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Marija Gimbutas, Old Europe, the Kurgan Theory and J.P. Mallory Assimilation Theory


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 Danube Delta

Old Europe is a term coined by archaeologist Marija Gimbutas to describe what she perceives as a relatively homogeneous and widespread pre-Indo-European Neolithic culture in Europe, particularly in Malta and the Balkans. In her major work, The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe: 6500–3500 B.C. (1982), she refers to these Neolithic cultures as Old Europe. Archaeologists and ethnographers working within her framework believe that the evidence points to migrations of the peoples who spoke Indo-European languages at the beginning of the Bronze age (the Kurgan hypothesis). For this reason, Gimbutas and her associates regard the terms Neolithic Europe, Old Europe, and Pre-Indo-European as synonymous.


Table of Contents-Cuprins:    

Marija Gimbutas Kurgan Theory

Kurgan Hypothesis on Wikipedia (pentrutraducere in  romana mergeti la sfarsitul paginei si apasati pe romana)

Antoly A. Klyosov Theory

Chariot Spread

J.P. Mallory's Gradual Assimilation Theory

Claims as to Who Was First Among the Indo-Europeans


Marija Gimbutas Kurgan Culture



In her influential books three decades ago, Marija Gimbutas, an anthropologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, offered so-called Venus figurines as representatives of divinities in cults to a Mother Goddess that reigned in prehistoric Europe. Although the late Dr. Gimbutas still has an ardent following, many scholars hew to more conservative, nondivine explanations.

Marija Gimbutas  excavations and interpretations show, at the dawn of civilization, a society stretching across Europe from the Danube to the North Sea in which women had high status and power along with men. Egalitarian and peaceful, "Old Europe" existed for thousands of years without war.

Hundreds of female figurines were found. Paintings, sculptures of birth-giving goddesses, pottery figures of bird headed deities and sacred serpents all honored the regenerative powers of nature. "The Goddess in all her manifestations was a symbol of the unity of all life in Nature. Her power was in water and stone, in tomb and cave, in animals and birds, snakes and fish, hill, trees, and flowers." -- Marija Gimbutas

 Marija Gimbutas believed that the expansion of the Kurgan culture was conducted as a series of hostile, military conquests.[8] Gimbutas wrote:

The process of Indo-Europeanization was a cultural, not a physical, transformation. It must be understood as a military victory in terms of successfully imposing a new administrative system, language, and religion upon the indigenous groups.[11]

Gimbutas pointed out how the extinction of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture coincided with the 3rd Wave of Kurgan expansion, circa 3000–2800 B.C., which saw the Kurgans move en masse into modern-day Romania, Bulgaria, and eastern Hungary. This matched the archaeological evidence that showed that the Cucuteni-Trypillian settlements (some of which were the largest in the world at the time), were all abandoned by 2750 B.C., marking the end of the culture.

Taken together, the Kurgan hypothesis and the Old European culture theories presented a compelling story that directly went against the prevalent image of prehistoric cultures (especially cultures that existed outside of the traditional "Cradle of Civilization" in the Fertile Crescent) as "primitive", wild, half-starved savages.

These theories were more fully developed during the cultural upheavals of the 1960s, and were received with tremendous support by many people, especially by many of the younger college students who were exposed to them. Additionally, the theories were greatly acclaimed by supporters of the anti-war Peace Movement in the U.S., and the burgeoning Feminist Movement, who saw in these ancient Neolithic cultures a model of how human society could exist without war, and how women could be treated with equal status as men.

Moreover, the other image of the warlike, patriarchal Indo-European invaders who brought death and destruction to a peaceful egalitarian people resonated as well with the members of these movements, during a time when the U.S. was involved in an unpopular war in Vietnam. So strongly did these theories effect some people, that they provided much of the foundation for the creation of the Neopagan religious movement, that still views the writings of Gimbutas and Campbell with high regard.

Throughout the next few decades the Kurgan hypothesis was the dominant theory on the subject of the end of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture (among other related subjects of this period). Although today there are many who have challenged the Kurgan hypothesis, it still stands as a critically important theory that anyone interested in this historical period must confront. The theory's basic elements still offer substantial insights for students of history, regardless of how strongly they ultimately agree with its conclusions. 

Antoly A. Klyosov Theory

The results of Antoly A. Klyosov seem to contradict the views here: "To say that “R1a1… is supporting the Kurgan expansion hypothesis” is incorrect. R1b1 arguably “supports” the “Kurgan expansion hypothesis”, however, in the westward direction, which is opposite to the overall direction of R1a1 migrations, eastward.

Besides, the authors state elsewhere in their paper 
(Discussion) that the “Kurgan people … of the Volga steppe region, infiltrated Europe between the middle of the fifth and the second millennium BC”. In the middle of the fifth millennium BC, that is about 6500 years before present only R1b1 people were in the Volga steppe region (with a common ancestor of R1b1 there of 6775±830 years bp, see Klyosov, 2009d).

R1a1 appeared on the Russian Plain only 4750±500 ybp (Klyosov, 2009a). This is another reason that the so-called “Kurgan people” could not have been R1a1, at least not 6500 years bp and much later.

They could not have brought the “Indo-European language” to Europe, since they brought it FROM Europe and moved in the opposite direction." (Ultima ratio ВестникРоссийскойАкадемии  -   ДНК-генеалогии - Том 3, № 4, 2010 апрель, РоссийскаяАкадемияДНК-генеалогии : p632 (=103 of the online-pdf).

Kurgan Hypothesis on Wikipedia

Kurgan hypothesis

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Map of Indo European migrations from ca. 4000 to 1000 BC according to the Kurgan model. The Anatolian migration (indicated with a dotted arrow) could have taken place either across the Caucasus or across the Balkans. The magenta area corresponds to the assumed Urheimat (Samara culture, Sredny Stog culture). The red area corresponds to the area that may have been settled by Indo-European-speaking peoples up to ca. 2500 BC, and the orange area by 1000 BC.

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The Kurgan hypothesis (also theory or model) is one of the proposals about early Indo-European origins, which postulates that the people of an archaeological "Kurgan culture" (a term grouping the Yamna, or Pit Grave, culture and its predecessors) in the Pontic steppe were the most likely speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language. The term is derived from kurgan (курган), the Turkic word for a tumulus or burial mound.

The Kurgan model is the most widely accepted scenario of Indo-European origins.[1][2] An alternative model is the Anatolian urheimat. Many[citation needed] Indo-Europeanists are agnostic on the question.

The Kurgan hypothesis was first formulated in the 1950s by Marija Gimbutas, who defined the "Kurgan culture" as composed of four successive periods, with the earliest (Kurgan I) including the Samara and Seroglazovo cultures of the Dnieper/Volga region in the Copper Age (early 4th millennium BC). The bearers of these cultures were nomadic pastoralists, who, according to the model, by the early 3rd millennium BC expanded throughout the Pontic-Caspian steppe and into Eastern Europe.[3]



[edit] Overview

When it was first proposed in 1956, in "The Prehistory of Eastern Europe, Part 1", Marija Gimbutas's contribution to the search for Indo-European origins was a pioneering interdisciplinary synthesis of archaeology and linguistics. The Kurgan model of Indo-European origins identifies the Pontic-Caspian steppe as the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) Urheimat, and a variety of late PIE dialects are assumed to have been spoken across the region. According to this model, the Kurgan culture gradually expanded until it encompassed the entire Pontic-Caspian steppe, Kurgan IV being identified with the Pit Grave culture of around 3000 BC.

