Indo-Iranian peoples, also known as Indo-Iranic peoples by scholars,[1] and sometimes as Arya or Aryans from their self-designation, were an ethno-linguistic group who brought the Indo-Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, to major parts of Eurasia.

Andronovo culture
Map of the Sintashta-Petrovka culture (red), its expansion into the Andronovo culture (orange) during the 2nd millennium BC, showing the overlap with the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (chartreuse green) in the south. The location of the earliest chariots is shown in magenta.


The term Aryan has been used historically to denote the Indo-Iranians, because Arya is the self designation of the ancient speakers of the Indo-Iranian languages, specifically the Iranian and the Indo-Aryan peoples, collectively known as the Indo-Iranians.[2][3] Some scholars now use the term Indo-Iranian to refer to this group, while the term "Aryan" is used to mean "Indo-Iranian" by other scholars such as Josef Wiesehofer,[4] Will Durant,[5] and Jaakko Häkkinen.[6][7] Population geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, in his 1994 book The History and Geography of Human Genes, also uses the term Aryan to describe the Indo-Iranians.[8]


The early Indo-Iranians are commonly identified with the descendants of the Proto-Indo-Europeans known as the Sintashta culture and the subsequent Andronovo culture within the broader Andronovo horizon, and their homeland with an area of the Eurasian steppe that borders the Ural River on the west, the Tian Shan on the east (where the Indo-Iranians took over the area occupied by the earlier Afanasevo culture), and Transoxiana and the Hindu Kush on the south.[9]

Based on its use by Indo-Aryans in Mitanni and Vedic India, its prior absence in the Near East and Harappan India, and its 19–20th century BCE attestation at the Andronovo site of Sintashta, Kuzmina (1994) argues that the chariot corroborates the identification of Andronovo as Indo-Iranian.[note 1] Anthony & Vinogradov (1995) dated a chariot burial at Krivoye Lake to about 2000 BCE and a Bactria-Margiana burial that also contains a foal has recently been found, indicating further links with the steppes.[13]

Historical linguists broadly estimate that a continuum of Indo-Iranian languages probably began to diverge by 2000 BC, if not earlier,[14]:38–39 preceding both the Vedic and Iranian cultures. The earliest recorded forms of these languages, Vedic Sanskrit and Gathic Avestan, are remarkably similar, descended from the common Proto-Indo-Iranian language. The origin and earliest relationship between the Nuristani languages and that of the Iranian and Indo-Aryan groups is not completely clear.


IE expansion
Scheme of Indo-European migrations from c. 4000 to 1000 BC according to the Kurgan hypothesis. The magenta area corresponds to the assumed Urheimat (Samara culture, Sredny Stog culture). The red area corresponds to the area which may have been settled by Indo-European-speaking peoples up to c. 2500 BC; the orange area to 1000 BC.[15]
Indo-Iranian origins
Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC). The Andronovo, BMAC and Yaz cultures have often been associated with Indo-Iranian migrations. The GGC, Cemetery H, Copper Hoard and PGW cultures are candidates for cultures associated with Indo-Aryan movements.

Two-wave models of Indo-Iranian expansion have been proposed by Burrow (1973)[16] and Parpola (1999). The Indo-Iranians and their expansion are strongly associated with the Proto-Indo-European invention of the chariot. It is assumed that this expansion spread from the Proto-Indo-European homeland north of the Caspian sea south to the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Iranian plateau, and Northern India. They also expanded into Mesopotamia and Syria and introduced the horse and chariot culture to this part of the world. Sumerian texts from EDIIIb Girsu (2500–2350 BC) already mention the 'chariot' (gigir) and Ur III texts (2150–2000 BC) mention the horse (anshe-zi-zi).

First wave – Indo-Aryans

The Mitanni of Anatolia

The Mitanni, a people known in eastern Anatolia from about 1500 BC, were of mixed origins: a Hurrian-speaking majority was dominated by a non-Anatolian, Indo-Aryan elite.[17]:257 There is linguistic evidence for such a superstrate, in the form of:

In particular, Kikkuli's text includes words such as aika "one" (i.e. a cognate of the Indo-Aryan eka), tera "three" (tri), panza "five" (pancha), satta "seven", (sapta), na "nine" (nava), and vartana "turn around", in the context of a horse race (Indo-Aryan vartana). In a treaty between the Hittites and the Mitanni, the Ashvin deities Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and Nasatya are invoked. These loanwords tend to connect the Mitanni superstrate to Indo-Aryan rather than Iranian languages – i.e. the early Iranian word for "one" was aiva.

Indian subcontinent – Vedic culture

The standard model for the entry of the Indo-European languages into the Indian subcontinent is that this first wave went over the Hindu Kush, either into the headwaters of the Indus and later the Ganges. The earliest stratum of Vedic Sanskrit, preserved only in the Rigveda, is assigned to roughly 1500 BC.[17]:258[18] From the Indus, the Indo-Aryan languages spread from c. 1500 BC to c. 500 BC, over the northern and central parts of the subcontinent, sparing the extreme south. The Indo-Aryans in these areas established several powerful kingdoms and principalities in the region, from south eastern Afghanistan to the doorstep of Bengal. The most powerful of these kingdoms were the post-Rigvedic Kuru (in Kurukshetra and the Delhi area) and their allies the Pañcālas further east, as well as Gandhara and later on, about the time of the Buddha, the kingdom of Kosala and the quickly expanding realm of Magadha. The latter lasted until the 4th century BC, when it was conquered by Chandragupta Maurya and formed the center of the Mauryan empire.

In eastern Afghanistan and southwestern Pakistan, whatever Indo-Aryan languages were spoken there were eventually pushed out by the Iranian languages. Most Indo-Aryan languages, however, were and still are prominent in the rest of the Indian subcontinent. Today, Indo-Aryan languages are spoken in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Suriname and the Maldives.

