Re: kurgan culture: indo-european sources

Gerold Firl (
28 Sep 1995 12:22:18 -0700

In article <449eqc$> harri cherkoori <harri> writes:

>i remember reading in an encyclopaedia britannica during my teens, that there
>was a reasonable fit between a proposed indo-european source culture with that
>of a south-russian civilization of 3500 b.c., the so called kurgan culture.
> what became of this speculation, or were there alterior, historical, motives
>for postulating this fit?

A kurgan is a burial mound, as found on the eurasian steppe. They were
quite fashionable by 1500 bc, but I think they first appeared around
early second millenium, so 3500 bc seems a little early.

I don't think "kurgan culture" is a particularly meaningful
designation. There are a number of steppe cultures which have been
identified as possible associates or predesessors of the I-E; they have
names like srubnaya and androvna, and have largely been excavated by
russian archeologists. They have been found in the volga steppes of the
ukrain and east of the caspian in present-day kazahkstan. Whether they
should be taken as PIE is still unresolved, but there are reasonable
grounds for such speculation.

Other proposals have been put-forward, but this is still the leading

One thing which I believe is not fully appreciated about the PIE
homeland is their enormous size; the grasslands stretched for huge
distances, on the orderof a thousand miles east-west; more, if we
include the far west contacting hungary and the desert fringe
around the tien-shan. Occupation of this vast territory led to the
development of a highly mobile horse technology, using both the wheeled
chariot and the mounted rider. This mobility led directly to the
indo-european breakout of 2000 bc, when a chariot-led blitzkrieg spread
them throughout much of the old world. The echoes of that event in the
european breakout of the 15th century are uncanny; the use of
ocean-going ships, which spread IE peoples around the world, is exactly
analogous to the developement of the chariot 3500 years earlier.
Movement off-planet must be seen as the next manifestation.

You suggest that "ulterior" motives might have been associated with
linking the PIE with "kurgan" culture; I'd be interested in hearing
what you had in mind.

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