Historical spread of the chariot. Dates given in image are approximate BC years.

The mobility of the Kurgan culture facilitated its expansion over the entire Pit Grave region, and is attributed to the domestication of the horse and later the use of early chariots.[4] The first strong archaeological evidence for the domestication of the horse comes from the Sredny Stog culture north of the Azov Sea in Ukraine, and would correspond to an early PIE or pre-PIE nucleus of the 5th millennium BC.[4] The earliest known chariot was discovered at Krivoye Lake and dates to c. 2000 BC.[5]

Subsequent expansion beyond the steppes led to hybrid, or in Gimbutas's terms "kurganized" cultures, such as the Globular Amphora culture to the west. From these kurganized cultures came the immigration of proto-Greeks to the Balkans and the nomadic Indo-Iranian cultures to the east around 2500 BC.

J.P. Mallory’s inconclusiveness about the westward Indo-European migrations was cited by linguist Kortlandt[6], to conclude that archaeological evidence is pointless beyond what can be motivated from a linguistic point of view. From the 1990s on, new archaeological evidence from Northern European prehistoric cultures resulted in new questions concerning the influence and expansion of Kurgan cultures to the west. The pan-European migrations and process of "kurganization", especially of Corded Ware cultures, may not have been as extensive as Gimbutas believed.[7]

[edit] Kurgan culture

The model of a "Kurgan culture" postulates cultural similarity between the various cultures of the Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age (5th to 3rd millennia BC) Pontic-Caspian steppe to justify the identification as a single archaeological culture or cultural horizon. The eponymous construction of kurgans is only one among several factors. As always in the grouping of archaeological cultures, the dividing line between one culture and the next cannot be drawn with any accuracy and will be open to debate.

Cultures forming part of the "Kurgan horizon":

Gimbutas defined and introduced the term "Kurgan culture" in 1956 with the intention to introduce a "broader term" that would combine Sredny Stog II, Pit-Grave and Corded ware horizons (spanning the 4th to 3rd millennia in much of Eastern and Northern Europe).[8] By the 1980s, it had become clear that this extended "Corded Ware-Battle Axe-Tumulus" burial complex envisaged by Gimbutas needed to be considered separately, under the heading of (3rd millennium) "Kurganization" (spread of "Kurgan elements" beyond the area of the Kurgan culture proper). Mallory (1986, p. 308) points out that "by the mid-5th millennium BC, we already have very striking cultural similarities from the Dnieper-Donets culture in the west to the Samara culture of the middle Volga ... this is continued in the later Sredny Stog period." The "Yamna culture in all its regional variants" arose later, and may already represent diversification.

The comparison of cultural similarities of these cultures is a question of archaeology independent of hypotheses regarding the Proto-Indo-European language. The postulate of these 5th millennium "cultural similarities" informed by archaeology are a prerequisite of the "Kurgan model" which identifies the chalcolithic (5th millennium) Pontic-Caspian steppe as the locus of Proto-Indo-European.

[edit] Stages of culture and expansion

Overview of the Kurgan hypothesis.

Gimbutas' original suggestion identifies four successive stages of the Kurgan culture:-

There were proposed to be three successive "waves" of expansion:-

  • Wave 1, predating Kurgan I, expansion from the lower Volga to the Dnieper, leading to coexistence of Kurgan I and the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture. Repercussions of the migrations extend as far as the Balkans and along the Danube to the Vinca and Lengyel cultures in Hungary.
  • Wave 2, mid 4th millennium BC, originating in the Maykop culture and resulting in advances of "kurganized" hybrid cultures into northern Europe around 3000 BC (Globular Amphora culture, Baden culture, and ultimately Corded Ware culture). According to Gimbutas this corresponds to the first intrusion of Indo-European languages into western and northern Europe.
  • Wave 3, 3000–2800 BC, expansion of the Pit Grave culture beyond the steppes, with the appearance of the characteristic pit graves as far as the areas of modern Romania, Bulgaria and eastern Hungary, coincident with the end of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture (c.2750 BC).

[edit] Secondary Urheimat

The "kurganized" Globular Amphora culture in Europe is proposed as a "secondary Urheimat" of PIE, the culture separating into the Bell-Beaker culture and Corded Ware culture around 2300 BC. This ultimately resulted in the European IE families of Italic, Celtic and Germanic languages, and other, partly extinct, language groups of the Balkans and central Europe, possibly including the proto-Mycenaean invasion of Greece.

[edit] Timeline

  • 4500–4000: Early PIE. Sredny Stog, Dnieper-Donets and Samara cultures, domestication of the horse (Wave 1).
  • 4000–3500: The Pit Grave culture (a.k.a. yamna culture), the prototypical kurgan builders, emerges in the steppe, and the Maykop culture in the northern Caucasus. Indo-Hittite models postulate the separation of Proto-Anatolian before this time.
  • 3500–3000: Middle PIE. The Pit Grave culture is at its peak, representing the classical reconstructed Proto-Indo-European society with stone idols, early two-wheeled proto-chariots, predominantly practicing animal husbandry in permanent settlements protected by hillforts, subsisting on agriculture, and fishing along rivers. Contact of the Pit Grave culture with late Neolithic Europe cultures results in the "kurganized" Globular Amphora Baden cultures (Wave 2). The Maykop culture shows the earliest evidence of the beginning Bronze Age, and Bronze weapons and artifacts are introduced to Pit Grave territory. Probable early Satemization.
  • 3000–2500: Late PIE. The Pit Grave culture extends over the entire Pontic steppe (Wave 3). The Corded Ware culture extends from the Rhine to the Volga, corresponding to the latest phase of Indo-European unity, the vast "kurganized" area disintegrating into various independent languages and cultures, still in loose contact enabling the spread of technology and early loans between the groups, except for the Anatolian and Tocharian branches, which are already isolated from these processes. The Centum-Satem break is probably complete, but the phonetic trends of Satemization remain active.

[edit] Genetics

The diversion of Y-chromosome Haplogroup F and its descendants.

During the last glacial maximum (25,000 to 13,000 years ago), it is likely that the population of Europe retreated into refuges, one being Ukraine. A specific haplogroup R1a1 defined by the M17 (SNP marker) of the Y chromosome (see:[3] for nomenclature) is associated by some researchers with the Kurgan culture. The haplogroup R1a1 is "currently found in central and western Asia, Pakistan, India, and in Slavic populations of Eastern Europe", but it is rare in most countries of Western Europe (e.g. France, or some parts of Great Britain) (see [4] [5]). However, 23.6% of Norwegians, 18.4% of Swedes, 16.5% of Danes, 11% of Saami share this lineage ([6]). Investigations suggest the Hg R1a1 gene expanded from the Dniepr-Don Valley, between 13,000 and 7600 years ago, and was linked to the reindeer hunters of the Ahrensburg culture that started from the Dniepr valley in Ukraine and reached Scandinavia 12,000 years ago.[9] Alternatively, it has been suggested that R1a1 arrived in southern Scandinavia during the time of the Corded Ware culture.[10]

Ornella Semino et al. (see [7]) propose a postglacial spread of the R1a1 gene during the Late Glacial Maximum subsequently magnified by the expansion of the Kurgan culture into Europe and eastward. R1a1 is most prevalent in Poland, Russia, and Ukraine and is also observed in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Central Asia and India.

