The new science of Indo-European origins

I’ve had a strong amateur interest in historical linguistics since my teens in the early 1970s.

Then, as today, a lot of the energy in that field was focused in the origins and taxonomy of the Indo-European family – the one that includes English and the Latin-derived and Germanic languages and Greek and also a large group of languages in northern India and Persia. This is not only because most linguists are Europeans, it’s because there’s a massively larger volume of ancient literature in this family than can be found anywhere else in the world – there’s more to go on.

People have been trying to pin down the origin of the Indo-European language family and identify the people who spoke its root language for literally centuries. Speculations that turn out not to have been far wrong go back to the 1600s(!) and serious work on the problem, some of which is still considered relevant, began in the late 1700s.

However, until very recently theory about Indo-European origins really had to be classed as plausible guesses rather than anything one could call well-confirmed. There were actually several contending theories, because linguistic reconstruction of the root PIE (Proto-Indo-European) language was sort of floating in midair without solid enough connections to archaeological and genetic evidence to be grounded.

This has changed – dramatically – in the last five years. But there isn’t yet any one place you can go to read about all the lines of evidence yet; nobody has written that book as of mid-2018. This post is intended to point readers at a couple of sources for the new science, simply because I find it fascinating and I think my audience will too.

Why hasn’t the one big book of IE origins been written yet? Basically because the science needed to pull it together is paleogenetics – the study of fossil human DNA – but the linguists and the archaeologists and the paleogeneticists don’t talk to each other very well.

Until the end of the Cold War a lot of very relevant work done by archaeologists in Russia could not become available in English. Now, at least, we have one source that draws together the linguistics and that archaeology – The Horse, The Wheel, and Language by David Anthony (2010).

This is a really, really excellent book. You can read it free on-line. Among other virtues, it includes the best explanation for non-specialists I’ve ever seen of just how you go about reconstructing a language for which, like PIE, there are no written sources. The exhaustive parsing of the archeological evidence in the second half can be heavy going, but persevere; there are interesting insights shot all through it and rewards at the end.

But there’s a piece missing. Anthony knew nothing of paleogenetics, because that field was just barely getting off the ground when he was writing. But it turns out that comparative analysis of human fossil DNA (and the DNA of living humans, too!) can reveal a surprising amount about population movements and expansions before recorded history.

The paleogenetic record largely confirms the story Anthony extracts from his evidence. Where it doesn’t, well, that gets interesting too. The best discussion of this stuff I’ve found is on a blog called West Hunter by a brilliant and ornery population geneticist named Greg Cochran. He and a deceased partner wrote a really thought-provoking book, The Ten Thousand Year Explosion (2008) showing that (contrary to a popular assumption) human evolution didn’t stop with the rise of civilization but has actually sped up during the last 10,000 years.

In particular, after Anthony’s book you need to read Who We Are: #9 Europe, Cochran’s gloss on part of a book called Who We Are by David Reich that is a tour through the evidence from current paleogenetics. Reich’s book is almost certainly worth reading in itself (I haven’t yet) but for the PIE-origins question Cochran’s discussion of it is good enough.

Cochran is sometimes acidulously funny about Reich and Anthony and their critics, as one should well be when a significant barrier to understanding is various peoples’ political and ideological hobbyhorses. Cochran also has the great virtue that he corrects himself in public on the infrequent occasions he turns out to have been wrong. Quite separately from the PIE-origins thing, his extended review of Jared Diamond’s brilliant but flawed Guns, Germs, and Steel is worth seeking out.

OK, I’ve pointed you at the sources. Go read them. To whet your appetite, there follows a summary with some observations about how various people got the Indo-Europeans wrong. The history of this field is nearly as interesting, in some ways, as the question it examines.

What we can now say pretty much for sure: Proto-Indo-European was first spoken on the Pontic Steppes around 4000 BCE. That’s the grasslands north of the Black Sea and west of the Urals; today, it’s the Ukraine and parts of European Russia. The original PIE speakers (which we can now confidently identify with what archaeologists call the Yamnaya culture) were the first humans to domesticate horses.

And – well, basically, they were the first and most successful horse barbarians. They invaded Europe via the Danube Valley and contributed about half the genetic ancestry of modern Europeans – a bit more in the north, where they almost wiped out the indigenes; a bit less in the south where they mixed more with a population of farmers who had previously migrated in on foot from somewhere in Anatolia.

The broad outline isn’t a new idea. 400 years ago the very first speculations about a possible IE root language fingered the Scythians, Pontic-Steppe descendants in historical times of the original PIE speakers – with a similar horse-barbarian lifestyle. It was actually a remarkably good guess, considering. The first version of the “modern” steppe-origin hypothesis – warlike bronze-age PIE speakers domesticate the horse and overrun Europe at sword- and spear-point – goes back to 1926.

But since then various flavors of nationalist and nutty racial theorist have tried to relocate the PIE urheimat all over the map – usually in the nut’s home country. The Nazis wanted to believe it was somewhere in their Greater Germany, of course. There’s still a crew of fringe scientists trying to pin it to northern India, but the paleogenetic evidence craps all over that theory (as Cochran explains rather gleefully – he does enjoy calling bullshit on bullshit).

Then there have been the non-nutty proposals. There was a scientist named Colin Renfrew who for many years (quite respectably) pushed the theory that IE speakers walked into Europe from Anatolia along with farming technology, instead of storming in off the steppes on horses, brandishing weapons like some badass tribe in a Robert E. Howard novel.

Alas, Renfrew was wrong. It now looks like there was such a migration, but those people spoke a non-IE language (most likely something archaically Semitic) and got overrun by the PIE speakers a few thousand years later. Cochran calls these people “EEF” (Eastern European Farmers) and they’re most of the non-IE half of modern European ancestry. Basque is the only living language that survives from EEF times; Otzi the Iceman was EEF, and you can still find people with genes a lot like his in the remotest hills of Sardinia.

Even David Anthony, good as he is about much else, seems rather embarrassed and denialist about the fire-and-sword stuff. Late in his book he spins a lot of hopeful guff about IE speakers expanding up the Danube peacefully by recruiting the locals into their culture.

Um, nope. The genetic evidence is merciless (though, to be fair, Anthony can’t have known this). There’s a particular pattern of Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA variation that you only get in descendant population C when it’s a mix produced because aggressor population A killed most or all of population B’s men and took their women. Modern Europeans (C) have that pattern, the maternal line stuff (B) is EEF, and the paternal-line stuff (A) is straight outta steppe-land; the Yamnaya invaders were not gentle.

