WeepingElf wrote: Salmoneus wrote:
WeepingElf wrote:It seems as if LBK originated in Anatolia and Cardial in the Levant.
Citation? Because what I've gathered - as mentioned above - is that both came from Anatolia; we can deduce this because a) they are very similar, and b) they both have WHG genes right from the beginning, which were present in Anatolia but probably not any further south, so far as we know. This would also conflict with the third neolithic migration: the WHG-free migration into southern Greece, Cyprus, Crete, etc, which is hypothesised to come from the Levant.
What I posted was an attempt at a synthesis of various secondary sources I found on the Web, and apparently, I got some things wrong. The primary sources (geneticits's research papers) are, as I said earlier, too difficult for me, and the secondary sources are often imprecise, obsolete and sometimes just plain wrong.
I agree, it's hard to get a handle on these things, particularly due to the lack of comprehensive overviews. I'd recommend that Mathieson paper, though - even if you don't ge through the fine print and the tables (and personally I can only grasp a little of those details myself), he lays out a pretty clear plain-English summary.
You seem to prefer models in which large areas have been linguistically uniform even in prehistoric times and no linguistic lineage ever existed that isn't either spoken today or preserved in written form. Parsimonious, indeed, but correct?
I think my default position is that in times of big cultural and genetic expansions, there are likely to be large language families; but that as time goes on, things may become more complicated. in the case of Europe, since the Glacial Maximum we have indeed seen a series of vast demic replacements that covered at the very least the majority of the continent, and I do think this is likely to suggest large, expansive language families - though some survivals in the mountains or peninsulas are not impossible.
Now, if we were talking about some parts of pre- or non-Bantu Africa, my default position might be quite different...
I also think it's worth pointing out that massive language families are the norm almost everywhere in the world. Take out Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, Austro-Tai*, Pama-Nyungan, Turkic, Uralic, Afroasiatic (or just Semitic, really), Niger-Congo, Dene-Yeneseian and Amerind**, and you're not left with much of the map open. These expansive families show that even thousands of years after the initial expansion, familial relationships are still recognisable. So I think again that the onus is on those who want to hypothesise a very different situation in prehistoric Europe.
*I'm assuming Austronesian and Tai-Kadai (or whatever we call it) are related - this seems linguistically increasingly likely, and entire plausible from culture and genetics AIUI.
**Amerind is obviously a special case here (with the possible exception of Afroasiatic), because, as the family with the deepest language depth, with most of its expansion a very long time ago, and with in many cases limited attestations, and almost no historical records, it's not been possible yet (and perhaps will never be possible) to prove the relationship linguistically. However, genetically and archaeologically, it seems almost certain that Amerind is a single family with a time depth of 15-18k years. Even so, if you discount Amerind, if you just take families like Ge, Cariban and Tupi (which are probably branches of a single family), Arawakan, Uto-Aztecan, Algic, Siouxan and Iroquoian, you've already covered most of the Americas.
That all said, I do in general, all else being equal, think it's better to assume that where there's no evidence, there's nothing interesting, even if that leads to overlooking some lost languages, rather than speculating about hypothetical entities for which we have no evidence.
Sure, the linguistic situation of the Ancient Near East in the Bronze Age was probably not the same as in the Neolithic. But I think that those factors that lead to more language uniformity, such as trade networks and states projecting power over large areas, were stronger in the Bronze Age than in the Neolithic, so the Neolithic Near East may have been even more diverse linguistically. Alas, we don't know.
I think demic mass expansions paired with the expansion of cultural packages, particularly something as overwhelming as agriculture, are likely tied to linguistic expansion more often than not. Of course, I'm not saying that one village discovered agriculture and then conquered the world. But generally with these game-changing innovations, only a couple of groups in an area get in on the game early enough to benefit, in terms of cultural power.
What I suspect happened was that the early neolithic families expanded across a large area, but that after a certain length of time, neighbouring groups (perhaps mesolithic 'barbarians', or just newly neolithised peoples seeing the more advanced tribes across the river) back-migrated (invaded, either politically or just through economic migration) into that core area, creating a more confused picture.
So we'd see an expansion of people across anatolia, mesopotamia and the levant as agriculture spread, probably carrying one, or a small number at least, of language families. But later, newly neolithised tribes to the northeast (the 'Caucasian' element) and the southwest (Semitic) underwent their own expansions, both into the core neolithic area (proven linguistically for semitic, seen genetically for caucasian) and in other directions (caucasians expanded into eastern europe and central asia, semites back into africa). This I think is the situation we probably see in the historic bronze age. Since for thousands of years the core areas (mesopotamia, anatolia and the levant) would have been more developed than neighbouring areas, there was probably a longstanding dynamic of periodic barbarian invasions (Hurrians, Gutians, Mitanni, etc).
From the genetic point of view it's worth pointing out a concept called 'Basal Eurasian'. Basal Eurasians were the first non-Africans to split off from the non-African population - in other words, east asian and west european hunter gatherers were more related to each other than to basal eurasians. This is significant because according to some studies the neolithic populations of anatolia and europe were about 50% comprised of a 'basal eurasian' population that had remained isolated from all other populations for thousands and thousands and thousands of years - possibly a population hidden away in Arabia? We don't know. No actual 'basal eurasian' samples have been found, and it's possible that it's just an artifact of the analysis. But if there were such a population somewhere in the middle east, and they did suddenly expand to interbreed with their neighbours around the time of the neolithic revolution, it would favour the model of one group originally innovating agriculture and demically expanding with its export, at least at first. But this is all speculative.