Recent genetic studies seem to confirm a west Eurasian origin for most of the Y-DNA haplogroup R1a1 likely linked to early Indo-European populations. Remains of the Andronovo culture horizon (strongly supposed to be culturally indo-Iranian) of south Siberia were found to be 90% of west Eurasian origin during the Bronze Age and associated almost exclusively with haplogroup R1a1 (and 77% overall, in the Bronze/Iron Age timeframe). The DNA testing also indicated a high prevalence of people with characteristics such as blue (or green) eyes, fair skin and light hair, implying even more an origin close to Europe for this population (see [8]). Remains in Kazakhstan of the Bronze/Iron Age timeframe, also of the Andronovo culture horizon, were also mostly of west Eurasian stock (see [9]).

Several 4600 year-old human remains at a Corded Ware site in Eulau, Germany, were also found to belong to haplogroup R1a1 (see [10]).

These elements tend to strongly support the Kurgan hypothesis.

Another marker that closely corresponds to Kurgan migrations is distribution of blood group B allele, mapped by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza. The distribution of blood group B allele in Europe matches the proposed map of Kurgan Culture, and Haplogroup R1a1 (YDNA) distribution.

[edit] Kortlandt's revision

Frederik Kortlandt (comparative linguistics, University of Leiden) in 1989 proposed a revision of the Kurgan model.[6] He states the main objection which can be raised against Gimbutas' scheme (e.g., 1985: 198) is that it starts from the archaeological evidence and looks for a linguistic interpretation. Starting from the linguistic evidence and trying to fit the pieces into a coherent whole, he arrives at the following picture: The territory of the Sredny Stog culture in the eastern Ukraine he calls the most convincing candidate for the original Indo-European homeland. The Indo-Europeans who remained after the migrations to the west, east and south (as described by Mallory 1989) became speakers of Balto-Slavic, while the speakers of the other satem languages would have to be assigned to the Pit Grave horizon, and the western Indo-Europeans to the Corded Ware horizon. Returning to the Balts and the Slavs, their ancestors should be correlated to the Middle Dnieper culture. Then, following Mallory (197f) and assuming the origin of this culture to be sought in the Sredny Stog, Yamnaya and Late Tripolye cultures, he proposes the course of these events corresponds with the development of a satem language which was drawn into the western Indo-European sphere of influence.

According to Kortlandt, there seems to be a general tendency to date proto-languages farther back in time than is warranted by the linguistic evidence. However, if Indo-Hittite and Indo-European could be correlated with the beginning and the end of the Sredny Stog culture respectively, he states that the linguistic evidence from the overall Indo-European family does not lead us beyond Gimbutas' secondary homeland, so that the Khvalynsk culture on the middle Volga and the Maykop culture in the northern Caucasus cannot be identified with the Indo-Europeans. Any proposal which goes beyond the Sredny Stog culture must start from the possible affinities of Indo-European with other language families. Taken into account a supposed typological similarity of Proto-Indo-European to the North-West Caucasian languages and assuming this similarity can be attributed to areal factors, Kortlandt thinks of Indo-European as a branch of "Uralo-Altaic" which was transformed under the influence of a Caucasian substratum. Such events would be supported by archaeological evidence and locate the earliest formative phase of Pre-Indo-European north of the Caspian Sea in the 7th millennium (cf. Mallory 1989: 192f.), essentially in agreement with Gimbutas’ theory.

[edit] Invasionist vs. diffusionist scenarios

Gimbutas believed that the expansions of the Kurgan culture were a series of essentially hostile, military incursions where a new warrior culture imposed itself on the peaceful, matriarchal cultures of "Old Europe", replacing it with a patriarchal warrior society,[11] a process visible in the appearance of fortified settlements and hillforts and the graves of warrior-chieftains:

"The process of Indo-Europeanization was a cultural, not a physical, transformation. It must be understood as a military victory in terms of successfully imposing a new administrative system, language, and religion upon the indigenous groups.[12]"

In her later life, Gimbutas increasingly emphasized the violent nature of this transition from the Mediterranean cult of the Mother Goddess to a patriarchal society and the worship of the warlike Thunderer (Zeus, Dyaus), to a point of essentially formulating feminist archaeology. Many scholars who accept the general scenario of Indo-European migrations proposed, maintain that the transition was likely much more gradual and peaceful than suggested by Gimbutas. The migrations were certainly not a sudden, concerted military operation, but the expansion of disconnected tribes and cultures, spanning many generations. To what degree the indigenous cultures were peacefully amalgamated or violently displaced remains a matter of controversy among supporters of the Kurgan hypothesis.

JP Mallory (in 1989) accepted the Kurgan hypothesis as the de-facto standard theory of Indo-European origins, but he recognizes valid criticism of Gimbutas' radical scenario of military invasion:

One might at first imagine that the economy of argument involved with the Kurgan solution should oblige us to accept it outright. But critics do exist and their objections can be summarized quite simply – almost all of the arguments for invasion and cultural transformations are far better explained without reference to Kurgan expansions, and most of the evidence so far presented is either totally contradicted by other evidence or is the result of gross misinterpretation of the cultural history of Eastern, Central, and Northern Europe."[13]

[edit] Criticisms and qualifications

[edit] Language does not equal material culture

Linguists argue linguistic expansion does not imply "kurganization" of material cultures, and hold extrapolating current linguistic developments to the past to be precarious (for instance deflexion should be excluded for being a Western European non-representative linguistic process), to conclude a separation between Centum and Satem in the fourth millennium is appropriate but does not imply a different stance on the material cultures involved.[14]

[edit] Renfrew's linguistic timedepth

While the Kurgan scenario is widely accepted as one of the leading answers to the question of Indo-European origins, it is still a speculative model and not normative. The main alternative suggestion is the theory of Colin Renfrew and Vyacheslav V. Ivanov, postulating an Anatolian Urheimat, that the spread of the Indo-European languages is a result of the spread of agriculture. This belief implies a significantly older age of the Proto-Indo-European language, 9,000 years as opposed to 6,000, and finds less support among traditional linguists than the Kurgan theory. An argument against the Anatolian Urheimat is that PIE contains words specifically related to cattle-breeding and horse-riding devices invented not earlier than the 5th millennium BC by nomadic tribes in Asian steppes. It is also difficult to correlate the geographical distribution of the Indo-European branches with the advance of agriculture.

A study in 2003 by Russell Gray and Quentin Atkinson at the University of Auckland[11] that used a computer analysis based upon lexical data favors an earlier date for Proto-Indo-Europeanca, the 8th millennium, than the Kurgan model does; this earlier date is consistent with Renfrew's Anatolian Urheimat. Their result is based on maximum likelihood analysis of Swadesh lists. Their results run counter to many traditional categorizations of linguistic relations between the different branches within the Indo-European languages tree. However, other computer analysis using different methods and databases support this result. It has been suggested that after originating in Anatolia there may have been a secondary expansion from Eastern Europe, similar to the Kurgan hypothesis.

