The Perception of Indo-European in Greece.

Matthew Scarborough posts on a paper by K. Sampanis and Karantzola, “The perception of historical and Indo-European linguistics in the instruction of Greek,” which he says “contains an interesting discussion of the perception of Indo-European linguistics in modern-day Greece, and how better education in historical linguistics in Greece might help combat linguistic pseudo-science.” He quotes this paragraph (which I presume is the abstract):

Indo-European linguistics has a long tradition which is manifested by an extensive bibliography and findings that are integrated into other domains such as lexicography or comparative philology. Still, one may observe a certain degree of scepticism towards the Indo-European studies, which is largely attributed to the fact that Historical Linguistics’ and Archaeology’s methodologies do not easily comply with each other, so the results of one may question findings of the other. What is more, within the language discourse in Greece, Indo-European linguistics is confronted with an intensive denial of its theories which is based on a ‘hellenocentric’ paralinguistic pseudo-science. The article traces the roots of this anti-Indo-European rhetoric in Greece and indicates the deficient incorporation of IE theory into the language instruction of (Ancient) Greek at primary and secondary education with respect to the way the findings of comparative linguistics are presented in relevant handbooks.

Another sad illustration of the toxic effects of nationalism on one’s sense of reality.

Comments

  1. Interesting. I have met a number of Greeks who claim that Ancient Greek was always pronounced as Modern Greek is today (umpteen different letters for the sound /i/ and all) – that seems something that the average Greek is passionate about, and I’ve read somewhere that the Greek Orthodox Church has pushed it – but I had no idea that people who knew of the IE family and Greek’s place in it disputed those findings.

  2. Bathrobe says:

    Is the Greek situation that much different from the rejection of IE by Hindu nationalists?

  3. Bathrobe.

    Due to the recent genetic studies, a number of hard-line Hindu Nationalists have changed their views, although many are still skeptical. Of course, they already had this kind of data for Greece last year.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/04/south-asians-are-descended-mix-farmers-herders-and-hunter-gatherers-ancient-dna-reveals

  4. @Bahtrobe: Well they don’t reject IE per se, but they hold that the IVC was the urheimat. I wouldn’t be surprised if the situation in Greece were similar, especially since there was a phase when a Balkan origin was popular.

  5. @Lazar, “Well they don’t reject IE per se, but they hold that the IVC was the urheimat.”

    There is a rather prevalent school among Hindutva cranks that Sanskrit has existed since time eternal, and in fact all peoples of the world originally spoke Sanskrit and worshiped the Vedic deities. They claim purported connections between Sanskrit-speaking India and elsewhere that greatly predate the IVC.

  6. “IVC” means “Indus Valley Civilization,” not “Irvine Valley College.”

  7. J.W. Brewer says:

    Ceteris paribus I would rather have kids taught true things about historical linguistics than false things, and I teaching true things would also be better than teaching nothing at all. But I see no reason why any understanding of the broader Indo-European context is necessary to effectively teach Ancient Greek to L1 speakers of Modern Greek. For that matter, I don’t think that the way I was first taught Ancient Greek (let’s see … 33 years ago) was particularly informed by any of the previous almost 200 years of work on comparative IE scholarship and reconstruction. In other words, I was probably taught it (as an Anglophone kid with prior exposure to Latin, whose structural parallels to Greek were obvious but the whys and wherefores of them not explained very well in class) more or less the same way the not-yet-Sir William Jones had been taught it as a boy almost 230 years earlier. Maybe it’s nice that (as the article notes) kids learning Ancient Greek in a German Gymnasium have a text book that mentions in the preface that Greek Latin and German are all related to Lithuanian, but does that really led to better mastery of Greek-qua-Greek? (It might if they already knew Lithuanian, but I suspect that’s the exception rather than the rule …)

    (I do recall one day after class in Homeric Greek when our very old-school-tweedy professor explained to one of my classmates that a particular Gk word was cognate to a particular extremely vulgar/offensive English word – although I think there’s actually a scholarly dispute on the accuracy of that particular etymological relationship. A lovely moment, but not one that made the Greek itself much easier to master.)

  8. Rick.

    Thanks for the link. The biorxiv version was posted three weeks ago.

    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2018/03/31/292581.full.pdf

    One Sentence Summary: Genome wide ancient DNA from 357 individuals from Central and South Asia sheds new light on the spread of Indo-European languages and parallels between the genetic history of two sub-continents, Europe and South Asia

  9. Teaching children the true origin of their language is just as important as teaching them the true origin of their ethnic group (in terms of biology and evolution). Political groups often use, and promote, misunderstandings in these fields to harm minority populations for their own advantage.

  10. I see no reason why any understanding of the broader Indo-European context is necessary to effectively teach Ancient Greek to L1 speakers of Modern Greek.

    It’s not, of course, but that’s not the point — the point is that the willed ignorance of nationalism prevents both an understanding of the Indo-European background of the language and the truth about what Ancient Greek was like (very different from Modern Greek). Of course, you can say that it’s not necessary to know anything at all about the background of one’s language, but that’s a pretty minimalist approach. Certainly if you’re going to teach the background, you shouldn’t be teaching bullshit.

  11. Well, if modern Greek school children are taught to read the Iliad as if it was composed with modern values for the letters, they will still learn something — and you could reasonably adopt the view that teaching them the reconstructed pronunciation would take up too much time for what is gained.

    But if they are actively taught that the sounds of Greek never changed, and if the fact that they can still sort of read Homer that way is used to prove that Greek civilization alone among the corrupt multitudes maintains its greatness and rabid nationalism is OK, then some sad shaking of the head is in order, or even a deep sigh.

  12. J.W. Brewer says:

    Even if you focus on the differences between Modern Greek and Homeric Greek, there’s still a reasonably straight progression from the latter to the former, and the fact that whichever neighboring ethnic groups might be on the receiving end of modern Greek nationalist ire do not have their own famous/canonical texts in comparably old ancestors of their own languages would be more than enough to support a chauvinistic spin on the linguistic history.

