How Basque Has Survived.

I don’t listen to podcasts, and I don’t link to a lot of audio stuff here, because I’m basically a [written-]word guy. But I do listen to the radio, and PRI’s show The World in Words is so exactly up my alley I’ve posted about it more than once (e.g., here). A recent episode (apparently first aired in May, though I heard it yesterday) is described thus:

This week on the podcast we talk about Basque. With more than six dialects, how did Basque develop a language standard? How did this language survive the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco when speaking, writing and reading it were illegal? How has this minority language thrived and even grown in the years since Franco’s dictatorship ended? And what does the future hold?

The main focus, thankfully, is not on the “what does the future hold” stuff but on the fascinating story of how it developed a language standard and the dramatic tale of the guy who translated Shakespeare into Basque and saved his work when a ship was attacked by Germans during WWII. It’s a little over a half-hour long, and at the bottom of the linked page is the “Podcast Contents,” which will tell you what bits occur when. (I haven’t listened to “How soccer became multilingual” yet, but I’ll bet it’s a lot of fun as well.)

Comments

  1. This is something of a tangent, but I wonder if what discussion there has been on the role that AI will have on the future of minority languages (and on the role of English as a lingua franca). When machine translation becomes good enough, many of the practical problems with speaking a minority language will disappear. It will become possible to translate any smartphone app or any biochemistry textbook into Basque very quickly. It would even become possible to travel the world without knowing any English or foreign languages since one will probably be able to communicate through a smartphone translation app. Also much of the need for anyone to learn a foreign language, even English, unless he or she wants to will diminish.

    I certainly don’t think this is an exaggeration of the potential of artificial intelligence in the near future.

  2. I’m confused, do podcasts not consist of words?

  3. I’m basically a word guy

    Podcasts are of course made of words, so you are basically a text guy. (So am I.) I think podcasts basically have two audiences: pre-Clarkeans who can’t read while they travel (Arthur C. Clarke said that it would be impossible for him to own a car in its currrent state of evolution: the car would own him), and subvocalizers who can’t read any faster than they could read aloud.

    I certainly don’t think this is an exaggeration of the potential of artificial intelligence in the near future.

    I do. General artificial intelligence, like sustained nuclear fusion, has been ten years away since 1950.

  4. I think it’s clear he means the written word. Which then begs the question (yes, I know, I know…) why does radio work for him? I think we can not read into it so much and move on.

  5. I’m confused, do podcasts not consist of words?

    Sorry for the inexactitude; I’ve emended the sentence to clarify.

    I certainly don’t think this is an exaggeration of the potential of artificial intelligence in the near future.

    Good lord, of course it is. There’s not going to be that kind of AI in my lifetime, and maybe never.

  6. It will become possible to translate any smartphone app or any biochemistry textbook into Basque very quickly.

    I don’t know Basque, so I can’t judge quality of machine translation from English into Basque, but it is easy to check how well Google Translate copes with translation from Basque into English.

    Here is the result of Google-translating Basque Wikipedia article on biochemistry:

    “Biochemistry is a science that investigates the chemical suppositories of living organisms. These chemical supplements are called biomolecules: glucose, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids, vitamins, etc. In all these biomolecules there is carbon, which is the basic element of organic chemistry. But besides carbon, the molecules of living beings are mainly composed of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur.
    Biokimics also investigates all the chemical reactions that are taking place in the biomolecular structure. The set of these chemical reactions is called metabolism.
    Biochemistry explores the chemical bases of life. All living organisms exchange materials and energy with the environment, and they focus on this exchange through some chemical reactions of the metabolism. Biochemistry investigates the internal reactions that occur within the cell and the internal cellulose organisms.”

    Surprisingly well, it turns out. Back in college, we had translated textbooks of much worse quality.

  7. “There’s not going to be that kind of AI in my lifetime, and maybe never.”

    Do you really think so? A lot of people would disagree with you. Of course it is difficult to separate the hype from what is real. The technology companies have an interest in making claims even when they aren’t fulfilled (they can always say they’re on the verge of success).

    I’m a radiologist, every radiology congress nowadays has numerous lectures about how soon and in what way computers are going to surpass radiologists. It might be exaggerated, but they take it very seriously. Although it’s very different, I doubt that what radiologists do is easier from an AI perspective than translation. After all, Google translate is already pretty good (even though of course it’s easy to find examples of ridiculous mistakes it makes).

  8. Lars (not the original one) says

    Hat, in the olden days there were courses like “Russian for scientists”. The fact is, there is a big difference between literary translation and working with restricted domains such as scientific texts or weather forecasts (to pick a very small one).
    Where I live, the names of bus stops are now spoken by speech synthesizers. With few exceptions, it works well.

  9. A lot of people would disagree with you.

    A lot of people believe all sorts of nonsense. If you really doubt that what radiologists do is easier from an AI perspective than translation, you should try your hand at translation. And not of biochemistry articles or radiology textbooks, which are after all written in languages only because it can’t all be expressed in symbols, but of literature or conversations. Language is immensely complicated, and for AI to handle it properly would require actual human intelligence, which (as I say) is not going to happen in the foreseeable future.

  10. marie-lucie says

    Biochemistry is a science that investigates the chemical suppositories of living organisms.

    Most of the paragraph quoted looks fine to this non-chemist, but is suppositories correct in this context?

  11. I wonder how much of the semantics, and maybe even some of the syntax, of that Basque text is Spanish under the covers. I suspect quite a bit.

    See also Lameen’s post on why having “no word for X” can matter.

  12. Lars (the original one) says

    On the other hand, neural networks (which are only intelligent in the sense that a slime mold is) have been very successful in domains where most people fifty — or ten — years ago assumed that general artificial intelligence would be needed.

    So if all you need to travel the world as a monoglot Dane is a glorified slime mold in your smartphone, the game has indeed changed.

    (I still don’t like the new Google Translate, but that’s mainly because the user interface has been designed by a human to suppress all alternatives).

  13. Not much.

    Here is first sentence in the original. Try to find “Spanish under the covers”:

    Biokimika izaki bizidunen osagarri kimikoak ikertzen dituen zientzia da. Osagarri kimiko hauek biomolekula izenekoak dira: gluzidoak, lipidoak, proteinak , azido nukleikoak, bitaminak, etab. Biomolekula horietan guztietan karbonoa dago, hau baita kimika organikoaren oinarrizko elementua. Baina karbonoz gain, izaki bizidunen molekulak hidrogenoz, oxigenoz, nitrogenoz, fosforoz eta sufrez daude batez ere osatuta.

  14. Considering that I know neither Spanish nor Basque, here’s what I see there (not looking at the English):

    Biochemistry izaki bizidunen osagarri chemistry ikertzen dituen science da. Osagarri chemistry hauek biomolecular izenekoak dira: sugars, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids, vitamins, etab. Biomolecular horietan guztietan carbon dago, hau baita organic chemistry oinarrizko elements. Baina carbon gain, izaki bizidunen hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus molecules eta sufrez daude batez ere osatuta.

  15. marie-lucie says

    JC: If you translated the paragraph into most European languages, you would find very similar technical words, so it is not just Spanish under Basque, it is Greco-Latinish under Spanish, English, French, Italian, etc.

  16. I agree that AI is often wildly overhyped. Try asking any of the neural net fans exactly what their black boxes are doing– they have no idea.

    Back when I was an undergraduate, I attended a lecture by a famous AI specialist. He strode to the blackboard, drew a big ‘N’ on the board, and then drew a big box around the ‘N’. He said: ‘We start with– Nature’.

  17. I wasn’t talking about literary translation here — I don’t mean that the next English translation of The Brothers Karamazov will be done by machine.

    Already today it’s possible to successfully chat on the internet with someone via translation software rather than use a common language that neither knows well, as long as both parties are aware that idiomatic expressions might be misunderstood. It depends to some degree on what languages are in question.

    I have done some informal translation work in my life, not literature, but maybe I can say I “tried my hand at it”. Or at any rate I can say that the concept of translation is familiar to me. I’m bilingual, the task of translating conversations does not exactly faze me.

    Do you know anything about radiology? Have you tried your hand at it? Do you expect it’s easy? Maybe one might think that radiology is likely to be a easier task for AI because it isn’t as natural to the human brain as a linguistic task like translation. I doubt either of us has the expertise required to evaluate how the validity of that statement. But a free online tool like Google Translate is better at translation than any existing AI that I am aware of is at radiology.

    Translation does not require “actual human intelligence,” anyway.

    Look at
    https://blogs.microsoft.com/ai/machine-translation-news-test-set-human-parity/

    and

    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/blog/microsoft-researchers-achieve-new-conversational-speech-recognition-milestone/

    Okay, it’s Microsoft’s own website, so maybe it’s somewhat exaggerated. I don’t know, but I don’t they actually lying.

  18. I wasn’t talking about literary translation here

    No, of course not; once we start talking about literary translation, the whole idea falls apart. You can only imagine such a thing if you’re focusing on things that barely need translation, like scientific articles; in that case, sure, Google can do it, but to call that “AI” is to set the bar so low as to be meaningless.

    Do you know anything about radiology? Have you tried your hand at it? Do you expect it’s easy?

    Of course not; I simply expect that machines will be able to do it long before they can do literary translation. I could be wrong now, but I don’t think so (to quote Randy Newman).

    But a free online tool like Google Translate is better at translation than any existing AI that I am aware of is at radiology.

    Doubtless, but that’s completely irrelevant.

    Translation does not require “actual human intelligence,” anyway.

    Well, that’s what you have to believe in order to believe that AI can do it. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

  19. Why does Lameen’s post link here?

  20. Well, that’s what you have to believe in order to believe that AI can do it. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

    Oh, I don’t believe that machines will never be able to do literary translation. Humans are machines, and some of us can do it, after all. I just don’t believe that we can make such a machine (except by biological reproduction) in the foreseeable future.

  21. The idea of my original comment was to speculate that machine translation will perhaps improve the chances that languages like Basque have of surviving. I was wondering whether anyone else has any ideas about this. In the podcast, one of the problems with Basque was said to be that by the time smartphone apps and Playstation games are translated into Basque, the versions have become outdated. Computers obviously have the potential to speed up that kind of translation work considerably and one day even to do it more or less autonomously.

    “No, of course not; once we start talking about literary translation, the whole idea falls apart. You can only imagine such a thing if you’re focusing on things that barely need translation, like scientific articles; in that case, sure, Google can do it, but to call that “AI” is to set the bar so low as to be meaningless.”

    Another thing that people worry about is that even national languages like Swedish suffer domain loss because all technical and scientific writing is done in English. Here also machine translation could potentially counter this trend. If scientific articles “barely need translation,” then it makes sense, doesn’t it?

  22. Even compared with other technical texts, Wikipedia articles are not a good idea for testing translation quality, because there are often many parallel texts in multiple languages. You are basically running the algorithm on training data.

    Yet, even so, the Basque to English translation contains several errors that are trivial for a human to correct. Neither “suppositories” nor “supplements” are right, and the translation produces these two words (cognates, but not that close in meaning) where the structure of the text most naturally calls for the same word to be repeated twice. Even more glaring, the algorithm fails to translate one instance of “biokimics,” even though the very subject of the article is biochemistry.

    Of course, natural language processing is one of those areas where the human brain is exceedingly well tuned. So, by the way, is radiology. While we did not evolve directly to read x-ray films, image processing and three dimensional visualization are areas where human skill is so far beyond that of machines that it is difficult to give a useful comparison of the two.

    Doing integrals, on the other hand, is something computers have mastered. Moreover, it is not just a brute force challenge, but requires some guess and check. By twenty years ago, Mathematica could evaluate definite integrals that no human ever could. And the integration algorithm is itself written by another computer program, just like the androids in Westworld. The current integators are still improving at a rapid rate. Expressions that were in intractable a few years ago can now be simplified, and within the foreseeable future, boundary value problems for partial differential equations (which, like integrals, benefit from massive computational capacity, yet also require some art in selecting the right technique to use) may become a similarly solved domain.

  23. David Marjanović says

    On the difficulties of machine translation, some of these items apply.

    I think podcasts basically have two audiences: pre-Clarkeans who can’t read while they travel (Arthur C. Clarke said that it would be impossible for him to own a car in its currrent state of evolution: the car would own him), and subvocalizers who can’t read any faster than they could read aloud.

    There’s a third: multitaskers who can listen to something and focus on it well enough while doing household chores. So, not me. I practically never listen to podcasts because I can’t do anything else at the same time – and yet they don’t occupy me enough that my mind wouldn’t wander.

    Why does Lameen’s post link here?

    Probably the <a> tag was empty.

  24. Supposing we stay away from buzzwords—what’s “AI” as opposed to any other software?—still, can computers help in language maintenance, of Basque or any other beleaguered languages?

    I imagine two scenarios, both unconvincing. One is that knowledge of majority languages (say Spanish) would be less essential, because adequate translation from the minority language (say Basque) would be instantly available, and Basque speakers would be less pressured to shift. The other is that second-language (Basque) learners could get instant translation of difficult phrases from Basque to (Spanish), something like a more efficient pocket dictionary).

    Either case seems like something potentially useful, but not a game changer.

  25. Speaking of radiology, a real life familiar example of computer-assisted radiology is that of luggage radiology in airports, where software assists in coloring areas of interest in the radiogram.
    Medical radiology is different, in that the stakes are higher, and a radiologist is directly liable for anything they might miss, which is a matter of life and death far more often than in luggage radiography. The assistance is welcome, but it can’t be the last word.

  26. Yes, as long as we stick to “helpful when supervised by humans” we can go a long way with AI (if we must call it that). It’s when we start talking about equivalence with humans (or superiority) that I jib.

  27. Kristian, as a doctor (training to be a GP with a lot of emergency medicine work and exams on the side; five years post graduation) with a background in software development (first degree was very heavy on computational linguistics, which was a big AI area of interest before the AI winter of the late 80s and 90s) and multilingualism (a certain amount of actual professional translation work for money), I have a few comments on what you said:

    — The Basques are not going to stop learning Spanish, Spanish is a major world language that is a practical necessity in life in the Kingdom of Spain. Smartphone apps and biochemistry textbooks in Basque would be a nice-to-have, but they cope fine with Spanish, and better than their monolingual compatriots with English. The people who would benefit most from immediate machine translation are monoglots who speak a language that no-one wealthy speaks; and of course, monoglot Bengali peasants have a) poor software support for their languages and b) not many smartphones

    — It’s already possible to travel the world without knowing any English or foreign languages, you just need a lot of money and to be prepared to be pay someone to interpret for you and/or be ripped off. The Japanese saw a lot of the world in the 1980s and 1990s!

    — It would be much more realistic to outsource radiology work to countries with a low cost of living, than for AI to take it over. It would be perfectly practical for most diagnostic reads of CTs and MRIs in my part of the world (and probably yours) to be done in Pakistan. But it hasn’t happened, and isn’t happening. Which leads to the next point:

    — Your value to the hospital (or to your health service) is in large part that you are a credentialed professional who can take legal responsibility for his interpretation of the images. No AI company is going to do that in the next three decades. Look at the computer ECG interpretations; if they say ‘Normal Sinus Rhythm’ these days it is always a reassuring finding, but they’re not standing behind it from a legal perspective. And the machines have been interpreting ECGs for decades.

    — So, yes, to be honest, saying AI is going to replace radiologists is hubris. It may increase throughput; the limited question of ‘is there a new intracranial bleed on this CT?’ would likely lend itself well to analysis by AI, for sign-off by a radiologist. But hospitals and health systems will still want a radiologist’s sign-off, certainly for the next three decades or so. And there are any number of more complicated clinical questions that won’t lend themselves to automation.

    — The paid translation I have done has been of patents, from German to English. I found corpus tools an excellent support for this, but machine translation was of limited benefit. Someone I am closely acquainted with did more general paid translation between other more minority languages, usually with involvement of English, and she tended to start from the Google Translate version and edit until she was happy with it. I get the impression a lot of paid online translation is done in this way, given the agreements she had to sign that she would not use online machine translation in her work.

    — I do the usual superficial radiology work expected of a generalist, I read my own chest X-rays and extremity X-rays, I look through the CTs to make sure there is nothing gross that I can pick up in case (God forbid) the radiologist is in the middle of a difficult divorce or something and reports a definite bleed as normal. I also do a reasonable amount of low-risk obstetric ultrasound and will pick up gall bladder stones or free abdominal fluid in the right clinical context.

    — From my perspective the work involved in the two (radiology vs. translation) is comparable, but the legal and social context is not. A little bit like when I’m home on the farm and read the vet column in the Farmers Journal, where the pathology is in large part identical and the decisions made are completely different!

    The AI people were promising something like today’s Google Translate thirty years ago, and it wasn’t their techniques that were used for it in the end. If someone is using ‘artificial intelligence’ to sell their product in all seriousness, invest in the other guy.

  28. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    Biochemistry is a science that investigates the chemical suppositories of living organisms.

    Most of the paragraph quoted looks fine to this non-chemist, but is suppositories correct in this context?

    As a biochemist I agree that the translation is surprisingly good. Suppositories is indeed wrong, and, more obviously Biokimics is also wrong. I thought that the Basque word Biokimikak might be a calque of Spanish Bioquímicos (Biochemists). Apparently it’s not, but the meaning is clear. The Basque seems to be translated from the English rather than the Spanish.

    There doesn’t seem to be much correlation between the closeness of the language to English and the quality of the translation that Google Translate produces. A few years ago someone commented (here, I think) that it does a remarkably good job with Hausa, and on checking this myself I found it to be true — I don’t know any more Hausa than I do Basque (none at all), but translations from the BBC’s Hausa service are always intelligible. On the other hand Google Translate does a remarkably poor job with French and Spanish (at least, it did a few years ago when I was checking the Hausa) making elementary errors.

  29. Aidan: Very knowledgeable and convincing, thanks!

  30. The word Google translates as “suppository” and “supplement” is osagarri, “component”. The word is derived from oso “whole” and can mean “medication” or “medical treatment” as well as “element” or “component”. I’m guessing what happened here is that the algorithm has seen the word “suppository” used in human-translated sentences that have osagarri in the corresponding Basque version (because medications are sometimes delivered this way) and so it thinks “suppository” is a possible translation of osagarri.

    With “biokimics”, the problem seems to be that the Basque suffix -ak marks both absolutive plural and ergative singular, (It’s ergative in this case.) The algorithm correctly puts the translation of biokimikak at the beginning of the English sentence because it’s the subject, but it also wants the English translation to have an s on the end, so what it does here is invent a Basque-English hybrid word, “biokimics”, even though it correctly translates the absolutive form biokimika as “biochemistry” elsewhere.

    Google’s translations are getting better, and this translation is surprisingly coherent, but a fundamental problem is that, unlike a human translator, the algorithm doesn’t know what the words mean, so problems like this are inevitable even when it gets better and better at parsing syntax.

    Side note that has nothing to do with AI: The phrase izaki bizidunak “living things” used several times in the article (“beings that have life”) has the same structure as the word euskaldunak discussed in the World in Words episode, “(people who) have the Basque language”.

  31. . On the other hand Google Translate does a remarkably poor job with French and Spanish (at least, it did a few years ago when I was checking the Hausa) making elementary errors.

    It got much better recently with these languages. With Spanish, it’s now so good you can safely enjoy google-translated novels.

    Example:

    – Six shields. That should be enough.
    The friar shrugged, as if to say that no amount was too much when he was handed over to a servant of God. He returned to the orphanage, where he called two other younger friars, who came to take care of the boy.
    The commissioner reassembled, but when he was going to start the old man grabbed the animal’s mouthful.
    – Wait, your honor. Who should I tell him that he is his savior, so that he may take him into account in his prayers?
    The man was silent for a moment, his eyes lost in the tenebrous streets of Seville. He was about to refuse to answer, but had gone through too many bad drinks in life, too many trials and disappointments to waste a prayer in exchange for his six shields. He turned his sad eyes to the friar.
    – Tell him to pray for Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the king’s supply commissar.

  32. Craig: Thanks very much for that informative comment — I love that someone who knows Basque can show up and help out!

  33. Lars (the original one) says

    Another thing that GT cannot do yet is adjusting for variant / old fashioned spellings — as we have seen several times. I occasionally try to talk to a French person who insists on using GT and message in English, but whose spelling is such (lacking distinctions between homonyms) that the only way to make sense of the resulting hash is to guess at the pretranslated text and mentally adjust it to ‘proper’ French.

  34. marie-lucie says

    A few years ago someone commented (here, I think) that [Google Translate] does a remarkably good job with Hausa, … On the other hand Google Translate does a remarkably poor job with French and Spanish (at least, it did a few years ago …making elementary errors).

    This could have been because of the human translators working for GT. Hausa is not commonly taught to non-Africans and as a result the translators must have been native Hausa speakers also highly educated in English. But for Spanish and (probably especially) French, the translators must have been native English speakers with a good but not native-like knowledge of those languages. If they have greatly improved the Spanish translations, they must be using better qualified translators. I can’t say anything for the French counterparts as I try not to read English-to-French translations.

  35. Craig, I wonder if you can explain the end of this paragraph from a piece about translations of Shakespeare into Basque dialects:
    It was in such a situation that Toribio Altzaga came to the fore. Like Soroa, he was born in Donostia-San Sebastian and was the founder of modern Basque theatre and managed to raise the level of the theatre in Gipuzkoa without taking away its folk character. He came up with numerous comedies in that respect and translated several more such as Pierre Loti’s Ramuntcho or [sic] Shakespeare’s Macbeth. That was undoubtedly the first version of the renowned English playwright’s work ever translated into Basque and was published under the title Irritza.

    Why Irritza? I get irritate for that, from Google Translate.

  36. According to my Basque dictionary, irrits is ‘ardent desire, passion, lust; ambition.’

  37. Passion would be a pretty good title for Macbeth.

    It’s important not to use machine translation on the outgoing side if you can help it. It’s no courtesy to someone who uses another language to try to send them a text machine-translated from your language, because you may not be saying what you mean to say. Better to write in your own language and let the recipient use human or machine translation or their own knowledge of your language.

  38. irrits is ‘ardent desire, passion, lust; ambition.’
    Aha. I knew there must be more to it. I suppose Mac- is problematic for anyone who’s having a go at translating the title.

    Passion would be a pretty good title.
    McLust

  39. There’s not going to be that kind of AI in my lifetime, and maybe never

    Given an invention that is “always 10 years away”, most experts are going to continue to say so even at the point when someone in fact already has a working prototype in their garage and is three days away from unveiling it (or, perhaps, has already unveiled it to a great reception in local papers); which is to say: “experts say is X years away” is not much more than a standardized phrase meaning “we have no idea”.

    (“I don’t think most of the discourse about AGI being far away (or that it’s near) is being generated by models of future progress in machine learning. I don’t think we’re looking at wrong models; I think we’re looking at no models. (…) In reality, the two-year problem is hard and the ten-year problem is laughably hard. The future is hard to predict in general, our predictive grasp on a rapidly changing and advancing field of science and engineering is very weak indeed, and it doesn’t permit narrow credible intervals on what can’t be done.”[1])

  40. Why did Shakespeare call it Macbeth?

    Edited on realizing that it’s very loosely based on a historical figure.

  41. Well, the title in the First Folio was “The Tragedie of Macbeth”; who knows what Shakespeare called it?

  42. Stu Clayton says

    The name of the song is called “Haddocks’ Eyes.”‘

    `Oh, that’s the name of the song, is it?’ Alice said, trying to feel interested.

    `No, you don’t understand,’ the Knight said, looking a little vexed. `That’s what the name is called. The name really is “The Aged Aged Man.”‘

    `Then I ought to have said “That’s what the song is called”?’ Alice corrected herself.

    `No, you oughtn’t: that’s quite another thing! The song is called “Ways and Means”: but that’s only what it’s called, you know!’

    `Well, what is the song, then?’ said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.

    `I was coming to that,’ the Knight said. `The song really is “A-sitting On A Gate”: and the tune’s my own invention.’

  43. But of course the penultimate statement is wrong, as Martin Gardner points out: “the song really is” should be followed immediately by the Knight singing it, not by specifying yet another name.

  44. Stu Clayton says

    “Should” shoots off on a captious tangent. Carroll is dicking around with idioms. The mutually interfering semantics can be mulled over by a prying mind, if there is such a mind on the premises.

  45. January First-of-May says

    IMHO, there is a song reference that would fit in after “the song really is…” – the default title in the absence of others, which for a song (or poem) is well-established as the first line; in this case, “I’ll tell thee everything I can…”
    (Sure enough, the song that Alice recognizes it being the tune for is referred to by its first line.)

    Apparently some collections do refer to it as such. Wikipedia, of course, has it under “Haddocks’ Eyes”, which, I believe, is the more common option.

  46. The fascination of the non-linguists with the survival of the Basque hit a fever pitch with the recent publication of the genetic transect of ancient and modern Spain, which revealed that while most Spaniards are product of admixture of North African and Mediterranean elements (which started a few centuries before the Romans and accelerated in Roman times), the Basque retain a formerly pan-peninsular Iron Age genetic makeup, which is itself a legacy of massive Bronze age migration of the descendants of Steppe pastoralists. The Bronze age migrations replaced nearly half of the region’s DNA (and almost all of its Y-chromosomal DNA, essentially obliterating the male lineages of the earlier era).
    But there is a catch. Aren’t the male-dominated migrations of the descendants of the Steppe warriors supposed to spread Indo-European languages? Why the link with the Basque?

    watch the perplexed DNA aficionados here:
    http://eurogenes.blogspot.com/2019/03/open-thread-what-are-linguistic.html

    (an added bonus: Carthaginian colonies near today’s Barcelona seem to be genetically similar to the Mycenaeans)

  47. I toyed with idea of very late Indo-Europeanization of Western Europe before.

    Main idea – it started during Late Bronze Age collapse (circa 13th century BC), not much earlier. And the process was completed with the conquest of Ireland by Celts from Britain during Roman times.