How un-gentle were they? Well…this paragraph is me filling in from some sources that aren’t Anthony or Cochran, now. While Europeans still have EEF genes, almost nothing of EEF culture survived in later Europe beyond the plants they domesticated, the names of some rivers, and (possibly) a murky substratum in some European mythologies.

The PIE speakers themselves seem to have formed, genetically, when an earlier population called the Ancient Northern Eurasians did a fire-and-sword number (entirely on foot, that time) on a group of early farmers from the Fertile Crescent. Cochran sometimes calls the ANEs “Hyperboreans” or “Cimmerians”, which is pretty funny if you’ve read your Howard.

For the rest, go read the book and the blog. There’s lots more, including the remarkably detailed picture of IE culture (Anthony is at his best there) that you can get from indexing the reconstructed vocabulary against the archaeology.

Part of the surprise is how unsurprising it is. The PIE way of life is not strange to us; strong traces of it have transmitted through Greco-Roman, Norse, and Celtic mythology, flavoring our folklore and our fantasies and the oldest poetic epics of our languages. They truly were our cultural as well as our genetic ancestors.

They even looked like us – that is, like modern Europeans. We couldn’t actually know this until the new paleogenetic evidence came in. Yes, ancient historians had described the Pontic Greeks as light-skinned, even blond, which should have been a clue; but in the 20th century there was an understandable reaction against Nazi “Aryan” theorizing and everybody speculating about what early PIE-speakers looked like ran hard in the other direction.

This isn’t in Cochran or Anthony, either…but the pale and distinctly non-Asian complexion of the people who left the earliest Tarim Basin mummies around 1800 BCE isn’t a mystery any more. Their ancestors migrated east from the Pontic Steppes rather than west; they were Indo-Europeans, too, and looked it.

93 thoughts on “The new science of Indo-European origins

    • >For those who prefer a more auditory medium,

      I can’t get it to play under Chromium – it just buffers forever. Is there some trick I’m missing?

      • You can search for “The Future Strategist” on any podcast aggregator to find the RSS feed. (But for me the Soundcloud link works fine under Chrome.)

        By the way, the same podcast has several other interviews with Cochran, all of which are worth listening to IMHO.

      • Sometimes you have to bump the play slider to the right a bit for a YT video to start playing. On my local hard disk that’s usually a sign of a corrupted file; many players don’t seem to handle errors in the input stream very well.

    • >I notice you keep adding an “e” to Gregory Cochran’s name…from your love of Jazz?

      No, I’m just used to the spelling with “e” and added it unconsciously. I have corrected it, thanks.

  1. Sounds like Nietzsche’s “brute blond beast” has come back in style.

    I’ve read both Anthony (which has been on my shelves for a while) and Cochran and Harpending (on your recommendation, actually). Have you encountered Andrew Sherratt’s Economy and Society in Prehistoric Europe? I’m not sure of his views on Indo-European origins (though one of his maps shows an “Indo-European” arc from Denmark to the Caspian Sea), but he has interesting things to say about the “secondary products revolution” (using animals for milk, wool, and traction as well as meat, accompanied by a shift from Neolithic exploitation of patches of naturally highly fertile soil to Bronze Age engineering of higher fertility with plowing, irrigation, and fertilizer). I’ve always liked his comment that the basis of ancient Indo-European culture was drinking and driving.

    Your mention of the EEF as possibly speaking an archaic Semitic language doesn’t seem to fit with the identification of Basque as a surviving language of that family; as far as I know Basque has no relationship to Semitic or anything else whatever. Clarify?

    • >Your mention of the EEF as possibly speaking an archaic Semitic language doesn’t seem to fit with the identification of Basque as a surviving language of that family; as far as I know Basque has no relationship to Semitic or anything else whatever. Clarify?

      Archaic Semitic was mentioned as a possibility on a related blog somewhere, maybe West Hunter. I’m not wedded to the idea myself. It probably arose from the inferred location of the EEF heimat in Anatolia; given the only plausible root other than IE itself would would be Afro-Asiatic, even if not specifically Semitic.

      Bear in mind that if the last common ancestor with recorded Semitic languages had enough time depth, a sibling could indeed be as alien as Basque. I mean, all isolates pretty much have to have some common root at some depth.

      • Do they? I thought I’d read of cases of languages (admittedly, more often gestural than vocal) emerging de novo in recent decades. Admittedly those are likely to be exceptional cases.

        What about a Basque-Sumerian relationship? As I understand it, Sumerian also is an isolate and was around in the Near East before the Semites took over; maybe it could have had Anatolian kin that went unrecorded. I don’t think anyone has made a strong case for this one, either, but I don’t know if I’d rule it out.

        I’m actually rather fond of the Dené-Caucasian hypothesis (originally proposed by Swadesh, apparently), which unites Basque, some Caucasian languages, proto-Sino-Tibetan, the Na-Dené family, and a couple of other languages in one widely dispersed family, but it looks to me to be a neat flaky idea, kind of like Julian Jaynes’s bicameral mind—not a substantiated historical model.

        • >Do they? I thought I’d read of cases of languages (admittedly, more often gestural than vocal) emerging de novo in recent decades. Admittedly those are likely to be exceptional cases.

          I’ve read the same reports of spontaneous generation of gestural languages. I don’t know of any spontaneous vocal languages that weren’t pidgins, e.g on a linguistic contact front.

          >What about a Basque-Sumerian relationship?

          I remember once reading that this has been proposed. Checking…yes, by some dude named Aleksi Sahala. I know that none of the proposals to de-isolate Sumerian have gotten much traction. Having seen a little phonetically-transcribed Sumerian, and looked at some grammatical analyses of sentences…I’m only an amateur at this but even I can tell that Sumerian is weird. I mean really weird.

          >I’m actually rather fond of the Dené-Caucasian hypothesis […] it looks to me to be a neat flaky idea, kind of like Julian Jaynes’s bicameral mind—not a substantiated historical model.

          You probably want to look into Joseph Greenberg’s proposal of a Eurasiatic macrofamily, then. None of the macrofamily proposals is generally accepted, but Greenberg’s has been the most seriously discussed.

          Me, I understand the argument why Greenberg’s mass lexical comparisons are a weak reed to lean on. I nevertheless have a strong suspicion (based on other things about Greenberg’s career) that he’s one of those right-after-all types with a real gift for arriving at conclusions that later prove correct from evidence that was formally insufficient at the time.

          I note that Greg Cochran (who I believe has the same gift, and whose nose for BS I trust) also seems to think this. He’s muttered something in connection with the ANEs about the genetic evidence tending to bear out Greenberg’s diffusion pathways for Eurasiatic.

