Minoan horses and other bullshit – Open thread


My latest post erraneously received a comment that was meant for a much earlier post: Horses and wheeled vehicles. In principle it should be possible to move it to the correct destination, but I somehow failed to achieve that. The comment made, and a comment received on it, are readworthy, but of course far OT when it comes to CHG-Steppe relations. So I have decided to remove them from the comment section there, and re-post them here instead. Feel free to add whatever you think is relevant to the issues presented.

Edit: Since the thread title seems to have caused some irritation – I have tried to combine the two topics in ak2014b’s comment below, namely J.S. Morris partly polemic criticism of D. Anthony’s “The horses, the wheel, and language”, and the question of the linguistic affiliation of Minoan/ Linear A, into a catchy title. I didn’t want to imply in any way that the comments were bullshit – quite to the opposite, I find them very worthwhile of being discussed, and thought that a catchy title might help in receiving the attention deserved.

  1. ak2014b says:

    I’ve tried to stop being a burden here with my usual rain of questions over the past few months, which came easier as I was hampered in participating as I’ve been travelling abroad. I did still have many questions, quite a few of which I was able to resolve simply by re-reading the articles here a few times or looking up references and culture names, localities and eras for myself.

    However, I’ve now got a request which I feel is worth bringing up.

    It’s to do with the informative Jonathan Sherman Morris paper “Wheels, Languages and Bullshit (Or How Not To Do Linguistic Archaeology)” (2018) that Alberto helpfully pointed out. I’ve quickly skimmed the first third of that paper and several points immediately stood out, one of which was the following paragraph on p. 73,

    “Georgiev nevertheless describes an Anatolian substrate in Greek toponyms detectable in the -ss- and -nd- suffixes South of Mount Pindos, but not North of it (Georgiev, 1960, pp. 285–297). If the Anatolians really did migrate down the Balkans from North to South, the last thing one would expect to find is an east-west linguistic frontier of this kind.

    This migration ostensibly makes the Anatolians latecomers to Anatolia, who fell under the influence of indigenous Hattic and Hurrian speak- ers, but the same JIES 2001 volume contains an illuminating contribution by Margalit Finkelberg (2001), who makes a persuasive case that Linear A, attested in Crete and Mycenae, is an Anatolian language. In other words, the case for a long-standing presence of Anatolian in Western Anatolia and the Aegean (where there is no evidence for Hattic or Hurrian) looks like a strong one. Her paper is not mentioned either by Anthony or by Lewis and Pereltsvaig, even though it is hard to imagine that they were unaware of it, since it is in the same volume as the Darden paper.

    In other words, there is good evidence for a long-standing presence of Anatolian in Western Anatolia and an expansion to the West, but none for a migration from the Pontic Steppes down the Balkans. “

    There’s actually two or three points of interest in this very extract, but I refer particularly to how Linear A is concluded to have been an Anatolian language by Finkelberg.

    The Wikipedia entry for Linear A, “Linear A was the primary script used in palace and religious writings of the Minoan civilization.”

    Anthrogenica and the rest of the genetics blogosphere have recently been insistent that Linear A is absolutely not Indo-European (and by consequence, neither the Minoans), but if Linear A turns out to have been of an Anatolian language and therefore Indo-European, then does it not have far reaching implications?

    I have now been able to read the cited Margalit Finkelberg paper, The Language of Linear A: Greek, Semitic, or Anatolian? R. Drews (ed.), Greater Anatolia and Indo-European Language Family. Papers presented at a Colloquium Hosted by the University of Richmond, March 18-19, 2000. Journal of Indo-European Studies. Monograph Series 38 (Washington 2001).

    Finkelberg’s arguments are indeed very effective and convincing.

    The author has made this excellent paper available for reading. I will therefore just go over her conclusions from her findings.

    For Linear A, she systematically rules out not only Greek, Semitic and Hurrian, but also Hattic and Sumerian. She then proceeds to make positive identification with Anatolian languages in specific, to be able to conclude,

    “It can therefore be inferred with a considerable degree of certainty that the language of Linear A is an Anatolian language.” (page 95)

    And after Finkelberg narrows it down even further, she is even able to reasonably surmise

    “There is thus a high degree of correspondence between the phonological and morphological system of Minoan and that of Lycian. In view of this, there seems reason to conclude that the language of Linear A is either the direct ancestor of Lycian or a closely related idiom.” (page 98)

    My request is for Finkelberg’s findings to be discussed by Kristiina, with her linguistic expertise, and by Frank, Rob and of course Alberto with their knowledge in archaeology and/or from their study.

    If Minoan civilisation spoke a language of the Anatolian language family, and was therefore Indo-European, it opens up interesting questions related to aDNA too, which I hope will be addressed. For instance, how does Linear A as Anatolian/IE inform the results from the still limited number of Bronze Age samples from Greece? I think the Lazaridis et al 2017 paper found that Mycenaeans and Minoans significantly shared one component, and this had been argued away in the genetics blogosphere as being the non Indo-European portion of their heritage, whereas much was made of the relatively minor steppe portion that was to be exclusive to the Mycenaeans.

    However, if the Minoans’ Linear A script points to an Anatolian language (and not any of the many non Indo-European languages and language families that were in the vicinity), then does that not rather make that part of the genetic heritage that is shared by both Minoans and Mycenaeans actually gain in relevance where Indo-European is concerned?

  2. @ak2014b

    First of all, you made a keen observation and I can definitively confirm that the Steppe/Siberian People that were present among Mycenaeans (5-15 or 20 percent) did not speak Indo-European. It was rather the Anatolian (Minoan-Mycenaean shared ancestry) part that became Indo-European! You’re correct on this one.

    On the other hand, Linear A is a done deal. There is too much evidence coming from different directions.

    Linguistically, Peter van Soesbergen and Peter Revesz nailed it using two very different approaches. Kenanidis’ latest works showed Sumerian in it. That’s extremely interesting because Hurrian-Sumerian relationship is also positive.

    And all of this perfectly matches with all the genetic evidence and migrations.

    If anyone challenges Linear A I believe they should read their work before doing so.

    I had shown them to be predominantly Hurrians with Hattic and Sumerians based on not only their work but also my own work.

    I can defend my work here but would not do that as it would simply be useless for a comment section of a blog post and would also be a big disservice to Frank N and Alberto’s great work!

    So, I suggest anyone seriously interested in Linear A, to read Soesbergen, Kenanidis, and Revesz’ works, books and papers, all published in 2016, 2017 and 2018 before going back to old papers.

    That will be my only comment on Linear A here, whatever response I receive, I don’t want to create an off-topic discussion.

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37 thoughts on “Minoan horses and other bullshit – Open thread

  1. @Alberto

    That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever read. Finally someone dares to call out Anthony for what he is. But still IMO, a late breakup is more likely.

    Gonna have to post it in the other blog one day.

  2. Mehmet,

    would you mind to provide some more details and links, if available, to Soesbergen, Kenanidis, and Revesz’ works mentionned by you, and also to your own work on Linear A/ Minoan?

    Linear A is of course highly relevant as possibly stemming from “island-hopping”, proto-Cardial EEF, or at least representing a non-IE language that during the CA/BA may have swept through the Mediterranean and promoted the “Cyprus-like” ancestry that to date is characteristic of many South European populations.
    In this context, P.Shrijvers “Hattic-Minoan-Celtic” theory is worth mentionning. Essentially, he posits that the first split of Proto-Celtic into S. Celtic (Lepontic, Celtiberian) and Gallo-Britonic, dated to around 1,000 BC when Proto-Celts radiated out of the W. Alps, can be attributed to Gallo-Britonic getting into language contact with a non-IE, possibly EEF-derived language that morphologically was similar to Minoan, Hattic and ultimately North East Caucasian.
    Schrijver 2015: “Pruners and Trainers of the Celtic Family Tree”
    Schrijver 2007: “Keltisch en de buren: 9000 jaar taalcontact”
    (pdfs available online).

