Ahead of the (Indo-European – Uralic) game: in theory and in numbers

There is a good reason for hope, for those who look for a happy ending to the revolution of population genomics that is quickly turning into an involution led by beliefs and personal interests. This blog is apparently one of the the most read sites on Indo-European peoples, if not the most read one, and now on Uralic peoples, too.

I’ve been checking the analytics of our sites, and judging by the numbers of the English blog, Indo-European.eu (without the other languages) is quickly turning into the most visited one from Academia Prisca‘s sites on Indo-European languages, beyond Indo-European.info (and its parent sites in other languages), which host many popular files for download.

If we take into account file downloads (like images or PDFs), and not only what Google Analytics can record, Indo-European.eu has not more users than all other websites of Academia Prisca, but at this pace it will soon reach half the total visits, possibly before the end of 2019.

Overall, we have evolved from some 10,000 users/year in 2006 to ~300,000 active users/year and >1,000,000 page+file views/year in 2018 (impossible to say exactly without spending too much time on this task). Nothing out of the ordinary, I guess, and obviously numbers are not a quality index, but rather a hint at increasing popularity of the subject and of our work.

NOTE. The mean reading time is ~2:40 m, which I guess fits the length of most posts, and most visitors read a mean of ~2+ pages before leaving, with increasing reader fidelity over time.

indo-european-eu-analytics
Number of active users of indo-european.eu, according to Google Analytics since before the start of the new blog. Notice the peaks corresponding to the posts below (except the last one, corresponding to the publication of A Song of Sheep and Horses).

The most read posts of 2018, now that we can compare those from the last quarter, are as follows:

  1. – The series on the Corded Ware-Uralic theory, with a marked increase in readers, especially with the last three posts:
    1. Finno-Permic and the expansion of N-L392/Siberian ancestry,
    2. “Siberian ancestry” and Ugric-Samoyedic expansions, and
    3. Haplogroups R1a and N in Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic
  2. Haplogroup is not language, but R1b-L23 expansion was associated with Proto-Indo-Europeans
  3. The history of the simplistic ‘haplogroup R1a — Indo-European’ association
  4. On the origin of haplogroup R1b-L51 in late Repin / early Yamna settlers
  5. On the origin and spread of haplogroup R1a-Z645 from eastern Europe
  6. The Caucasus a genetic and cultural barrier; Yamna dominated by R1b-M269; Yamna settlers in Hungary cluster with Yamna
  7. Something is very wrong with models based on the so-called ‘Yamnaya admixture’ – and archaeologists are catching up (II)
  8. Olalde et al. and Mathieson et al. (Nature 2018): R1b-L23 dominates Bell Beaker and Yamna, R1a-M417 resurges in East-Central Europe during the Bronze Age
  9. Early Indo-Iranian formed mainly by R1b-Z2103 and R1a-Z93, Corded Ware out of Late PIE-speaking migrations
  10. “Steppe ancestry” step by step: Khvalynsk, Sredni Stog, Repin, Yamna, Corded Ware

NOTE. Of course, the most recent posts are the most visited ones right now, but that’s because of the constant increase in the number of visitors.

I think it is obvious what the greatest interest of readers has been in the past two years. You can see the pattern by looking at the most popular posts of 2017, when the blog took off again:

  1. Germanic–Balto-Slavic and Satem (‘Indo-Slavonic’) dialect revisionism by amateur geneticists, or why R1a lineages *must* have spoken Proto-Indo-European
  2. The renewed ‘Kurgan model’ of Kristian Kristiansen and the Danish school: “The Indo-European Corded Ware Theory”
  3. The new “Indo-European Corded Ware Theory” of David Anthony
  4. Correlation does not mean causation: the damage of the ‘Yamnaya ancestral component’, and the ‘Future American’ hypothesis
  5. The Aryan migration debate, the Out of India models, and the modern “indigenous Indo-Aryan” sectarianism

The most likely reason for the radical increase in this blog’s readership is very simple, then: people want to know what is really happening with the research on ancestral Indo-Europeans and Uralians, and other blogs and forums are not keeping up with that demand, being content with repeating the same ideas again and again (R1a-CWC-IE, R1b-BBC-Vasconic, and N-Comb Ware-Uralic), despite the growing contradictions. As you can imagine, once you have seen the Yamna -> Bell Beaker migration model of North-West Indo-European, with Corded Ware obviously representing Uralic, you can’t unsee it.

