold and white metal (tin or silver). And this rather solidly sets the oldest possible date for PIE anywhere to be 5,500 years old. Anatolia 9,000 years ago is just right out, and I’m embarrassed now that I thought it was correct.

Reason 2

The appearance of the horse and apple, both domesticates from Kazakhstan that hadn’t spread very far by 5,500 years ago, and both are words in PIE. In fact, both domesticates seem to have expanded into Europe and Mesopotamia together, and share an arrival time in Persia with Indo European languages, at about 2,000 BC. The plum also originates from near the Caspian sea, and seems to follow a similar route.

Reason 3

A look at some of the other PIE words showed they had agriculture and a range of domesticated Anatolian/Iranian animals, which eliminates the Botai culture that seems to have domesticated the horse about 5,600 years or more. They had to be in an area about 5,000 to 5,500 years ago that had access to horse, apples and the wheel, and that area of overlap was pretty small, and it didn’t include anywhere West of the Black sea or further East than central Kazakhstan.

Reason 4

The expansion of the IE language group very closely matches the spread of the horse and the apple. IE arrives in Persia about 4,000 years ago, and so do the horse and apple. The arrival of the horse in the Takla Makan also ties with the arrival of the Indo European Tocharians, and it can be seen spreading into Europe, reaching the Mycenaeans about 3,700 years ago, also bringing the horse.

Reason 5

I took a good look at the terms describing the PIE homeland. There  are several words meaning sea, lake and shore, and several for mountain or hill. There are quite a few terms describing trees of various species; yew, beech, willow, birch, fir, ash, oak/hornbeam; all of these describe a fairly cool environment. There’s also a word for snow, and one for ice. Wherever they lived had big lake/seas and boats, as well as mountians. It also knew bears, wolves and and lions (lions used to be seen all through Eurasia and Africa).  There have been attempts to put words like monkey and elephant into PIE, but these seem to be Semitic loan words. Leopard however, may deserve a place, as these are found in mountainous areas in the Caspain/Black Sea area. The flora suggests somewhere cooler than Anatolia.

Reason 6

PIE shares some terms with both proto Semitic and proto Finno Ugric, suggesting it was geographically close to both at one time. The proto Semitic terms it shares are primarily agricultural, like bar (grain), tauro (bull) and waynu (wine), which suggests that the transmission of the words into PIE was pretty early. As a side issue, the placing of goats and sheep in proto Semitic makes an African origin for PS a bit unlikely; as does the transmission of PS words into PIE (which has never been near Africa).

Reason 7

The dates IE languages appear. They appear with the Tocharians 3,800 years ago, in Mycenae 3,700 years ago and in Persia about 4,000 years ago. This suggests a central distribution point somewhere just North of the area between the Black and Caspian seas, assuming the expansion moved at a roughly equal speed in all directions. However, it does narrow down the search area, and it seem to be unlikely to be  anywhere further West than the Black sea, or South of Iran. This likely area is also close to a proposed area for proto Finno- Ugric, the Volga area.


Dates for the appearance of Indo European languages at Mycenae, Takla Makan and Persia. The shaded area is my most likely area of origin solely from the dates and distances. Proto Indo Iranian is thought to date to 4,500 BP in the Northern part of Iran.

A slightly more southerly part of this area, the trans-Caucasus, would have been one of the first areas to have both the wheel and domesticated horses. They also had a mountainous terrain, and access to great quality arsenical copper.


Wheel/Horse area overlap at 5k ago shaded in blue.

This area is also mountainous; and home to willow, birch,yew and hornbeam trees. It even has a leopard native to it (suggested but not proven as a PIE word). The best match I can find for the flora is on the Black Sea coast of the trans-Caucasus area around Krasnodar, so pretty much the area that was picked for the Kurgan hypothesis, just slightly more into the mountainous areas to the South. I’m not  pro the steppes areas in the more Northern possible zone as a homeland, as these wouldn’t account for the plethora of sea/boating related terms, or the trees, or the mountains. These people had plenty of words for mountain and boating, and the steppes, by their nature, are flat, fairly treeless and not easy to sail on.

I’m not sure that the expansion was so much due to direct military conquests as the wheel and horse combo giving them the edge in many areas; agriculture, trade, war… you name it, the cart/chariot has a lot of uses. Wherever Indo Europeans arrive you see horses arrive at the same time.

So what I’m now looking for is a culture dating from 5,500 to 5,000 years ago in the North trans-Caucasian area. There are a few possibilities, but the Maykop culture fits the time and place and geographical/flora and fauna perfectly. I’m investigating them today. So far I haven’t had a good look at the genetic evidence dated to the era, but that’s next on the list of things to check.

