Paleolithic Continuity Theory
| Albanian · Anatolian · Armenian|
Baltic · Celtic · Dacian · Germanic
Greek · Indo-Iranian · Italic · Phrygian
Slavic · Thracian · Tocharian
| Albanians · Anatolians · Armenians|
Balts · Celts · Germanic peoples
Greeks · Indo-Aryans · Indo-Iranians
Iranians · Italic peoples · Slavs
Thracians · Tocharians
| Language · Religion · Society|
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Indian · Kurgan · Paleolithic
The Paleolithic Continuity Theory (PCT) suggests that the Indo-European languages originated in Europe and have existed there since the Paleolithic. It argues that the appearance of Indo-Europeans coincides with the first regional settlement of Homo Sapiens in the Middle/Upper Paleolithic age.
The Continuity Theory proposes that Indo-European speakers arrived in Europe tens of millennia ago, and that by the end of the Ice Age, had already differentiated into Celtic/Italic/Germanic/etc. speakers occupying territories within or close to their traditional homelands. It also suggests that the glaciers and pre-glacial basins that compartmentalised Europe during the Ice Age may actually have been the mechanisms for this process of differentiation of Indo-European into its component families.
The Continuity Theory also draws radically different conclusions about the rate of linguistic change from those of the traditional theories of Renfrew and Gimbutas. Clearly, if a homogeneous proto-Indo-European people appeared in Europe 6,000 years ago, then firstly, all subsequent language evolution will necessarily be compressed into the 6,000 years between then and the present, and secondly, the projection of this rapid rate of linguistic change back into the Palaeolithic will lead to the evident conclusion that no useful inferences can be drawn about languages spoken at that time, since it will impossible to distinguish genuine cognates in extant languages from chance similarities.
It is based on a synthesis of linguistic studies, the archaeogenetical studies of Brian Sykes indicating that some 80% of the genetic stock of Europeans goes back to the Paleolithic, as well as on archaeological data indicating European cultural continuity.
Proponents point to a lack of archaeological evidence for an Indo-European invasion in the Bronze Age; to the lack of substantial genetic change since the Paleolithic; and to analogy with a theory of a Paleolithic origin of Uralic peoples and languages in Eurasia. Moreover, the continuity theory is much more parsimonious in comparison with classical approaches to the IE developments.
There is little or no reaction of mainstream scholarship to the proposal, the sensationalism and isolation of its proponents places it close to the realm of pseudoscience.
Critics reply that genetic continuity does not imply linguistic continuity and that theories of a literal "military conquest" have fallen into disfavour with most supporters of the theory of a Chalcolithic origin of Indo-European. It should be noted that the same arguments of alleged implausibility of the complete replacement of earlier language phyla suggesting a presence of the current language in very ancient times are also applied to South Asia in Out of India models, which, of course, cannot be reconciled with the PCT. According to both theories, a linguistic change must have occurred in either Europe or in India after the Neolithic, and since either case is argued as equally "impossible" by proponents of either theory, it would appear that both camps underestimate the volatility of language compared to genomes and material culture, so that there is nothing to prevent us from assuming, with the mainstream model, that drastic language change has taken place in both Europe and South Asia during the Bronze Age.
Alieni's two volumes from 1996 and 2000 remain untranslated into English. Jonathan Morris, reviewed Alinei's favourably in Mother Tongue, a journal dedicated to the reconstruction of Paleolithic language, judging Alinei's theory as being
- "both simpler than its rivals and more powerful in terms of the insights it provides into language in the Meso- and Palaeolithic. While his book contains some flaws I believe that it deserves to be regarded as one of the seminal texts on linguistic archaeology, although given its lamentable lack of citation in English-language circles, it appears that recognition will have to wait until a translation of the original Italian appears."
- Proto-Indo-European language
- Neolithic Europe
- Proto-Vedic Continuity Theory