From: João Simões Lopes Filho
----- Original Message -----From: Piotr GasiorowskiSent: Thursday, October 05, 2000 11:29 AMSubject: [tied] Re: Out of the lion's range----- Original Message -----From: John CroftSent: Thursday, October 05, 2000 4:07 AMSubject: [tied] Re: Euxine Event.
In early historic times the range of lions still included SE Europe and all of the Near East (except the Arabian Peninsula), from Turkey and the Caucasus to central India. Tigers as we know them, on the other hand, evolved from lion-like ancestors probably in NE Asia during the Pleistocene and have never migrated farther west than the Elburz Mountains in N Iran. The two species are still very similar with their skins off, and can interbreed in captivity.
Lions were in fact so widespread that a "lion argument" could be made agains the Pontic steppe, Iran and Anatolia as potential IE homelands. Any dispersal scenario involving one of them would assume that a number of IE groups (including Anatolian, Greek, Indo-Iranian and Armenian) never moved out of the area where lions could be found or at least heard of.
The Danubian hypothesis offers the ancestor of all the non-Anatolian branches a chance to leave the lion's range for several centuries by moving into N Central Europe, where the original word falls into disuse. Those groups that venture again into areas haunted by lions borrow various 'lion' words from their non-IE neighbours. The original term might survive in Anatolian, if not replaced by something Near Eastern. Does anyone know if there's a Hittite or Luwian word for 'lion' (I mean, in non-ideographic spelling)? I remember references to an article where a Lydian 'lion' word was tentatively proposed, but I can't recall the word itself.
One must not forget either that in prehistoric times lions had a far
greater range than at present. Assyrian monarchs hunted lions in
Syria. Lions were widespread throughout the Balkans in Mycenaean
times (cf the lion gate at Mycenae), and lions were widespread in
Central Asia and across the steppes in Scythian times.