The Proto-Indo-Europeans were the prehistoric people of Eurasia who spoke Proto-Indo-European (PIE), the ancestor of the Indo-European languages according to linguistic reconstruction.

Knowledge of them comes chiefly from that reconstruction, along with material evidence from archaeology and archaeogenetics. The Proto-Indo-Europeans likely lived during the late Neolithic, or roughly the 4th millennium BC. Mainstream scholarship places them in the Pontic–Caspian steppe zone in Eastern Europe (present day Ukraine and Russia).[1] Some archaeologists would extend the time depth of PIE to the middle Neolithic (5500 to 4500 BC) or even the early Neolithic (7500 to 5500 BC), and suggest alternative location hypotheses.

By the early second millennium BC, offshoots of the Proto-Indo-Europeans had reached far and wide across Eurasia, including Anatolia (Hittites), the Aegean (the ancestors of Mycenaean Greece), the north of Europe (Corded Ware culture), the edges of Central Asia (Yamnaya culture), and southern Siberia (Afanasievo culture).[2]


Using linguistic reconstruction, hypothetical features of the Proto-Indo-European language are deduced. Assuming that these linguistic features reflect culture and environment of the Proto-Indo-Europeans, the following cultural and environmental traits are widely proposed:

The Proto-Indo-Europeans had domesticated horses*eḱwos (cf. Latin equus). The cow (*gwous) played a central role, in religion and mythology as well as in daily life. A man's wealth would have been measured by the number of his animals (small livestock), *peḱu (cf. English fee, Latin pecunia).

As for technology, reconstruction indicates a culture of the late Neolithic bordering on the early Bronze Age, with tools and weapons very likely composed of "natural bronze" (i.e., made from copper ore naturally rich in silicon or arsenic). Silver and gold were known, but not silver smelting (as PIE has no word for lead, a by-product of silver smelting), thus suggesting that silver was imported. Sheep were kept for wool, and textiles were woven.

Burials in barrows or tomb chambers apply to the Kurgan culture, in accordance with the original version of the Kurgan hypothesis, but not to the previous Sredny Stog culture, which is also generally associated with PIE. Important leaders would have been buried with their belongings in kurgans.

Many Indo-European societies know a threefold division of priests, a warrior class, and a class of peasants or husbandmen. Georges Dumézil has suggested such a division for Proto-Indo-European society.

If there was a separate class of warriors, traces of initiation rites in several Indo-European societies suggest that this group would have identified with wolves (see also Berserker, werewolf).

History of research

Researchers have made many attempts to identify particular prehistoric cultures with the Proto-Indo-European-speaking peoples, but all such theories remain speculative. Any attempt to identify an actual people with an unattested language depends on a sound reconstruction of that language that allows identification of cultural concepts and environmental factors associated with particular cultures (such as the use of metals, agriculture vs. pastoralism, geographically distinctive plants and animals, etc.).

The scholars of the 19th century who first tackled the question of the Indo-Europeans' original homeland (also called Urheimat, from German), had essentially only linguistic evidence. They attempted a rough localization by reconstructing the names of plants and animals (importantly the beech and the salmon) as well as the culture and technology (a Bronze Age culture centered on animal husbandry and having domesticated the horse). The scholarly opinions became basically divided between a European hypothesis, positing migration from Europe to Asia, and an Asian hypothesis, holding that the migration took place in the opposite direction.

In the early 20th century, the question became associated with the expansion of a supposed "Aryan race," a fallacy promoted during the expansion of European empires and the rise of "scientific racism." [8] The question remains contentious within some flavours of ethnic nationalism (see also Indigenous Aryans).

A series of major advances occurred in the 1970s due to the convergence of several factors. First, the radiocarbon dating method (invented in 1949) had become sufficiently inexpensive to be applied on a mass scale. Through dendrochronology (tree-ring dating), pre-historians could calibrate radiocarbon dates to a much higher degree of accuracy. And finally, before the 1970s, parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia had been off limits to Western scholars, while non-Western archaeologists did not have access to publication in Western peer-reviewed journals. The pioneering work of Marija Gimbutas, assisted by Colin Renfrew, at least partly addressed this problem by organizing expeditions and arranging for more academic collaboration between Western and non-Western scholars.

The Kurgan hypothesis, as of 2017 the most widely held theory, depends on linguistic and archaeological evidence, but is not universally accepted.[9][10] It suggests PIE origin in the Pontic-Caspian steppe during the Chalcolithic. A minority of scholars prefer the Anatolian hypothesis, suggesting an origin in Anatolia during the Neolithic. Other theories (Armenian hypothesis, Out of India theory, Paleolithic Continuity Theory, Balkan hypothesis) have only marginal scholarly support.

In regard to terminology, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the term Aryan was used to refer to the Proto-Indo-Europeans and their descendants. However, Aryan more properly applies to the Indo-Iranians, the Indo-European branch that settled parts of the Middle East and South Asia, as only Indic and Iranian languages explicitly affirm the term as a self-designation referring to the entirety of their people, whereas the same Proto-Indo-European root (*aryo-) is the basis for Greek and Germanic word forms which seem only to denote the ruling elite of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) society. In fact, the most accessible evidence available confirms only the existence of a common, but vague, socio-cultural designation of "nobility" associated with PIE society, such that Greek socio-cultural lexicon and Germanic proper names derived from this root remain insufficient to determine whether the concept was limited to the designation of an exclusive, socio-political elite, or whether it could possibly have been applied in the most inclusive sense to an inherent and ancestral "noble" quality which allegedly characterized all ethnic members of PIE society. Only the latter could have served as a true and universal self-designation for the Proto-Indo-European people.