  3. @ AK2014b
    Yes I’m familar with that article, I agree its very interesting & important. It has been a while since I;ve read it, and whilst im comfortable with sociolinguistics through the lens of genetics & anthropology, in terms of the arts of comparative linguistics I cannot make a stance. Suffice to say, from a population perspective, a link between Lydia & Crete is logical, however Minoan could very well be a Neolithic language. So too can Indo-Hittite (there were likely several Neolithic or Neolithicized language groups), at least within the earlier cline of its development around the Pontic sphere, acc. to a western model (which to me is more economical in terms of the I.E. tree. Also, the major contributors to Bronze Age Anatolia are the earlier ANF who had contacts with the West Pontic & Aegean, and later KA-like groups in the East. It’s difficult to disengage the latter from Hattians, and apart from small groups from Hurrians & Assyrians from Mesopotamia, there aren;t too many other options). But i think it’s worth waiting for more data before revisiting this in detail.

  4. @ak2014b

    LOL, your comments and questions are welcome, not a burden!

    Partly my fault for posting that paper that brought an off topic debate to Frank’s last post, so good that he moved it here. No offence meant by it, just trying to keep things clean and in order.

    I’m sure that we’ll be revisiting this topic soon enough, since the IE-related questions come out very often with every publication (or other “original” posts that we may write). In any case now there’s this thread here for any further comments.

    I personally don’t have any strong opinion about the Minoan language or Linear A. Each expert in the matter still has to rely in a few assumptions about the Linear A script in order to try to make some sense out of it, and depending on those assumptions their conclusions vary quite significantly. So for me Minoan qualifies as “unknown” at this point.

    In any case, we have Anatolian speaker’s DNA, and it’s not that different from Minoans. Rather than the weak argument put forward about the difference between Minoans and Mycenaeans to figure out what brought IE language to Greece, looking at the similarities between Mycenaeans and Anatolians looks like a more solid approach for the time being. We’ll see what further samples from these and other cultures and language groups bring to the table.

  5. @Vara

    Yes, my biggest problem with Renfrew’s hypothesis is the chronology. I can’t see such a deep split of IE languages as being consistent with what we know about them.

    If we could ignore Anatolian (and maybe Tocharian?), it wouldn’t be unreasonable to place PIE in the MBA. But with those ones around, a Chalcolithic period looks more likely.

  6. If we could ignore Anatolian (and maybe Tocharian?), it wouldn’t be unreasonable to place PIE in the MBA.
    I think the main question has hardly been discussed so far (except by “Nostraticists”, but their answer looks incomplete and problematic):
    How could (pre-pre-) PIE develop its original structure at all, given the well documented tendency of languages to converge when in contact. The same question, of course, can and needs to be asked for any other language family, be it a speculative Hurrian-Hattic-Minoan-North Caucasian Cluster, Afroasiatic, Uralic, Altaic or whatever else comes to mind.

    IMO, the answer is the same as for genetic differentiation: The population in question has experienced a period of isolation and a bottleneck – an answer that obviously takes us back to the LGM. This makes the question of “Neolithic, Chalcolithic or MBA” secondary, unless we are dealing with languages of obvious “hybrid” character, which PIE is apparently not. Luckily, there aren’t that many LGM refugia around Anatolia, the Steppe and the Caucasus to choose from. For PIE, it ultimately boils down to Colchis, the S. Caspian, the N. Levante/ Bay of Iskenderun, the Marmara Region & S. Balkans, maybe the Altai or the Lower Don (whereby the latter so far doesn’t seem to have provided any sign of LGM genetic specialisation that substantially affected Mesolithic populations).

  7. So Finkelberg states that no etymological evidence can be found to link Lineair A to any language. She then tries to identify the vowels used and whether a distinction is made between voiced and voiceless stops. She then concludes that Lineair A can’t be Greek, Luwian, Semitic or Hurrian, but can be Lycian, Hittite or Palaic.

    But that is obviously flawed as Lycian is a language of the Luwian *group*. And if it’s possible for a language to change these characteristics from its parent or sibling languages so that they fit the bill, what stops Lineair A from being a language *related* to Hurrian?

    Also, she connects a possible string of particles to Anatolian languages and on the basis of these morphological similarities tries to reconstruct some sentences. But the attempt at a reconstruction look pretty poor. I’d even go as far as asking: If Lineair A was found to be deeply related to Lycian in 2001, why aren’t all texts decoded yet? If she can pinpoint it so tightly to Lycian, the etymological evidence should be visible by now.

  8. For phonological reasons deriving from what is known of the scripts and languages in question, Finkelberg is able to conclusively rule out Greek, Semitic and Hurrian and also the Anatolian Luwian. She then points out that other Anatolian languages, but also non-IE languages such as Hattic and Sumerian do not militate against the same reasons. She then proceeds to argue for the identification of particles in Linear A texts. On p. 91 she explains why particles and how and where they are found in the use of a language, constitute the fingerprints of a language or language family. Citing the established opinion on how the usage of particles in Anatolian languages sets them apart from all others, she shows the Anatolian language family to match the particle usage and that it moreover excludes all other languages thought relevant (including Hattic and Sumerian) from contenders for Linear A (p. 89).

    Based on her well-argued reasoning about what is known or has been deduced of Linear A, Finkelberg 2001 has constructed a phonological profile and a morphological profile for Minoan, which she uses to test contending languages against. I have not accessed Van Soesbergen‘s books on Linear A at academia.edu as there’s no preview as there was with Finkelberg. So I’ve been unable to check his references to see whether he refers to Finkelberg 2001 and how he is thus able to make Hurrian relevant again. As you have read his works, Mehmet, could you tell me if Van Soesbergen has cited her work and referred to her phonological and morphological profiles for Linear A? If not, what were his arguments for dismissing their relevance or finding them inapplicable? And in that case, what did the peer review process think of his arguments, if these arguments were presented in his 4 volume or 2-parter books on the subject? (As I understand the publisher Brave New Books is for self-publishing, which is fine but does not give immediate indications of the views of peers.)

    Unless Van Soesbergen directly addresses Finkelberg 2001’s restrictions placed on identifying the language family associated with Linear A, and shows how Hurrian has remained relevant in spite of it, it can not make Finkelberg’s arguments obsolete despite her published findings being from 2001 and his books from 2016. And presumably her work is still found relevant, in that Morris 2018, quoted in my comment above, referred to its findings as meaningful.

    In searching for references to Finkelberg in Van Soesbergen, I found the paper “High Correlation Linear A―Linear B vocabulary, grammar and orthography in Linear A” by Richard Vallance Janke (2018). Based on a text search, he appears to make no particular argument against Finkelberg’s reasoning, but is generally suspicious of any one language being identified or identifiable with Linear A when Linear A has long been contested for so many disparate languages. In contrast, Janke 2018 does have this to state about Van Soesbergen:

    “We note in passing that some Linear A linguists, such as Peter van Soesbergen, make the egregious error of confusing Linear A RI with Linear B WE, but they are not the same, even though they look almost identical. On the surface, they are much the same syllabogram, but their phonetic values greatly diverge. Van Soesbergen invariably reads Linear A darida, a type of vase, as daweda. But this is impossible, because the syllabogram WE does not exist in Linear A.”