          • > Me, I understand the argument why Greenberg’s mass lexical comparisons are a weak reed to lean on. I nevertheless have a strong suspicion (based on other things about Greenberg’s career) that he’s one of those right-after-all types with a real gift for arriving at conclusions that later prove correct from evidence that was formally insufficient at the time.

            The thing about “right after all” types is that very often the reason they’re “right after all” is that their ideas were things that experts in the field had already suspected, but didn’t publish because they couldn’t formally prove them. They’re trying to look smarter than the experts by being first to publish on a likely fact, but without doing the work to rigorously establish that it is a fact. They want *look* like they’re ahead of the experts without expending the work to be ahead of the experts.

            • >The thing about “right after all” types is that very often the reason they’re “right after all” is that their ideas were things that experts in the field had already suspected, but didn’t publish because they couldn’t formally prove them.

              For that analogy to hold, mainstream linguists would have to have theories similar to Greenberg’s that they’re reluctant to publish. This isn’t the case; rather, the prevailing opinion is that the kind of phyletic analysis he was interested in is impossible past a certain time depth before the earliest written records due to noise introduced by random language change and areal contact effects.

              That mainstream position is quite reasonable – possibly wrong, but reasonable. I think there may a kind of overshoot going on, though – because Greenberg’s methods are considered discredited, people shy away from looking like they’re even asking the kinds of questions he did.

              • >This isn’t the case; rather, the prevailing opinion is that the kind of phyletic analysis he was interested in is impossible past a certain time depth before the earliest written records due to noise introduced by random language change and areal contact effects.

                Not exactly. The rigorous mainstream methods don’t work at that time depth. His methods achieve greater time depth by not looking for hard and fast rules, only similarity, but only achieve that time depth by sacrificing rigor. It’s not that he’s proposing sound laws that are on shaky ground because of their time depth, it’s that he’s proposing connections without proposing sound laws. A mainstream linguist might see those connections and say “that’s very interesting”, but unless he can posit sound laws, he’s not going to publish.

                • The original observations that led to the discovery of Indo-European didn’t involve sound rules, only similarity.

                  • But that was at the dawn of linguistics as a science. Standards of rigor got stricter as the science matured.

          • > I’m only an amateur at this but even I can tell that Sumerian is weird. I mean really weird

            I’ve often wondered if the bizarro writing system made the spoken language more weird than it had been before writing, or if the writing system acquired that oddity honestly.

            Parts of the language aren’t too terrible. There are plenty of things that are a little bit strange, at least to an anglophone like me, but not unique on their own. For example, German stacks up prefixes and suffixes, and lots of languages have funny ideas about verbs. Finding them _all_ in one place is a bit hard to cope with for a student though. And there are other parts that I don’t think can be found anywhere else.

            I once compared some books on hieroglyphics with books on Sumerian. First, Sumerian books cost ten times as much. Second, the introductions in the hieroglyph books all stress how fun and easy it can be to translate hieroglyphs, while the introductions to cuneiform tell you that you wasted your money and you are an idiot if you think you can learn this stuff. Sadly, they both might have been right.

            Unless we find a lost city, and that city is full of written words in an entirely unknown language or at least one for which we don’t have many written works (or none), I don’t think we’ll have much luck un-isolating Sumerian more recently than the tower of Babylon.

      • > Archaic Semitic was mentioned as a possibility on a related blog somewhere, maybe West Hunter. I’m not wedded to the idea myself. It probably arose from the inferred location of the EEF heimat in Anatolia; given the only plausible root other than IE itself would would be Afro-Asiatic, even if not specifically Semitic.

        Um, there’s Hurro-Uratian, Hattic, three separate Caucasain language families, also Sumerian as William mentioned, Gutian, Elamite though that’s probably too far east. And that’s just the ones that survived in the Middle East into historical times.

        • >And that’s just the ones that survived in the Middle East into historical times.

          Sorry, I was typing in a hurry and left out “of the families that survive today”. I left out Caucasian because I don’t think it’s geographically plausible. The remnant area of Caucasian looks close to the Anatolian plain on a map, but the intervening part of the ME is rough – I’ve noticed that the IE migrations actually ended up bumping against it from the west after coming over the Bosporus.

          • > I left out Caucasian because I don’t think it’s geographically plausible. The remnant area of Caucasian looks close to the Anatolian plain on a map, but the intervening part of the ME is rough

            Well the period in question was before the black sea flood so the geography was different.

    • >Sounds like Nietzsche’s “brute blond beast” has come back in style.

      Which is funny, if you have my admittedly warped sense of humor. For so much of my life “blond Aryans” was just a discredited trope from Naziism that having it pop out of the paleogenetic evidence seems like really dark irony. But there is non-microscopic evidence that this isn’t just somebody fscking up a CRISPR assay – those Tarim mummies. Nobody wanted to talk about what they implied when they were fresh news, but now that the Yamnaya DNA is out of the bag…

      I suppose it’s some comfort that the evidence also says the Yamnaya weren’t the original blond beasts. No, that’d be their rape-ancestors the Ancient North Eurasians.

      >Have you encountered Andrew Sherratt’s Economy and Society in Prehistoric Europe?

      I have not. It sounds interesting.

      • This sort of ancient historical linguistic analysis has always tickled my fancy. On a whim, I hit the Wikipedia page for the Yamnaya (or Yamna) culture. I found there a reconstruction of a Yamnaya male head from 1926. I don’t know how accurate it is, but if I didn’t know better, I would swear the dude was Roman, as in “Hi, I’m Cicero’s first cousin on his mother’s side.”

    • I have a vague memory of there being a possible Semitic substratum in Germanic languages. Maybe leftover of EEFs?

      • >I have a vague memory of there being a possible Semitic substratum in Germanic languages. Maybe leftover of EEFs?

        Yes, there have been several Germanic-substrate theories, including a Semitic proposal. None of them are generally accepted.

  2. Also from West Hunter, a call for the Flashman novels as history texts, with a familiar name in the comments–which reminds me of that same commenter’s mysteriously absent review of those same novels.

  3. I understand the question of when domesticated horses were first *ridden* is still an open one.

    There is much clearer evidence of early use of horses to pull things, like chariots which revolutionized warfare when they were invented around, iirc 2000 bce.

    So there’s a good chance they weren’t ‘horse barbarians’ in the classic sense.

    • >I understand the question of when domesticated horses were first *ridden* is still an open one.