    This gives us plenty of time to assign early Kurgan invaders to, say, Basques (let’s make their homeland North Caucasus as usual).

  48. David Marjanović says

    But there is a catch. Aren’t the male-dominated migrations of the descendants of the Steppe warriors supposed to spread Indo-European languages? Why the link with the Basque?

    I’d say IE-speaking men married into Pre-Aquitanian communities one by one, without bringing their whole culture with them.

  49. I’d say IE-speaking men married into Pre-Aquitanian communities one by one
    given that 40% of the overall gene pool have been replaced, and as much as 100% of the Y-chromosomes, it’s hard to imagine a trickle of migrant men being gradually assimilated as they move in. A better hypothesis might be an exceptional societal situation where mothers’, rather than father’s, language is retained despite the power of the males … or, of course, a hypothesis that the Bronze-age, male-dominated migrations were what brought the Basque languages into the Pyrenees area.

  50. David Eddyshaw says

    an exceptional societal situation where mothers’, rather than father’s, language is retained despite the power of the males

    It’s happened pretty often in the bits of West Africa I know; ethnic group membership is patrilineal, but people grow up speaking their mother’s language. I was first given a Kusaal Bible by a Mamprussi colleague who spoke only Kusaal and no Mampruli; he was quite typical of local Mamprussi. The whole area is claimed by the Mamprussi historically, whom the British (Lord love ’em) decided were the traditional rulers after they (the Brits) annexed the region. Actually consulting the locals would only have been confusing, and would presumably have set a very bad precedent …

  51. John Cowan says

    The whole area is claimed by the Mamprussi historically, whom the British (Lord love ’em) decided were the traditional rulers after they (the Brits) annexed the region. Actually consulting the locals would only have been confusing, and would presumably have set a very bad precedent …

    Perhaps on the contrary the Brits did consult them and got either of: “Oh yes, of course we are the traditional rulers!” or “Well, those people claim to be the traditional rulers, yes.”

  52. Probably the worst British colonial mistake was in India where they mistook the zamindar tax collectors for landowners.

  53. Trond Engen says

    Dmitry: A better hypothesis might be an exceptional societal situation where mothers’, rather than father’s, language is retained despite the power of the males … or, of course, a hypothesis that the Bronze-age, male-dominated migrations were what brought the Basque languages into the Pyrenees area.

    Thought-provoking.

    I don’t remember the DNA stuff in enough detail to give dates and percentages, but recent papers have shown that there was a genetic switcheroo on the Steppes. The original Pitgravian Kurganists were R1b. R1a were at the time in the Old European cultures of Poland and thereabouts. When Steppe populations moved into Globular Amphora and formed Corded Ware, they incorporated some R1A, and when Corded Ware expanded, the branch spreading north and east through Russia, and eventually back to the Steppe, was predominantly R1A, while the branch staying in Northern Central Europe and going westwards and contributing to Bell Beaker was R1B. It’s almost tempting to propose that Yamnaya was Pre-Proto-Basque and Indo-European came from Globular Amphora. Except that this will hardly work for Balkan IE and not at all for Anatolian.

    But the standard story doesn’t work for Anatolian either. So maybe Yamnaya was a multilingual confederacy. Basque may have come from the original Steppe population and Indo-European from the Majkop element. With time and drift the two got sorted apart, with the purely R1b Basque-speaking clans becoming dominant in westernmost Europe and the somewhat more diverse Indo-Europeans gaining advantage in central and eastern parts.

    I’m generally more eager to see Pre-Proto-Basque as the lingua franca of the Atlantic coast. Could the Indo-European intruders have taken over the trade networks and switched to the trade language in the process? But how could that lead to a complete genetic replacement in the male line?

  54. Stu Clayton says

    By a simple process: the local women prefer to marry the powerful intruders, leaving the local male gene pool behind. The train switched lines, but still tooted in Pre-Proto-Basque.

  55. Trond Engen says

    Yes, but that’s a preference. A preference is probabilistic and shouldn’t lead to 100% replacement in a large population.

    Maybe Proto-Basque/Acquitanian(/Iberian) survived the Indo-European intrusion as the lingua franca of the trade on the Atlantic coast and across the Aude-Garonne isthmus, and later replaced the language of the invaders along both coasts of Iberia. That might be similar to how Finnic established itself on the Baltic coast after Indo-European Corded Ware.

  56. David Marjanović says

    Except that Finnic came in from the east after the Corded Ware.

  57. Trond Engen says

    Me. A preference is probabilistic and shouldn’t lead to 100% replacement in a large population.

    100% replacement across the population, not only on elite level, is incredibly brutal. After killing, castrating or enslaving all males*, the conquerors install themselves as masters of every household. I was going to say that I can’t see that happening without a dominance that must lead to language replacement, but actually I can. One way would be if the conquering males came, killed, castrated or enslaved all the men and boys, raped the women, and left. Repeat for a couple of decades, and there’s not an indigenous Y-chromosome left. Another way would be if the indigenous population were kept as chattel slaves until they managed to revolt or the conquerors gradually loosened their grip. Or the incomers may have brought a contagious disease that disproportionally affected the males, but I can’t see that either yielding 100% replacement without help from a brutal policy.

    *) Viricide? Maricide?

  58. Island Carib language is such an example. Caribs from mainland invaded the islands, killed (and possibly ate) all the native male Arawaks taking their women.

    Result – Island Carib language which is actually Arawakan.

    A few centuries later the history was repeated again and escaped black slaves replaced all male Caribs and took their women resulting in Garifuna people – African in appearance, but native speakers of an Arawakan language callled Garifuna (Carib).

    Two nearly total replacements of the entire male population, but the language still manages to survive.

  59. Trond Engen says

    David M.: Except that Finnic came in from the east after the Corded Ware.

    Yes, I made my point badly. The Eastern Baltic probably became IE with Corded Ware. Finnic was the language of the Volga-Ural bronze trade and replaced it with little genetic change in the regions most intimately connected to the trade. Iberia probably became largely IE with Bell Beaker. Proto-Baltic-Acquitanian was the language of the Atlantic tin (etc.) trade and replaced it with even less genetic change in the regions most intimately connected to the trade. In this scenario the languages spoken in Iberia before the arrival of IE may or may not be related to Basque.

  60. Stu Clayton says

    Trond:
    Me: By a simple process: the local women prefer to marry the powerful intruders, leaving the local male gene pool behind.
    You: Yes, but that’s a preference. A preference is probabilistic and shouldn’t lead to 100% replacement in a large population.

    By “they prefer to marry” I meant “they all in fact married” – I wrote “prefer to”, but I could as well have written “were forced to”.

    My short post was obviously snarky. But, leaving that aside, I don’t at all see your point about “probabilistic”. The whole discussion above is as full of speculation as a Christmas turkey of stuffing. Speculation means “could be, could not be”, depending on the evidence adduced and how it is interpreted – and thus is inherently “probabilistic”. Why are blog posters allowed to be “probabilistic”, but not those about whom they speculate – “males”, “mothers” etc ? My “local women” is no different from these categories to which others refer above.

  61. Trond Engen says

    Right. I took your snark to imply “Women have free will. Nothing much to explain.” By probabilistic I meant to add that a preference in its normal sense is a tendency. It could be a strong tendency, but it’s still just moving the point of equilibrium in the gene pool. Add random selection processes and variation will decrease in small populations over time. But it’s not enough to explain a full and sudden replacement of the male line in a large region like Iberia. In other places, where the replacement was less thorough, the mechanism may well have been (some definition of) preference.

    Also, there are lots of ugly scenarios that can explain a full and sudden replacement of the male line. The difficult thing to explain is full replacement without language shift. I came up with a couple of ugly scenarios for that too, but I agree that they are speculative.

  62. John Cowan says

    Well, our native language is called our mother tongue for a reason. 100% replacement of males seems like it should almost never lead to language shift.

  63. Trond Engen says

    If this was about a local community, I think there are examples both ways, but this is about foreign males installing themselves as a dominant elite and the only reproducing males in a large region. I’d expect clear advantages in knowing the men’s language as well as a huge difference in power between sexes and communities.

    Contrast this with the situation not many generations earlier. when IE speakers came to Globular Amphora and formed Corded Ware. I don’t know how different the power structure was, but there was far from 100% genetic replacement of the male line. They even got genetically outnumbered on the elite level by local males in what was to become a ring-migration back to the Steppe.

  64. A culture in which the males are traveling raiders, traders, or herders (away from home a significant fraction of the year) while the women stay in place and farm would naturally lead to the mothers’ speech becoming the surviving standard. That kind of male lifestyle is also one that could easily support a large but entirely male group moving in and conquering an area.

  65. David Marjanović says

    100% replacement across the population

    It says “nearly 100%” in the abstract, so it’s entirely possible that the original influx of Y chromosomes was much less than that, and the minority haplotypes then died out stochastically as expected in a population that doesn’t grow too fast. In keeping with this, the total replacement “of Iberia’s ancestry” was just 40%, not 50.

  66. David Eddyshaw says
  67. Trond Engen says

    I should of course have read the full paper before speculating, but I haven’t been able to google up a preprint. I did read the abstract, though. True that the 40% leaves room for a few local males, so not necessarily full replacement of males except in the straight male lines, but still very close*. Maybe more importantly, I think my description of the replacement as sudden may be wrong. I first read the abstract as stating a sudden replacement at ca. 2000 BCE, but it just says it started some time after 2500 BCE and was completed by 2000 BCE.

    *) It’s dangerous making off-hand mathematical statements in this company, but the percentage is actually very high. If the expansion south- and westwards into Iberia happened gradually, each generation of males would carry less Steppe ancestry, even if their Y chromosomes were pure R1b. I see two ways the percentage could reach 40. (1) A significant number of the intruders were women, and the sons and daughters of marriages to IE women had a reproductonal advantage for some time. This would speak for an IE language community with power and prestige. (2) A stream of new arrivals from up north until the whole peninsula was conquered. This would suggest continuous cultural contacts with the cousins back home. (My first thought was (†) The percentage is so high it could be within what would be expected if boys were murdered and girls allowed to grow up at the time of a single takeover event, but now I think I got that wrong.)

  68. @Trond
    Maybe Proto-Basque/Acquitanian(/Iberian) survived the Indo-European intrusion as the lingua franca of the trade on the Atlantic coast and across the Aude-Garonne isthmus, and later replaced the language of the invaders along both coasts of Iberia.

    The situation with the “/Iberian” makes me think that the unusual resilience / matrilocality of the Basque had nothing to do with the fact that Basque “wasn’t replaced by the Indo-European languages” back in the Iron Age.

    Iberian is also non-IE, and somewhat related to the Basque, and it was spoken all across the Med coast for about 1300 years after the same wholesale DNA change as transpired in the Basque lands. Yet Iberian readily gave way when Carthaginians and Romans moved in, and was extinct by II c. CE.

    If Iberian predated the wholesale R1b / Steppe-origin DNA replacement but survived because the society was uniquely poised to withstand the IE onslaught which replaced local languages everywhere else in Europe (and indeed in much of Asia) … then why did it crumble so fast during cross-Mediterranean colonization?

    I would rather suggest that BOTH Iberian and Basque were invasive, and indeed related. A relative safetyin the mountainous refugia may have helped Basque survive…

    just 40%, not 50
    ditto R1b, reaching “just 80%” (fully consistent with 40% overall DNA). But from the publication it appears that the shift to R1b took a mere century. It is a bit too abrupt a change for a gradual process of selection through bridal preference of more powerful non-local males. Such preference would have needed to have a nearly 2-fold bias in each of the subsequent generations against local males to have reached 80% replacement in a century.

  69. Reading the Olalde et al 2019 paper more thoroughly, I see an additional piece of evidence against “unusual linguistic resilience of the Basque” hypothesis.

    It turns out that some Basque territories experienced an additional pulse of invasion of peoples originating far to the North-East, of a comparable albeit slightly smaller DNA magnitude – and ended up changing their language. It happened in the middle of 1st millennium BC (even before the Iberian non-IE languages of the Mediterranean coast started giving way to invasions and colonization there).

    The locality in question is in Rioja, in the Southern part of the today’s Basque country, and the new language and culture in question is Celtic / Celtiberian. In the IV c. BC it was a frontier town of the Celtiberians, who took this area from the Basques and built hilltop fortifications all across it. The IV c. remains look tell the story of another partial population turnover, with about 30% of the earlier-age DNA being replaced (compared to about 40% replacement during the Bronze Age migrations). The incoming DNA is derived from the Urnfield / Hallstadt Early Celtic peoples of North-Central Europe (consistent with the linguistic and archaeological evidence). (Fig. S6 in the paper’s supplements).

    So it looks like a similar but smaller population influx resulted in the predecessors of the Basques in the Rioja region changing their language to the language of the invaders (a Celtic one). It would be reasonable then to assume that an even larger population turnover in the Bronze Age also resulted in the linguistic change (to the invasive Aquaitanian / Basque / Iberian languages)

  70. Trond Engen says

    If the genetic change in Iberia took a century, that ‘s four generations. Let’s divide Iberia into five zones of equal population. In the first zone there’s a 100% efficient monopolization of fatherhood. This means that the next generation is genetically 50% NEW, 50% OLD, and 100% R1b. Across Iberia it’s 10% NEW and 20% R1b.

    The children of those who stay and reproduce in the first zone remain 50/50 NEW/OLD. Those men who proceed into zone 2 and monopolize fatherhood beget a generation who are 25% NEW and 100% R1b. At this point the last generation across Iberia is 15% NEW and 40% R1b.

    From here there are several routes, but let’s consider a situation where degree of NEW DNA means nothing and R1b everything for the chance of procreation. Let’s also say that the share of young men moving on is the same as for generation 1. Those now monopolizing fatherhood in zone 3 and 4 will be 37.5% NEW. Their offspring will be 18.75% NEW and 100% R1b. Iberia at large is now 22.5% NEW and 80% R1a.

    What we do see is 80% replacement of the male ancestry and 40% of the total ancestry. This would be the case if the intruders took zone 1-4 In one single sweep or, equivalently, the whole of Iberia with 80% efficiency. No women brought along, just near-monopolizing fathering of children’.

    That’s one big sweep. For a two to four step scenario to work, there must also be NEW women, and the smaller the share of NEW women, the bigger must the advantage of the male offspring of NEW women have been. The balance share without any advantage of being born from a NEW mother is somewhere around 15%.

    This says nothing about language except that a high share of women among the newcomers would mean that both parents in elite families spoke the intrusive language.

  71. Dmitry Pruss says

    @Trond – figure S7 in the supplements attempts to add data from the X chromosomes to answer the question, what fraction of one’s ancestors were “local” vs. “migrant” on paternal and maternal lines. The most probable answer is, 3/4th of the male ancestors were migrant and almost 100% of the female ancestors were local.

  72. Trond Engen says

    Thanks. Not too far off then. The difference is differential advantage and other complications I chose to overlook. And it probably happened in one big sweep.

    Is the paper available somewhere?

  73. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/suppl/2019/03/13/363.6432.1230.DC1/aav4040_Olalde_SM.pdf
    ( supplement for paper DOI: 10.1126/science.aav4040 ) not sure about paywalls but there are always solutions like sci-hub in desperate situations?

  74. John Cowan says

    A relative safetyin the mountainous refugia may have helped Basque survive

    Like the languages and families of the Caucasus, and for the same reason.

  75. The La Hoya Celtiberian site (where the IV c. BC remains described above came from) offers a unique archaeological opportunity because, unlike most of the fortified Celtiberian settlements, it isn’t underneath a modern town. Almost all Celtiberian sites remain occupied to this day, but the residents of La Hoya moved to a more defensible higher hill nearby some 2300 years ago.
    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0155342
    But one more thing is weird about this place. Apparently not all of the human remains were cremated, as it is supposed to be customary in the Celtic culture. Instead, dead children were buried under the eaves of the houses. Hence the DNA. I wish I could tell to what extent this burial practice is compatible to the hypothesis that the skeletons belonged to the Celtiberians rather than to some subjugated population of a different culture…

  76. David Marjanović says

    Caucasus, and for the same reason

    Aquitania is obscenely flat, and place names make clear that Basque was expanding southwards in the early Middle Ages.

    Anyway, I’ve downloaded the paper, supp. inf. and “Perspective” article of Olalde et omnes (2019), and will read them… maybe on the weekend.

  77. Trond Engen says

    The figure on page 86 in the supplementary (thanks, X!) seems to say that 46 out of 47 Y chromosomes from Bronze Age and Iron Age Iberia were R1b. That’s a lot.

    The intrusive population used in the models was German Beaker rather than something closer. This might mean that the estimate of 40% overall is too low. This would also move the 80% estimate for male ancestry closer to 46:47.

    I agree that the linguistically most plausible scenario is that the invaders were Ibero-Acquitanian,. This forces me to consider that Bell Beaker was Ibero-Acquitanian, which smoothly leads back to the idea that the Steppe people forming Corded Ware were Ibero-Acquitanian, and that their Globular Amphora neighbours — who after being assimilated started spreading R1a east and south to India — were the orginal IE speakers. That still doesn’t work, but the swap of Y-chromosomes from Globular Amphora to Corded Ware could still be a clue. What if we imagine a peace agreement between CW and GA with a grand exchange of hostages/foster sons? You raise all our sons and we raise all yours. The R1b sons moving into Globular Amphora homes and eventually marrying Globular Amphora daugters would become fluent speakers of Ibero-Acquitanian, while the R1a sons living in Corded Ware homes and eventually marrying Corded Ware daughters would become fluent speakers of Indo-European. The husband eventually took over his family’s operations, and the two similar but different hybrid cultures spread in different directions.

    On a different note: The scale of the operation in Iberia is unfathomable. Both faster and deeper than anything the Romans did. I wonder what society would be like to produce such a surplus of men.

  78. David Marjanović says

    Every man either acquires a harem or joins a war band?

  79. Apparently not all of the human remains were cremated
    I couldn’t locate the cited paper on the indoor infant burials of La Hoya, but there is a more recent research paper describing child burials in a mid-1st millennium BC fortified town in nearby Berbinzana, Navarre, also just North of the Ebro river, in historical context.
    https://dadun.unav.edu/bitstream/10171/17736/1/08.%20de%20Miguel.pdf
    The final pages of the paper extensively discussed the prehistoric dual burial system (cremation for older people, in-the-house burial of infants) documented at numerous sites both across the Celtiberian frontier and in the more central Spain location, and described by Pliny the Elder who explained that cremation was reserved for those who died after their teeth came out.

  80. dual burial system (cremation for older people, in-the-house burial of infants)
    And it turns out to be a wider Celtic rite, not just Celtiberian. La Tene period Celtic dwellings in Austria also have indoor infant burials, and across much of Europe, cremated remains of younger children are conspicuously lacking, too
    https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/tag/celtic-burial-ritual/

  81. On the “improper” infant burial customs, I also came across this 2011 study which reviews previous archaeological finds and theories about them:
    https://www.academia.edu/520416/Thrown_out_with_the_bathwater_or_properly_buried._In_M._Lally_A.M._Moore_eds._Re_Thinking_the_Little_Ancestor_New_Perspectives_on_the_Archaeology_of_Infancy_and_Childhood._Oxford_Archaeopress_2011_37-46
    Verbatim: “In the Central European Iron Age, infant burials are largely absent from regular cemeteries, while infant skeletons frequently appear in settlement contexts”. The authors attempt to reconstruct the Iron Age belief systems regarding infant burial by anchoring it in the ethno-linguistic context, and begin from noting the non-random location of the infant burial sites within the settlements (near walls and boundaries), and the geographic distribution of the known high density infant burials (which to their knowledge didn’t include Celtiberian Spain, but definitely included Hallstadt / La Tene-related sites in Germany, Switzerland, France and the British Isles). They cite sources from Livy to Caesar to the Celtic texts on the special / not quite human status of the uninitiated boys and noídenacht (infants who didn’t yet speak), and speculate about “liminality” status of the infants whose status was “at the boundary of the humanity” and whose burial places might have been therefore selected at the boundaries of the family properties. A rather high flying hypothesis, but a wide collection of cited sources makes it a worthwile link IMO.

  82. Trond Engen says

    Good job on the Celtic archaeology. My thought about children being buried under the eavesdrop was that they would need to be close to their living relatives even after death. Which is just another way to say that the family would want them close.

    Anyway, it’s the kind of signifcant custom that would be defining a culture. It’s very interesting when there’s overlap also with linguistic/onomastic evidence and now genetics. It adds predictive power and falsifiability. (It’s of course even more interesting when things don’t fit and there’s not perfect overlap. But the patterns in overlap helps to understand also the exceptions.)

  83. The problem with learning about the modern state of Celtic archaeology is that the stuff used to be purely the domain of romantic nationalist fantasy, and to a large degree remains there. It’s like getting some real modern science about antioxidants or oxytocin … an unsophisticated search leads to heaps of legends, and it’s hard to see the actual data behind it.

  84. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    Island Carib language is such an example. Caribs from mainland invaded the islands, killed (and possibly ate) all the native male Arawaks taking their women.

    Result – Island Carib language which is actually Arawakan.

    I don’t think David Kleinecke comes here, but I know him from alt.usage.english and sci.lang. He is long since retired, but in his younger days he studied Arawak languages. I had supposed that the Arhuacos of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia were Arawaks, but he says no, they are quite different and the language of the Arhuacos is not Arawak, and, indeed, not related. However, the Caribs you refer to may indeed have come from the mainland, but not from Colombia.

  85. David Marjanović says

    Anyway, it’s the kind of signifcant custom that would be defining a culture.

    It’s also the kind of cultural trait that could spread easily independently of any others, I would guess.

  86. Trond Engen says

    Some would think this, some would think that. I’m pretty sure non-elite burial customs are resilient to diffusion. But my main point is that when cultural traits are held together with linguistic and genetic evidence, we should be able to tell with much more certainty which traits are spreading independently and which are not.

  87. I was after something more modest… not a culture-defining trait but merely culturally compatible. Since I was so certain that cremation was the way for the Celts… yet only the remains which escaped cremation yielded DNA. But in the end I came to believe that material culture, language, DNA and indeed infant burial customs all came to Iberian peninsula together, and from a more Central European location

  88. Savalonôs says

    Basque may have come from the original Steppe population and Indo-European from the Majkop element.

    Excellent. I speculated up a similar model in a conversation elsewhere a few weeks ago. This was actually before I had seen the Olalde paper. There was a paper recently by John T. Koch and I’ve been playing around with ideas related to his model. Koch argues for an early PIE (common ancestor of Anatolian and other IE branches) urheimat south of the Caucasus. The primary evidence is the (still extremely tentative) apparent lack of steppe ancestry in putative Hittite speakers.

    I speculated that, in this scenario, the earliest identifiable IEs might be identified with the ETC a.k.a. Kura-Araxes culture. Maĭkóp seems like the most likely candidate for the intrusion of this language family into the vicinity of the steppes, which would necessitate that earlier steppe populations had a different language. This would then lead to Yamnaya as multilingual confederacy.

    Of course, a Vasconic invasion hypothesis for Iberia doesn’t require that Vasconic goes all the way back to Yamnaya. Any earlier event in which steppe-descended peoples entered a new area in Europe without extreme population turnover could have resulted in them adopting Pre-Vasconic language at that point.

  89. Savalonôs says
  90. David Marjanović says

    That’s not a paper, it’s the slides of a conference presentation. However, clicking through to John Koch’s academia.edu page brings up a lot of interesting papers.

    One argument against a late arrival of Basque is the weird substrate layer in Sardinian that contains words practically identical to Basque.

  91. Trond Engen says

    Dmitry: I was after something more modest… not a culture-defining trait but merely culturally compatible.

    Yes, I understood. It was fun to follow.

    Savalonôs: I speculated up a similar model in a conversation elsewhere a few weeks ago. […] Koch argues for an early PIE (common ancestor of Anatolian and other IE branches) urheimat south of the Caucasus. The primary evidence is the (still extremely tentative) apparent lack of steppe ancestry in putative Hittite speakers.

    I’ve been speculating about Maikop since, well, probably Mallory & Adams. My other alternative scenarios have been dismissed one by one by evidence, but Majkop’s only become more interesting. Though it’s probably a little early to dismiss Steppe ancestry for the Hittites after only five not-necessarily-Hittite-by-ancestry genomes.

    I speculated that, in this scenario, the earliest identifiable IEs might be identified with the ETC a.k.a. Kura-Araxes culture. Maĭkóp seems like the most likely candidate for the intrusion of this language family into the vicinity of the steppes, which would necessitate that earlier steppe populations had a different language. This would then lead to Yamnaya as multilingual confederacy.

    Maybe or maybe not. It could well have been thoroughly Maikopified.

    Of course, a Vasconic invasion hypothesis for Iberia doesn’t require that Vasconic goes all the way back to Yamnaya. Any earlier event in which steppe-descended peoples entered a new area in Europe without extreme population turnover could have resulted in them adopting Pre-Vasconic language at that point.

    The best candidate for that so far is Corded Ware, but I’ll be eager to see a population turnover analysis for France and neighbouring regions in the 3rd millenium BCE. We discussed Olalde 2018 last year. It’s the paper that said that the Neolithic population in Britain and Ireland were almost completely wiped out by Bell Beaker people from Holland or thereabouts. With both extremes covered, I guess they’re building up to a sweeping analysis of Central Europe.

    Here’s the Koch paper

    Thanks. His name is credentials enough for me.

