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The peoples in Europe. The Indo-European theories

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The Indo-European Theories About the Peoples of Europe

The Indo-European hypothesis is a key-element to explain how Europe was populated. Building upon the linguistic similarities found among the various European languages, some theoreticists hypothezised that those diverse European people might well have a common origin. Such a common origin was termed "Indo-European" due to that the similarities include too the Indian language. What the state of the question is, is the subject of this topic

Most recent paleogenetics studies have shown that herders from the grassland steppes of present-day Russia and Ukraine and linked to the Yamnaya culture, replaced much of the gene pool of central and Western Europe around 3,000-2,500 B.C. This was coincident with the disappearance of Neolithic pottery, burial styles and other cultural expressions and the emergence of Corded Ware cultural artefacts, which are distributed throughout northern and central Europe. That was more diffuse in countries more South, like Spain, were individuals buried with Bell Beaker goods were closely related to earlier local populations. Those cultural changes were the result of migration and not simply of the spread of ideas. Before 3000 B.C., at the start of the Bronze Age, the genetic make-up of northern and central Europeans resembled those of early farmers from the Middle East and even earlier European hunter-gatherers. But by 2000 B.C., their genomes looked more like those of people from the Yamnaya culture. The herders also brought the ability to digest milk into adulthood, which was rare among Bronze Age Europeans, hinting that the steppe migrants might have eventually introduced the trait to Europe. The Indo-European theories are now mostly embodied into the works of Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994), a Lithuanian-American archeologist. As she combined the methods of the archeological research, linguistics and mythology, Marija Gimbutas reached that conclusion that one might really find a generic, original home to the Europeans peoples. This home has appeared in history about 4500-4000 BC from three cultures found north of the Azov Sea, Russia, between the Dniepr and the Don rivers or about the Volga river: the culture of Sredny Stog (4500 to 3500 BC; North of the Azov sea, between Dniepr and Don), the culture of the Dniepr-Don (5th-4th millenia BC; occupied a vast area North of the Azov Sea, on the Dniepr and the Don rivers, and the culture of Samara (beginning of the 5th millenium BC; on the middle Volga), respectively. Such civilisations were agricultural or transitioning to be as two of them had domesticated the horses

How were those original people located relatively to the neighbouring peoples? It's the end of the Neolithic, strictly, by 4500 BC. The Neolithic is this age, spanning 9000-4500 BC, during which the agriculture appears and develops. In every region of the world, mankind passes from the status of hunter-gatherers of the Mesolithic to the one of farmers. The agricultural revolution spreaded from some home centers, like the Fertile Crescent, the Indus or the Yellow River valley, as far as the Eurasia is concerned. The farmers were far more apt to hold a dense population than the primitive men of the last prehistoric ages. Hence they spreaded easily. Egypt, or Sumer do not exist already at those early times of the Indo-Europeans. A general view of the civilizations of the time of the early Indo-European craddles is showing that they, on a far southeast, have the early civilizations of Anatolia, the near East, and Mesopotamia. On their southwest and West, they did find the first agricultural civilizations of Europe (Western and Eastern Linear Pottery in central Europe; Printed-Cardium Pottery in the Mediterranean Europe; megalithic civilizations of the European western shores) where the neolithic, agricultural revolution had been already brought, from the East, about one millenium before. The Dniepr-Don Indo-European peoples had, to their North, in the vastness of the Russian North, the civilization of the Comb Ceramic Pottery. 4500 BC, at last, is the beginning of the Chalcolithic, or Copper Age period, this period where the very first metal tools are used along with the stone ones