By the early twentieth century this term had come to be widely used in a racist context referring to a hypothesized white, blonde and blue eyed master race, culminating with the pogroms of the Nazis in Europe. Subsequently, the term Aryan as a general term for Indo-Europeans has been largely abandoned by scholars (though the term Indo-Aryan is still used to refer to the branch that settled in Southern Asia).[11]

Urheimat hypotheses

IE expansion
Scheme of Indo-European migrations from ca. 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 ca. 2500 BC; the orange area to 1000 BC.[12]

According to some archaeologists, PIE speakers cannot be assumed to have been a single, identifiable people or tribe, but were a group of loosely related populations ancestral to the later, still partially prehistoric, Bronze Age Indo-Europeans. This view is held especially by those archaeologists who posit an original homeland of vast extent and immense time depth. However, this view is not shared by linguists, as proto-languages, like all languages before modern transport and communication, occupied small geographical areas over a limited time span, and were spoken by a set of close-knit communities—a tribe in the broad sense.[13]

Researchers have put forward a great variety of proposed locations for the first speakers of Proto-Indo-European. Few of these hypotheses have survived scrutiny by academic specialists in Indo-European studies sufficiently well to be included in modern academic debate.[14]

Steppe theory

In 1956 Marija Gimbutas (1921–1994) first proposed the Kurgan hypothesis. The name originates from the kurgans (burial mounds) of the Eurasian steppes. The hypothesis suggests that the Indo-Europeans, a nomadic culture of the Pontic-Caspian steppe (now part of Eastern Ukraine and Southern Russia), expanded in several waves during the 3rd millennium BC. Their expansion coincided with the taming of the horse. Leaving archaeological signs of their presence (see battle-axe people), they subjugated the peaceful European neolithic farmers of Gimbutas' Old Europe. As Gimbutas' beliefs evolved, she put increasing emphasis on the patriarchal, patrilinear nature of the invading culture, sharply contrasting it with the supposedly egalitarian, if not matrilinear culture of the invaded, to a point of formulating essentially feminist archaeology. A modified form of this theory by JP Mallory (1945- ), dating the migrations earlier (to around 3500 BC) and putting less insistence on their violent or quasi-military nature, remains the most widely accepted view of the Proto-Indo-European expansion.[note 4]

Near-Eastern origins

Armenian hypothesis

The Armenian hypothesis, based on the glottalic theory, suggests that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highland. This Indo-Hittite model does not include the Anatolian languages in its scenario. The phonological peculiarities of PIE proposed in the glottalic theory would be best preserved in the Armenian language and the Germanic languages, the former assuming the role of the dialect which remained in situ, implied to be particularly archaic in spite of its late attestation. Proto-Greek would be practically equivalent to Mycenean Greek and would date to the 17th century BC, closely associating Greek migration to Greece with the Indo-Aryan migration to India at about the same time (viz., Indo-European expansion at the transition to the Late Bronze Age, including the possibility of Indo-European Kassites). The Armenian hypothesis argues for the latest possible date of Proto-Indo-European (sans Anatolian), a full millennium later than the mainstream Kurgan hypothesis. In this, it figures as an opposite to the Anatolian hypothesis, in spite of the geographical proximity of the respective Urheimaten suggested, diverging from the time-frame suggested there by a full three millennia.[17]

Zagros mountains

Bernard Sergent associates the Indo-European language family with certain archaeological cultures in Southern Russia, and he reconstructs an Indo-European religion (relying on the method of Georges Dumézil). He writes that the lithic assemblage of the first Kurgan culture in Ukraine (Sredni Stog II), originated from the Volga and South Urals, recalls that of the Mesolithic-Neolithic sites to the east of the Caspian sea, Dam Dam Chesme II and the cave of Djebel.[18] Thus, he places the roots of the Gimbutas' Kurgan cradle of Indo-Europeans in a more southern cradle, and adds that the Djebel material is related to a Paleolithic material of Northwestern Iran, the Zarzian culture, dated 10,000-8,500 BC, and in the more ancient Kebarian of the Near East. He concludes that more than 10,000 years ago the Indo-Europeans were a small people grammatically, phonetically and lexically close to Semitic-Hamitic populations of the Near East.[19]

Anatolian hypothesis

The Anatolian hypothesis proposes that the Indo-European languages spread peacefully into Europe from Asia Minor from around 7000 BC with the advance of farming (wave of advance). The leading propagator of the theory is Colin Renfrew. The culture of the Indo-Europeans as inferred by linguistic reconstruction raises difficulties for this theory, since early neolithic cultures had neither the horse, nor the wheel, nor metal, terms for all of which are securely reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European. Renfrew dismisses this argument, comparing such reconstructions to a theory that the presence of the word "café" in all modern Romance languages implies that the ancient Romans had cafés too. The linguistic counter-argument to this might state that whereas there can be no clear Proto-Romance reconstruction of the word "café" according to historical linguistic methodology, words such as "wheel" in the Indo-European languages clearly point to an archaic form of the protolanguage. Another argument against Renfrew is the fact that ancient Anatolia is known to have been inhabited by non-Indo-European Caucasian-speaking peoples, namely the Hattians, the Chalybes, and the Hurrians.