Second wave – Iranians

The second wave is interpreted as the Iranian wave.[14]:42–43 The first Iranians to reach the Black Sea may have been the Cimmerians in the 8th century BC, although their linguistic affiliation is uncertain. They were followed by the Scythians, who are considered a western branch of the Central Asian Sakas. Sarmatian tribes, of whom the best known are the Roxolani (Rhoxolani), Iazyges (Jazyges) and the Alani (Alans), followed the Scythians westwards into Europe in the late centuries BC and the 1st and 2nd centuries AD (The Age of Migrations). The populous Sarmatian tribe of the Massagetae, dwelling near the Caspian Sea, were known to the early rulers of Persia in the Achaemenid Period. At their greatest reported extent, around 1st century AD, the Sarmatian tribes ranged from the Vistula River to the mouth of the Danube and eastward to the Volga, bordering the shores of the Black and Caspian seas as well as the Caucasus to the south.[19] In the east, the Saka occupied several areas in Xinjiang, from Khotan to Tumshuq.

The Medians, Persians and Parthians begin to appear on the Iranian plateau from c. 800 BC, and the Achaemenids replaced Elamite rule from 559 BC. Around the first millennium AD, Iranian groups began to settle on the eastern edge of the Iranian plateau, on the mountainous frontier of northwestern and western Pakistan, displacing the earlier Indo-Aryans from the area.

In Eastern Europe, the Iranians were eventually decisively assimilated (e.g. Slavicisation) and absorbed by the Proto-Slavic population of the region,[20][21][22][23] while in Central Asia, the Turkic languages marginalized the Iranian languages as a result of the Turkic expansion of the early centuries AD. Extant major Iranian languages are Persian, Pashto, Kurdish, and Balochi besides numerous smaller ones. Ossetian, primarily spoken in North Ossetia and South Ossetia, is a direct descendant of Alanic, and by that the only surviving Sarmatian language of the once wide-ranging East Iranian dialect continuum that stretched from Eastern Europe to the eastern parts of Central Asia.


Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian expansion include:

Parpola (1999) suggests the following identifications:

date range archaeological culture identification suggested by Parpola
2800–2000 BC late Catacomb and Poltavka cultures late PIE to Proto–Indo-Iranian
2000–1800 BC Srubna and Abashevo cultures Proto-Iranian
2000–1800 BC Petrovka-Sintashta Proto–Indo-Aryan
1900–1700 BC BMAC "Proto-Dasa" Indo-Aryans establishing themselves in the existing BMAC settlements, defeated by "Proto-Rigvedic" Indo-Aryans around 1700
1900–1400 BC Cemetery H Indian Dasa
1800–1000 BC Alakul-Fedorovo Indo-Aryan, including "Proto–Sauma-Aryan" practicing the Soma cult
1700–1400 BC early Swat culture Proto-Rigvedic = Proto-Dardic
1700–1500 BC late BMAC "Proto–Sauma-Dasa", assimilation of Proto-Dasa and Proto–Sauma-Aryan
1500–1000 BC Early West Iranian Grey Ware Mitanni-Aryan (offshoot of "Proto–Sauma-Dasa")
1400–800 BC late Swat culture and Punjab, Painted Grey Ware late Rigvedic
1400–1100 BC Yaz II-III, Seistan Proto-Avestan
1100–1000 BC Gurgan Buff Ware, Late West Iranian Buff Ware Proto-Persian, Proto-Median
1000–400 BC Iron Age cultures of Xinjang Proto-Saka


Lenguas indoiranias
Indo-Iranian languages

The Indo-European language spoken by the Indo-Iranians in the late 3rd millennium BC was a Satem language still not removed very far from the Proto-Indo-European language, and in turn only removed by a few centuries from Vedic Sanskrit of the Rigveda. The main phonological change separating Proto–Indo-Iranian from Proto–Indo-European is the collapse of the ablauting vowels *e, *o, *a into a single vowel, Proto–Indo-Iranian *a (but see Brugmann's law). Grassmann's law and Bartholomae's law were also complete in Proto–Indo-Iranian, as well as the loss of the labiovelars (kw, etc.) to k, and the Eastern Indo-European (Satem) shift from palatized k' to ć, as in Proto–Indo-European *k'ṃto- > Indo-Iran. *ćata- > Sanskrit śata-, Old Iran. sata "100".

Among the sound changes from Proto–Indo-Iranian to Indo-Aryan is the loss of the voiced sibilant *z, among those to Iranian is the de-aspiration of the PIE voiced aspirates.


Despite the introduction of later Hindu and Zoroastrian scriptures, Indo-Iranians shared a common inheritance of concepts including the universal force *Hṛta- (Sanskrit rta, Avestan asha), the sacred plant and drink *sawHma- (Sanskrit Soma, Avestan Haoma) and gods of social order such as *mitra- (Sanskrit Mitra, Avestan and Old Persian Mithra, Miϑra) and *bʰaga- (Sanskrit Bhaga, Avestan and Old Persian Baga). Proto-Indo-Iranian religion is an archaic offshoot of Indo-European religion. From the various and dispersed Indo-Iranian cultures, a set of common ideas may be reconstructed from which a common, unattested proto-Indo-Iranian source may be deduced.[24]


Beliefs developed in different ways as cultures separated and evolved. For example, the cosmo-mythology of the peoples that remained on the Central Asian steppes and the Iranian plateau is to a great degree unlike that of the Indians, focused more on groups of deities (*daiva and *asura) and less on the divinities individually. Indians were less conservative than Iranians in their treatment of their divinities, so that some deities were conflated with others or, conversely, aspects of a single divinity developed into divinities in their own right. By the time of Zoroaster, Iranian culture had also been subject to the upheavals of the Iranian Heroic Age (late Iranian Bronze Age, 1800–800 BCE), an influence that the Indians were not subject to.

