Re: [tied] Danubian homeland?

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 9267
Date: 2001-09-09

OK, in more detail:
There are series of new radiocarbon dates for many of the East European cultural units, including the Yamnaya culture. Those cultures have often been dated on insecure typological grounds. In recent studies care has been taken to include as much datable stuff as possible and to exclude errors due to such problems as the old wood effect. It seems that earlier estimates (like Telegin's 3400-2350 BC, or even Shaposhnikova's 3050-2450 BC) were seriously exaggerated. The latest "rejuvenated" brackets are ca. 2600-2170 BC (the Dnieper groups being apparently somewhat older than the Dniester ones). The Yamnaya culture is thus significantly younger than the Volhynia/Podolia Globular Amphora groups (3000-2300 BC), the Sub-Carpathian group of the Corded Ware culture (2900-2400 BC), and even the Fatyanovo and Middle Dnieper groups (beginning ca. 2700 BC). The pastoral, horse-breeding communities of the Yamnaya culture would nicely correlate with (the earliest stages of) Indo-Iranian.
The "pre-Yamnaya" Mikhailivka I culture of the late steppe Eneolithic is difficult to date precisely (there are few reliable radiocarbon dates); tentative estimates span the period 4000-2800(-2350?) BC. This semi-pastoral culture was a rather complex phenomenon, absorbing all kinds of influences from a variety of sources (especially from Tripolye, Sredniy Stog, pre-Maikop and Maikop), with a "local Neolithic" substrate including possibly Indo-European-speaking groups (the Linear Pottery and Funnel Beaker cultures had penetrated western Ukraine along the Dniester Valley). Who knows if Proto-Hellenic did not originate in such an environment. The separation of Tocharian must have happened early enough to account for its centum character and the conspicuous absence of common innovations with Indo-Iranian (or, for that matter, with any other non-Anatolian branch). On the other hand, Tocharian has some lexical affinities with the "North European" areal grouping. I have no clear opinion on the cultural identification of the Proto-Tocharians, and any separation date from the mid-fifth to the late fourth millennium BC seems defensible. The earliest possible archaeological correlate would be the Neolithic avant-garde in Kazakhstan and the Upper Yenisey Valley, including the Afanasyevo culture -- but this is _extremely_ tentative (far be it from me to insist that all pioneers must have been Indo-Europeans).
The Corded Ware cultures seem to be quite heterogeneous (and not necessarily 100% Indo-European), as various elements of the Corded Ware "package" diffused independently and could presumably be borrowed without population movements or linguistic shifts. I am not sure at all if the Fatyanovo culture was IE-speaking (why not Finno-Ugric, for example?). Any formative impulses affecting the linguistic character of the Yamnaya culture are more likely to have come from the eastern groups of the Globular Amphora culture located along the forest/forest-steppe boundary, which was colonised as far east as the Middle Dnieper. Ca. 2750-2400 there was a solid belt of genetically related Globular Amphora groups reaching the Moldavian Uplands in the south (and meeting the latest stage of the Tripolye culture in that area). This seems to have been a suitable time for the Satem innovation, and for the subsequent full Indo-Europeanisation of the western steppes.
The Globular Amphora communities were characterised by advanced social differentiation, the presence of prestige indicators (carefully polished flint axes, luxury artifacts of amber and bone) and quite sophisticated territorial organisation (from village to microregional and regional groupings). They also seem to have been more warlike than their Funnel Beaker predecessors (a tendency further developed in the "Corded Ware/Battle Axe" circle). One possibility is that the political and military skills of the Globular Amphora elite enabled them to dominate the pre-Yamnaya pastoralists (perhaps already partly Indo-European), at the same time transforming and complicating the social hierarchy of the host communities, their ritual, institutions, etc., and eventually imposing their language. The Proto-Indo-Iranian period would thus have spanned the period from ca. 2600 BC to the end of the third millennium.
I have no clue who the Tripolye/Cucuteni people were. Given the Balkanic patterns of their culture, they may have been "Para-IE" or even Proto-Anatolian-speakers (to be pushed southwards in the circum-Pontic "chain migrations" that began after 2600 BC, no doubt in connection with the cultural transformations taking place in the steppes). On the other hand, why shouldn't they have been "Tyrrhenoid" or "Semitoid", or whatever? Perhaps substrate studies will eventually suggest an answer (supposing, for example, that the so-called "Pelasgian" substrate in Greek is partly "Tripolian"). Tripolye communities may also have absorbed groups migrating from Central Europe along the Dniester "conveyor belt". There were, in particular, close relations between the southeastern (Proto-Hellenic-speaking?) group of the Funnel Beaker culture and Tripolye. However, later links with the Globular Amphora culture were surprisingly weak and asymmetrical (the diffusion of cultural traits happened on a limited scale and only from Tripolye to GA).
----- Original Message -----
From: Miguel Carrasquer Vidal
Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2001 2:37 AM
Subject: Re: [tied] Danubian homeland?

This is more or less the position I have been defending here and there for the last five years or so.

I have some questions, though, about the "steppe" horizons, as described in Mallory's "In Search of the Indo-Europeans".  The earliest (Sub-)Neolithic culture in the area is the Bug-Dnestr culture, which Mallory recognizes as of Balkanic origin (and therefore intrinsically "Old European", i.e. non-Indo-European in the Gimbutas paradigm, and in principle at least pre- or para-Indo-European in my views).  The next stages, more to the east, are roughly the Dnepr-Donets culture (appr. contemporary with the Linear Pottery
culture [LBK]) [and its eastern offshoot the Samara culture], the Sredny Stog culture (somewhat earlier than the Funnel Beaker culture [TRB]) [and its eastern offshoot the Khvalynsk culture], and from 3500 BC the Yama (Yamnaya) culture, covering western and eastern steppe, which can safely be marked as Indo-European.  If I understand your argument above correctly, it was the post-TRB transhumant "herders" (presumably eastern Corded Ware groups such as represented by the Fatyanovo culture) that colonized and Indo-Europeanized the steppe area.  However, according to Mallory (e.g. the diagram on page 246), the Yama culture slightly preceded the Corded Ware culture, which makes this scenario doubtful.  A related issue is the position of the Tripolye culture, which connects with all the relevant areas: the Balkans, North-Central Europe, and the Steppe.  What was in your opinion the linguistic affiliation of the "Tripolyeans"?

My own views on these issues are not clear.  One possible scenario is that the steppe was already Indo-Europeanized very early in the Bug-Dnestr period (before 6000 BC), but that is clearly too early for anything to have survived linguistically ["Eastern IE" is not of an archaism comparable to Anatolian].  A second scenario is early Indo-Europeanization in the Dnepr-Donets era (from ca. 5500 BC). Likewise slightly too early, but consistent with the NW origin of this culture that Mallory ascribes to the archaeologist Telegin.  The
steppe area would then have been colonized by eastern parties of the same LBK movement that colonized North-Central Europe.  An attractive possibility at least for the ultimate origins of Tocharian.  A third scenario would be acculturalization of the steppe region at a later stage (5000-3500 BC) from the culturally dominant Tripolye area.  That would require Tripolye to have been linguistically more akin to the LBK->TRB area than to the "Anatoloid" (as well as "Etruscoid"?) Balkan cultures (Vinc^a, etc.), which is not unlikely in itself.