    Kenanides 2015 (“A Comparative Linguistic Study about the Sumerian Influence on the Creation of the Aegean Scripts”) refers to two older papers by Finkelberg, both from the late 1990s, but not the 2001 publication in JIES. Therefore it looks to contain no treatment of Finkelberg’s phonological and morphological profiles to re-evaluate Kenanides’ preferred Sumerian against them, or to argue the profiles as irrelevant.

    Peter Z. Revesz’ works on Linear A, all from a computational approach, do not seem entirely relevant in identifying the language or language family to which Linear A could belong. His works seem to be aimed at proposing and proving his hypothesis of a “Cretan Script Family” and that this included Linear A among other scripts.

    I remain impressed by Finkelberg’s exceptional reasoning as pertains to Linear A’s language associations. So I would like to learn of any equally clear-cut arguments against the continued applicability of Finkelberg’s 2001 work by any suggested replacements.

  9. @Alberto
    “LOL, your comments and questions are welcome, not a burden!”

    I’ve noticed that not all my questions have been of equal value. For instance, I think I repeatedly asked when a promised article will appear. Such comments are not valuable here, where the discussions seem to be more serious and interested in informing rather than being casual banter. Nor questions that point to laziness on my part if I don’t at least try to look up some things that are discussed for myself. (Like in FrankN’s long-awaited article which brought up the hunebeds. I had to read that page four times as it was like a journal article, and I even ended up attempting to draw a map for myself when reading it.) So I decided to learn more by typing less. Then, when I do ask a question here, I know it will be less wasteful of any efforts to address it.

    “In any case, we have Anatolian speaker’s DNA, and it’s not that different from Minoans.”

    A popular assumption current is that only aDNA from Anatolia that shows steppe would be truly representative of Indo-European ancestry. And with it the argument has been that it is an absolute given that Minoans’ Linear A is not IE and therefore Minoans are not IE, that therefore any Anatolian heritage shared with Minoans dismisses such Anatolian heritage from IE. This is why I was surprised with Finkelberg 2001, and how we don’t in fact know that Minoans/Linear A are not IE, and that they may in fact be IE, Anatolian in specific.

    Your statement that so far Anatolian and Minoan aDNA are quite similar is mutually supportive with Finkelberg 2001’s findings. I really do recommend her paper to you and to FrankN. Rob already read it long ago and still finds it holds meaning. Kristiina is likely to have read it already too. I find the arguments in Finkelberg 2001 convincing as the approach is very methodical. Therefore I am now very interested in discovering how other contenders have got around Finkelberg’s arguments if they continue to make opposing claims about Linear A. I can’t yet find that they have discussed her reasoning in order for them to move past the restrictions she placed on identifying the language (family) associated with Linear A.

    It’s worth reading even if just for the standard by which other existing and future claims or approaches regarding the identification of Linear A are to be judged and contrasted against.

    “I cannot make a stance.”

    This makes sense to me. But why is it that so many others find it so easy to take a stance, and conclude that Minoan is absolutely non-IE, to the point that this view appears to be prevalent in casual discussions on the IE question? Or maybe this is more of the “shouting down” that Morris mentioned in his critique of Anthony. I have not seen any discuss Finkelberg’s arguments, not even to tear it down, before this. How have they decided, when they did not try to look into the reasoned counter-arguments? It keeps those who do want to keep an open mind in the dark.

    Is your field of expertise also the same as Finkelberg’s? Even otherwise, you may find it better to address your questions to the author, finkelbe AT tauex.tau.ac.il, as no one else here appears to be in this area (excepting perhaps Kristiina). Once you do, please share Finkelberg’s response here, if any.

  10. The Jonathan Sherman Morris “paper” is a joke. If a “paper” calls David Anthony, and I quote, “a jovial bullshit merchant” and Asya Pereltsvaig a “groupie” then it’s time to stop reading.

    I nevertheless did read it and the “paper” is massively flawed. It calls in the idea of a calque as possible origin for the word for wheel. A calque is a word like “broadband”, a originally American word back-translated in many languages such as German “Breitband”. So the idea is that words like “Kwekwlos”, which pops up in all kinds of IE languages could have been backported in their own idiom, just like broadband has. This would repudiate the idea that a common word for wheel would mean that a common PIE existed at the time that the wheel was invented or introduced.

    He then goed on to shed doubt on the etymology. This is where it really, really gets flawed:

    “Furthermore, while the reduplicated form *kwé-kwl-o-s occurs in Greek
    kuklos, Indo-Iranian čaxra/čakra, Tocharian kukal-, Phrygian kíklen, in
    Germanic it is only partially attested in Old English hweogul (hweowol),
    hwēol (hweohl), -es n.; hweogola, -an m. ‘wheel; circular band’.”

    This man doesn’t even know that Dutch have a word “wiel” and Norwegian and Swedish a word “hjul”.

    The point of “Kwekwlos” is that it is considered derived from a root “Kwel” (turn) in a non-typical way, by repeating the “Kw” part, which is pretty unique. The fact that this pops up in a number of IE languages means that this is no calque, as that would mean backporting in the derived IE languages and thus one would accept a non-typical construction only in a very rare case.

    Nevertheless Morris thinks that the fact that at least some IE languages do have a locally word for wheel derived from the root “Kwel”, without the repeat, is the death knell for Anthony’s hypothesis. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to see the flaw of this.

    The article is a joke.

  11. @ak2014b

    “Is your field of expertise also the same as Finkelberg’s? Even otherwise, you may find it better to address your questions to the author, finkelbe AT tauex.tau.ac.il, as no one else here appears to be in this area. ”

    This implies that you consider me too ill-informed to have a critique. Fair enough, I indeed am an amateur. However you yourself state:

    “I remain impressed by Finkelberg’s exceptional reasoning as pertains to Linear A’s language associations. ”

    Either you and I are both too ill-informed to have an opinion on the reasoning of the article and you being impressed means nothing, or we can both comment on it. It’s that simple.

  12. @epoch:
    In your critique of the Jonathan Sherman Morris paper, you have overlooked a few points that were made (albeit sometimes not as clear as I had wished):

    This man doesn’t even know that Dutch have a word “wiel” and Norwegian and Swedish a word “hjul”.
    And German has “Welle” in the sense of a rotating axis… I am certain he knows that. But that is not the point he tries to make. The point is that the Dutch word is “wiel”, not “wiewil”, and that the re-duplication Ringe finds so remarkable and original is hardly present in Germanic . Instead, “wheel” is just one of many cases where IE have turned a verb into a substantive, with about as much enthusiasm about the invention as they were about, say, a boor (Dutch for “drill bit”). [However, note German Kugel, Dutch kogel “ball” that is reminiscent of “Kwekwlos” in phonetics and semantics (and something that Germans and Dutch are certainly enthusiastic about, especially when playing against each other :)) but cannot be related to that root under standard IE sound laws. ]

    Why so little enthusiasm ? Because wheels weren’t the invention. They had been known and used for long, be it as spinning wheels (spindles), pottery wheels, or wheel-driven drills. The innovation was to put such a device below a wooden structure in order to create a vehicle. More specifically – the crucial invention was the bearing that allows the axle to turn even if a ton or more of weight rests above it. Most likely, this could only be achieved once copper became available in reasonable quantities. From a quick wiktionary / Google translate run on translations of “bearing”

    EIR iompar
    D, NL, SE, NOR, BG: Lager, SF laakeri
    LIT guoliai, LAT gultnis
    CZ ložisko, PL łożysko
    RUS podšípnik
    F roulement, POR rolamento, ESP rodamiento, HE roulman
    IT cuscinetto, ALB kushineta, ROM cuzinet
    ARM : առանցքակալ ‎(aṙancʿkʿakal‎)

    So far on shared PIE vocabulary as concerns the real innovation…

    So, when a shared “wheel & axle” terminology shall be used for dating PIE, one should go back to the spindle (attested from late 7th mBC Sesklo), or the wheel-powered drill. Shaft-hole axes/adzes, unthinkable w/o wheel-powered drills, appeared in Central Europe ca. 5,000 BC, around the transition from LBK to SBK/Rössen. The potter’s wheel is generally assumed to have been invented in the Near East around 4,500 BC, though there is some indication that it may already have been used to produce Jeitun thin-walled pottery from the late 7th mBC onwards.