    I’m open to much of it, and would have accepted even more before Olalde 2019. He’s fuzzy on membership in the Satem group, and that’s sensible enough. He doesn’t mention the supposed Graeco-Armenian branch, and that’s also sensible, since otherwise the Ringe-Mallory tree can’t be forced into this geographical straightjacket. I note that the “Celtic” Atlantic Bronze Age is long after the population turnover event in Spain, so it’s not what brought R1b to Iberia. It looks more like a later development or a survival/rebound that failed to vipe Vasconic out from its remaining core area. 1300 BCE is probably also too early for common Celtic, so this must have been Para-Celtic or Para-Italo-Celtic of some kind, if IE at all. Maybe it’s Tartessian. (Also, I should have remembered Koch for his paper on Tartessian a few years ago.)

  92. Trond Engen says

    David M.: One argument against a late arrival of Basque is the weird substrate layer in Sardinian that contains words practically identical to Basque.

    Just as I was thinking about how to think about that, The Source of All Wisdom spake thus:

    The Beaker culture in Sardinia appeared circa 2100 BCE during the last phase of the Chalcolithic period. It initially coexisted with and then replaced the previous Monte Claro culture in Sardinia, developing until the ancient Bronze Age circa 1900–1800 BCE. Then, the Beaker culture mixed with the related Bonnanaro culture, considered the first stage of the Nuragic civilization.
    Contents

  93. David Marjanović says

    Though it’s probably a little early to dismiss Steppe ancestry for the Hittites after only five not-necessarily-Hittite-by-ancestry genomes.

    There’s no trace of Steppe ancestry anywhere else in or around Anatolia either up to the Bronze Age.

    Maybe it’s Tartessian.

    Or Lusitanian, whatever that is. 🙂 It would also be great to have longer Pictish inscriptions.

    The Beaker culture in Sardinia

    Nice! Still, it’s noteworthy that the Sardinians (unlike the unremarkable Basques) are the purest descendants of Early European Farmers that can be found today.

  94. @Savalonôs , Koch also promotes an idea of proto-Iberian/Aquitanian/Vasconic influences which distinguish Celtic from other IE branches. Of course Koch didn’t have an advantage of the more recent genetic data. Having to operate on an assumption that Basques were 100% autochthonous / unmixed / developed in situ, he in turn had to hypothesize that Celtic languages spread FROM Spain TO Austria.
    Now we know that early Basques and Iberians were an about 50:50 mix of Steppe-origin males and local females, and it is therefore not unreasonable to assume that their languages were intrusive, perhaps from more Central European locations, or possible even from the Steppes; so Koch’s hypothesized interactions between proto-Celtic and proto-Vasconic may have occurred outside of the Iberian peninsula.
    We also understand that the spread of Celtic languages between Iron Age Spain and Austria went from East to West, so this proposed early interaction between Celtic and Vasconic could not have occurred “in the Atlantic West”.

  95. in this scenario, the earliest identifiable IEs might be identified with the ETC a.k.a. Kura-Araxes culture. Maĭkóp seems like the most likely candidate for the intrusion of this language family into the vicinity of the steppes, which would necessitate that earlier steppe populations had a different language. This would then lead to Yamnaya as multilingual confederacy
    There is also an insurmountable DNA problem around it, far bigger one than the problem of absence of Steppe DNA in the few Hittite-era remains who were probably Hittites but may have been someone else.

    In comparison, great many DNA samples from Yamnaya and their descendants have been studied. And they don’t have Anatolian neolithic DNA component, which pretty much rules out either Maikop or Kura-Araxes (on the latter two, there are extensive data in Wang 2018, doi 10.1101/322347, I will add a link a bit later to avoid moderation queues 🙂 ).

    I already mentioned some of its findings here at LH but obviously in some discussion which dwelled on IE more than on Vasconic 🙂 although we now have a great reason to revisit the Pontic Steppe as a possible home of proto-Ibero-Vasconic, if such a thing existed. In Wang 2018, the genetic antecedents of Yamnaya were found in the mound burials of North Caucasus foothills, in such locations as Progress and Vonyuchka. It caused me many smiles to think that Vonyuchka may yet become a household name of a craddle of Indo-Europeans, because the meaning of the name, “Little Stinker”, is just too funny. The place did stink too much, it’s just outside a fence of a sewage treatment station.

  96. Savalonôs says
  97. Trond Engen says

    David M.: There’s no trace of Steppe ancestry anywhere else in or around Anatolia either up to the Bronze Age.

    That’s a good point. Though we might think the Hittite elite were wiped out.

    Dmitry: In comparison, great many DNA samples from Yamnaya and their descendants have been studied. And they don’t have Anatolian neolithic DNA component, which pretty much rules out either Maikop or Kura-Araxes

    As it stands now, we have to accept language spread by cultural diffusion one way or the other. There was more cultural diffusion northwards than southwards through the Caucasus.

    (on the latter two, there are extensive data in Wang 2018, doi 10.1101/322347, I will add a link a bit later to avoid moderation queues ???? ).

    Wang et al 2018, Abstract:

    Archaeogenetic studies have described the formation of Eurasian ‘steppe ancestry’ as a mixture of Eastern and Caucasus hunter-gatherers. However, it remains unclear when and where this ancestry arose and whether it was related to a horizon of cultural innovations in the 4th millennium BCE that subsequently facilitated the advance of pastoral societies likely linked to the dispersal of Indo-European languages. To address this, we generated genome-wide SNP data from 45 prehistoric individuals along a 3000-year temporal transect in the North Caucasus. We observe a genetic separation between the groups of the Caucasus and those of the adjacent steppe. The Caucasus groups are genetically similar to contemporaneous populations south of it, suggesting that – unlike today – the Caucasus acted as a bridge rather than an insurmountable barrier to human movement. The steppe groups from Yamnaya and subsequent pastoralist cultures show evidence for previously undetected Anatolian farmer-related ancestry from different contact zones, while Steppe Maykop individuals harbour additional Upper Palaeolithic Siberian and Native American related ancestry.

    the Pontic Steppe as a possible home of proto-Ibero-Vasconic

    Wouldn’t it be fun if the Iberians were all related after all? I went looking for a Steppe element in the Georgians, but no much luck,

    In Wang 2018, the genetic antecedents of Yamnaya were found in the mound burials of North Caucasus foothills, in such locations as Progress and Vonyuchka.

    We did discuss that. You also found some Russian papers that discuss the archaeology of the sites in much more detail.

  98. Where’s a reference for the “Basque-looking” Sardinian substrate?

  99. Trond Engen says

    here’s the real Koch article

    Thanks. It’s updated with the results of Olalde 2019. On Celtic and Basque:

    The aDNA evidence from the Iberian Peninsula—specifically a widespread low level of the Steppe component with a strong male bias—is consistent with a scenario of substratum influence from the language of mothers. The pattern reflects a situation in which successive generations of men with Steppe DNA were exceptionally successful in producing offspring with indigenous Iberian women, who probably spoke an indigenous non-IE language or languages with a consonant system similar to that of Palaeo-Basque.

  100. men with Steppe DNA were exceptionally successful in producing offspring with indigenous Iberian women, who probably spoke an indigenous non-IE language or languages with a consonant system similar to that of Palaeo-Basque.

    Huh? How do they know from DNA what language someone’s mother spoke, never mind what was its consonant system? Is this another ‘vegetables cause labiodentals’ hypothesis?

    Do we have archaeological evidence of the speakers of Paleo-Basque? Did they scrawl on potsherds or weave into fabrics ‘Paleo-Basque is what I speak’? Were they in Iberia at the time?

  101. David Eddyshaw says

    @AntC:

    The “probably” (which is admittedly doing a lot of work) is, to be fair, likely not intended to be dependent on the DNA but on extraneous considerations.

    The lesson that language has no necessary connexion at all with racial origin is surprisingly difficult to accept, despite the fact that the language spoken by millions of black Americans and, before that, by most of the population of Britain (who were never massacred by the Saxon, regrettable though he be in other respects) demonstrates the truth of it.

    (Some) languages are contagious. English as smallpox.

  102. Thanks but hmm. Would it be too cynical to suggest “probably” here means “we’re just making stuff up”?

    Is Paleo-Basque/Aquitanian/Iberian/Tartessian just a cover term for ‘whatever was spoken in Iberia before IE got there’? The cave painters in France/Spain are pre the time of Paleo-Basque? What language did they speak? Can we trace DNA influence amongst their consonants?

    Did the Paleo-Basque speakers migrate into the peninsula? Where from? Did they peaceably blend in with the cave painters or massacre them or what?

    Were there humans (Neanderthals?) in the peninsula before the cave-painters? Any traces of their DNA or consonants?

  103. Trond Engen says

    My quote from Koch’s concluding paragraphs was of course unfair. It’s argued more thoroughly in the paper.

    On the genetic side, this part is the result of Olalde et al:

    a situation in which successive generations of men with Steppe DNA were exceptionally successful in producing offspring with indigenous Iberian women

    On the linguistic side, this part is Koch’s well-argued hypothesis on the origin of Celtic:

    substratum influence from […] a[…] non-IE language or languages with a consonant system similar to that of Palaeo-Basque.

    This part is meant to bridge the gap between the two:

    mothers […] who probably spoke an indigenous non-IE language

    But this is not the only way. Dmitry suggests instead that it’s the incoming fathers who were Paleo-Basque speakers. Celtic would have come in later, with much less population turnover.

    David E.: The lesson that language has no necessary connexion at all with racial origin is surprisingly difficult to accept

    True, but on the other hand, the chance that a child grows up to speak the language of its parents and continue their culture is more than 1 : 6000. And on the third hand, actual abrupt and massive migrations and population turnovers do have linguistic consequences. The millions of black Americans speak neither Niger-Congo nor Muskogean today (exceptions excepted). The wave of massive migration and population turnover in Europe in the 3rd millennium BCE also had linguistic consequences. Some cultural waves with little genetic change probably also had linguistic consequences. We’ll never be able to tell which concequence in every case, and a lot of interesting details and complications will never be recovered, but with archaeo-genetics added to historical linguistics and archeology we’re getting much closer.

  104. a situation in which successive generations of men with Steppe DNA were exceptionally successful in producing offspring with indigenous Iberian women
    Using Occam’s razor one can make something simpler out of this convoluted phrase which is meant to leave in place a hypothesis that these migrants weren’t culturally and societally dominant. Not to mention the fact that if the Steppe DNA itself was a factor of feminine attraction, then the replacement of autosomal DNA would have continued far beyond the roughly 50:50 mix documented in the Iron Age people of Iberia (and in the later-era Basques). Indeed, due to the random nature of DNA inheritance, grandchildren inherit anywhere between 20 and 30% of DNA from each grandparent.

    So even in a hypothetical situation where in generation 1, all fathers were migrant and all mothers are local, the “beneficial” DNA fraction will continue growing in each subsequent generation, because the generation 3 people with a higher fraction due to the chance will have a stronger chance of reproducing, and then in each subsequent generation the variability of the “beneficial DNA fraction” will be even higher and the process will accelerate.

    In a more realistic scenario where a few generation 2 children are fully migrant in origin, and some generation 2 children are fully local in origin, the runaway process of continuous replacement of remaining local DNA would have rolled even faster, due to considerably higher variability of the local DNA content from the outset.

    No, of course it wasn’t the DNA content itself which gave the migrant father a reproductive advantage. And this advantage didn’t seem to have lasted. Having replaced 80% of Y-chromosomes and the corresponding 40% of the autosomal DNA, the process appears to have stopped, without any hypothesized continuous, runaway replacement of the local DNA. I’m sorry but the Occam-compliant explanation would only be a one-time removal of the majority of the local males from the reproducing population, followed by substantially equal reproductive potential of the progeny.

    The lesson that language has no necessary connexion at all with racial origin is surprisingly difficult to accept
    It is hard to accept because it is not true. When two ancestrally. culturally and linguistically different groups meet, then the language outcomes may be different, but mechanisms of change of languages have clear signs of continuity. It is not something haphazard, like, languages stay or change regardless of the outline of situation. The descendants of slaves almost universally lost their languages, regardless of which European or Middle Eastern language their masters imposed. The descendants of Steppe pastoralists, on the contrary, almost always imposed their languages (IE, Turkic) on the subjugated and mixed populations. The numerous examples of the process going the same way give a statistical confidence to a hypothesis that in a similar settings, the process went similarly. Generally, most socially dominant groups and some culturally isolated groups tended to keep their languages.

    The concept of social dominance changed a lot over the millennia, and in the more recent times, languages of government and education impose themselves on the minority languages, especially in urban settings, much more effectively. In the past, when uneducated rural dwelling was more of the norm, resilience of minority languages was greater, but mixed-ancestry couples must have been the most pliable.

    Anyway, way too many words. Just one final example. If a population group moves to a new location, and becomes admixed there, but the descents in both the place origin and the destination speak similar languages … can’t we rule out as outlandish an idea that the language spread from “DNA destination” to the “DNA source”?

  105. It is hard to accept because it is not true.

    Of course it’s true; you’re ignoring the word “necessary.”

  106. Let’s run some hypothetic numbers.

    Region with population of 100 thousand gets invaded by 10 thousand proto-Basques.

    Protos are all male warriors. They win, because they have some technological advantage (horses, for example) and for some reason they decide to stay rather than go back to the steppes where their families are (perhaps due to something similar like what happened to Magyars in 894).

    Now, how can the conquerors who are outnumbered by the conquered by 1:10 ratio impose their language?

    Very simple. First thing they do is to take wives from the conquered population.

    Now, women of childbearing age are typically about 20% of population. So out of total population of 100, 000, there are about 20,000 of women of childbearing age.

    And 10,000 of them, that is exactly half, is taken by proto-Basques. And their children will end speaking proto-Basque language.

    Situation gets even better, because conquerors are likely to take younger (and prettier) women which means their reproductive success will be even greater than 50% (because the other 50% who are still married to the conquered aboriginals are older and hence will have less children).

    So the only thing they need to do is ensure language transmission to their children (typical method is to take boys from their mothers after age of seven and send them to boys camps where some elderly warrior teaches ways of war).

    The conquerors’ language will be spoken by the majority after a generation.

    1:10 ratio can be improved even further, up to even 1:100, perhaps.

    But you need selective mass depopulation for that.

    In Mexico, population drop of 98% after the conquest allowed very few Spaniards to impose Spanish on Indians. Ratio of conquerors to pre-contact native population was close to 1:1000 there.

  107. David Marjanović says

    Where’s a reference for the “Basque-looking” Sardinian substrate?

    A book by Eduardo Blasco Ferrer that I don’t have access to. I think there was a list on Wikipedia once, but all I can find now is this passage in the current “Sardinian language” article:

    words such as Sardinian ospile “fresh grazing for cattle” and Basque ozpil; Sardinian arrotzeri “vagabond” and Basque arrotz “stranger”; Sardinian golostiu and Basque gorosti “holly”; Gallurese (Corso-Sardinian) zerru “pig” (with z for [dz]) and Basque zerri (with z for [s]).

    That passage mentions Blasco Ferrer and links to this newspaper article in Italian which adds a few more words, a bunch of toponyms, and a few Roman-age inscriptions.

    Also, in central Sardinia (Barbagia < Barbaria), word-initial /r/ is not allowed, so that Latin r- comes out as arr-, orr-, err-; and /f/ is missing. Both traits are shared with Basque, though admittedly that’s unique only on the scale of western Europe.

  108. Dmitry Pruss says

    ignoring the word “necessary.”
    ah, OK. thank you LH. So in “necessary connection” I should have read “identical connection in all settings”, rather than “highly relevant connection which works differently, if reproducibly, depending on the settings” 🙂

  109. No, “necessary connection” means language is inherently and automatically connected with genetic makeup, an obviously idiotic idea (see David Eddyshaw’s example of the spread of English).

  110. J.W. Brewer says

    That a child has a given L1 is obviously a result of nurture rather than nature, i.e. it’s not genetically encoded, but the difficulty is of course that nurture and nature tend to be statistically correlated because most (not all, but most) human beings are raised in early childhood by the same adults from whom they got their DNA. Maybe the best way to think about it is that language is “hereditary” only in a Lamarckian rather than Darwinian way — you typically get the same L1 that is your parents’ primary language (especially if shared by both …) as of the time they become your parents, but whether that is the same language that your parents acquired early in their lives from their own parents depends on whether or not there were intervening environmental factors that could have caused language shift earlier in their lives, with such environmental factors being observably frequent enough that knowing who your great-great-grandparents were is, in many parts of the world, often empirically much less predictive of your L1 than of, e.g., your skin color.

  111. J.W. Brewer says

    It seems that in fairly modern times there are at least four different common scenarios for language shift such that inherited language will deviate from inherited DNA: 1) A-speakers immigrate to a new location which is dominated by B-speakers and are in the new B-speaking context comparatively low-status or at least not as high status as “conquerors” would be; 2) A-speakers conquer a B-speaking location but initially form a small ruling elite which is numerically outnumbered by the B-speakers (making linguistic assimilation of the conquerors at least a reasonable and historically-attested possibility if not certainty); 3) A-speakers conquer a B-speaking location (or move to a previously-conquered such location under the auspices of the conquerors) with such overwhelming demographic superiority that B-speakers become a minority in the territory they had once dominated; and 4) “nation-building” or “modernization” dynamics especially but not only in a post-colonial situation encourages what had once been a common L2 (often but not always the language of a former imperial power or the regional language of the most powerful-prestigious group within a multilingual polity) to start displacing long-established regional L1’s. How these language shifts will match up with genetic history will probably be different in each genre, and in each genre there is also the wild card that it can occur at least in the early stages either with or without substantial intermarriage or other genetic exchange between members of the previously linguistically-distinct groups.

  112. David Marjanović: the case for a Sardinian substrate genetically related to Basque is quite weak, as was pointed out in a review of Blasco-Ferrer’s work by H.J. Wolf in 2010 (In the Revue de linguistique romane, issue 75, 595-615). The shared phonological features you list, incidentally, are shared with Iberian, which suggests at best that there were several phonologically similar languages in Sardinia and the Iberian peninsula at the time of the Roman conquest, whose phonological similarity may have been a purely areal feature (a point L. Mitxelena first made about Basque and Iberian, I believe). If I recall correctly Wolf also points to a number of very un-Basque-like and un-Iberian-like phonological features of the Sardinian substrate (the presence of an /m/ phoneme, for instance).

    All: One thing which must be stressed about Basque and Celtic is the fact that while Basque contains a massive borrowed Latin/Romance element, it also contains very few if any loanwords from any other Indo-European language, including Celtic. Again, this was something Mitxelena pointed out and which the late Larry Trask contrasted with the many layers of (abundant) Indo-European loanwords in various Uralic languages. And is a major reason why I have trouble with theories claiming that either Celtic or Basque was ever extensively used as a lingua franca along the European Atlantic coast, incidentally.

  113. Dmitry Pruss says

    inherently and automatically connected
    in math I was taught that this is “necessary and sufficient” rather than just “necessary”? (Necessary conditions there aren’t by themselves automatically leading to the consequences). Not picking any fights here, just trying to explain a gap in my English 🙂

    very few if any loanwords from any other Indo-European language, including Celtic
    presumably despite centuries of living nearby on the left bank of the Ebro. Very interesting. How trustworthy is Koch’s insistence that influences flowed in the opposite direction, from Basque to Celtic?

  114. Minor correction to my comment today: H. J. Wolf’s review was published in 2011, not 2010.

    Dmitry Pruss: I don’t regard it as especially credible: the number of Basque-like non-Indo-European words in Celtic is so modest that to my mind it might just be a number of chance similarities. Beyond vocabulary, and looking at grammar and phonology, in many ways Celtic differs from Basque *more* than other Indo-European languages do. For instance, Basque is an ergative verb-final language, unlike Old Irish or Middle Welsh (both verb-initial, nominative-accusative languages) but very much like (say) Hindi or Pashto; Basque has five vowel phonemes (a,e,i,o,u) unlike any known or reconstructed Celtic language but very much like (say) Modern Greek.

    If you look at Celtic and Basque diachronically things do not get better. For instance Basque wholly lacks grammatical gender involving nouns: all known Celtic languages have preserved it, with Old Irish being quite faithful to the three-gender system (masculine-feminine-neuter) of Late Indo-European. From this point of view Basque, typologically, is much more (say) Armenian-like than Celtic-like.

  115. David Marjanović says

    I’ve finally read the paper! It’s quite readable. Fig. 1E is a good summary, showing two influxes of steppe-related ancestry, one at the beginning of the Bronze Age from “Central European populations”, one at its end “from Central/Northern Europe”. Both of these are present in the Basque region, which is distinguished from the rest of the Iberian peninsula by lacking the “[a]ncestry related to central/eastern Mediterranean populations” introduced by/as the Romans.

    I am tempted to equate the first with the Lusitanian language (and with “Sorothaptic”, the hypothetical IE language of the Urnfield culture or at least its Iberian part) and the second with Celtic. The second is young enough that Proto-Celtic might even be equated with the La Tène culture as it traditionally was.

    Important quotes from the paper:

    From the Bronze Age (~2200–900 BCE), we increase the available dataset (6, 7, 17) from 7 to 60 individuals and show how ancestry from the Pontic-Caspian steppe (Steppe ancestry) appeared throughout Iberia in this period (Fig. 1, C and D), albeit with less impact in the south (table S13). The earliest evidence is in 14 individuals dated to ~2500–2000 BCE who coexisted with local people without Steppe ancestry (Fig. 2B). These groups lived in close proximity and admixed to form the Bronze Age population after 2000 BCE with ~40% ancestry from incoming groups (Fig. 2B and fig. S6). Y-chromosome turnover was even more pronounced (Fig. 2B), as the lineages common in Copper Age Iberia (I2, G2, and H) were almost completely replaced by one lineage, R1b-M269. These patterns point to a higher contribution of incoming males than females, also supported by a lower proportion of nonlocal ancestryon the X-chromosome (table S14 and fig. S7), a paradigm that can be exemplified by a Bronze Age tomb from Castillejo del Bonete containing a male with Steppe ancestry and a female with ancestry similar to Copper Age Iberians. Although ancient DNA can document that sex-biased admixture occurred, archaeological and anthropological research will be needed to understand the processes that generated it.

    For the Iron Age, we document a consistent trend of increased ancestry related to Northern and Central European populations with respect to the preceding Bronze Age (Figs. 1, C and D, and 2B). The increase was 10 to 19% (95% confidence intervals given here and in the percentages that follow) in 15 individuals along the Mediterranean coast where non-Indo-European Iberian languages were spoken; 11 to 31% in two individuals at the Tartessian site of La Angorrilla in the southwest with uncertain language attribution; and 28 to 43% in three individuals at La Hoya in the north where Indo-European Celtiberian languages were likely spoken (fig. S6 and tables S11 and S12). This trend documents gene flow into Iberia during the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age, possibly associated with the introduction of the Urnfield tradition (18). Unlike in Central or Northern Europe, where Steppe ancestry likely marked the introduction of Indo-European languages (12), our results indicate that, in Iberia, increases in Steppe ancestry were not always accompanied by switches to Indo-European languages. This is consistent with the genetic profile of present-day Basques who speak the only non-Indo-European language in Western Europe but overlap genetically with Iron Age populations (Fig. 1D) showing substantial levels of Steppe ancestry.

    La Hoya, BTW, is at the southern fringe of today’s Basque Country, near Araba/Álava.

    Before this work, it was known that the lactase persistence allele at rs4988235, which is present at moderate or high frequencies in most European populations today and is one of the strongest known signals of selection in Europeans (26), occurred at extremely low frequencies in Europe through the Bronze Age (2), raising the question of when it became common. Here we show that in Iberia, the allele continued
    to occur at low frequency in the Iron Age (fig. S9) and only approached present-day frequencies in the past 2000 years, pointing to recent strong selection.

    P. 60 of the supp. inf. has more detail on the Y haplogroups and mentions that they show the Iberian Bronze-Age males cannot have come from Britain as some had apparently surmised.

    The admixture modeling starts on p. 63, the part on the Bronze and Iron Ages is pp. 65–68, plus fig. S6 on p. 81. Please check it out.

    P. 74:

    In Fig. S9, we show derived allele frequency estimates for four SNPs with functional importance: SNP rs4988235 in LCT responsible for lactase persistence, SNP rs12913832 in HERC2/OCA2 responsible for blue eyes, and SNPs rs16891982 and rs1426654 in SLC45A2 and SLC24A5, respectively, associated with reduced skin pigmentation in Europeans. A striking observation is the complete absence of the lactase persistence allele in Iberia (present at 0.46 frequency in present-day Iberians) until recent historical times, which suggests very recent selection.

    Then comes the undated pre-Neolithic skeleton from Carigüela, which can be dated to the Mesolithic by the amount of Neandertal DNA in its genome (2.22%). “It has been previously shown (4) that Neanderthal ancestry has steadily decreased during the last 45,000 years.”

    Fig. S9 is on p. 84.

  116. Trond Engen says

    Thanks, Étienne. Koch is working with Cunliffe’s hypothesis of Celtic as the language of the Atlantic Bronze Age. I was going to suggest that the Vasconoid substrate could be from the Beakers in France before Urnfield. But with the substrate out of the equation that’s unnecessary.

    David M.: I’ve finally read the paper! It’s quite readable. Fig. 1E is a good summary, showing two influxes of steppe-related ancestry, one at the beginning of the Bronze Age from “Central European populations”, one at its end “from Central/Northern Europe”. Both of these are present in the Basque region, which is distinguished from the rest of the Iberian peninsula by lacking the “[a]ncestry related to central/eastern Mediterranean populations” introduced by/as the Romans.