Sometimes certain myths developed in altogether different ways. The Rig-Vedic Sarasvati is linguistically and functionally cognate with Avestan *Haraxvaitī Ārəduuī Sūrā Anāhitā. In the Rig-Veda (6,61,5–7) she battles a serpent called Vritra, who has hoarded all of the Earth's water. In contrast, in early portions of the Avesta, Iranian *Harahvati is the world-river that flows down from the mythical central Mount Hara. But *Harahvati does no battle — she is blocked by an obstacle (Avestan for obstacle: vərəϑra) placed there by Angra Mainyu.[24]

Cognate terms

The following is a list of cognate terms that may be gleaned from comparative linguistic analysis of the Rigveda and Avesta. Both collections are from the period after the proposed date of separation (ca. 2nd millennium BCE) of the Proto-Indo-Iranians into their respective Indic and Iranian branches.[24]


R1a1a (R-M17 or R-M198) is the sub-clade most commonly associated with Indo-European speakers. Most discussions purportedly of R1a origins are actually about the origins of the dominant R1a1a (R-M17 or R-M198) sub-clade. Data so far collected indicates that there are two widely separated areas of high frequency, one in the Indian subcontinent, around North India, and the other in Eastern Europe, around Poland and Ukraine. The historical and prehistoric possible reasons for this are the subject of on-going discussion and attention amongst population geneticists and genetic genealogists, and are considered to be of potential interest to linguists and archaeologists also.

Out of 10 human male remains assigned to the Andronovo horizon from the Krasnoyarsk region, 9 possessed the R1a Y-chromosome haplogroup and one C-M130 haplogroup (xC3). mtDNA haplogroups of nine individuals assigned to the same Andronovo horizon and region were as follows: U4 (2 individuals), U2e, U5a1, Z, T1, T4, H, and K2b.

A 2004 study also established that during the Bronze Age/Iron Age period, the majority of the population of Kazakhstan (part of the Andronovo culture during Bronze Age), was of west Eurasian origin (with mtDNA haplogroups such as U, H, HV, T, I and W), and that prior to the 13th–7th century BC, all Kazakh samples belonged to European lineages.[25]

See also


  1. ^ Klejn (1974), as cited in Bryant 2001:206, acknowledges the Iranian identification of the Andronovo-culture, but finds the Andronovo culture too late for an Indo-Iranian identification, giving a later date for the start of the Andronovo-culture "in the 16th or 17th century BC, whereas the Aryans appeared in the Near East not later than the 15th to 16th century BCE.[10] Klejn (1974, p.58) further argues that "these [latter] regions contain nothing reminiscent of Timber-Frame Andronovo materials."[10] Brentjes (1981) also gives a later dating for the Andronovo-culture.[11] Bryant further refers to Lyonnet (1993) and Francfort (1989), who point to the absence of archaeological remains of the Andronovians south of the Hindu Kush.[11] Bosch-Gimpera (1973) and Hiebert (1998) argue that there also no Andronovo-remains in Iran,[11] but Hiebert "agrees that the expansion of the BMAC people to the Iranian plateau and the Indus Valley borderlands at the beginning of the second millennium BCE is 'the best candidate for an archaeological correlate of the introduction of Indo-Iranian speakers to Iran and South Asia' (Hiebert 1995:192)".[12] Sarianidi states that the Andronovo-tribes "penetrated to a minimum extent".[11]