The rise of archaeogenetic evidence which uses genetic analysis to trace migration patterns also added new elements to the origins puzzle.

Kurgan hypothesis

R1b and R1a

According to three autosomal DNA studies, haplogroups R1b and R1a, now the most common in Europe (R1a is also very common in South Asia) would have expanded from the Russian steppes, along with the Indo European languages; they also detected an autosomal component present in modern Europeans which was not present in Neolithic Europeans, which would have been introduced with paternal lineages R1b and R1a, as well as Indo European Languages.[20][21][22] Studies which analysed ancient human remains in Ireland and Portugal suggest that R1b was introduced in these places along with autosomal DNA from the Eastern European steppes.[23][24]


The subclade R1a1a (R-M17 or R-M198) is most commonly associated with Indo-European speakers, although the subclade R1b1a (P-297) has also been linked to the Centum branch of Indo-European. Data so far collected indicate that there are two widely separated areas of high frequency, one in Eastern Europe, around Poland and the Russian core, and the other in South Asia, around Indo-Gangetic Plain. 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.

A large, 2014 study by Underhill et al., using 16,244 individuals from over 126 populations from across Eurasia, concluded there was compelling evidence, that R1a-M420 originated in the vicinity of Iran.[25] The mutations that characterize haplogroup R1a occurred ~10,000 years BP. Its defining mutation (M17) occurred about 10,000 to 14,000 years ago.[25]

Ornella Semino et al. propose a postglacial (Holocene) spread of the R1a1 haplogroup from north of the Black Sea during the time of the Late Glacial Maximum, which was subsequently magnified by the expansion of the Kurgan culture into Europe and eastward.[26]

Yamnaya culture

According to Jones et al. (2015) and Haak et al. (2015), Yamnaya culture was exclusively R1b, autosomic tests indicate that the Yamnaya-people were the result of admixture between two different hunter-gatherer populations: distinctive "Eastern European hunter-gatherers" with high affinity to the Mal'ta-Buret' culture or other, closely related Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) people from Siberia[27] and to Western Hunter Gatherers(WHG) and a population of "Caucasus hunter-gatherers" who probably arrived from somewhere in the Near East, probably the Caucasus or Iran.[28][web 1] Each of those two populations contributed about half the Yamnaya DNA.[29][web 1] According to co-author Dr. Andrea Manica of the University of Cambridge:

The question of where the Yamnaya come from has been something of a mystery up to now [...] we can now answer that, as we've found that their genetic make-up is a mix of Eastern European hunter-gatherers and a population from this pocket of Caucasus hunter-gatherers who weathered much of the last Ice Age in apparent isolation.[web 1]

According to Haak et al. (2015), "Eastern European hunter-gatherers" who inhabited Russia were a distinctive population of hunter-gatherers with high affinity to a ~24,000-year-old Siberian from Mal'ta-Buret' culture, or other, closely related Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) people from Siberia and to the Western Hunter Gatherers (WHG).[27][web 1] Remains of the "Eastern European hunter-gatherers" have been found in Mesolithic or early Neolithic sites in Karelia and Samara Oblast, Russia, and put under analysis. Three such hunter-gathering individuals of the male sex have had their DNA results published. Each was found to belong to a different Y-DNA haplogroup: R1a, R1b, and J.[29] R1b is also the most common Y-DNA haplogroup found among both the Yamnaya and modern-day Western Europeans.[27][30]

The Near East population were most likely hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus (CHG)[28] c.q. Iran Chalcolithic related people with a CHG-component.[31]

Jones et al. (2015) analyzed genomes from males from western Georgia, in the Caucasus, from the Late Upper Palaeolithic (13,300 years old) and the Mesolithic (9,700 years old). These two males carried Y-DNA haplogroup: J* and J2a. The researchers found that these Caucasus hunters were probably the source of the farmer-like DNA in the Yamnaya, as the Caucasians were distantly related to the Middle Eastern people who introduced farming in Europe.[web 1] Their genomes showed that a continued mixture of the Caucasians with Middle Eastern took place up to 25,000 years ago, when the coldest period in the last Ice Age started.[web 1]

According to Lazaridis et al. (2016), "a population related to the people of the Iran Chalcolithic contributed ~43% of the ancestry of early Bronze Age populations of the steppe."[31] According to Lazaridis et al. (2016), these Iranian Chalcolithic people were a mixture of "the Neolithic people of western Iran, the Levant, and Caucasus Hunter Gatherers."[31][note 5] Lazaridis et al. (2016) also note that farming spread at two places in the Near East, namely the Levant and Iran, from where it spread, Iranian people spreading to the steppe and south Asia.[32]

Corded Ware

Haak et al. (2015) studied DNA from 94 skeletons from Europe and Russia aged between 3,000 and 8,000 years old.[33] They concluded that about 4,500 years ago there was a major influx into Europe of Yamnaya culture people originating from the Pontic-Caspian steppe north of the Black Sea and that the DNA of copper-age Europeans matched that of the Yamnaya. The genetic basis of a number of features of the Yamnaya people were ascertained: they were genetically tall (phenotypic height is determined by both genetics and environmental factors), overwhelmingly dark-eyed (brown), dark-haired and had a skin colour that was moderately light, though somewhat darker than that of the average modern European:[34][35]

The four Corded Ware people could trace an astonishing three-quarters of their ancestry to the Yamnaya, according to the paper. That suggests a massive migration of Yamnaya people from their steppe homeland into eastern Europe about 4500 years ago when the Corded Ware culture began, perhaps carrying an early form of Indo-European language.


