View Full Version : Some thoughts on Anatolian and an east Ukraine/Azov steppes IE homeland?

07-12-2013, 12:58 PM
Anthony and many less well known experts do make it clear that there was a sequence of steppe movements west starting a little before 4000BC, about 1000 years before the first Yamnaya intrusions west of the Ukraine. He links the earliest of these to Anatolian branch which is very plausible although probably impossible to prove. These groups at least tend to be linked to steppe elements (Skelya etc, terminology varies) who located in the Ukraine steppe substantially further west than the Volga-Ural zone. So, following that logic their is a rather broader steppe zone that was already well on its way linguistically towards PIE in the late 5th millenium. So, the linguistic zone of pre-PIE/Anatolian IE included a zone well west of the Volga-Urals before 4000BC.

Skelya is an interesting network/horizon concept by Rassamikin. They were a group who were important in being the kingpin of go-between in the linking of the wider steppes (as far as the Urals and north Caucasus) with the Balko-Carpathian network. I suspect that may have put them in a good position to be linguistically influential across the steppe. There then follows an interesting peirod c. 4000BC onwards when Skelya derived elements moved west into the steppe-like lands of the farming world in a Suvorovo etc guise (linked by Anthony to Anatolian), the farming groups went into crisis, the Capatho-Balkan network collapsed and almost simultantiously the Maykop phenomenon took over the role of the latter.

It seems to me that this combination of information (and admittedly a lot of interpretations) implies that the Skelya group may have been the main linguistic bigwigs on the steppes c. 4500-4000BC (give or take) perhaps in the Anatolian stage. Now, if one recalls that prior to 3500BC or so most steppe groups were not mobile pastoralists but fairly locally tied hunter-herder-fisher-farmer types and had been for 1000s of years then we would actually expect great linguistic diversity not uniformity. The Skelya group with its major role as a middleman in the first metal network that supplied steppe groups across the various cultural boundaries and across a huge zone strike me as the most likely first group capable of influencing language across the vastness of the steppes and reducing what otherwise should have been deep linguistic diversity. I do not see how there could have been anything other than deep linguistic diversity across the vastness of the steppes between the Prut/Bug and the Volga in the period before mobile pastoralism. I would imagine valleys of major rivers separated by steppe would have had very divergent languages in the pre-mobile pastoralism period. So, without going too much in detail I think that Anatolian and then PIE must have been promoted by linguistic convergence through networks and movements.

You could extend this logic to say that a group on the Volga and a group on the rivers in the central Ukraine steppes shouldnt have been very close to each other in terms of language c. 4500-4000BC unless convergence was promoted by some sort of network. At that time the main players as middlemen in the Balko-Carpathians metal network on the steppe were Skelya groups. They also seem to have been involved in the spreading of pressure flaking technology from the farming world and were probably the middlemen who fascilitated the spread east deep into the steppes. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Qjm8IbYgnmAC&pg=PA275&lpg=PA275&dq=skelya+culture&source=bl&ots=YS4dE4pA3x&sig=3kVA3CsgFD1w7OesEwAUa1IkC2s&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6u7fUZfTD4nP0QWXgoGoDQ&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=skelya%20culture&f=false

So, it could be argued that the roots of PIE most likely lay with them and the logic of Anthony's attribution of Anatolian to late Skelya related Suvorovo groups would allow us few other conculusions. It seems that the Skelya groups were originally in the Dnieper area (mostt important for their role) and Azov steppes which largely is the eastern part of the Ukraine. Now prior to mobility and prior to the wide networking c. 4500-4100BC of the Skelya groups its hard to believe that their was not deep linguistic divergence across the width of the steppes, possibly based on river valleys seperated by steppe. This would seem likely to be particularly acute in the eastern half of the western steppes where the inter-fluvial areas must have been very dry and hostile to settlement indeed. It would not matter if these groups all shared some deep ancestral links in the Neolithic, Mesolithic etc. They would surely have experienced huge linguistic divergence in the period between then and the copper age

