Anthropology, Archaeology, Europe, Europeans, Indo-European, linguistics
Republication from the Annual Review of Linguistics
The Indo-European Homeland from Linguistic and Archaeological Perspectives
Vol. 1: 199-219 (Volume publication date January 2015)
David W. Anthony1 and Don Ringe2
1Anthropology Department, Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York
2Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Archaeological evidence and linguistic evidence converge in support of an origin of Indo-European languages on the Pontic-Caspian steppes around 4,000 years BCE. The evidence is so strong that arguments in support of other hypotheses should be reexamined.
Figure 1 Wheel terms found in Indo-European language branches. Modified with permission from Anthony (1995).
by Martin W. Lewis
As GeoCurrents passed through its August slowdown, plans were made for a series on the Summer Olympics. Thanks to the efforts of Chris Kremer, we have gathered statistics—and made maps—relating Olympic medal count by country to population and GDP, both overall and in regard to specific categories of competition. The series, however, has been put on hold by the recent publication of two heralded articles on the history and geography of the Indo-European language family. On August 24, a short piece in Science—“Mapping the Origins and Expansion of the Indo-European Language Family”—made extravagant claims, purporting to overturn the most influential historical-linguistic account of the world’s most widespread language family. On the same day, Nicholas Wade, noted New York Times science reporter, wrote a half-page spread in the news section of the Times on the Science report, entitled “Family Tree of Languages Has Roots in Anatolia, Biologists Say.” Over the next few days, the story was picked up—and often twisted in the process—by assorted journalists. Within a few days, headlines appeared as preposterous as “English Language Originated in Turkey.”
As Wade’s title indicates, the Science article, written by Remco Bouckaert and eight others (most notably Quentin D. Atkinson), seeks to overturn the thesis that the Indo-European (I-E) family originated north of the Black and Caspian seas. It instead locates the I-E heartland in what is now Turkey, supporting the “Anatolian” thesis advanced a generation ago by archeologist Colin Renfrew. The Science team bases its claims on mathematical grounds, using techniques derived from evolutionary biology and epidemiology to draw linguistic family trees and model the geographical spread of language groups. According to Wade, the authors claim that their study does nothing less than “solve” a “long-standing problem in archaeology: the origin of the Indo-European family of languages.” (Strictly speaking, however, the problem is not an archaeological one, as excavations by themselves tell us nothing about the languages of non-literate peoples; it is rather a linguistic problem with major bearing on prehistory more generally.)
Arverni, Celt, France, Galatia, Gallic, Gaul, Germans, Julius Caesar, linguistics, Military topics, Rome, Suebi, Warfare in antiquity
By Periklis Deligiannis[This article is in fact a part of my book ‘The Celts‘, Periscope publ., Athens 2008, unfortunately available only in Greek]
After the sharp diminution of the Celts of Central Europe by the Germans (58 BC) and the Romans, Greater Gaul, the country that lies between the Rhine, the Alps and the Pyrenees, became the main Celtic area in mainland Europe. Gaul (as it is usually called for short, because of the Romans), Noricum, Raetia (partly) and Northwestern Pannonia in Central Europe, Gallaicia (Galicia), Asturia and Cantabria in the Iberian peninsula, and finally the British islands, were the last independent Celtic areas.
Shortly before the Roman conquest of Gaul (or Galatia in ancient Greek) by Julius Caesar, about sixty tribes shared its territory. The largest of these tribes (the Arverni, Aedui, Pictones etc.) occupied each one a territory of about 15-20,000 sq. km., with a population of up to 250,000 inhabitants. The Celtic tribes were divided into sub-tribes called pagi. The 60 Celtic peoples of Gaul included a total of 300 sub-tribes. Many of these pagi were originally independent tribes which were gradually incorporated in the largest ones, either by conquest or by conciliation.
The linguists have estimated that the tribes of the Volcae, the Helvii (close relatives of the Helvetii of modern Switzerland), the Turones, the Nervii, the Suessiones, the Veneti, the Venelli and the Aulerci were the oldest that were formed, because the etymology of their national names is rather difficult. Some of these tribes were probably formed initially in Central Europe, mostly in the north of the Alps (the Celtic/Gallic cradle). The peoples with tribal names of numeric type are considered to be later tribal formations, e.g. The Remi (meaning the ‘first ones’ in Gallic Celtic), the Petrokorii (the ‘four tribes’) the Vocontii (‘twenty clans’). The same goes for the tribes whose national names are annominations or epithets, e.g. the Ruteni (the ‘blonde ones’, a Proto-Indo-European verbal type found today in the names of the Russians and the Ruthenians of Eastern Europe), the Leuci (the ‘bright ones’, like the Greek ‘leucos’ meaning the ‘white’), the Belgae (the ‘thunders’, Belgians), the Nemetes (the ‘sacred’), the Aedui (the ‘fiery’), the Pictones (possibly the ‘painted ones’ like the Picts of Pictland/Caledonia, modern Scotland), the Caleti (the ‘hardened’), the Lemovices or Lemovii (‘warriors of the elm’, which was their totemic tree) the Medulli (the ‘mead drinkers’) etc.
Celtic warriors in an impressive artwork. Note the two naked Gaesati/Gaesatae warriors in the frontline, with their hair stiffened with lime or lemon juice. Another warrior blows the ‘carnyx’, the Celtic war trumpet (Copyright: Zvezda /Karatchuk (artist)).