    PIE are anyway unlikely to have invented wheeled vehicles. At the moment, contenders are TRB (Flintbek / Bronocice), CT, Majkop and Sumerians, none of which is particularly likely to have spoken PIE. So, PIE speakers took over the invention from somewhere else and gave their own name to the rotating component (possibly already used for wheel-driven drills) – just as the Nivkh, who derived their kulku-r “wheel” from Proto-Wakashan-Nivkh-Algic *kwilku “round” (c.f. Proto-Algic *kwelk “to turn, return”, all as per Nikolaev 2016).

  13. @ak2014b :
    Like in FrankN’s long-awaited article which brought up the hunebeds (..) I even ended up attempting to draw a map for myself
    LOL – in fact, the map wasn’t required, I could have finished the post without it, but I had for quite some time already been fascinated how all these Dolmen (hunebeds) align on straight lines, starting when I saw a map from SW of Bremen where megalithic burials run parallel to the modern A1 (Hamburg-Cologne). So, having studied economic geography, I took that post as an opportunity to figure out a bit more about MN communication lines. Glad to hear that you were inspired by that effort. As your use of the term “hunebed” indicates that you might be Dutch: Did your line-drawing reveal some end-points in the Netherlands that I have missed so far? If so, I’d be happy to learn about them (but please post them as comments to the Sorsum post :)).
    In the meantime, I have also come across the reason for these straight lines: Early carts didn’t yet have any steering, steerable axes were only invented considerably later. So, carts were only something for the plain, and roads there needed to be straight (Roman/ Napoleonic style). Megalithic burials were placed along these roads in order to signal “Hey, stranger/ traveller – this land is already settled. Go somewhere else to slash, burn and sow !”

    Back to topic (to the extent we have one here):
    why is it that so many others find it so easy to take a stance, and conclude that Minoan is absolutely non-IE”
    I can and will speak here only about myself:
    1. IMO it is pretty certain by now that ANF/EEF didn’t speak (pre-)PIE. Virtually all of agricultural terminology in PIE seems to have been borrowed, especially from Afro-Asiatic or North Caucasian, or belongs to what Witzl calls “Macro-Caucasian”, i.e. vocabulary shared between Basque, PNC and Burushaki. In addition, Germano-Italo-Celtic (but much less so Balto-Slavic) shares a common Pre-IE substrate that in all likelyhood relates to EEF. C.f. a/o P. Shrijver as per my post above, but also Kroonen/ Iversen and a couple more of linguists.

    2. The most important pointer towards EEF not having spoken PIE is the so-called “pre-Greek substrate”. This substrate is substantial, not only as concerns vocabulary, but also in terms of phonetic and grammatical peculiarities of Mycenean/ Old Greek. Hellenic appears to be a hybrid language of IE and a non-IE language, which, in fact, is exactly what one should expect considering how little the Mycenean aDNA we have so far differs from pre-Mycenean one.
    Any HG substrate can be ruled out, as EEF had dominated Greece for almost four millenia before Mykeneans appeared. The Afro-Asiatic contribution to the pre-Greek substrate is well researched – it exists (e.g. OEgypt twr -> OGrk tauros “bull”) but isn’t decisive. Tyrsenian (Lemnian, Etruscan) deserves consideration, and I am uncertain to which extent it has been covered in modern research. However, there is no lack of ancient Greek authors describing neighbouring populations, and if Tyrsenian (Lemnian) should have been a major contributor to the pre-Greek substrate, I am quite certain ancient Greek authors would have noted it along the lines of “they have many of our words, yet the way they speak is alien“. After all, those Classical Greek witers lived just about a millenium later than the appearance of Mykenean(s), a timeframe about the same as between the Battle of Hastings and today, and even an uneducated Englishman shouldn’t today have problems to recognise French influence on modern English. For the same reason, we can also exlude more peripheral sources such as Kartvelian or West Caucasian, to which ancient Greeks (and their geographers) had direct contact via their Pontic colonies [I haven’t screened the respective literature, but I am pretty certain that at least some Georgians have looked for Kartvelian – Old Greek correspondences, and if they had uncovered anything significant, we should know by now.]

    By means of exclusion, this only leaves mainland post-EEF and Minoans as sources of the pre-Greek substrate. So far, I have assumed them to be more-or-less identical language wise, a/o for the Minoan cultural and economic hegemony, but that assumption may have been premature. I haven’t yet studied the LN/ CA of Crete in detail, but I am aware of significant cultural breaks on Cyprus that may a/o relate to the arrival of Kura-Araxes related populations. The same may apply to 3rd mBC Crete. EEF, and by extension ANF, were IMO not speaking IE, but I wouldn’t ecxlude the possibility that the expansion of IE speakers that lead to the evolution of Anatolian languages also reached Crete from there.

    Against this background, I will read Finkelberg with great interest once I find the time for it. However, let me note already two things:
    1. All the literature I have studied so far agrees that it is difficult to extract reliable phonetic data from cuneiform writing – and the more the documented language is phonetically removed from Sumerian, the more difficult this gets. It wasn’t without reasons that Semites, and afterwards various IE-speakers (Greeks, Romans, Armenians, Indians) created their own alphabets. Cuneiform as a syllabic script was neither able to reliably represent consonant clusters (absent from Sumerian, but typical of both Afro-Asiatic and IE), nor IE laryngials. As such, any argumentation based on “phonological reasons ” that employs Cuneiform sources needs to be viewed with caution.

    2. As concerns structural patterns – P. Shrijver (see my post above) presents a case of IE (N. Celtic) having adopted a pattern of verb formation otherwise best known from Hattic and N. Caucasian, and possibly representing post-EEF language. Anatolian languages, co-habitating with Hattic and Hurrian, and certainly exposed to post-ANF language (if different from the a/m), may have absorbed such structural influence to an even larger extent. This may make it difficult to tell apart post-ANF from Anatolian when only considering singular features such as the use of particles.

  14. @FrankN

    The Anglo-Saxon words are far older than the first attestations in Dutch. The fact that they exist is *proof* that it’s derived from “Kwekwlos” (Mind you, there is also the Swedish “hiughl”). To frame that as “partially attested” is willfully obfuscating.

    The article is a joke.

  15. @epoch

    The article is a joke

    Since I originally posted the link to the article, I feel I should clarify this a bit.

    The tone of the article is harsh and at times quite sarcastic (and hilarious, to some of us). You might not like it, but still when you mention that one should stop reading because he calls Anthony a “jovial bullshit merchant” I would at least complete the sentence with the appending: “who never lets any inconvenient empirical evidence get in the way of narrative“.

