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Thread: The Spread of Afroasiatic Languages, 11,000 BC to 600 AD

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    The Spread of Afroasiatic Languages, 11,000 BC to 600 AD


    This quick map I made shows the spread of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic linguistic phylum between 11,000 BC and 600 AD. The hypothesized proto-Afroasiatic "homeland" (region of origin) at the beginning of the time frame is painted in brown along the western Red Sea coastline. I will admit the positioning of some of the textual labels on the map (which would ideally mark where each branch of Afroasiatic originated) is a bit uncertain; for instance, it's probable that Cushitic branched out further north, closer to the Red Sea Hills, than implied here.

    Full view here.
    Last edited by Brandon S. Pilcher; 05-29-2021 at 02:43 AM.

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    Which lineages (y-dna & mt-dna) would be associated with the very early Omotic migration?

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    Quote Originally Posted by drobbah View Post
    Which lineages (y-dna & mt-dna) would be associated with the very early Omotic migration?
    Not sure, I haven't looked into that yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon S. Pilcher View Post

    This quick map I made shows the spread of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic linguistic phylum between 11,000 BC and 600 AD. The hypothesized proto-Afroasiatic "homeland" (region of origin) at the beginning of the time frame is painted in brown along the western Red Sea coastline. I will admit the positioning of some of the textual labels on the map (which would ideally mark where each branch of Afroasiatic originated) is a bit uncertain; for instance, it's probable that Cushitic branched out further north, closer to the Red Sea Hills, than implied here.

    Full view here.
    Which kind of archeological culture was there in the urheimat AA region at 11000 BC? I guess that was the nowadays border between Egypt and Sudan

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    Quote Originally Posted by etrusco View Post
    Which kind of archeological culture was there in the urheimat AA region at 11000 BC? I guess that was the nowadays border between Egypt and Sudan
    Christopher Ehret, in his The Civilizations of Africa, identifies their immediate ancestors with a culture called the "Cataract Tradition" that occupied the Egypto-Sudanese Nile Valley during the late Pleistocene, though I am not sure if anything like it has been found in the Red Sea Hills yet.

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    What do members here think of this alternative :

    "On the contrary, everything indicates, prehistoric data as well as linguistic data, a very great antiquity of Berber in North Africa (cf. Chaker 2006b)" "In consideration of the deep unity of Berber over a considerable area, one could even very legitimately put forward the hypothesis that the initial cradle of the Chamito-Semitic languages, contrary to all the classical theories, could well be North Africa, the only pole of stability and continuity in the Chamito-Semitic group, from which the branches and languages of the family would have diversified, by migration towards the south-east (Cushitic and Chadic domain), towards the east (Egyptian and Semitic domain). In any case, the hypothesis is no less legitimate than all the others put forward previously and even seems to be supported by the linguistic material, particularly grammatical, since the Berber system often appears both as prototypical and particularly transparent in the Chamito-Semitic group..."

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    Why is Tamasheq even mentioned? It 's not a primary language group within Afroasiatic (and not the only Berber language that expanded more recently to the Southern Sahara and the Sahel).
    I would also use the same terminology as academia, so "Berber" instead of "Amazigh" (also in Berber, the language is called tamazight).

    This map also doesn't show that Cushitic forms a node with Semitic-Berber. So I would make an arrow going slightly to the North then branching off of Semitic-Berber and going back south.
    Semitic and Berber separating around Lower Egypt/the Nile Delta is what I'd have done.
    And the anteriority of Omotic migration South compared to Cushitic is not shown, probably because it lacks dates.

    Mentioning Ethiosemitic is often done in academia too, but it's irrelevant to the discussion. Not to mention Ethiosemitic is barely older than Phoenician in the Maghreb.
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    South Cushitic shouldn't have been mentioned either since they were linguistically closest to East Cushites who make up the vast majority of Cushites in the Horn (95%+).

    Also judging by the current data available on cushitic paternal lineages including the South Cushitic E-M293, cushitic nomads probably entered the Horn ~4k to 5k years ago.Those two early pastoralists samples were probably a dead end population


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    Quote Originally Posted by Cabaon View Post
    What do members here think of this alternative :

    "On the contrary, everything indicates, prehistoric data as well as linguistic data, a very great antiquity of Berber in North Africa (cf. Chaker 2006b)" "In consideration of the deep unity of Berber over a considerable area, one could even very legitimately put forward the hypothesis that the initial cradle of the Chamito-Semitic languages, contrary to all the classical theories, could well be North Africa, the only pole of stability and continuity in the Chamito-Semitic group, from which the branches and languages of the family would have diversified, by migration towards the south-east (Cushitic and Chadic domain), towards the east (Egyptian and Semitic domain). In any case, the hypothesis is no less legitimate than all the others put forward previously and even seems to be supported by the linguistic material, particularly grammatical, since the Berber system often appears both as prototypical and particularly transparent in the Chamito-Semitic group..."
    Over the last few months, I’ve renewed my thoughts on where the Urheimat was. Now, I lean much more strongly toward the Urheimat being in the lowermost reaches of Nile Valley (Nile Delta and much of Middle Egypt), the Sinai Peninsula, and the the Negev Desert. So, I’ve personally departed somewhat from the Upper Egypt and Red Sea Hills hypothesis, even though it’s still reasonably attractive.

