Palaeolinguistics: The Homeland Problem


The practice of making inferences about the cultures of language users on the evidence of reconstructed languages is called linguistic palaeontology. These inferences may concern the material culture and geographic location of speakers as well as their social relations, mythology, and beliefs – the notion of ‘archaeological culture’ is used to capture both material culture and behaviour (Mallory 2020).

Proto-Uralic Homeland

This is the introductory post for my draft on the Proto-Uralic Homeland, which I have divided into eight pieces according to semantic fields or chronology, or both. During the following week, you will have the … Read the rest “Palaeolinguistics: The Homeland Problem”

Proto-Indo-European kinship system and patrilineality


Within months, it will be finally confirmed that both Late Repin offshoots – Early Yamnaya and Afanasievo – spread with clans that were dominated by R1b-L23 patrilineages. Succeeding migration events, likely coupled with internal founder effects under the most successful clans, left Indo-Tocharian-speaking clans as an almost uniform community in terms of Y-chromosome haplogroups, with their most recent common ancestor traceable to the 5th millennium BC.

Before that, it seems that the Indo-Anatolian-speaking Early Khvalynsk community was slightly more diverse. In particular, the success of R1b-V1636 lineages is apparent in the Khvalynsk-Novodanilovka expansion, since it is … Read the rest “Proto-Indo-European kinship system and patrilineality”

Tug of war between Balto-Slavic and West Uralic (II)


It is firmly established since (at least) the 1980s that Balto-Slavic, Baltic and Slavic show a strong Uralic substrate, even though many details are still the subject of ongoing controversies. Here is how the Baltic linguistic area was described in Thomason’s Language Contact (2001):

Overall, the Baltic area has the same characteristics as the Balkan area: areal linguistic features are distributed differentially among the languages, and the features themselves vary in details of their structure. As for the sources of the Baltic features, some can be traced to Uralic and some to Indo-European, especially Germanic. The Indo-European languages most

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Basic framework of language contact-induced change


The standard textbook for studying language contact, as far as I know, was Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics, by Sarah Grey Thomason & Terrence Kaufman, UCP (1991, c1988). The reader will surely recognize many of this text’s proposals of language contacts in my books.

Posts of the Language Contact series (reverse chronology):

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Demic vs. cultural diffusion and patrilineal Megalithic societies


Recent paper A dynastic elite in monumental Neolithic society, by Cassidy et al. Nature (2020) 582:384–388.

Interesting excerpts (emphasis mine):

Neolithic Admixture

We sampled remains from all of the major Irish Neolithic funerary traditions: court tombs, portal tombs, passage tombs, Linkardstown-type burials and natural sites. Within this dataset, the earliest Neolithic human remains from the island—interred at Poulnabrone portal tomb14—are of majority ‘Early_Farmer’ ancestry (as defined by ADMIXTURE modelling), and show no evidence of inbreeding, which implies that, from the very onset, agriculture was accompanied by large-scale maritime colonization. Our ADMIXTURE and ChromoPainter analyses do not distinguish between

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Demographically complex Near East hints at Anatolian and Indo-Aryan arrival

New papers Genomic History of Neolithic to Bronze Age Anatolia, Northern Levant, and Southern Caucasus, by Skourtanioti et al., and (open access) The Genomic History of the Bronze Age Southern Levant, by Agranat-Tamir et al., both in Cell (2020) 181(5).

Interesting excerpts from Skourtanioti et al. (2020) (emphasis mine):

Genetic Continuity in Anatolia

We focused on the three Late Chalcolithic groups with sufficiently large sample size and who are the earliest in time among the LC-LBA groups: ÇamlıbelTarlası_LC (n = 9), İkiztepe_LC (n = 11), and Arslantepe_LC (n = 17). Taking individual estimates from all these individuals together

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European hydrotoponymy (VII): Celtic From the West or the East?


Recent paper (behind paywall) An Alternative to ‘Celtic from the East’ and ‘Celtic from the West’, by Patrick Sims-Williams Camb. Archaeol. J (2020) First View.

NOTE. For those who don’t have access to it, you can check other recent similar papers by the same author, like Sims-Williams (2009, 2012, 2017).

Interesting excerpts (emphasis mine):

Celtic origins

(…) there have been three main stages of scholarship: (1) the Celts are identified with the Hallstatt and La Tène ‘cultures’ of the first millennium BC; (2) then the discovery of contemporary Celtic language inscriptions (Lepontic and Celtiberian) in the ‘wrong’ areas

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Interlinear Homer, Iliad 1:1-21 in Mycenaean & Indo-European


This is a Proto-Indo-European translation of the first lines of the first book I did some time ago. Fernando López-Menchero was kind enough to help with comments and corrections.

For relevant comments and alternative translations for each line, as well as other modern translations, see the Google Sheet.

NOTE. If you are interested in collaborating by editing the document, please contact me.

The structure of the interlinear texts below is as follows:

1. The Ancient Greek version is copied verbatim from Perseus Digital Library, including links to each word to facilitate immediate reference when necessary.
2. The … Read the rest “Interlinear Homer, Iliad 1:1-21 in Mycenaean & Indo-European”

R1b-rich Proto-Indo-Europeans show genetic continuity in Asia


Another preprint came out at the same time as Wang et al. (2020), from the Jena Lab of the Max Planck Society: A dynamic 6,000-year genetic history of Eurasia’s Eastern Steppe, by Jeong, Warinner, et al. bioRxiv (2020).

NOTE. I have now updated the Ancient DNA Dataset, the Prehistory Atlas – with PDF and GIS files including Y-DNA and mtDNA of all newly reported samples (starting with the Neolithic) – as well as the PCA files with those from Wang et al. (2020).

The conclusions are similar, but with some interesting twists. Relevant excerpts (emphasis mine), … Read the rest “R1b-rich Proto-Indo-Europeans show genetic continuity in Asia”