    I am tempted to equate the first with the Lusitanian language (and with “Sorothaptic”, the hypothetical IE language of the Urnfield culture or at least its Iberian part) and the second with Celtic. The second is young enough that Proto-Celtic might even be equated with the La Tène culture as it traditionally was.

    Fig. 1 E is a brilliant summary. I can’t believe I haven’t seen a bar like that before. If I have a nitpick, it’s that the bar coming from the left should be thinner before the tributaries are added. (One might even go full Napoleon and scale the bar according to total population. But that’s not a nitpick, it would take good population estimates throughout the period.)

    The authors seem to say that the later influx, around 1000 BCE, is the introduction of Urnfield. And I think I agree. Urnfield as traditionally defined arose in Southern Germany and Bohemia around 1300 BCE. Spreading into the Mediterranean peninsulas makes it the probable nursery also of Italic and maybe lllyrian, so Celtic formed only in a part of it — presumably the western part if the “Celtic” burials arrived in the Iberian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BCE. And that’s definitely too early for La Tène.

    This goes into the nature of the iterations of culture coming out of a core region around the Upper Danube. Possibly Bell Beaker, certainly Urnfield, Hallstadt, and La Tène. Each new culture more or less replaced the former throughout the same region in Central and Southern Europe, and I may well imagine that each came with a new koiné. It reminds me of the dynasties of China, now that I think of it.

    Anyway, whatever ran over the Peninsula in the late 3rd millennium, it wasn’t Celtic. I don’t know if it was Vasconian, but it looks significant that what separates the Basque regions from the rest genetically, is their isolation during and after the Roman era, i.e. they are Basque because they escaped latinization, not the other way around.

  117. John Cowan says

    The descendants of Steppe pastoralists, on the contrary, almost always imposed their languages (IE, Turkic) on the subjugated and mixed populations.

    Definitely not true of Mongols (neither westbound or eastbound) nor of Manchus. In the first case, nothing; in the second, minimal spread probably attributable to garrisons; in the third case, one garrison (the Xibe) plus essentially complete loss in the original homeland. So the cases we know best are the cases that don’t work.

  118. David Marjanović says

    Back from March 19th:

    (an added bonus: Carthaginian colonies near today’s Barcelona seem to be genetically similar to the Mycenaeans)

    No, that’s the Greek colony of Emporion, modern Empúries.

    March 30th:

    The cave painters in France/Spain are pre the time of Paleo-Basque? What language did they speak?

    Cro-Magnon is some 28,000 years old, placing it before the Last Glacial Maximum, when the permafrost reached southern Hungary and there don’t seem to have been humans north of the Alps; Altamira dates from its aftermath. From the timespan covered by Altamira comes the skeleton from El Mirón, also in northern Spain. Olalde et al. (2019) make a point of the fact that its genome is notably different from that of the Western Hunter-Gatherers found in the Iberian Mesolithic (like the two brothers from La Braña), though they find other Iberian Mesolithic genomes intermediate between the two, indicating interbreeding. It has long* been thought that the Eastern-Baltic-Scandinavian-Western Hunter-Gatherer continuum formed by post-LGM immigration of Ancient North Eurasians from Siberia or thereabouts; when they reached Spain, they evidently found descendants of the people who had survived the LGM in the Iberian refuge – and in the end swamped them genetically.

    That’s the first population influx in the hypothesis presented by Olalde et al. (2019). It is followed by the Early European Farmers from Anatolia, then by the two peoples with steppe ancestry. Most likely, then, the languages of the cave painters had undergone several replacements in a row before writing was first introduced in the Iberian peninsula.

    In short, they probably spoke something quite unlike anything known today, and we have no clue what it was like.

    * For a few years.

    The shared phonological features you list, incidentally, are shared with Iberian, which suggests at best that there were several phonologically similar languages in Sardinia and the Iberian peninsula at the time of the Roman conquest, whose phonological similarity may have been a purely areal feature (a point L. Mitxelena first made about Basque and Iberian, I believe). If I recall correctly Wolf also points to a number of very un-Basque-like and un-Iberian-like phonological features of the Sardinian substrate (the presence of an /m/ phoneme, for instance).

    Sure. Of course I would expect Basque and Iberian to be distantly related, and by geography I’d expect them to be less distantly related to each other than to Ante-Sardinian; it’s too bad the Iberian inscriptions are so limited and so poorly understood (though they do seem to contain a complete set of strikingly Basque-like numerals, as discussed at some length on Wikipedia). A further complication is that we don’t know if Iberian was in contact with Pre-Basque.

    while Basque contains a massive borrowed Latin/Romance element, it also contains very few if any loanwords from any other Indo-European language, including Celtic.

    True. A few have been identified, and a few more may lurk behind our incomplete knowledge of Gaulish and Celtiberian, but the number is clearly not large, much smaller than the Classical Latin layer alone.

    it looks significant that what separates the Basque regions from the rest genetically, is their isolation during and after the Roman era, i.e. they are Basque because they escaped latinization, not the other way around.

    The Basque region was also exempt from the Atlantic Bronze Age. But linguistically, the keyword is “Aquitanian”: Pre-Basque extended far north of today’s Basque-speaking region, and not as far south or west.

  119. Trond Engen says

    David M.: No, that’s the Greek colony of Emporion, modern Empúries.

    Yes, I meant to mention that and wish for a similar sampling of Carthaginian colonists. They do say that

    In the southeast, we recovered genomic data from 45 individuals dated between the 3rd and 16th centuries CE. All analyzed individuals fell outside the genetic variation of preceding Iberian Iron Age populations (Fig. 1, C and D, and fig. S3) and harbored ancestry from both Southern European and North African populations (Fig. 2D), as well as additional Levantine-related ancestry that could potentially reflect ancestry from Jewish groups. These results demonstrate that by the Roman period, southern Iberia had experienced a major influx of North African ancestry, probably related to the well-known mobility patterns during the Roman Empire or to the earlier Phoenician-Punic pres-ence; the latter is also supported by the observation of the Phoenician-associated Y-chromosome J2.

  120. Trond Engen says

    Dmitry Pruss: And it turns out to be a wider Celtic rite, not just Celtiberian. La Tene period Celtic dwellings in Austria also have indoor infant burials, and across much of Europe, cremated remains of younger children are conspicuously lacking, too

    I just became aware of Marianne Hem Eriksen (2017): Don’t all mothers love their children? Deposited infants as animate objects in the Scandinavian Iron Age (link to the final draft on the page), which tells of ritual children’s burials in wetlands and inside buildings throughout the Germanic world from the last centuries BCE until well into the 2nd millenium CE.

  121. A new paper on the ancient and modern DNA from a very diverse set of Basque populations and their neighbors doesn’t get us any closer to the question of the origins of the Vasconic languages. We do get a confirmation that the early Basques predated the Romans in Iberia by at least a few centuries, and that the Basque populations emerged from the same mix of genetic components as their neighbors (but there is nothing new about it now, although just a couple years ago, the lack of distinct autochthonous genetic component in the Basques would have come as a surprise to most people).
    https://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdfExtended/S0960-9822(21)00349-3

    But it is still a very interesting paper because it follows the demographic fates of the Basques after the Iron Age. It turns out that their populations have become remarkably reproductively isolated from their neighbors, and were relatively small in size, which allowed for accumulation and preservation of substantial chance differences both between the Basques and the non-Basques, and, almost as strongly, between the geographically separated Basque groups (which tend to be as about distinct from each other as they are from the Spaniards or the French). No doubt the language, and its dialectal differences, were synergetically involved in such isolation (lack of population exchanges helps preserve the language, and the linguistic barrier helps to separate the populations). Which begs the question, do we know WHEN the Basque dialects separated?

    The paper also tracks the mixing of the originally Vasconic populations on the periphery of today’s Basque lands to XI-XV th century, accompanied by the loss of language.

  122. Trond Engen says

    Basque itself as the barrier that isolated Basque! But avoiding romanization must have taken a deliberate effort by the community during the Roman Era. I suggest that
    (1) The Basques under Roman rule used Basque between them as a matter of cultural self-preservation and keeping the overlords away, much as a village in New-Guinea.
    (2) Since the Basque countries are larger than a village in New Guinea, they could increase the effect by lingustic endogamy.
    (3) Latin/local Romance was the language of out-group communication, maybe another means to keep Basque exclusive. This would have isolated the districts from eachother and let the dialects drift apart much like Irish dialects under English rule.

  123. David Marjanović says

    Fittingly, there’s no native word for “ethnic Basque” or “inhabitant of the Basque Country” in Basque, but there is one for “Basque speaker”: euskaldun.

  124. John Cowan says

    Wikt says otherwise, and gives both ‘Basque-speaker’ and ‘ethnic Basque’ as glosses. Of course, since not even the Devil was able to learn Basque in order to tempt them, having only learned the words for ‘yes’, ‘no’, and ‘Basque’ after seven years of hard study, there was hardly any point in making a distinction.

  125. My Basque dictionary (Aulestia/White) gives just “Basque” as the definition, but then has:

    euskaldundu v.i. to become Basque (language, culture, etc.), to become a Basque speaker, to learn Basque. v.t. to make Basque, to make (someone) familiar with Basque culture.

  126. Trond Engen says

    Me: (1) The Basques under Roman rule used Basque between them as a matter of cultural self-preservation and keeping the overlords away, much as a village in New-Guinea.

    This may work even better if the Basque seclusion started under the Celtiberians. If there was only limited mutual bilingualism before the Romans came, it turned into a full language barrier controlled unilaterally by the Basques when Latin became the outgrioup language and the Celtiberians eventually shifted to Latin.

  127. David Eddyshaw says

    “Hausa” is somewhat analogous: “Hausa” itself is primarily the name of a language rather than a people, and the ethnic unity of the “Hausawa” people is fundamentally based on the shared language, though nowadays this shared identity is also tied up with Islam. Historically, language seems to have been much more clearly the main thing that made a person “Hausa”: on the one hand, before colonial times many (even most) Hausa were not Muslims, on the other, there had not yet been such large-scale adoption of Hausa by groups which haven’t adopted Islam and (consequently) don’t self-identify as “Hausa.”

  128. J.W. Brewer says

    It would be easier to assess the degree to which the reproductive isolation of the Basques is “remarkable” if there were a comparative benchmark or two. How much more reproductively isolated for how much longer than other similar-sized ethnic groups in Europe that have been in roughly the same location for the last millennium or two and have maintained an exogamy-discouraging language barrier vis-a-vis their political overlords and/or newer arrivals with other ethnicities in their historical territory? (Welsh? Estonians? There may be other, better comparators I’m not thinking of. Island populations like those of Sardinia and Iceland are maybe not a fair comparison because of the geographical barrier to exogamy.)

  129. Trond Engen says

    Me: This may work even better if the Basque seclusion started under the Celtiberians.

    I obviously meant the Celibatarians.

  130. Dmitry Pruss says

    It would be easier to assess the degree to which the reproductive isolation of the Basques is “remarkable” if there were a comparative benchmark or two. How much more reproductively isolated for how much longer than other similar-sized ethnic groups in Europe that have been in roughly the same location for the last millennium or two and have maintained an exogamy-discouraging language barrier vis-a-vis their political overlords and/or newer arrivals with other ethnicities in their historical territory?

    it’s really not a straightforward question for the population genetics, because the genetic variation isn’t built up by the isolation. It is maintained by the isolation, but created by admixture and drift (random variation in the smaller, stagnant populations). The remarkable situation with the Basques is that they didn’t need any admixture to build up the genetic distinctiveness (unlike say the Finns or the Ashkenazi Jews). All there was is drift, which isn’t a very powerful variation-builder. Probably their population remained rather small for long periods of time…

    Europe is generally extremely homogenous genetically save for admixtures. Check for example Fig 5A in the paper. ALL of France and Spain is collapsed into one spot on a diversity map, but the Basque areas are all over. On Fig. 2A you can see the same 2D plot but at a lower scale, and there you see that Sardinia to Sweden, the European peoples are more alike than the Basques from their neighbors. One needs to get to the more admixed Eastern Europe to start seeing similar genomic distances.

  131. It’s interesting that the “French peri-Basque” in the Cell paper are more closely related to Spanish than to other French. Perhaps this relates to incursions into French territory that left Gascony relatively untouched?

    I’m much less surprised by the near 100% replacement of Neolithic male lineages than by near 100% replacement by R1B-M269. That’s one savage patriline. They didn’t even tolerate steppe mother’s brothers.

    Others above speculated about rapid replacement. That seems right, but the first wave wasn’t the conclusive one, since both I2 and unadmixed Iberian ancestry linger into the early 2nd millennium.

    Part of me wonders, though, whether there is a bias in the types of graves sampled.

  132. David Marjanović says

    I obviously meant the Celibatarians.

    You’ve obviously won the thread.

    BTW, the search for Celtic loanwords in Basque has been almost futile; but then, we know very little about both Celtic and Basque of the times and places in question.

    a comparative benchmark or two

    I’d suggest pretty much the entire Caucasus, except for the general lack of overlords there.

    It’s interesting that the “French peri-Basque” in the Cell paper are more closely related to Spanish than to other French. Perhaps this relates to incursions into French territory that left Gascony relatively untouched?

    Or to the fact that the Basques basically come from Aquitania?

  133. I’m now realizing that the French Peri-Basque may appear closer to the Spanish than the French for the simple reason that all Spanish seem to have a significant level of the Basque component of ancestry as labeled in this study, while the French have far less. (Figure 5b of the Cell paper.)

    Has anyone explored whether Basque may have been a highly successful conlang project from about 200 BC?

  134. Dmitry Pruss says

    for the simple reason that all Spanish seem to have a significant level of the Basque component of ancestry as labeled in this study, while the French have far less.

    I am also intrigued by the observation that the main dividing line there isn’t the Pyrenees / the national boundary, but rather an East-West line grouping the Basques of Spanish Roncal together with the French Basques, and the “peri-Basques” of N Aragon with the French peri-Basques… (Figs 5A, 6A) It somewhat corresponds to the dialectal map of Fig. S1, although they don’t try to hierarchically cluster the dialects.

  135. marie-lucie says

    this newspaper article in Italian about Basque-Sardinian resemblances

    Getting to this long thread quite late, and being quite ignorant of specific DNA etc genetic matters, I skipped a number of (for me) technically advanced posts, so perhaps I am not familiar enough with the topic to make sense, but after reading the above article (which includes a lot more examples than I expected), I wonder whether the situation could be explained in the following way:

    Sardinia was first inhabited by nuraghe-building people, who spoke a now unknown language. At some point it was invaded and colonized by Basque people, who became dominant and mixed with the original inhabitants, who ended up speaking mostly Basque. When the Romans took over the island, the now Basque-speaking population learned Latin with strongly Basque-influenced pronunciation but preserved a number of Basque lexical items, including many toponyms (preserving the pre-Latin ones).

    The Basque situation in Sardinia, a small island, was not the same as that in the Basque Country, which allowed the Basques there to resist Roman and later Spanish pressure both militarily and culturally.

    Would this make sense? Did anyone suggest it already? Is there strong evidence against it?

  136. the entire Caucasus

    Parallel Evolution of Genes and Languages in the Caucasus Region

    https://academic.oup.com/mbe/article/28/10/2905/973568

  137. David Marjanović says

    Has anyone explored whether Basque may have been a highly successful conlang project from about 200 BC?

    Then I want to meet the genius who was capable of inventing that.

    Would this make sense? Did anyone suggest it already? Is there strong evidence against it?

    Well, Sardinia is a rather large island, but it’s never been economically interesting for an empire, so the isolation effect is still there.

    However, I’m not aware of any historical or archeological reason to assume such an invasion. It seems more likely that Basque and the Sardinian substrate are leftovers of the language family brought in by Europe’s first farmers.

    Parallel Evolution of Genes and Languages in the Caucasus Region

    Oh, neat.

    We found a different major haplogroup to be prevalent in each of four sets of populations that occupy distinct geographic regions and belong to different linguistic branches. The haplogroup frequencies correlated with geography and, even more strongly, with language. Within haplogroups, a number of haplotype clusters were shown to be specific to individual populations and languages. The data suggested a direct origin of Caucasus male lineages from the Near East, followed by high levels of isolation, differentiation, and genetic drift in situ. Comparison of genetic and linguistic reconstructions covering the last few millennia showed striking correspondences between the topology and dates of the respective gene and language trees and with documented historical events. Overall, in the Caucasus region, unmatched levels of gene–language coevolution occurred within geographically isolated populations, probably due to its mountainous terrain.

  138. @JC:

    Wikt says otherwise, and gives both ‘Basque-speaker’ and ‘ethnic Basque’ as glosses.

    I’ve only ever seen euskaldún used for ‘ethnic Basque’ in Spanish. In Basque it’s unequivocally ‘Basque-speaker’ (cf. euskaldunzarra ‘L1 Basque speaker’, euskaldunberri ‘L2 Basque speaker’).

    But DM isn’t exactly right that ‘there’s no native word for “ethnic Basque” or “inhabitant of the Basque Country” in Basque’ — euskotar may be one of Sabino Arana’s coinages rather than an old vernacular term, but it has some currency.

  139. Oh, neat.

    Seconded.

    In Basque it’s unequivocally ‘Basque-speaker’

    Then how do you explain “euskaldundu v.i. to become Basque (language, culture, etc.), to become a Basque speaker, to learn Basque. v.t. to make Basque, to make (someone) familiar with Basque culture”?

  140. It is cute.
    Russian has обрусеть “to become Russian, to acquire some Russianness”, but it never occured to me that I could use обрусить, “to make someone Russian”.

  141. обрусить сделать кого-либо русским: по языку, нравам, убеждениям

  142. تعريب ta‘rīb “Arabization” is a prominent and rather contentious issue in North African politics.

    إعراب ’i‘rāb, on the other hand, just means putting in case and mood endings…

  143. As I said, it never occured to me, but it is a regular derivation.

    The abstract noun will be
    обрусение, from intransitive -et’
    обрушение, from transitive -it’, the same as from обрушить “to make something collapse”, обрушиться “to collapse”.

    Фонд содействия обрушению человечества (“Fund for Russianization(collapse) of humanity”) could be a very suggestive name for a Russian cultural organization.

  144. @languagehat: notice how all of those are primarily about language (and culture), not ethnicity or residence, which is pretty much what I was saying! If you euskaldundu at an euskaltegi you become euskaldun, regardless of where you live or who your ancestors were.

  145. notice how all of those are primarily about language (and culture), not ethnicity or residence, which is pretty much what I was saying!

    Ah, I thought you meant it was only language. If you’re including culture, then clearly there’s no contradiction.

  146. I was thinking about Arabization. I would say обарабить ob-aráb-it’ (transitive) and обарабиться ob-aráb-it’-sya (reflexive). But if I instead use обарабеть ob-arab-ét’ … It will be immediately misunderstood by everyone in two funny ways at once.

    Russian о- (“about”, similar to “be-” in “befriend” etc.) has forms о- and об-, and sounds the same way as а-, аб.

    1. *об-о-робеть. /abarabet’/ – a form of оробеть “to become shy”, where the speaker repeated the prefix twice. Sounds funny.

    2. *о-барабеть – from hypothetical *barab-ét’. This sounds totally as a girly insult:
    — ты чё, совсем обарабел!?

    Such a verb could be related to barabán “drum”, Barabashka (poltergeist, originally from girls dormitory), and Sara Barabou, mentioned by SFReader in antoher thread and clearly means something along the lines of figét’ (from “fig”).

  147. I think I will use it. Я обарабел и все обрушаю. (Обрушиваю? Рушу?).

    Everyone will think I am saying “I have gone nuts and now I am making everything collapse”.
    My Arab friends will know that I mean “I arabized myself and now I am russifying everything”

  148. marie-lucie says

    MLT: Did the Basque go to Sardinia before the Romans did?

    David M: However, I’m not aware of any historical or archeological reason to assume such an invasion. It seems more likely that Basque and the Sardinian substrate are leftovers of the language family brought in by Europe’s first farmers.

    Thank you, that makes sense too. The number of close resemblances, especially in the toponyms, make it unlikely that they are all coincidences.

  149. @lh: I suppose a more precise gloss is ‘a person having sociocultural communicative competence in Basque’, but I went for simplicity (articulation is expensive, inference is cheap and all that)

  150. ML: The article from the Italian paper has the possible “Basque” movement into Sardinia occurring in the 8th-10th millennium BCE. One issue is that I believe that at such a point, we’re talking about Iberian hunter-gatherers. While I have little trouble with their moving across the Mediterranean, it’s harder to understand the idea of such populations mounting an invasion or initiating any serious population turnover. And hard to believe that a handful of terms from 10-12,000 years ago persist in nearly identical form while the remainder of the two languages moved on. How would one pick that out of the noise?

    Dmitry: I believe I understand why you suggest that Basque or its predecessor came in with the steppe peoples, and how that fits with certain aspects of the evidence, and with one explanation of language change.

    Still, doesn’t the extremely narrow patriline pose a bit of a problem with this? Do any of the potential source populations show this extent of dominance by R-M269? You have to assume that despite the steppe invaders coming from various language backgrounds that the R-M269 patriline managed to recruit an invasion force that came to Iberia with not merely a sense of fictive kinship, but actual, direct kinship. That this invasive force somehow transcended language difference without recruiting anyone from these diverse groups that wasn’t R-M269, in order to commit a genocide that nonetheless maintained these distinctive languages in different places.

    This would be much easier to accept if the invasive groups were diverse both linguistically and genetically.

    I think it’s more parsimonious to assume a smaller invasive group dominated by a network of cousins speaking the same language, and to assume that different linguistic conditions tipped things different ways in different places. The Koch version seems compelling, that the invasive language eventually prevailed anywhere that was tied into the Atlantic Bronze Age culture.

    The centuries-long delay between the initial appearances of steppe ancestry in Iberia and the replacement period is also interesting. I wonder whether the replacement also involved the destruction of earlier Iberian R-lineages. The alternative would be that the early invaders maintained cultural distinctions from the people they lived amongst and links with their cousins further east for centuries. Which seems possible, but surprising to me.

  151. David Marjanović says

    On the genetic history of Siberia, see the comments from 2019 in this thread.

  152. Dmitry Pruss says

    @Ryan – I am not beholden to “local” vs. “invasive” theories of Basque. Of course we know that the Steppe invaders overrun Europe, and brought one group of languages with them. We also know that they brought one branch of R1b with them, and it was a relatively new branch, only emerging 1000-1500 years before it took over Europe’s West. So we tend to conclude that these Steppe peoples brought *only one* group of languages of them, both because they were somewhat closely related before the migration, and because we don’t know almost anything about the non-IE languages in the post-migration period.

    On the one hand non-IE languages survived in the Steppe peoples’ descendants (the Vasconic ones, of course) so the paradigm of migration-replacing-all-languages would have to have an exception if the Vasconic languages were autochthonous. So the local origin hypothesis agrees with the broad theory in some parts, but makes an exception in another part.

    One the other hand later-era Steppe invasion were often multi-lingual; and the Basque population underwent extensive genetic drift which could have result in the loss of once-common Y-haplotypes, making their today’s distribution somewhat misleading. And of course many language branches once spread by the early Indo-Europeans have become extinct, and are only known because of their literacy, so perhaps the same migrations of peoples might have spread other languages too, unknown to us today because they went extinct in the pre-literacy era, perhaps not all of them Indo-European.

    So I wouldn’t bury the hypothesis of migratory origins of the Vasconic languages just yet.

  153. This elongated form of “Basques” on 2A.

    It can not be “drift” – why would they drift along, specifically, the principal component on a plot?

  154. All: I refer back to my March 30, 2019 (3:46 pm) comment above: the evidence for a Basque-like substrate in Sardinia is weak to non-existent. The presence of a handful of similar-looking words in Basque and Sardinian proves nothing as to the nature of the pre-Roman language(s) of Sardinia, inasmuch as we cannot exclude the possibility that these words entered Basque and Sardinian at a very late date.

    David Marjanović: On the Basque language having spread from Aquitania: this is what a linguist had already suggested over sixty years ago, as I had pointed out in my December 9 2009 10:43 comment right here at Casa Hat, a part of which I quote here:

    “On the expansion of Basque at the expense of Romance in the present-day Spanish Basque country, see Schmoll, Ulrich. 1959. DIE SPRACHEN DER VORKELTISCHEN INDOGERMANEN HISPANIENS UND DAS KELTIBERISCHE. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrasowitz.”

    Dmitry Pruss: the Basque dialects seem to have separated sometime between the sixth and ninth century AD, a fact which supports the idea that Basque linguistic expansion postdates the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Echoing a recent comment of mine here, it is striking that the languages peripheral to the Western Roman Empire seem to have been highly uniform at a point in time which roughly coincides with, or immediately follows, the date of the fall of said empire, suggesting that these languages (Proto-Basque, Proto-Albanian, Proto-Brythonic…) must have wiped out a huge deal of earlier linguistic diversity, just in the same way that Latin-Romance must have.

    Ryan: Basque as a Conlang? I genuinely doubt it: Basque is typologically odd by Western European standards, but by global standards it is a typologically unexceptional language. Now, Basque as a pidgin-turned-creole? Ah, now THAT is quite possible to my mind (Yes, I am willing to elaborate, if anyone wishes me to do so).

  155. Casa Hat,

    etxe Hat.

    I once was curious about “Xavier”, which of course comes from Francis Xavier, the second greatest missionary after st. Paul, which is a name of a family and a town of Javier in Navarra which is possibly from the same surname as “Echavarria” from Basque Etxeberri which means Casanova which leads to the question, why “New house” became a popular surname in these different langauges?