From the Corded Ware culture the Indo-Europeans spread eastward again, forming the Andronovo culture. 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.[36] According to Allentoft et al. (2015), the Sintashta culture and Andronovo culture are derived from the Corded Ware culture.[37] According to Keyser et al. (2009), out of 10 human male remains assigned to the Andronovo horizon from the Krasnoyarsk region, nine possessed the R1a Y-chromosome haplogroup and one had the C-M130 haplogroup (xC3). Furthermore, 90% of the Bronze Age period mtDNA haplogroups were of west Eurasian origin, and the study determined that at least 60% of the individuals overall (out of the 26 Bronze and Iron Age human-remains samples from the study that could be tested) had dark hair and brown or green eyes.[38][note 6][39]

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 centuries BC, all samples from Kazakhstan belonged to European lineages.[40]

Anatolian hypothesis

Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza and Alberto Piazza argue that Renfrew and Gimbutas reinforce rather than contradict each other. Cavalli-Sforza (2000) states that "It is clear that, genetically speaking, peoples of the Kurgan steppe descended at least in part from people of the Middle Eastern Neolithic who immigrated there from Turkey." Piazza and Cavalli-Sforza (2006) state that:

if the expansions began at 9,500 years ago from Anatolia and at 6,000 years ago from the Yamnaya culture region, then a 3,500-year period elapsed during their migration to the Volga-Don region from Anatolia, probably through the Balkans. There a completely new, mostly pastoral culture developed under the stimulus of an environment unfavourable to standard agriculture, but offering new attractive possibilities. Our hypothesis is, therefore, that Indo-European languages derived from a secondary expansion from the Yamnaya culture region after the Neolithic farmers, possibly coming from Anatolia and settled there, developing pastoral nomadism.

Spencer Wells suggests in a 2001 study that the origin, distribution and age of the R1a1 haplotype points to an ancient migration, possibly corresponding to the spread by the Kurgan people in their expansion across the Eurasian steppe around 3000 BC.[41]

About his old teacher Cavalli-Sforza's proposal, Wells (2002) states that "there is nothing to contradict this model, although the genetic patterns do not provide clear support either", and instead argues that the evidence is much stronger for Gimbutas' model:

While we see substantial genetic and archaeological evidence for an Indo-European migration originating in the southern Russian steppes, there is little evidence for a similarly massive Indo-European migration from the Middle East to Europe. One possibility is that, as a much earlier migration (8,000 years old, as opposed to 4,000), the genetic signals carried by Indo-European-speaking farmers may simply have dispersed over the years. There is clearly some genetic evidence for migration from the Middle East, as Cavalli-Sforza and his colleagues showed, but the signal is not strong enough for us to trace the distribution of Neolithic languages throughout the entirety of Indo-European-speaking Europe.

Armenian hypothesis/Caucasus

David Reich (2018) argues that the most likely location of the Proto-Indo-European homeland is south of the Caucasus, because "ancient DNA from people who lived there matches what we would expect for a source population both for the Yamnaya and for ancient Anatolians". [42]

See also


  1. ^ Watkins: "The Indo-Europeans knew snow in their homeland; the word sneigwh- is nearly ubiquitous."[3]
  2. ^ Watkins: "Yet, for the Indo-European-speaking society, we can reconstruct with certainty the word for “god,” *deiw-os, and the two-word name of the chief deity of the pantheon, *dyeu-pəter- (Latin Iūpiter, Greek Zeus patēr, Sanskrit Dyauṣ pitar, and Luvian Tatis Tiwaz)."[3]
  3. ^ Watkins: "A large number of kinship terms have been reconstructed. They are agreed in pointing to a society that was patriarchal, patrilocal (the bride leaving her household to join that of her husband’s family), and patrilineal (descent reckoned by the male line). “Father” and “head of the household” are one: pǝter-, with his spouse, the māter-."[3]
  4. ^ See:
    • Mallory: "The Kurgan solution is attractive and has been accepted by many archaeologists and linguists, in part or total. It is the solution one encounters in the Encyclopædia Britannica and the Grand Dictionnaire Encyclopédique Larousse."[15]
    • Strazny: "The single most popular proposal is the Pontic steppes (see the Kurgan hypothesis)..."[16]
  5. ^ See also:
    * eurogenes.blogspot, The genetic structure of the world's first farmers (Lazaridis et al. preprint)
    *, Lazaridis et al: The genetic structure of the world's first farmers (pre-print)
  6. ^ mtDNA haplogroups of nine individuals assigned to the same Andronovo horizon and region were as follows: U4 (two individuals), U2e, U5a1, Z, T1, T4, H, and K2b.[38]