So IMO it is unlikely that the Anatolian phase just was spontaniously reached across the steppes and much more likely it was an effect of the network controlled by Skelya and later groups from the same area are the source. These networks, first the Skelya/Carpatho-Balkans c. 4500-4000BC and then the CMP one c. 4000-3000BC seem to me to be the only way a uniform dialect could have spread in the pre-mobile pastoralism phase across such a very wide area with horrible interfluvial zones. The first one may be the crucial one and it has been linked by Anthony to Anatolian which is to some extent PIE before wheels. So the basic pattern would seem to me likely to be deep linguistic divergence for millenia prior to 4500BC and only the networs of 4500-4000BC and later 4000-3000BC seems capable of explaining a a wider spread. If one finds it hard to believe that a network could do that then fair enough but we must remember that Anthony's model links Anatolian back to the Dnieper-Azov steppe area c. 4500-4000BC, not the Ural-Volga.

It seems to me that pre-wheel IEs existed rather to the west of the Volga-Ural area in the Dnieper-Azov zone. I also do not believe the entire steppes with its vast space and hostile inter-fluvial areas in the pre-mobile pastoraiist phase would simply ALL have been at the Anatolian stage. I think that vastly more diverse languages must have existed and that very early IE/Anatolian could only have emerged in one place. That place would seem to be the Dnieper-Azov area of eastern Ukraine as it was the kingpin in the only pre-CMP network big enough to do that. This area is special in that it linked the Cuc-Tryp/Balkans world with the steppes and the pre-Maykop north Caucasus area. Its dialect would have been in a very good position to spread itself from across all the non-farming steppes and the north Caucasus during 4500-4000BC. After that further dialect development could have happened anywhere that had taken up the Anatolian dialect. That is where it gets controversial but it seems from 4500BC wide networking was permanently established and was continued by the CMP and this could have easily allowed the Anatolian-PIE transformation to spread aerially without vast movements of people.

This material evidence of this networking can be seen by the spread of wheels, the new CMP wave of copper working, some textile developments, true Kurgans etc which appear to have originated in Maykop. There was a phase around this period c. 3500BC when there was also an incredible mixing of cultural strands in the Azov steppe area and adjacent when all sorts of steppe, Maykop (Konstantinovka) and farming elements seemed to be blending. This was around the time of the spread of the wheel, CMP metallurgy etc and this is by far the most likely zone and timeframe where Anatolian would have given way to PIE I would place the date close to 3500BC and somewhere like the interface of the Maykop culture and those of the Azov steppes. The Konstantinovka groups on the Azov-Don sort of area are a good example of the blending of these cultural elements around this sort of time. While I think in the pre-networking stage before 4500BC the Anatolian type phase of the IEs could have been confined to one area of the steppes, once networking had began this could have spread and once that is done its very much easier to see the sort of dialect tweaks involved in the Anatolian-PIE transformation being aerially spread without a lot of migration. By deininition this had to have taken place c. 3500BC and it seems logical to place this in the zone where wheels etc would have first entered a zone where Anatolian was spoken. IMO that would likely mean that PIE was spoken around the Maykop-Azov-Don area.

07-12-2013, 01:17 PM
A further important question I would add is this - does Anatolian include the Uralic borrowings? I think I asked this before and apparently it does. So, how did an apparently Dnieper centred group like Skelya who are seen as the root of Suvorovo (the latter associated with Anatolian by Anthony and others) come to have these borrowings back in 4500-4000BC if Uralic was really always confined to the Urals and eastwards? That would seem to me to be strong evidence that Uralic was a known further west c. 4500-4000BC OR that the network that Skelya were driving brought back some Uralic words gained at its eastermost extreme around the Volga/north Caspian sort of sone. As well as the metal network, the spread of pressure flaking appears to have passed along this network too and it appears to have reached ieven further east into Khazakhstan Mesolithic groups that might have been Uralic according to the article on pressure flaking I posted above. Maybe trading from these groups at the extreme of the Skelya Carpath-Balkan network created those contacts. Can anyone confirm that Anatolian is known to include the Uralic loans? I do recall asking this before and it someone (probably Jean) said yes.

07-12-2013, 01:49 PM
This very recent article questions the whole idea of PIE borrowings into Uralic and suggests they date to a later post-IE phase.