Those first Indo-European civilizations, through the culture of Khvalynsk (1st half of the 5th millenium BC; stretching from the middle Volga to Caucasus, and from the Azov Sea to the Ural river), turned into the Yamna culture. The Yamna culture, also termed Ochre Grave culture from 3500 to 2200 BC, is a landmark civilization in the history of the European settlement. The Yamna culture is an early Bronze Age period culture, as it's the one of a nomadic people which episodically operates farming, near the rivers or some hillforts. The Yamna people is also termed the Kurgans' people as it's burrying the death in 'kurgans', that is mounds covering pit graves. The Yamna culture originally is spreading on an area stretching from the northern coasts of Rumania to the lower Volga, through the regions North of the Azov Sea. The Yamnaya culture extended also to near the Altai Mountains in central Russia from 2900 to 2500 B.C., potentially explaining why Indo-European languages are spoken so far into Asia. A additional culture is seen, in the northern Caucasus, the 'Maykop culture', which likely is a link between the Indo-Europeans in the steppes and the Semites in the near East. The Yamna culture reached its height by 3250 BC. It was a world of cattle, horses, war charriots, with a still limited agriculture. Progressively, the Kurgan world is going to get in touch, West, with the European, neolithic cultures. There, it's forming two vassal, 'kurganized' cultures, the Globular Amphora, and the Baden cultures. They were located from Hamburg, Germany to the northwestern Ukraine and in the present Austria and Hungary, respectively. Another important point of that epoch is that the Kurgans' people have assimilated a vast cultural zone, the one of the Corded Ware -or Battle Axe- culture. This zone was stretching in the vast, northern, European plains. It might, on the other hand, that this action of the Yamna culture unto its neighbours originated into the Maykop culture which, by the way, would have rejuvenated the Kurgan culture. Of note too is that some state that, about 3100 B.C., a large-sized asteroid would have struck the Earth in the area of Austrian Alps, which triggered a kind of climate change. All that explains that, about 3000-2500 BC, the Corded Ware culture, North, and the Yamna culture (which stretched longitudinally), South, are really forming a Indo-European 'block.' It's that block which, starting about 2500-2000 BC, gets shared-out and progressively gives birth to the ulterior European peoples, that is the current ones, like the Celts, the Germans, the Balts, the Slavs, the ancient Greeks, the Italics, or the Hittites. In the eastern part of the zone, it's the parent cultures of the Iranians and of the Indo-Aryans (the first inhabitants of India, which came from Bactriane) which appeared. That move about 3,000 B.C. occurred toward Europe and Asia altogether -- the theory of a Anatolian origin for that latter part is not recognized anymore. First Indo-Europeans to leave their craddle would had headed to Caucasus (or the Armenians) or Central Asia (Tokharians) as a second wave would have crossed the Aegean Sea to spread into Europe like Greeks, Thraces, Illyians, Celts, Germans, and Slavs. A fraction at last, dwelling in the Pontic–Caspian steppe took the direction of Iran and India giving birth to Scythians, Sarmatians, Persians, Medians and all norther India's people speaking related or derivated languages of sanskrit. All those people move their history through the Bronze Age period as they further progressively got into the Iron Age one. Some further data of importance about the settlement of the Yamna culture and values into Europe is that the European, neolithic peoples were of a matrilinear and matriarcal type, with mother-goddesses and matriarcal, egalitarian societies as the Kurgan culture brought with it a patriarcal society, with warriors values, as the Indo-Europeans were still semi-nomadic

Some Undertones About the Question

Anecdotally, first, it has to be noted that the episode of the biblical Flood, which is historically dated to 5600 BC, might have been endured by the ancestors to the Sredny Stog culture, one of the primitive culture of the Indo-Europeans. It's the Flood which would have created the Black Sea and the Azov Sea. Black Sea was once a freshwater lake until a enormous flood of water from the Mediterranean 200 times more powerful than Niagara Falls for example, swept it away around 5000 B.C. That might have matched the end of a Ice Age in North America. Similar details passed along in narratives from Mesopotamian times, notably the 'Epic of Gilgamesh.' A estimate of when the Flood occurred from the Bible self is showing the event likely occurred by 4700 B.C.