      Much less open than it used to be. Anthony and his group did a lot of research on bit wear. This is extensively discussed in his book.

      There’s a paleogenetic angle on this, too. Cochran thinks riding (as opposed to cart-pulling) was gated by the emergence of a docility mutation in steppe horses. Plausible.

      >So there’s a good chance they weren’t ‘horse barbarians’ in the classic sense.

      They were by the time they went up the Danube valley.

      • I’m going to have to check out that book, because people riding that early makes some established history make a lot less sense.

        The chariot was a military revolution when it was introduced, only made obsolete by actual horse cavalry a thousand years or more later, on bigger horses.

        • >I’m going to have to check out that book, because people riding that early makes some established history make a lot less sense.

          Now that I think about it, you’re right.

          I’ll have to recheck Anthony. He’s very clear about early domestication (around 3500BCE) but less so about early riding. It might be he didn’t intend the reader to think of Yamnaya riding horses up the Danube but riding carts. I’ll replace with a more ambiguous verb in the OP and go back for a reread.

          • I’ve been reading Anthony. From what I’ve read he strikes me as potentially one of those precious cross disciplinary outside the box thinker who combine disconnected facts into systems in ways that narrow specialists could not.

            He seems to have pretty good evidence of domestication by 3500 BCE, and his work on bit wear, including actual data gathering experiments, is damn clever.
            But 2 things. At one point he observes that bit wear from riding and cart pulling are indistinguishable. (Though they are both distinguishable from horses that are led. ) Then, which strikes me as assuming facts not in evidence, he proceeds to treat every example of bit wear he finds as evidence of riding. Um no. Some justification for that assumption is in order. Istr that that period is when the wheel was invented. He may be assuming it must be riding because no wheel no carts, but he doesn’t even day-by-day. He just assumes.

            Oh, and to his credit, he does clearly differentiate between simple riding as transport, and what we think of as cavalry that could effectively fight from horseback, and offers a good explanation based on technical developments elsewhere why we only saw *cavalry* when we did after 1000BCE, when its appearance made chariots obsolete.

            So the raiders we started talking about had horses, of some size, very good chance they rode, but it would have been an aid to mobility and logistics, not fighting from horseback.

            • >So the raiders we started talking about had horses, of some size, very good chance they rode, but it would have been an aid to mobility and logistics, not fighting from horseback.

              The technical term is “dragoons”. :-)

              Actually this remained the normal mode of “cavalry” deployment as late as around 1000CE, though the transition started maybe 200 years earlier during the Carolingian Empire. Moderns have so fixed an stereotype of medieval combat as being centered on the shock lance that even people who know their history half forget that shock cavalry was the exception rather than the rule until well into the Middle Ages. It’s a chancy way to fight without stirrups, and those were only slowly adopted in Western Europe.

              • There seems to be some debate about this. When I was lead author on GURPS Low-Tech, one of my three co-authors, who’s seriously interested in military history (and has strong opinions about it!), insisted that the idea that stirrups kept you in the saddle when you used a lance was just wrong. And Sidnell’s Warhorse makes a case that shock cavalry played a role in ancient warfare as far back as Alexander.

                I looked into this a bit, and it looked to me as if there was a complicated interplay between the high-backed saddle and the stirrup: You could brace yourself against the saddle back just with your thigh muscles, but the stirrup may have made this easier to learn and more reliable. But highly skilled riders like Alexander’s elite cavalry might could have used shock tactics without stirrups. That was what we ended up going with as a gamable model, but we sure had a vigorous debate.

                • This kind of seems like an empty distinction. You can have effective cavalry, that are not dragoons, without stirrups or shock tactics either one.

                  Certainly by the time of the Punic Wars, not all that long after Alexander, Roman cavalry and whatever mercenaries Carthage employed were definitely cavalry fighting from horseback not dragoons even without shock tactics. IIRC the Roman and Numidian cavalry were both pretty light.

                  • >IIRC the Roman and Numidian cavalry were both pretty light.

                    Republican and early Imperial cavalry, yes – mainly light lancers. Later Roman cavalry used a longsword (spatha) which is what the medieval longsword derived from. Later still (by 300CE or so) they emulated Sarmatian shock cavalry.

                • >And Sidnell’s Warhorse makes a case that shock cavalry played a role in ancient warfare as far back as Alexander.

                  That is probably true. The post-Carolingian transition wasn’t from “no shock tactics” to “shock tactics” – there was precedent for shock charge as early as Persian heavy cavalry, and they probably picked up the war kak from the Sarmatians. It was from “shock tactics exceptional, dragoons normal” to “shock tactics normal”.

                  • You look like you’re creating an excluded middle here, either it’s shock tactics or dragoons being normal and the other exceptional.

                    You’re neglecting the entire light cavalry tradition.

                    • >You’re neglecting the entire light cavalry tradition.

                      Yeah, I was being Eurocentric again there. Light cavalry has never had the importance in Europe that it did elsewhere. I’m actually not quite sure why.

                      >You should add “in European weather north of the Med littoral”.

                      Fair enough. We actually have evidence for composite bows as far north as Iceland, but they were a stunt for individual specialists rather than anything you could base a formation on. Way too likely to delaminate at an inconvenient time…

                    • A combination of geography and climate, and culture and tradition could help explain why light cavalry wasn’t popular in Europe.

                      Some groups around the fringes, especially ones with major contact with outsiders, tried it. IIRC the Croats did light cavalry, and the Poles certainly gave it a go. (They actually allowed various horse-archer steppe barbarian types to emigrate into the Commonwealth, offering land grants and titles of nobility in exchange for their skills. That’s how Charles Bronson got his eyes….)

              • You’re missing something, namely the recurved bow. Anthony talks about it himself, which I already gave him credit for previously. :)

                That was developed around 1000BCE, and it made fighting from horseback a serious proposition. Long before stirrups. That’s when chariots really became obsolete.

                In fact I thought that was at least part of what you had in mind when you mentioned ‘horse barbarians’.

                • >You’re missing something, namely the recurved bow.

                  Yes, I would be missing something – if the animal glues used in steppe-style composite recurved bows didn’t degrade rapidly in European weather anywhere north of the Mediterranean littoral. Wet-climate horse barbarians can’t sustain the steppe technological/military complex around them, and longbows are difficult to use from horseback. (The Japanese managed it with an odd asymmetrical design that never even made it to mainland Asia; I don’t know what was going on there.)

                  Anyway it’s not clear the steppe composite bow existed yet at the time the IEs entered the Danube valley. The proto-Indo-Aryan Sintashta culture may have had them, but that was thousands of miles to the east and around 500 years later.