  156. Etxekapela.

  157. PlasticPaddy says

    @drasvi
    There are placenames Casanova in Spain, Italy and Corsica. So I would say the surnames are from the placenames. If you are asking why the placenames, I would say House is a topographical element and New is a descriptive element to distinguish it from another House place (or maybe an older family house or settlement was destroyed, disused, abandoned, haunted by an angry ghost, argued over, etc. and a new one was built 5 kilometres away).

  158. Dmitry Pruss says

    it is striking that the languages peripheral to the Western Roman Empire seem to have been highly uniform at a point in time which roughly coincides with, or immediately follows, the date of the fall of said empire, suggesting that these languages (Proto-Basque, Proto-Albanian, Proto-Brythonic…) must have wiped out a huge deal of earlier linguistic diversity

    at least for proto-Basque it parallels a loss of genetic diversity documented in the paper, which concludes that the founder population of today’s Basques used to be quite small. Perhaps they expanded to their early medieval range only during or after the fall of the empire? While their sister peoples / languages didn’t survive the Roman times…

    why would they drift along, specifically, the principal component on a plot?

    But of course it isn’t just a genetic drift. The drift is what separated them from their Iron Age ancestors, and from each other, but their neighbors had additional demographic processes enriching them with the DNA from the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean.

  159. David Marjanović says

    …not Siberia.

    Iberia.

    Let’s all blame muscle memory.

    So I wouldn’t bury the hypothesis of migratory origins of the Vasconic languages just yet.

    The principle of parsimony argues otherwise.

    It can not be “drift” – why would they drift along, specifically, the principal component on a plot?

    Principal components are calculated from the data. They’re not chosen independently.

    The presence of a handful of similar-looking words in Basque and Sardinian

    Including a whole list of toponyms.

    we cannot exclude the possibility that these words entered Basque and Sardinian at a very late date

    Entered from where? They’re not Romance/Latin, and apparently not IE at all, nor Semitic or Berber.

    On the Basque language having spread from Aquitania: this is what a linguist had already suggested over sixty years ago

    Yes, this has long been textbook knowledge. I didn’t mean to present it as new.

    Now, Basque as a pidgin-turned-creole? Ah, now THAT is quite possible to my mind (Yes, I am willing to elaborate, if anyone wishes me to do so).

    Please do!

    why “New house” became a popular surname in these different langauges?

    Also Neuhaus and Neuhauser. And Chenoweth. Simply, “the one with the new house” was often distinguishing enough to serve as a surname.

    As Basque forms of this name (literally “the new house”), different dialects have Etxebarria, Etxeberria and even Etxaberria; that last one must be the source of Xavier.

  160. Linguistic diversity in Southern Europe probably plummeted in Roman times, as urbanization and large-scale trade threatened smaller language groups. I don’t think we have a clear idea how diverse rural areas were linguistically in the Western Roman Empire. We know there were still Etruscan-speaking villages in Tuscany in the first century only because the Etruscans were interesting and historically important enough enough to some Romans (such as the emperor Claudius) that they recorded that fact. But even the information about Etruscan is very limited; we don’t even know when the language finally died out. There may well have been many other similar non-Indo-European languages persisting in rural areas of the empire that were not documented in any surviving records. Most of them would have disappeared, overwhelmed by cultural and economic assimilation into more widespread Indo-European culture, and except for a few surviving toponyms, we might never know the existed. However, where happenstance and geography (isolating islands and mountains, for example) were favorable, a rump population, like the early Basques, might survive. Groups maintaining a degree of reproductive isolation would also find it easier to preserve their indigenous languages. After the barbarian invasions and the collapse of many large-scale trade networks, there would be less selection pressure against speaking a local, isolate language, and Basque could recover and gain speakers agsin.

  161. I was joking about the conlang idea. I doubt that was a thing BCE.

    >>The presence of a handful of similar-looking words in Basque and Sardinian

    >Including a whole list of toponyms.

    I could more easily imagine relict words today from Vasconic-speaking Beakers heading to Sardinia around 2,100 BCE than from Blasco Ferrer’s Vasconic hunter-gatherers from 7-12,000 years ago, depending on whether you take the summary of B-F from the Italian newspaper (8-10K BCE) or the Basque blogger (5-8,000 BCE.) But that would imply that the Beakers came in and renamed the topography, which is possible, but unsatisfying. The very reason for zeroing in on these words in the absence of other significant correspondences is their perceived conservatism against language change.

    I’m not seeing a suggestion that the toponymics were produced by regular sound change. Instead, they’re all just modern Basque words. That would be extraordinary over 4,000 years from the Beakers, and for B-F’s theory of a a migration 7-12,000 years ago… The toponymics carry no meaning known to Sardinians, making the relationship nearly untestable, no real way of knowing these aren’t just random syllables.

  162. “Principal components are calculated from the data. They’re not chosen independently.”

    Well, along any vector:/

  163. Trond Engen says

    The drift vector is also a vector. The point is that with significant random drift in a significant part of the data, the drift vector defines an eigenvector.

  164. @Trond, if we are having many isolated communities of Basques, each drifing in a random direction, why would they form a line? (or a hyper-pancake, orthogonal to our plane)

    This is what I am objecting to. It is easier to explain as
    1) artifact
    2) one “strange” (due to drift or anythign) community, elongated due to different degrees of admixture of “eastern” component.*


    I think someone above explained internal variation between Basques with drift – and connected this elonagated shape to it. I am objecting to this.

    * and only Eastern.

  165. Dmitry Pruss says

    each drifing in a random direction

    they probably would, but the scale of each axis on the graph is defined by genetic dissimilarities between the external groups included in the graph, and so depending on the specifics of the included groups, your circular shape of diffusion may start looking like an elongated ellipse.

    In any case the question is probably mute, after I explained that it’s not all drift, but there was also a post-Iron Age admixture in the French and in the Spaniards which is relatively absent in the Basques? I even quoted your question, right? But you probably missed it?

  166. Trond Engen says

    Oh, right, I missed your point. I think more inter-breeding between the Basque groups than with the external population would do that.

    Edit: Or probably what Dmitry said. He knows the stuff. I’m faking it.

  167. It’s also relatively easy to explain as a problem with the ancient sampling and/or a misunderstanding of population movements in the time since. DM’s point about Basque expansion in the early Middle Ages may mean that ancient samples from modern Pais Vasco are less probative than is assumed for the question of Basque genetics.

    There are a number of other ways in which the data may not support the interpretation it’s been given. Most of the Olalde Bronze Age samples for the Basque area seem to come from La Hoya, which if I understand, was a new town in the middle Bronze Age, its graveyards less representative of the region than we think.

  168. It’s true that Olalde’s ancient Basque area DNA may have been not a perfect representation of the surrounding area (and the area occupied by the ancestors of the Basques at the time isn’t well known either). But the continuity of the Basque genomic composition since Iron Age has been demonstrated using contemporary Basque samples and ancient Iron Age samples from the broader area, without the actual ancient Basque bones. So the exact relationship between La Hoya dwellers and proto-Basques isn’t important for this conclusion (about Iron Age continuity). But it may be important for the details about the pace of Bronze age transformation (remember that in Olalde’s samples, by comparing the rates of Steppe replacement of Y chromosomes vs. autosomes, we conclude that the Steppe invasion resulted in an abrupt elimination of the local males and quick one-time mixing. But we don’t know if the same dynamic was true for the Basque ancestors)

    It also occurred to me that the Etruscans of Iron Age were shown to be as rich in Steppe ancestry as their Roman neighbors (on the order of 30%), and this might strengthen the idea that at the Southern boundaries of the Steppe-originated populations moves, some autochthonous languages might have survived despite a substantial population replacement. Very few ancient Etruscan samples are available AFAIK, including just one male with a J2b Y-chromosome, so it is even harder to guess in which ways did the Etruscans get their Steppe DNA components. It’s largely buried in the Supplemental pdf file here:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7093155/

  169. Brett, check out The Linguistic Diversity of Aboriginal Europe, on Language Log from 2009, by Don Ringe.

  170. @Dmitry Pruss, thank you! Than I misunderstood:(

    This Basque line looks anomalous to me. “An elongated ellipse oriented towars east” as such would not be surprising. But that long and narrow it makes me feel instinctively Stanislavsky’s “I don’t believe!”, and suspect an artifcact. It is not similar to anything else on the plot:/

  171. Stanislavsky’s “I don’t believe!”

    Stanislavsky is all about presentation, not the facts. If it is the presentation which leaves you wanting, then there is nothing I can do.

    As to the facts, let me try one last time. The authors conclude that the French and the Spaniards got a substantial East / South Mediterranean admixture, mostly in Roman times, and later on, it uniformly mixed in their populations ( compare with Fig. 4a in https://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdfExtended/S0960-9822(21)00349-3 ). That’s why they are pulled away from the “green cloud” in Fig.2 in the direction of some Middle Eastern and North African populations. Of old, they would have been in the green cloud too.

    The Basques, on the other hand, got far less of the Roman and post-Roman admixtures, and it didn’t mix evenly. That’s why some of the green dots are pulled, slightly and in a varying fashion, in the same direction. The peri-Basques got shifted even more in the same direction (to the right on the graph).

    Of course just the drift alone could have created elongated clouds if one of the PCA axes packs in a lot more diversity than the other, due to the inclusion of the more diverse populations with the differences projecting mostly on this axis…

  172. Dmitry Pruss says

    The Linguistic Diversity of Aboriginal Europe, on Language Log from 2009

    Nice to see the whole opening section centered on Nichols 1990, a perfect linguistic counterpart to the prevailing population genomics thoughts of the same era. The idea was that the diversity emerges in situ, gradually diffusing out and accumulating more change with increasing geographical separation. Of course we now know that in DNA, the major engine of diversity turned out to be very different: migrations and hybridization of the very dissimilar populations…

    But it was also important to me to realize that the deep tracing of the IE lineages, going 6,000 years into the past, may only be possible because we we have numerous ancient snapshots of the IE languages through their literacies. Without either the numerous ancient texts or the multiple preserved lines of IE evolution, we might have been unable to connect some dots, and the grand tree might have fallen apart into a smaller tree or two and some questionable isolates? It makes me think, then … if the genetic continuity of R1 Y chromosomal lineages is at least 1500 years deeper in time, and if the still-poorly mobile hunters-gatherers of the forest-steppe boundary were acquiring linguistic variation as fast as we expect them to do, then perhaps they developed so much variation so early that we may now be unable to recognize the descendants of their languages as organically linked? Just because the shared roots are buried another millennium or two deeper in time, and because fewer branches and lots fewer texts remain? That’s in favor of the Steppe invader origin of the Basque etc.

    On the other hand, if some invading IE speakers slaughtered the local men, fathered lots of children, and then got excited by better opportunities elsewhere and took off (or were small in numbers, and ended up hunted and killed off by the resurgent local resistance), then the powerful but short-lived pulse of Steppe ancestry might have done nothing to change the local languages…

  173. @Dmitry, I jsut wanted to thank you (seriously) and explain what invited my comments. Not a desire to argue with anyone here, but a surprise!

  174. David Marjanović says

    the deep tracing of the IE lineages, going 6,000 years into the past, may only be possible because we we have numerous ancient snapshots of the IE languages through their literacies. Without either the numerous ancient texts or the multiple preserved lines of IE evolution, we might have been unable to connect some dots, and the grand tree might have fallen apart into a smaller tree or two and some questionable isolates?

    That is easy to exaggerate. Without all the written records, reconstructing PIE would have been harder, it couldn’t have been as successful as early as it was, and we’d probably have more gaps in the reconstructed grammar and definitely the reconstructed vocabulary; but other than that, it could be done with modern means (…which might not yet exist, because they were, of course, mostly developed by research on IE).

  175. Dmitry Pruss says

    That is easy to exaggerate.

    I know. But aren’t there some real examples? Say the Caucasus, with a lot of languages, and a widespread belief that many of them developed locally a very long time ago, and may be organically connected … but with only shallow or hypothetically connected trees?

    I understand that there may not be a real answer, just a feeling / a guess, but that’s what I would love to hear. What is your feeling about a hypothesis that pre-proto-Vasconic might have had shared roots with PIE some 1500 years before PIE, but this added depth in time, and relative lack of diverse / ancient sources in the Vasconic branch, prevents us from recognizing the once-noticeable, now-invisible link?

  176. It’s obviously possible, but equally obviously impossible to prove, so I tend to ignore such hypotheses.

  177. David Marjanović says

    What’s going on with the Caucasian languages is simply a lack of research. The famous or infamous North Caucasian Etymological Dictionary (published in 1994, based on work that was done earlier, mostly much earlier) flat-out said that tones are ignored throughout, because for most languages known to have them, they simply haven’t been described; on the Khinalug language, which is an isolated branch of East Caucasian, the book simply says there’s no information at all; and what information there is is sometimes pretty distorted (e.g. if you compare the description of Archi with the more recent one used in Wikipedia, the latter is more detailed and makes a lot more sense).

    What is your feeling about a hypothesis that pre-proto-Vasconic might have had shared roots with PIE some 1500 years before PIE

    That would be noticeable. People have tried, and failed pretty badly.

    Language families that really look like they could be that close to IE, or nearly so, are Raetic–Etruscan–Lemnian and Uralic. Basque, including what little we have of Aquitanian, is just very, very different from all that; instead, it shares some grammar and some interesting vocabulary with Caucasian and beyond, but even that is definitely less close than IE and Etruscan.

  178. J.W. Brewer says

    That’s one of the interesting limitations of historical linguistics – it’s easy to propose a hypothesis (that may seem plausible on historical/archeological/etc grounds) that language X and Y had a common ancestor but diverged at a time depth that makes it plausible that there’s not enough evidence to actually establish the connection. But if there’s (understandably) no way to either confirm or disconfirm the hypothesis, what do you do with it?

  179. @DM, Dmitriy: That makes me think of a scenario where some para-Caucasian speaking groups rode with the IEans, like Iranian Alans associated with Germanic tribes during the Great migration, Ugric Hungarians with Turkic tribes, or Turkic tribes with Mongols; like the Alans, they spread over large parts of Europe, causing Vasconic toponymy, but unlike the Alans in Europe, they concentrate sufficiently in one area (Aquitania) so that their language survives. Is that the scenario you have in mind?

  180. David Marjanović says

    What I have in mind is simpler: Basque and the Sardinian substrate are almost all of what’s left of the language family brought to Europe by Europe’s first farmers a few thousand years before IE.

  181. About anomalies on the picture (again, this one), I wonder what is this island of North Africans next to Italy.

    I’ll look at their sources I think.

    Apart of Basques, Sardinia and this island the picture is a map of Europe, with north-northeast at the top.

  182. David Marjanović says

    this island of North Africans next to Italy.

    Malta?

  183. Dmitry Pruss says

    they spread over large parts of Europe, causing Vasconic toponymy, but unlike the Alans in Europe, they concentrate sufficiently in one area (Aquitania) so that their language survives. Is that the scenario you have in mind?
    DM:
    What I have in mind is simpler: Basque and the Sardinian substrate are almost all of what’s left of the language family brought to Europe by Europe’s first farmers a few thousand years before IE.

    and I am thinking about both scenarios. They both have additional issues in light of the genomic data which suggest a quick replacement of the male line in Bronze Age Iberia.

    Indeed, if the Vasconic languages were invasive, then the continuity of Y-chromosomal haplotypes between the Basques and Europe’s Indo-Europeans suggests that their ancestors weren’t just “fellow travelers” within a broad tribal confederation, but actually relatively genetically close groups, with at most 1500 years separating them from the common ancestors. But their languages may be too distant to make it possible.
    But if the Vasconic languages were remnants of the Neolithic Europe, then how they survived through a demographic upheaval which was as destructive or worse in scale than everywhere else in Europe? The genomic outcome just doesn’t look like a group which successfully hid in the mountains from slaughter and rape…

  184. Well, we know that the IEans were patrilocal, practiced bride exchange and guest networks, and there is the idea that they worked like a franchise – allies could join the exchanges and the network, and to participate they’d learn IEan, which is one way how the language spread. So one possible scenario (contradicting the one I outlined above) would be that the ancestors of the Basques in the male line were excluded from that exchange, maybe due to feuds or for their own reasons, and then drifted to the language spoken by their local spouses. That would also fit with the endogamy, if it goes back that far.
    A similar scenario could, of course, have happened to Vasconic speakers in the steppe – IE (or 1500-years-before-PIE) males intermarry para-Caucasian wives and switch to their language (maybe the patrilocal franchise operation didn’t yet work back then) and form a Vasconic tribe that later associates with their IE cousins.

  185. Malta?

    Yes, likely they used someone African data, and this someone (reasonably) included Malta or Sicily for comparison.

    If North Africa as such turned out to be even more patchy than I thought (it is patchy), that would be interesting, of coruse.

  186. Trond Engen says

    I know I introduced the mass slaughter and rape scenario upthread, but let me also say that it’s unbelievable. Or maybe I wish it were. An operation with that efficency on that scale and spanning generations is beyond anything else in known human history. If it’s actually true, the generations of blood-related males who took Iberia were the most brutal and ideologically zealous group of men that humanity’s ever produced. By far, and that’s saying something. I’ll restate my question about what kind of society that would produce those boys.

  187. I remembered how I googled (but did not check) figures for Armenian losses in WWII.

    1.5M pre-war population (~750k males?)
    600k went to the war (all able men?)
    300k returned.

  188. All: It seems to me that, from a linguistic point of view, the surprising thing about Basque is not only its not having been replaced by Romance, it is also its relative uniformity: the dialect diversity of Basque is a post-imperial phenomenon, and thus in circa 500 A.D. Proto-Romance (?Proto-Italo-Western Romance, perhaps?) and Proto-Basque were each comparatively uniform languages.

    Now, to anyone familiar with the extreme dialect diversity of Romance within the Pyrenees (or, for that matter, Southern France and Northern Spain) until comparatively recent times (or of Slovenian/High German/Rhaeto-Romance varieties in the Alpine area, or of the languages of the Caucasus), it should seem extraordinarily unlikely that the pre-Roman linguistic situation in the Western Pyrenees was one of linguistic uniformity, with a Proto-Basque language being the only language present. That seems about as likely as the idea that all of the British Isles spoke nothing but Proto-Insular Celtic, all of the inland Western Balkans nothing but Proto-Albanian, all of coastal North Africa nothing but Proto-Berber.

    Instead, it seems to me we should regard the post-Roman linguistic landscape as the aftermath not only of the expansion of Latin/Romance, but also of the expansion of Proto-Basque and of several other Proto-languages in the wake of the fall of the Western Roman Empire. And considering the heavy Latin/Romance lexical influence found in several of these Proto-languages, including Basque itself, we could ask whether these non-Latin/Romance languages might not owe their prestige to their being perceived as gateways to the broader (=Roman) world.

    In this light I picture the linguistic history of the Western Pyrenees over the centuries before the fall of the Western Roman Empire something like this: Before the Romance conquest: Massive linguistic diversity, with languages belonging to different language families: Indo-European certainly, “Vasconic” probably, and possibly others of which no trace is left.

    In the immediate aftermath of the Roman conquest: From Southern Aquitania Proto-Basque gradually spreads into the mountains, first as an L2 for inter-ethnic communication and then as an L1: it serves as a “median” language between the more prestigious Latin/Romance to the North (whose spread southwards at the expense of close Vasconic relatives of Proto-Basque mirrors the Proto-Basque spread within the Western Pyrenees and areas immediately South) and the Indigenous languages to the South: the latter, much like highlanders in the Caucasus, learn the lowlanders’ language(s), and over the half-millennium between their conquest by the Romans and the fall of the Western Empire Proto-Basque is this language. Its expansion at the expense of the (other) Indigenous languages of the Western Pyrenees is similar to the spread of Kumyk in Dagestan (which was discussed right here at the Hattery almost a decade ago).

    By contrast, in the Eastern Pyrenees Latin/Romance directly spreads at the expense of the indigenous mountain languages. Subsequently, back West, Basque contracts and Romance expands, with all the other languages of the area having been eliminated.

    David: what I meant about Basque-like words in Sardinian is that perhaps these words, non-Latin in origin, became part of spoken Latin, and were preserved in Sardinian only, and in Basque are part of the borrowed Latin element.

    Finally, on Basque as a possible pidgin-turned-creole:

    (For what follows, I am indebted to data from this book: https://benjamins.com/catalog/cilt.131)

    First, what is striking about Proto-Basque is its extreme phonological simplicity: 16 consonants, 5 vowels. If Trask was right in believing that the strong-weak opposition in Basque consonants was originally a mere simple/geminate opposition, then we could analyze (pre?)-Proto-Basque as having had a mere…8 consonant phonemes. To this small phoneme inventory can be added strikingly un-exotic phonotactics. In fact, from this point of view, Proto-Basque looks like a language of Polynesia far more than a language of the Caucasus.

    (Incidentally, this phonological simplicity means that the odds of finding coincidental similarities between Basque and some other language(s) is tangibly greater than is the case for most languages).

    Second, much of Basque morphology looks like a system which even in Proto-Basque itself may well have been a system of free morphemes. Basque declension involves no agreement within the NP, a single declension class (the definite/indefinite opposition, along with number marking within the NP, is definitely post-Proto-Basque), and thus a case could be made that Proto-Basque had an NP with no case inflections: instead, it had a system of postpositions and no inflectional morphology (typologically, this would have been very Korean- or Japanese-like).

    As for Basque verb morphology, it is indeed complex: but it is also transparent: for instance, the bulk of personal agreement markers in the verb derive quite unproblematically from the forms of the free pronouns, suggesting that in Proto-Basque there existed a single set of person-marking morphemes, which could be free or attached as a clitic to a verb. In both nouns and verbs there is VERY little allomorphy, incredibly little when compared to Indo-European languages. This, again, suggests that these bound morphemes may have been free ones back in Proto-Basque times.

    So: a language with a reduced phoneme inventory, simple phonotactics, and little to no morphology, which must have arisen and spread in a region with high linguistic diversity. Perhaps I am letting my imagination get the better of me, but that sounds like a pidgin-turned-creole to me.

    P.S. I know nothing whatsoever of population genetics, and will let other Hatters more learned than I in such matters discuss whether the genetic evidence confirms/refutes/is compatible with the scenario I have just sketched.

  189. Etienne: OK, but is it fair using IE as the standard for what’s a typical non-creole phonology/morphology? Moreover, creoles typically have smaller phoneme inventories than their lexifiers, not necessarily small.

  190. David Eddyshaw says

    Might not the apparent homogeneity of Proto-Brythonic, Proto-Basque etc be to some extent an artefact of the comparative method itself, which by nature prioritises similarities over differences?

  191. Y: Well, the geographically closest languages to Proto-Basque of which we know something are Gaulish and Celtiberian. Furthermore, the toponymy in the Spanish Basque country is mostly Indo-European too. So we would expect Proto-Basque to be typologically not too unlike these languages, whose structure is typical of what used to be called a “Brugmannian” Indo-European language. The fact that in both phonology and in inflectional morphology Proto-Basque is much, much more pidgin-like than Gaulish- or Celtiberian-like is to my eyes…well, suggestive.

    You are right that creoles typically have smaller phoneme inventories in relative terms (compared to their lexifiers) than in absolute terms. Meaning that if a language has an unusually reduced phoneme inventory *compared to its neighbors* this *could* be due to prior pidginization/creolization. My point is that the Proto-Basque system is not just simple in areal terms, it seems close to the minimum number of phonemes a human language can have, making it unusually simple indeed. Again, this is suggestive.

  192. When the inventory of attested daughter languages/dialects is very small, it is easy to envision situations for which sounds lost by mergers may be impossible to reconstruct in the proto-language.

  193. Brett, David Eddyshaw: You are quite right, there is a margin of error when a language is reconstructed. But please bear in mind that:

    1-For the languages we are talking about in this instance their reconstruction is on much more solid ground than is the case for most. First of all, in the case of Proto-Albanian and Proto-Brythonic we have other Indo-European languages (the closely related Old Irish in the case of Proto-Brythonic) which can serve to refine our reconstruction: we also, in the case of these languages as well as Proto-Basque, have the large Latin/Romance element in each of these Proto-languages as an indicator of the state of the phonology of the proto-language(s) when these Latin/Romance loanwords entered the language.

    2-This margin of error is liable to make the Proto-language appear either more of less pidgin/creole-like, according to the data. For example, if we had to reconstruct Proto-Romance on the basis of Modern French and Modern Spanish only, we would probably (on the basis of a morphologically shared future tense, including such shared irregularities as /ba-ir’a/, French /va-ira/) reconstruct a proto-language which had an inflected future tense. This would be ahistorical (the Spanish future was analytical as early as in Old Spanish), but with Modern Spanish and Modern French data only there would be no way to prove that this shared feature does not go back to a common protolanguage.

    The same is true for phonology, of course: reconstructing Romance from (say) French and Portuguese it would be well-nigh impossible to avoid postulating a set of nasal vowel phonemes for the ancestral proto-language: we know that such an intermediate proto-language with nasal vowel phonemes never existed.

    3-Meaning that I am quite certain that Proto-Basque was more pidgin-like than its neighboring languages, in phonology/phonotactics and morphosyntax.

    4-Does 3 mean that Proto-Basque indeed WAS a pidgin which nativized as it spread? Well, I do not know. But I thought the possibility was worth mentioning.

  194. David Marjanović says

    Admittedly, in the western Pyrenees, maybe there was an Asterix situation, and Proto-Basque was a one-village language (all neighbors of that village having more or less recently romanized) when suddenly the Vandals went through, vandalizing everything in their reach, and the sociolinguistic situation began to make somersaults.