An English archeologist, Colin Renfrew, on the other hand, as its main supporters lied in the Soviet Union however, argue that the Indo-Europeans people did not exist and that the Indo-European languages originated in Anatolia -current Turkey- about 7000 B.C. as they were those farmers originating from the Middle East and migrating into Europe, bringing the Neolithics there. A view is that Renfrew however keeps in touch with the Indo-European theories in that he thinks that those Anatolian people were Indo-Europeans too, albeit resulting from an early split between the Indo-Europeans populations. Renfrew's Anatolian hypothesis is not ruled out however as it had been updated by Russell Gray and Quentin Atkinson by 2003. Much more relevant are some data provided by recentest paleo-genetics studies as the study of the genes of the ancient populations of Europe have shown that a strong percentage of the genes of the current European population -about 80 percent- dates back to the Paleolithic, this last prehistoric period before the Mesolithic and the Neolithic! 20 percent only are related to the arrival in the region of peoples bringing the Neolithic revolution, as a mere 11 percent are linked to the Indo-European peoples from the Pontic steppes! Such a study, on the one hand, is well showing the stability of the settlement in Europe, as 80 percent of the people there are successors to the ancient prehistoric people, 20 percent are farmers which came from Anatolia, and 11 percent are Indo-Europeans, semi-nomadic warriors which came from the steppes of southern Russia. Recentest studies by early 2015 further confirmed that the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language was indeed first spoken by a people of herders who lived in the steppes North of the Black Sea about 4,000 B.C. Those late studies are showing how the Corded Ware people had a whopping 3/4 of their DNA ancestry to the Yamna culture, hinting to a massive migration of the Yamna people into central Europe about 2,500 B.C. Corded Ware people then spread across North and central Europe further. That is a strong evidence that the Renfrew theory of the farming spread from the Middle East into Europe by 6,000 B.C. is not the contributor to Indo-Europeans. Other sources, which are not related to the specific debate about Indo-Europeans, are stating the following. mtDNA related to mother ancestry and NRY DNA to father's are the best current markers in paleogenetics. After that the European early stock was from modern Homo sapiens settling by about 40,000 years ago, with a total to 20-55 percent of current lineages, with the question of interbreeding with Neanderthals still in debate, a part of the European population might have also come from Central Asia as a re-population event occurred about 16,000-13,000 years ago, mostly from southwestern Europe where the original stock had taken refuge due to the Last Glacial Age. With the Neolithics a clear renewal seems to have come from Middle East farmers as paternal lineages of current Europeans related by 80% to as 20% of maternal ones would have survived only, albeit such figures might be polemical. Such source, as far as the Indo-European theory is concerned, no genes should be specifically attributed to such peoples as one marker would indicate that the progression halted in Germany as their culture spread further. Current genetics of Europeans show that in terms of matrilineages the population of Europe thus is of the Caucasoid type which differentiated at the time when Homo sapiens settled in Europe. And that three main patrilinear groups are found, respectively, by Western Europe, Central and Eastern one, and Scandinavia and the Balkans. A gradiant of genetics, generally, is found from northern to southern Europe, with a East-West axis also which might hint to varied importance of Middle Eastern farmers and also to the Indo-European theory

As far, for example, a chronology for Gauls is concerned, Neolithics is reaching there, from the Fertile Crescent, by the 5th millenium B.C. through the Mediterranean Sea or by the 4th millenium through the Danube valley, which is about 4,000 to 5,000 years after the revolution occurred in the Middle East. The agricultural revolution was brought by people from the Middle East and not a sole cultural fact. First farming populations of Europe were Middle Eastern groups which left north- and westward starting by 6,000-7,000 B.C. Those groups tended livestock and lived in densely populated communities in eastern Europe comprising thousands of habitat structures and maybe tens of thousands of inhabitants. Those settlements vanished about 3,400 B.C. as smaller settlements occured in northern and western Europe after that. The disparition of the large settlements is still a mystery: plague might have hit those and coming through trade networks, a overexploitation of ressource might have occurred, or the Indo-Europeans arrived (maybe also bringing the plague). By about 3,000 B.C. one then transitions from the neolithic civilization to more defensive sites and to the megalithic civilizations of Europe. Chalcolithics, as it marks by 5,000 B.C. the beginning of the use of metals, is reaching to Gauls by 2,500; the bronze, as it has been discovered by 5,000, is arriving by about 1,800 B.C. as iron, which likely originated by the Hittites about 3,000 B.C. is seen in Gauls by 3,000 B.C. The routes by which the innovations are journeying still are through the Mediterranean or the Danube. Two iron ages at last will succede themselves in the Gauls, that of Hallstatt (750-450 B.C.) and that of La Tène (450 B.C.-beginnings of Christian era)

Let's come to a conclusion and recall how nationalist shifts using the Indo-Europeans theories have been dangerous along the recent history, as, for example, Hitler's Germany considered that the Germans was a superior, Aryan race as it was archetypical to the Indo-Europeans

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