                  • Then when you say

                    >Actually this remained the normal mode of “cavalry” deployment as late as around 1000CE,

                    You should add “in European weather north of the Med littoral”.

                    Overly picky maybe, but the context matters because traditions were so different in different areas.

                    • I knew about the peculiarly Japanese tradition of horse archery with long bows. It dates back to long before the Mongol invasions.

                      ISTR the contact with the Mongols was traumatic and that the Japanese did not do especially well, militarily. Always left me wondering why they didn’t switch to recurved bows.

                      I believe Japan is too humid.

                    • >I believe Japan is too humid [for steppe composites].

                      Oh yeah, sure. That’s obvious. Marine climate, and gets pretty damn cold and wet at the northern end. First time I landed in Tokyo the thing that most surprised me was how much the weather and vegetation resembled conditions back home in Pennsylvania.

                      No, what I don’t get is why the Japanese success at horse archery with longbows was so near unique. AFAIK nobody else in the Old World ever pulled that off – certainly not in Europe, where you didn’t get native horse archery in military formations west of the Carpathian Basin and Poland, and those guys were using local adaptations of steppe recurve bows.

                      It should have been possible. Over in the New World the Comanche got pretty good at it. They had their own Mongol-style nomad empire in the southern Great Plains for a couple of decades before the Civil War; they even pushed back the frontier of white settlement in places.

                      Hmmm…I just checked and it turns out the Comanche used both laminate and solid bows. I wonder whether their glue was any more moisture-resistant than the Old World formulas?

    • >Well the Tarim Basin mummies are probably ancestors of the Tocharians

      I think everybody in the field pretty much tacitly assumes that at this point, even though there’s reluctance to say it aloud because there was such a long gap in time between the mummies and the Tocharian texts.

  4. Pingback: The new science of Indo-European origins | Armed and Dangerous – Wince and Nod

  5. You might like Barry Cunliffe’s (2008) _Europe Between the Oceans: 9000 BC – AD1000_. His focus is on the diffusion of culture and technology on the European peninsula. His discussions of boat and ship design in the Aegean and Baltic, the role of Mycenae in trade between Europe and the Levant, and mining and trading stone and metal, especially tin, were Ah-ha! moments for me. Fascinating. Copious maps and illustrations.

  6. In addition to razib.com, there is also eurogenes and dienekes. The guy from eurogenes (going by nickname Polako) years ago had pretty good intuitions which are often now vlaidated by the newest findings, so he is worth to check out.

    As for Anthony, I ahve not read him, though I’ve read a review in Polish which included points that while the book is great, Anthony seems not to know Slavic languages and missed some Slavic words related to the wagons (related to PIE language).

    • Wagons are an interesting case because it seems not the words are common but the way of forming them: usually from a verb that means moving or moving quickly.

      Hence German Wagen, English wagon from wegen, bewegen, Latin currus from curro etc.

  7. Renfrew’s theory made sense because agriculture allows something like 30x the population density of hunting and gathering, so the fact that farmers would just flat outnumber everyone else, even without having to bother to defeat them in battle, could account for the farmers’ spread.

    And now it appears he had the right theory for how agriculture spread, but not the language.

    • >And now it appears [Renfrew] had the right theory for how agriculture spread, but not the language.

      One thing that helped give Renfrew’s theory legs is that the steppe theory of IE origins had become associated with Marija Gimbutas – at that time it was called the “Kurgan hypothesis”.

      Gimbutas did a lot of good work in the archeology of the Neolithic and Bronze Age Balkans, but towards the end of her life her writings got rather speculative and flaky. I had noticed this myself – I read one of her last books and by damn if she didn’t sound like a fluffy-bunny Wiccan. Can happen if you get feminism on the brain and start overinterpreting your evidence.

      What I didn’t know is that while I was noticing this from outside, people inside her field had decided she was a nutjob and were edging away from any idea with Gimbutas’s name on it. Renfrew offered them a way to dodge Gimbutas’s whole narrative about macho steppe barbarians overrunning peaceful matriarchies.

      Well, I dunno about the “matriarchy” part but she turned out to be right enough about the rest of it. Just another one of the ironies surrounding IE studies, right along with Nazi nutjobs getting the Aryan-blond-beast thing right. Maybe you don’t have to be a loonytune to make good predictions in this specialty, but it seems to help.

      “What all the wise men promised has not happened, and what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass.” – William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne.

      • “What all the wise men promised has not happened, and what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass.”

        That sounds like what happened with Columbus. He was the luckiest crank in history. On the point of his dispute with every other educated person — the size of the earth, the distance from Spain to India going west, and why you couldn’t sail that far — he was 100% wrong and everyone else was 100% right. The earth was exactly as big as everyone else said it was, India was exactly as far away as they said, and if America hadn’t been sitting in the way he’d have come a cropper. But by knowing exactly how wide the Great Ocean was they never tried crossing it and so never knew that it was in fact two oceans divided by an unsuspected continent, and were forgotten; by not knowing it couldn’t be done he did try crossing it and established his place in history.

      • ““What all the wise men promised has not happened, and what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass.” – William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne.”

        This interpretation is overblown.

        The original Aryan invasion hypothesis didn’t come from the Nazis or any other political movement. It was a parsimonious explanation of the archaeological and linguistic evidence available already in the mid 19th century. By the time the NSDAP was founded it was already a standard view among experts.

        The popular view today is that Nazis built a theory of history based on an ideology, which later came to be proven mostly correct by genetic evidence. What really happened is that the Nazis built an ideology in part on a theory of history for which there was already substantial evidence, motivated rationalisers in the post-war period rejected it for its political associations, and they are now being overwhelmed by new evidence.

        Gimbutas being right about everything except matriarchy is not surprising because she didn’t originate any of it except matriarchy. Anyone has only even heard of Gimbutas because the leftist tint she put on the old theory made her less vulnerable to accusations of being a Nazi, allowing her to be more correct than her colleagues despite contributing nothing that was both new and correct.

        • >The popular view today is that Nazis built a theory of history based on an ideology, which later came to be proven mostly correct by genetic evidence.

          Can’t be correct – the public doesn’t know about the paleogenetic evidence yet, and the politics around it are such that public expositions will be delayed and muted.

          I don’t know about the other “popular view” claim, but I at least was well aware that the steppe-invasion hypothesis was fully formed and broadly accepted by the mid-1920s before Anthony mentioned that fact in his book.

          On the other hand, you’re probably right about how Gimbutas sanitized the idea.