    That does not work for Britain, and would surprise me in North Africa. It might work for the Balkans, but that may just be my ignorance speaking.

    what I meant about Basque-like words in Sardinian is that perhaps these words, non-Latin in origin, became part of spoken Latin, and were preserved in Sardinian only, and in Basque are part of the borrowed Latin element.

    what I meant about Basque-like words in Sardinian is that perhaps these words, non-Latin in origin, became part of spoken Latin, and were preserved in Sardinian only, and in Basque are part of the borrowed Latin element.

    By no means impossible, but not parsimonious either.

    what is striking about Proto-Basque is its extreme phonological simplicity:

    Good point – but I think sustained contact alone will do that. Consider East Yiddish: it, too, has a 5-vowel system, which happens to be the lowest common denominator between the Slavic languages of the same places (6 to 10 vowels) and the closest German varieties (12 upward).

    Contact phenomena are obvious elsewhere in the sound system. The change from a Danish-style plosive system (aspiration contrast word-initially, plosive vs. approximant contrast elsewhere; aspiration is preserved to some extent in the northern dialects that have also kept /h/) to a Spanish-style one (plosive vs. approximant everywhere) is not likely to be independent from the change from a voice contrast to plosive vs. approximant in Spanish (+ Catalan) itself. The very un-pidgin-like contrasts in the Basque consonant system between laminal and alveolar variants of /s/ and /r/ are likewise shared with Spanish (before southern Spanish lost the /s/ contrast and northern Spanish moved the laminal /s/ to [θ]), even though they arose in very different ways: in Spanish (also Portuguese and at least some kinds of Occitan, and I forgot about Catalan), the /r/ contrast directly continues the Latin contrast of /r/ and /rː/, and the laminal /s/ comes from palatalization of Latin /k/; in Basque, the alveolar /r/ comes mostly from short intervocalic /l/, and the alveolar /s/ comes from the older laminal /s/ in rounding environments (and then from Romance loans). And while a change of intervocalic /l/ to /r/ isn’t remarkable globally, it is rather odd in a European context, but it is shared by Gascon (de la > dera). Better yet: the French /u/ > [y] change is shared by Gascon and was taken up by northern Basque – except next to the alveolar consonants, which is how we can tell it spread to Basque as a fashion and did not originate there.

    Evidence that the alveolar /s/ is an innovation in Basque comes from Latin loanwords. “Paradise”, for example, occurs in two forms: baradizu with the laminal /s/ and paradisu with the alveolar one. /p/ is a loanword phoneme in Basque (as befits the former aspiration contrast) and is missing in such words as bake “peace” < pacem, so paradisu has to be an updated form.

    If Trask was right in believing that the strong-weak opposition in Basque consonants was originally a mere simple/geminate opposition, then we could analyze (pre?)-Proto-Basque as having had a mere…8 consonant phonemes.

    No, 16, unless you want to posit a really abstract “chroneme”.

    And the fact that /m/ was not among the 16 consonants is not at all pidgin-/creole-like in any context outside parts of North America.

    Basque declension involves no agreement within the NP

    Agreement of adjectives with nouns, if that’s what you mean, is rather rare outside of IE anyway. Hungarian lacks it; its presence in Finnic has long been blamed on IE contacts.

    As for Basque verb morphology, it is indeed complex: but it is also transparent:

    That’s not the case for the d morph that shows up in certain common verb forms for no synchronic reason.

    the bulk of personal agreement markers in the verb derive quite unproblematically from the forms of the free pronouns, suggesting that in Proto-Basque there existed a single set of person-marking morphemes, which could be free or attached as a clitic to a verb.

    That can be deceptive, though, because pronouns and verb endings can influence and outright replace each other in fully inflected languages, too.

    Example 1: the 1pl verb ending in different Slavic languages today is -m, -me, -mo or -my. -m and maybe -mo can be derived from the attested -mъ, which can be straightforwardly traced back to PIE; -me is probably related to that in one of three plausible ways; -my makes no sense, except for the fact that it’s identical to the free pronoun. Clearly, the verb ending was modified after the pronoun in Polish.

    Example 2: in Bavarian dialects, when the 1pl ending -/n/ is followed by the 1pl nominative clitic -/mɐ/, it disappears and causes length metathesis (e.g. *-/Cnmɐ/ > *-/Cmːɐ/ > -/Cːmɐ/), unlike the identical 1sg dative clitic. In Lower Bavarian, -/mɐ/ is no longer a clitic, but has replaced the ending completely and is now used even when the independent pronoun is present.

    Example 3: that pronoun isn’t /vɪɐ̯/, but /mɪɐ̯/. This comes from what happened when it followed the verb ending about 1000 years ago: *-[nw]- > *-[mː]-, reinterpreted as -/nm/-.

    Example 4: still in Bavarian, the 2sg nominative clitic is /st/, identical to the verb ending which only arose some 1200–1300 years ago from the original /s/ followed by an originally epenthetic /t/: you’d expect a poorly audible voiceless /d/, which has evidently been replaced (based on analogy from situations where it followed the verb ending and disappeared).

    Example 5: the 2pl nominative pronoun is /es/ in conservative Bavarian dialects, the 2pl clitic is /s/, and the 2pl verb ending (indicative and imperative) is not the expected */t/ > **/d/ but /ts/, which is normally explained as the clitic getting stuck and merging with the original ending.

    Example 6: less than a week ago we learned that there are Yiddish dialects where this very pronoun is not /ɛs/, but /ɛts/, and the conclusion was that it’s been modified after the verb ending.

    In both nouns and verbs there is VERY little allomorphy, incredibly little when compared to Indo-European languages.

    Lack of ablaut may enough to explain that.

    …But anyway, at least some of the people working on Proto-Basque think that it derives from an isolating language with strict CVC roots. A one-village language suddenly expanding (when everyone wants to be a barbarian because barbarians don’t pay taxes?) could become very creole-like indeed, perhaps more so than Afrikaans even. But it might also preserve a few grammatical archaisms, like the d morph. (Discussion of that begins here, with a link to a paper.)

  195. David L. Gold says

    “Consider East Yiddish: it, too, has a 5-vowel system, which happens to be the lowest common denominator between the Slavic languages of the same places (6 to 10 vowels) and the closest German varieties (12 upward).”

    No variety of Yidish has just five vowels.

  196. David Marjanović says

    Sorry, five unreduced monophthongs, plus a reduced vowel that can probably be considered an allophone of e (as the spelling does), plus three diphthongs (but I wasn’t counting those in German either, nor the Slavic vowel-plus-[j] sequences).

  197. Slavic Vj is underlyingly not very vowelish. Maybe in Arabic it is so too.

    Germanic (do not know about German) diphtongs are that very beast, that the first linguists coined the word for, as they were decorating walls of their caves with beatiful transcriptions. (not an objection, just a side note)

  198. David Marjanović says

    Heh. I like that image!

  199. Dmitry Pruss says

    of population genetics, and will let other Hatters more learned than I in such matters discuss whether the genetic evidence confirms/refutes/is compatible with the scenario I have just sketched.

    The Flores-Bello et al. paper makes an initial impression that the genetic diversity of the Basque subpopulations emerged organically though a process of “diffusion” in geographical space, and was aided by low population counts (which strengthen random genetic drift), in about the same timeframe as the dialectal differentiation.

    For the Kumyk-type highland pidgin scenario, one has to imagine something else – that the pattern of genetic variation predated the pattern of diversification of dialects (the Pyreneeian valley peoples may have been there for quite some time before shifting to the language of the Northern foothills, the Basque).

    And you know what? I think that their observations are actually in better agreement with the latter scenario.

    For example, the supposed low effective population size in the past (Suppl. Fig 3C) turns out only marginally lower than in the Spaniards or French, with no dips in the recent millennium or two. (~ 4 or 6 thousand resp.)This sharply contrasts with such a well known genetically-drifted European population as the Ashkenazi Jews with their effective historical population sizes in the low hundreds in the same post-Roman timeframe. I suspect that the authors were glad to observe that the effective population was lower than in the lowlands, and overstated their case. It really wasn’t low enough to cause this much growth in diversity in so comparatively short time.

    They also cite a larger extent of ROHs, runs of homozygocity, as an evidence of small effective founder population size and the resulting inbreeding. The Basques indeed have more ROHs than the French or the Spaniards, but their overall size, at 30-40 Mb, pales in comparison with the known founder groups such as Middle Easterners, South Asians, or Oceanians, where it typically runs in hundreds Mbs. So it just doesn’t look that the founder group of the Basque ancestors was THAT small.

    Lastly, they proudly present a correlation between geographic distance and genetic diversity as an evidence of diversification-by-diffusion-in-situ, but then explain that 1) the geographic distance explains away only a minor fraction of the observed diversity and 2) that most of the geographic distance correlation may be explained by the well-known East-West dichotomy of the Basque subgroups.

    Of course if the future Basque speakers in the Pyrenees at the end of the Roman times were small, divergent IE tribes, then it could not only explain the surprise genetic dissimilarities between their descendants today, but also the typically-IE pattern of R1b Y-chromosomal lineages, something which would be so hard to explain in a non-IE people in this corner of Europe…

  200. David Marjanović:

    I am not sure I understand your claim above that lack of /m/ in Proto-Basque is a piece of evidence against its having been a pidgin/creole. Pidgins/creoles can vary quite radically from one another in terms of their phoneme inventory (compare, say, Tok Pisin and Chinook Jargon), after all, and just because all known pidgins have an /m/ phoneme does not mean that all pidgins MUST have /m/ in their phoneme inventory.

  201. David Marjanović says

    Sure, it’s just not likely in a European context, I would think.

  202. Does Proto-Basque have unusually many homophones, suggesting phonemic mergers due to incomplete learning? Or is there not enough material to determine this one way or the other?

    Blevins has reconstructed Proto-Basque *m (along with a few other revisions to the Proto-Basque phoneme inventory). Is that considered viable (apart from her Basque-IE hypothesis)?

  203. David Marjanović says

    Is that considered viable

    No.

    The other question is interesting, but I can’t answer it; I don’t have time to look things up now, but I recommend rummaging around in the works of Ander Egurtzegi and his former PhD supervisor Joseba Lakarra on academia.edu and then branching out from there.

  204. David L. Gold says

    @ David Marjanović.

    If you mean that yidishophones’ contact with Slavic resulted in a reduction of the number of monophthongs in the inventory of Yidish phoneme, Central Yidish (which is coterritorial mostly with Polish) has phonemic vowel length, so that the number of monophthongal phonemes in that topolect is actually 5 x 2 = 10.

    Were your hypothesis right, Central Yidish should, as a result of being largely coterritorial with Polish, have lost phonemic vowel length.

    Or do you mean something else when mentioning Yidish and Slavic?

  205. David Marjanović says

    No, that’s a plain disproof.

    …except that Polish, unlike East Slavic, used to have vowel length (like Czech & Slovak) and gradually lost it over a few hundred years; I know very little about the details of that. Maybe the timing works out after all.

  206. rozele writes here that “זון is /zʊn/ for both “son” and “sun” in the northeast, but /zin/ for “son” and /zɪn/ for “sun” in the south,” which I didn’t know. (This is in the context of her pointing out that “every standardized yiddish spelling […] claims to be transdialectal. none of them are, except for salomo birnboym/birnbaum’s lovely and maddening transliteration scheme.”)

  207. David Marjanović says

    The southern distinction tracks the vowel-length difference between Sohn and Sonne, where the length of Sohn only comes from the post-medieval lengthening of monosyllabic words. Evidently, then, the south retains a 10-vowel system.

    (/on/ vs. /ʊn/ varies even between Austro-Bavarian dialects, where, however, the length distinction is gone – together with the tenseness distinction for back vowels – except for a few obscure dialects where it’s only nearly gone.)

  208. An analysis of skeletons showed that while these Bronze Age people might have been periodically clubbing each other on the head, they were not doing a lot of lethal stabbing.

    I am trying to find a description of the invasion from Olalde and many from archaeological perspective. I am too accompanying the process with black humour.

    About the population in Iberia before the invasion.

    The picture is what is left of one of 13 forts surrounding the fortress of Los Millares, one of numerous fortresses in the province of Almeria. I seriously understimated them. ًWhen reading the above I did not realize that they were that serious about the “lithic” part of “Chalcolithic”. Apparently, medieval guys 4000 years later were epigones.

    And Transition and conflict at the end of the 3rd millennium BC in south Iberia

    The time around 22oo BC was marked in the Iberian Penin­sula, and particularly in its southern regions, by profound social, political, and ideological changes. A substantial num­ber of 14C dates confirms that most, if not all, of the Chalco­lithic fortified settlements, as well as the Late Neolithic–Chal­colithic monumental ditched enclosures, had been abandoned by that time. Also, an charged production of often highly sym­bolically axes made of exotic rocks, flint, ivory, and decorated schist plaques, Bell Beaker pottery, etc., and the exchange net­work through which these were circulated, must have col­lapsed rather abruptly or been reorganised at a much more local scale. In the funerary sphere, the end of the Chalcolithic is expressed by the abandonment of a collective burial rite. Bayesian analysis of the absolute dates highlights the fact that the transition from the final Chalcolithic to the earliest El Argar period was a matter of a few years, rather than several decades, in south­east Iberia. New results from a set of early El Argar settlement layers are helping to define, for the first time, the social and economic structures that emerged during the 22nd century BC at the north­eastern margins of the for­mer »Los Millares« core region. The recent discovery of a monumental fortification system at La Bastida, structurally unrelated to any Chalcolithic construction, opens new ques­tions on the political dimension of the beginning of El Argar. The detailed study of these early El Argar settlements and their corresponding burials provides a better understanding of the social and political processes responsible for the changes around 22oo BC in the Iberian Peninsula.

  209. SFReader above said that he is toying with the idea of IE spread at Bronze Age Collapse. It is waht I always assumed. I mean, we know that IE came to the Balkans in -1500. We know that in -500 some of Italy spoke IE, some of Iberia too: namely the Emporion in Iberia spoke Greek:) Other IE inscriptions in Iberia appear later. And in ~0 we have IE in Britain and this is what we know.

    So I assumed that before that the West spoke “we do not know what”.

    The diversitry of IE branches found in the West does not encourage thinking of it as some sort of Urheimat either. Spread of Celtic from the West? Why not. No need to associate it with Hallstatt, the latter is an archaeological cultrue, not language. But I do not think anyone can reasonably say anything about Iberia in -2200.

    Having this said: R1b-M269-assholes could have easily shift to the langauge of conquered people. Picking language from mothers is plausible. Doing so when the mother culture was very complex (and from the above I see that in around today’s Granada it was very complex technologically and socially) is even more likely.

  210. (sorry for late comments, I read Olalde and reading about archaeology of Iberia now).

  211. Trond Engen says

    No, thanks for digging up the Lull et al paper. I’m working my way through it.

  212. I am not sure if the paper itself is interesting.

    The abstract is highly symbolic in the context of the discussion here: it was a conference and resulting volume about a supposed climatic event affecting humanity in ~2200 BC, and the guys say the transition … was a matter of a few years, .

  213. This is true, but only in reference to the area around El Argar.:

    >So far, only the south-east of the Iberian Peninsula offers a detailed archaeological record and sufficient absolute dates for the centuries around 2200 BC to explore the temporal dimension of the end of the Copper Age communities and the emergence of new residential, productive, and funerary practices, known in this region as »El Argar«, prov. Almería.

    There is also this:

    >Contrary to the situation observed in the Balearic Islands, where pottery shapes, bone manufacture, and funerary rites are closely related to the Late Copper Age and Early Bronze Age contexts of the north- western Mediterranean arc, the origin of the architectural, economic, and ritual practices rising with El Argar cannot be placed in a single archaeological region. Different features would imply links with northern Italy, south-eastern Europe, and the Aegean, but obviously also in the local Cop-per Age, as has been discussed elsewhere

    I had thought it was interesting that Olalde had no genomes from El Argar or its region.

    The article also mentions Vicia faba or horse bean, mentioned by DM in the Garbanzo thread today. Apparently horse beans are smaller and tougher than favas meant for human consumption.

  214. But was not Vicia faba the fava, the prototype of European “bean”?

  215. Yes. My point could have been clearer. As I understand from my extensive background in reading the wiki article, there are different strains of vicia faba, and strains producing smaller, tougher beans are considered horse beans, while the softer variety are for human consumption and called favas. I don’t know how much differentiation has happened over the millennia, nor how much had already happened by the time of El Argar, and only assume the authors factored that in when they described the ones they found as horse beans.

    I’m intrigued at the idea that El Argar’s cultural antecedents are either drawn from a number of cultures or else the exact location where the mixture first came together isn’t known. That could be consistent with the idea of multiple nomads from different backgrounds coming together to invade the Roman empire, and the theory of Aaron Maeir, the archaeologist at Gath, that a sort of pirate culture of diverse origins was behind the Sea Peoples. But it makes the narrowness of the later genetics that much harder to understand.

    Lull, et al., also offer a bit more narrative in their final sentence.

    >After the »4.2 ka BP event« and the disruption of many Copper Age societies, different modes of organisation came up and one of them emerged in the lowlands of Almería and Murcia a territory rich in agricultural resources and where violent and expansionist politics gave birth after 2,ooo BC to the classic El Argar society.

    I read this as meaning that the initial, abrupt discontinuity at El Argar didn’t even extend to all of the later El Argar region (where there was discontinuity, but it didn’t initially produce a culture like that of El Argar.) That undermines the idea that the abruptness described here explains the genetic turnover in any simple way. And indeed, the Olalde graphs don’t fit well with a 2,200 BC change, since the Neolithic y-lineages make up half those sampled in the period 2200-1800 (based on a glance at the chart, so my bracketing dates could be off a bit.)

    I continue to have a very hard time understanding how purely social processes could lead to the widespread replacement of previous patrolines by y-DNA that is:
    i.) nearly all R1b,
    ii.) from a broad set of R1b lineages that go back 1,500 years
    iii.) most critically — in a setting where none of the known potential precursor cultures have this kind of concentration of R1b; and
    iv.) exacerbated if the theory is that the invaders were drawn from a broad set of nomadic groups, which presumably should have meant an even wider set of y-lineages and much greater difficulty in recognizing actual paternal kinship with any certainty.

    It’s as if actual patrolines that you would have guessed were completely unknown after 1,500 years somehow trumped all we believe we know about fictive kinship. I guess there are examples – the Cohanim do seem to have relatively few introceding strains. But they don’t seem to have ever turned against other Jewish lines, and haven’t launched a genocide since Esther and Mordechai. Could nomads have held fast to a religion or ideology that somehow maintained the distinctiveness of a single lineage as greater among equals, even as they merged with different cultures that they took over? And then at some point, the relevant Cohanim-like lineage turned savagely not only against those they had come to rule, but against many they had considered cousins and part of the in-group for generations, centuries, maybe millennia.

    What am I misunderstanding? Trying to parse the individual Y-lineages in the supplement is beyond me. Are the R1b lineages involved in Iberia much more tightly related, suggesting they could all come from a small recent founding population that could more reasonably be expected to have maintained its sense of continuity and kinship? Are there ever immunological benefits carried on the Y-chromosome? Or some behavioral adaptation that made these lineages more likely to launch wars of conquest, so that each ensuing venture as they spread west from the steppes weeded out the less risk-taking lineages, and concentrated the R1b lines?

    In addition to being horrifying, it just seems truly weird.

    As I said earlier, what a savage patriline, that somehow consistently prevented the procreation not just of the men in cultures they attacked, savage enough, but also of the descendants of their non-R1b uncles, for centuries, in multiple cultural contexts.

    Elimination of out-group males is jarring but perhaps not unexpected in an ancient context. It’s the elimination of in-group diversity that I find so hard to explain.

  216. @Ryan: There are a few chapters in Judges with Hebrews practicing genocidal massacres against other Hebrew tribes.

  217. Sure. I didn’t mean to draw broad parallels between Cohanim and Steppe R1b distinct from anyone else. I think, though I can’t cite, that there are known instances of Greeks selling all the inhabitants of conquered cities into slavery, which presumably meant the men didn’t procreate. I imagine this was true of many other ancient cultures. Esther and Mordechai believed it was about to happen to them. I wonder the degree to which there has been any introgression of Native American patrolines into Anglo/Euro populations. Not much, but it did happen. If not in North America, certainly in Mexico, where Montezuma’s descendants are still in politics.

    My analogy to the Cohanim is because they provide an example of a patrilineage that maintained its sense of continuity and a large degree of genetic integrity across centuries, despite not only being immersed in other cultures, but also living amidst an in-group culture of Jews in which it was not the only patrolineage. It’s an interesting cultural feat – not merely to remain separate from the “other” but to maintain for centuries a tightly held aloofness from those who are your friends, neighbors co-religionists; in anthropological terms, most particularly from the relatives of your mother’s brothers, who would often be your patrons and biggest supporters.

    So it’s the fact that the previously in-group male steppe lines also failed to procreate that seems surprising. Despite what seems to be different expansions separated by centuries, each launched by cultures with a broader pool of Y-DNA.

    I’m not surprised that R1b squelched out the people they conquered. I’m wondering how they prevented their former neighbors and friends from getting in on the conquest, while still extending the opportunity to other R1b lines that had separated centuries before. I would have expected no one even knew who was who.

  218. Ryan, I am not familiar with the topic, but maybe this is the case of “subtractive” genetics. Haplogroup R1b (or it’s particular variant) conquers Europe in blitzkrieg and settles down. More people come from the steppe, but only push on R1b, not exterminate it. The further West, the less is the push. No need for leaving your uncles behind. Or maybe it was the other way around. R1b conquers Europe, but autochthonous population is much denser in the East and withstands complete replacement, while less populated West collapses and is thoroughly replaced.

  219. @Ryan: You are probably thinking of Athenian conquest of Melos. To send a message to other states around the Aegean Sea,* the Athenians executed all the island’s adult males and deported all the women and children as slaves. Melos itself was resettled with Athenian colonists.** Although this was probably not a unique occurrence in Greek warfare, it is by far the most famous instance, because of the fact that Thucydides devoted a significant amount of space to it in his history of the war. The immorality of the slaughter and enslavement (and the stark contrast with the previous leniency that Athens had tended to show toward conquered groups) shocked the Greeks of Athens and elsewhere. Xenophon wrote that as the Peloponnesian War was winding to a close, some Athenians were terrified of surrendering, lest they be treated by the Spartans the way the Athenians themselves had treated the Melians. (The Thebans did apparently call for Athens to be treated this way, but the Spartans, as leaders of the anti-Athenian alliance, demurred. Lingering resentment over the Theban demands in 404 was supposedly one of the reasons that the Athenians later sided with the Spartans in the 360s against the Boeotians in the final wars of the Classical Greek period, although there are reasons to doubt this claim, since the Athenians and Thebans were actually allies against Sparta during the Corinthian War in between.)

    * Melos was, somewhat atypically for an island, a primarily Doric community and historically had been an ally of Sparta. However, the Melians had remained neutral through the first half of the Peloponnesian War—hoping to avoid antagonizing both their traditional allies and the naval power Athens. But eventually the Athenians decided that Melos too easy a target of opportunity to ignore. The Athenians depended heavily on the economies of their tributary states,** and so it made sense to try to force Melos to join the Athenian empire. When the Melians refused to submit to the overwhelmingly superior Athenian invasion force, it was decided to treat the Melians extremely harshly, to send a clear message to other states—especially the ones that were already part of the Athenian naval empire—that resistance to Athenian economic and political domination was extremely unwise.

    ** The Peloponnesian War was incredibly hard on the Athenian economy. In the first part of the war (the decade-long Archidamian War, named for the Spartan king Archidamus II, who invaded Attica every year), the Spartan land forces ravaged Athenian territory, so that there was no farming output coming from the Athenian hinterlands. Livestock could be moved from Attica to islands like Euboea, but imports from elsewhere in the Athenian empire were needed to replace the Attican grain, olive, and grape production. The influx of refuges from rural towns—such as the title characters in The Acharnians by Aristophanes, written about midway through the Archidamian War—only exacerbated the situation. Thus, having accessible islands where Athenians and their allies could practice agriculture free from enemy interference was critical.

    In retrospect, the early Athenian strategy of not engaging with the Spartan land forces and ceding rural Attica to the enemy, while taking refuge behind the impregnable Long Walls, was extremely foolish. The Athenians wanted to fight the kind of war they were good at—meaning a naval war, with sea battles and amphibious assaults. However, maintaining a fleet of ships at sea was expensive and required a lot of manpower, which was a problem after the city lost a quarter or a third of its population to plague of poisoning. (And the fact the Athenians managed to keep fighting for decades after the great plague is, just on its own, a demonstration of how hugely powerful Athens really was.***) At the start of the war, Athens was—thanks to tribute from its naval empire—so much richer than Sparta that the Athenians could have simply hired enough hoplites to shatter the Spartan army. In particular, had Athens paid the Thebans to switch sides (which would have been enormously expensive, but still almost certainly cheaper than what the Athenians were willing to spend on their naval forces), the combined armies or Attica, Boeotia (and probably eventually Argos), could have stomped out Spartan dominance sixty years before Epaminondas. (This Spartans did fight this combination of powers to a standstill in the Corinthian War that started in 395, but Athens was still a wreck of its former self at the time, and the Spartans were still receiving the huge subsidies from the Persian satraps of Anatolia that allowed them to maintain the navy that had finally defeated the Athenians in the Peloponnesian War. Had Sparta faced off against those same enemies in 431, without Persian backing, they would have had no chance.)