[edit] Occurrence of horse riding in Europe

Renfrew (1999: 268) holds that on the European scene mounted warriors appear only as late as the turn of the second-first millennia BC and these could in no case have been "Gimbutas's Kurgan warriors"[citation needed] predating the facts by some 2,000 years. Mallory (1989, p136) enumerates linguistic evidence pointing to PIE period employment of horses in paired draught, something that would not have been possible before the invention of the spoked wheel and chariot, normally dated after about 2500 BC.

According to Krell (1998), Gimbutas' homeland theory is completely incompatible with the linguistic evidence. Krell compiles lists of items of flora, fauna, economy, and technology that archaeology has accounted for in the Kurgan culture and compares it with lists of the same categories as reconstructed by traditional historical-Indo-European linguistics. Krell finds major discrepancies between the two, and underlines the fact that we cannot presume that the reconstructed term for 'horse', for example, referred to the domesticated equid in the protoperiod just because it did in later times. It could originally have referred to a wild equid, a possibility that would "undermine the mainstay of Gimbutas's arguments that the Kurgan culture first domesticated the horse and used this new technology to spread to surrounding areas,"[dubious ]

[edit] Pastoralism vs. agriculture

There are several distinct modes of food acquisition in ancient human history. The oldest is the hunter-gatherer mode. In the Neolithic era, people first appear to have cultivated existing plants, and then developed domesticated breeds of plants and animals for food production and other utilitarian purposes (e.g. fiber for clothing). Some Neolithic era and subsequent cultures were sedentary and grew crops. Other Neolithic era and subsequent cultures were pastoral, i.e. they herded domesticated animals as a food source. Tensions between the neighboring herder civilizations and farmer civilizations are documented as far back as written history extends to the Sumerians, and continued into the 19th century in much of the world (e.g. the Indian Wars of the 19th century United States).

Nomadic pastoralism (i.e. nomadic herder civilizations) arose shortly after the development of farming in the Neolithic revolution, possibly through either demic expansion of farming populations with domesticated plants and animals into areas where local environments would not sustain settled farming that abandoned sedentary farming but not domesticated animals, or through cultural diffusion of the tending of domesticated animals to pre-existing hunter-gatherer populations. The demic diffusion model would support an Anatolian origin for Indo-European, as the domesticated species associated with Indo-European societies has its origins in the Near East and Anatolia. In this view, the Kurgans are themselves descendants of Anatolian farmers who would have spoken a proto-Indo-European language and replaced earlier hunter-gatherer populations, prior to serving as a source for many branches of the Indo-European language family. A cultural diffusion model, in contrast, in which Kurgans speaking their own language acquired domesticated herd animals from Antatolia and domesticated horses, then conquered the non-Indo-European speaking Anatolians, would favor a Kurgan hypothesis. (Historical evidence shows that the Turkic languages and Islamic religion that are now present in Anatolia arrived there in the Middle Ages by this route in Turkic and Islamic conquests by nomadic pastoralists, the Kurgan hypothesis would not be unprecedented)

Kathrin Krell (1998) finds that the terms found in the reconstructed Indo-European language are not compatible with the cultural level of the Kurgans. Krell holds that the Indo-Europeans had agriculture whereas the Kurgan people were "just at a pastoral stage" and hence might not have had sedentary agricultural terms in their language, despite the fact that such terms are part of a Prot-Indo-European core vocabulary.

Krell (1998), "Gimbutas' Kurgans-PIE homeland hypothesis: a linguistic critique", points out that the Proto-Indo-European had an agricultural vocabulary and not merely a pastoral one. As for technology, there are plausible reconstructions suggesting knowledge of navigation, a technology quite atypical of Gimbutas' Kurgan society. Krell concludes that Gimbutas seems to first establish a Kurgan hypothesis, based on purely archaeological observations, and then proceeds to create a picture of the PIE homeland and subsequent dispersal which fits neatly over her archaeological findings. The problem is that in order to do this, she has had to be rather selective in her use of linguistic data, as well as in her interpretation of that data.[clarification needed]

[edit] Further expansion during the Bronze Age

The Kurgan hypothesis describes the initial spread of Proto-Indo-European during the 5th and 4th millennia BC.[15]

The question of further Indo-Europeanization of Central and Western Europe, Central Asia and Northern India during the Bronze Age is beyond its scope, and far more uncertain than the events of the Neolithic and the Copper Age. The specifics of the Indo-Europeanization of Central and Western Europe during the 3rd to 2nd millennia (Corded Ware horizon) and Central Asia (Andronovo culture) are nevertheless subject to some controversy.

[edit] Europe

The European Funnelbeaker and Corded Ware cultures have been described as showing intrusive elements linked to Indo-Europeanization, but recent archaeological studies have described them in terms of local continuity, which has led some archaeologists to declare the Kurgan hypothesis "obsolete".[16] However, it is generally held unrealistic to believe that a proto-historic people can be assigned to any particular group on basis of archaeological material alone.[17]

The Corded Ware culture has always been important in locating the Indo-European origins. The German archaeologist Alexander Häusler was an important proponent of archeologists that searched for homeland evidence here. He sharply criticised Gimbutas' concept of 'a' Kurgan culture that mixes several distinct cultures like the pit-grave culture. Häusler's criticism mostly stemmed from a distinctive lack of archeological evidence until 1950 from what was then the East Bloc, from which time on plenty of evidence for Gimbutas's Kurgan hypothesis was discovered for decades.[18] He was unable to link Corded Ware to the Indo-Europeans of the Balkans, Greece or Anatolia, and neither to the Indo-Europeans in Asia. Nevertheless, establishing the correct relationship between the Corded Ware and Pontic-Caspian regions is still considered essential to solving the entire homeland problem.[19]