07-13-2013, 12:42 PM
I am a big believer that the primordalist idea and imagining too sharp a division between the farmers and the steppe peoples is a mistake and the more I read the more I think the steppes was seeing a substantial amount of intrusion from farmers even since very early in the Neolithic. Ii have posted papers on this before. In terms of the later periods, the area I am talking about in this thread saw the Stredny Stog culture in the period and the Skelya concept is sort of based on the elites of this area contolling the steppe part of the Carpatho-Balkan network as well as apparently involved in the spread of pressure flaking technology eastwards from the farming world. This is an old Dienekes article but it make clear that there is also evidence of intrusions of farming peoples from the Cuc-Typ world into this part of the steppes at this period.


These apparently farming-world derived skulls are also said to have been male rather than female. So that is not suggestive of simply an exchange of brides etc. The samples come from the Stredny Stog culture from the Dnieper to the Don and the Novodanilovka culture around the Donets. I think there are problems with the categorisation and subdivision of cultures in this area and period but generally this overlaps with the Skelya zone at the time of their strong connections with the Cuc-Tryp and Carpatho-Balkans network. It seems to show a significant male driven farmer input that extended across the entire Ukraine steppe in this era. To me it is suggestive that the cultural aspects indicative of inpulses from the farming world at this time were driven by an actual male intrusions. The influence of this network culturally at least did reach the Urals and apparently beyond.

Now if you add the apparent role of Novodanlikova in the genesis of Suvorovo etc which headed west into the Danube mouth area around 4000BC it can be seen that this is very complex and to some extent would have involved retreat of the farming elements back west rather than some sort of pure steppic group. Its very complex and I think there could be linguistic implications in this. As I said, in pre-mobile pastoralism days, peoples of different zones of the steppe living in different river valleys could have been very linguistically divergent even if they shared a common Mesolithic root. I can only see the large networks as being responsible for the convergence of dialects in the pre-Yamnaya period and if Anthony is correct then at least the Anatolian stage had been reached by Ukraine steppe groups well before 4000BC. The only network capable of doing that before 4000BC was the Balko-Carpathian network whose steppe-leg seems to have been controlled by the elements around the Dnieper. If the populations at this time in this area display evidence of singificant male farmer elements then that is certainly food for thought in terms of the language used in the network.

07-13-2013, 05:42 PM
I notice that Anthony himself makes the point a couple of times that the cutural diversity of the western steppes is such that IE must have initially been within one culture.

However, I find his conclusion a little odd that PIE was more at the eastern end. His logic is that Tocharian may be linked to Afansievo about 3500BC or so. However he links Anatolian (which is not massively different from PIE) with hroups heading west from the Dnieper sort of area. Fair enough both makes sense individually. However, I dont think the difference between Anatolian and PIE is anything like on the scale of diversity that one would expect from in-situ independent evolution of two dialects from some sort of very deep time common ancestor in the Mesolithic.

I think the only logical concusion for the spread of a pre-PIE Anatolian type dialect in the period 4500-4000BC is that it actually originated more in the Dnieper sort of area and spread through the Skelya elites importance as middlemen between the farmers on the one hand and steppe peoples as far as the Urals on the other. Its pretty well the only unifying force old enough to put IE into the mouths of both Suvorovo peoples in the west c. 4200BC AND also into the area nearer the Ural-Volga before 3500BC. A position on the Dnieper and Azov seems a much more likely one for the sole position of IE on the steppe in its Anatolian phase (assuming a steppe model is used).

It also strikes me that the same sort of location would have been the first to experience the wheel within the steppes, close as it was to Maykop and its offshoots and therefore a more likley location for the emergence of PIE. Again I would cite the great diversity on the western steppe which become very very marked in the period after this c. 3500BC give or take a century. From around 4000BC to 3000BC the main network that existed was the CMP. Again, I think uniformity of language in the full PIE phase c. 3500BC across the steppes is at odds with this great diversity of cultures. So again I think the Anatolian-PIE transformation must have been aerially spread in that period. A shift like that is fairly easy to envisage and the CMP network is the most likley reason. I dont think any single culture or invasions caused that shift everywhere and networking is more likely. I also think its more likely that such a shift would have taken place with the arrival of wheels in the Azov sort of area and that the shift would most likley have been transferred east from there by networking reaching the Urals and the CMP role in Kargaly etc in the Urals.