of the Aryan invasion
4.3. WHERE DID THE KURGAN
PEOPLE COME FROM?
4.3.1 Kurgan immigrants
east, a foreign IE-speaking population intruded into Europe, soon to be
diluted by genetically mixing with the natives, and totally assimilated
before they, or rather their language and culture, reached Europe’s western
shores. However, it stands to reason that they were still genetically
distinct when their entry began. That is why the start of the Kurgan
culture was accompanied by a change in the racial composition of the population
of South Russia in about 4500 BC: “The Dniepr-Donets
people are known to be massive Cro-Magnons, continuous from the Upper Palaeolithic;
the Strednij Stog-2 men are described as more gracile, tall-statured, dolichocephalic
with narrow faces.”17 And again, Maria Gimbutas
writes: “The skeletal remains are dolichomesocranial,
taller-statured and of a more gracile type than those of their predecessors
in the substratum.”18
this new racial element which the Kurgan Urheimat school identifies as
IE. In that case, the cultural change was effected by an incoming
new ethnic group. It is fair to observe that the racial type described
here as typical of the first Kurgan-making community, is similar to the
tall, robust and long-headed type which you find in the Pashtu, Panjabi
and Kashmiri populations of contemporary India and Pakistan, as also in
the Harappan and pre-Harappan settlements.
two racial types coexisted for long, though still culturally distinct:
“Kurgan II, ca. 4000-3500 BC. Materials from this period demonstrate
continuous coexistence with the Dniepr-Donets culture: two different physical
types (both of ‘Cro-Magnon C’ type, but with the
Kurgan people being more gracile) and burial customs (collective burials
in trenchlike pits characteristic of the Dniepr-Donets culture, and single
burials of Kurgan type) were proved to be present even in the same villages.”19
This is precisely the type of coexistence which renders cultural assimilation
and transmission of the IE language to pre-IE populations possible.
4.3.2. Eastern origins
V. Gordon Childe, one of the first to identify South Russia as the Urheimat,
thought that the Urheimat population and/or culture had come from more
westerly regions, “Gimbutas, following most recent Russian work, has departed
from Childe, to the extent of deriving the Kurgan cultures from the steppes
on the Lower Volga and farther east (…) While linguistic
opinion has been moving in the direction of putting the Indo-European homeland
in the region of the Vistula, Oder or Elbe, archaeological opinion is now
putting it in the Lower Volga steppe and regions east of the Caspian Sea.”20
This was written in 1966, when considerations of the geographical and linguistic
location of “birch” and “beech”, now quite outdated, were still tempting
people to locate the Urheimat in Germany or Poland “on linguistic grounds”.
geneticists like L.Cavalli-Sforza have also discerned an east-to-west migration
through eastern Europe in ca. 4000 BC, and identified this westbound population
with the bringers of the Indo-European languages.21
evidence also indicates an abrupt change, suggesting an immigration, and
more particularly an immigration from the east: “Local
evolution cannot account for such abrupt changes (…) The pottery is relatable
to the earliest Neolithic in the Middle Urals and Soviet Central Asia.”22 We
already saw how the Kurgan people brought the cultivation of millet from
Central Asia.23 All in all, there is now a
very strong case for an Asian origin, dated to before 4500 BC, of the Kurgan
culture. Tracing these pre-Kurganites to India is a job yet to be
done, but at present it should certainly be considered one the reasonable
that in this section, I have only quoted findings which predate the ongoing
AIT debate by years or by decades. All of them were published by
established academic indo-europeanists. On respected platforms, all
the necessary information had been made available to deduce an Asian origin
of IE. Yet, so strong is the paradigm inertia that few if any established
academics have intervened to draw that conclusion openly. Let
us therefore add the more recent and more outspoken opinion of Bernard
Sergent: “The present stage of research effectively permits tracing an
Asian origin for the Indo-Europeans well before their dispersion.”24 Sergent
affirms in so many words that “the Kurgan people had to originate in Central
Asia”25, and even that may have been a waystation
en route from yet another country of origin.
note in Journal of Indo-European Studies, 1977/4, p-345.
Gimbutas: “Primary and Secondary Homeland of the Indo-Europeans”, Journal
of Indo-European Studies, 1985/1-2, p. 191.
Gimbutas: “Proto-Indo-European Culture: The Kurgan Culture during the Fifth,
Fourth and Third Millennia BC”, in Cardona at al., eds.: Indo-European
and Indo-Europeans, p. 178.
H. Goodenough: “The Evolution of Pastoralism and Indo-European Origins”,
in G. Cardona et al., eds.: Indo-European and Indo-Europeans, p.253-265,
specially p.255, with reference to V. Gordon Childe: The Aryans. A Study
of Indo-European Origins, London 1926.
Ammerman and L.L. Cavalli-Sforza: The Neolithic Transition and the Genetics
of Populations in Europe, Princeton 1984, p.59, and L.L. Cavalli-Sforza.
The History and Geography of Human Genes, Princeton 1994, p.108.
Honald Haarmann: “Aspects of early Indo-European contacts with neighbouring
cultures”, Indogermanische Forschungen 1996, p. 12, tries to refute
the theory of the geneticists by pointing out early linguistic contacts
between IE and North-Caucasian as well as Uralic. In fact, North-Caucasian
may easily have borrowed everything it has in common with IE rather than
having imparted anything, while Uralic itself migrated from north-central
Asia to eastern Europe.
Gimbutas: “Primary and Secondary Homeland”, JIES 1985, p.191, emphasis
Sergent: Les Indo-Européens, p.398, p.432.
Sergent, Les Indo-Européens, p.62.
Sergent: Les Indo-Européens, p.440, with reference to Roland
Menk: Anthropologie du Néolithique Européen, dissertation,
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