The online bullying, personal attacks, and similar childish attempts to silence those who want to talk about this theory elsewhere (while fringe theories like R1a/CHG-OIT, R1b-Vasconic, or the Anatolian/Armenian-CHG hypotheses, to name just a few, are openly discussed) has had, as could be expected, the opposite effect to what was intended. I guess you can say this blog and our projects have profited from the first relevant Streisand effect of population genomics, big time.

If this trend continues this year (and other bloggers’ or forum users’ faith in miracles is not likely to change), I suppose that after the Yamna Hungary samples are published (with the expected results) this blog is going to be the most read in 2020 by a great margin… I can only infer that this tension is also helping raise the interest in (and politicization of) the question, hence probably the overall number of active users and their participation in other blogs and forums is going to increase everywhere in 2019, too, as this debate becomes more and more heated.

So, what I infer from the most popular posts and the numbers is that people want criticism and controversy, and if you want blood you’ve got it. Here it is, my latest addition to the successful series criticizing the “Corded Ware/R1a–Indo-European” pet theories, a post I wrote two-three months ago, slightly updated with the newest comedy, and a sure success for 2019 (already added to the static pages of the menu):

The “Indo-European Corded Ware theory” doesn’t hold water

This is how I feel when I see spikes in visits with more and more returning users linked to my controversial posts 😉

Are you not entertained?! Are you not entertained?! Is this not why you are here?!

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Yesükhei Baatar
Yesükhei Baatar

Carlos, I notice that in Proto-Uralic, the phoneme *r rarely appears in initial position, if at all. And in Ancient Greek, Armenian, and Anatolian, there is a constraint against initial *r (is this inherited?). What is the origin of *r in your Indo-Uralic, and have you reconstructed the phonotactics of that language?

Carlos Quiles

I didn’t consider this problem, than you for pointing it out, it fits (yet again) the chronological structure of the proposed PIE dialectalization.

There is an interesting discussion on this problem in Alain Corbeau’s https://www.academia.edu/5420255/ResMA_Thesis_-_Phonological_Root_Structure_Constraints_in_PIE

Anyway, as I said (I think), I didn’t reconstruct the language(s), just compiled what has been written about them. I am not a linguist, although from the three disciplines I write about here, linguistics is the most relevant for me.

Yesükhei Baatar
Yesükhei Baatar

I was wondering, do you happen to possess any resources on Proto-Uralic lemmas/words? Like a dictionary.

Carlos Quiles

I have most books published on Uralic languages; the most referenced one (I think) is still Redei’s Uralisches etymologisches Wörterbuch (1988); also good and with reconstructions are two books with the same title, The Uralic Languages, one edited by Sinor from Brill (1988) and one by Abondolo from Routledge (1988). The books by Björn Collinder are good, but maybe too old, and I don’t see scholars referencing them often… A good online resource (including Redei’s work) is Starostin’s databases: http://starling.rinet.ru/cgi-bin/main.cgi?flags=eygtnnl . That’s probably a good quick resource for everything. I wouldn’t recommend its reconstruction of PIE as ‘true’ PIE –… Read more »

Chetan
Chetan

Just saw the draft paper of John Koch’s “Formation of the Indo-European branches in the light of the Archaeogenetic Revolution”
https://www.academia.edu/38336128/Formation_of_the_Indo-European_branches_in_the_light_of_the_Archaeogenetic_Revolution?email_work_card=title

I have to say it looks like an improvement over the original presentation because it at least doesn’t use the Proto-Satem eastern Corded Ware labels. But still makes use of the flawed glottochronological tree of Ringe et al.

Chetan
Chetan

The maps and pretty cool to be honest. (though probably not fully accurate). They show the steppe-forest steppe ecotones as distinct, very clearly.