[edit] Central Asia

[edit] See also

Competing hypotheses

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Mallory (1989:185). "The Kurgan solution is attractive and has been accepted by many archaeologists and linguists, in part or total. It is the solution one encounters in the Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Grand Dictionnaire Encyclopédique Larousse."
  2. ^ Strazny (2000:163). "The single most popular proposal is the Pontic steppes (see the Kurgan hypothesis)..."
  3. ^ Gimbutas (1985) page 190.
  4. ^ a b Parpola in Blench & Spriggs (1999:181). "The history of the Indo-European words for 'horse' shows that the Proto-Indo-European speakers had long lived in an area where the horse was native and/or domesticated (Mallory 1989:161–63). The first strong archaeological evidence for the domestication of the horse comes from the Ukrainian Srednij Stog culture, which flourished c. 4200–3500 BC and is likely to represent an early phase of the Proto-Indo-European culture (Anthony 1986:295f.; Mallory 1989:162, 197–210). During the Pit Grave culture (c. 3500–2800 BC) which continued the cultures related to Srednij Stog and probably represents the late phase of the Proto-Indo-European culture – full-scale pastoral technology, including the domesticated horse, wheeled vehicles, stockbreeding and limited horticulture, spread all over the Pontic steppes, and, c. 3000 BC, in practically every direction from this centre (Anthony 1986, 1991; Mallory 1989, vol. 1).
  5. ^ Anthony & Vinogradov (1995)
  6. ^ a b [1] The spread of the Indo-Europeans - Frederik Kortlandt, 1989
  7. ^ [2] The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology - Timothy Darvill, 2002, Corded Ware, p.101, Oxford University Press, ISBN 019-211649-5
  8. ^ Gimbutas (1970) page 156: "The name Kurgan culture (the Barrow culture) was introduced by the author in 1956 as a broader term to replace and Pit-Grave (Russian Yamna), names used by Soviet scholars for the culture in the eastern Ukraine and south Russia, and Corded Ware, Battle-Axe, Ochre-Grave, Single-Grave and other names given to complexes characterized by elements of Kurgan appearance that formed in various parts of Europe"
  9. ^ Passarino, G; Cavalleri GL, Lin AA, Cavalli-Sforza LL, Borresen-Dale AL, Underhill PA (2002), "Different genetic components in the Norwegian population revealed by the analysis of mtDNA and Y chromosome polymorphisms", Eur. J. Hum. Genet. 10 (9): 521–9, doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5200834, PMID 12173029, 
  10. ^ Dupuy, B. et al. 2006. Geographical heterogeneity of Y-chromosomal lineages in Norway. Forensic Science International. 164: 10-19.
  11. ^ Gimbutas (1982:1)
  12. ^ Gimbutas, Dexter & Jones-Bley (1997:309)
  13. ^ Mallory (1991:185)
  14. ^ Frederik Kortlandt, Professor of descriptive and comparative linguistics, University of Leiden - unpublished communication, may 2007
  15. ^ The New Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th edition, 22:587-588
  16. ^ Pre- & protohistorie van de lage landen, onder redactie van J.H.F. Bloemers & T. van Dorp 1991. De Haan/Open Universiteit. ISBN 90 269 4448 9, NUGI 644
  17. ^ The Germanic Invasions, the making of Europe 400-600 AD - Lucien Musset, ISBN 1-56619-326-5, p7
  18. ^ Schmoeckel 1999
  19. ^ In Search of the Indo-Europeans - J.P.Mallory, Thames and Hudson 1989, p245,ISBN 0-500-27616-1

[edit] References

  • Anthony, David W. (2007), The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0691058873, 
  • Anthony, David; Vinogradov, Nikolai (1995), "Birth of the Chariot", Archaeology 48 (2): 36–41 .
  • Blench, Roger; Spriggs, Matthew, eds. (1999), Archaeology and Language, III: Artefacts, languages and texts, London: Routledge .
  • Dexter, Miriam Robbins; Jones-Bley, Karlene, eds. (1997), The Kurgan Culture and the Indo-Europeanization of Europe: Selected Articles From 1952 to 1993, Washington, DC: Institute for the Study of Man, ISBN 0-941694-56-9 .
  • Gimbuta, Marija (1956). The Prehistory of Eastern Europe, Part 1.
  • Gimbutas, Marija (1970), "Proto-Indo-European Culture: The Kurgan Culture during the Fifth, Fourth, and Third Millennia B.C.", in Cardona, George; Hoenigswald, Henry M.; Senn, Alfred, Indo-European and Indo-Europeans: Papers Presented at the Third Indo-European Conference at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 155–197, ISBN 0812275748 .
  • Gimbutas, Marija (1982), "Old Europe in the Fifth Millenium B.C.: The European Situation on the Arrival of Indo-Europeans", in Polomé, Edgar C., The Indo-Europeans in the Fourth and Third Millennia, Ann Arbor: Karoma Publishers, ISBN 0897200411 
  • Gimbutas, Marija (Spring/Summer 1985), "Primary and Secondary Homeland of the Indo-Europeans: comments on Gamkrelidze-Ivanov articles", Journal of Indo-European Studies 13 (1&2): 185–201 
  • Gimbutas, Marija; Dexter, Miriam Robbins; Jones-Bley, Karlene (1997), The Kurgan Culture and the Indo-Europeanization of Europe: Selected Articles from 1952 to 1993, Washington, D. C.: Institute for the Study of Man, ISBN 0941694569 
  • Gimbutas, Marija; Dexter, Miriam Robbins (1999), The Living Goddesses, Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press, ISBN 0520229150 
  • Krell, Kathrin (1998). "Gimbutas' Kurgans-PIE homeland hypothesis: a linguistic critique". Chapter 11 in "Archaeology and Language, II", Blench and Spriggs.
  • Mallory, J.P.; Adams, D.Q., eds. (1997), Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, London: Fitzroy Dearborn, ISBN 1-884964-98-2 .
  • Mallory, J.P. (1991), In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology, and Myth, London: Thames & Hudson, ISBN 0-500-27616-1 .
  • Mallory, J.P. (1996), Fagan, Brian M., ed., The Oxford Companion to Archaeology, New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-507618-4 
  • Schmoeckel, Reinhard (1999), Die Indoeuropäer. Aufbruch aus der Vorgeschichte ("The Indo-Europeans: Rising from pre-history"), Bergisch-Gladbach (Germany): Bastei Lübbe, ISBN 3404641620 
  • Strazny, Philipp (Ed). (2000), Dictionary of Historical and Comparative Linguistics (1 ed.), Routledge, ISBN 978-1579582180 
  • Zanotti, D. G. (1982), "The Evidence for Kurgan Wave One As Reflected By the Distribution of 'Old Europe' Gold Pendants", Journal of Indo-European Studies 10: 223–234 .
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J.P. Mallory's Gradual Assimilation Theory


In 1989 the Irish-American Indo-Europeanist J. P. Mallory published his monumental work In search of the Indo-Europeans, which presented a very solid counter-argument to the Kurgan hypothesis. In his work, Mallory provides evidence to support the claim that the Kurgan culture was existing side-by-side along with the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture for about two-thousand years.

He demonstrates how there were Kurgan settlements as far west into the Cucuteni-Trypillian region as Transylvania, and postulates that the two cultures would have intermingled:

Ethnographic evidence suggests a very fluid boundary between mobile and settled communities, and it is entirely probable that some pastoralists may have settled permanently whilst Tripoleans may have become integrated into the more mobile steppe communities. The resultant archaeological evidence certainly suggests the creation of hybrid communities. By the middle of the fourth millennium B.C. we witness the transformation of Late Tripolye groups into new cultural entities. Probably the most noted is the Usatovo culture which occupied the territory from the lower Dniester to the mouth of the Danube...In some aspects the culture retains traditional Tripolye styles of painted wares and figures. But, in addition, there also appears...a considerable series of daggers, along with axes, awls and rings, including rings made from silver which is a metal we would attribute to the Proto-Indo-Europeans.[1]:p.237

The Usatovo culture (which existed from 3500 to 3000 B.C.) thus provides very substantial evidence to support Mallory's claim of a gradual transformation from Cucuteni-Trypillian to Kurgan (or Yumna) cultures.

As time has progressed, there have been other scholars who have published books and articles that have gone far to disprove Gimbutas' claims of the Kurgan culture conquering the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture.[citation needed]

Ecological collapse

Stone Axe

The sudden disappearance of the gigantic Cucuteni-Trypillian settlements is seen as a switch from extensive agricultural and mixed economy to one placing more emphasis on herding the livestock particularly cattle.[6] Although this coincided neatly with Gimbutas' theory of a complete cultural conquest by the Kurgan culture, which was pastoral, over the Cucuteni-Trypillian, which was agricultural, there may be another explanation for it based on what happened to the climate and environment towards the end of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture's existence.