  8. This sort of ancient historical linguistic analysis has always tickled my fancy. On a whim, I hit the Wikipedia page for the Yamnaya (or Yamna) culture. I found there a reconstruction of a Yamnaya male head from 1926. I don’t know how accurate it is, but if I didn’t know better, I would swear the dude was Roman, as in “Hi, I’m Cicero’s first cousin on his mother’s side.”

  9. Meta-comment:

    It occurs to me that a good use of your time as an encyclopedic synthesist would be noticing when there are major evidentiary gaps in a field and pointing them out with notes on what to look for to settle the relevant questions one way or another.

    Or even just noting promising research paths for aspiring independent scholars.

  10. Two things. Cochran tends to focus on lactase, not horses. The idea is that adult digestion of milk enables a dairy-based culture, which not only provides more calories per land than grain farming (meat provides less) but cattle or goats are far easier to steal. So grain farmers are mostly peaceful because it is difficult to carry grain home from a defeated enemy settlement, but animals can be driven away more easily. Thus dairy cultures become very warlike, where cattle-rustling is a way of life. (Compare: the defensive structure around the Pale in Ireland had little military value, the primary purpose was to make driving cattle away harder.) That, alongside with being mobile gives a huge advantage. My personal thoughts: dairy protein probably helps in making strong warriors, and old stocks of cattle or goat mostly took care of themselves, the women did the milking, the men did not have a lot of work to do, just guard the cattle, and I think in that sort of a bored cowboy type setup killing time with hunting or target practice turns one into an excellent archer almost by accident.

    Another thing is that chariot-tanking works only in plain terrain. Forests and mountains stop them quite effectively. Luckily for the PIE, most of the Near East was plains, so it is pretty sure the Pharaohs were from a PIE population (who adopted the local language) and I suppose Carthage too. As it seems like chariots would have pretty easily blitzkrieged everything there. However, Europe was covered with woods, and plenty of mountains as well. Chariots no worky there. The claim that by the time they got to Europe they bred horses strong enough to carry an armed man – I don’t know. Do we have paleogenetics for horses as well?

    Look, Boudicea used chariots much later. Most likely that was a relic of the original PIE conquest. Not that British terrain is good for that either.

    So I don’t know. For example, Greeks in 1000 BC – clearly Indo-Europeans – didn’t use chariots much because the rocky terrain was unsuitable for it, but in legends and culture chariots retained a high status. Which suggests the original PIE conquerors must have used them.

    And that could not possibly not work well in most of Europe, which was far more woody than today.

    Cavalry? Without stirrups? Come on. It was secondary for the Greeks, Romans and for good reason, without a stirrup a good lance charge sends you flying off.

    My bet is heavy infantry. There must be a good reason this was the standard Greco-Roman thing. If PIE were smart, they were probably good at metalworking. Even if horses could carry a man, they could still not carry a heavy armored man. Cavalry had to be light. What is a better idea, in rocky or woody terrain? Put on a lot of heavy armor and have long spears and laugh at the horse boys flying off when they try to charge them, or be a light cavalryman?

    My bet is chariots mixed with heavy infantry.

    • >My bet is chariots mixed with heavy infantry.

      One thing that is abundantly clear from the Yamnaya-horizon finds is that they liked battle-axes – and they kept that preference in Europe; one of their immediate successor cultures used to be called the Battle-Axe people after common finds at their sites. They had bronze and copper in the steppes, so yes, armored heavy infantry is quite possible. Can’t imagine they had it in enough volume for body armor to be standard equipment, but helmets might have been common enough.

      Now I’m going to speculate – there’s no actual evidence of metal weapons or armor from the invasion period, but also good reason to doubt that any could have survived 4500 years of European soils and moisture. It was 2Kya too early for chain-mail; my best guess is the elite fighters wore proto-Greek cuirasses and greaves not greatly different from the Mycenaean style of roughly 500 years later. My mind’s eye keeps wanting to see pteruges – those studded leather skirt-like things we associate with Roman legionaries, but the Greeks used them too.

      And the Yamnaya were pastoralists – they must have invented leather armor early. Bronze-studded leather armor resembling what’s now called a brigandine would have been well within their technological capability for lighter troops.

      No chariots though; those seems to have been invented in central Asia by an eastern offshoot of PIE-speakers (probably the Sintashta culture) around 500 years after the PIE invaders went up the Danube valley. They diffused west to Europe between 1800 and 1500BCE. The invaders might have had heavy 4-wheeled war carts though; there’s some evidence that roughly contemporary Near Eastern cultures used them.

      The reasons they probably didn’t fight from horseback have been discussed upthread; they probably rode to battle but fought on foot.

      UPDATE: They had archery – bow ends have been found at Yamnaya sites – but probably not the steppe-style composite recurve bow. That appears to have been a later innovation spreading from Asia along with chariot warfare.

      • Battleaxes? Hm. The most used melee weapon of history was the spear/pike/lance, given advantages like reach, and force concentrated in a point pierces armor, reaches vital organs and is not as straightforward to see and deflect as a cut is.

        I never really figured out why even swords were invented – probably because I never trained with them – I would like to see what would 10 swordsmen like you do to a phalanx-like wall of 10 spearmen. Probably flank them.

        But you cannot even do the gladius-thrust with a battleaxe. Wide, easily blocked motions, force distributed over the the whole axe blade area, it would be harder to pierce armor or reach vital organs. Does not sound ideal.

        Since the primary reason for the existence of axes is chopping wood and chopping bones (butchers, at least the budget ones, used to chop, the quality butchers used saws so that you don’t get bits of bone in the meat), then either they used them to chop at spearshafts or aimed blows at the arms and other important bones of the opponent. Still, does not sound like a very efficient thing to me.

        • >I never really figured out why even swords were invented – probably because I never trained with them – I would like to see what would 10 swordsmen like you do to a phalanx-like wall of 10 spearmen. Probably flank them.

          Yes. Phalanxes are in trouble on rough or forested ground; swordsmen, because their weapon is lighter and shorter, have an advantage there.

          • >Still, [battleaxes] does not sound like a very efficient thing to me.

            I just had a thought about this. Maybe they worked in 2500BCE because the Yamnayas’ EEF opponents in Old Europe had no developed military tradition and were simply not very good fighters in groups?

            We know the Yamnayas’ descendants mostly didn’t keep their strong preference for axes – it’s probably overinterpretation to read the Viking war ax 3Kya later as a continuous survival. The Greeks and Indo-Aryans became spear-centered with swords as sidearms. Maybe those axes didn’t cut it when the other side upped its game?

