Discussion in 'Anthropology' started by Svíar, 5 July 2014.

  1. Svíar

    Svíar Heroic Member Sustaining Member

    Indo-European is a related group or family of languages spread over large parts of Asia and most of Europe.
    By modern colonization, it has also been carried over to the Americas, Australia and parts of Africa.
    It compromises a dozen major branches and several ill-defined minor groups.
    The term Indo-European or Proto-Indo-European also refers to the common ancestral language, spoken in later prehistory, from which the attested members of the family descend.
    This common language was necessarily the cultural property of a community, and information about the language can reveal a picture of that community.
    The principle of Proto-Indo-European and the Indo-European languages is essentially the same as that with Latin and the Romance languages of today (French, Italian, Spanish, and so on).
    In the case of Latin, we know that it was the language of ancient Rome, that it spread with military expansion of the Roman empire, and that it then broke up into local vernaculars in Europe after the Empire disintegrated.
    In the case of Indo-European, the common ancestor belonged to a much earlier horizon, before documentary records, and a process more or less analogous to that of the ebb and flow of Latin with the Roman Empire can only be inferred.
    Celtic is one of the branches of Indo-European, and all Celtic languages are also Indo-European languages.
    Using the model of a human family, we may think of the Celtic Languages as being more closely related to one another; for example, Irish and Welsh would be siblings.
    A Celtic language would be more distantly related to a non-Celtic Indo-European language; for example, Irish and Hindi would be cousins, but neither are related to Hungarian or Tamil.

    The existence of the Indo-European language family was already presumed by the first Europeans who learned Sanskrit, and anticipated by linguists of the 18th century.
    Sir William Jones (1746 - 94), a Judge in India during British rule and an expert on Indian languages. clearly articulated the theory of the common ancestry of Sanskrit, Greek and Latin.
    ( A non-Welsh-speaking Welshman, Cymro di-Gymraeg, Jones was introduced to the King of France by the British ambassador as 'a man who can speak all languages but his own'.)
    Since then further research has elucidated the principal details of the history of the whole group, and reconstructed the common ancestor, Proto-Indo-European.
    The workings of the Indo-European sound system are now understood in great detail.
    The morphology (i.e., such features as the personal and case forms of the verb and changes in the endings of the noun to express different grammatical functions) is known to a high degree, and much of the Proto-Indo-European vocabulary can be reconstructed with confidence. Basic patterns of Indo-European word order are implied by similarities in the early attested languages.
    Similarities in poetic formulae or stock phrases among such early texts as the Greek Iliad, the Vedic hymns, and Hittite religious formulae bring us to the threshold of recovering fragments of Proto-Indo-European traditional oral poetry.

    Indo-European is highly inflectional, and the grammatical elements (morphemes) usually express several functions at once.
    On the basis of the vocabulary of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European, we can gain an insight in to the culture of the people who spoke it.
    Some scholars favour a date for Proto-Indo-European in the 3rd millennium BC, while others believe that the branches must alrady have been seperated by 3000 BC.
    The speed of linguistic changes is unpredictable, and can vary tremendously between two neighbouring languages, or even within one single language.
    Social change often precipitates linguistic change; migration and substantial influence from other languages will also have effects.
    For example, English and Afrikaans have developed inflectional systems that are simpler than those of their relatives in the Germanic group.
    Fame, hospitality, and truth are pivotal for Indo-European ethics, as shown by the concord of early poetry in the early Indo-European branches.
    Celtic shares this heritage fully.
    Nevertheless, as we see from anthropology, comparative religion, and comparative literature, these values are not confined to people who speak Indo-European languages.

    Proto-Indo-European had three distinct sets of consonants similar in sound to the English k and (hard) g.
    In the 'palatal' set, the top of the tongue was placed farther forward to the top of the mouth, on the hard palate.
    In the 'velar' set, the tongue was farther back on the velum or soft palate.
    This difference can be felt by noting the different position of the tongue in the initial consonant of English palatal keel versus velar call, or palatal gill versus velar gull.
    A subgroup of Indo-European languages in the west, including Celtic, turned the IE palatals into velars.
    These are called centum languages, from the Latin word for 'hundred', pronounced /kentum/ in classical times, with an initial velar for an IE palatal; compare Welsh cant (also with k-) and Irish céad 'hundred'.
    In the satem group, the IE palatals have remained distinct from the velars.
    Proto-Indo-European also had a series of voiced aspirated consonants: bh, dh, g´h, gh, and gwh (similar to English 'subhuman', adhere, pig-headed, log-house, and egg white).

    According to the Kurgan hypothesis which is the one I personally subscribe to, this is the Indo-European Urheimat.

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  2. Celtic Skogsra

    Celtic Skogsra Heroic Member

    Recently a study looked at the aDNA of probable PIE people and found them to be a mixture between northeast European hunter gatherers and a non-Semitic West Asian race similar to Kurds or Armenians. Sort of fits what some old racial anthros said: Nordic-type features first among Iranians, then as they move north, the Corded type appears, and then spreading westward the emergence of Nordics proper in Europe.