  13. J.W. Brewer says:

    Obviously it’s hard to teach a “puristic” version of the history of English with a straight face, but it’s perfectly easy to spin the true history of the language in a way that shows its obvious superiority over foreign tongues. The glorious synthesis of the Saxon and the Norman, creating something better than each component would have been standing alone, keeping some toponyms and whatnot from the Celts the Saxons had conquered and with judicious subsequent borrowings from Latin Greek and other tongues as appropriate (and, mind you, those borrowings were done from a position of cultural strength and confidence rather than weakness!) is a perfectly good rah-rah-us triumphalist narrative. Cf. McWhorter’s book title “Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue,” where only the cute wordplay of using a typically-pejorative word for the synthesis makes it a slogan not fully suitable for humorless triumphalists.

  14. Even if you focus on the differences between Modern Greek and Homeric Greek, there’s still a reasonably straight progression from the latter to the former

    I’m not sure how that’s relevant. Far more relevant is that using modern sound values completely destroys Ancient Greek poetry, for example.

  15. J.W. Brewer says:

    My point is they could teach the pronunciation change w/o having to give up much in terms of a nationalism-friendly narrative, just as Anglophone triumphalists certainly would not feel obligated to even consider the possibility that the substantial change in pronunciation since Chaucer might be a sign of cultural decline or decadence or lack of continuity.

  16. David,

    There is obviously a lot more information packed into the pre-print.

    The other big points are that the steppe people who arrived in South Asia were closely related to the Middle Bronze Age Andronovo and Sintashta people, and so they already had a bit of Early European Farmer ancestry (and that steppe- related ancestry is heaviest in Northern Brahmins).

    The IVC people had a large amount of ‘Ancient Iranian Farmer’ related ancestry, and that ancestry is now heavier in the Dravidian speaking groups.

    And some Austroasiatic speaking groups do not have steppe-related ancestry, hinting strongly that those languages arrived in India before the IE languages did.

  17. My point is they could teach the pronunciation change w/o having to give up much in terms of a nationalism-friendly narrative

    Oh, I see. Well, theoretically, yeah, if Greek nationalism were completely different. The immutability of the language is a firm, if theoretically unnecessary, component of their nationalism, just as anti-Semitism is of certain other forms of nationalism.

  18. J.W. Brewer says:

    As long as you think of the written form of the language as the Real Thing and the spoken form as a variable second-hand approximation of the Real Thing (which is a thing very widely believed by members of literate societies who haven’t taken an intro college linguistics class), acknowledging pronunciation changes need not be thought of as a threat to a narrative about immutability.

  19. “I see no reason why any understanding of the broader Indo-European context is necessary to effectively teach Ancient Greek.”

    Some knowledge of prehistoric sound changes is very helpful in teaching introductory Greek: knowing that earlier *s and *w was lost makes it much easier to memorize all those pesky contractions in declension (it also helps to go on from a beginner’s Attic to reading Homer more smoothly). Ditto for -tt-/-ss- verbs. Even just knowing that the neuter in Indo-European languages was originally a collection makes it less weird for students that neuter plurals take the 3rd person singular of the verb.

  20. @Hat: “using modern sound values completely destroys Ancient Greek poetry, for example.”

    That doesn’t seem to bother the Chinese and Japanese, who read their poetry canons with sound values vastly different from what those ancient poets would have actually uttered, but these peoples still continue to feel that this poetry has value.

  21. J.W. Brewer says:

    I will defer to Mr. Culver’s interesting points about what might make learning Greek easier for some students while simply noting that none of that approach was thought necessary by (and might not have been understood by) the distinguished academics who taught me Attic/Homeric/NT Greek at an Ivy League university in the 1980’s, whose motivation for the omissions was surely not that they were devotees of the Hellenic flavor of modern Balkan nationalism. We learned Greek the unscientific way they had learned it, and their own teachers (and those teachers’ teachers) had learned it in turn, back, as I said, to the way Sir William Jones had probably learned it as a boy in the 1750’s and beyond that into the mists of time. Indeed, revealing some helpful inner logic and pattern to the declension tables might have undermined the important character-building function of studying the classical languages, which was enhanced by the need for rote memorization of the seemingly arbitrary!

  22. J.W. Brewer says:

    Come to think of it, I may have been taking Homeric Greek the same semester I was taking my undergrad class in Historical Linguistics as taught by hat’s erstwhile grad school contemporary Stephanie Jamison, who later went on to run the Indo-European Studies program at another leading US university. And If I’m wrong about that I took HistLing before HomGk not the other way round. I’m not sure how much I bothered to apply what I was learning (or had previously learned) in the latter class to the former, as I was mostly glancing over the next day’s assigned chunk of the Iliad late at night while watching MTV …

  23. David Marjanović says:

    That doesn’t seem to bother the Chinese and Japanese, who read their poetry canons with sound values vastly different from what those ancient poets would have actually uttered, but these peoples still continue to feel that this poetry has value.

    There is a widespread belief that classical poetry is best read aloud in $_southern_dialect (not necessarily the one of the person who brings this up…), but I don’t know if that is about making the rhymes work better or just about decreasing the homophone load (Mandarin having lost the syllable-final plosives and merged -m into -n).

    Actually, for making the rhymes work, Vietnamese is best, as we learned here a while ago. I’m not going to look for it at this time of the night, though.

  24. That doesn’t seem to bother the Chinese and Japanese, who read their poetry canons with sound values vastly different from what those ancient poets would have actually uttered, but these peoples still continue to feel that this poetry has value.

    It doesn’t bother the Greeks either; I’m not sure what your point is. Surely you’re not claiming they’re all better off not pronouncing the ancient poetry accurately? Furthermore, there is no generally accepted standard pronunciation of Ancient Chinese, so the position is very different than for Greek, where we know quite well how the original was pronounced. And of course classical Greek poetry depends crucially on the interplay of long and short syllables, which is lost in modern renderings; you can still get the pretty images and deep thoughts, but the poetry is utterly lost.