    *** The potential power of the Athenian state was well described by Victor Davis Hanson (who should not be taken seriously on modern politics, but can often be insightful on the topic of ancient Greek warfare) in A War Like No Other: “As a general rule throughout the war, observers usually overestimated Athenian power in the wake of its successes and underrated its resiliency after abject defeats, failing to understand that Athens was by far the most powerful polis, and yet not so strong in of itself to master or even unite the other fifteen hundred states of the Greek world.”****

    **** I had a fair bit of difficulty locating this quote to get the exact wording correct. I was absolutely certain it was in Hanson’s book—rather than The Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan (another guy whose judgement on current political issues is highly questionable),***** which Hanson states that he wrote his book as a companion to. However, it was not easy to locate, either in my physical copy or online. Eventually, I resorted to checking out a searchable electronic copy through my local public library, and a search turned up that the quote I remembered was actually found in the endnotes.

    ***** Kagan and both of his sons were neoconservative militarists who were (especially the sons) close to the George W. Bush administration. However, like William Kristol (with whom Robert Kagan founded the Project for the New American Century) and many other conservative Jews (but unlike, say, Paul Wolfowitz), they recognized the odiousness of Donald Trump relatively early on. Robert Kagan is also married to Victoria Nuland, who has been a consistently reasonable voice on foreign policy since the Clinton Administration.

  220. Yes. My point could have been clearer. As I understand from my extensive background in reading the wiki article, there are different strains of vicia faba, and strains producing smaller, tougher beans are considered horse beans, while the softer variety are for human consumption and called favas. I don’t know how much differentiation has happened over the millennia, nor how much had already happened by the time of El Argar, and only assume the authors factored that in when they described the ones they found as horse beans.

    Aha, thank you! It was not a rhetorical question. For me “bean”is an extremely confusing word. In Russian we normally call what we eat today (Phaseolus) fasol’. It is a shamelessly modern name for a modern thing.

    Yet we have a word bob, “bean”, in idioms, in scientific vocabulary (“soy bean”, “leguminous” etc.) in fairy tales (translated) and in … modern translation from English. It has been a mystery for me since I was a child, what is that prototypical “bean”, well represented in the langauge but absent from Russian tables.
    I figure, English speakers eat fasol’, but call it “beans”, and translators for some odd reason avoided the Soviet word for it. But when I was a child I believed it is some simple but exotic food:)

  221. Dmitry Pruss says

    American bean боб makes a legendary appearance in Russia’s beloved Hogben tales of Henry Cuttner.
    Увози их. Мне они не нужны. Туда им и дорога, – отмахнулся Енси. Я сказал «ладно» и собрался в путь. Но тут он заорал, что передумал. Велел свалить трупы с тачки. Насколько я понял из его слов (разобрал я немного, потому что Енси заглушал себя хохотом), он намерен был попинать их ногами.

    Я сделал, как велено, вернулся домой и все рассказал мамуле за ужином – были бобы, треска и домашняя настойка. Еще мамуля напекла кукурузных лепешек. Ох, и вкуснотища! Я откинулся на спинку стула, рассудив, что заслужил отдых, и задумался, а внутри у меня стало тепло и приятно. Я старался представить, что чуйствует боб в моем желудке. Но боб, наверно, вовсе бесчуйственный.

    The old continent фасоль was an equally foreign thing for Dahl who illustrated it with the only one folk saying, болгарин без фасоли сдох

  222. @Dmitry Pruss: Ha! Two references to Henry Kuttner within ten minutes. You have to go pretty far down (and several steps removed from the original topic) to find my own mention of Kuttner though.

  223. Dmitry Pruss says

    Wow, this suddenly increases the number of Hogben mentions at the LH to a half-dozen :O

  224. David Marjanović says

    To send a message to other states around the Aegean Sea,* the Athenians executed all the island’s adult males and deported all the women and children as slaves.

    That’s the origin story of Diagoras the Godless.

  225. The relevance of Diagoras’s Melian origins having previously come up in discussion here.

  226. Trond Engen says

    I’m finally through the Lull et at paper. Since El Argar and “the southeastern corner” are different archaeologically than the rest of Iberia, it would indeed be interesting to have better genetic evidence from the late 3rd and the 2nd millennium BCE.

    Just a few weeks ago, Lull and colleagues published this paper on a “royal” double burial at La Almohoya. The couple were unrelated but had a daughter, who was buried in a single grave nearby. The genetic analysis from the Leipzig lab is cited but no further details are given. The report made headlines with its claim that the richness of the female grave goods suggests that the female was the ruler while her male partner was a military commander.

    But I wonder. It’s an old speculation that the societies reflected in the Homeric epics were matrilinear. Maybe matrilinearity was a way to achieve continuity in the ruling household in an era when elite males fought for power and died at a high rate. Neither a palace coup nor a foreign takeover would mean much more than a change of leadership of the military branch if the ruling queen remained the same. Yamnaya raiding bands and Egyptian royal sibling marriages would then be different extreme (male) strategies to achieve and preserve matrilinear power

    We see that matrilinearity is very different from matriarchy. The whole point about it is that nobody really has to care about the woman.

  227. The report made headlines with its claim that the richness of the female grave goods suggests that the female was the ruler while her male partner was a military commander.

    I rolled my eyes energetically when I read those stories. We have no idea what the richness of the female grave goods means, but of course they can “suggest” anything we like.

  228. There is that musem label “cult object”*. I always assume that when future archaeologist find, say, a 21th century dog collar (or a phone or anything, honestly), they will attach their futurelabel with their future synonym of “cult object”. I have no idea what this synonym will sound like. “status symbol”? “mating gift”?


    *I mean, in Russian it is usually along these lines. The objects sometimes are quite obscure and it is clear that sometimes it stands for “we have no idea why did they make it”

  229. Trond Engen says

    Me: ruling queen

    I meant nominally ruling.

    Hat: of course they can “suggest” anything we like

    Is this when I say “I see what you did there”?

    The actual text:

    Conclusions

    Bespoke emblematic objects produce emblematic subjects. As we will never know if these subjects were loved or hated by the rest of society, terms such as ‘prestige’ seem inappropriate when referring to the objects that they wore. Such emblems, however, are useful for questioning the communicative vs executive role of the subjects with whom they were associated; that is, in approaching such objects, we tackle the problem of discovering how past political relations and governments were organised.

    The funerary goods in grave 38 and, by extension, the opulent female grave goods (including diadems) associated with other female burials, pose more than one dilemma. On one hand, they highlight the role of emblematic objects within the panoply of items that distinguished the elite burials of certain regions of Europe (e.g. Bretagne,Wessex, Unetice) and the Eastern Mediterranean during the seventeenth century BC.On the other hand, they raise the question of whether a class-based state society could be ruled by women. Was El Argar an exception to the line of thought that, since Engels (1884), links patriarchy and state power? Or could it have been that some women were instituted as communicative emblems of executive power, despite lacking actual power? In Argaric society, at the time that elite women were buried with diadems, elite men were preferentially buried with a sword and a dagger. These men were buried with fewer personal ornaments than females of the same class, and in no case did these male-associated objects have an emblematic character. As such weapons were the most effective means of enforcing political decisions, certain men would have played an executive role, even though ideological legitimation as well as — perhaps — the government, lay in certain female hands. The La Almoloya discoveries have revealed unexpected political dimensions of the highly stratified El Argar society, showing features that are unique in the contemporaneous Western Mediterranean and continental Europe.

  230. Dmitry Pruss says

    An interesting journal, “Antiquity”. None of the research articles has any Methods section. Not for as much as carbon dating, let alone DNA.

    It’s easy for me to imagine that Almeria or its vicinity was a Bronze-age post-Neolithic population refugium, maybe not quite on the scale of Sardinia but close, it’s being separated from broader Iberia by the Sierra Nevada range which is actually taller than the Pyrenees.

    The DNA data is unambiguous that from the early Bronze Age Steppe herders to their invading descendants continent-wide, these peoples were patrilocal. It doesn’t mean that some derived culture somewhere couldn’t have become an exception, but we know the rule. Of course the connection between rich grave goods on the one hand, and the role of women in the structure of power … enough said.

  231. There is a notion of a “prestige” dialect in sociolinguistics. My problem with it is that apart of asking speakers what is “prestigious” in their society (which I find problematic) or relying on your own impression (which I find problematic) it is sometimes defined by the direction of shift. When everyone shifts to the dialect of the poorest class, likely, it won’t be called a prestige dialect. But: Arabists, for example, expressed surprise that Arabic speakers do not shift towards the literary language, but instead learn the local urban koine. Then some say “aha, the koine is the prestige dialect!”.

    With nominal rulers it is somewhat similar. The solid fact is diadems. So we just call women who wear diadems “nominal” rulers. We know nothing about their other nominal or not roles.

    I do not find it unlikely that they were real rulers, by the way. Why not?

  232. It’s not unlikely, but it’s not especially likely either. We simply don’t know, and I’m allergic to making up stories about history (unless they’re labeled as fiction, of course).

  233. Trond Engen says

    Well. All history is stories about history. If not, it’s just data. The difference is to what degree it’s based on evidence, and, for the advanced class, how it makes you able to evaluate the evidence on your own.

    In this case, I agree that headlines about a Bronze Age civilization ruled by women were far overblown, but the question about why the elaborate symbols of power may have been worn by the royal women is legitimate.

  234. Sure, and I have nothing against speculation as long as it’s labeled as such.

  235. Dmitry Pruss says

    It isn’t just a story about history – its appeal is in what tells about us and today’s era.

    There may be something about their discovery which they IMVHO failed to articulate, maybe purposefully, trying to attract the world’s attention to their find of a diadem.

    In fact this type of a diadem is hardly unique in Bronze Age Almeria; there were several found before, all with the upper-class females buried with rich assortments of decorations. Some of the earlier finds appear to have been in single graves and others, in double burials, just like the one they presented. The male in their double burial didn’t have rich decorations, and didn’t have a sword, but apparently a dagger. Lack of decorations is very typical for Almeria Bronze Age male burials, nothing new here. But some presumably upper-class males have been buried with swords (how was it ascertained that the sword burials were upper class? And conversely, how many upper class male burials contained swords?). The authors don’t seem to discuss if the previously excavated double burials with female diadems also contained, or didn’t contain, swords.

    This *might* be what is unique in their find, if the swords were absolutely required in the upper-class male-female double burials, but their new dig found a violation of the rule, suggesting that this female was more powerful than her presumed male partner? But they don’t articulate it at all?

    If the greater-power-than-the-male exception holds, then the next thing would have been to discuss the family relation drawn by the DNA. The male being the father of her child would make spousal relations more likely (although not assured), and perhaps the DNA may shed some more light on these two people’s origins and inferred social standing.

    But there is no discussion of DNA, and not of the earlier double graves with the diadems either.

  236. January First-of-May says

    Lack of decorations is very typical for Almeria Bronze Age male burials, nothing new here.

    …at least in my personal non-expert opinion, this is not even particularly unexpected, on the face of it; for the most part, even in most modern(ish) cultures, it’s the females, not the males, who hang out in all the bling, and (I’m on even less firm ground here) it would probably also make more sense for a female to get buried with (some of) her bling, while a male would not have as much.

    This does not necessarily imply a power imbalance in either direction, though IIRC the modern-ish cultures in question tend(ed) to be patriarchal/male-dominated.

  237. In Egypt, famously it was the position of great royal wife that was inherited, leading to many pharaohs marrying their sisters. How seriously this was taken varied a great deal over time, and (as might naturally be expected under any system that remained in operation for thousands of years) there are going to be exceptions to virtually any blanket statement one might make about pharaohnic inheritance worked. However, in general, once an old king was dead, the throne princess’s husband became pharaoh in his own right. If she died (or sometimes even if she didn’t), she could be replaced with a new great royal wife. And the next throne princess could be birthed by any of her husband’s wives; the princess’s status was inherited from her pharaoh father, not her mother. The great royal wife was also not usually as strongly associated with the goddess Hathor as the king was with Horus; moreover, her association with Hathor was probably as much in a mother role as in a wife role, which makes sense, as the cow goddess Hathor was depicted not just as Horus’s queen, but also his mother or great-great grandmother.

    The movie The Ten Commandments alludes to Nefertari’s position as the throne princess. When Seti declares, “Ramses, Egypt shall be yours,” he signifies that by placing the prince and the princess hand in hand. If one does not know what to look for, this could easily be missed, however. It was probably too much for 1956 to be explicit that Ramses and Nefertari were brother and sister as well as husband and wife. Nefertari and Seti are explicitly very close; on his deathbed, Seti says that she is the only person he has ever really loved (except, she reminds him, for Moses). However, her specific position in the royal family is never discussed.

    (This reminds of the way family relations were similarly left unmentioned in Jason and the Argonauts, although the issue there was not incest but betrayal. There is no mention in the film of the fact that Pelias is Jason’s uncle, not that Medea is Aeetes’s daughter.)

  238. I found this via the Outeiro do Circo blog:
    Between the 3rd and 2nd Millennia BC: Exploring Cultural Diversity and Change in Late Prehistoric Communities

    It’s a short book of papers on the transition from Chalcolithic to Bronze Age in Iberia, mostly focused on Portugal and Galicia, coming out of a 2018 conference, but updated. Chapters 5 and 6 stood out for me.

    The PDF version is free.

    The book seems to come from a perspective similar to that in this blog post:
    https://bellbeakerblogger.blogspot.com/2021/03/tales-from-supp-booth-et-al-2021.html

    The idea is that there may be neolithic survivals that are cryptic to those relying strictly on DNA because of the bias in the types of burials most likely to be found, in both Britain and Iberia. The blogger relates that “One of the main problems for British archaeologists with a wipeout scenario has been the fact that Neolithic traditions “appear” to be carried forward in the Beaker Age, suggesting at least some continuity.”

    Though the first 8 chapters of the book are strictly Iberian, they give the closing chapter to a woman studying an early Bronze Age farm in Cambridgeshire, who gives a close reading of the terrain, and believes that it would have required very intense engagement with the local landscape to understand how to exploit its resources, something she believes wouldn’t have been possible in a situation of abrupt replacement.

  239. Dmitry Pruss says

    But it doesn’t look like a total population replacement. The Neolithic genes still predominate after the transition. It’s just most of the male line is replaced….

  240. cult objects
    future archaeologists

    hatniks who don’t know it already might enjoy david macaulay’s Motel of the Mysteries, which is exactly what it sounds like and fun for all ages.

  241. Toot ‘n Come On!

  242. It’s a short book of papers on the transition from Chalcolithic to Bronze Age in Iberia, mostly focused on Portugal and Galicia, coming out of a 2018 conference, but updated. Chapters 5 and 6 stood out for me.

    Oh, thank you. It is hard to read Olalde-and-many without knowing the context. My plan was to find good archaeological reviews of this transition for different parts of Iberia, then read closely the Olalde’s supplement (locations and the context). Doing it in this order makes more sense. I still haven’t found such “good reviews”. Particularly, I am curious about how archaeologist spoke about the events before Olalde’s paper.

    Almeria is not any better or worse than any other province, but local civilization is relatively well excavated and quite impressive.

    @LH, yes, I just mean “of course they could not be real rulers, they were nominal rulers” is even worse.

    a1) actual rulers
    a2) not actual rulers

    are two specific statements that we can not make.

    b) they were nominal rulers

    puts us in danger of recursive definitions, when a “ruler” is just a person with diadem.

  243. @Ryan, about “savage”. I still have not found a comfortable (mathematically, not ethically) way to think about it. A convenient toy model. We are speaking about how likely a certain event is in the space of all possible social organizations.

    I do not understand anything about this space:) Maybe looking at modern societies (including herders) makes sense here.

  244. Lars Mathiesen says

    Does any of this savage R1B lineage stuff have a possible connection to the Spartan origin story that they (the citizens) were descended from invaders who subjugated the helots? (And presumably kept their patrilineal descent “pure,” though I don’t think that was stressed very much in what I once read). The Doric invasion would seem to be a bit later than 4.2kyBP, though.

  245. A side note: 90 % of Basque and Celtic people who have Y-chromosome have R1b-M269. A half of us here:) Welsh people have 92.3% according to Wikipedia (but he sample is small, 60?).

    Also, I think everyone who lived in corresponding regions back then (including Olalde’s individuals) is an ancestor of those of us who have ancestors in these regions. Literally, not poetically.

  246. David Eddyshaw says

    Welsh people have 92.3%

    This actually solves the mystery. What woman would want to breed with anyone else when there were Welshmen available? (Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Jones … I rest my case.)

  247. 92.3% of male Welsh people have.

  248. But yes, the concept of “fashion” is reflected – or supposed to – both in brains and DNAs.:/

  249. puts us in danger of recursive definitions, when a “ruler” is just a person with diadem.

    Exactly; this is a problem with most such analyses of preliterate societies.

  250. January First-of-May says

    not that Medea is Aeetes’s daughter

    IIRC (if I hadn’t confused the names) I actually found that a fairly important part of the original myth: as his daughter she has a fairly good idea of what his challenges are, and of how to beat them, so she can advice Jason correspondingly. Though admittedly there’s probably not that much lost there by replacing “daughter” with “close friend” or something.

  251. >But it doesn’t look like a total population replacement. The Neolithic genes still predominate after the transition. It’s just most of the male line is replaced….

    The story on what happened in Britain has been near total replacement, with a small rebound in Neolithic descent much later. Must Farm doesn’t necessarily counter that. It may just fill in the contours. Or it may provide a partial explanation for the rebound – that there were always more neolithic populations that weren’t being sampled.

    It’s also unclear how “male-mediated” population change may work, and appear in the archaeological record, so there are other ways to explain the genetic outcome than an immediate and massive turnover of male lineages in the Iberian peninsula.

    One of the things that is clear from Olalde is that Steppe lineages show up hundreds of years before the near total male replacement is effected. That too is interesting. Are these lineages also replaced? Is the steppe invasion launched entirely from central Europe, against the men living in Iberia and their communities, whatever their backgrounds? Or by Iberian steppe lineages, perhaps pulling their cousins in? Or how?

    Or, is the (total/male) replacement (in Britain/Iberia) much less total, masked early on by the bias in the types of grave sites that are found and from which DNA can be extracted during the middle and later Bronze Age; and masked later by the fact that class separation is so significant and reproduction sufficiently biased that the replacement takes place over many generations, leading to a genescape by Roman times that looks like an 18th c. BC genocide?

    I think a lot remains to be teased out of the details, as reflected in the Booth title, Tales from the Supplementary Information, and the opening line of the abstract, “Large-scale archaeogenetic studies of people from prehistoric Europe tend to be broad in scope and difficult to resolve with local archaeologies”.

    One explanation for Basque could be that steppe lineages had taken control there in an early, less total replacement, learned the Neolithic/Chalcolithic language, and were less ravaged by the later, more total invasion. I don’t have any evidence for that, and am not proposing it as likely.

  252. I just realized that I had read the book the Rise of Bronze Age Society by Kristian Kristiansen a decade ago without digesting it well, because of lack of any context.

    One of the things I can’t get a handle on is the degree to which steppe descendants in some places continued to live in their Vanagons for centuries or millennia. Did this idea newly pop up peridically – hey, let’s all build wagons and hit the road. We’ll farm Picardy for a while and then when the mood suits us, we’ll head to Aquitaine for a year or two, then go down to Asturias…

    Or were these populations, or large portions of them, significantly mobile all along? Kristiansen points to what he believes was the the seemingly greater Bronze Age uniformity of dialect across large spaces and larger populations and believes it’s explained by a different type of mobility that we lose sight of when we imagine Bronze Age populations as being peasant communities with longstanding ties to the land they’ve implanted themselves on. That in medieval times dialects proliferated much more quickly because populations were much more sedentary.

    I’m also intrigued by the graph in the Iberia book I had linked showing population density falling to roughly 30% of Neolithic levels. (But only showing data for one region of Iberia.) If that was more widespread, it would need to be explained in any understanding of the population turnover. Another huge change is in the decline of suids in the faunal remains. How might that have been involved in changing populations and densities? Anyone for swine flu?

  253. “One of the things that is clear from Olalde is that Steppe lineages show up hundreds of years before the near total male replacement is effected”

    Actually, you can’t see these in Olalde 2018 bioRxiv 2017 preprint. They only appear in the PubMed’s version, which has been modified accordingly.

    I did not check if the version in the Nature has more additions, and there is of course, Olalde and many 2019.

  254. Ah, that’s Olalde on Britain. Does it show steppe folks showing up prior to the 2450 bce transition?

    I was going back to Iberia when I commented on steppe lineages showing up hundreds of years before the near total (male) replacement. Sorry. The Olalde Iberia paper shows steppe y-ancestry appearing around 2500 bce, but the continuation of neolithic lines into the early 2nd millennium.

  255. Dmitry Pruss says

    a possible connection to the Spartan origin story that they (the citizens) were descended from invaders who subjugated the helots?

    Many warlike / noble classes pride themselves on being descended from the conquerors, sometimes rightly so. But sometimes it’s just strange like the Polish nobility’s claim that they were Sarmatians rather than Slavs.

    Across much of the Bronze Age Mediterranean, the direct genetic contribution of the Steppe herders is minor, often not more than 10%, although the actual population influx may have been greater in scale if the incoming population was already mixed in its DNA composition. Up to 16% in some Mycenaeans in Lazaridis 2017 paper on the DNA of ancient Greece. Hardly any in Hittites, although there are questions about the class / ethnic origins of the sampled skeletons there. In the Lazaridis paper, at least one of 5 Mycenaeans came from a royal tomb. They generally had J-haplotype Y-chromosomes, still common in Greece, while R1b is on the order of 15%, some of that coming much later with the Slavic, Albanian and Wlach population moves.

    Further East in the Levant, there is a rare ancient R1b sub-branch, including the “noble class” of the Cohanim. People muse about possible Mitanni influences.

  256. David Marjanović says

    PubMed doesn’t do separate versions.

  257. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Diagoras the Godless

    According to wikipedia:
    In his Clouds, the Athenian comic playwright Aristophanes alludes to Diagoras as a well-known figure of the time, whose second, extant version probably falls around 419–17 BC.

    Diagoras the Android?

  258. David Eddyshaw says

    Not likely: androids tend to be very pious.

  259. David Marjanović says

    Look what I just found!

    In the case of the Basque, I am coming around to the idea that a small group of men – perhaps experts in bronze and tin industry to cattle husbandry or archery or horsemanship or long distance trade – insinuated themselves in a short lived wave of migration into a Neolithic community that wasn’t bowled over by the men from the steppe, who were integrated into the Neolithic community enough to be prolific and high prestige elite members, but no enough at once with enough critical mass or king/chief level prestige, to bring about language shift before they adopted the local language. Their Y-DNA spreads, but generation after generation of locals marries into them, leaving little steppe mtDNA or autosomal DNA after a few generations. […]

    Maybe a good analogy to the Basque would be South Indian, linguistically Dravidian, Brahmin men with significant Ancestral North Indian (i.e. ANI) autosomal ancestry and steppe sourced Y-DNA. The first wave’s ancestors secured an elite place in the social structure but either didn’t bring about or failed to sustain widespread language shift, even though they also had lots of cultural impact.

    From this comment from June last year. I recommend the whole comment, and the post with the bold title “The genetics of the Tuatha Dé Danann”.

  260. @David Marjanović, I thought so, but this made me cautious: Author manuscript; available in PMC 2018 Aug 21. / Published in final edited form as: Nature. 2018 Mar 8; 555(7695): 190–196. / Published online 2018 Feb 21. doi: 10.1038/nature25738

    @Ryan, yes, this is this Olalde-and-many North. As bioRxiv verison is the one referenced in this thread, I decided to note the difference here.

  261. Their Y-DNA spreads

    My black humour version of working model is:

    societies are parasites, but they differ in

    (1) how predatory their are. Bronze Age invaders are predatory, colonial empires too, and linguists are.
    You conquer someone successfully, you have positive feedback, and you become better at that and finally specialized in that and dependent on predation.

    (2) how virulent their are.
    Kill everyone. -> Kill men rape women. -> Enslave men. -> Become feudal nobility. -> Became colonial power. -> Trade with them -> Form a symbiotic relationship or merge.

    The black humour inspiration was the idea that it was a huge advance in humanist thought of Neolithic: we should not eat women, we can rape them.

  262. I am not sure that DNA spread in medieval feaudal nobility, where you have subordinate lower class who works on you but who you do not seek to replace with your relatives, was enough to repalce other Y-chr lineages.

    On the other hand, Christian Europe was monogamous. They did not practice harems.

  263. Stu Clayton says

    when a “ruler” is just a person with diadem

    I just discovered a ruler with diadem that is not even a person !

  264. David,
    That commenter blogs here, on physics and European origins. The physics I can’t even touch.:

    http://dispatchesfromturtleisland.blogspot.com/2021/03/the-latest-basque-genetics-paper.html

    I was going to ask Dmitry if he knew of a good synthesis. (And would still be interested.) But that post is a pretty solid summary of the archaeology and state of knowledge around the Beaker “phenomenon”, the Iberian Chalcolithic and the transition to the Bronze Age, inevitably structured partly to support his own private theory of what happened.

  265. David Marjanović says

    A thread mentioning the Y-chromosome replacement is all over Iberia, and discussing the general replacement in Britain. Warning: amazing accusations flying in all directions.

    this made me cautious:

    Why? Most likely that’s a “Green Open Access” “post-print”, i.e. the accepted manuscript without Nature’s layout.

  266. Trond Engen says

    David M.: Warning: amazing accusations flying in all directions.

    That’s why I read genetics blogs occasionally but don’t hang there.

  267. David Marjanović says

    Yeah.

  268. Dmitry Pruss says

    a good synthesis

    no, I get bits and pieces from different places and with caution. I agree, this piece is a good summary. Sometimes the missed details turn out to be important, too.