Beginning in 1975, with V. Danilenko and M. Shmaglij, scholars began to write about the Eneolithic as a time of "violation of equilibrium between society and the ambient environment."[12] Ecological deterioration was beginning to accrue after millennia of farming and deforestation took their toll, making what had once been a land that was bursting with abundance and fertile soil into a relative desert of overworked soil, similar to the Dust Bowl of the American Great Plains during the 1930s.[13][14]

Another important factor was that the late period of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture witnessed a very dramatic shift in world climate. For the entire duration of this culture's history, the earth had been going through what paleoclimatologists have called the Holocene climatic optimum, which lasted from 7000 to 3200 B.C. During this time, the earth was both warmer and wetter than it has been at any time since the end of the last Ice Age, making conditions optimal for growing crops.

However, beginning around 3200 B.C., the Earth's climate began to become significantly more arid and cooler. This resulted in the Sub-Boreal phase, which created the worst and longest drought in Europe since the end of the last Ice Age. It also was the point when the region in north Africa that had been a land of forests and grassy plains was turned into the largest desert in the world. This must have had a tremendous effect on the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, which relied entirely on subsistence farming to feed the enormous populations in their massive settlements. Without resources to feed their people, this culture would have most certainly collapsed, and there is much speculation among scholars that if this was not the most significant factor in this culture's demise, that it played an aboslutely critical role in bringing it about.

According to The American Geographical Union, "The transition to today's arid climate was not gradual, but occurred in two specific episodes. The first, which was less severe, occurred between 6,700 and 5,500 years ago. The second, which was brutal, lasted from 4,000 to 3,600 years ago. Summer temperatures increased sharply, and precipitation decreased, according to carbon-14 dating. This event devastated ancient civilizations and their socio-economic systems."[15]


Cultures that rely on nomadic herding, where the livestock may be moved around to greener pastures freely, survive much better in arid regions than cultures that have permanent settlements that are based on subsistence farming techniques. With verified evidence that Kurgan pastoralists were living cheek-to-jowl with the Cucuteni-Trypillian settlements throughout their entire region for many centuries before the end of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, it is becoming very difficult to support Gimbutas' claim of a military conquest of a peaceful civilization. Rather, it is much more believable and logical to conclude that the members of the Cucuteni-Trypillian society that were facing starvation by farming their dry and barren plots of depleted soil chose instead to take up the practice of their neighbors, and became pastoralists instead.

However, as stated earlier, it is still very important to keep in mind that the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture managed to thrive for thousands of years without any concept of warfare, and produced one of the most sophisticated civilizations of its time.

As the Indo-Europeans continued to move through the former lands of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture and on to spread across the entire landscape of Europe and beyond, they carried with them the genetic lineage of the Cucuteni-Trypillian people. Today, this genetic line makes up a significant contribution to the European DNA code. In other words, the people of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture did not die out, but their descendants are still very much alive and thriving to this day, and are spread across the entire world.

See also


  1. Mallory, James P (1989). In search of the Indo-Europeans: language, archaeology and myth. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 050005052X. OCLC 246601873. 
  2. Kūriákī, Kárlos (2007). A grammar of modern Indo-European: language and culture, writing system and phonology, morphology, syntax (1st ed.). Badajoz, Spain: Dnghu Group. ISBN 9788461176397. OCLC 254769807. 
  3.  Gimbutas, Marija (1956). Hencken, Hugh. ed. The prehistory of eastern Europe, pt. 1: Mesolithic, neolithic and copper age cultures in Russia and the Baltic area. Bulletin (American School of Prehistoric Research). 20. Cambridge, Mass.: Peabody Museum,. OCLC 729515. 
  4. Campbell, Joseph (1959). The masks of God. New York: Viking Press. OCLC 1133693. 
  5. Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi Luca; Anthony William Fairbank Edwards (1965). Geerts, Sipke J. ed. "Analysis of human evolution". Genetics today. Proceedings of the XI International Congress of Genetics, The Hague, The Netherlands, September, 1963 (Oxford: Pergamon Press) 3 (Symposia 14-25): 923–933. OCLC 247072440. 
  6. Khol, Philip L. (2002). "Archeological transformations: crossing the pastoral/agricultural bridge". Iranica Antiqua (Leiden: E.J. Brill) 37: 151–190. OCLC 60616426. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  7. [|Boghian, Dumitru] (7 April 2008). "The Cucutenian Communities in the Bahlui Basin". Eneoliticul est-carpatic blog. Dumitru Boghian. Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  8.  Gimbutas (1982:1)
  9. Marinescu-Bîlcu, Silvia (1974). ""Dansul ritual" în reprezentările plastice neo eneolitice din Moldova [Neo-plastic representations of Neolithic "Dance ritual" of Moldova]" (in Romanian). Studii și cercetări de istorie veche și arheologie (SCIVA) (Bucharest: Academia Română, Institutul de Arheologie Vasile Pârvan) 25 (2): 167. ISSN 0039-4009. OCLC 183328819. 
  10. Gimbutas, Marija Alseikaitė (1974), The gods and goddesses of old Europe, 7000 to 3500 BC: myths, legends and cult images, London: Thames & Hudson, pp. 303, ISBN 0500050147, OCLC 979750, 
  11. ^ Gimbutas, Dexter & Jones-Bley (1997:309)
  12. ^ name="Trypillya Culture Proto-Cities 2002, p.103-125"
  13. ^ Anthony, David W. (2007). The horse, the wheel, and language: how Bronze Age riders from the Eurasian steppes shaped the modern world. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-05887-0. 
  14. ^ cite journal | last = Todorova | first = Henrietta | editor1-first= Douglass W. | editor1-last= Bailey | editor2-first= Ivan | editor2-last= Panayotov | title = The Neolithic, Eneolithic, and Transitional in Bulgarian prehistory | journal= Prehistoric Bulgaria | series= Monographs in world archaeology | place = Madison, WI | publisher = Prehistoric Press | year = 1995 | issue= 22| pages= 79–98 | isbn = 1-881094-11-1}}
  15. ^ Gambone, Larry. "The primal wound". 

External links

 Decline and end of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture  · Archaeogenetics of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture


Claims as to Who Was First Among the Indo-Europeans

  From Etruscan Phrases "F"(continued) by Mel Copeland
(from a work published in 1981)

The Thracian region is important not only from the stand-point of understanding western history but also it can help explain the movement of Indo-European peoples.

For in the Danubian heart-land is a tell called (NWBTurdash) Vinca, which shares, along with the tell of Çatal Hüyük in Turkey and the tell of Jericho in Israel, the distinction of being the places shared with Sumer and Egypt – where western civilization began. Vinca has a particularly important relationship to the Villanovan culture in Italy. The oval huts described in the Vinca settlements recall the Villanovan funerary urn noted above. These homes also reflect the style of the Alpine Swiss lake dwellers. Vinca burial urns, though perhaps earlier than Villanovan, share a common feature, where the lids of the burial urns contained anthropomorphic faces. These "face urns" were also in use in Troy III dating 2,300-2,200 B.C. To explore Vinca go to:

The site of Vinca on the Danube river is the first evidence of the construction of tells in Europe. If the Etruscan peoples were refugees fleeing Lydia after the Trojan war, as their mythology purported, they could have entered Italy by sea or migrated up the Danube through Vinca, on to Austria, and crossed over the Alps into northern Italy, establishing, through either or both routes, the Villanovan culture. Not to confuse the matter, but Vinca guarded the northern route of the Danube river, where the river flows through a deep gorge called the "Iron Gates" (often confused with the Caspian Iron Gates). Keeping in mind that the period of the migration, about 1,100 B.C., marks a "Dark Age" where in the remnants of the Mycenaean civilization open cities became fortified hill-top towns and coasts from Egypt to Anatolia, Illyria, Italy and Spain were under siege by pirates called "Sea Peoples." The Sea Peoples, according to Egyptian records, include the Sardinians (Shardana), Sikels (of Sicily), Pulusti (Philistines) and the Tyrni (a people believed to be the Etruscans who were called by the Greeks as Tyrrhenians or Tyrrhenoi; the sea adjacent to western Italy is called the Tyrrhenian Sea).