    If you have read any of Anthony’s works (and you have), you should know that there is an undeniable truth in that. Anthony compiles all the arguments that support his hypothesis and omits those that doesn’t. There’s nothing wrong with it, in principle. As long as readers are aware of it and don’t read it as the objective truth of his research. I guess that if you asked Anthony about why he omits the data that goes against his hypothesis his answer would be simple: “Why should I? Isn’t that the job of my critics? I won’t facilitate their job and let them do it by themselves”. Again, fair enough. But he’s obviously calling for critiques to his work, and this article is one of them.

    If you’ve read Anthony’s article co-authored with Don Ringe, you will also be aware of the strong defence they make of their linguistic theory about the words related to wheeled vehicles, to the point that they basically say it’s impossible that their theory is not correct.

    As I stated before, I found their arguments reasonable and credible. And besides, they agree with the chronology that I consider more likely for PIE. However, I did have a problem with the tone and they try to convince readers that “this (or that) is impossible”. That’s dogmatic and obviously wrong. Anyone trying to say that they can have 100% certainty about words that presumably existed at 4500 BCE is just fooling himself (or trying to fool the readers).

    So again, the tone of this rebuttal is not undeserved. It’s a normal dialectic “fight” between academics.

    Leaving the tone aside, this article has some 50 pages of pretty detailed information, looking at many different problems from several perspectives , with references to many authors, real examples, etc… for what Anthony and Ringe propose as an absolute truth in a few paragraphs. You haven’t even attempted to touch the surface of the article in you dismissal of it as “a joke”. Maybe you do have strong disagreement about all the problems exposed in those 50 pages and could elaborate on all of them (but that would require you to write a long article too). But more likely, you don’t have strong objections to most of what is said (if only because you’re not a professional linguist dedicated to Indo-European studies).

    My take away from this article is that what I first thought to be a convincing argument by David Anthony about the vocabulary related to wheeled vehicles has in fact many problems that are real and difficult to overcome. It still doesn’t change my preference for a Chalcolithic timing for PIE, though, since that was not based on those few roots.

    Anyway the article is linked above and freely available for anyone to read it and make their own mind. I just wanted to address your dismissal of it as just “a joke” to avoid misunderstandings from the possible readers.

  16. @ Frank

    Im somewhat confused by the gist and title of this thread, however, I will just point out im personally not a ‘bundler”, as i think such attempts often relate to conjuring evidence which is simply not there. From an anthropological perspective, I would caution against any thoughts of a uniform EEF language- LBk are very different fabric to later Neolithic groups (such as TRB, GAC), despite the overriding shared ancestry.
    How can we be certain that the “pre-Greek substrate” is from EEF, and not in fact, a non-Greek adstrate from some groups coming via Anatolia ?

  17. @Epoch: I give you Swedish “hiughl”, that’s a good and interesting addition to the evidence.
    And when Morris states (p. 87/88): “Lexical evidence would actually be able to identify a particularly close relationship between English and Frisian through shared vocabulary such as ‘leaf’ (W. Frisian leaf), ‘skin’ (N. Frisian skan, schan)
    and ‘rope’ (Saterland Frisian roop, N. Frisian: Wiringhiirder ruup, Frasch ruup), which are absent from other West (and North) Germanic languages
    ” it becomes immediately clear that he has never heard about the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schinderhannes (High German schinden “to de-skin”), nor visited Hamburg’s Reeperbahn.
    Still, such minor omissions don’t make his complex article “a joke” [In fact, while he chose poor examples, the general statement of particular closeness of English to Frisian is valid].
    I in general agree with Alberto. This article deserves a read, and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand based on a handful of ill-chosen or omitted lexical items among lots of valid data.

  18. @Alberto
    I learnt a lot from the part of the Morris 2018 article that I’ve read so far and I thank you for it (and everything else). There’s many interesting things that are new to me in it.

    The word hunebed was from your article, which was among the things I remember looking up there.

    When I asked why it was so easy for some to take the stance that Minoan is absolutely non-IE, I was specifically wondering about the almost dogmatic but popular beliefs of the average comments at genetics sites like anthrogenica regarding Minoan/Linear A. They expressed a (misleading) greater certainty than the breadth of researchers’ opinions on Linear A’s possible language associations would indicate.

    The persons writing at aDNAera aren’t quite the average or popular opinion, and often have views that swim against that tide. So I expected you (as with Rob and Alberto) to have thought through your reasons about Linear A and Minoan, whatever your position on that was, be it agnostic or something definite. Thanks for explaining your reasons and your 2 additional points. These are the sorts of insights that makes this site a useful resource for those looking to learn beyond what is available at anthrogenica.

    “This implies that you consider me too ill-informed to have a critique.”

    Your objections sooner implied that Finkelberg wouldn’t know what she’s writing about. For instance, “She then concludes that Lineair A can’t be Greek, Luwian, Semitic or Hurrian, but can be Lycian, Hittite or Palaic. But that is obviously flawed as Lycian is a language of the Luwian *group*”. Finkelberg 2001 is evidently aware of Lycian’s association with Luwian, because it’s brought up on p.99, making it all the more likely that the author would have taken this into account in the reasoning and conclusions if and wherever it had any bearing.

    On the other hand, my original comment to you wasn’t because I “considered you too ill-informed to have a critique”:

    – I’d assumed that if you were an expert in the same field as Finkelberg, then you must see a deeper issue for raising an objection like the Luwian-Lycian one anyway, and therefore would not benefit in bringing it up here but in communicating with the author directly.

    – Whereas, if you’re not an expert, it is likely that your critique may actually be poor and that you might not be able to see why, in which case contacting the author directly would allow her to answer your questions. Or, in the less likely case, if Finkelberg had indeed overlooked something or was in error, she could revisit her work thanks to you.

    ‘However you yourself state:
    “I remain impressed by Finkelberg’s exceptional reasoning as pertains to Linear A’s language associations. ”’

    That shows my admiration for Finkelberg’s approach. Even if her conclusions were to turn out totally wrong, the author shows impressive problem solving skills in the paper.

    I did not say Finkelberg 2001 has solved the problem, however. Her answer could be entirely off from whatever the real answer might be. But I think the conclusion is arrived at soundly, based on the knowns described. I find the arguments well-reasoned and apparently complete (until I can find her peers point out any actual flaws), and therefore convincing as an approach to the problem. That is why I expect the other researchers working on resolving Linear A since Finkelberg 2001 to consider that work, to explain why they still reach different conclusions when working with Finkelberg’s constructed profile for Minoan, or to first explain why they have found it doesn’t apply any more and that they and all others can therefore proceed to make their arguments freely without it. If they found crucial holes in Finkelberg’s reasoning or if they’re overturning her work entirely, I want them to explain why and it needs to be just as convincing too, so that I may turn to their reasoning.

  19. @FrankN

    Add to that the Dutch “loof”, meaning foliage and “reep”, piece of cloth and in the middle ages also rope.

    Another omission is in his attempt to make “*wéǵh-e-ti” (transport via a vehicle) not wheel-related, where he states:

    “In Germanic, it means movement in general.”

    Yes, the verb indeed does. But he omits that “weg, way” meaning road and “wagen” (wagon) both were derived from it indicating that it originally was clearly related to wheeled vehicles.


    But the man does everything to attack Anthony. He doesn’t care if a reconstructed PIE “Kwekwlos” is a calque, as he somewhere suggests, or if the subsequent occurrences in the IE daughter languages are. But if “Kwekwlos” is in PIE, calque or not, it remains a pretty unique word and it’s occurrences in a host of IE daughter languages can thus be tied to the use of a word for wheel in PIE, be it because they invented it, or copied it.