            • Most ‘military’ weapons began as adaptations of common tools.

              Axes are very good tools, cheap, make very efficient use of metal when that comes into use, and effective.

              Also, consider that spears (and pole arms in general) are usually two handed main battle weapons, while most axes and swords are sidearms. What happens when your spear, inevitably, breaks? What do you do when you need your hands free before fighting?

              The Greeks had actual logistics. You can’t have heavy infantry without serious organization, just to get your equipment to where you plan to fight. Earlier/less well organized peoples would have had more limitations in what was possible to them.

            • I might add, it’s probably unwise to make judgements based on practices that were still revolutionary and unique *2000 years* later.

        • Spears break easily, because in order to be both long and light enough to use, they have to be thin. I’ve read that the shaft of the spears used by the Greek hoplites was an inch in diameter. Most of them probably shattered in the first charge. Maybe they wanted something sturdier.

          • >Most of them probably shattered in the first charge.

            Hoplites didn’t normally charge as we think of it. Phalanxes can’t move that fast without high risk of losing cohesion.

            What they did, basically, was walk up to each other and press until one side broke. There wasn’t a lot of v-squared in the compressive force on the shaft. If there was substantial lateral force on your shaft you were already doing it wrong to begin with and your side was probably close to breaking already.

            • A long thin spear is simply going to buckle. Regardless of lateral force being present or not.

              Question is, what kind of wood did they use?
              If the length is determined by lethality, thrusting force is decided by proficiency of the user and the cross sectional geometry dictated by the minimum acceptable weight, then the only way to prevent the spear from buckling is to use wood with a higher elastic modulus.

              • >Question is, what kind of wood did they use?

                Some kind that wouldn’t buckle under normal combat stress at the recorded thickness – duh! I mean, that would have been a fatal failure mode – they’d have thickened the shaft or gone to harder wood otherwise.

            • I’ll grant you that they probably didn’t sprint in all that armor, but most of them definitely didn’t walk either. Both armies probably walked to just about bowshot of each other, shouted for a while, put on their armor, and then set off.

              The exact speed of advance varied. The Spartans were feared partly because they _didn’t_ charge: Thucidides 5.70.

              The Lacedaemonians were disciplined enough to walk first and then run only once within range: Diodorus 14.23.1

        • > Probably flank them.

          When phalanges were all the rage, that’s exactly what the armies tried to do to each other. A phalanx’s strength is directly in front, either to hold a position defensively or a measured advance that keeps the line a line (or a gentle enough curve as to be locally linear for practical purposes), because the hoplites held their shields on their left arms such that each one protected his left and his left-most neighbor’s right. Any loss of cohesion of the formation created gaps in the shield wall that could be exploited.

          The Macedonian phalanges under Phillip (Alexander the Great’s father) started using the sarissa, which was so long it was actually two separate shafts joined in the middle (not unlike a billiard cue) just before the battle began. This heavier weapon required the hoplites to use both hands on the sarissa, and use a smaller shield covering their left shoulders, but let more ranks of hoplites engage their sarissas forward against the enemy (those who couldn’t reach past the front line would rest their weapon on the shoulder of the hoplite in front, creating a canopy that blocked many arrows fired against the phalanx). As a result, they became even tougher against an enemy directly in front when they could maintain formation, but even less maneuverable should they have to change directions.

          So Alexander would set his phalanx against the enemy’s and then use his Companion Cavalry to attack their weak flanks. No one’s phalanx could stand both frontal attack from an enemy phalanx and a flank attack by cavalry, so they’d be rolled up in short order.

          • >When phalanges were all the rage, that’s exactly what the armies tried to do to each other.

            The Romans used a legionary formation resembling a checkerboard, with maniples deployed in blocks roughly diagonally adjacent to each other and trained to move independently of the larger formation when required.

            It seems extremely likely that one of the purposes of this doctrine was to allow a legion to split up and flank a phalanx formation on both sides.

        • Most of your objections to the axe as weapon center on the typical single-use tool we’re familiar with from woodwork. There were, however, other specialized axe-like tools used in butchering animals, for example, ones that included things like spikes sticking out from the head at the shaft and hammerheads on the back which eventually evolved into the poll-axe polearms of the late medieval period.

          Not to mention the fact that the sword is basically a second-generation weapon intended to counter armor. The first-generation combatants wouldn’t have “armored up” yet, making the axe still an effective choice, much as the Amerindians used the tomahawk with great effect in close combat. The lack of armor on most of their opponents is why they could do that, and a large reason why the Europeans were still wearing plate armor in the Americas while they’d mostly abandoned it in Europe.

          Further, there is the Dacian falx, a weapon which likely evolved out of tools used in grain harvest. The Dacians were formidable enough that the only time we have actual evidence of Roman legions modifying their field equipment was on the Dacian campaigns.

  11. I should have commented on this earlier:

    >Part of the surprise is how unsurprising it is. The PIE way of life is not strange to us; strong traces of it have transmitted through Greco-Roman, Norse, and Celtic mythology, flavoring our folklore and our fantasies and the oldest poetic epics of our languages. They truly were our cultural as well as our genetic ancestors.

    Jordan B. Peterson has done an extensive analysis of mythology and folklore across cultures and found the same stories are told in nearly all of them. He infers from this that there are universal truths about the human conditions that successful cultures discover and transmit to succeeding (heh) generations in the form of the stories we all tell. So don’t assume that such similarities constitute evidence of cultural ancestry. It may just be those stories have to resemble one another because they’re communicating the same fundamental ideas.

    • >It may just be those stories have to resemble one another because they’re communicating the same fundamental ideas.

      A fair point, but not new to me. As a neopagan and student of comparative religion I was well aware of archetypes well before Peterson’s present fame – he and I are working from the same intellectual tradition in this respect, one that goes back to Jung and Joseph Campbell’s epochal 1948 study The Masks of God.

      The level “common to all cultures” and “common to PIE-descended cultures” can in fact be distinguished. The example that occurs to me off the top of my head is this one: all cultures have fertility goddesses, but only IE cultures have thunder gods who ride chariots.

      • Here is something weird. Scythians were supposed to be IE, but they fermented lactose to alcohol, suggesting a low prevalence of the lactase mutation. Low, but not nonexistent else they would not bother with milking at all, see China. One thinks then that other Central Asian kumis-drinkers from Turkic people (say, Baskhirs) to Mongols must be fairly closely related to PIE, having a common ancestor not much removed.