I’ve learned a few other things researching this, mainly to do with proto Semitic. These are that:

  • Proto Semitic wasn’t African in origin (I never thought it was, but it’s a nice confirmation), and seems to have radiated out from Anatolia/Iran with the Neolithic expansion, with PIE neighbours.
  • That Elamite (extinct Semitic) is related to Dravidian.
  • Languages can expand almost explosively, and can die out just as quickly.
  • There’s probably a good reason for the Celtic langauges having an Afro Asiatic language structure, which has nothing to do with North Africa. It would seem quite possible that the first farmers who expanded into India and Europe all spoke an AfroAsiataic language, which was then swallowed by IE  (a mirror of what happened in India with Dravidian).

Not a bad day’s research..

Will some one tell the white supremacists to stop using the word Aryan incorrectly!

I keep seeing the word Aryan used to describe Northern Europeans, like the British, Germans and Scandinavians.


The Aryan/Indo European only describes South Eastern Europeans, Persians, and people into the Northern part of India. They had a population expansion starting about 10,000 years ago, which spread the Indo European languages all over. They only made up a minority of the ancestry in populations North of central Europe. Europeans do speak Indo European languages, but most of us have a different genetic legacy. Ancient Mesolithic hunter-gatherer in the far North, and from the Western Atlantic coast people in England and the West of Europe.



From Greece to Pakistan

Not Aryans

From Norway, Sweden and Germany

It is kind of funny that the Aryan pride types mostly come from non-Aryan ancestry. I always have a chuckle when I see that one in print. I want to see a street full of the Iranians and Pakistanis next time there’s an Aryan pride march. That would make my day.

The neolithic Turkish origin of Indo-European languages

Indo-European languages came from Turkey
Anna Salleh, 27 November 2003   

Evolutionary biologists have waded into the stormy debate over when and where Indo-European languages originated.

Dr Russell Gray and PhD student Quentin Atkinson from the University of Auckland in New Zealand have calculated this group of 87 languages – as diverse as English, Lithuanian and Gujarati – arose between 8000 and 9500 years ago.

Their findings were reported in today’s issue of the journal Nature and support the theory that Indo-European languages arose around this time among farming communities in Anatolia, now known as Turkey.

The main competing theory to the Anatolian farmer theory is that these languages originated 6000 years ago among nomadic Kurgan horsemen sweeping down from the Russian Steppes. Some researchers say they spread their language and genes across Europe “through the sword” and through the use of horses and horse-drawn vehicles, Gray told ABC Science Online.

“People have been puzzled since at least Sir William Jones noticed in 1786 that Sanskrit, an ancient language in India, bore striking similarities to Greek and to Latin and to English. Where did all those languages come from and when did they split up?” he asked. “What we’ve been doing is to try and answer that question and in particular to test the two current major views about the origins of the European languages.”

While evidence of horse-drawn wheeled vehicles supported the “power of the sword” Kurgan theory, Gray said the fact that certain genes become rarer as you get further away from the Turkish region supported the “much kinder, gentler” Anatolian farmer theory.

“People have had huge arguments about that,” said Gray, who decided to try and settle the question using a technique from a branch of research called molecular phylogenetics. This computational and statistical method compares genes and builds family trees by inferring when different biological organisms diverged during evolution.

“Language like biological species diverge with time,” Gray said.

Using vocabulary and grammar instead of genes, the researchers used the same method to build a “family tree” of Indo-European languages. This was the first time methods like these have been applied to finding the roots of Indo-European languages.

Gray said his study came up with a root date that agreed with the Anatolian farmer theory “unbelievably closely”. The researchers checked and double-checked their findings: “We did everything we could possibly think of, like changing different assumptions, to try and see if we could get a different date range.”

Evolutionary biologist Gray said the findings were bound to inflame rather than settle the debate and said there had been some “fairly vigorous responses” to the findings so far: “Some linguists have been fairly kind of agitated I guess, having people come in from the outside and saying look we can solve these problems.

I can’t say I’m the least bit surprised.

Early upper paleaolithic Europeans.

Nicked straight from Dienekes!

Some of the discordance Van Vark et al. see between genetic and morphometric results may be attributable to their methodological choices. It is clear that the affiliation expressed by a given skull is not independent of the number of measurements taken from it. From their Table 3, it is evident that those skulls expressing Norse affinity are the most complete and have the highest number of measurements ( = 50.8), while those expressing affinity to African populations (Bushman or Zulu) are the most incomplete, averaging just 16.8 measurements per skull. Use of highly incomplete or reconstructed crania may not yield a good estimate of their morphometric affinities. When one considers only those crania with 40 or more measurements, a majority express European affinity.