  1. ^ Naseer Dashti (8 October 2012). The Baloch and Balochistan: A historical account from the Beginning to the fall of the Baloch State. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4669-5897-5.
  2. ^ The "Aryan" Language, Gherardo Gnoli, Instituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente, Roma, 2002.
  3. ^ . Schmitt, "Aryans" in Encyclopedia Iranica: Excerpt:"The name “Aryan” (OInd. ā́rya-, Ir. *arya- [with short a-], in Old Pers. ariya-, Av. airiia-, etc.) is the self designation of the peoples of Ancient India and Ancient Iran who spoke Aryan languages, in contrast to the “non-Aryan” peoples of those “Aryan” countries (cf. OInd. an-ā́rya-, Av. an-airiia-, etc.), and lives on in ethnic names like Alan (Lat. Alani, NPers. īrān, Oss. Ir and Iron.". Also accessed online: [1] in May, 2010
  4. ^ Wiesehofer, Joseph: Ancient Persia. New York: 1996. I.B. Tauris. Recommends the use by scholars of the term Aryan to describe the Eastern, not the Western, branch of the Indo-European peoples (see "Aryan" in index)
  5. ^ Durant, Will: Our Oriental Heritage. New York: 1954. Simon and Schuster. According to Will Durant on Page 286: “the name Aryan first appears in the [name] Harri, one of the tribes of the Mitanni. In general it was the self-given appellation of the tribes living near or coming from the [southern] shores of the Caspian sea. The term is properly applied today chiefly to the Mitannians, Hittites, Medes, Persians, and Vedic Hindus, i.e., only to the eastern branch of the Indo-European peoples, whose western branch populated Europe.”
  6. ^ Häkkinen, Jaakko (2012). "Early contacts between Uralic and Yukaghir". In Tiina Hyytiäinen; Lotta Jalava; Janne Saarikivi; Erika Sandman (eds.). Per Urales ad Orientem (Festschrift for Juha Janhunen on the occasion of his 60th birthday on 12 February 2012) (PDF). Helsinki: Finno-Ugric Society. ISBN 978-952-5667-34-9. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  7. ^ Häkkinen, Jaakko (23 September 2012). "Problems in the method and interpretations of the computational phylogenetics based on linguistic data – An example of wishful thinking: Bouckaert et al. 2012" (PDF). Jaakko Häkkisen puolikuiva alkuperäsivusto. Jaakko Häkkinen. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  8. ^ Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi Luca; Menozzi, Paolo; Piazza, Alberto (1994), The History and Geography of Human Genes, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, p. See "Aryan" in index, ISBN 978-0-691-08750-4
  9. ^ Anthony 2007, p. 49.
  10. ^ a b Bryant 2001, p. 206.
  11. ^ a b c d Bryant 2001, p. 207.
  12. ^ Parpola 2015, p. 76.
  13. ^ Anthony & Vinogradov (1995); Kuzmina (1994), Klejn (1974), and Brentjes (1981), as cited in Bryant (2001:206)
  14. ^ a b Mallory 1989
  15. ^ Christopher I. Beckwith (2009), Empires of the Silk Road, Oxford University Press, p.30
  16. ^ Burrow 1973.
  17. ^ a b Mallory & Mair 2000
  18. ^ Rigveda – Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  19. ^ Apollonius (Argonautica, iii) envisaged the Sauromatai as the bitter foe of King Aietes of Colchis (modern Georgia).
  20. ^ Brzezinski, Richard; Mielczarek, Mariusz (2002). The Sarmatians, 600 BC-AD 450. Osprey Publishing. p. 39. (..) Indeed, it is now accepted that the Sarmatians merged in with pre-Slavic populations.
  21. ^ Adams, Douglas Q. (1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. Taylor & Francis. p. 523. (..) In their Ukrainian and Polish homeland the Slavs were intermixed and at times overlain by Germanic speakers (the Goths) and by Iranian speakers (Scythians, Sarmatians, Alans) in a shifting array of tribal and national configurations.
  22. ^ Atkinson, Dorothy; et al. (1977). Women in Russia. Stanford University Press. p. 3. (..) Ancient accounts link the Amazons with the Scythians and the Sarmatians, who successively dominated the south of Russia for a millennium extending back to the seventh century B.C. The descendants of these peoples were absorbed by the Slavs who came to be known as Russians.
  23. ^ Slovene Studies. 9–11. Society for Slovene Studies. 1987. p. 36. (..) For example, the ancient Scythians, Sarmatians (amongst others), and many other attested but now extinct peoples were assimilated in the course of history by Proto-Slavs.
  24. ^ a b c Gnoli, Gherardo (March 29, 2012). "INDO-IRANIAN RELIGION". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  25. ^ Lalueza-Fox, C.; Sampietro, M. L.; Gilbert, M. T.; Castri, L.; Facchini, F.; Pettener, D.; Bertranpetit, J. (2004). "Unravelling migrations in the steppe: Mitochondrial DNA sequences from ancient central Asians". Proceedings. Biological Sciences. 271 (1542): 941–947. doi:10.1098/rspb.2004.2698. PMC 1691686. PMID 15255049.


  • Anthony, David W. (2007), The Horse The Wheel And Language. How Bronze-Age Riders From the Eurasian Steppes Shaped The Modern World, Princeton University Press
  • Bryant, Edwin (2001), The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-513777-4
  • Burrow, T. (1973), "The Proto-Indoaryans", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (2): 123–140, JSTOR 25203451
  • Diakonoff, Igor M.; Kuz'mina, E. E.; Ivantchik, Askold I. (1995), "Two Recent Studies of Indo-Iranian Origins", Journal of the American Oriental Society, American Oriental Society, 115 (3), pp. 473–477, doi:10.2307/606224, JSTOR 606224.
  • Jones-Bley, K.; Zdanovich, D. G. (eds.), Complex Societies of Central Eurasia from the 3rd to the 1st Millennium BC, 2 vols, JIES Monograph Series Nos. 45, 46, Washington D.C. (2002), ISBN 0-941694-83-6, ISBN 0-941694-86-0.
  • Kuz'mina, Elena Efimovna (1994), Откуда пришли индоарии? (Whence came the Indo-Aryans), Moscow: Российская академия наук (Russian Academy of Sciences).
  • Kuz'mina, Elena Efimovna (2007), Mallory, James Patrick (ed.), The Origin of the Indo-Iranians, Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series, Leiden: Brill
  • Mallory, J.P. (1989), In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology, and Myth, London: Thames & Hudson.
  • Mallory, J. P.; Adams, Douglas Q. (1997), "Indo-Iranian Languages", Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, Fitzroy Dearborn.
  • Mallory, J. P.; Mair, Victor H. (2000), The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest People from the West, London: Thames & Hudson.
  • Parpola, Asko (1999), "The formation of the Aryan branch of Indo-European", in Blench, Roger; Spriggs, Matthew (eds.), Archaeology and Language, III: Artefacts, languages and texts, London and New York: Routledge.
  • Sulimirski, Tadeusz (1970), Daniel, Glyn (ed.), The Sarmatians, Ancient People and Places, Thames & Hudson, ISBN 0-500-02071-X
  • Witzel, Michael (2000), "The Home of the Aryans" (PDF), in Hintze, A.; Tichy, E. (eds.), Anusantatyai. Fs. für Johanna Narten zum 70. Geburtstag, Dettelbach: J.H. Roell, pp. 283–338.
  • Chopra, R. M., "Indo-Iranian Cultural Relations Through The Ages", Iran Society, Kolkata, 2005.