  1. ^ Anthony, David W.; Ringe, Don (1 January 2015). "The Indo-European Homeland from Linguistic and Archaeological Perspectives". Annual Review of Linguistics. 1 (1): 199–219. doi:10.1146/annurev-linguist-030514-124812. ISSN 2333-9683.
  2. ^ Mallory, J. P.; Adams, Douglas Q. (1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European culture. Taylor & Francis. pp. 4 and 6 (Afanasevo), 13 and 16 (Anatolia), 243 (Greece), 127–128 (Corded Ware), and 653 (Yamna). ISBN 978-1-884964-98-5. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Watkins 2000.
  4. ^ a b The Oxford Companion to Archaeology – Edited by Brian M. Fagan, Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-19-507618-4, p 347 – J.P. Mallory
  5. ^ The Oxford introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European world – J. P. Mallory, Douglas Q. Adams, Oxford University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-19-929668-5, p249
  6. ^ Barfield, Owen (1967). "History in English Words". ISBN 9780940262119.
  7. ^ Meillet, Antoine (1923), Les origines indo-européennes des mètres grecs, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, p. 61. Adam Parry's translation, revised.
  8. ^ Gilroy, Paul. "Against Race," Harvard UP, 2000. Mish, Frederic C., Editor in Chief Webster's Tenth New Collegiate Dictionary Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A.:1994--Merriam-Webster See original definition (definition #1) of "Aryan" in English--Page 66
  9. ^ Underhill, Peter A.; et al. (2010). "Separating the post-Glacial coancestry of European and Asian Y chromosomes within haplogroup R1a". European Journal of Human Genetics. 18 (4): 479–84. doi:10.1038/ejhg.2009.194. PMC 2987245. PMID 19888303.
  10. ^ Sahoo, Sanghamitra; et al. (January 2006). "A prehistory of Indian Y chromosomes: Evaluating demic diffusion scenarios". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 103 (4): 843–48. Bibcode:2006PNAS..103..843S. doi:10.1073/pnas.0507714103. PMC 1347984. PMID 16415161.
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  12. ^ Christopher I. Beckwith (2009), Empires of the Silk Road, Oxford University Press, p.30
  13. ^ Aikio, Ante (2012). "An essay on Saami ethnolinguistic prehistory" (PDF). Mémoires de la Société Finno-Ougrienne. Helsinki, Finland: Finno-Ugrian Society (266, A Linguistic Map of Prehistoric Northern Europe): 93f., 98. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
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  15. ^ Mallory 1989, p. 185.
  16. ^ Strazny 2000, p. 163.
  17. ^ T. V. Gamkrelidze and V. V. Ivanov, "The Early History of Indo-European Languages", Scientific American (March 1990); I.M. Diakonoff, The Prehistory of the Armenian People (1984).
  18. ^ See Dzhebel, and V. A. Ranov and R. S. Davis (1979), Toward a New Outline of the Soviet Central Asian Paleolithic
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Printed sources
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Further reading

External links

Adolphe Pictet

Adolphe Pictet (11 September 1799 – 20 December 1875) was a Swiss linguist, philologist and ethnologist.

Pictet, the cousin of the biologist Francois Jules Pictet, is well known for his research in the field of comparative linguistics. He played a crucial formative role in the development of Ferdinand de Saussure; "it was Pictet who introduced the thirteen-year-old Saussure to the theoretical foundations of Indo-European linguistics." But he was also "a dedicated champion of German Romanticism and idealist philosophy":Like French, English, and Russian Romantics since the beginning of the century, he made a journey to Germany, where he became acquainted with A. W. Schlegel (with whom he maintained an important correspondence over the course of many years), Goethe, Hegel, Schleiermacher, and Schelling. ... In the spirit of earlier wars between “romantics” and “classics” (a little outmoded by the 1850s), Pictet envisioned Romanticism, with its embrace of pluralism and freedom of invention, as standing in sharp opposition to Classicism, the embodiment of systemic compactness and uniformity.Pictet "represented the first, Romantic generation of historical linguists, for whom the history of language went hand in hand with the history of the material and spiritual being of the people who spoke it"; his magnum opus was Origines indo-européennes: Essaie de paléontologie linguistique (1859–63), a "monumental attempt, in the tradition of Friedrich Schlegel and Jakob Grimm, to reconstruct the whole world of the proto-Indo-Europeans."

Anatolian hypothesis

The Anatolian hypothesis, also known as the Anatolian theory or the sedentary farmer theory, first developed by British archaeologist Colin Renfrew in 1987, proposes that the dispersal of Proto-Indo-Europeans originated in Neolithic Anatolia. It is the main competitor to the Kurgan hypothesis, or steppe theory, the more favoured view academically.


"Aryan" () has as its root a term that was used as a self-designation by Indo-Iranian people. The term was used by the Indic 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".

Danubian culture

The term Danubian culture was coined by the Australian archaeologist Vere Gordon Childe to describe the first agrarian society in central and eastern Europe. It covers the Linear Pottery culture (Linearbandkeramik, LBK), stroked pottery and Rössen cultures.

The beginning of the Linear Pottery culture dates to around 5500 BC. It appears to have spread westwards along the valley of the river Danube and interacted with the cultures of Atlantic Europe when they reached the Paris Basin.

Danubian I peoples cleared forests and cultivated fertile loess soils from the Balkans to the Low Countries and the Paris Basin. They made LBK pottery and kept domesticated cows, pigs, dogs, sheep and goats. The diagnostic tool of the culture is the Shoe-last celt, a kind of long thin stone adze which was used to fell trees and sometimes as a weapon, evidenced by the skulls found at Talheim, Neckar in Germany and Schletz in Austria. Settlements consisted of longhouses. According to a theory by Eduard Sangmeister, these settlements were abandoned, possibly as fertile land was exhausted, and then reoccupied perhaps when the land had lain fallow for long enough. In contrast, Peter Modderman and Jens Lüning believe the settlements were constantly inhabited, with individual families using specific plots (Hofplätze). They also imported spondylus shells from the Mediterranean.

