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horsewheellanguage David Reich and Nick Patterson come down in favor of the steppe as the ur-heimat of the Indo-Europeans, at least those who migrated into Europe, in a recent abstract:

We generated genome-wide data from 65 Europeans who lived between 8,000-3,000 years ago by enriching ancient DNA libraries for a target set of about 390,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms. This strategy decreases the sequencing required to obtain genome-wide data from ancient DNA samples by around 1000-fold, allowing us to study an order of magnitude more individuals than previous studies and to obtain new insights about the past. We show that in western Europe, the farmers of both Germany and Spain >7,000 years ago were descended from a common ancestral stock. These farmers did not replace the earlier hunter-gatherers, but continued to mix with them, leading to a resurgence of hunter-gatherer ancestry in both Germany and Spain ~1,000-2,000 years later. In eastern Europe, the hunter-gatherers of Russia >7,000 years ago were distinct from those of the west, having an increased affinity to a ~24,000 year old individual from Siberia, but this affinity was reduced by ~5,000 years ago in the Yamnaya steppe pastoralists because of admixture with a population of Near Eastern ancestry. Western and Eastern Europe collided ~4,500 years ago with the appearance of the Corded Ware people in Central Europe, who derived at least two thirds of their ancestry from an eastern population closely related to the Yamnaya. The evidence for mass migration into Europe thousands of years after the arrival of agriculture, in combination with linguistic and archaeological data, makes a compelling case for the steppe as a proximate source for the spread of Indo-European languages into Europe.

This is broadly the same data which Iosif Lazaridis presented at ASHG 2014. So this itself is not new. But what I would like to draw your attention to are two posts over at Eurogenes, Ancient DNA points to the Eurasian steppe as a proximate source for Indo-European migrations into Europe, and Yamnaya genomes are a 50/50 mix of eastern Euro foragers and something else ANE-rich. Nick Patterson actually weighed in over in the comment thread for the first post. A comment in the second post was especially amusing:

Over 400 comments on an abstract? You may need to start a forum when the actual paper is released, David.

insearchof Yes, there were over 400 comments on the first post. It shows you how passionate people get about this issue. Some of the associations within this field are of a racialist nature. The Journal of Indo-European Studies was founded by Roger Pearson, though today it is edited by the respectable J. P. Mallory. This is not to say that all of those enthusiastic about this topic are quite so “out there,” but it’s quite emotional.

Until the paper itself comes out I suggest readers bone up on the archaeology, because there’s a wealth of that out there already. From what I recall the Samara samples were form David Anthony, and his The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World is basically required reading in my opinion if you are interested in this issue. Also, Mallory’s older In Search of Indo-Europeans is probably worth reading as well. We live in interesting times indeed!

 
• Category: History, Science • Tags: Indo-Europeans 
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  1. I recently bought this book ” The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World” on the recommendation of “jtgw”. It just arrived yesterday. Thanks to jtgw.

  2. We live in interesting times indeed!

    Yes indeed and maybe some surprises to come.

  3. Many (all but 1) of my Macedonian and Serbian friends are very passionate about the Albanian urheimat, insisting it is in the Caucasus. I don’t have the heart to tell them that the Albanians are probably the last paleo-Balkans people left.

    • Replies: @Jtgw
    Paleo-Balkan meaning pre-agriculture? Why do they speak an Indo-European language then?
  4. @Hokie
    Many (all but 1) of my Macedonian and Serbian friends are very passionate about the Albanian urheimat, insisting it is in the Caucasus. I don't have the heart to tell them that the Albanians are probably the last paleo-Balkans people left.

    Paleo-Balkan meaning pre-agriculture? Why do they speak an Indo-European language then?

    • Replies: @Hokie
    No, the Paleo-Balkan branch of the Indo-European family (Thracian, Illyrian, Dacian, etc) that was there in classical times. The Slavs didn't show up until the early middle ages. The pre-Indo-European peoples are all gone, although a substrate of their language remains in Greek.
  5. @Jtgw
    Paleo-Balkan meaning pre-agriculture? Why do they speak an Indo-European language then?

    No, the Paleo-Balkan branch of the Indo-European family (Thracian, Illyrian, Dacian, etc) that was there in classical times. The Slavs didn’t show up until the early middle ages. The pre-Indo-European peoples are all gone, although a substrate of their language remains in Greek.

    • Replies: @Jtgw
    Ah gotcha. Never heard the term before to describe those languages, sorry.
  6. @Hokie
    No, the Paleo-Balkan branch of the Indo-European family (Thracian, Illyrian, Dacian, etc) that was there in classical times. The Slavs didn't show up until the early middle ages. The pre-Indo-European peoples are all gone, although a substrate of their language remains in Greek.

    Ah gotcha. Never heard the term before to describe those languages, sorry.

  7. It depresses me that still, to this day, there seem to be only two books worth reading on Indo-European origins: Anthony’s and Mallory’s.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    There are lots of interesting papers though:

    https://www.academia.edu/9176955/An_Enigmatic_Indo-European_Rite_Paederasty
  8. Robert Drews wrote two books related to the spread of Indo-Europeans (The End of Bronze Age and The Coming of the Greeks) in which he argues that the chariot was the technological advance that allowed the spread of the Indo-Europeans throughout Europe and South Asia, similar to David Anthony’s argument. This raised the question of whether the spread of Indo-European languages represented a broad cultural migration of a people throughout those parts of the worlds or was more of a spreading conquest by a smaller number of elites who became a ruling class, much like the Norman French invading England and influencing the language without largely displacing the indigenous population. If it was a largely male elite instead of a broader population migration, we should see evidence of that in the mitochondrial DNA, which should be more reflective of the earlier indigenous population unless a large number of women were also part of the migration.

  9. @Zimriel
    It depresses me that still, to this day, there seem to be only two books worth reading on Indo-European origins: Anthony's and Mallory's.
  10. This lecture series at the Penn Museum titled “Before the Silk Road” might be of interest. Both Mallory and Renfrew are speakers.

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL286E934A56954D08

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