    Yes, there is something peculiar about the boys discussing Y-chromosomal expansions and transitions. The whole industry is based on the premise that the direct paternal ancestral line is REALLY defining who we are, despite the Y chromosomes encoding essentially nothing other than a few things important for the testes. Maybe the feeling of getting metaphysically connected with their balls is what charges the fervor of some of these discussions (as embodied in such words as Lunfardo boludo or Russian мудак). Thread with caution wherever you see many real enthusiasts 🙂

  269. It’s an interesting blow to the idea of Basque as a language of the Neolithic populations to learn that the Neolithic never came to much of the Basque country, as alluded to in the oh willeke post and confirmed (at least as received understanding) in the Basque prehistory wiki. The region advanced directly to the Chalcolithic roughly as the Beaker phenomenon was spreading, starting around 2500 BCE, with substantial continuity with the Epipaleolithic stone toolkit down through 2500 BCE. They also entered the Bronze Age relatively late around 1700.

    There is always David’s point that the Basque homeland may have been north of the Pyrenees, so it doesn’t completely rule out a Neolithic origin for Basque. Still kind of funny though.

  270. @David Marjanović, no particular reason apart of my ignorance. I just realized that versions multiply faster than I adapt to this. After I discovered that Olalde and everyone updated their preprint with important new information I asked myself, do I actually know how and when PubMed gets their version? And what if Nature decides to update their version? No, i do not know, I just always assumed it.

  271. I hope this usual one hundeed of co-authors do not form patrilineal clans.

    It would make me nervous if they all belong to the same Y-chr or mtDNA haplogroup.

  272. the Y chromosomes encoding essentially nothing other than a few things important for the testes.

    I do not know what is known and what is unknown about what it encodes. When David Eddyshaw speaks about Welsh men, can I really tell if it is possible that within a certain lineage a mutation that makes men smell better occured? No, I can not.

    But no, I can’t think about my direct patri- or matri- (I do still have a mtDNA, don’t I?) -linear ancestors as more ancestral than any other sort of ancestors.

  273. David Marjanović says

    And what if Nature decides to update their version?

    Then they issue a correction. Nature is still printed, too (…though not the Methods sections).

    the Basque homeland may have been north of the Pyrenees

    That’s not a new idea – it’s where all the Aquitanian inscriptions are.

  274. androids tend to be very pious

    Like St. Aquin? (Forgive me if the reference was meant to be blindingly obvious.)

  275. “they”
    PubMed?

  276. PlasticPaddy says

    @RodgerC
    The reference was to Diagoras the Godless’s multiple versions. In other words, you had to be there ????

  277. Dmitry Pruss says

    I do still have a mtDNA

    You do, but you probably don’t pass it to anyone? (disclaimer, it’s hard to know if anyone on the internet isn’t female). But there never a level of pride and fighting rage about mtDNA which is even a fraction of what happens when people discuss Y-chromosomal lineages. Part of it may be explained by the much lower diversity of mtDNA, which makes your closest mtDNA people whose common ancestors with you lived millennia ago, typically “before history” and thus too anonymous to inspire. But a bigger part is the story of male domination and female subjugation, and of the disproportional appreciation of the cultural aspects which came from the male line whenever the different peoples and cultures met. Almost without an exception, wherever peoples moved, you see the descendants of the migrating males and local females. Whenever they moved en masse, you tend to see the cultures shaped by the incoming male. On the other hand, the elements contributed by the local female ancestors, while almost always detectable, tend to be overlooked. So the story of the mtDNA tends to include stories of subjugation, assimilation, and unappreciated cultural heritage, and generally fails to inspire fierce pride. Even in the groups which traditionally define membership strictly by the maternal line of descent, such as the Ashkenazi Jews, the Y-chromosomes remain predominantly Middle Eastern even after millennia of serial exiles and migrations, while the mtDNAs are largely a legacy of the local women in the places which the ancestors passed, from the Western Mediterranean to Czechia and Poland. Even the traditional women’s names are rich on the local borrowings…

    That’s essentially the gist of the current thread, right? How did the Basque language survive if the ancestral male line of its speakers was invasive to an extreme degree, and Indo-European by all indications? And that’s why we contemplate such hypotheses as the Basque ancestors having been subjugated or at least heavily influenced by the Aquitanians and losing their original languages….

  278. Dmitry, I can understand the generalization of male outsiders (“invaders”) marrying (sometimes in quotes) local females, but it seems to me that that depends on a situation where the outsiders have more power (economic or otherwise) than the locals. In situations where the outsiders are poorer or weaker, like slaves or refugees, I’d expect the situation to be the reverse as long as that unequal power balance persists.

  279. Dmitry Pruss says

    In situations where the outsiders are poorer or weaker

    yes, of course. I didn’t want to put the slave trade in the same category as “migrations of peoples” because they didn’t go on their own volition, but the sex bias would reverse then, of course.

    Not sure about the historical refugee populations. Most of these semi-voluntary population flows may have been too small to impact the host populations. The reverse effects, on the refugee populations, would be easier to see, but only the most culturally insulated refugee groups survive long term, and one might argue that their unusual cultural affinity makes them “stronger” in your demographic sense. So historical refuge-seeking groups such as the Lipkas also experienced a female-biased gene flow from their neighbors.

  280. Artenacian seems to be underrepresented on the internet. Even as Artenacien(nes). In Academia.edu, there are a handful of titled papers, mostly on fairly narrow subjects at a site or a small number of sites. If you look at papers with the term in the text, you quickly reach ones focused on the Bronze Age that mention Artenacian briefly to set the scene.

    Is there a different term I should be googling, or is the culture little studied? Do most French just speak of Neolithique Final?

    On the bright side, one paper I did find includes the term pendeloque(s), which Bloix said he would deny the status of English word in a comment on the Ghent vocab test two days ago:
    https://www.jstor.org/stable/27918350?seq=1

    Don’t recall ever seeing it before, and I somewhat doubt I’ll see it again.

  281. David Eddyshaw says

    Neolithique Final

    Properly called “le néo-néolithique.”

  282. PlasticPaddy says

    @de
    you are joking but
    Úr nua (lit. New new) = brand new in Irish

  283. On the bright side, one paper I did find includes the term pendeloque(s), which Bloix said he would deny the status of English word in a comment on the Ghent vocab test two days ago

    A good example of how we identify our own personal wordhoard with the immensity of the English vocabulary. Here’s the OED entry:

    A gem, esp. a diamond, cut in the shape of a drop and used as a pendant; a piece of jewellery of similar design. Also as adj.: designating such a gem.

    1623 James I in W. Prynne Hidden Workes (1645) 53 Five of them were the Dukes, with a Pendelock of a faucet Diamond, furnisht by our Jeweller.
    1659 Public Intelligencer No. 186. 604 (advt.) A Locket Jewel of three Pendelocks, consisting of Tables and Roses, in number about 48, of good water.
    1864 T. Carlyle Hist. Friedrich II of Prussia xvi. vii. 353 Seven pieces of jewelry, pendeloques, &c., with price affixed.
    1891 Amer. Naturalist 25 1034 Worked bones, arms, tools pendeloques, ornaments, harpoons, a fish-hook in two pieces worked with a joint.
    1945 A. Selwyn Retail Jeweller’s Handbk. xv. 217 Fancy shapes, such as the three-cornered, the marquise or navette.., the pear-shaped..or pendeloque, make unusual jewels.
    1959 Times 24 Feb. 18/7 A large fancy golden pendeloque diamond.
    1993 San Francisco Chron. (Nexis) 25 June b5 Topping it off with my faux sapphire pendeloque.

    In not a single citation is there any hint that it’s considered a foreign word: no quotes, italics, or parenthetical definitions. It’s a perfectly good word, just not one that most people who don’t deal with gems are familiar with.

  284. Hedebo embroidery covers several forms of white embroidery which originated in the Hedebo (heathland) region of Zealand, Denmark, in the 1760s. The varied techniques which evolved over the next hundred years in the farming community were subsequently developed by the middle classes until around 1820. They were applied to articles of clothing such as collars and cuffs but were also used to decorate bed linen.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedebo_embroidery

  285. To be fair to Bloix, I exaggerated in using “deny”. He simply said that if pendeloque had been on the Ghent test, he would have guessed not a word.

    I was surprised to see it first in French. My free association said Spanish for some sort of South American parakeet.

    Looking into it a little, the online summaries of the French etymology say “early 17th c.” from a corruption of pendeler and breloque. Seeing English pendelock already in 1623, a corruption of pendant and locket in English is more plausible on its face, perhaps falling out of use, then returning as a French word 2 centuries later. But they may have more evidence for pendeler-breloque than I’m seeing.

  286. To be fair to Bloix, I exaggerated in using “deny”. He simply said that if pendeloque had been on the Ghent test, he would have guessed not a word.

    Ah, that’s a different matter! I might have as well.

  287. Trond Engen says

    I’ve had a new look at the Olalde papers. in Britain Y chromosome replacement and overall genetic turnover were about the same, ~90%. In Iberia the degree of Y chromosome replacement may have been even higher than in Britain but overall genetic turnover significantly lower. This would mean that the mechanisms of replacement were different. The suppression of indigenous males was even harsher in Iberia. Britain was presumably settled by both sexes or maybe full households, while the migration to Iberia was strongly male-biased. That, or the males settling Iberia took many more indigenous co-wives or female slaves than those settling Britain.

  288. Across much of the Bronze Age Mediterranean, the direct genetic contribution of the Steppe herders is minor, often not more than 10%, although the actual population influx may have been greater in scale if the incoming population was already mixed in its DNA composition. Up to 16% in some Mycenaeans in Lazaridis 2017 paper on the DNA of ancient Greece. Hardly any in Hittites, although there are questions about the class / ethnic origins of the sampled skeletons there. In the Lazaridis paper, at least one of 5 Mycenaeans came from a royal tomb. They generally had J-haplotype Y-chromosomes, still common in Greece, while R1b is on the order of 15%, some of that coming much later with the Slavic, Albanian and Wlach population moves.

    A possible counterexample to the idea that the Steppe DNA influx in Greece has been minor:
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867421003706

    Clemente et al. 2021 got a few more Bronze Age Greece samples sequenced. Two of them stand out by having about half of their DNA coming from the Steppe. They are from ~ 2,000 BCE from a little-known site of Logkas near Elati in the highlands of North-Central Greece. The authors assign them to Helladic culture, and make a big point out of their genomic similarity to the contemporary Greeks. In case if you wondered about Y-chromosomes, both Logkas skeletons were female.

    So maybe stepwise migration-and-dilution will prove to be the correct model.

  289. In Greek it’s η θέση «Λογκάς» στην Ελάτη Κοζάνης, if anyone’s wondering about accents and the like.

  290. And Elati (Ελάτη) used to be Louziani (Λουζιανή), for those who like to know the old names.

  291. Trond Engen says

    Dmitry: Clemente et al. 2021 got a few more Bronze Age Greece samples sequenced. Two of them stand out by having about half of their DNA coming from the Steppe. They are from ~ 2,000 BCE from a little-known site of Logkas near Elati in the highlands of North-Central Greece. The authors assign them to Helladic culture, and make a big point out of their genomic similarity to the contemporary Greeks. In case if you wondered about Y-chromosomes, both Logkas skeletons were female.

    So maybe stepwise migration-and-dilution will prove to be the correct model.

    It seems to me:

    The westward spread through Anatolia of an ancestry ultimately from Caucasus/Iran reached the Aegaean, where it blended with local farmers and founded the Aegaean palatial cultures. This corroborates the findings of Lazaridis et al (as we discussedhere). The Minoan language may have been brought to Crete by this wave, or it may have been the language of the indigenous farmers.

    The Steppe migrations that transformed most of Europe were slow to reach the Aegaean. Steppe-like ancestry reached Northern Greece by the Middle Bronze Age, where it blended into the local Helladic culture. This hybrid society may have been where Proto-Greek formed.

    A group from this culture took over the palaces of the Helladic culture and became the Myceneans. They left documentation of their language but few genetic traces. This was the first wave of Greek speakers.

    Subsequent waves of related Hellenic peoples migrated into the peninsula, and even out into the Aegaean Sea, eventually. They pushed eachother around, exchanged myths and forged alliances, and when the Dark Ages yield to Antiquity, the country is populated by Hellenes identifying as such but also with the tribal identities of Ionians, Dorians, Aeolians and Achaeans.

    This population is essentially the same as the Greeks of today,

  292. Trond Engen says

    Hat: And Elati (Ελάτη) used to be Louziani (Λουζιανή), for those who like to know the old names.

    As the old folk song has it:

    Είμαι στη Λουζιανή
    για να δω τη Σουζιανή

  293. David Eddyshaw says

    I only know the Doric version (suitable as that dialect is for choral lyrics.)

  294. Trond Engen says

    Several of the papers I’ve read recently have referred to Fernandes et al (2020): The spread of steppe and Iranian-related ancestry in the islands of the western Mediterranean.

    Abstract
    Steppe-pastoralist-related ancestry reached Central Europe by at least 2500 BC, whereas Iranian farmer-related ancestry was present in Aegean Europe by at least 1900 BC. However, the spread of these ancestries into the western Mediterranean, where they have contributed to many populations that live today, remains poorly understood. Here, we generated genome-wide ancient-DNA data from the Balearic Islands, Sicily and Sardinia, increasing the number of individuals with reported data from 5 to 66. The oldest individual from the Balearic Islands (~2400 BC) carried ancestry from steppe pastoralists that probably derived from west-to-east migration from Iberia, although two later Balearic individuals had less ancestry from steppe pastoralists. In Sicily, steppe pastoralist ancestry arrived by ~2200 BC, in part from Iberia; Iranian-related ancestry arrived by the mid-second millennium BC, contemporary to its previously documented spread to the Aegean; and there was large-scale population replacement after the Bronze Age. In Sardinia, nearly all ancestry derived from the island’s early farmers until the first millennium BC, with the exception of an outlier from the third millennium BC, who had primarily North African ancestry and who-along with an approximately contemporary Iberian-documents widespread Africa-to-Europe gene flow in the Chalcolithic. Major immigration into Sardinia began in the first millennium BC and, at present, no more than 56-62% of Sardinian ancestry is from its first farmers. This value is lower than previous estimates, highlighting that Sardinia, similar to every other region in Europe, has been a stage for major movement and mixtures of people.

  295. Trond Engen says

    More relevant to the subject of the Basques, I’ve wondered (not really) why there’ so little French data in the genetic studies (e.g. why no Corsican data in the study of the Western Mediterranean). Well, here are two recent papers:

    Rivollat et al (2020): Ancient genome-wide DNA from France highlights the complexity of interactions between Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and Neolithic farmers:

    Abstract
    Starting from 12,000 years ago in the Middle East, the Neolithic lifestyle spread across Europe via separate continental and Mediterranean routes. Genomes from early European farmers have shown a clear Near Eastern/Anatolian genetic affinity with limited contribution from hunter-gatherers. However, no genomic data are available from modern-day France, where both routes converged, as evidenced by a mosaic cultural pattern. Here, we present genome-wide data from 101 individuals from 12 sites covering today’s France and Germany from the Mesolithic (N = 3) to the Neolithic (N = 98) (7000–3000 BCE). Using the genetic substructure observed in European hunter-gatherers, we characterize diverse patterns of admixture in different regions, consistent with both routes of expansion. Early western European farmers show a higher proportion of distinctly western hunter-gatherer ancestry compared to central/southeastern farmers. Our data highlight the complexity of the biological interactions during the Neolithic expansion by revealing major regional variations.

    Brunel et al (2020): Ancient genomes from present-day France unveil 7,000 years of its demographic history

    Significance
    Using genomic data as well as paternal and maternal lineages from more than 200 individuals, including 58 low-coverage ancient genomes, we show the population structure from the Mesolithic to the Iron Age in France and trace the changing frequency of genotypes associated with phenotypic traits. Importantly, we also report the late persistence of Magdalenian-associated ancestry in hunter-gatherer populations, showing the presence of this ancestry beyond the Iberian Peninsula in the Late Paleolithic. This study complements the genomic history of western Europe for this broad period by supplying a large genetic transect of three regions of France.

    Abstract
    Genomic studies conducted on ancient individuals across Europe have revealed how migrations have contributed to its present genetic landscape, but the territory of present-day France has yet to be connected to the broader European picture. We generated a large dataset comprising the complete mitochondrial genomes, Y-chromosome markers, and genotypes of a number of nuclear loci of interest of 243 individuals sampled across present-day France over a period spanning 7,000 y, complemented with a partially overlapping dataset of 58 low-coverage genomes. This panel provides a high-resolution transect of the dynamics of maternal and paternal lineages in France as well as of autosomal genotypes. Parental lineages and genomic data both revealed demographic patterns in France for the Neolithic and Bronze Age transitions consistent with neighboring regions, first with a migration wave of Anatolian farmers followed by varying degrees of admixture with autochthonous hunter-gatherers, and then substantial gene flow from individuals deriving part of their ancestry from the Pontic steppe at the onset of the Bronze Age. Our data have also highlighted the persistence of Magdalenian-associated ancestry in hunter-gatherer populations outside of Spain and thus provide arguments for an expansion of these populations at the end of the Paleolithic Period more northerly than what has been described so far. Finally, no major demographic changes were detected during the transition between the Bronze and Iron Ages.

    I haven’t gone into the details yet, but I see that Brunel et al confirms the picture of male line replacement observed by Olalde et al in Iberia, although not to quite the same degree.

    I imagine Dmitry might have something to say about the methods.

  296. David Marjanović says

    In Sicily, steppe pastoralist ancestry arrived by ~2200 BC, in part from Iberia; Iranian-related ancestry arrived by the mid-second millennium BC, contemporary to its previously documented spread to the Aegean; and there was large-scale population replacement after the Bronze Age.

    Well, I didn’t expect that.

  297. Sicily, like Jerusalem, has led a more exciting life than it probably would have preferred.

  298. Trond Engen says

    I hope there’s more to come. The Mediterranean was as important as the steppe for long distance trade, and so far we know very little about the population dynamics and linguistics. The names of the Sea Peoples, and then the Phoenicians.

  299. Dmitry Pruss says

    The French DNA research is a little insular, they have a policy against releasing DNA samples to foreign labs, and build their own DNA science in a relative isolation. But it isn’t as bad as the stories about Hungarian, Russian, Turkish etc, labs using outdated or questionable technologies for their ancient DNA research, and expending the scarce specimens for little effect. The French labs are better. But still, lack of competition isn’t a good thing in the quickly developing technologies.

  300. they have a policy against releasing DNA samples to foreign labs

    This is amazingly wrongheaded. Are they afraid of running out?

  301. Dmitry Pruss says

    Are they afraid of running out?

    As far as I understand, the human DNA testing was restricted on the fears that the ordinary French people will use DNA to discover non-paternity (this is a relatively common concern in the countries where legal-father’s paternity is strongly protected by law; Israel formally bans consumer DNA testing which has a potential to disclose nonpaternity as well). But the relevant French biological ethics law was very broadly written, and resulted in all kinds of human DNA research requiring an extensive bureaucratic approval, which is only granted to domestic labs.

  302. Sigh.

  303. Trond Engen says

    Hat: Sicily, like Jerusalem, has led a more exciting life than it probably would have preferred.

    You can probably read that straight out of this plot. The orange symbols are fascinating. The greenish blue Sardinians too, but nothing like the Sicilians. Both islands start out in the nether regions of the chart. Both are pulled towards the center by newcomers But Sardinia eventually pivots back towards the old normal, while Sicily ends up … in the Balkans*, more or less. The only ancient DNA that looks something close* to modern Sicilians is the first newcomer and farthest outlier of them all, a Chalcolithic traveller from the East Mediterranean.

    Now I want some Etruscan bones.

    *) Yes, I know they’ll be distant on other indicators than the PCA plot.

  304. David Marjanović says

    Now I want some Etruscan bones.

    Who doesn’t.

  305. David Eddyshaw says

    I keep my carefully conserved supplies entirely for the Ritual. They don’t grow on trees, you know.

  306. Stu Clayton says

    But trees grow on bones, when you make a meal of them.

  307. Trond Engen says

    A few years old on Sicily and Southernmost Italy:

    Sarno et al (2017): Ancient and recent admixture layers in Sicily and Southern Italy trace multiple migration routes along the Mediterranean

    Abstract
    The Mediterranean shores stretching between Sicily, Southern Italy and the Southern Balkans witnessed a long series of migration processes and cultural exchanges. Accordingly, present-day population diversity is composed by multiple genetic layers, which make the deciphering of different ancestral and historical contributes particularly challenging. We address this issue by genotyping 511 samples from 23 populations of Sicily, Southern Italy, Greece and Albania with the Illumina GenoChip Array, also including new samples from Albanian- and Greek-speaking ethno-linguistic minorities of Southern Italy. Our results reveal a shared Mediterranean genetic continuity, extending from Sicily to Cyprus, where Southern Italian populations appear genetically closer to Greek-speaking islands than to continental Greece. Besides a predominant Neolithic background, we identify traces of Post-Neolithic Levantine- and Caucasus-related ancestries, compatible with maritime Bronze-Age migrations. We argue that these results may have important implications in the cultural history of Europe, such as in the diffusion of some Indo-European languages. Instead, recent historical expansions from North-Eastern Europe account for the observed differentiation of present-day continental Southern Balkan groups. Patterns of IBD-sharing directly reconnect Albanian-speaking Arbereshe with a recent Balkan-source origin, while Greek-speaking communities of Southern Italy cluster with their Italian-speaking neighbours suggesting a long-term history of presence in Southern Italy.

    The paper is earlier and more crude than Fernandes et al (the Mediterranean one) and Clemente et al (the Greek one) above, but what I get out of it is that Sicily essentially is a Greek island, isolated from medieval migrations on the Greek mainland.

    And a recent paper on the genetic history of Italy as a whole:

    Sazzini et al (2020): Genomic history of the Italian population recapitulates key evolutionary dynamics of both Continental and Southern Europeans

    Abstract

    Background
    The cline of human genetic diversity observable across Europe is recapitulated at a micro-geographic scale by variation within the Italian population. Besides resulting from extensive gene flow, this might be ascribable also to local adaptations to diverse ecological contexts evolved by people who anciently spread along the Italian Peninsula. Dissecting the evolutionary history of the ancestors of present-day Italians may thus improve the understanding of demographic and biological processes that contributed to shape the gene pool of European populations. However, previous SNP array-based studies failed to investigate the full spectrum of Italian variation, generally neglecting low-frequency genetic variants and examining a limited set of small effect size alleles, which may represent important determinants of population structure and complex adaptive traits. To overcome these issues, we analyzed 38 high-coverage whole-genome sequences representative of population clusters at the opposite ends of the cline of Italian variation, along with a large panel of modern and ancient Euro-Mediterranean genomes.

    Results
    We provided evidence for the early divergence of Italian groups dating back to the Late Glacial and for Neolithic and distinct Bronze Age migrations having further differentiated their gene pools. We inferred adaptive evolution at insulin-related loci in people from Italian regions with a temperate climate, while possible adaptations to pathogens and ultraviolet radiation were observed in Mediterranean Italians. Some of these adaptive events may also have secondarily modulated population disease or longevity predisposition.

    Conclusions
    We disentangled the contribution of multiple migratory and adaptive events in shaping the heterogeneous Italian genomic background, which exemplify population dynamics and gene-environment interactions that played significant roles also in the formation of the Continental and Southern European genomic landscapes.

    Short version: North and South Italy are genetically distinct, with the North related to Iberia and the central Balkans and a part of the General European hybrid European Farmer and Bell Beaker world. The south has some of that too, but also an ancient and continuous connection to the East Mediterranean.

    On both papers: The ancient data is still too scarce to say when the eastern influence began and how it changed through time, but the Chalcolithic outlier in Fernandes et al makes me think the Greek colonization might have happened on an Aegaean (para-Minoan) substrate.

    Alas, still no Etruscans.

  308. David Marjanović says

    an Aegaean (para-Minoan) substrate

    Or maybe those are the speakers of “Crotonian”, though I didn’t expect those to move by sea so much.

  309. Dmitry Pruss says

    but what I get out of it is that Sicily essentially is a Greek island

    The “Greek-speaking” communities they analyzed were from Apulia and Calabria, and the extent of their Greek-speaking seems to be exaggerated. Later research seem to show a gradient of similarity to the neighbors, with only a few villages preserving the ancestral genetic makeup marginally better.

    http://languagehat.com/the-last-of-the-calabrian-greeks/#comment-4092853

  310. Trond Engen says

    Yes, I thought mainly about the homogeneity between Greeks and other Sicilians.

  311. “Also Neuhaus and Neuhauser.[…]. Simply, ‘the one with the new house’ was often distinguishing enough to serve as a surname.”

    Since about a dozen inhabited places have been called Neuhaus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuhaus) and about a dozen called Neuhausen (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuhausen), an additional possible explanation for each of the tokens of the family name Neuhaus is that it indicates birth or former residence in one of them.

    For the family names Neuhauser and Neuhäuser, those possibilities seem to be almost certain (both the un-umlauted and the umlauted forms occur in German).

    Each of several inhabited places has been called Neuhäusel, Neuhaeusel, and/ or Neuhäusl (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuh%C3%A4usel_(disambiguation), from one of which each of the tokens of the family name Neuhäusler is presumably derived.

    The status of the family name Neuhausler is unclear: a non-German respelling of Neuhäusler? the un-umlauted variant of the German family name Neuhäusler?

  312. David Marjanović says

    from one of which each of the tokens of the family name Neuhäusler is presumably derived.

    Or directly from a southern diminutive of Haus.

    In Vienna, Häusl means “toilet”, BTW.

    Neuhausler

    That just sounds wrong.

Speak Your Mind

*