A second wave of the culture, which used painted pottery with Asiatic influences, superseded the first phase starting around 4500 BC. This was followed by a third wave which used stroke-ornamented ware.

Danubian sites include those at Bylany in Bohemia and Köln-Lindenthal in Germany.

In Marija Gimbutas's unsubstantiated model of European prehistory, the Danubian culture forms the core of what she calls Old Europe, which she envisions as a relatively advanced matrilineal and "gynocentric" civilisation speaking Pre-Indo-European languages that was eventually overrun by patriarchal invaders from the steppe, subsumed by her under the term Kurgan culture, which she identifies with the Proto-Indo-Europeans.

Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture

The Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture (abbreviation: EIEC) is an encyclopedia of Indo-European studies and the Proto-Indo-Europeans. The encyclopedia was edited by J. P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams and published in 1997 by Fitzroy Dearborn. Archaeological articles are written by Mallory, linguistic articles are written by Adams, and includes a distinguished Who's Who of 1990s Indo-Europeanists who made contributions as sub-editors. While not a polemic, the work in part responds to Colin Renfrew's Anatolian hypothesis of Indo-European origins.


Hausos (Proto-Indo-European: *h₂éwsōs) is the reconstructed name for the Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn. Derivatives of this goddess, found throughout various Indo-European mythologies, include the Greek goddess Eos, the Roman goddess Aurōra, the Vedic goddess Uṣás, the Lithuanian goddess Aušrinė (cf. Lith. aušrà "dawn"), and possibly also the (West) Germanic goddess *Austrǭ (Old English Ēostre, Old High German *Ōstara). Outside Indo-European, although most likely influenced by Vedic religion, the Japanese goddess Uzume also may be found.The Dawn Goddess is hypothesised to have been one of the most important deities to the Proto-Indo-Europeans, due to the consistency of her characterisation as well as the relevance of Ushas in the Rig Veda. Her attributes have not only been mixed with those of solar goddesses in some later traditions, but have subsequently expanded and influenced female deities in other mythologies.

History of Bankura district

History of Bankura district refers to the history of the present Bankura district in the Indian state of West Bengal.


Indo-European may refer to:

Relating to Europe and India.

Indo-European languages, a major language family of Europe, the Middle East and South Asia

Indo-European migrations

Indo-European studies, an academic field involving linguistics, anthropology, history, archaeology

Indo-European vocabulary, a table of the most fundamental Proto-Indo-European language words and roots

Indo-European languages

The Indo-European languages are a language family of several hundred related languages and dialects.There are about 445 living Indo-European languages, according to the estimate by Ethnologue, with over two thirds (313) of them belonging to the Indo-Iranian branch. The Indo-European languages with the greatest numbers of native speakers are Spanish, English, Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu), Portuguese, Bengali, Punjabi, and Russian, each with over 100 million speakers, with German, French, Marathi, Italian, and Persian also having more than 50 million. Today, nearly 42% of the human population (3.2 billion) speaks an Indo-European language as a first language, by far the highest of any language family.

The Indo-European family includes most of the modern languages of Europe; notable exceptions include Hungarian, Turkish, Finnish, Estonian, Basque, Maltese, and Sami. The Indo-European family is also represented in Asia with the exception of East and Southeast Asia. It was predominant in ancient Anatolia (present-day Turkey), the ancient Tarim Basin (present-day Northwest China) and most of Central Asia until the medieval Turkic and Mongol invasions. Outside Eurasia, Indo-European languages are dominant in the Americas and much of Oceania and Africa, having reached there during the Age of Discovery and later periods. Indo-European languages are also most commonly present as minority languages or second languages in countries where other families are dominant.

With written evidence appearing since the Bronze Age in the form of the Anatolian languages and Mycenaean Greek, the Indo-European family is significant to the field of historical linguistics as possessing the second-longest recorded history, after the Afroasiatic family, although certain language isolates, such as Sumerian, Elamite, Hurrian, Hattian, and Kassite are recorded earlier.

All Indo-European languages are descendants of a single prehistoric language, reconstructed as Proto-Indo-European, spoken sometime in the Neolithic era. Although no written records remain, aspects of the culture and religion of the Proto-Indo-Europeans can also be reconstructed from the related cultures of ancient and modern Indo-European speakers who continue to live in areas to where the Proto-Indo-Europeans migrated from their original homeland. Several disputed proposals link Indo-European to other major language families. Although they are written in Semitic Old Assyrian, the Hittite loanwords and names found in the Kültepe texts are the oldest record of any Indo-European language.During the nineteenth century, the linguistic concept of Indo-European languages was frequently used interchangeably with the racial concepts of Aryan and Japhetite.

Indo-European studies

Indo-European studies is a field of linguistics and an interdisciplinary field of study dealing with Indo-European languages, both current and extinct. Its goal is to amass information about the hypothetical proto-language from which all of these languages are descended, a language dubbed Proto-Indo-European (PIE), and its speakers, the Proto-Indo-Europeans, including their society and mythology. The studies cover where the language originated and how it spread. This article also lists Indo-European scholars, centres, journals and book series.