    Still amazes me that the same figures were recognised both in Old Ireland and in the Vedas. (Érimón/Aryaman, Dananns/Danavas etc.)
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  3. Celtic Skogsra

    Celtic Skogsra Heroic Member

    I think that mythography seems to provide a good parallel to genetics and linguistics. Either the western Central Asian centre reflects the Indo-European presence in Siberia, or the multi-directional spread of language families united by areal contact. Its interesting that Indo-European myth is more similar to Japanese mythology belonging to Mongoloids than to the mythology of Caucasian people in ancient Egypt.

    Thematic investigations of the type described above reveal that certain insertions and changes have occurred in several regionally important centers that, in turn, have secondarily influenced neighboring local mythologies. Examples include the Egyptian one (influencing northeast Africa and beyond), the Ancient Near Eastern one (Anatolia and Greece), the western Central Asian one (Indo-European, Altaic speakers, and oldest Japanese mythology), the Meso-American one (Mexico, the southwestern USA, and beyond). These intermediate stages have to be taken into account when dealing with individual local mythologies.​
  4. Celtic Skogsra

    Celtic Skogsra Heroic Member

    Just the other day there was a new paper that was relating to prehistoric Georgians (CHG), but it has relevance to the subject of this topic. The presumed Aryans/PIEs have now turned out to be of mixed Mesolithic Caucasus & similarly pre-farming eastern European descent. This means that genes from the ancient Caucasus stock were therefore carried westward with the Yamnaya archaeological culture, and were also spread eastward into both central & south Asia. You might remember old ideas connecting the presumably proto-Circassian Maykop culture to IE origins, and also John Colarusso's suggestion that NW Caucasus ('Circassian') languages are the sister family to the whole of Indo-European. But same paper also fits the possible genetic relationship others see between the IE and Uralic languages, the urheimat being the area of contact between both.

    We extend the scope of European palaeogenomics by sequencing the genomes of Late Upper Palaeolithic (13,300 years old, 1.4-fold coverage) and Mesolithic (9,700 years old, 15.4-fold) males from western Georgia in the Caucasus and a Late Upper Palaeolithic (13,700 years old, 9.5-fold) male from Switzerland. While we detect Late Palaeolithic–Mesolithic genomic continuity in both regions, we find that Caucasus hunter-gatherers (CHG) belong to a distinct ancient clade that split from western hunter-gatherers ~45 kya, shortly after the expansion of anatomically modern humans into Europe and from the ancestors of Neolithic farmers ~25 kya, around the Last Glacial Maximum. CHG genomes significantly contributed to the Yamnaya steppe herders who migrated into Europe ~3,000 BC, supporting a formative Caucasus influence on this important Early Bronze age culture. CHG left their imprint on modern populations from the Caucasus and also central and south Asia possibly marking the arrival of Indo-Aryan languages.

    And from a slightly older paper this year.

    We generated genome-wide data from 69 Europeans who lived between 8,000–3,000 years ago by enriching ancient DNA libraries for a target set of almost 400,000 polymorphisms. Enrichment of these positions decreases the sequencing required for genome-wide ancient DNA analysis by a median of around 250-fold, allowing us to study an order of magnitude more individuals than previous studies and to obtain new insights about the past. We show that the populations of Western and Far Eastern Europe followed opposite trajectories between 8,000–5,000 years ago. At the beginning of the Neolithic period in Europe, ~8,000–7,000 years ago, closely related groups of early farmers appeared in Germany, Hungary and Spain, different from indigenous hunter-gatherers, whereas Russia was inhabited by a distinctive population of hunter-gatherers with high affinity to a ~24,000-year-old Siberian. By ~6,000–5,000 years ago, farmers throughout much of Europe had more hunter-gatherer ancestry than their predecessors, but in Russia, the Yamnaya steppe herders of this time were descended not only from the preceding eastern European hunter-gatherers, but also from a population of Near Eastern ancestry. Western and Eastern Europe came into contact ~4,500 years ago, as the Late Neolithic Corded Ware people from Germany traced ~75% of their ancestry to the Yamnaya, documenting a massive migration into the heartland of Europe from its eastern periphery. This steppe ancestry persisted in all sampled central Europeans until at least ~3,000 years ago, and is ubiquitous in present-day Europeans. These results provide support for a steppe origin of at least some of the Indo-European languages of Europe.

    Someone pointed out that the Neolithic farmers were usually Atlanto-Mediterraneans, whereas the Paleolithic Europeans became brachycephalised (ie. Alpinised) during the course of the Mesolithic. I don't know what these CHG people looked like but genetically they were relatively close to the Mal'ta Siberians, who were in turn closest to modern (white) West Central Asians out of all populations today. The Mal'ta people's own self depiction, for what its worth, shows a tall face with a prominent aquiline nose much like the classic Iranian look or perhaps like the stereotypical Plains Indians who are 1/3 Mal'ta-like.

    Now remembering that that the skulls of the Bronze Age Corded people were so similar to the modern Iranians on the one hand and the true European Nordics on the other, this is very broadly confirming the famous typological system: Alpines, Mediterraneans and (probably) something more like modern Nordics. Its come full circle.
    Last edited: 25 November 2015
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