  25. You can read a book of song lyrics, and they can be fantastic. However, when you do this, you are not hearing the song, and you have a totally different experience.

    Poems are very much like songs. If the rhyming and/or breathing pattern is not the same, then something is lost.

    Directly translated traditional haiku will still have juxtaposition of images or ideas with a cutting word between them, but they will almost never retain the 5, 7, 5 structure. Again, something is definitely lost.

    In the case of poetry, the change in sounds from an ancient language to a modern one is similar to a translation.

  26. This reminds me of starting a semester of Old Spanish Lit. to find that it was to be read in Mod. Span.
    Having taken Hist. of Span. Lang. in the previous semester I got quite uppity about what I considered
    to be a stupidity. I don!t recall what the prof’s defence was (possibly that not everyone took HSL) but
    I withdrew in high dudgeon.

  27. “Teaching children the true origin of their language is just as important as teaching them the true origin of their ethnic group (in terms of biology and evolution). Political groups often use, and promote, misunderstandings in these fields to harm minority populations for their own advantage.”

    Ironic, because in the Indian case, it was a minority group – the British – promoting the idea of white racial superiority to harm the majority population for their own advantage. It seems to be missed that this present day Hindu nationalist rejection is ultimately the legacy of the British rule of India, which is still fairly recent, when you consider when India became independent.

    It isn’t that Hindu nationalists are intrinsically opposed to the idea that their ancestors were a mix of external migrants and indigenous peoples – or rather, older migrants. It’s that it skirts too close to the ideas the British pushed in order to cow the native Indian population into submission. Indian nationalism, like all nationalist resistance movements in the last century, was predicated on the idea of native equality and independence. Gandhi’s rejection of British rule was based on the premise that the Indians didn’t need the British, that they were a proud, accomplished people in their own right deserving of equal treatment. Obviously, the idea that much of what we know as Indian civilization is itself the product of Indo-Aryan colonization threatens the foundations of India’s perceived independence, made worse by the fact that these Indo-Europeans are particularly associated with modern Europeans by most Western literature.

    Basically, in the eyes of many Indians, accepting Indo-Aryan colonization is tantamount to accepting that the Nazis and the British were right – that the natives of India were inferior and did require a superior white race to bring them civilization and to rule over them. Thus the vehement denial. In the days to come, we will see what narrative Indians ultimately settle on, but I doubt it will be one that accepts wholeheartedly the Indo-Aryan invasion theory – the white supremacist version, any way.

  28. That is good, because the white supremacists version is wrong. There is no sign of an invasion, but there are absolute signs of language and genetic shifts just after the IVC collapsed.

    A major issue, that is incredibly difficult for people to come to terms with, is that some proportion of their ancestry comes from populations that they consider to be intrusive. Those ancestors are also part of their heritage.

  29. Basically, in the eyes of many Indians, accepting Indo-Aryan colonization is tantamount to accepting that the Nazis and the British were right – that the natives of India were inferior and did require a superior white race to bring them civilization and to rule over them. Thus the vehement denial. In the days to come, we will see what narrative Indians ultimately settle on, but I doubt it will be one that accepts wholeheartedly the Indo-Aryan invasion theory – the white supremacist version, any way.
    It isn’t like the same argument didn’t apply to Europe as well? The cave-painters, the Minoan kings and the Stonehenge builders likewise “required” a superior invading population to subjugate them all? Andronovo people weren’t Europeans. Just consider them ancient Indians, and the problem is solved

  30. Rick: “You can read a book of song lyrics, and they can be fantastic. However, when you do this, you are not hearing the song, and you have a totally different experience.”

    In the Lieder tradition, the lyrics of songs are poems, so if you read them your experience is what someone intended.

  31. Basically, in the eyes of many Indians, accepting Indo-Aryan colonization is tantamount to accepting that the Nazis and the British were right – that the natives of India were inferior and did require a superior white race to bring them civilization and to rule over them.

    That’s an idiotic response, but I guess whatever it takes to keep from having to think seriously about history (or anything else) is a port in a storm. Better to stay snug in one’s warm bath of self-regard.

  32. Does the idea that the Aryans were light-skinned / blond / blue-eyed have any actual basis in genetics or ancient literature? What I gather is that Gobineau (later channelled by the Nazis) thought the Aryans of the Rg-Veda were ‘bright’ and ‘noble’ and therefore white, but if they were in fact mostly Iranian steppe dwellers they might not have looked very much like the archetypical German Junker or English Lord.

    Of course words have power so you might have to call the Proto-II speakers something else than Aryans to make the idea palatable to former British subjects, but conflating them with Northern Europeans is just 200 year old fake news.

  33. actual basis in genetics or ancient literature?Andronovo people were heterogenous, lighter-skinned compared to ancient inhabitants of India, but likely looking swarthy to today’s Europeans, with a spectrum of variation of eye colors and hair. There has been a lot of selection on skin / eye / hair color in recent millennia “after PIE”, generally thought to be a sexual selection for lighter colors. The precise conclusions about the past populations are harder to get even after their genomes are read, because the “genetics of colors” isn’t as clear-cut as the one-page primers on Mendelian inheritance in men would paint it. The main genetic loci are by far the most important today, but they don’t explain the whole picture (there are numerous additional genetic factors, including inferred-but-undiscovered “missing heritability” factors, with relatively minor roles at present, but potentially stronger roles in the past)

  34. David Reich, the last author of the biorxiv paper on PIE, has recently published a book on population genetics. There is a review in the NY Times.

  35. David Marjanović says:

    with a spectrum of variation of eye colors and hair

    Blue eyes must have been very rare, though, because they come from the Western Hunter-Gatherers in the western half of Europe. (All of the few WHG sequenced so far had blue eyes – and skin about as dark as found in southern India today. None of the contemporary Early European Farmers had blue eyes before people started to mingle, and the same is true for the Yamnaya people yet sequenced.) That said, there’s some Early European Farmer ancestry in Sintashta, so there must have been some WHG ancestry there as well.

