The new Scicomm’s warhorse is “CHG ancestry = PIE” and the Iranian homeland

Funny reports are popping up due to a recent article in New Scientist (behind paywall), World’s most-spoken languages may have arisen in ancient Iran, which echoes the controversial interpretations of Wang et al. (2018).

I have been waiting to read the printed edition, but that of May 26th doesn’t have the article in it, so it may be a web-only text.

Nevertheless, here are some excerpts about the PIE homeland from a news aggregator that caught my attention (emphasis mine):

The two proposed locations are divided by the Caucasus mountains, which are found between the Black and Caspian Seas. In today’s geography, the mountains cover parts of Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.

To find out whether the ancient language came from north or south of these mountains, a team from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History looked at the bones of 45 ancient humans from the Caucasus region, and analyzed their DNA. These people lived in the area between 3,200 and 6,500 years ago.

Interestingly, from looking at their genes, the researchers determined that these ancient people seemed to be moving predominantly in one direction – they were heading north. This suggests that, contrary to what was previously believed, the first Indo-European language might actually have arisen south of the Caucasus mountains, only spreading to other parts of Europe and Asia as people migrated north from this region. The findings are currently available on BioRxiv.

We know that the Proto-Indo-European language appeared somewhere between 5,500 and 9,000 years ago, and the study suggests it only spread to Europe about 6,500 years ago. Therefore, this lost language could have originated south of the Caucasus.

What’s more, the ancient people analyzed had similar genetic signatures to prehistoric farmers who once lived in western Iran. Therefore, the ancient version of many of our languages may have first evolved in ancient Iran, before spreading with the people who first spoke it, and their ancestors, as they radiated north of the Caucasus mountains to the Eurasian steppe.

However, there are still many who favor the conflicting theory – that the Proto-Indo-European language arose in the Eurasian steppe. But this would only take the language back about 4,800 years – when people moved from the Eurasian steppe into Europe – and specialists think the language is significantly older. The idea that it first sprung up in Iran about 6,500 years ago follows this assumption.

It seems that – now that the Danish workgroup (responsible for the “steppe ancestry = Indo-European” and “Corded Ware expanded from Yamna“) is backing down, and both it and the Reich/Jena group are accepting that Yamna represents the expansion of Late Indo-European into Afanasevo, Bell Beaker, and Sintashta – anything before Yamna in the steppe is just another “conflicting theory” among equals…

So forget the “steppe ancestry = PIE”, and welcome the newly fashionable “CHG ancestry = PIE“, and of course the Iranian homeland.

This is how I imagine genetic labs writing anthropological interpretations and conclusions of their papers, against every single reasonable restraint (and the well-established models of linguists and archaeologists) and then publicizing them:



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Olympus Mons

And you need to appreciate that people like me that long before krause, reich or kristiasen ever said anything but against South caucasus origin of PIE….you all seemed anthropological blind, bias, motivational reasing, posthocs…you name it, unreasonable people.


[…] You can see in these de novo models the same kind of invented ‘theoretical problem’ (as Iosif Lazaridis puts it) that we have seen with the Corded Ware showing steppe ancestry, with Old Hittite samples not showing EHG ancestry, or with CHG ancestry appearing north of the Caucasus but no EHG to the south. […]


[…] seems that while the Copenhagen group will still be bound (see here) by the Gimbutas/Kristiansen starting point, the Reich Lab will remain bound by Anthony’s […]


[…] on certain ancient cultures, now partly helped by “Caucasus homeland zombies” and the new PIE=CHG model; apart from many other zombies raising occasionally from their graves here and there. Let’s […]


[…] it is brought to you by the same Danish group who proposed the Yamnaya ancestral component™, the CHG = Indo-European (and simultaneously EHG in Maykop = Anatolian??), and now also the R1a = Indo-European and Volosovo […]


[…] admitted it was wrong, and it was already changed in the graphic representation accompanying a recent interview to Willerslev. Still no official retraction by anyone, though, so apparently nobody feels responsible for […]


Wow. It took 20 years for it to even step to the plate. The iranian homeland seems like the natural choice.


Carlos , you still sporting the Steppe delusion. Indulge while it lasts. S. Caucaus/NW Iran is the location of PIE


The Horse, the Wheel, and Language by David Anthony discussed this P.294, when discussing Maykop (4000 BC) and it’s “Road to Southern Civilizations” Chapter 12. “- discovery in Iran, southwest of Lake Urmia, of a curious group of eleven conical, gravel- covered kurgans known collectively as Se’ Girdan.” They noted MANY similarities to Maikop. Book copyright 2007. Good read if you like modern archaeology with modern testing abilities.