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Study may link DNA to Proto-IE spread

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 Message 9 of 9
12 October 2015 at 10:38am | IP Logged 
Some of the Indoeuropean diversity in Europe can be directly explained by the late arrival of the Slav groups. When exactly they separated from the other Indoeuropean groups is anyone's guess, but it happened in the far Eastern reachs of Europe, and they didn't come into contact with any other Indoeuropean Europeans until around 500 AD - thousands of years after the Indoeuropeans had entered through the Balkan peninsula and enough to develop a number of idiosyncratic peculiarities of their own.

As far as I know we haven't seen any direct evidence of Indoeuropean languages before the linear B tablets on Crete. What happened there was apparently that the original Minoan culture had been seriously weakened by the eruption af Santorini and maybe also other factors, so the warlike Mycenean Greeks took over the island and learned to write from its original inhabitants around 1450 BC - but they clearly didn't take over their language too.

Hittite texts have been found which were slightly older, but according to the overview in Wikipedia some isolated terms in Luwian/Hittite have been found in old Assyrian texts (I don't know the details of this). There weren't any old Assyrians in Europe so apart from archaic Greek we don't find any attestions of any kind of European language before the Italic (and possible Pontic) populations started to write around 700 BC.

The point is that the archeological evidence and now also the genetic information prove that the population spread happened much earlier than the first written attestations, so counted from the first arrival of pots and graves associated with the invaders there is ample time to produce divergent language families. In the case of Scandinavia the invasion apparently happened in the 3. millennium BC, but the first Proto-Norse inscriptions appear around 200 AD, and as Wulfila's bible in Gothic from around a century later shows the Germanic languages had already split up by them. So nobody ever wrote in the presumed Proto-Germanic language, which is supposed to have been in active use during the first milennium BC.

Edited by Iversen on 12 October 2015 at 10:43am

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