 The Albanians may offer some clue to the early inhabitants of the region which is traditionally considered the Indo-European homeland above the Black Sea. A commentary on this is at

A comparison of toponyms between villages in Albania and the Caucus region is at:

Maps can be found through the centuries showing Albania covering a great part of the Black Sea region, west and north of Anatolia.

An argument on the antiquity of the Serbs who, the author proposes, did not speak Slavic(?), is at:

As I understand it, the Serbian argument proposed here is that the Serbian language was originally an early Indo-European tongue which is closer to German than Slavic. Incidentally, Serb scholars have suggested that the Etruscans spoke the "Serbian" language. The Serbian alphabet uses characters common to the Etruscan alphabet. The Runes used by the Germanic tribes, including the Scandinavians, also share characters common to the Etruscan alphabet. The runes antedate the Etruscan alphabet, however, by about 800 years.

Mounds, dolmens and stone alignments as early as 3,000 B.C., from the Black Sea to Italy, Iberia and thence to Britain, remind us of a culture which may have been linguistically diverse yet somehow related, probably Indo-European. We are compelled to compare the Celts and the Italic clans. Early Italic peoples in Northern Italy traded in flints and metals across the Alps, where mining, as in Innsbruck, Austria, was abundant, and flint was abundant in Italy. Mining has always been a means, or more appropriately, object, through which cultures have spread.

One can follow the trade of flints, the trade of tin, first by the Akkadians who sought tin from Anatolia to manufacture bronze; Innsbruck was a source of tin and no doubt the Thracians guarded rich sources of tin; and finally Wales and Cornwall became exploited for tin.

The control of precious metals has been the objective of great armies. And it may, perhaps, be fitting to end this section with the Celts, who may have been involved in the trade of metal from the Black Sea to the British Isles. The Celts were called "Galli" by the Romans and "Galatai" or "Keltoi" by the Greeks. The term, "Keltoi," means "barbarian." The pronunciation of the "c" in Celt is with a "k"; the soft "c" sound in Celtic came about under the British Empire.

Anatolian Renfrew and Balkano-Danubian Hypotheses

Because the Indo-European family fanned out so rapidly (see chart (a)) into language branches that show up from Ireland to India, one thing certain is that it was associated with a major technological or cultural change. An obvious candidate for such a change is the arrival of agriculture and both the Anatolian and Balkano-Danubian hypotheses are based on that.

That the language explosion didn't occur before the advent of farming is indicated by reconstructed words for farming terms represented across many I-E branches. (Actually there are also such reconstructed words for stock breeding terms which suggest the I-E explosion occurred even later.)
Agriculture was invented near the upper Euphrates River, crossed Anatolia and arrived in Greece by 7500 BC and southern France by 6500 BC. In the Anatolian hypothesis, it was these farming colonies that brought Indo-European language to Europe.

There was a delay, while Europe's climate warmed, before farming moved North. In addition to different climate, the different soil conditions required new techniques, like forest-clearing, crop rotation and, probably, manure fertilization by herding animals. From a gestation stage in the Balkans, an early pig/cow/cereal culture arose in Eastern Europe by 6000 BC, and a similar farming culture moved into the Danube Basin 5500 BC,
northern France before 4500 BC.

In the Balkano-Danubian hypothesis, the languages of the southern European farmers (possibly including Etruscan) have become extinct and the language of farmers in the Balkans and Danube basin was proto-Indo-European. We will focus on this hypothesis as less implausible than the Anatolian hypothesis.
The Balkano-Danubian Hypothesis is similar to the Anatolian, except that one doesn't bother to push the Homeland back past ca 5500 BC. The Danubian Linear Ware culture and affiliated Balkan cultures like Tripolye-Cucutenis spoke Indo-European in both these hypotheses.

Eventually Indo-European was spoken by the Kurgan people of southern Russia but Balkano-Danubists may differ as to whether the language was adopted in the early 6th millenium (Bug-Dniester pig-breeders lending language to D-Donetz horse-breeders) or early 4th millenium (Tripolye-Cucuteni lending language to Sredny Stog/Pit Grave).

Gimbutist Kurgan Theory

Kurganists would agree that the demic (farming) migrations of the 8th and 7th millenia BC probably led to a major linguistic thrust, from the eastern Mediteranean to southern and then central Europe, but the languages (call them Old European), though they were likely spoken by Lengyel, Triplye, Cucuteni, have not survived, having been overwhelmed by westward thrusts from the Eurasian steppes.

The westward thrusts include:
Kurgan wave 1 ca 4500-4000 BC (incl. poss. Ezero)
Kurgan wave 2 ca 3800-3400 BC (incl. Glob Amph, Baden, Usatovo
Kurgan wave 3 ca 3000-2500 BC

Indo-European's westward thrusts (and later those of Phrygian/Thracians, Scythians, Huns, Magyars, Turks, Mongols) fit a historical pattern: from the broad steppes of Central Eurasia, mounted armies can overwhelm Europe's breadbasket. Invasions never go the other way: it would be like trying to push water the wrong way through a funnel.

The only pre-Indo-European language to survive in Europe is Basque, supposed to descend from mesolithic (Solutrean) people.

The Gimbutas Theory fits the facts like a glove. For every migration needed to explain the arrival of an I-E branch at an appropriate place and time, there is archaeological evidence of just such a migration. One doesn't have to guess when the early Greek speakers left the Kurgan homeland: one sees cultures like Usatovo in Romania that share cultural motifs with both Kurgans and the earliest Greeks, and occur at just the right time to fit Gimbutas' Kurgan Wave 2.

For competing theories, the appropriate migrations and intermediate cultures are missing: this means different versions of the Balkanist hypothesis will vary greatly in detail. Let's start by identifying a few facts that are agreed by all serious theorists.

The Indo-Iranians were present in southern Russia, with a Kurgan-type culture, during the 3rd millenium BC and moved south in two major waves: first the Indo-Aryans, later the Iranians. (Thus the Balkanists agree that at least some Kurgans eventually
spoke Indo-European; the debate is over how many branches of I-E descend from the Kurgans.)

The Corded Ware culture of Northern Europe spoke Balto-Slavic and proto-Germanic. The Bell Beaker culture in the Danube Basin and further west also spoke Indo-European languages including proto-Celtic. (Thus there is agreement about where major Indo-European branches existed in the 3rd millenium BC. The debate is about I-E travel in earlier millenia.)