This makes sense. Minoan, "Pelasgian" and Hattic may have formed a single language family, probably unrelated to that of the Cardial and LBK people.
I think this would be my default assumption at this point, yes, although I admit that it's pure assumption.
I seem to remember reading somewhere (but I don't remember where) that there is some evidence that Kartvelian originated in NE Anatolia, and was pushed into Georgia by the incoming Indo-Europeans, first Anatolian and later Armenian. But I don't know what's the evidence for that.
I don't know about that. But it certainly doesn't sound implausible.
Nobody knows for sure when Semitic entered the Levant. But this is pretty much beside the point as the misunderstanding that Cardial originated in the Levant has been cleared up now. Whenever Semitic entered the Levant, it has nothing to do with Cardial and LBK!
Well, it might. Semitic seems to have spread very quickly. It might have temporarily spread further (i.e. into Anatolia before being replaced by later migrants from the east), or it might have pushed the earlier inhabitants of the levant into anatolia, triggering a chain migration.
But I suspect they were too late to do that.
Basque may be a Cardial language (then, Iberian would probably be so, too, and Basque and Iberian indeed related to each other), so the language of Neolithic Britain may have been related to Basque.
That's certainly a possibility. Or, Basque may have been a steppe language (the only one of its branch to survive being drowned out by its IE neighbours), or Basque might be a survival from the Mesolithic. Or something else.
All this is possible. So we get these scenarios:
1. Basque could be a surviving Cardial language. Then the Cardial languages have nothing to do with Kartvelian (as Basque and Kartvelian are quite certainly unrelated), nor probably the LBK languages; and the language of Neolithic Britain may also be related to Basque.
2. Basque could be the language of some sort of steppe allies of the Indo-Europeans (perhaps from North Caucasia or southwestern Siberia), travelling on the latter family's coat-tails, so to speak. Such confederations of linguistically unaligned tribes have been in existence on the steppe for as long as we know; consider the Turkic tribes that rode alongside the Mongols, or the mottled retinue of Attila the Hun. (There even was a splinter of Ossetian in Medieval Hungary.) Then Basque would have nothing to do with the Cardial or whatever languages that were spoken in Neolithic Europe, and the Neolithic European languages are anyone's guess.
3. Basque is a surviving Mesolithic language, though the Basques seem to be descendants of Neolithic farmers. This is not impossible; as I observed here
, surviving Mesolithic hunter-gatherers could have become warriors (it is not a long way from a hunter to a warrior: a hunter at least knows how to handle weapons and kill living things; he is better at such skills than a farmer) and established themselves as an élite over some farmers and imposed their language on them. Such things may have happened several times in different parts of Europe; you once wrote here that pre-Neolithic genes had a sort of "comeback" later. In this scenario, Basque has nothing to do with either the Cardial or the LBK languages.
Yes, I think those are the three most likely options. Regarding the third option:
- yes, mesolithic genes rebounded independently across the continent; we don't know if that was local interbreeding (the farmers finally starting to date the guys in the marshes) or some cultural change (farmer polities finally break down, inviting takeovers by big strong hunters). The interesting thing is that the mesolithic genes are much more often passed through the male line than the female - farmer girls had children with hunter boys. To modern eyes, this suggests the hunters had taken over in many placed - but we don't know enough about the cultures to really know. It could be that farmer matriarchs interbred with hunter slaveboys; or it could just be that gradually, over the centuries, the bigger, stronger hunters surreptitiously sexually outcompeted the smaller, paler farmer men despite the latter remaining dominant culturally.
- in any case, modern Basque genes are mostly from the Steppe - they're more mesolithic and more neolithic than most of europe, but they're not outside the general pattern. [the real holdovers are the sardinians, who are almost pure neolithic]. What this means is that genetically the Basque have been mostly replaced twice
. If we assume that a neolithic language survived one turnover, we could also assume that a mesolithic language survived two.
Regarding the second option: I agree in theory, and I don't think this option should be overlooked, as it often is. However, one demerit is that we should remember that the steppe pastoralists of the neolithic were not the same steppe pastoralists of the iron age - they were less mobile and somewhat less warlike. We can't necessarily extrapolate the huge mounted multiethnic confederations of Attila and Temujin back onto the PIE. However, we can't necessarily rule out that option either.
We should also for completeness mention Option 4: Basque is a small-scale migration from north africa. i don't think we would necessarily be able to spot that genetically, particularly since the parent north african population is probably extinct now anyway, and given the thousands of years of african geneflow into iberia that followed. Basque is of course on 'the wrong side' of Iberia; but Iberian, presumably a macro-Basque language, is not.
Personally, I'd probably rank these options 1>2>4>3, although the exact ordering is just a guess really. I do think the most parsimonious option is that Basque is a survivor of the Cardial expansions and that yes, probably the pre-Bell-Beaker British would have spoken a language very distantly related to Basque.