External links

Abashevo culture

The Abashevo culture is an early Bronze Age (ca. 2500–1900 BCE) archaeological culture found in the valleys of the Volga and Kama River north of the Samara bend and into the southern Ural Mountains. It receives its name from the village of Abashevo in Chuvashia. Artifacts are kurgans and remnants of settlements. The Abashevo was the easternmost of the Russian forest zone cultures that descended from Corded Ware ceramic traditions. The Abashevo culture played a significant role in the origin of the Sintashta culture. The Abashevo culture does not pertain to the Andronovo culture and genetically belongs to the circle of Central European cultures employing the Corded Ware ceramics of the type represented by the Fatyanovo culture.The economy was mixed agriculture. Cattle, sheep, and goats, as well as other domestic animals were kept. Horses were evidently used, inferred by cheek pieces typical of neighboring steppe cultures. The population of Sintashta derived their stock-breeding from Abashevo, although the role of the pig shrinks sharply.It follows the Yamna culture and Balanovo culture in its inhumation practices in tumuli. Flat graves were also a component of the Abashevo culture burial rite, as in the earlier Fatyanovo culture. Grave offerings are scant, little more than a pot or two. Some graves show evidence of a birch bark floor and a timber construction forming walls and roof.There is evidence of copper smelting, and the culture would seem connected to copper mining activities in the southern Urals. The Abashevo culture was an important center of metallurgy and stimulated the formation of Sintashta metallurgy.The Abashevo ethno-linguistic identity is a subject of speculation, although it likely reflected a merger of the earlier Indo-European Poltavka culture in the Volga-Ural steppes, Fatyanovo-Balanovo traditions, and contacts with speakers of Uralic; Abashevo was likely the area in which some loan-words entered Uralic. The skulls of the Abashevo differ from those of the Timber Grave culture, early Catacomb culture, or the Potapovka culture. The anthropological type is a transitional group in which Mongoloid and Europoid features are commingled, probably due to Siberian admixture. Abashevo probably witnessed a bilingual population undergo a process of assimilation. Some members of the hunter-gatherer Volosovo culture were apparently also absorbed into the Abashevo populace, as Corded-impressed Abashevo pottery has been found alongside comb-stamped Volosovo ceramics at archaeological sites, sometimes even in the same structure.Abashevo occupied part of the area of the earlier Fatyanovo-Balanovo culture, the eastern variant of the earlier Corded Ware culture, but whatever relationship there is between the two cultures is uncertain. The pre-eminent expert on the Abashevo culture, A. Pryakhin, concluded that it originated from contacts between Fatyanovo / Balanovo and Catacomb / Poltavka peoples in the southern forest-steppe. Early Abashevo ceramic styles strongly influenced Sintashta ceramics.It was preceded by the Yamna culture and succeeded by the Srubna culture and the Sintashta culture.


Altyndepe (Алтын-Депе, the Turkmen for "Golden Hill") is a Bronze Age (BMAC) site in Turkmenistan, near Aşgabat, inhabited in the 3rd to 2nd millennia BC, abandoned around 1600 BC.

During the late chalcolithic period Altyn Tepe became a large-scale center with an area of 25 hectares. It was surrounded by an adobe wall with rectangular watch towers.

The site is notable for the remains of its ziggurat. This was a monumental religious complex with a four-level tower of the Mesopotamian ziggurat type. This construction has also been described as "proto-Zoroastrian".

There were also other Mesopotamian connections,

"The Altyn Tepe civilization was in close contact with neighboring cultures. Sulfur-glazed vessels (Tepe Hissar, Tureng Tepe) obviously brought in from northeastern Iran turned up during the excavations in the aristocratic sector."

Namazga V and Altyndepe were also in contact with the Late Harappan culture (ca. 2000-1600 BC). In Altyn Tepe, many Indus Valley items were found, including objects made of ivory, and stamp seals of the Harappian type. At least one item contained Harappian writing.

Masson (1988) views the culture as having a Proto-Dravidian affiliation. Also, Sarianidi affiliates the site with Indo Iranians.

Models of two-wheeled carts from c. 3000 BC found at Altyn-Depe are the earliest complete evidence of wheeled transport in Central Asia, though model wheels have come from contexts possibly somewhat earlier. Judging by the type of harness, carts were initially pulled by oxen, or a bull. However camels were domesticated within the BMAC. A model of a cart drawn by a camel of c. 2200 BC was found at Altyn-Depe.

Ancient Iranian religion

Ancient Iranian religion refers to the ancient beliefs and practices of the Iranian peoples before the rise of Zoroastrianism.

The Iranian peoples emerged as a separate branch of the Indo-Iranians in the 2nd-millennium BC, during which they came to dominate the Eurasian Steppe and the Iranian Plateau. Their religion is derived from Proto-Indo-Iranian religion, and therefore shares many similarities with Vedic religion. Although the Iranian peoples left few written or material evidence of their religious practices, their religion is possible to reconstruct from scant Iranian, Babylonian and Greek accounts, similarities with Vedic and other Indo-European religions, and material evidence. Their religion was polytheistic and the chief god of their pantheon was Ahura Mazda, who was recognized as the creator of the world. They had a three-tiered division of the cosmos into the earth, the atmosphere and the heaven above. Dualism was strongly emphasized and human nature was considered essentially good. The chief ritual of the ancient Iranians was the yazna, in which the deities were praised and the mind-altering drug hauma was consumed. This ritual was performed by a highly trained priestly class. Fire was worshiped as the deity Atar. Politics and religion under the Persian Empires were strongly connected.

Beginning in the early 10th-century BC, the ancient Iranian religion was gradually displaced by Zoroastrianism, which contains many essential aspects of its predecessor.

Andronovo culture

The Andronovo culture is a collection of similar local Bronze Age cultures that flourished c. 2000–900 BC in western Siberia and the central Eurasian Steppe. Some researchers have preferred to term it an archaeological complex or archaeological horizon. The older Sintashta culture (2100–1800 BC), formerly included within the Andronovo culture, is now considered separately, but regarded as its predecessor, and accepted as part of the wider Andronovo horizon.

