Categories
Haplogroups

Womb of Nations

“Northern European”

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“North Atlantic”

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“Balto-Slavic”

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The genetic distance maps from the supplement for the three latest cultures:         

(CWC: Corded Ware; BBC: Bell Beaker; and UC: Unetice)

Corded Ware

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Bell Beaker

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Unetice

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The womb of nations: how West Eurasians came to be

Six Population Elements in Living Caucasoids

Ancient central European mtDNA across time

A physico-anthropological study of skeletal material from Neolithic age to Hellenistic times in Central Greece and surrounding region

Uruk migrants in the Caucasus

Mediterranean race – Wikipedia

Eurasian (mixed ancestry) – Wikipedia

Genetic history of Europe – Wikipedia

The Bronze Age Indo-European invasion of Europe

The womb of nations: how West Eurasians came to be

A solution to the problem of Indo-Aryan origins

Genetic Evidence for Recent Population Mixture in India

On Tocharian origins

Categories
Iberia Mediterrean Megalithic

Los Millares and Los Silillos – Andalucía

File:Los Millares recreacion cuadro.jpg
File:Maqueta tholos Los Millares.jpg
File:Cuenco de Los Millares.png

Los Millares is the name of a Chalcolithic occupation site 17 km north of Almería, in the municipality of Santa Fe de Mondújar, Andalusia, Spain. The complex was in use from the end of the fourth millennium to the end of the second millennium BC and probably supported somewhere around 1000 people. It was discovered in 1891 during the course of the construction of a railway and was first excavated by Luis Siret in the succeeding years. Further excavation work continues today.
The site covers 2 hectares (4.9 acres) and consists of three concentric lines of stone walls, the outer ring the largest, running more than 650 feet with nineteen ‘bastions’ and a gate guarded by foreworks. The road to the site is guarded by four smaller outlying stone forts. There is an extensive cemetery of eighty passage grave tombs. Radiocarbon dating has established that one wall collapsed and was rebuilt around 3025 BC.
A cluster of simple dwellings lay inside the walls as well as one large building containing evidence of copper smelting. Pottery excavated from the site included plain and decorated wares including symbolkeramik bowls bearing oculus motifs. Similar designs appear on various carved stone idols found at the site.
Although primarily farmers, the inhabitants of Los Millares had crucially also learned metal working, especially the smelting and forming of copper, and the site is considered highly important in understanding the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. The Los Millares culture eventually came to dominate the Iberian peninsula, and to develop into the Bell Beaker culture.
The population of Los Millares has been estimated at approximately 1000 in the timeframe 3200–2300 BC. The labor involved in its construction, The large volume of stones used, its geometric characteristics and sophisticated design all indicate multiple functionality, including defense and power.
Los Millares participated in the continental trends of Megalithism and the Beaker culture. Analysis of occupation material and grave goods from the Los Millares cemetery of 70 tholos tombs with port-hole slabs has led archaeologists to suggest that the people who lived at Los Millares were part of a stratified, unequal society which was often at war with its neighbours.
The Los Millares civilisation was replaced circa 1800 BC, with the arrival of Bronze by the El Argar civilisation, whose successor culture is embodied in the contemporary culture of Vila Nova de São Pedro in nearby Portugal.
Similarities between Los Millares architecture and the step pyramid at Monte d’Accoddi in Sardinia have been noticed. Other Iberian settlements in this region of a similar age to Los Millares include the settlement of Los Silillos and Neolithic finds at Cabrera.
Los Silillos is the site of a Bronze Age prehistoric settlement covering an area of 180,000 square metres. The discovery was made in 2007 during excavation work in constructing the A-45 Motorway on Spain’s Iberian Peninsula. (EFE, 2007)
The site is located approximately nine kilomtres north of the town of Antequera. The discovery includes architectural elements of 52 subterranean structures, which are only a portion of the numerous circular dwellings built by prehistoric peoples here. Farming implements and copper tools found at Los Silillos have been dated to 2500 BC by researchers at Malaga University. It is thought that some of the tools found at Los Silillos may have been employed in constructing dolmen burial mounds at nearby Antequera.
Manuel Romero, the Antequera municipal archaeologist, indicated that only about two percent of the total Los Silillos site has been excavated as of October, 2007. Romero further stated that ongoing research is occurring for the site, including more precise radiocarbon dating in Switzerland. Animal relics retrieved on the site include fossilised ram horns and deer antlers. The Los Silillos site at an elevation of approximately 435 metres is situated in an agricultural valley between Antequera and Cordoba.
REGIONAL PREHISTORY. There is extensive prehistoric settlement in this region of southern Spain, probably linked to the mild climate, rich mineral resources of the Iberian Pyrite Belt (Leistel, 1997) and proximity of the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to Neanderthal presence and the Magdelanian paleolithic era cave painters, other Iberian settlements of the approximate age of Los Silillos in this region include the Chalcolithic settlement of Los Millares and Neolithic finds at Cabrera.
Somewhat to the east of Los Silillos, scientists have recently conducted core drilling to reconstruct the natural history of 1900 BC Argaric settlements. They found that rich deciduous forests once covered much of the region; however, the thriving Bronze Age Argaric peoples stripped the trees to such an extent that the ecology was transformed to an agriculturally unproductive, arid Mediterranean scrub. While climate change may have played a subordinate role, the Argaric civilisation itself appears to have caused its own demise by unwise resource management. The resulting degradation of soils and appears to have “caused the collapse of agriculture and pastoralism, the foundation of the Argaric economy”, and hence a “massive depopulation”. (BBC, 2007)
Los Silillos – Ancient Village or Settlement in Spain in Andalucía

