Indo-european origins (was: What Are the Race Deniers Denying?)

Gerold Firl (
16 Oct 1996 20:34:12 GMT

In article <541hqg$>, (Philip Deitiker) writes:
|> (Gerold Firl) wrote:

|> >Actually, there are significant geographical barriers between the
|> >homelands of the IE and HS populations. The black sea, the caspian,
|> >and the highlands of anatolia, the caucasus, and iran would provide
|> >suffient isolation to inhibit genetic transfer; in addition, the two
|> >areas are subject to very different kinds of selection pressures.
|> >Linguistic affinity between HS and IE languages is an interesting
|> >connection, but I have a hard time relating it to the evolution of
|> >either language or populations. Any suggestions?

|> There is a significant geographic barrier to the immediate southeast,
|> this is for certain (hitler learned a little about this during world
|> war II). The issue is how prevelant was sea travel from 12-7 KYBP
|> and in specific in the black sea, my opinion is that sea travel over
|> the last 50 KY was significant enough to allow some genetic exchange
|> over bodies of water this size.

Probably insignificant until greek colonization of the black sea
coast, which dates back only about 3000 bp. Until then, gene flow
would have been very minor. The phoenicians were the first to develop
sea worthy ships which could brave the dangers of such a trip, and
they avoided the difficult passage up the bosphorus. Hypothetical
contact between the northern anatolians and the ukrainian steppes
would probably have gone by overland routes, and even so, the primary
focus of anatolian trade was towards the south, where levantine and
mesopotamian population centers offered better prospects.

|> As far as relating genetics, linguistics and those barriers. I
|> think there is significant reason to believe that the semites would
|> trade with anyone who desired trade, historically speaking the black
|> sea is not a significant barrier in this regard. There is also
|> evidence from at least some of the emmergent IE groups that they also
|> desired trade. Looking at the developement of technologies in the
|> region its kind of hard not to believe that there was not some trade
|> going on in the black sea region between unrelated groups. The next
|> issue is did this manifest itself in gene flow between the two
|> cultures, its hard to say with IE since there is little known of
|> ancient history on the north side of the black sea, but according to
|> many I've talked to the semites of the southern black sea region had
|> many characteristics of IE distuiguishable from semites elsewhere.
|> Alot of this may have resulted from incursions in the historical
|> period.

The homeland of the hamito-semites seems to be north africa, the
levant, and the arabian peninsula. Semitic peoples did not appear in
mesopotamia until well after the initial period of urbanization.
direct contact between IE and HS peoples didn't occur until the IE
breakout around 4000 bp, when the hittites appeared in anatolia.

|> >People move, genes move, but local variation in selection criteria
|> >plus geographic barriers will maintain steps in the cline. Those steps
|> >are the logical place to differentiate subpopulations, and all the
|> >groups you list above precisely match the conditions for existing as a
|> >distinct subpopulation.

|> Yup, but one has to consider the flip-side which is that a vast
|> movement of people can dramatically and immediately change the genetic
|> characterisitcs of a locality. This is what appears to have happened
|> in europe, and the genetic profile of those (ancient) peoples is
|> unknown today, the only thing I can say is they probably were not
|> indoeuropean.

The migration of a new people into an already-occupied territory
*does* change the local genetic makeup, but generally there seems to
be a good deal of genetic continuity. Unless the old population was
*much* sparser than the new arrivals (as when agricultural people
displace hunter-gatherers) the populations seem to blend, rather than
one replacing the other. Wholesale slaughter does not appear to be
common in the history of migration and conquest, as far as I can tell.

|> The major qualities of the indoeuropean conquest which made
|> them successful are
|> the conversion from use of copper to iron.
|> the use of animals for mass transportaions.

A related, but even earlier and possibly more fundamental adaptation:
the ability to metabolise milk products as adults. This mutation may
have originated with the PIE's, providing them with the means to
develop relatively high population densities without using sedentary

|> the adaptation to trade of scarce materials
|> (i.e. learning to control scarce materials and using this to gain
|> adavantage over surrounding groups)

This came much later, and was learned from more civilized peoples. As
can be seen in the rig veda, the IE ideal was to live as a nomad,
following the herds of cattle which comprised the true measure of
wealth (see the present day african peoples who are milk drinkers for
a close analog), and using fire and the sword on any who got in the
way. In fertile grasslands such as the gangetic plain or the jutland
peninsula, the ancestral IE lifestyle endured. In alien environments
such as the iranian plateau the ancestral ways were traded-in for the
power-politics of administration, trade, and war.

|> >My best guess is that the proto-IE people occupied the great swath of
|> >steppe lands from the ukraine east to lake balkash, descending
|> >directly from the ice-age big game hunters whose mammoth-tusk shelters
|> >are so well known. They probably had pretty close affinity to the more
|> >westerly europeans as well; the hungarian and north german plains are
|> >similar habitats.

|> This would have placed peoples of vastly different characteristics in
|> long term association with one another. Its possible but from what I
|> understand of seafaring in immediate prehistory its not likely.

No seafaring involved. The steppelands are now home to turkic or
altaic peoples, but that is recent. Until about 2000 bp, the
grasslands were the home of IE tribes such as the scythians. The
entire expanse of steppe was a single ecumene, inhabited by a single
human subspecies: the indo-europeans. From that immense homeland
emerged the various IE tribes of ancient times, who were known to
their more civilized neighbors as hittites, persians, and the indo-
aryans, and later as greeks, latins, scythians, sarmatians, germans,
celts, etc.

|> ukraine seemed to be a hub of IE peoples up to about 3 KYBP (but their
|> date of settlement their is questionable) and its possible that they
|> moved from time to time into hungary/and the other northern slovic
|> states; however, its unlikely that they had a strong presence into
|> western europe prior to 5KYA given the linguistic similarities of the
|> IE languages.

There is solid archeological evidence placing the PIE peoples
throughout the eurasian steppes, not just in the ukraine. Relations
with western europe are more problematic.

|> either not -IE or of unknown heretage and when this push was made. One
|> imporant piece of information which might illucidate what the
|> occupants of at least part of the region were is to define gentically
|> this 5000 YO ice-man discovered in the italian alps.

Yes - that will be interesting.

|> The genetics of IE points to a ancient largely land locked people
|> staying in northern latitudes and away from open marine areas. Modern
|> technology clearly changed all that, and the use of animals and
|> advanced edifices allowed them to move into a larger variety of
|> regions.

Right, although the edifice part came later. We have virtually no
record of the first 500 years of IE occupancy of the ganges valley,
since no stone structures were created. Any hypothetical edifices
would have been made of wood, and the adherance to a cattle-based
nomadism limits the possibilities for settlement.

later -

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf