Re: Did IE languages spread before farming?

From: naga_ganesan@...
Message: 9072
Date: 2001-09-05

S. Kalyanaraman wrote:
Some glacier melts to ponder. If the glaciation maps show that almost
all regions of Europe and erstwhile USSR were filled with ice-sheets
around 12,800 years BP, where could the people have lived? Did
farming begin only after melting of the glaciers and the Younger

Have the IE, PIE theories been revisited based on these findings of

The IE intrusion into India, in the times of post-Indus culture
decline has not much to do with the glacier melts 12800 BP.

The IE expansion from the homeland is after the wheeled transport
technology was invented and before chariotry. Prof. David Anthony
(Archaeology dept., Harvard university) publishes that the wheels,
vehicle technology could have been invented by others. (Archaeology
shows the inventions in the Near East). But at the time of invention
of wheels, vehicle technology, PIE existed as one single community.
This is after 3500 B.C.

David Anthony, Shards of Speech, 1995, Antiquity, v. 69
"Terms for wheel, axle and draft pole, and a verb meaning 'to go or
convey in a vehicle' suggest that PIE existed as a single language
after 3500 B.C., when wheeled vehicles were invented. PIE must have
begun to disintegrate before 2000 B.C.: by 1500 B.C. three of its
daughter languages - Greek, Hittie and Indic - had become quite
dissimilar. Altogether, then the linguistic evidence points to a
homeland between the Ural and Caucasus mountains, in the centuries
between 3500 and 2000 B.C."


Antiquity, Sept 1995 v69 n264 p554(12)

Horse, wagon & chariot: Indo-European
languages and archaeology. David W.

Wheels and the date of the Indo-European spread

Reconstructed proto-Indo-European (PIE) represents a
real ancient vocabulary that is potentially of
inestimable value to archaeologists. Historical
linguists have established that the speakers of PIE
were familiar with wheeled vehicles, reconstructing
at least six PIE terms that refer to them: three
terms for wheel (perhaps an indication of the
importance of wheels in PIE life), one for axle, one
for 'thill' (the draft pole to which the yoke is
attached) and a verbal root meaning 'to go or convey
Cognates for these terms exist in all branches of
Indo-European, from Celtic in the west to Sanskrit
and Tocharian in the east, and from Baltic in the
north to Hittite and Greek in the south (Schrader
1890: 339; Specht 1944: 99-103; Gamkrelidze & Ivanov
1984: 718-38; Anthony & Wailes 1988; Anthony 1991;
Meid 1994). The PIE terms probably referred to the
earliest form of wheeled vehicle - the solid-wheeled
wagon or cart, pulled (slowly) by cattle. There is no
single shared root for 'spoke', a later refinement in
wheeled-vehicle technology.

Renfrew and others have suggested that none of these
terms need derive from PIE; all of them might have
spread through the IE languages as wheeled vehicle
technology diffused, long after the separation and
formation of the IE daughter tongues (Renfrew 1987:
86, 110; 1988: 464-5; Zvelebil & Zvelebil 1988). A
post-PIE date for the diffusion of wheeled vehicles
is unlikely for four reasons.

First, the cognate vocabulary consists of not one
term, but at least six. Entire technical vocabularies
have rarely been borrowed intact over so large an
area in the absence of sophisticated communications
and literacy. The core wagon vocabulary is
distributed from India to Scotland with no terms
confined to just the western or just the eastern IE
languages. If it diffused after the IE dispersal it
must have spread as a single semantic unit over a
very large region that was fragmented linguistically,
ethnically and ecologically [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE
1 OMITTED]. The diffusion of other post-PIE
technologies (notably the spoke and iron) through the
IE-speaking world was not accompanied by the spread
of standardized vocabularies in the manner proposed
for wheeled vehicles.

Second, the diffusion of the earliest wheeled vehicle
technology occurred so rapidly that we cannot now
determine if it was invented by a single donor
culture and diffused, or if it was independently
invented in several regions (Piggott 1983: 63;
Hausler 1994). The post-PIE theory assumes a single
donor culture whose vehicular vocabulary was adopted
across the entire territory between India and western
Europe. No archaeological evidence has been offered
for this proposition, and much contradicts it.