        Yet not only the language is very different, the Tengri religion does not bear much resemblance to the PIE religion either. Tengri resembles the PIE sky-god, but the religion is nearly monotheistic (well, I would call it “monofocal”, not sure if that is an accepted term), some sources say Tengri’s main job beyond creation (not ex nihilo but shaping existing matter) is making plants grow and thunder/lightning. Seems if Tengrism and PIE religion had a close common ancestor the remarkable thing PIE did was to split it up into multiple gods – perhaps reflecting a flatter social structure, or more division of labor?

        • >Scythians were supposed to be IE, but they fermented lactose to alcohol, suggesting a low prevalence of the lactase mutation.

          Not seeing the logic there. Maybe they just liked drinking.

          >Tengri resembles the PIE sky-god, but the religion is nearly monotheistic

          Now it is. Maybe it was less so in origin. Don’t discount the fact that those people have been in contact with cultures where monotheism = prestige for a long time.

          • Polytheism arises by conquest and/or federation of multiple people. The Greeks clearly demonstrate that, with their layers of gods that displace entire families of other gods, where the place of gods inside or outside the twelve olympians, etc.

            Have you read Paul Rosenberg’s “Production vs Plunder”? It’s right up your alley.3

            • >Polytheism arises by conquest and/or federation of multiple people.

              Sometimes, but that’s neither necessary nor sufficient. History is full of conqueror monotheisms successfully suppressing folk polytheism.

          • >The genetic origins of the steppe people, Scythians included, are complex:

            The abstract notes, though, that they get simpler as you go back in time to before the eruption of Turkic and East Asian peoples onto the eastern end of the steppe. Within remote but historical times it was basically wall-to-wall IE speakers ranging from Scythians in the west to Tocharian-speakers in the Tarim Basin.

            I wonder what happened? Clearly the IE speakers were unable to compete with the incomers; they hung on south of the Caucasus/Caspian and the Himalayan massif, but the Tocharians were wiped out and the last of the Scythians seem to have amalgamated into the proto-Slavs and been pushed off the steppes into European forest country. What was the Turkic/Asian advantage?

            • Read the paper. Scythians were genetically complex. The fact that they all spoke IE languages does not map 1-1 to their heritage.

              Using principal component analysis (PCA) and ADMIXTURE analyses (Fig. 2 and Extended Data Fig. 1), we observe a clear separation between two groups of Iron Age Scythians: the Hungarian Scythians and the Inner Asian Sakas. Furthermore, we find fine-scaled structure within the Inner Asian Sakas that separates (1) the populations associated with the ‘Tagar’ culture of southern Siberia, (2) the ‘Central Sakas’ of the central steppe—most of whom have been described as belonging to the Tasmola culture (Supplementary Information section 3)—and (3) the ‘Tian Shan Sakas’ of the Tian Shan mountain range (see map in Fig. 1). These differences reflect the confederal nature of the Scythian organization.

              The “racial” interpretation of IE as a monophyletic clade of humans is a very, very inaccurate description of the population history of the IE people.

              Modern equivalents of such mixtures are the Hungarians (Finno-Ugric language but largely IE genetics) and the Germanized slavs (actually, Baltics) of Prussia.

              • >The “racial” interpretation of IE as a monophyletic clade of humans is a very, very inaccurate description of the population history of the IE people.

                But nobody actually believes that – not that I can see anyway. Even as far back as the Yamnaya horizon there are hints of some cultural and genetic distinctions between Western and Eastern Yamnaya – not a lot, but enough to leave traces in the record.

                “Simpler in the past” is not quite the same thing as monophyletic.

                • ““Simpler in the past” is not quite the same thing as monophyletic.”

                  No, but less people and slower transport leads to simpler genetics. But all of the old people have mixed with their neighbors one way or the other.

                  “But nobody actually believes that – not that I can see anyway.”

                  Many people seem to be unable to grasp a complex world. I regularly hear and read things that make me doubt your assertion.

            • Whatever happened, happened many times over and over: a population explosion and newly emerging power (tribal confederacy) on the eastern steppes pushed the western steppe people on the Danube, then later on they themselves got pushed the same way by another population explosion, another new tribal confederacy behind their back on the eastern steppes.

              I don’t remember all players and the exact chronology, but this was repeated over and over by Sarmatians, Scythians, Goths, Huns, Magyars, Cumans, Pechenegs and Mongols and probably half a dozen others.

              Looks like if you are okay with eating horse meat (other grazing animals cannot deal with snow covered grass) Siberia is not such a bad place. Especially if the climate was different.

              Also, most of the above people had essentially the same horse archer technology and tactics. The reason their eastern neighbors tended to beat them was that they were more numerous. Lots of yummy horse meat probably led to those population explosions.

              • Plausible hypothesis. I would add periodical waves of plagues. It seems most of the plague waves originated in the East, Inner China, and moved West. The first people to overcome the current version of the plague could follow the wave and take over the depopulated lands. That would generally be those closest to the origin.

                This was also a big factor in the colonization of the Americas.

                • Also the adversity that plausibly led to prioritization of cooperation via Hajnal line and manorialism to defeat clans, paternalism, and tribalism. And the use of arable land for work animals and horses for travel as the great bifurcation from the East which instead employed arable land for feed and raising animals for food supporting a larger population with human porters instead of the travel “Internet” road and horse driven network that supported the network efforts that enabled the agricultural and industrial revolutions in the West. Is this adversity, network effects, delayed childbirth, and great competition perhaps is the reason for the higher variance in male IQ in the West? If the Western European ancestors are the original Steppe people who employed horses for work, they prospered by migrating West into defensible terrain.

    • “So don’t assume that such similarities constitute evidence of cultural ancestry.”

      The Swastika is an example in point. It can be found in the whole of Eurasia, from Ireland to East Asia. Even native Americans used Swastikas.

  12. Do you have any sources discussing the EASTERN invasion into India by any chance?

    There are so many myths, theories and facts about the so called “aryan” invasion of india.
    Would be good to find some good sources.

    • >Do you have any sources discussing the EASTERN invasion into India by any chance?

      There’s a lot about the origins of the Indo-Aryans in Anthony’s book.

    • >I am not sure why exactly it is such a big deal but apparently it upset the chronology

      Maybe. The news story says they date these artifacts to the same couple of centuries in which the Sintasha culture was, apparently, inventing chariot warfare. Rapid diffusion in either direction could be consistent with the standard chronology.

      That being said, I regard this report extremely skeptically. There has been a group of Hindu-nationalist archaeologists frantically trying to relocate the Indo-European homeland to India for some time. I want an independent check on the artifact dates.

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