    Morris tries also this:

    “The interesting point is that PIE is extremely poor in terms for making ceramics. Gamkrelidze and Ivanov are able to reconstruct a generic term *deigh- for ‘clay’, with extended meanings ‘wall’, ‘sculpture’, ‘dough’. This is a serious point against Anthony and Ringe, since it shows that it is by no means true that the presence of a seminal material culture like making ceramics will be documented in PIE vocabulary. Gamkrelidze and Ivanov state:

    > it is impossible to reconstruct with certainty a PIE term for the potter’s wheel,

    before immediately qualifying this in a footnote

    >unless we regard the IE words for ‘wheel’ […] as words for ‘pottery wheel’; both meanings are present in Hittite h̬urki. A synchronic generalisation can be established in the area of cultural typology: the presence of the potter’s wheel can be assumed in cultures which have the wheel (Childe 1954). The indubitable >existence of the wheel in ancient Indo-European culture, at least by the time of >the breakup, makes it likely that the potter’s wheel was also present (pp. 612–613).

    Why wouldn’t they regard the IE words for ‘wheel’ as words for ‘pottery
    wheel’? The only ground for not doing so would be if the daughter languages
    had entirely different terms for ‘potter’s wheel’ and as we have seen, this is not the case.”

    He seems to not see a contradiction in PIE being extremely poor in terms for making ceramics but apparently having a word for a potter wheel. It reads like a hit piece, trying everything to damage Anthony rather than deconstructing it.


    “Which models does the genetic evidence support? In the 1990s, when
    the best available evidence was classical blood groups and the dominant
    figure was Cavalli-Sforza, the favoured model was Colin Renfrew’s. Then,
    when non-recombinant DNA evidence accumulated (e.g. Sykes and Richards,
    Underhill), the data favoured palaeolithic continuity. Now that the
    technology for sequencing ancient DNA is available, the preliminary data
    appears to favour a late expansion hypothesis. Genetics has thus backed
    3 diametrically opposed theories in 20 years and has changed its mind
    completely with each new breakthrough in DNA sequencing. We shouldn’t
    be surprised to see geneticists talking up their own work with a “this time
    it’s different” claim and should hence be deeply sceptical about the new
    evidence from ancient DNA representing the final word on Indo-European
    origins. What nevertheless seems certain is that the scientific process,
    which is no more or less than the constant testing and rejection of theories
    which don’t fit the empirical evidence, is in rude health.”

    Morris seems to think that modern day blood groups and genetic testing of ancient remains are of equal importance.

  20. Curiously there’s not much wrong with Cavali-Sforza, considering he was working with blood markers and protein polymorphisms – the clines he & his team identified certainly are real and do indeed relate to farmers and steppe migrants, and they picked up the (“Siberian”) signal(s) of northeastern u
    The only thing he was wrong was the “Basque relict” theory which was so common throughout all disciplines. Now we know they’re just recent descendants of Bronze Age migrants
    , not Ice Age mammoth hunters haha

  21. Regarding Mehmet’s comments, this is an interesting quote from Finkelberg’s Greeks and Pre-Greeks:

    “Moreover, as Onofrio Carruba has shown in a recent article, Luwian is the
    only substratum language that can be traced west of a line drawn from the
    Bosporus in the north to the Gulf of Alexandretta in the south, that is,
    over the entire territory of Asia Minor.12 In view of these facts, it is hard
    to avoid the conclusion that the orthodoxy of the non-Indo-European
    pre-Hellenic substratum has lost its raison d’eˆtre.”

    With the ancient DNA from Asia Minor accumulating, another author worth looking at might be Petra Goedegebuure. She actually bothered to learn Hattian, and her findings seem to upend long-held notions about indigenous Hattians in Anatolia: according to her there is a Luwian-like substrate in Hattian, suggesting that before the Hittites usurped Hattian power the latter subdued an Indo-European Anatolian people. This leads me to question whether it is possible that the increase in the CHG component observed in Chalcolithic Anatolia might be the signal of Hattian invaders rather than that of the Indo-Europeans as Reich and colleagues seem to believe.

  22. ak2014b, I think Finkelberg’s general arguments are pretty well-known -see “Greeks and Pre-Greeks” too, which Marko mentioned- but the more general point that you mentioned too is that Mycenaean is almost definitely Indo-European, while Minoan is ultimately an unknown, though I also tend to lean towards non-IE status with all current lines of evidence taken together in my view of things. A fun aside on that topic is that even the Ventris-Chadwick interpretation of Linear B as Greek was disputed many years after by a minority of scholars, some I think to their end. There is probably an interesting, more general point about skepticism and how far it can be taken in that story.

    Georgiev’s argument, in “Bronze Age Migrations in the Aegean”, that you mentioned alongside it is essentially that Greek must have arrived from the northwest since in that area of Greece the typical pre-Greek toponyms become much rarer and toponyms he thought could be convincingly interpreted as Greek become more abundant, while in the southeast they dominate the landscape much more. Of course this would generally have implications for Greek, not Anatolian or IE in general. To go slightly beyond that argument, if the whole area of ss-nth/nd toponyms is taken into account, there seems to be an area of diffusion from Anatolia where they’re much more abundant towards southeastern Greece (less so) and the Balkans (even rarer), but also Italy and maybe even Iberia. The linguistic status of those toponyms has also been very debated in the literature and nothing really definitive has arisen there. But if I had to relate something specific to all that, it’d be the CHG-rich migrations we see in the DNA record from the Anatolian-Aegean area towards the Balkans and Italy and perhaps also parts of Iberia (forthcoming, if at all!). At best, it can be argued that this brought err Anatoloid languages to those areas if you stick to an Anatolian or Transcaucasus IE-dispersal scenario. Even then, if the migration to Crete was for example secondary as in something like Balkans -> Anatolia -> Crete, there’d no inherent reason to assume that the CHG portion of the ancestry is the one that should relate to the ultimate heimat of the ancestral language, considering the genetic profile of Anatolia, so someone could potentially argue that Minoan was Anatolian-related and that IE in general was from the steppe, at the same time.

    Alberto: “Rather than the weak argument put forward about the difference between Minoans and Mycenaeans to figure out what brought IE language to Greece, looking at the similarities between Mycenaeans and Anatolians looks like a more solid approach for the time being”

    Do you mean in the sense of what Mycenaeans and MLBA Anatolians share in comparison to the preceding Minoans/Peloponnese_N and EBA Anatolians respectively, for example?

    Rob: “How can we be certain that the “pre-Greek substrate” is from EEF, and not in fact, a non-Greek adstrate from some groups coming via Anatolia?”

    Rob, if you mean an adstrate on top of Greek rather than on top of a potential earlier “purely EEF” language, I’d say that the ongoing dominance of Greek to the extent of assimilating all non-Greek speakers in the long-run probably points to that being unlikely. Of course linguistic fortunes can easily change so you never know (along those lines, I remember Chadwick’s theory that Doric might have been already present in the Peloponnese in Mycenaean times as a low-class variety but ended up dominating after the end of the palatial system; interesting but I probably wouldn’t agree with it) but all things considered, I’d find it hard to consider it an “adstrate”. Unless you think the newer Anatolian migration would have been much smaller and elite-oriented or mean adstrate in purely temporal grounds i.e. that it simply came after Greek, not social ones? I might have misunderstood your preferred sequence though and you might have in mind an EEF -> CHG-rich -> Greek and I’d agree in general that it’s likely that the dominant pre-Greek substrate is related to the CHG-rich populations rather than the earlier EEF ones. Both Beekes and Sakellariou have cited Furnee’s research on that as an important influence and he related the substrate to Kartvelian from currently existing languages. Hattic has sometimes been considered a Kartveloid language and in Hattic you also have a plausible origin for both Lerna and the pre-Greek Leleges with the Hattic prefix le-, denoting the plural.