Kurgan hypothesis

The Kurgan hypothesis (also known as the Kurgan theory or Kurgan model) or steppe theory is the most widely accepted proposal to identify the Proto-Indo-European homeland from which the Indo-European languages spread out throughout Europe, Eurasia and parts of Asia. It postulates that the people of a Kurgan culture in the Pontic steppe north of the Black Sea were the most likely speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). The term is derived from the Russian kurgan (курга́н), meaning tumulus or burial mound.

The Kurgan hypothesis was first formulated in the 1950s by Marija Gimbutas, who used the term to group various cultures, including the Yamnaya, or Pit Grave, culture and its predecessors. David Anthony instead uses the core Yamnaya culture and its relationship with other cultures as a point of reference.

Marija Gimbutas defined the Kurgan culture as composed of four successive periods, with the earliest (Kurgan I) including the Samara and Seroglazovo cultures of the Dnieper–Volga region in the Copper Age (early 4th millennium BC). The people of these cultures were nomadic pastoralists, who, according to the model, by the early 3rd millennium BC had expanded throughout the Pontic–Caspian steppe and into Eastern Europe.Three genetic studies in 2015 gave partial support to Gimbutas's Kurgan theory regarding the Indo-European Urheimat. According to those studies, haplogroups R1b and R1a, now the most common in Europe (R1a is also common in South Asia) would have expanded from the Russian and Ukrainian steppes, along with the Indo-European languages; they also detected an autosomal component present in modern Europeans which was not present in Neolithic Europeans, which would have been introduced with paternal lineages R1b and R1a, as well as Indo-European languages.

Lengyel culture

The Lengyel culture, is an archaeological culture of the European Neolithic, centered on the Middle Danube in Central Europe. It flourished during 5000-3400 BC. The eponymous type site is at Lengyel in Tolna county, Hungary.

It was preceded by the Linear Pottery culture and succeeded by the Corded Ware culture.

In its northern extent, overlapped the somewhat later but otherwise approximately contemporaneous Funnelbeaker culture.

Also closely related are the Stroke-ornamented ware and Rössen cultures, adjacent to the north and west, respectively.

Subgroups of the Lengyel horizon include the Austrian/Moravian Painted Ware I and II, Aichbühl, Jordanów/Jordanov/Jordansmühl, Schussenried, Gatersleben, etc.

It is a wide interaction sphere or cultural horizon rather than an archaeological culture in the narrow sense.

Its distribution overlaps with the Tisza culture and with Stroke-Ornamented Pottery (STK) as far north as Osłonki, central Poland.

Lengyel pottery was found in western Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Austria, Poland, and in the Sopot culture of the northern parts of Former Yugoslavia.

Influence in pottery styles is found even further afield, in parts of Germany and Switzerland.

Agriculture and stock raising (mainly cattle, but also pigs, and to a lesser extent, ovicaprids) was practiced, though a large number of wild faunal remains have also been recovered. Settlements consisted of small houses as well as trapezoid longhouses. These settlements were sometimes open, sometimes surrounded by a defensive ditch.

Inhumation was in separate cemeteries, in the flexed position with apparently no preference for which side the deceased was laid out in.

Lengyel sites of the later period show signs of the use of copper in form of beads and hammered ribbons, marking the dawn of the Chalcholithic period in Central Europe.

It was associated with the cover-term Old Europe by Marija Gimbutas, though may have been undergone "kurganization" by the Proto-Indo-Europeans and become integrated into the successor Globular Amphora culture.

Prehistory of Southeastern Europe

The prehistory of Southeastern Europe, defined roughly as the territory of the wider Balkan peninsula (including the territories of the modern countries of Albania, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, Bosnia, Romania, Bulgaria, and European Turkey) covers the period from the Upper Paleolithic, beginning with the presence of Homo sapiens in the area some 44,000 years ago, until the appearance of the first written records in Classical Antiquity, in Greece as early as the 8th century BC.

Human prehistory in Southeastern Europe is conventionally divided into smaller periods, such as Upper Paleolithic, Holocene Mesolithic/Epipaleolithic, Neolithic Revolution, expansion of Proto-Indo-Europeans, and Protohistory. The changes between these are gradual. For example, depending on interpretation, protohistory might or might not include Bronze Age Greece (2800–1200 BC), Minoan, Mycenaean, Thracian and Venetic cultures. By one interpretation of the historiography criterion, Southeastern Europe enters protohistory only with Homer (See also Historicity of the Iliad, and Geography of the Odyssey). At any rate, the period ends before Herodotus in the 5th century BC.

Proto-Indo-European homeland

The Proto-Indo-European homeland (or Indo-European homeland) was the prehistoric urheimat of the Indo-European languages – the region where their reconstructed common ancestor, the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE), was originally spoken. From this region, its speakers migrated east and west, and went on to form the proto-communities of the different branches of the language family.

The most widely accepted proposal to identify the Proto-Indo-European homeland is the steppe hypothesis, which puts the PIE homeland in the Pontic–Caspian steppe around 4000 BC. A minority support the Anatolian hypothesis, which puts it in Anatolia around 8000 BC. A notable, though unlikely, third possibility is the Armenian hypothesis which situates the homeland south of the Caucasus. Several other explanations have been proposed, including the Neolithic creolisation hypothesis, Paleolithic Continuity Theory, and Indigenous Aryans or "Out of India" theory. These are not widely accepted, or are considered to be fringe theories.

The search for the homeland of the Indo-Europeans began in the late 18th century with the discovery of the Indo-European language family. The methods used to establish the homeland have been drawn from the disciplines of historical linguistics, archaeology, physical anthropology and, more recently, human population genetics.