To examine this idea further, we use the eight Upper Paleolithic crania available from the test series of Howells ([1995]), all of which are complete. Our analysis of these eight, based on 55 measurements, is presented in Table 1. Using raw measurements, 6 of 8 express an affinity to Norse, and with the shape variables of Darroch and Mosimann ([1985]), 5 of 8 express a similarity to Norse. Using shape variables reduces the Mahalanobis distance, substantially in some cases. Typicality probabilities (Wilson, [1981]), particularly for the shape variables, show the crania to be fairly typical of recent populations. The results presented in Table 1 are consistent with the idea that Upper Paleolithic crania are, for the most part, larger and more generalized versions of recent Europeans. Howells ([1995]) reached a similar conclusion with respect to European Mesolithic crania.

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Next, let us examine the issue of whether the EUP situation can be regarded as parallel to the Native American one. There are some obvious differences, principal among them the time frame. The European crania used by Van Vark et al. span 26,000 years, as against our North American sample that spans about 2,400 years. Their EUP series dates from 37,000 BP to about 9,000 BP, as against a maximum time frame for our North American sample of 9,400-7,000 BP (Jantz and Owsley, [2001]). The Upper Paleolithic time span is significantly older and more than 10 times longer than the American one, yet the EUP crania are not correspondingly further removed from the contemporary population. Given that European fossil crania are separated from their supposed descendants by greater temporal distance than is the case in America, one could easily accept that European fossil crania might be more loosely connected to the modern population. Yet, we observe just the opposite. The data in Van Vark et al. demonstrate a higher degree of affiliation with the supposed descendent modern population (16/35 = 46%) than we found in the American situation (1/11 = 9%).

American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume 121, Issue 2, Pages 185-188

The Harappans, AKA the Indus Valley Civillisation (IVC).

Archived items. 

The Indus Valley civilization(also known as Harappan culture) has its earliest roots in approximately 6000 BCE in Mehrgarh. The two greatest cities, Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, emerged circa 2600 BCE along the Indus River valley in Punjab and Sindh. The civilization, with a writing system, urban centers, and diversified social and economic system, was rediscovered in the 1920s after excavations at Mohenjo-daro (which means “mound of the dead”) in Sindh near Sukkur, and Harappa, in west Punjab south of Lahore. A number of other sites stretching from the Himalayan foothills in east Punjab, India in the north, to Gujarat in the south and east, and to Balochistan in the west have also been discovered and studied. Although the archaeological site at Harrappa was partially damaged in 1857 when engineers constructing the Lahore-Multan railroad used brick from the Harappa ruins for track ballast, an abundance of artifacts have nevertheless been found.

 One of the most fascinating yet mysterious cultures of the ancient world is the Harappan civilization. This culture existed along the Indus River in present day Pakistan. It was named after the city of Harappa which it was centered around. Harappa and the city of Mohenjo-Daro were the greatest achievements of the Indus valley civilization. These cities are well known for their impressive, organized and regular layout. They have well laid our plumbing and drainage system, including indoor toilets. Over one hundred other towns and villages also existed in this region. The Harappan people were literate and used the Dravidian language. Only part of this language has been deciphered today, leaving numerous questions about this civilization unanswered.  Artifacts and clues discovered at Mohenjo-Daro have allowed archaeologists to reconstruct this civilization. The similarities in plan and construction between Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa indicate that they were part of a unified government with extreme organization. Both cities were constructed of the same type and shape of bricks. The two cities may have existed simultaneously and their sizes suggest that they served as capitals of their provinces. In contrast to other civilizations, burials found from these cities are not magnificent; they are more simplistic and contain few material goods. This evidence suggests that this civilization did not have social classes. Remains of palaces or temples in the cities have not been found. No hard evidence exists indicating military activity; it is likely that the Harappans were a peaceful civilization. The cities did contain fortifications and the people used copper and bronze knives, spears, and arrowheads. The Harappan civilization was mainly urban and mercantile. Inhabitants of the Indus valley traded with Mesopotamia, southern India, Afghanistan, and Persia for gold, silver, copper, and turquoise. The Mesopotamian model of irrigated agriculture was used to take advantage of the fertile grounds along the Indus River. Earthlinks were built to control the river’s annual flooding. Crops grown included wheat, barley, peas, melons, and sesame. This civilization was the first to cultivate cotton for the production of cloth. Several animals were domesticated including the elephant which was used for its ivory.

There’s some evidence that a IVC city is deep underwater in the bay of Cambay, but that’s pending further investigation. If it’s true, the pottery from it dates back over 30, 000 years. This is the earliest known example of Harappan writing, it may be the oldest in the world.  

