Re: [tied] Affects of immigrant communities in language change

From: Joseph S Crary
Message: 8343
Date: 2001-08-06


there is a major shift or differentiation of material culture in
temperate Europe during the transition from Middle to late
Bronze age. Although there are dozens of names for local
expressions of both the earlier and later archaeological complexes,
collectively they've been referred to as the Tumulus and Urnfield
cultures. This is a very complex subject, however if one is able to
step back and view the forest from the trees, the general patterns
are quite apparent.

The Tumulus Culture represents the MB Age norm as found throughout
more of Europe. The most pervasive feature of this culture is
humantion burial covered by mounded structure. This is typical of the
MB Age. However, these patterns continued more-or-less
intact into the Hallstatt and Latene periods. As you are well aware,
the Hallstatt and Latene complexes define Celt culture, thus the
development of primitive, verb first, kw-ish, q-Celt-like languages,
likely dates to the MB Age Tumulus Culture. With this said, it
is likely there remained large regions within the Tumulus Culture
sphere, where the local population used non IE languages. In fact, it
is likely the assimilation of these large non IE population that
distinguish the Celt language group from the more easterly IE types.

There also appears to be another cultural complex situated in the
Netherlands, Northurmbria, and Lowland Scottland where cremation was
the dominant method of burial throughout the MB Age. This culture has
several major attributes that make it different from the LB Age
Urnfield culture.

The LB Age Urnfield Culture, in all its various expressions, is
represented by cremation burial placed in urns, typically capped with
a cover bowl, buried in tightly clustered cemeteries. It appears
spontaneously throughout western Poland. For about two hundred years
it expanded to include eastern Germany, Poland, Denmark, Netherlands,
southern Baltic, northern Balkans, and eastern Ukrainian steppes.
This brings us to about BC 1300. Basically, during the transition
from MB to LB areas that were within the Tumulus Culture sphere were
incorporated into the emerging Urnfield Culture. Several studies of
burial populations from this period indicate this was by no means a
peaceful process. Quite the contrary, this appears to be a period of
intense warfare. This assemblage commonly includes the skeletal
mutilation of adult males and mass burial of young adult females with

Things appear to stabilize until between BC 1200 to 900 when the
Urnfield Culture appears to explode outwardly. Logically, this would
be the point when many of the, so-called more advanced, IE languages
diverged. This includes Italic, Slavic, Hellenic, Illyianic, and
yes...Geramanic. Again the Urnfield Culture shares element of the
Hallstatt complex and is typical of the LB Age, but its clear it
continued relatively unchanged until replaced by post-Roman period
Christian Culture. In fact the Hallstatt complex appears to develop
in the eastern north-south seam between the remnant Tumulus and
Urnfield cultures.

As a recap, as the IE languages moved from east to west, overtime
they began to diverge along a east-west axis. Thus, those on leading
western edge become more Celt like and those that remained in the
east more Thracian-Balt like. That at some point the eastern language
group is very different from the western group, similar to what has
been noted as the q to p shift in Celt. Then as large-scale
migrations occur to Greece, Balkans, Italy, Scandinavia, north
central Russia, the major European languages emerge. This represented
a rapid divergence of the eastern group primarily along a north-south

There is one more point to be made. This is about the linguistic seam
between the major western and eastern language groups. The way I see
it is this linguistic seam would be centered on Germany and Denmark,
and would represent languages that were Celt-like but included
elements also found in the eastern language group. Culturally, the
same should be expected; a culture that was Celt-like but included
element found in the eastern cultural sphere. This would be, what has
been called p-Celt.

Frankly, the archaeological evidence and classical sources appears to
support this conclusion. For example, the Belgae where p-Celt speaker
that migrated to northwest France from north central Germany around
BC 300. They were distinguished by the Urnfield Culture, a complex
quite different from that of the Gallic people they largely
displaced. I would argue that until the Belgae and later Cimbric
migrations the major languages used in Germany and Denmark were p-
Celt, while the languages now called Germanic developed in the
relative isolation of Scandinavia.

So the answer to the question.

I would associate the beginning development of Germanic Languages,
with the expansion of the Urnfield complex in northern temperate
Europe, during the Late Bronze Age. In the big picture this would
represent a divergence from Celt and/or Balt, and the massive
assimilation of an unknown non IE population in Scandinavia.

JS Crary