    There is a review in the NY Times.

    Another review, by a historical linguist, is here.

  36. The light eye color allele of HERC2 was also found in a 13,300 year old Caucasus hunter-gatherer, and the Bronze Age steppe people had considerable ancestry from this population.

    But the recessive allele has only found in ~15% of Middle to Late Bronze Age samples, so blue or green eyes must have indeed been quite rare (~2%) in the region.

  37. David Marjanović says:

    The light eye color allele of HERC2 was also found in a 13,300 year old Caucasus hunter-gatherer

    Oh, I missed that.

  38. With regard to Reich’s book, he suggests that Greenberg’s Amerind hypothesis that all Native American languages with the exception of the Eskimo-Aleut group and Athabascan are related was vindicated by DNA analysis showing that all Native American populations have ancestry going back to a group he refers to as the “First Americans”, who entered North America at a time depth of more than 15,000 years ago. (Some Native Americans, e.g., Eskimos and Athabascan groups, also have ancestry from a few other ancient populations that entered North America at a later date.) But isn’t he assuming that the ancient First Americans all spoke the same language or related languages?

  39. He is assuming that largely because the First Americans were extremely homogeneous genetically, and had experienced a very strong genetic bottleneck in Beringia.

    It may be that there were multiple languages involved, but it seems very unlikely that people would be so closely related without speaking the same language, given the circumstances.

  40. Marja Erwin says:

    So where do Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Pedra Furada, etc. fit? Because there were humans in the Americas before Clovis.

  41. This recent paper clarifies a lot of the ancient (and modern) genetic data about the peopling of the American continents.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/nature25173

    Basically, there were distinct, but very highly related populations in Beringia for many thousands of years. It is not unlikely that there were several early, but ultimately unsuccessful, migrations south along the coastline. Perhaps some of these left traces in the heart of the Amazon, where some tribes have extra minor genetic affinity to Andaman Islanders.

    But ultimately, the major wave of expansion occurred very quickly from a small population, and all the way down to the most southern point, and then northward on the other coast, and inward along all the major rivers.

  42. Didn’t there use to be a faux-British “Shakespeare accent” — a non-rhotic, mid-Atlantic stage pronunciation employed by American actors in elevated drama? After all, it stands to reason that Shakespeare was an RP speaker.

    I wonder if the proponents of the theory that Greek pronunciation hasn’t changed much since Homer would be prepared to re-reconstruct PIE with the sounds of Modern Greek. The Hindutva “linguists” I have met in various discussion groups certainly insisted that “true” PIE was practically synonymous with Vedic (with a few reluctant concessions on their part). They even questioned Grassmann’s Law and the Law of Palatals.

  43. David Marjanović says:

    So where do Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Pedra Furada, etc. fit? Because there were humans in the Americas before Clovis.

    The whole Clovis culture is only 13,200 years old.

  44. David Eddyshaw says:

    I wonder if the proponents of the theory that Greek pronunciation hasn’t changed much since Homer would be prepared to re-reconstruct PIE with the sounds of Modern Greek.

    Evidently ludicrous. PIE had the sounds of Modern Welsh. (As you’d expect, given that recent genetic advances show that the Indoeuropean homeland was in Llanelli.)

  45. David Marjanović says:

    I wonder if the proponents of the theory that Greek pronunciation hasn’t changed much since Homer would be prepared to re-reconstruct PIE with the sounds of Modern Greek.

    PIE had the sounds of Modern Welsh.

    All Yesterdays!

  46. Trond Engen says:

    I read the India paper a couple of weeks ago on a tip from Dmitry Pruss. By compiling a lot of data from Central Asia and Western Siberia, it also has things to say about BMAC, and the Andronovo culture comes out as extremely interesting. What it does not incorporate is the recent results on the genetic history of Southeast Asia and the Austroasiatic migrations, which might have thrown even more light on the Indian East-West gradient and the place of Munda.

    Poking around I also found a recent paper on the genetics of Minoans and Mycenean Greeks that concluded that the two were almost identical, with only a tiny bit of Steppe ancestry in the Myceneans.

  47. Didn’t there use to be a faux-British “Shakespeare accent” — a non-rhotic, mid-Atlantic stage pronunciation employed by American actors in elevated drama?

    We discussed the “Transatlantic accent” back in 2011.

  48. I wouldn’t say they found a tiny amount of steppe ancestry in Mycenaeans. They averaged ~20% ancestry from Middle-Late Bronze Age ancestry (most similar to Sintashta, Srubnaya, or Corded Ware), and the rest was like Minoans (who already had additional ancestry from a Caucasus related population).

  49. Trond Engen says:

    Thanks. I concluded that they were the result of a recent IE intrusion into the Minoan civilization, but I must have misremembered the proportions.

  50. SFReader says:

    Re: Myceneans

    Robert Drews believes that Mycenean Greece was something similar to later Hellenistic empires in Asia – Greek conquering elite (tiny percentage of population, perhaps running under 10%) lording over masses of non-Greek population.

    Greece became majority ethnically Greek sometime during Dark Centuries after fall of Mycenean Greece.

  51. The study looked at 4 Mycenaeans from 1700–1200 BC. They were not from ruling elite burials, and they had from 15-30% Middle-Late Bronze Age (steppe-like) ancestry, which is genetically similar to modern Greek people.

    Here is how they described the graves:

    “Seven rock-cut chamber toms were excavated between 1985 and 1993 in the area of Apatheia, ca. 2 km west of the modern town of Galatas, in the northern foothills of Mt. Adheres. Those tombs held the burials of ordinary people, judging by the few, common-type furnishings of the deceased.”

    “In 1995 a group of nine Mycenaean tombs were excavated in the modern town of Salamina, near the church of Ayia Kyriaki on Demosthenous street. The furnishings of the deceased included faience jewelry and some objects of bronze, indicating that the individuals buried in that tomb were wealthier than the average people, although they may not be viewed as members of a ruling elite, judging by the absence of any prestige items in the grave offerings.”