Carlos Quiles

Agreed, it is a very nice improvement over the presentation. The problem is, as always, that they want Bell Beakers to be Italo-Celtic, evident from the Working hypothesis 4. This was already contested in their own books by Mallory (2013), who rightly stated that Bell Beakers are simply too early and their territories and influence too wide for that, and that they should be identified with North-West Indo-Europeans. This obsession in the draft for autochthonous/oldest Celtic peoples in the west poses three problems: 1) The most striking paradox, to be expected with future genetic papers, will happen when Celts appear… Read more »

Chetan
Chetan

Modified version of Narasimhan’s map of IE expansions from David Reich’s latest presentation on the topic (skip to 19:43)
https://brown.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=b613818e-b38b-4dd9-8926-aa02016a1124

Found this link on anthrogenica and looks like bad news.They have abandoned the earlier parsimonious model of East Yamna and West Yamna giving rise to Indo-Iranian and Western languages and seem to have opted for the convoluted backflip model we saw last year

Carlos Quiles

Thank you, I have added it to the sources of the tentative map on different “steppe ancestries” (https://indo-european.eu/maps/yamnaya-steppe-ancestry/) Also interesting is the image from Mathieson’s communication at https://brown.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=e01fc0e4-de79-43bc-8384-aa0700f62645 (min. 5.57).

Great Indo-European speakers defined by “steppe ancestry” in Estonia, Finland, Lapland, and northern Russia. The true homeland of Proto-Indo-Europeans, then.
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Egg
Egg

There is a slight problem with a late entry of Celtic into Ireland too to be sure, at least if you focus on Y-DNA. Non-L21 R1b seems to be relatively uncommon, though not non-existent. I can’t begrudge Koch having a preference for a scenario he always argued for in light of this kind of data. On the other hand, with autosomal data it might be easier to argue for it, since there’s a relative shift towards EEF kind of ancestry compared to the Bronze Age samples (if not also/mostly reflecting continuing admixture with the pre-Beaker population, Koch himself discusses this… Read more »

Carlos Quiles

I cannot fully disagree with the model you mention (it’s possible), and I don’t think Koch’s ideas are outrageous either, just in line with his (probably wrong) views about Celtic from the West. The problem with Koch is he believes Celtic was very very early, so yes he may have found a (mainly) Y-DNA way to support that. But, if we are going to use Y-DNA, there is no reason not to use it up until Yamna and Repin and Khvalynsk, and that – as you point out about the so often tested Alexandria R1a sample (and CWC) and its… Read more »

Carlos Quiles

I just saw this: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-35426-z

So it’s true. Craniometry calculators are teh future, even better than ancestry percentages…invest!
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Carlos Quiles

Oh yes, and much less important, actual research on ancient DNA from Megalithic Europe to be published soon in PNAS:

https://abdn.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/megalithic-tombs-in-western-and-northern-neolithic-europe-were-li

Carlos Quiles

Well, this is getting weird… but also interesting in this specific case: Robust Genome-Wide Ancestry Inference for Heterogeneous Datasets and Ancestry Facial Imaging based on the 1000 Genomes Project, by Li et al. bioRxiv (2019).
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old europe
old europe

Carlos, what’s your impression on the genetics of Italy coming out of stanford? It has been much debated especially on Anthrogenica.

Carlos Quiles

I haven’t read the discussion today, I saw the report yesterday and I included it in the latest revision of ASOSAH. Proto-Italic probably expanded quite early in the Italian Peninsula, so any simplistic data will not be enough to ascertain which culture may have corresponded to which dialect. Besides, in this case samples come only from the Lazio region, so… I found this interesting: – The shift towards Central Europe in the BA, hence (probably) steppe ancestry reaching central Italy with Beakers, and possibly more to the south in a “diluted” way similar to what happens elsewhere in Europe. –… Read more »

Abrams
Abrams

Davidski pretty much brushed the results off as crap. Not Nordic enough I guess. My Romans were cracking sunflower seeds in the colliseum, I tell ya.