Third, since five of the six Indo-European
wheeled-vehicle terms (all except 'thill' or
draft-pole) have good Indo-European etymologies -
they are derived from recognizable IE verbal or noun
roots - the core vocabulary must have been created by
an Indo-European-speaking group, which places
additional constraints on an already awkward
diffusionary hypothesis.

Finally, there is simply no internal phonetic or
morphological evidence for borrowing within the
relevant Indo-European vocabulary. None of these
terms - and there are at least 35, when the six roots
are multiplied by the number of IE languages in which
they appear - is a phonological or morphological
misfit within its language lineage (Gamkrelidze &
Ivanov 1984: 718-38; Meid 1994; Mallory & Adams
forthcoming). If the wheeled-vehicle vocabulary
originated in an Indo-European daughter language
after the separation of the IE languages into
numerous distinct phonological and morphological
systems, then the phonetic and morphological traits
of that language should be detectable in at least
some of the borrowed vocabulary, given the
phonological distinctiveness of the IE daughter
languages. The absence of such evidence indicates
that the IE wheeled-vehicle vocabulary was not
borrowed, but inherited from PIE.
[[[Note 1:
I have not proposed that wheeled vehicle technology
originated in the PIE homeland, a position that has
been attributed to me by Hausler (1994: 223). I have
proposed only that most of the IE vocabulary for
wheeled vehicles originated in PIE.
None of these problems has been explicitly addressed
or acknowledged in print, beyond a brief discussion
in Current Anthropology (Renfrew 1988). While the
diffusionary scenario for IE wheeled-vehicle
terminology remains an assertion, largely unanalysed
and undefended, the genetic-inheritance explanation
has been researched and supported in specialized
studies by linguists (Specht 1944: 99-103;
Gamkrelidze & Ivanov 1984: 718-38; review in Anthony
1991: 198-201; Meid 1994; Mallory & Adams
forthcoming). The simplest and most widely accepted
explanation of the linguistic evidence is that the
speakers of PIE were familiar with and had a
vocabulary for wheeled vehicles. Coleman's (1988)
brief linguistic dissent stands alone against a body
of scholarship to which he did not refer. If we
accept the majority interpretation, PIE should have
existed as a unified speech community after wheeled
vehicles were invented. Archaeological evidence
places this event after 3500 BC.

Posted the above and foll. excerpts in Indology site at Liverpool
years ago. Regards, N. Ganesan

Antiquity, Sept 1995 v69 n264 p554(12)
Horse, wagon & chariot: Indo-European
languages and archaeology. David W. Anthony.

The dynamics of Indo-European expansion

The expansion of the Indo-European languages must have
involved many episodes of language shift over a long
period of time. There is no single explanation for
these many episodes; they occurred in different
places, at different times, for many different
reasons. Even the initial expansion seems to have been
facilitated by different processes to the east and to
the west of the PIE core area.

Language shift has been modelled by archaeologists in
two ways: demographic expansion and elite dominance.
In the first, a group with a more intensive economy
and a denser population replaces or absorbs a group
with a less intensive economy, and language shift
occurs as an epiphenomenon of a wave-like demographic
expansion (Renfrew 1994; Bellwood 1989). In the
second, a powerful elite imposes its language on a
client or subject population. While both processes can
be important, language shift is more complex than
these models imply. Language shift can be understood
best as a social strategy through which individuals
and groups compete for positions of prestige, power,
and domestic security (Anthony in press). What is
important, then, is not just dominance, but vertical
social mobility and a linkage between language and
access to positions of prestige and power (Mallory 1992).
The expansion of the Indo-European languages eastward
into the steppes was linked to innovations in
transport. The resultant development of deep-steppe
pastoralism combined with river-valley agriculture
made it possible for a substantial population
predictably and productively to exploit the grasslands
that occupy the center of the Eurasian landmass. The
conquest of the grasslands permanently changed the
dynamics of historical development across the Eurasian
continent by establishing a bridge, however tenuous,
between the previously isolated societies of China,
Iran, the Near East and Europe. In a sense, the
eastward expansion of the pastoral-agricultural
economy might be analogous to the 'demographic wave'
that Renfrew and others have applied to the
Indo-European expansion in Europe. However, the
cultural-archaeological context shows that the steppes
were already populated; the process by which this
resident population became IE-speakers was cultural,
not just demographic.

