Indo Euro Roots

7 Sep 2019

DNA study illuminates South and Central Asian ancestryh - so it is said (go to https://phys.org/news/2019-09-largest-ever-ancient-dna-illuminates-mille... ... which includes the origins of the Indus Valley population. It is being broadcast, it would seem, as the largest ever ancient study to date, yet it is really still a very small random sample from diverse parts of the wider region. Some 524 human remains spread over a long period of time are what they say is a bumper genetic study. What it does show is that people were moving about - over long distances. We already knew that as historical sources tell us more or less the same thing. However, the hype continues as the study proclaims to show the origin of the Indo Euro languages - in relation to the origin of farming etc. Language of course has nothing to do with genetics and the claims are therefore projection. All they are doing is pointing a finger and making several assumptions, outlined in a series of papers in journals such as Science and Cell. The ideas clearly follow on from the Reich study a year or so ago in which it was hypothesized that steppe people invaded Europe around 3000BC bringing the Indo Euro languages with them (with roots in the Yamnaya culture north of the Caucasus). Basically, the new genetic research is now saying that the same steppe people, or their neighbours, migrated east and south as well as west towards Europe. This is all old hat and has been part of anthropology and ancient history for years. What happened is that an alternative view came into fashion - that the early farmers of the Fertile Crescent disseminated Indo Euro languages far and wide (after 6000BC and therefore much earlier than the steppe people). Historians have been divided on the issue for some years and some even found a way to combine both theories by suggesting early farmers moved through the Balkans into what is now Bulgaria, and later moved east to what is now the Ukraine, eventually meeting up with early farmers that had moved out of Iran into the same steppe zone. At some stage, presumably after a drying episode where rains in the steppe zone declined, they adopted a herding lifestyle and became semi nomadic. Hence, the Yamnaya culture was not necessarily entirely divorced from farming heritage. I thought this was a quite a good digestion of what little historical information we have as it cooled the debate as each side seemed to be straining to outdo the other one. It seems the old twosome theories have resurfaced once again - regurgitating the steppe origin as more likely than the early farmer one. Genetics has been used to do this - which is an interesting development. None of the studies from Reich onwards have taken into account the role of periodic catastrophism and the possibility that the major migratory movements in the 8th to 3rd millenniums BC may have been a response to natural disaster (whether it is defined as rapid climate change or landscape fires or any other kind of upset in the wellbeing of human societies). In other words, what we have is a genetic analysis that shows migratory movement at around 3000BC and around 2400BC but with little mention of migratory movements around 4200BC or earlier. This is solely as a result of the fact that genetic heritage declines with the centuries, and from generation to generation. Genetic input from our grandparents is strong but when it comes to great great great grandparents it is much reduced as more and more genetic material from relatives is added to the brew. This is why only 4 per cent of our genes comes from Neanderthals but a great deal of our genes shows up with a steppe ancestry that originated just a few thousand years ago. Reich was unable to say if the steppe people that invaded Britain and Ireland around 2400BC (with a connection to Beaker pottery) spoke Celtic - or otherwise. He seems to have inferred this was so but is that true as a genetic signature does not come with linguistics attached. The Beaker folk may have introduced a German language, for example, a proto English related to Frisian on the other side of the North Sea. The Celtic language may have an alternative origin - in the far west of Europe (along the Atlantic seaboard). Alternatively, the Celtic language may have split from the German language in the 3rd millennium BC and and the ancestral language of both may have arrived with the steppe peoples at the door of eastern Europe in 3000BC. Obviously, if the steppe people and the early farmers spoke an Indo Euro tongue and then other permutations are possible. It seems presumptuous to assume the Yamnaya people introduced the Indo Euro tongue - but at the link above we are told this is more or less a fact and the idea that farmers from Anatolia introduced the family of languages is most unlikely.

    ... for some reason we don't seem to have a migration through the Caucasus, even though Scythians and Cimmerians and the people of the Jemdat Nasr culture came that way - as well as the ruling elite of Mitanni.

On the same general subject we have that Denisovan finger bone which is now said to be more likie that of modern human fingers than those of Neanderthals, the near relatives of the Denisovans. Go to https://phys.org/news/2019-09-fossil-denisovan-fingers-modern-human.html .... a finding which originates in a 'virtual reconstruction' (computer assisted).

Over at https://phys.org/news/2019-09-skull-humanity-oldest-ancestor-evolution.html ... which concerns a study that showed a recently discovered 3.8 million year old cranium (a skull minus the lower jaw), from Kenya, displayed some surprising modern characteristics that contradict the current evolutionary model of human and hominin development.