Most researchers associate the Andronovo horizon with early Indo-Iranian languages, though it may have overlapped the early Uralic-speaking area at its northern fringe.According to genetic study conducted by Allentoft et al. (2015), the Andronovo culture and the preceding Sintashta culture are partially derived from the Corded Ware culture, given the higher proportion of ancestry matching the earlier farmers of Europe, similar to the admixture found in the genomes of the Corded Ware population.


"Aryan" () has as its root a term that was used as a self-designation by Indo-Iranian people. The term was used by the Indo-Aryan people of the Vedic period in India as an ethnic label for themselves and to refer to the noble class as well as the geographic region known as Āryāvarta, where Indo-Aryan culture is based. The closely related Iranian people also used the term as an ethnic label for themselves in the Avesta scriptures, and the word forms the etymological source of the country name Iran. It was believed in the 19th century that Aryan was also a self-designation used by all Proto-Indo-Europeans, a theory that has now been abandoned. Scholars point out that, even in ancient times, the idea of being an "Aryan" was religious, cultural and linguistic, not racial.Drawing on misinterpreted references in the Rig Veda by Western scholars in the 19th century, the term "Aryan" was adopted as a racial category through the works of Arthur de Gobineau, whose ideology of race was based on an idea of blonde northern European "Aryans" who had migrated across the world and founded all major civilizations, before being diluted through racial mixing with local populations. Through the works of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Gobineau's ideas later influenced the Nazi racial ideology which saw "Aryan peoples" as innately superior to other putative racial groups.The atrocities committed in the name of this racial ideology have led academics to avoid the term "Aryan", which has been replaced, in most cases, by "Indo-Iranian".

Aryan language

Aryan language occurs in works published in the 19th century and 20th century to mean:

Very old Indo-European languages.

The Vedic Sanskrit language (Oldest Indo-Aryan language). The majority of North Indian languages are derived from Sanskrit (North India is also called as Āryāvarta)

The Old Persian language

The Proto-Indo-Iranian language, the ancestral language of the Indo-Iranians.

In works published in the late 19th century and early 20th century, this term, or the term Proto-Aryan, was sometimes used to describe the Proto-Indo-European language.

In works published in the late 19th century and early 20th century, this term in the plural was sometimes used as a synonym for the Indo-European languages

The Avestan language

Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex

The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (short BMAC), also known as the Oxus civilization, is the modern archaeological designation for a Bronze Age civilization of Central Asia, dated to c. 2400–1600 BC, located in present-day northern Afghanistan, eastern Turkmenistan, southern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan, centred on the upper Amu Darya (Oxus River). Its sites were discovered and named by the Soviet archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi (1976). Bactria was the Greek name for the area of Bactra (modern Balkh), in what is now northern Afghanistan, and Margiana was the Greek name for the Persian satrapy of Marguš, the capital of which was Merv, in modern-day southeastern Turkmenistan.

Sarianidi's excavations from the late 1970s onward revealed numerous monumental structures in many sites, fortified by impressive walls and gates. Reports on the BMAC were mostly confined to Soviet journals until the last years of the Soviet Union, so the findings were largely unknown to the West until Sarianidi's work began to be translated in the 1990s.

Elena Efimovna Kuzmina

Elena Efimovna Kuzmina (Russian: Еле́на Ефи́мовна Кузьмина́; 13 April 1931 – 17 October 2013) was a Russian archaeologist. She was the Chief Research Officer of the Russian Institute for Cultural Researches. She led twenty five archaeological expeditions and participated in over a hundred, mostly in the Eurasian steppe region.She received her Candidate of Sciences degree in archaeology in 1964 at the Moscow State University, and her Doktor nauk degree in 1988. She was a full professor of archaeology from 1988 to 2013.

She was the head scholar of the Russian Institute for Cultural Research. She was also an academician, member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (1988), Corresponding Fellow of the German Archaeological Institute (1982), member of the Italian Società Iranologica Europea (1996), and of the European Association of South Asian Archaeologists.

In 2009, she won Iran's World Prize for book of the year for her book The Origins of the Indo-Iranians.

Indo-Aryan peoples

The Indo-Aryan peoples or the Indic peoples are a diverse Indo-European-speaking ethnolinguistic group of speakers of Indo-Aryan languages. There are over one billion native speakers of Indo-Aryan languages, most of them native to the Indian subcontinent and presently found all across South Asia, where they form the majority.


Indo-Iranian may refer to:

Indo-Iranian languages

Indo-Iranians, the various peoples speaking these languages

Proto-Indo-Iranian religion

India–Iran relations

Indo-Iranian Journal

Iranian peoples

The Iranian peoples, or the Iranic peoples, are a diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group that comprise the speakers of the Iranian languages.The Proto-Iranians are believed to have emerged as a separate branch of the Indo-Iranians in Central Asia in the mid-2nd millennium BCE. At their peak of expansion in the mid-1st millennium BCE, the territory of the Iranian peoples stretched across the entire Eurasian Steppe from the Great Hungarian Plain in the west to the Ordos Plateau in the east, to the Iranian Plateau in the south. The Western Iranian empires of the south came to dominate much of the ancient world from the 6th century BCE, leaving an important cultural legacy; and the Eastern Iranians of the steppe played a decisive role in the development of Eurasian nomadism and the Silk Road.The ancient Iranian peoples who emerged after the 1st millennium BCE include the Alans, Bactrians, Dahae, Khwarezmians, Massagetae, Medes, Parthians, Persians, Sagartians, Sakas, Sarmatians, Scythians, Sogdians and probably Cimmerians among other Iranian-speaking peoples of Western Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and the Eastern Steppe.

