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IE language conundrum

10 March 2018

Jovan sent in the link https://popular-archaeology.com/issue/winter-2018/article/three-skeleton… … which concerns the destruction layer of Late Bronze Age Gezer, Human bones have been found in the fiery debris. Archaeologists attribute it to a military campagin by pharao Merenptah – ignoring the elephant in the room. This is that multiple cities and towns in the Levant, Anatolia, and the Aegean were destroyed at exactly the same point in time – and Merenpth could not have been responsible for them all. The French archaeologist Claude Schaeffer, back in 1948, considered the LB destruction episode as the result of an earthquake storm -and lets face it, we are talking about one of the most earthquake prone regions in the world. Having said that – what might have caused such a seismic event is an unknown, and Schaeffer had no answer to the question. We also know that Merenptha undertook at least one major campaign in the Levant as he left behind a stele to inform us – which mentions Israel as well as various other regions in the Levant. He claims to have captured both Ashkelon and Gezer.

Jovan also sent in the link www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-evidence-fuels-debate-over-the-or… … which is not really about languages but language – in this instance, proto Indo European. We had a piece of research a little while ago that said there was unmistakable genetic evidence that around 3000BC Europe was invaded by people from the steppe zone and they replaced the former inhabitants in large parts of east and central Europe, and later most of western Europe too. They are said to have brought the Indo European language with them, an old chestnut first touted by Marija Gimbutas. She was convinced the Kurgan culture people of southern Russia and the Ukraine were the progenitors of the language, dispersing into Europe and bringing a patriarchal life style to go with it – pointing a finger at the Battleaxe culture. She was very influential in her day. Not so much nowadays.

As we have noted on previous occasions, genetic research has a habit of contradicting earlier genetic research – and it seems it has happened again. A new study sequenced the mtDNA of 12 individuals in kurgan. They had been buried in layers, one of top of the other. They date between 4500 and 1500BC. Whereas the earliest burials were genetically local it seems that the later burials were not. They included DNA from central Europe – Poland, Germany and Sweden. In other words, there was a lot of migrating  going on, east to west and west to east. The so called genetic replacement event seems to have been overhyped and actual migration into Europe was not as great as claimed. It also suggests genetic research is still in its infancy – and there is a lot to be learned before it can be regarded as reliable. The migration may not even have been particularly violent, one researcher says. This is interesting as the violence is associated with the so called battle axe symbol (a double axe, right and left). The same spokesperson says, these axes were 'decorative' rather than practical – which would fit the idea of the double axe symbol as indicating meteorites or thunderbolts.

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