JE Menon wrote:>>For all Indo-European languages, PIE is such a thing.
Except that the antiquity of Sanskrit is greater (so far as is known hitherto) than all the European languages. Hence the moniker "Indo"-European. I am pretty sure that Indo did not come first out of charitable consideration. In other words, someone correct me if I'm wrong, there is no European language whose "distance" from Sanskrit is lower than the daughters of Sanskrit in India, which might suggest a direct connection with the mythical PIE.
this is neither here, nor there, technically speaking, from the linguistic community. this is because linguistics assume an 'ink drop in a bottle of water' diffusion model. By that model, Sanskrit is not the oldest found member of the Indo-European language, its Hittite, which is more archaic than Sanskrit. However, i simply see no reason why human social variables, such as linguistic evolution rate,has to be 'continuous and symmetric' in the first place. If we do not make the 'ink in water drop dissipating' model assumption, then there is no telling whether Sanskrit, Hittite or Mycenaean Greek is the older of the Indo-European languages.
Other questions, perhaps borne of ignorance: (a) why is it called PIE and not Proto-European if it went directly west from the steppes, and (b) who the fu(k created such a "massive" population (as the Nature paper title suggests) in that area such that it became unsustainable and had to massively exit the region.
It is called Proto-Indo-European, because the 'Indo' group- which has Indo-Aryan (desi languages), Indo-Iranian (Iranic languages such as Pashto, Baloch, Persian, etc), Burusakshsi (Pamiri and Badakhshan languages) as well as tocharian (extinct, languages of Kushan, Hunas, etc) constitute just as big, if not bigger linguistic diversity than European languages and way, way bigger demographic numbers historically. So they can't just call it 'European' or 'proto-European' without being straightaway accused of pro-Euro bias.
As for population boom, the Steppe hypothesis relies on geological factors- which are pretty sound, i must say, from a purely geological perspective. the fact is, the area around Caspian sea, into Russia and Kazakhstan, are below sea level. What would be Central Russia and Siberia today, 14,000 years ago, would've been covered with ice sheets. By 13,000 years ago, the ice sheets are gone/rapidly shrinking and created a series of massive lakes (mega-glacial lakes), especially in the Caspian depression. this would've provided enough water supply for rich grazing grounds and perhaps densification of fruit bearing trees, which are original to central Asia (the foothills of tien Shan mountains is the original homeland of trees such as apples, apricot, plums, peaches etc)- enough to cause a densification of population. However, somewhere in the 9,000-3,000 BC period, these lakes must've run dry, due to no more glacial melt-water and thus, forcing people to migrate.
From a purely geological perspective of massive lakes being created at the end of the ice age in the upper reaches of the steppes, which then disappear, is true. Rest of the scenario (densification of population, spread of fruit bearing trees all over central asia and then their subsequent disappearance due to aridity leading to migrations) is filled in by linguistic community.
How did they get there and settle and develop PIE before any of the other more resource rich areas did, considering that leisure time was surely at a premium? Even now the buggers are wandering about on yaks in yurts and crushing a form of yogurt to survive, as UlanBatori will proudly testify; hell even his Alien Invasion Theory seems more sustainable than this bit of fantasy trashtoon.
Beats me. Big flaw in PIE in central Asia theory, is that it assumes a densification of pre-historic human population in the region. I will point out, that there is no evidence of densification of population in CA before 3,000 BC and that date is way too late to be sustained/caused by 'glacial meltwater lakes the size of Lake superior or bigger in Caspian depression), not to mention, Caspian sea is salty and always has been, it'd be near impossible to have freshwater glacial meltwater lakes, i.e., no mixing with saltwater from the Caspian.
the other problem is, earliest evidence of CA cultures, such as Shintasha, Andronovo, Yamna, etc, show nowhere close to the densification observed in Nile valley/Mesopotamia (Ubaid period) or IVC (Mehrgarh-Bhirrana period) during the 9,000-2,000 BC period.
On the other hand, archaeologically and population modelling-wise, collapse of IVC leading to spread of IE languages is far more sustainable for the following reasons:
1. IVC was gigantic for its day. I am almost sure, IVC represented a greater share of urban population worldwide during the 3,000-1900 BC period than any other civilization for any other period of history. At its peak, IVC covered more area than Mesopotamia, Egypt, Minoan and Anatolian civilizations combined, with more urban sites than entire west asia and mediterranean combined.
So we have definite evidence of massive demographic presence in IVC and its subsequent dispersal, as the period of 1900 BC-100 BC sees much sparser population in Indus Valley and thus, centre of gravity of Indic civilization during historic times has been Ganges valley and not the Indus.
2. IVC collapses around 1900 BC and by 1700 BC, we have almost total abandonment of IVC sites west of Haryana. Few isolated exceptions, such as Pirak, limped on till 800s BC. the rise of urban sites across Ganges post 1700 BC shoots up nearly four-folds. Indo-European speaking groups, such as Hittites, Mitanni, etc all arrive in middle east between 1700-1500 BC, which (around 200-300 years) fits very well with medieval gypsy migrations from India into middle east in terms of 'travel rate as a culture'. While we do not know decisively the language of the steppe cultures such as Andronovo, Shintasha, etc, we decisively know the language of Hittites, Mitanni.
3. Both Hittite and Mitanni show an east to west vector of transmission. Note however, that the arrival of turks in middle east, via Azerbaijan predominantly, show a NE-SW vector. Same is noticed during the expansion of Khazar empire in medieval times or Russian Empire in Colonial times. the vector is key, because we note in every single North of Caucasus (which is where PIE homeland is, according to Steppe hypothesis) expansion into middle east, we see a North to south vector via Azerbaijan. Only cultures arriving from east of the Caspian Sea ( Stan countries or Indian subcontinent) show an east to west vector. the Gypsies too show an overarching east to west vector. If PIE was based around Ukraine, there is no reason for Hittites, who inhabit central and eastern turkey or Mitanni, who inhabit southern turkey/North Syria to show an east-west vector instead of a N-S vector.
4. the Iranians also show an east-to west displacement in the recorded history of the Greeks & Indians, where Indian literature tends to put 'Parasikas' in the Helmand river valley, early Greeks place them in Anshan, which is west of Helmand valley.
5. the above mentioned site of Pirak, is decisive evidence of IVC continuity from IVC times to late Vedic/just before Buddhist era and is a decisive counter to 'lost culture of IVC'. Styles such as Banjara clothing, Sindhi pattern, etc are all present in IVC times, showing decisive proof that IVC culture was not 'erased' by Invading Aryans like say Pharaonic Egyptian culture was erased by Christianity and Islam.
6. the site of Shortugai is on the banks of Amu Darya in Afghan-tajik border region and is the first EVER decisive proof of North to South or South to North transmission of settlement in the Hindu Kush region. Shortugai is decisively IVC- it has same layout, same pottery and same seal inscriptions. It is also a relatively late expansion of IVC, being founded around 2000 BC and for bloody good reason: its right next to the Lapiz Lazuli mines of Badakhshan, which we see decisive evidence of being a precious gemstone in Bronze Age, in the story of Gilgamesh, where it is specifically singled out along with gold for being a 'royal item'.
7. BB Lal has proven decisively that there is no evidence of material culture displacement from BMAC (Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex) into he IVC, which is necessary for an Aryan migration theory. He's proven, through qualitative and quantitative material analysis, that BMAC to PGW artefact transfer, is consistent with trade and we see the same with sites like Sutkagan Dor and BMAC during IVC period itself.
All these points are universally ignored by the religion of PIE amongst linguistics and which present a far better archaeological model for IE expansion than from Central Asia.