In the 1st millennium CE, their area of settlement was reduced as a result of Slavic, Germanic, Turkic, and Mongol expansions, and many were subjected to Slavicisation and Turkification. Modern Iranian-speaking peoples include the Baloch, Gilaks, Kurds, Lurs, Mazanderanis, Ossetians, Pamiris, Pashtuns, Persians, Tajiks, the Talysh, Wakhis, and Yaghnobis. Their current distribution spreads across the Iranian Plateau, stretching from the Caucasus in the north to the Persian Gulf in the south and from eastern Turkey in the west to western Xinjiang in the east—a region that is sometimes called the Iranian Cultural Continent, representing the extent of the Iranian-speakers and the significant influence of the Iranian peoples through the geopolitical reach of Greater Iran.

Karasuk culture

The Karasuk culture describes a group of Bronze Age societies who ranged from the Aral Sea to the upper Yenisei in the east and south to the Altai Mountains and the Tian Shan in ca. 1500–800 BC.The distribution of the Karasuk culture covers the eastern parts of the Andronovo culture, which it appears to replace. The remains of settlements are minimal, and entirely of the mortuary variety. At least 2000 burials are known. The Karasuk period persisted down to c. 700 BC. From c. 700 to c. 200 BC, culture developed along similar lines. Vital trade contact is traced from northern China and the Baikal region to the Black Sea and the Urals, influencing the uniformity of the culture. The Karasuk was succeeded by the Tagar culture.The economy was mixed agriculture and stockbreeding. Its culture appears to have been more mobile than the Andronovo. The Karasuk were farmers who practiced metallurgy on a large scale. Arsenical bronze artefacts are present. Their settlements were of pit houses and they buried their dead in stone cists covered by kurgans and surrounded by square stone enclosures. Industrially, they were skilled metalworkers, the diagnostic artifacts of the culture being a bronze knife with curving profiles and a decorated handle and horse bridles. The pottery has been compared to that discovered in Inner Mongolia and the interior of China, with burials bronze knives similar to those from northeastern China. Their realistic animal art probably contributed to the development of the Scytho-Siberian animal art style (Scythian art).The origins of the Karasuk culture are complex, but it is generally accepted that its origins lie both with the Andronovo culture and local cultures of the Yenisei. The ethnic identity of the Karasuk is problematic, as the Andronovo culture has been associated with the Indo-Iranians while the local cultures have been considered as unconnected to the steppe. Nevertheless, a specifically Proto-Iranian identity has been proposed for the Karasuk culture. The Karasuk tribes have been described by archaeologists as exhibiting pronounced Europoid features. George van Driem has suggested a connection with the Yeniseian and Burushaski people, proposing a Karasuk languages group.In 2009, a genetic study of ancient Siberian cultures, the Andronovo culture, tha Karasuk culture, the Tagar culture and the Tashtyk culture, was published in the journal Human Genetics. Four individuals of the Karasuk culture of four different sites from 1400 BC to 800 BC were surveyed. Extractions of mtDNA from two individuals were determined to possess the Western Eurasian U5a1 and U4 lineages. Extractions of Y-DNA from two individuals were both determined to be of Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a1, which is thought to mark the eastward migration of the early Indo-Europeans. The individuals surveyed were all determined to be Europoid and light-eyed.

Proto-Indo-Iranian language

Proto-Indo-Iranian or Proto-Indo-Iranic is the reconstructed proto-language of the Indo-Iranian/Indo-Iranic branch of Indo-European. Its speakers, the hypothetical Proto-Indo-Iranians, are assumed to have lived in the late 3rd millennium BC, and are often connected with the Sintashta culture of the Eurasian Steppe and the early Andronovo archaeological horizon.

Proto-Indo-Iranian was a satem language, likely removed less than a millennium from its ancestor, the late Proto-Indo-European language, and in turn removed less than a millennium from the Vedic Sanskrit of the Rigveda, its descendant. It is the ancestor of the Indo-Aryan languages, the Iranian languages, and the Nuristani languages.

Proto-Iranian language

Proto-Iranian, or Proto-Iranic, is the reconstructed proto-language of the Iranian languages branch of Indo-European language family and thus the ancestor of the Iranian languages such as Pashto, Persian, Sogdian, Zazaki, Ossetian, Mazandarani, Kurdish, Talysh and others. Its speakers, the hypothetical Proto-Iranians, are assumed to have lived in the early 2nd millennium BC, and they are usually connected with the Proto-Indo-Iranians and early Andronovo archaeological horizon.

Proto-Iranian was a satem language descended from the Proto-Indo-Iranian language, which in turn, came from the Proto-Indo-European language. It was likely removed less than a millennium from the Avestan language, and less than two millennia from Proto-Indo-European.


Ratha (Proto-Indo-Iranian: *Hrátʰas, Sanskrit: रथ, rátha, Avestan: raθa) is the Indo-Iranian term for a spoked-wheel chariot or a cart of antiquity. Its equivalent term in the Dravidian languages is taer.