    If you recall, a few months ago, The Saite brought up some information that touched on Helwan assemblages, particularly lunates. For the Helwan lunates, they’ve been found in the Helwan in the Cairo Governate, which is the source of its name, and also in the Eritrea’s Dahlak Islands on the country’s Red Sea coast. That’s 1,800 km (~1,118.5 miles) south of the Nile Delta, and these assemblages are quite rare, and appear to have been transmitted as a cultural attribute, that’s a very important thing to consider, since it hints at expansion. Helwan assemblages have also been found in Natufian settlements.

    However, rather than the totality of the assemblages resembling Natufian (or Neolithic Levantine) assemblages, or representing a distinct culture (however, a small number sources refer to this as the the “Helwanian”) these most closely resemble Mushabian and Ramonian assemblages, and are quite old (at least 15,000 - 13,700 years old). Some earlier estimates (albeit, less precise) have been provided as well based on ostrich egg shells at a different site, which have been dated to ~18,000 years ago - ~ 17,000 years ago. Consequently, most regard this presence in mainland Africa as a previously unrecognized extension of the Mushabian/Ramonian territories (see the image below for the Mushabian/Ramonian territories).

    16DAE167-7688-433F-9EBC-D4023B085CD9.png

    It’s the only such example I can find of a relevant culture that spans both continents in some way. Additionally, it appears that the Mushabian/Ramonian contributed to the genesis of the Natufian culture. Then, for the Helwan assemblages in Eritrea, they’ve been roughly dated to 8,800 - 8,600 years old. Additionally, the Isnan culture along the Nile apparently showed some similarities in assemblages to the Mushabian/Ramonian entities, which is important to consider.

    While the Mushabian/Ramonian had apparent typological similarities to North African Iberomaurisian assemblages, there were also apparently notable similarities to Eastern Levantine (Trans-Jordanian) Epipaleolithic cultures, such that the seemingly popular and understandable opinion now is that the Mushabian/Ramonian are of Eastern Levantine origin. That doesn’t necessarily eliminate a North African/Northeast African connection (cf., some genetic data and cultural attributes amongst some other things), and some, such as Ehret, still prefer the North African connection even after scrutinizing the information suggesting an Eastern Levantine origin. However, the current information makes it so that the Mushabian/Ramonian can’t be seen merely as a North African transplant as it has traditionally been seen. The placement would help to explain the fairly ubiquitous Natufian-like genetic signature throughout the Afro-Asiatic-speaking domain. So, in a sense, this may be the influence of a people whose ancestry overlapped a great deal with that of the Natufians, but not the direct influence of the Natufians themselves.

    Recently, Alexander Militarev, one of the foremost proponents of the Natufian hypothesis, has provided some information based on his interpretation of Afro-Asiatic lexicon concerning zoonyms (particularly ungulates) that, in his words, stimulate finding a homeland in Northeast African rather than in the Levant amongst the Natufians (note, however, that he’s seemingly noncommittal toward a particular the Levantine or Northeast African homeland hypotheses now). That in addition some morphological similarities that Afro-Asiatic has to African phyla, genetic data, and some other relevant information that in some way also may represent Nile Valley practices better, I believe, allow for maintaining an African connection for the homeland as well, but not necessarily to the exclusion of Western Asia, either.
    Last edited by Keneki20; 05-30-2021 at 01:52 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drobbah View Post
    South Cushitic shouldn't have been mentioned either since they were linguistically closest to East Cushites who make up the vast majority of Cushites in the Horn (95%+).
    Well, to be fair, I wouldn’t say his approach is really out of the ordinary. I’ve seen a few maps that prefer to show subsets of a branch of a phylum, especially large branches of a phylum, rather than just showing the total area of a branch. To an extent, it’s to show how a particular sub-branch (or prominent language) is rather far afield from its branch’s presumed homeland or center of gravity.

    That’s also the case if there’s some level of discontinuity present in the domain of a branch, which is pretty much the case with South Cushitic (surrounded by Bantu and Nilotic), more southerly Berber branches (large swathes of the Sahara being uninhabited or with a very low population density, thus halting interaction), and also for Ethiosemitic (the Red Sea and also how it’s far from the Southern Levantine homeland and general West Asian center of gravity). For Omotic, Egyptian, and Chadic, on the other hand, their respective territories are quite compact.

    I’ve also seen linguistic literature prefer to address, say, Cushitic by (some or all of) its major constituent sub-branches rather than as an Afro-Asiaric branch as a whole. So, instead of having a chapter devoted to “Cushitic” like one may with “Semitic,” one would see a chapter devoted to South Cushitic, one devoted to Central Cushitic, and another devoted to Beja or something else.

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