Tag Archives: proto Indo European

Proto-Indo-European speakers of the Late Tripolye culture as the inventors of wheeled vehicles

Proto-Indo-European speakers of the Late Tripolye culture as the inventors of wheeled vehicles: Linguistic and archaeological considerations

Suggesting the Cucuteni-Tripolye as the source of PIE. Something I did wonder once after seeing a pretty old wheeled toy from that area. They were the most advanced civilisation (not too strong a word, they had small cities) of Neolithic Europe, and were one of the first cultures to use metal.

Cucuteni-Trypillian cow-on-wheels, 3950-3650 B.C

One of the more interesting points from it was that word for wheel you find in other languages seems to have a root in the PIE word to turn/rotate. As far as I know, the worlds oldest wheel is 5,300 BP, dragged up from a Slovenian Marsh.

Jim Mallory (1989: 163), on the other hand, goes a long way towards the here proposed solutionwith the following observations:

“Tomas Gamkrelidze and Vyach[e]slav Ivanov… have noted that … Proto-Indo-European *kwekwlo- bears striking similarity to the words for vehicles in Sumerian gigir, Semitic *galgal-, and Kartvelian *grgar. With the putative origin of wheeled vehicles set variously to Pontic-Caspian, Transcasucasia or to Sumer, we may be witnessing the original word for a wheeled vehicle in four different language families. Furthermore, as the Proto-Indo-European form is built on an Indo-European verbal root *kwel- ‘to turn, to twist’, it is unlikely that the Indo-Europeans borrowed their word from one of the other languages. This need not, of course, indicate that the Indo-Europeans invented wheeled vehicles, but it might suggest that they were in some form of contact relation with these Near Eastern languages in the fourth millennium BC.”

Since the Trypillians weren’t that far at all from the steppes area, I can see this might have some validity. The Dniester site is just in my ‘had wheels’ at the right time zone, and the timing isn’t massively far off. This might allow a compromise between the 9,000 BP ‘first farmers’ and 5,500 BP ‘Kurgan’ theory, as they probably did speak the languge of the expanding farmers; that part of the world had a respectable demic wave from Turkey appear in it.

SETTLEMENTS OF THE TRYPILLIAN CULTURE IN UKRAINE

How
Old
is
the
Indo‑European
Language
Family?
Illumination
or
More
Moths
to
the
Flame?

How
Old
is
the
Indo‑European
Language
Family?
Illumination
or
More
Moths
to
the
Flame?

HTML link,but the pdf can be found six down on Google

 

ie-lang

 

The paper that claims to back up Renfrew’s Anatolian hypothesis. At least now I have a term what what I’ve been using as a dating method… linguistic
palaeontology. While I’d agree with this as a problem if just one or two reconstructed words were present that foxed up the date, PIE is just rife with them. their argument about the word wheel, seen here;

First,
independent
semantic
innovations
from
a
common
root
are
a
likely
mechanism
by
which
we
can
account
for
the
supposed
Proto‑Indo‑European
reconstructions
associated
with
wheeled
transport
(Trask
1996;
Watkins
1969).
Linguists
can
reconstruct
word
forms
with
much
greater
certainty
than
their
meanings.
For
example,
upon
the
development
of
wheeled
transport,
words
derived
from
the
Proto‑Indo‑European
term
*kwel‑
(meaning
‘to
turn,
rotate’)
may
have
been
independently
co‑opted
to
describe
the
wheel.

I’m not sure how that would apply to all the other words relating to wheel, like axle, and the plethora of metallurgical terms.  Or the terms that describe the flora and fauna (not something that would expand to create a false proto word) However, it’s not entirely impossible some aspects of it are correct;

Using
 the
Swadesh
 200‑word
 list,
he
calculated
that
the
core
Indo‑European
languages
(Greek,
Italic,
Balto‑Slavic,
Germanic
 and
 Indo‑
Iranian)
 diverged
 around
5500
 r5
 whilst
 Hittite
 diverged
from
the
common
stock
around
8400


Indo‑European
languages

(Greek,
Italic,
Balto‑Slavic,

Iranian)
 diverged
 around

5500
 r5
 whilst
 Hi<ite
 di‑
verged
f

he
calculated
that
the
core


rom
the
common


stock
around
8400
r5

Which suggests what I refer to as PIE is from a later node to Hittite. Think of it as members on the same family tree but their MRCA is from different generations. As with so many things, the PIE classification is a POV issue here.

After having done a little reading; Transcaucasian pottery does seem to expand about the date the Kura Araxes culture does, which does show a cultural expansion from steppes area about the time of 5,000 BP.

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.

pie-poss

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.

pie-poss-21

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..