  52. Robert Drews believes that Mycenean Greece was something similar to later Hellenistic empires in Asia – Greek conquering elite (tiny percentage of population, perhaps running under 10%) lording over masses of non-Greek population.

    The trouble with this idea is that many of the taxpayers mentioned in the Linear B tablets have very obvious Greek names, some of them with transparent Greek etymologies even though not recorded in later times. For example, the name Qe-ra-di-ri-jo comes out *Τηλανδριος ‘far:man:PATRONYMIC”, a perfectly plausible piece of Greek; on the other hand, Ka-na-to-po is a woman’s name, but not identifiable.
    (Chadwick’s examples).

  53. SFReader says:

    Yes, Drews mentions the names, says they indicate about 40% Greek and the remainder non-Greek. All the people in the records were part of the palace economy which should have the highest concentration of Greeks, but even here they fail to achieve a majority!

    So it follows that the ratio in the country as a whole was much more in favor of non-Greeks, maybe 20:80, maybe 10:90.

  54. marie-lucie says:

    Greek conquering elite (tiny percentage of population, perhaps running under 10%) lording over masses of non-Greek population.

    Such as in Sparta?

  55. There must have still been a considerable migration to Greece at this time, because 4 out of 4 non-elite burials tested from the 1700–1200 BC timespan already had this additional 20% ancestry from presumably Indo-European speakers.

    This was not from a ruling class that kept themselves separated from the rest of the population. So, even if we assume a higher rate of population growth in the migrants, it still requires a lot of people moving in.

    What is known about the process of naming children in Minoans and Mycenaeans?

  56. David Marjanović says:

    Such as in Sparta?

    Except that Sparta was Dorians ruling over Arcadians. Mycenaean Greek already has one or two Arcado-Cypriot innovations, IIRC.

    What is known about the process of naming children in Minoans and Mycenaeans?

    In Minoans nothing as usual.

  57. What Mycenaen has in common with Arcadio-Cypriot is more probably shared primitive characters. Indeed, the same may well be true of Arcadian and Cypriot themselves.

  58. Trond Engen says:

    I found and reread Lazaridis et al.: Genetic origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans. From the abstract:

    Here we show that Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically similar, having at least three-quarters of their ancestry from the first Neolithic farmers of western Anatolia and the Aegean, and most of the remainder from ancient populations related to those of the Caucasus and Iran. However, the Mycenaeans differed from Minoans in deriving additional ancestry from an ultimate source related to the hunter-gatherers of eastern Europe and Siberia, introduced via a proximal source related to the inhabitants of either the Eurasian steppe or Armenia.

    I had noticed the almost totally dominant haplotype J Y-chromosome, seemingly associated with the Caucasus/Iran element, and the speculation (later in the paper) of genetic diffusion into Mycenaean from Balkan neighbours rather than a migration event into Mainland Greece from north, but I must have missed the inferred admixture rate of 13-18%. Four Mycenaeans is a small sample, though, so the similar genetic composition could still be a coincidence.

    Another point I missed last time is that the Caucasus/Iran element may actually represent the wave that brought Anatolian languages to Anatolia.

  59. David Marjanović says:

    But then we should expect an Anatolian substrate in Greek, right?

  60. Trond Engen says:

    Yes, probably. And an Anatolian language in Linear A. Both have been suggested. But I was careful to say “the wave that brought Anatolian languages to Anatolia”. The wave could also have picked up some Ante-Anatolian language on its way through Anatolia.

  61. David Marjanović says:

    Very good point.

    Too bad the term chain migration is taken…

  62. Trond Engen says:

    Rick: This recent paper clarifies a lot of the ancient (and modern) genetic data about the peopling of the American continents.

    I took this over in another thread.

  63. Eidolon says:

    “It isn’t like the same argument didn’t apply to Europe as well? The cave-painters, the Minoan kings and the Stonehenge builders likewise “required” a superior invading population to subjugate them all? Andronovo people weren’t Europeans. Just consider them ancient Indians, and the problem is solved.”

    The disparity in perception is logically explained by differences in history. Europe was not recently colonized by Indians; India was recently colonized by Europeans. Without this memory, it would not be much of an issue – at worst an arcane dispute between fringe nationalists about who is “closer” to the “Aryans.” But because the shadow of British rule is but seventy years old, and still relevant to discussions of Indian national identity today, sensitivity is much higher. History is always interpreted in the present, after all.

  64. The possible Anatolian substratum in Greek. But we don’t really know if the words are substratal or shared primitive characters.

  65. David Marjanović says:

    The -nd-/-nth- suffix is much more widespread in space and in the lexicon (e.g. agricultural terms), so probably comes from a common substrate. The list of possible Anatolian loanwords (which includes a few clear Wanderwörter from, at least ultimately, elsewhere) comes from this paper, which makes clear in its first footnote that it’s not arguing for Anatolian languages in Greece, and then calls Miletus the “center” of a “zone of intense Mycenaean settlement”…

  66. Speaking of Anatolian, there is a new paper that doesn’t find any Yamnaya-like ancestry in either the first horse herding Botai people, or in Copper or Early Bronze Age Anatolians (Hittites).

    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2018/05/08/science.aar7711.full

    The supplement is free.

    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/suppl/2018/05/08/science.aar7711.DC1/aar7711_de_Barros_Damgaard_SM.pdf

  67. Trond Engen says:

    Thanks. The apparent lack of Yamnaya ancestry in Anatolia has been around for a while, and this adds to the evidence.

    I’ve worked my way through the supplements, but I won’t pretend to have anything near a comprehensive understanding. Reading the paper itself might have helped with context, but at least I’ve read the article in Science and the university press release.

    The description of the Anatolian archaeological sites is interesting. Apparently they have large numbers of skeletons from defining events in the history of the Hittite empire, and a clear theory of which skeletons that group together as defending or attacking forces. This could mean that…

    1) they were able to assign ethnicities (yes, I know) to members of the different groups much more confidently than with single graves or even graveyards.