    Marko, though it should be noted that the Carruba theory that Finkelberg mentions, one that was used by Renfrew too in support of Anatolia from what I recall, also rests on interpreting (*all*, see relevant sentence in second paragraph) ss-nd/nth toponyms as Anatolian IE. It’s pretty up in the air in that regard imo since if you don’t, the area can be shown to have an importat non/pre-IE substratum.

    Frank, with regard to phonological impact, unlike the vocabulary which is suffused with pre-Greek terms, I think that Greek is actually considered surprisingly phonologically conservative. Pre-Greek terms often give rise to multiple similar words in Greek due to the difference in phonology which might indicate that there wasn’t a huge impact in that area. The early attestation and perhaps the relatively early adoption of writing likely helps with that too but it’s an interesting opposition. There was a recent article on IE phonology that I think might have been posted here as well which would agree with that, though I couldn’t find it now.

    I’ll agree with epoch that the article, though interesting at points, was unnecessarily acrimonious…A couple of the other articles in the accompanying volume, like the one on Germanic names in Britain, are interesting too though the volume is in general quite unfortunately oriented towards a Paleolithic Continuity scenario and some of it rests on older and more limited genetic evidence instead of trying to incorporate the new. I’d prefer it if the writers tried to wrestle with the recent data, even if in a PC framework which is still the most unlikely by far, in my view.

  23. @ Egg

    ” that you mentioned alongside it is essentially that Greek must have arrived from the northwest since in that area of Greece the typical pre-Greek toponyms become much rarer and toponyms he thought could be convincingly interpreted as Greek become more abundant, while in the southeast they dominate the landscape much more. Of course this would generally have implications for Greek”

    Yes, I think it does, and I believe I passed clues about why that is in a preceding post.
    As for your point/ question addressed to me, I’m not entirely following, however (w.r.t. ”EEF -> CHG-rich -> Greek ”) I think we’re possibly looking at 4 or 5 stages.

  24. With regard to the wheel-linguistics question, I understand issues involved in its interpretation but the technicalities of it are not my thing. Whatever the case, like Alberto, it doesn’t weigh hugely for my impression that the original Neolithic scenario is untenable due to obvious dynamics of Europe, even prior the arrival of Yamnaya’s scions.

    However, it’s worth gaining further understanding as to how the wheel actually spread (and not even with going into links to earlier pottery wheels). For example, Klimscha suggests
    ‘The paper uses a new research tool, the Digital Atlas of Innovations to re-think the inventionand discusion of wheeled vehicles in Eurasia during the 4th and 3rd millennium BC. It is argued that the difusion of wheeled vehicles is the result of the local transformation of several technical components which have been known since the Pottery Neolithic. The technical knowledge to combine these components was widely spread and resulted in experimentation with the use of animal traction already in the late 6th millennium. It were, however, the significantly better connected networks which were established duringthe early 4th millennium, which enabled the innovation-discusion of the wheel from itspresumed zone of origin in the Black Sea area to the Baltic. The same technology (minusthe wheels) is also adopted in many other regions, where it is transformed according tolocal specifications (ploughs, sleds).”

    Less important to me is Klimscha’s preferred origin point, rather what’s golden here is the concept of pre-existing networks & the diffusion of components of an idea, rather than ready made, thus specific re-formulations might have been locally made. These social mechanisms might guide the path of paleolexicology.

  25. @epoch:
    he omits that “weg, way” meaning road and “wagen” (wagon) both were derived from it [“*wéǵh-e-ti” (transport via a vehicle)] indicating that it originally was clearly related to wheeled vehicles
    You are mentionning an intriguing issue. Added here can be German Waage “scale, Libra, weighbridge”, and wiegen “to sway, to cradle” that obviously also relate to the behaviour of a two-wheeled waggon. I am not aware of any other IE family that has built such a comprehensive semantic cluster around the “waggon”. Surely, we have Latin vehiculum, via, vector , etc., but the connection to “balancing” (on two wheels) seems to be unique to Germanic. This could be a later, specific Germanic semantic innovation. However, considering that the earliest securely dated archeological evidence of wheeled vehicles is from TRB, one might also speculate about a pre-IE (TRB) term that entered, in a semantically more restricted way, IE together with the vehicle it designated.

    “Kwekwlos” [..] remains a pretty unique word
    Not at all. Morris mentions an earlier author that has compiled six pages full of non-IE parallels to *kwel “round, to turn”, and “wheel” terms derived from that root, either in simple form as in “wheel”, or reduplicated as *kwekwlos.
    *kwel “round, to turn” seems to represent what I term a “Paleo-word”, see my example of Proto-Algic *kwelk above [As pre-Columbus Native Americans didn’t know the wheel, we can exclude any borrowing of the term alongside with the arrival of wheeled vehicles].
    C.f. PNC *gwɨ[l]gwǝ “round object, skull”, *hwǝ̄lkwē “carriage, vehicle; wheel”, Georgian (ḳwe-)ḳwer-a “round”, OGeorg grgol “ring”, PST *qʷār “move; round (object)”, Altaic *k`úlo “to turn”, Chukchee-Kamchatkan *kǝvlǝ- “to spin, roll; wheel, spindle”, Uralic *kulke “to move” *kerä “round, turning”, Nivkh kulku-r “wheel”, Eskimo *akra-ɣ- “round, to roll, wheel, (snow-)ball”, Telugu *kral“to move, turn round”, kalu “wheel”, Katuic *(kǝ-)kol “round”, *wiel “round; (re-)turn, spin”, Afras *kVr(kVr) “round; to rotate; ring, circle, ball”, Bushman *kVrV “round” [all from starling.rinet.ru], Manga (Nilo-Saharan, from Blench 2007) bukukul “round”, a.o.m.
    Here, I am fully with Morris when he calls out Ringe’s “uniqueness” as what it is – bullshit! *kwel/r “round” is omnipresent, and application of this root to round(ed) objects (rings, snowballs, skulls, wheels etc.), often w. reduplication, has happened in many more language families than just PIE.

    With phonological impact of the pre-Greek substrate, I meant things like Grk ophtalos “eye”, anthropos “person” or dendros “tree” that ultimately can be consolidated into PIE, but with considerably more effort than required for, e.g. Italic, Indo-Iranian or Germanic. Maybe “phonological” is the wrong term here, we may rather be dealing with additional pre-/ suffixes that are missing from the remainder of IE.
    As concerns “ss-nth/nd toponyms”: Salandra (Basilicata), and S. Tyrolean Schlanders and Vilanders are commonly included here. The latter lies just south of where the Iceman was found. Another pre-IE Suffix may be -iks as found in Lat. larix “larch” and the Adige/Etsch(<*Atiks) river.

  26. @Marko

    “according to her there is a Luwian-like substrate in Hattian, suggesting that before the Hittites usurped Hattian power the latter subdued an Indo-European Anatolian people.”

    The idea she promotes is that the Hattian we know borrowed a SOV structure from a substrate, but with a taboo on lexical borrowing, or that a group of SOV speakers adopted the Hattian language. The latter still assumes newcomers adapting to the older Hattian language, but possibly before the conquest by the Hittites. Considering that, according to Petra Goedegebuure herself, Hattian clearly borrowed from Akkadian the taboo seems not very likely.


  27. @FrankN

    How many of those cognates are coincidences, you think?

    EDIT: Especially considering the errors we find in the stuff we actually are somewhat acquainted with.