  Harappan Astronomy

 Although the translation of the Harappan script is still very much a work in progress, there are numerous indications that Harappans were well versed in astronomy.
  1. The straight streets of the Indus cities are oriented towards the cardinal directions, which presupposes astronomical observations and the use of the sun-stick, the gnomon.
  2. The star-calendar used by the Vedic ritualists was adopted by the Aryans in India, for there are no references to it in the Avesta or in the oldest books of the Rgveda. On the other hand, astronomical evidence dates the compilation of this calendar at around the 23rd century B.C., when the Indus civilisation flourished at its peak. Like other urban civilisations, it undoubtedly needed a calendar that adjusted the lunar and the solar time-reckoning.
  3. Linkages between ancient Harappan scripts and latter Vedic texts suggest that Harappan priest-astronomers tracked progress of Mercury, Venus and Saturn, and most likely all of the planets. They also appeared to have mapped the sky. Some of the pieces of recovered tablets show what appears to be a discussion of the North Star in one case and the star cluster, Pleides, in another.

 The Pleiades hold a prominent place as the mothers or wet nurses of the newborn infant in one of the most ancient and central Hindu myths, that of the birth of the war-god Rudra/Skanda, who evidently represents, among other things, the victorious rising sun (and as vernal sun the new year). The Pleiades are said to have been the wives of the seven sages, who are identified with the seven stars of the Great Bear.

The Great Bear’s Old Tamil name elu-meen ‘seven-star’ corresponds to the combination of the pictograms ‘7’ + ‘fish’, which alone constitutes the entire text of one finely carved Indus seal. The Satapatha-Brahmana states that the six Pleiades were separated from their husbands on account of their infidelity; other texts specify that only one of the seven wives, Arundhati, remained faithful and was allowed to stay with her husband: she is the small star Alcor in the Great Bear, pointed out as a paradigm of marital virtue to the bride in the Vedic marriage ceremonies.

 Evidence for the Harappan origin of this myth is provided, among other things, by Indus seals which show a row of six or seven human figures; their female character is suggested by the one long plait of hair, which to the present day has remained characteristic of the Indian ladies.

Culture and economy
Indus Valley civilization was mainly an urban culture sustained by surplus agricultural production and commerce, the latter including trade with Sumer in southern Mesopotamia. Both Mohenjo-daro and Harappa were built according to similar plans of well-laid-out streets, “differentiated living quarters, flat-roofed brick houses, and fortified administrative or religious centers”[4] Weights and measures were standardized throughout the area and distinctive seals were used for identification of property and shipment of goods. Although copper and bronze were in use, iron was unknown. “Cotton was woven and dyed for clothing; wheat, rice, and a variety of vegetables and fruits were cultivated; and a number of animals, including the humped bull, were domesticated.” [4] Wheel-made pottery—some of it adorned with animal and geometric motifs—has been found in profusion at all the major Indus sites. A centralized administration has been inferred from the revealed cultural uniformity; however, it remains uncertain whether authority lay with a priestly or a commercial oligarchy.

By far the most exquisite but most obscure artifacts unearthed to date are the small, square steatite seals engraved with human or animal motifs . Large numbers of the seals have been found at Mohenjo-daro, many bearing pictographic inscriptions generally thought to be a kind of script. Despite the efforts of philologists from all parts of the world, however, and despite the use of computers, the script remains undeciphered, and it is unknown if it is proto-Dravidian or proto-Sanskrit.  


Harappan priest king 2,000 BC, and a terracotta figurine of  lady. 


Harappan seals, one showing a man in a seated yogic position.


Harappan jewellery.


Harappan cooking pots. Period III, Harappan, 2300-2200 B. C.  Links to Harappan sites.http://www.mohenjodaro.net/http://www.harappa.com/har/moen0.html


Aerial view of the great bath at Mohenjo-Daro.


Ground view of the well.

A childs toy cart, showing they used the wheel.

Intact Buffware Vessel, Mehrgarh Style, 3500-2000 BC.

The human remains from the sites are the same physical type as the current residents of the areas they are found in, making Harappans Indo Europeans.

A burial at Harappa.

Burial of a woman and infant with offering pots.


Painted burial pottery. 

 Edit to original.

After a few months of reading into the history of agriculture, I’m pretty sure in saying the Harappans and their ancestors the people of Mehrgarh, were Indo Europeans. This is from a new dating of the spread of Indo European languages that matches the spread of the domesticated crops that you find in The Indus Valley civillisation. The wheat, sheep, goats and cattle all have the same place of origin in southern Turkey about 10,000 or so years ago. These are the agricultural markers for the spread of that culture, so where you get Indo-European crops, you’ll get Indo-European people (that far back in time, at least). the barley seems to have been domesticated in Asia, not the Israel?Jordan type

Seperated at birth?

Separated at birth?

For anyone who doubts Europeans are related to Persians