    2) the few Anatolian genomes they used for the current study is just a sample of a much larger inventory, chosen for their typicality or representativity, which would mean that the lack of steppe ancestry in Hittite Anatolia is more certain than the number suggests.

    3) there’s a much more comprehensive study of ancient Anatolian genomes coming up, detailing how they vary over time, how the sides in the dramatic events differ from eachother and who they are related to, and how each of them represent different layers in the history of Anatolia.

  68. David Marjanović says:

    Very interesting, I’ll read it tomorrow.

    Speculation: Hyllested’s *kobʰ- “slow horse*” is a loanword from the Botai people…

    * As opposed to *h₁éḱ-u- “the fast one”, Non-Anatolian *h₁éḱ-w-o-.

  69. Trond Engen says:

    Please do. But note that none of my points 1-3 are there. They are entirely speculative — or wishful thinking — based on the description of the Anatolian sites.

  70. And just to keep things interesting, today there is a pre-print paper about the ancient genetics of the Caucasus, including from the Maykop Culture.

    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/05/16/322347

  71. …today there is a pre-print paper about the ancient genetics of the Caucasus, including from the Maykop Culture.

    I give up on genetics. It’s coming in too fast and getting faster.

  72. That is true. But it does give a very fresh perspective on the interactions and relationships between ancient cultures.

  73. Trond Engen says:

    Y: I give up on genetics. It’s coming in too fast and getting faster.

    I made that observation a few days ago. And then this came.

    Still, I read the paper yesterday night. It’s not fine-grained enough to be the final word on the Caucasus, but it shows a long period of contact through the region, showing up as a steadily increasing “southern” genetic component on the steppe and likewise a “steppe” component in (especially the northern) Caucasus. I.e. the cultural mix apparent in the Maykop culture is mirrored in the development of the genetic makeup.

    Another insight is that Yamnaya, from the fourth millennium BCE, had a stream of “Anatolian” genes, but because it contained a WHG (rather than CHG/Iranian) element this must be from a different source than the Caucasus, likely an undefined (or maybe varied) source in the European farming cultures. Cucuteni/Tripolye and Globular Amphora were mentioned, but the math works just as well with Iberians, apparently, so it can’t be specified further yet. There were settlements of early farmers along the Ukrainian rivers.

    The paper mentions the increased exchange of goods and ideas in the 4th millennium, well before the Yamnaya explosion that spread IE languages. What we see in the steppe genes, then, may be that the steppe populations had developed long-distance trade (or before the horse: a web of medium distance exchange that nevertheless transmitted goods and produced added value). What we see in the Northern Caucasus may be that it was important to be connected to this web.

    Finally, the authors suggest that the ultimate IE homeland may be south of the Caucasus. This would mean that Anatolian languages never moved north, while Yamnaya was Indo-Europeanized through the Maykop culture. That could be elite replacement, but we may also imagine Maykop IE as lingua franca of the steppe trade and a long period of bilingualism. They say that a southern homeland would work for Greek and Armenian as well. This may be true in terms of genetics, but I don’t see how they could have developed outside the main body of IE.

    Also: Consider Kurdish. It may be spoken just south and west of the IE homeland, but it came there by a route north through the Caucasus, west through Ukraine, northwest to Poland, east through Belarus and down the upper/middle Volga to the Southern Urals, a long period of back and forth on the Steppe and in Central Asia, and finally south and west through Iran. Take that, parsimony!

    Rick: That is true. But it does give a very fresh perspective on the interactions and relationships between ancient cultures.

    Yes. The triangulation between genetics, archaeology and linguistics has made the Eneolithic and Bronze Age come alive in a whole new way, Just a few years ago pretty much everything before the Migration Era was considered static, with slow changes through internal development and cultural diffusion. Now it has moved to the point were every cultural change was transmitted by migration. But that’s just low-hanging fruits. With even finer grained genetic maps, I expect we’ll see a more nuanced picture, or a mosaic of tiny nuanced pictures, with periods of cultural transmission accompanied by genetic flow interchanging with major upheavals as well as periods of relative isolation. This paper, with its analysis of admixture rates over time, may be taking us in that direction. And not only in the history of Indo-Europeans. That’s just low-hanging fruit too. The spillover effects are about to do great things in Siberia.

  74. ə de vivre says:

    Also: Consider Kurdish

    Don’t say that too loud, Erdoğan might be listening…

    More seriously, where does that path come from? I’m not up on the latest reconstructions of Iranian family relations, but if the Andronovo culture represents the Indo-Iranian homeland, why would Kurdish need the extra peregrinations beyond a clockwise (or counter-clockwise, like I said, my knowledge of the Iranian language family is pretty broad strokes) turn around the Caspian into the Zargos-Taurus highlands?

  75. Trond Engen says:

    Because I wanted to overstate the case. I’m not sure the language took the full circle through Russia or if it’s just a part of the genes that did. But that Iranian formed on the central Steppe is pretty clear.

  76. SFReader says:

    This would mean that Anatolian languages never moved north

    isn’t that impossible given what we know about language contact between Hittite and Hattic?

    it strongly suggests rather recent (circa 2000-2200 BC) first contact with Hattic being the aboriginal language.

  77. ə de vivre says:

    Then there’s the presence of Indo-Aryan/Indo-Iranian theonyms in Hurrian rulers in more-or-less-current Kurdistan in the second half of the second millennium BC. So who knows what the heck in going on there…

  78. I give up on genetics. It’s coming in too fast and getting faster.

    I rely on Trond’s summaries.

  79. “Finally, the authors suggest that the ultimate IE homeland may be south of the Caucasus. This would mean that Anatolian languages never moved north, while Yamnaya was Indo-Europeanized through the Maykop culture. That could be elite replacement, but we may also imagine Maykop IE as lingua franca of the steppe trade and a long period of bilingualism. They say that a southern homeland would work for Greek and Armenian as well. This may be true in terms of genetics, but I don’t see how they could have developed outside the main body of IE.”