    EDIT2: The thing is, it is a pretty special word in *IE* languages. There are things which may be held against that. There seems to be a Baltic word derived from Kwekwlos for “neck”. But from what I gathered most reduplications in IE languages are verbs.

  28. @epoch

    That’s not Goedegebuure’s position. The most likely scenario, in her opinion, is that an Hattian population exerted disproportional cultural-linguistic influence. This makes it unnecessary to posit a taboo on lexical borrowings. Of course, with this the ultimate provenance of the Hattians is still up in the air, but it’s interesting to speculate based on the genetic data.

    I think there was an abstract that mentioned a further enrichment of Caucasus ancestry in Arslantepe – possibly the most impressive culture of the early Bronze Age. I’d think that there’s a high likelihood that an archaeological culture like it would be associated with one of the extant languages considering its reach and development.

  29. @Marko

    Copied and pasted from the article:

    “If we apply these rules to two situations, bilinguals with either Hattian as native
    language or an SOV Anatolian Indo-European as native language, we can reconstruct the following sociopolitical constellations that explain both the lack of lexical borrowing in Hattian and the structural influence from the SOV language:”

    “1. Substrate Hattian structural borrowing, with a taboo on lexical borrowing”

    “2. Superstrate Hattian structural borrowing, with a taboo on lexical borrowing”

    “3. Superstrate Hattian structural interference through shift”

    The latter is explained as:

    “Finally, the Hattian language facts may be explained by a language shift from a
    numerically large and originally subordinate group of speakers of an SOV language to Hattian. This group is in close contact with Hattian speakers, but, because of the group size, not exposed enough to learn the language perfectly on an individual level. This imperfect group learning leads first to grammatical mistakes in the Hattian of the SOV speakers and then in the speech of the Hattian speaking natives.”

    “This situation may result from the rather sudden intrusion of a large group of
    immigrants, which may have taken place at any point in the history of the Hattians. The terminus ante quem however, would be a generation before the Hittites start taking over because this is the minimum time required for the emergence of interference in Hattian.”

  30. @epoch

    Precisely, Goedegebuure explains why the third option, in her opinion, has the strongest explanatory power. Whether that’s true is another matter of course.

  31. I think that ultimately, if one at least entertains the notion that CHG = Hattian might be true, that might help explain the apparent absence of steppe admixture in Anatolia within the PC-steppe homeland hypothesis.

    An elite conquest of the much more advanced Anatolian Bronze Age cultures by immigrants from the steppe is quite difficult to fathom without significant demic impact, but if IE spread to Anatolia before the developed metal age cultures took root and thus already had the numerical advantage at the point of their emergence the whole situation would make quite a bit more sense. I think the third option – mass migration from the steppe – can safely be excluded based on ancient DNA.

  32. “An elite conquest of the much more advanced Anatolian Bronze Age cultures by immigrants from the steppe is quite difficult to fathom without significant demic impact,”

    There’s no evidence for it. Some have made small remarks about Suvorovo (e.g. Ringe/Anthony) and link it to the collapse of the KGKVI horizon. However the former appears 4500 BC, the latter collapses in 4000 BC, as does Suvorovo with it.
    We’re still missing much needed data from W Anatolia, Thrace, Greece..

  33. @Rob

    Yes, agreed. The interesting thing about Goedegebuures position is that in all scenarios outlined, she assumes that the Indo-Europeans constituted a numerically large group at the time of their encounter with the Hattians.

    I’m trying to reconcile this with the PIE steppe hypothesis, and it seems to me that the only way steppe migrants could have effected the Indo-Europeanisation of Asia Minor without major demic impact would be before the emergence of the metal age cultures across Anatolia. The migration of CHG groups that likely came from the east could then be construed as being Hattian, ultimately. Goedegebuure puts it like this, although she doesn’t favor this scenario:

    “This model fits the ‘victorious invaders’ hypothesis, but this time the Hattian
    speakers are the invaders and, since there are no other language communities that fit the profile, the Anatolian Indo-European speakers form the substratum. This would not only explain the Hattian cultural dominance in Hittite society without linguistic structural interference in Hittite, but also the death of the Hattian language within two to three centuries once the Hittites regained supremacy under Pitana and Anitta.”

    Seems kind of ad hoc, but where could the swaths of Indo-Europeans who suddenly came knocking at the door of the Hattians have come from?

    Regarding CHG, what do you make of the upcoming Arslantepe paper? Looks like those people were even more Iranian than other Central Anatolians.

  34. @ Marko
    ” Looks like those people were even more Iranian than other Central Anatolians.”

    Maybe, but do you know for sure ? Obviously we can read when it comes out & check for ourselves
    And it depends which individuals from Arslantepe they check .
    Before 3000 BC, it was a northern outpoust of the uruk system. This seems to have come to a violent end c. 3000 BC. At the top of the former settlement mound, a new elite buried themselves, with all the trappings of the K-A culture.
    I’d expect the erlier inhabitants to be more along the ANF-Levant cline, whilst the latter CHG shifted. These K-A pastoralists were probably ”roaming around” for centuries earlier, but something around 3000 BC happened which enabled them to get the upper hand and wrest control of the stratetic site of Arslantepe, the Malataya plain and their connections into central Anatolia. It’s little wonder that the Alaca Hoyuk elite burials appear soon afterward.

  35. @Rob

    This is the abstract I was referring to:

    “SKOURTANIOTI, Eirini Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena SELIM, Erdal Yilmaz Department of Anthropology, Hacettepe University, Ankara Palaeogenetic and Anthropological Perspectives on late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Arslantepe While Anatolia was highlighted as the genetic origin of early Neolithic European farmers, the genetic substructure in Anatolia itself as well as the demographic and cultural changes remain unclear. In eastern Anatolia, the archaeological record reflects influences from North-Central Anatolia, the northeastern sectors of Fertile Crescent and the Caucasus, and suggests that some of these were brought along with the movement of people. Central to this question is the archaeological site of Arslantepe (6th-1 st millennium BC), strategically located at the Upper Euphrates, the nexus of all three regions. Arslantepe also developed one of the first state societies of Anatolia along with advanced metal-technologies. Archaeological research suggests that conflicts with surrounding groups of pastoralists affiliated to the Caucasus might have contributed to the collapse of its palatial system at the end of the Chalcolithic period (4th millennium BC). To test if these developments were accompanied by genetic changes, we generated genome-wide data from 18 ancient individuals spanning from the Late Chalcolithic period to the Early Bronze Age of Arslantepe. Our results show no evidence for a major genetic shift between the two time periods. However, we observe that individuals from Arslantepe are very heterogeneous and differentiated from other ancient western and central Anatolians in that they have more Iran/Caucasus related ancestry. Our data also show evidence for an ongoing but also recent confluence of Anatolian/Levantine and Caucasus/Iranian ancestries, highlighting the complexity of the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age periods in this region.”

  36. @ Marko
    Right yes I saw the abstract too. Looks interesting.
    So the individuals date from 4000 BC onwards. They’d certainly have plenty of CHG-type admixture, because its already evidence in west Anatolia at that time. What would be interesting is Neolithic & Epipaleolithic genomes from East Anatolia and Mesopotamia.

  37. @Rob

    Definitely, eastern Anatolia and Mesopotamia are going to be very interesting. I would add the adjacent western Gulf coast as well. There were relatively dense settlements of hunters and fishers who didn’t adopt agriculture until the 3th millennium B.C. . E. g. :


    Makes one wonder about the population structure in those foragers as compared to Iran on the one hand and the Levant on the other. Too bad there’s so little research coming from those areas.


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