A relatively small immigrant elite population can
encourage widespread language shift among numerically
dominant indigenes in a non-state or pre-state context
if the elite employs a specific combination of
encouragements and punishments. Ethnohistorical cases
in Africa (Kopytoff 1987; Atkinson 1989) and the
Philippines (Bentley 1981) demonstrate that small
elite groups have successfully imposed their languages
in non-state situations where they:

* imported a powerful and attractive new religion or
ideology (as the Sintashta-Petrovka culture seems to
have done);

* controlled sufficient wealth to offer gifts and
loans on a lavish scale (documented in the
metallurgical wealth of Sintashta-Petrovka);

* controlled sufficient military muscle to punish
those who resisted (chariotry might have increased the
power of the Sintashta-Petrovka people);

* occupied strategic positions on critical trade
routes (Sintashta controls access to the Orenburg
gateway between Europe and the steppes);

* and actively pursued marriages and alliances with
the more powerful members of indigenous groups,
offering them enhanced prestige and vertical social
mobility in the new order.

Simply defeating and dominating the indigenes is
insufficient, as the Norman conquest of England and
the Celtic conquest of Galatia demonstrate. Language
shift occurs when it confers strategic advantages on
those who learn the new language. An elite must be not
just dominant, but open to assimilation and alliance,
and its language must be a key to integration within
an attractive socio-political system, as it was for
the Roman state at one end of the political spectrum
and for Baluchi nomads (Barth 1981) at the other.
The diffusion of the IE languages eastward into the
steppes should be understood as a social process, not
as an epiphenomenon of a demographic shift. The
diffusion westward into Europe was fundamentally
different in ecological, cultural and economic terms.
It also probably began much earlier. Intrusive kurgan
cemeteries in the lower Danube valley (Panaiotov 1989)
and eastern Hungary (Ecsedy 1979; Sherratt 1983)
probably testify to a sustained Yamna incursion at
about 2900-2700 BC (Anthony 1990). Yet the small-group
social dynamics responsible for language shift might
have been very similar in Europe and the steppes. In a
European context in which wagons and animal traction
were becoming increasingly important in the domestic
economy (Bogucki 1993), the pastorally-oriented
societies of the western steppes might have been seen
not as culturally backward 'Huns', but rather as
enviably rich and worthy of emulation. Wheeled
vehicles may have significantly altered the
organization of agricultural labour in eastern Europe,
since one person with a wagon and oxen could transport
crops from field to farm that would earlier have
required the co-operative labour of a group (Bankoff &
Greenfield 1984: 17; Bogucki 1993). Wagons made
systematic manuring possible, opening areas with less
productive soils to agricultural exploitation. Wagons
required draft oxen, enhancing the overall importance
of cattle-raising, while horseback riding made cattle
stealing easier, encouraging inter-community raiding
and warfare. Wagons may have encouraged the evolution
of increasingly dispersed and individualizing social
communities (as automobiles have done in this
century). Shifts in values may have been encouraged by
changes in eastern European community organization and
economy that were themselves caused partially by the
adoption of wheeled vehicles and horseback riding. All
of these changes might have set the stage for the
adoption of new languages just at the time that the
Yamna incursion into the grassy plains of the lower
Danube valley and eastern Hungary began.

At the root of both expansions lie the speakers of
PIE, whose kinship systems, religious concepts, and
social organization can be understood through their
own reconstructed vocabulary - an unprecedented
opportunity for anthropological archaeologists, if we
can agree on how it should be exploited.