    I really don’t see how the authors can come to this conclusion based on the data presented. They are basically just saying that because Maykop artifacts are found in “Steppe Maykop” mound burials, it shows that they could have also passed a language to the other people of the steppe. However, the earliest Yamnaya have a distinct genetic profile, that seems to have formed before the Maykop (because it lacks the farmer ancestry) and is also distinct from the “Steppe Maykop”.

    They are basically suggesting that the CHG ancestry took the IE languages to Anatolia, Armenia, and Greece. But we can see clearly that the Minoans already had this CHG ancestry, and the Mycenaeans had an additional Yamnaya-like ancestry on top of that. Additionally, there were many non-IE speaking ancient cultures that had heavy CHG ancestry from a closely related source.

    The data definitely can not be used to suggest that Maykop were IE speakers. There is just no evidence for that.

  80. Trond Engen says:

    SFReader: isn’t [Anatolians never moving north] impossible given what we know about language contact between Hittite and Hattic?

    it strongly suggests rather recent (circa 2000-2200 BC) first contact with Hattic being the aboriginal language.

    I don’t know. Can we time the first contact that precisely? de Barros Damgaard et al. looked at genes from Hittite sites in Anatolia in a broader Eurasian context, and they included some new linguistic evidence. From Copenhagen University’s press release:

    The authors also demonstrate the oldest known Indo-European language, Hittite, did not result from a massive population migration from the Eurasian Steppe as previously claimed.

    In contrast to a series of recent studies on population movement in Europe during the Bronze Age, the new results from Asia suggest that population and language spread across the region is better understood by groups of people mixing together.

    Gojko Barjamovic, Senior Lecturer on Assyriology at Harvard University, explains:

    “In Anatolia, and parts of Central Asia, which held densely settled complex urban societies, the history of language spread and genetic ancestry is better described in terms of contact and absorption than by simply a movement of population.”

    He adds:

    “The Indo-European languages are usually said to emerge in Anatolia in the 2nd millennium BCE. However, we use evidence from the palatial archives of the ancient city of Ebla in Syria to argue that Indo-European was already spoken in modern-day Turkey in the 25th century BCE. This means that the speakers of these language must have arrived there prior to any Yamnaya expansions.”

    It’s increasingly clear that Anatolians lacked the genetic trace of an intrusion from the Steppe. That forces us to consider other options.

    Hat: I rely on Trond’s summaries.

    At your own peril.

    Rick: I really don’t see how the authors can come to this conclusion based on the data presented.

    No, and I don’t think they mean to conclude as much, just suggest the possibility. They clearly see the need to explain the discrepancy between Anatolian and Yamnaya genes. As do I. The sentence about elite replacement and lingua franca status was my shot at how this might have happened.

    But as I said above, the description of the archaeological sites in the supplementary materials to de Barros Damgaard et al makes me think there’s a larger study of the genetics of battles in ancient Hittite cities coming up. That might turn things around.

  81. “It’s increasingly clear that Anatolians lacked the genetic trace of an intrusion from the Steppe. That forces us to consider other options.”

    Right. There were definitely not massive IE migrations at this early time, because we don’t see anything obvious from the first handful of genomes. And so, the source and direction of movement of the common PIE language are now again unclear.

    What is clear is that (other than Anatolian) the Indo-European languages we’re initially spread from large-scale migrations of Yamnaya-like populations.

  82. Trond Engen says:

    And so, the source and direction of movement of the common PIE language are now again unclear.

    I don’t think it is. Surely I don’t mean to suggest anything like that. What may be unclear, but that never was very clear anyway, is what happened before the Yamnaya explosion spread IE languages left, right and center. But I do agree that the conclusion of the article is muddling the matters by being, er, not clear enough in its adherence to the Yamnaya account. Even the rejection of a direct eastward spread of Indo-Iranian comes through as somewhat preliminary.

    What is clear is that (other than Anatolian) the Indo-European languages we’re initially spread from large-scale migrations of Yamnaya-like populations.

    Quite right. And surprises like the Corded Ware element in Indo-Iranian don’t change the big picture.

    I also agree that there’s much room for change in Anatolia when more genomes get sequenced.

  83. David Marjanović says:

    Very interesting, I’ll read it tomorrow.

    …by which I mean tomorrow, or the day after. I’ve started reading the preprint on the genetic history of the Caucasus, though.

    if the Andronovo culture represents the Indo-Iranian homeland

    People buried by the Andronovo culture, as well as people living in northern India today, have enough Early European Farmer ancestry that they must be descended from people who first went west from the Yamnaya culture before turning back east and beyond.

    isn’t that impossible given what we know about language contact between Hittite and Hattic?

    Hittite isn’t indigenous to Hattusas. That doesn’t mean it can’t be indigenous to Kanes, or perhaps to Armenia or whatever. There’s a lot of space in and around Anatolia.

    Then there’s the presence of Indo-Aryan/Indo-Iranian theonyms in Hurrian rulers in more-or-less-current Kurdistan in the second half of the second millennium BC. So who knows what the heck in going on there…

    One of them is Indra, who seems to come from the BMAC much farther east.

    we use evidence from the palatial archives of the ancient city of Ebla in Syria to argue that Indo-European was already spoken in modern-day Turkey in the 25th century BCE

    Oho! We’re almost getting close to Euphratic here.

  84. “One of them is Indra, who seems to come from the BMAC much farther east.”

    This is especially interesting because (now that we have BMAC genomes) there is no evidence that the main BMAC population contributed at all genetically to later South Asians, but steppe communities did mix into the BMAC population.

    This genetic information actually fits well with earlier assumptions.

    Although, if Soma also comes from BMAC, then that might rule out it being Ephreda, but I’m not positive on the geography.