Sintashta (Russian: Синташта́) is an archaeological site in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. It is the remains of a fortified settlement dating to the Bronze Age, c. 2800–1600 BC, and is the type site of the Sintashta culture. The site has been characterised "fortified metallurgical industrial center".Sintashta is situated in the steppe just east of the Ural Mountains. The site is named for the adjacent Sintashta River, a tributary to the Tobol. The shifting course of the river over time has destroyed half of the site, leaving behind thirty one of the approximately fifty or sixty houses in the settlement.The settlement consisted of rectangular houses arranged in a circle 140 m in diameter and surrounded by a timber-reinforced earthen wall with gate towers and a deep ditch on its exterior. The fortifications at Sintashta and similar settlements such as Arkaim were of unprecedented scale for the steppe region. There is evidence of copper and bronze metallurgy taking place in every house excavated at Sintashta, again an unprecedented intensity of metallurgical production for the steppe. Early Abashevo culture ceramic styles strongly influenced Sintashta ceramics. Due to the assimilation of tribes in the region of the Urals, such as the Pit-grave, Catacomb, Poltavka, and northern Abashevo into the Novokumak horizon, it would seem inaccurate to provide Sintashta with a purely Aryan attribution. In the origin of Sintashta, the Abashevo culture would play an important role.Five cemeteries have been found associated with the site, the largest of which (known as Sintashta mogila or SM) consisted of forty graves. Some of these were chariot burials, producing the oldest known chariots in the world. Others included horse sacrifices—up to eight in a single grave—various stone, copper and bronze weapons, and silver and gold ornaments. The SM cemetery is overlain by a very large kurgan of a slightly later date. It has been noted that the kind of funerary sacrifices evident at Sintashta have strong similarities to funerary rituals described in the Rig Veda, an ancient Indian religious text often associated with the Proto-Indo-Iranians.Radiocarbon dates from the settlement and cemeteries span over a millennium, suggesting an earlier occupation belonging to the Poltavka culture. The majority of the dates, however, are around 2100–1800 BC, which points at a main period of occupation of the site consistent with other settlements and cemeteries of the Sintashta culture.

Sintashta culture

The Sintashta culture, also known as the Sintashta-Petrovka culture or Sintashta-Arkaim culture, is a Bronze Age archaeological culture of the northern Eurasian steppe on the borders of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, dated to the period 2100–1800 BCE. The culture is named after the Sintashta archaeological site, in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia.

The Sintashta culture is widely regarded as the origin of the Indo-Iranian languages. The earliest known chariots have been found in Sintashta burials, and the culture is considered a strong candidate for the origin of the technology, which spread throughout the Old World and played an important role in ancient warfare. Sintashta settlements are also remarkable for the intensity of copper mining and bronze metallurgy carried out there, which is unusual for a steppe culture.

Soma (deity)

Soma (Sanskrit: सोम) connotes the Moon as well as a medicinal deity in post-Vedic Hindu mythology. In Puranic mythology, Soma is moon deity, but sometimes also used to refer to Vishnu, Shiva (as Somanatha), Yama and Kubera. In some Indian texts, Soma is a name of an Apsara, alternatively it is the name of any medicinal concoction, or rice-water gruel, or heaven and sky, as well as the name of certain places of pilgrimage.The Soma Mandala in the Rigveda mentions Soma as a ritual drink of importance among the early Indo-Iranians.

Soma is synonymous with Chandra, Indu (bright drop), Atrisuta (son of Atri), Sachin (marked by hare), Taradhipa (lord of stars) and Nishakara (the night maker).In Buddhist sources, Soma and Chandra (Pali: Candimā) appear to be separate entities.

Srubnaya culture

The Srubnaya culture (Russian: Сру́бная культу́ра, romanized: Srubnaya kultura, lit. 'log house culture'; Ukrainian: Зрубна́ культу́ра, romanized: Zrubna kultura), also known as Timber-grave culture, was a Late Bronze Age (18th–12th centuries BC) culture in the eastern part of Pontic-Caspian steppe. It is a successor to the Late Catacomb culture and the Poltavka culture, as well as the Potapovka culture.

It occupied the area along and above the north shore of the Black Sea from the Dnieper eastwards along the northern base of the Caucasus to the area abutting the north shore of the Caspian Sea, west of the Ural Mountains to come up against the domain of the approximately contemporaneous and somewhat related Andronovo culture.

The name comes from Russian сруб (srub), "timber framework", from the way graves were constructed. Animal parts were buried with the body.

The economy was mixed agriculture and livestock breeding. The historical Cimmerians have been suggested as descended from this culture.A study on DNA variation among ancient Europeans found that, of the six samples extracted from Srubna culture sites for which a Y-DNA hapogroup could be tested, all belonged to haplogroup R1a, and four of them to subclade R1a-Z93, which is common among modern-day Indo-Iranians.The Srubna culture is succeeded by Scythians and Sarmatians in the 1st millennium BC.

Indo-Iranian Vedic Sanskrit Avestan Common meaning
*Hāpš āp āp "water," āpas "the Waters"
*Hapām Napāts Apam Napat, Apām Napāt Apām Napāt the "water's offspring"
*aryaman aryaman airyaman "Arya-hood" (lit:** "member of Arya community")
*Hr̥tas rta asha/arta "active truth", extending to "order" & "righteousness"
*atharwan atharvan āϑrauuan, aϑaurun "priest"
*Haǰʰiš ahi azhi, (aži) "dragon, snake", "serpent"
*daywas daiva, deva daeva, (daēuua) a class of divinities
*manu manu manu "man"
*mitra mitra mithra, miϑra "oath, covenant"
*Hasuras asura ahura another class of spirits
*sarwatāt sarvatat Hauruuatāt "intactness", "perfection"
*SaraswatiH Sarasvatī Haraxvaitī (Ārəduuī Sūrā Anāhitā) a controversial (generally considered mythological) river, a river goddess
*sawmas sauma, soma haoma a plant, deified
*suHar ~ *suHr̥ svar hvar, xvar the Sun, also cognate to Greek helios, Latin sol, Engl. Sun
*top ~ *tep Tapati tapaiti Possible fire/solar goddess; see Tabiti (a possibly Hellenised Scythian theonym). Cognate with Latin tepeo and several other terms.
*wr̥tras Vrtra- verethra, vərəϑra (cf. Verethragna, Vərəϑraγna) "obstacle"
*Yamas Yama Yima son of the solar deity Vivasvant/Vīuuahuuant
*yaĵnas yajña yasna, object: yazata "worship, sacrifice, oblation"

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