The Carpathian Mountains are a geographic feature around which migrations pivot. To their north is the North European Plain, to the south is the fertile Central European basin, to the east the East European steppes. The expansion of the I-E language family involved cultural transfers or migrations along the Black Sea to the east of the Mountains and, to a lesser extent, across the Plains to the north of the Mountains. (This much is agreed by both Gimbutas and the Balkanists.

The difference is that Gimbutas sees the transfers as strictly east-to-west, while Balkanists require language transfer in the opposite direction.) Regarding this last point it should be noted that historic invasions from the steppes into Central Europe are almost too numerous to list: the Scythians, the Slavs, the Huns, the Magyars, the Mongols, the Turks, but there is no example of an invasion in the opposite direction. (Napolean tried it after the invention of artillery but was defeated.)

Moreover, there is much uncontroversial evidence of prehistoric invasions by Kurgans into the North European Plain, and to the West of the Carpathian Mountains, but no evidence of intrusion from the West into the Kurgan homeland.

Defenders of the Anatolian and Balkanist hypotheses base their case on three ideas:

A unified Indo-European language ca 4500 BC is too late to explain the diversity among I-E languages.The language explosion must have accompanied a powerful technological revolution.

If that revolution was neither the Anatolian farming revolution ca 7500 BC, nor the Danubian farming revolution ca 5500 BC, then what was it? Not the ``Secondary Products Revolution'' (use of copper, wagons, farm animals) ca 4500 since these ideas were quickly shared by disparent cultures. Not the Bronze or Iron revolutions which were too late to explain I-E expansion.
The homogeneous Danubian culture dominated much of Central and Western Europe from 5500 BC to 4000 BC. Surely its language would survive in some form. If that language was not Indo-European, then how did it disappear so completely?

The first point is not one most linguists would take seriously. If, as Gimbutas maintains, I-E overwhelmed a non-IE speaking Europe, it would undergo faster change than an I-E surrounded by I-E speakers. Language changed faster in prehistoric times, before liturgical and written language acted as a brake on change.

The second point is to underestimate the horse-riding Kurgan culture, with its military superiority, dominating social and religious motifs (even Balkanists have to admit that India was overwhelmed quickly, with the caste system and Hindu religion due to Indo-European intruders), and much greater stress on individual initiative compared with the farming villages of the Danubian culture.

The third point ignores that language replacement does happen. Celtic dominated West and Central Europe at the time of Caesar, yet disappeared from the Continent completely. (The Breton language is not a Continental language, but the result of back migration from Britain.)

Anyway, if the Balkanists assume that Italic and Celtic subfamilies diverged soon after the Danubian expansion, good for them! As we soon see, they will be ``hoisted on their own petard!''

We mentioned earlier that Balkanists must assume that the Kurgans adopted Indo-European at some point. When did this happen? Different variations of the Balkan hypothesis can put this date as early as 6000 BC (the earliest East European farmers supplied I-E to the earliest Kurgans) or as late as 3000 BC (Kurgans finally adopted the European lingua franca just in time for the Indo-Iranian expansion).

However none of the possible dates will be compatible with the I-E family tree structure (chart (a) or (c) above). Because the Danubian farmers and Kurgan stockbreeders had completely different cultures and were isolated from each other, any theory that has both cultures speaking I-E before 4500 BC would require a clear division of I-E into 3 to 6 branches (in addition to Danubian, Kurgan and presumably Tocharian, one would postulate a few SE European branches to explain Hittite and perhaps Greek). The I-E tree does not have that character. If this isn't clear, figure out where Armenian and Greek would fit, remembering their close affinity and the close affinity of Armenian and Indo-Iranian. You may end up with a structure where I-E is all Kurgan except Hittite, Celtic and Italic, yet that doesn't match linguistic evidence.

Therefore the Balkanists need to assume that Kurgans adopted I-E after 4500 BC, after the I-E breakup was in progress. A powerful culture might adopt an alien lingua franca but the new language would surely be transformed greatly, preserving an old Kurgan substrate. Again there will be a clear distinction between the Kurgan and non-Kurgan branches of I-E (that is, something like chart (d)), and again this would not match the linguistic evidence. (Nor the cultural evidence, as Celtic preserves Kurgan horse-riding and horse-worship motifs, but must be a non-Kurgan language in any variation of the Balkanist hypothesis.)

Playing with the Balkanist hypothesis to make it fit the tree, one inevitably concludes that most of the I-E fan-out occurred near Romania and Bulgaria during the Copper Age and early Bronze Age (during this era, the relatively homogeneous Balkano-Danubist culture of that area was replaced with a variety of new cultures). This is essentially the same time and place as the Gimbutas theory (thereby forfeiting the main raison-d'etre of the Balkanist theory: to give I-E an earlier more Westerly Homeland).

The difference is that in Gimbutas' theory all I-E branches are due to Kurgan intrusion while the Balkanists contend that I-E was already spoken, that Kurgan invaders adopted the Balkan language. This might make sense if they didn't need to fit Indo-Iranian in. And what about Balto-Slavic: it's very close to Indo-Iranian, was it also Kurgan?

We have not yet mentioned Tocharian, the exotic branch of I-E located in China which is now extinct. This language occupies a position similar to Italic or Celtic in the I-E tree, and its culture shares motifs with Celtic. It poses no problem for Gimbutas (part of `Kurgan Wave 2' went East instead of West) but cannot be handled in any reasonable way by the Balkanists. Geographically it belongs with the Kurgan branch of I-E but that doesn't fit linguistic evidence.

The Balkanists need to suppose an obscure very early migration from Central Europe to Asia, with no linguistic interaction with East Europe.

Although Celtic and Italic were almost adjacent until historic times, with Tocharian many thousands of miles away, Tocharian, Celtic and Italic would be co-equal branches of what might be called ``Western I-E'' (there is only weak support for the so-called Italo-Celtic hypothesis).

Sherlock Holmes once said ``After eliminating the impossible, whatever remains, however unlikely, is the mystery's solution.'' However bizarre it may seem, the Kurgan horse-riders are indeed the source of the Indo-European languages now spoken all around the world.
by James D. Allen

  The scholars think that the urban civilizations of Sumer and Egypt have been developed after 3200 BC. It's the time when the nomadic people of the steps destroyed the Cucuteni Civilization. But they did not perished they expanded East.


Chariot Spread

File:Chariot spread.png

historical spread of the chariot. This map combines various classes of information, historical and archaeological. The 'isochrones' as given should not be considered more than rough approximations, give or take a century.

  • red, 2000 BC: area of the earliest known spoke-wheeled chariots (Sintashta-Petrovka culture)
  • orange, 1900 BC: extent of the Andronovo culture, expanding from its early Sintashta-Petrovka phase; spread of technology in this area would have been unimpeded and practically instantaneous
  • yellow, 1800 BC: extent of the great steppes and half-deserts of Central Asia, approximate extent of the early Indo-Iranian diaspora at that time. Note that early examples of chariots appear in Anatolia as early as around this time.
  • light green, 1700 BC: unknown, early period of spread beyond the steppes
  • green/cyan, 1600-1200 BC: the Kassite period in Mesopotamia, rise to notability of the chariot in the Ancient Near East, introduction to China, possibly also to the Punjab and the Gangetic plain (Rigveda) and E and N Europe (Trundholm Sun Chariot), assumed spread of the chariot as part of Late Bronze Age technology
  • blue, 1000-500 BC: Iron Age spread of the chariot to W Europe by Celtic migrations




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