  85. Trond Engen says:

    ə de vivre: Then there’s the presence of Indo-Aryan/Indo-Iranian theonyms in Hurrian rulers in more-or-less-current Kurdistan in the second half of the second millennium BC. So who knows what the heck in going on there…

    The Indo-Aryan element in Mitanni is quite well explained as Indo-Aryan specialists in horses, chariots and composite bows, innovations that spread across the Middle East in the early 17th century BCE. Kurdic languages came later, maybe in the same wave as the Medes, sometime around 1100 BCE. As Northwest Iranians the Medes are closely related to the Kurds, linguistically speaking, but probably not directly ancestral. We may also consider the Cimmerian invasion(s) of the 8th-7th centuries BC, but I tout them as the ancestors of the Armenians.

    David M.: Hittite isn’t indigenous to Hattusas. That doesn’t mean it can’t be indigenous to Kanes, or perhaps to Armenia or whatever. There’s a lot of space in and around Anatolia.

    We need to make room for more than one Anatolian language, but Luwian and the lesser known languages of western Anatolia may perhaps have developed in their attested locations. It would be nice to have a date on the wave of “Caucasus/Iran” genes spreading west through Anatolia.

    Oho! We’re almost getting close to Euphratic here.

    Whittaker’s Euphratic is clearly Non-Anatolian, as I recall. And weirdly early.

  86. ə de vivre says:

    Er, yeah, I didn’t mean to suggest that the Indo-Aryan elite of the Mitanni were ancestors of the modern Kurds (they’re on the wrong side of the Indo-Iranian divide), only that it’s interesting that Indo-Aryan personal names show up so far west. Wandering steppe elites is a pretty plausible explanation, though it’s my understanding that evidence for horsemanship shows up at Hurrian Urkesh before detectable Indo-Aryan presence.

    I’d be curious to see what these supposed “Indo-European” words in the Ebla archives are. Colour me dubious. And Whittaker’s Euphratic is mostly wishful thinking.

  87. Trond Engen says:

    I’d be curious to see what these supposed “Indo-European” words in the Ebla archives are.

    Yeah, me too.

  88. David Marjanović says:

    Whittaker’s Euphratic is mostly wishful thinking

    Not so fast.

    And yes, it does seem to be non-Anatolian, fully formed feminine and all.

  89. David Marjanović says:

    “The Indo-European languages are usually said to emerge in Anatolia in the 2nd millennium BCE. However, we use evidence from the palatial archives of the ancient city of Ebla in Syria to argue that Indo-European was already spoken in modern-day Turkey in the 25th century BCE. This means that the speakers of these language must have arrived there prior to any Yamnaya expansions.”

    I’ve now read the paper. There’s nothing about linguistics in the supplementary information. But ref. 49 is this “Linguistic supplement”, which really ought to have been supplementary information but has only 3 authors. Page 6 lists a bunch of names with distinctively Anatolian roots and/or endings, said to belong to people from a place called Armi which has not been identified but controlled Ebla’s access to Anatolia-associated things like metals. I recommend the whole thing.

    Ref. 48 is “Archaeological supplement A”. Archaeological supplement B is not cited in the paper at all, but is cited in the linguistic supplement…

  90. David Marjanović says:

    Archaeological supplement A. Abstract:

    We present a brief archaeological summary of the main phases of cultural and social change in the Western, Central, and South Asia ca. 4000-1500 BCE as a contextual framework for the findings presented in Damgaard et al. 2018. We stress the role of the Caucasus as a conduit in Western Asia linking the steppe and Eastern Europe with Anatolia, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. We track the emergence of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) in Central Asia as a cultural melting pot between the steppe and the sown lands during a period of more than a millennium. And we highlight indicators of cultural and commercial exchange, tracking developments in technology as well as social and political organization that came about as part of complex processes of interaction in a region stretching from South Asia to the Mediterranean.

    Interesting phrase, “the sown lands”.

    Like the linguistic supplement, this is in a tiny, thin font with 2 pages per PDF page.

  91. David Marjanović says:

    Archaeological supplement B. Abstract:

    The archaeological evidence relating to selected key cultures from Central and East Asia from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age is summarized. These cultures include the Eneolithic (Copper Age) Botai culture of northern Kazakhstan, the Bronze Age Okunevo culture from the Minusinsk Basin in Russia and Neolithic to Bronze Age cultures of the Baikal Region in East Siberia. Special consideration is given to the debate surrounding horse domestication within the Botai Culture, and the key lines of evidence are summarized.

    The linguistic supplement consistently renders “Okunevo” as Okunëvo. Good to know, I wouldn’t have guessed.

    Given that the Zenodo numbers are not consecutive, I wonder if there are any more secret supplements.

  92. SFReader says:

    Okunevo culture is named after Bronze Age mound in Okunev ulus in Khakas Republic of southern Siberia.

    The name Okunev is of Khakas origin and unrelated to Russian surname Okunev and Russian placename Okunevo (from Russian okun’- European perch).

    The original Khakas surname was Okunner (lambs in Khakas).

    So Okunëvo referring to Bronze Age archeological culture is both factually wrong and cultural appropriation at its worst.

  93. David Marjanović says:

    Ouch.

  94. Interesting phrase, “the sown lands”.

    The Desert & The Sown.

    So Okunëvo referring to Bronze Age archeological culture is both factually wrong and cultural appropriation at its worst.

    So how should it be stressed? There are a number of places called О́кунево with initial stress, but that too is of Russian rather than Khakas origin.

  95. SFReader says:

    If it was purely Khakas word it would be stressed on the last syllable.

    But it’s not – it’s Russian placename of Khakas origin, so I am not sure which language’s stress rules apply.

    Incidentially, traditional English spelling Okunevo culture is wrong too. In Russian, it’s Okunevskaya kultura from Okunev ulus. The adjective Okunevskaya can be formed both from Okunev and Okunevo – the former is masculine, because ulus is masculine in Russian, the latter is neuter, because it refers to selo (village with a church) which is neuter. If it was derevnya (village without a church) it would become Okunevka (for some reason all derevnyas get dimunituve suffix -k)

  96. Huh, that’s complicated. I guess until I hear otherwise I’ll mentally say Okunévo with penultimate stress.

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