Proto-Indo-European language

Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the linguistic reconstruction of the common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, the most widely spoken language family in the world.

Far more work has gone into reconstructing PIE than any other proto-language, and it is by far the best understood of all proto-languages of its age. The vast majority of linguistic work during the 19th century was devoted to the reconstruction of PIE or its daughter proto-languages (such as Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-Iranian), and most of the modern techniques of linguistic reconstruction (such as the comparative method) were developed as a result. These methods supply all current knowledge concerning PIE since there is no written record of the language.

PIE is estimated to have been spoken as a single language from 4500 BC to 2500 BC during the Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age, though estimates vary by more than a thousand years. According to the prevailing Kurgan hypothesis, the original homeland of the Proto-Indo-Europeans may have been in the Pontic–Caspian steppe of Eastern Europe. The linguistic reconstruction of PIE has also provided insight into the culture and religion of its speakers.As Proto-Indo-Europeans became isolated from each other through the Indo-European migrations, the Proto-Indo-European language became spoken by the various groups in regional dialects which then underwent the Indo-European sound laws divergence, and along with shifts in morphology, these dialects slowly but eventually transformed into the known ancient Indo-European languages. From there, further linguistic divergence led to the evolution of their current descendants, the modern Indo-European languages. Today, the descendant languages, or daughter languages, of PIE with the most native speakers are Spanish, English, Portuguese, Hindustani (Hindi and Urdu), Bengali, Russian, Punjabi, German, Persian, French, Italian and Marathi. Hundreds of other living descendants of PIE range from languages as diverse as Albanian (gjuha shqipe), Kurdish (کوردی‎), Nepali (खस भाषा), Tsakonian (τσακώνικα), Ukrainian (українська мова), and Welsh (Cymraeg).

PIE had an elaborate system of morphology that included inflectional suffixes (analogous to English life, lives, life's, lives'‍) as well as ablaut (vowel alterations, for example, as preserved in English sing, sang, sung) and accent. PIE nominals and pronouns had a complex system of declension, and verbs similarly had a complex system of conjugation. The PIE phonology, particles, numerals, and copula are also well-reconstructed.

An asterisk is used to mark reconstructed words, such as *wódr̥ 'water', *ḱwṓ 'dog' (English hound), or *tréyes 'three (masculine)'.

Proto-Indo-European mythology

Proto-Indo-European mythology is the body of myths and stories associated with the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Although these stories are not directly attested, they have been reconstructed by scholars of comparative mythology based on the similarities in the belief systems of various Indo-European peoples.

Various schools of thought exist regarding the precise nature of Proto-Indo-European mythology, which do not always agree with each other. The main mythologies used in comparative reconstruction are Vedic, Roman, and Norse, often supported with evidence from the Baltic, Celtic, Greek, Slavic, and Hittite traditions as well.

The Proto-Indo-European pantheon includes well-attested deities such as *Dyḗus Pḥatḗr, the god of the daylit skies, his daughter *Haéusōs, the goddess of the dawn, the divine twins, and the storm god *Perkwunos. Other probable deities include *Péh2usōn, a pastoral god, and *Seh2ul, a female solar deity.

Well-attested myths of the Proto-Indo-Europeans include a myth involving a storm god who slays a multi-headed serpent that dwells in water and a creation story involving two brothers, one of whom sacrifices the other to create the world. The Proto-Indo-Europeans may have believed that the Otherworld was guarded by a watchdog and could only be reached by crossing a river. They also may have believed in a world tree, bearing fruit of immortality, either guarded by or gnawed on by a serpent or dragon, and tended by three goddesses who spun the thread of life.

Proto-Indo-European society

Proto-Indo-European society is the hypothesized culture of the ancient speakers of Proto-Indo-European, ancestors of all modern Indo–European ethnic groups who are speakers of Indo-European languages.

Theories about the culture are based primarily on linguistics and not ethnic, social, or cultural study, as the origin of Indo–European and their urheimat is still debated. There is no direct evidence of the nature of a "Proto-Indo-European society", as such.

Tor enclosure

A tor enclosure is a prehistoric monument found in the southwestern part of Great Britain. These monuments emerged around 4000 BC in the early


Yamnaya culture

The Yamnaya culture (Russian: Ямная культура, translit. Yamnaya kultura, lit. 'pit culture'), also known as the Yamna culture (Ukrainian: Ямна культура, translit. Yamna kultura), Pit Grave culture, or Ochre Grave culture, was a late Copper Age to early Bronze Age archaeological culture of the region between the Southern Bug, Dniester, and Ural rivers (the Pontic steppe), dating to 3300–2600 BC. Its name refers to its characteristic burial tradition: Kurgans containing a simple pit chamber.

The people of the Yamnaya culture were the likely result of admixture between the descendants of Eastern European hunter-gatherers and people related to hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus. Their material culture is very similar to the Afanasevo culture.

They are also closely connected to later Final Neolithic cultures, which spread throughout Europe and Central Asia, especially the Corded Ware people, but also the Bell Beaker culture as well as the peoples of the Sintashta, Andronovo, and Srubna cultures. In this group, several aspects of the Yamnaya culture are present. Genetic studies have also indicated that these populations derived large parts of their ancestry from the steppes.The Yamnaya culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans, and is the strongest candidate for the urheimat (original homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language.

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