Categories
Caucasus Europa Haplogroups Indo-Europeans

Craniological and dental signatures of Out-of-Armenia

Undertaken here is a multidimensional craniometric analysis of more than 254 ethnic groups of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages from the territory of Eurasia. On the basis of the received information, cluster analysis was done and has shown the genetic condensations of ethnoses and vectors of relatives or, conversely, distinctions between them.
Craniometric and odontologic investigation of the Bronze Age is interesting and in connection with discussion about the origin of Indo-Europeans and about the place of their ancestral home. Different aspects of the problem of the ancestral home of Indo-Europeans are far from completely resolved and generate lively debate in the pages of scientific publications.
New anthropological data allowed identification of alien Mediterranean characteristics influencing various ethnic Eurasian groups and revealed evidence of a migratory stream from the Armenian highlands and the Caucasus. This research provided new evidence of patterns of ethnic contact and intermixture in Western Eurasia.
One can see a clear link between the Armenian highlands samples and the Western Europe samples (the Arcvakar sample – 17 close phenetic links are revealed). The samples from the Georgia (Samtavro /Late Bronze Age – II period) and Iran (Tepe Gissar III), Uzbekistan (Sapallitepe) are identified as the samples with closest affinities samples from Ukraine (Shirochanski) and Poland, Germany (Corded Ware culture) in particular.
This suggests that some of the European genes do actually stem from this area. So, mediterranean connections from Armenian highlands, Georgia and Central Asia are distinctly fixed in Western Europe and in the Middle-Late Bronze Age.

If true, it is suggested that the dispersal of the Indo-European languages have been accompanied by migration and some gene flow from the Armenian highlands homeland to the various historical seats of the Indo-European languages. The different rates of genetic drift and external gene flow may have contributed to the morphological differentiation and diversification amongst the different Eurasian populations.
Cluster analysis has revealed a craniological series having analogies (on a complex of craniometric, odontologic characters) with representatives of the population of the Armenian highlands, the Caucasus, the Near East and Central Asia. The initial starting area (or one of the intermediate areas), as indicated by the anthropological data, would seem to be the Armenian highlands, and the Caucasus as a whole.
Craniological and dental signatures of Out-of-Armenia

Categories
Caucasus Europa Haplogroups Indo-Europeans

Archaeological Evidence on the Westward Expansion of Farming Communities from Eastern Anatolia to the Aegean and the Balkans

The beginnings of the Neolithic way of life in Europe and the role played by the Anatolian Peninsula in this process are much-debated issues that involve a number of distinct topics. In this debate, it should not be overlooked that distinct from Europe, at least a portion of the Anatolian plateau had been part of the “Neolithic world” for at least 4,000 years before the appearance of the earliest claimed Neolithic culture in Europe. Accordingly, in viewing the interaction between southeastern Europe and the Aegean with the Anatolian Peninsula, the core area of primary Neolithization has to be considered.
Archaeological Evidence on the Westward Expansion of Farming Communities from Eastern Anatolia to the Aegean and the Balkans

Categories
Anatolia Neolithic

The Current State of Neolithic Research at Ulucak, İzmir

Introduction

This paper provides up to date information on the culturaland historical stages of development observed at Ulucak IV,V and VI with regards to the settlement’s organization, ar-chitectural components and material culture. The resultspresented here should be considered as preliminary. Inter-pretations are based on the detailed examination of theexcavation data since 1995 and on available publications byprevious excavators. It is possible that future research willnecessitate revisions of our current views on the settlementhistory. That said, we consider it important to share the mostrecent insights and data obtained from the excavations atUlucak with the archaeological community. Hopefully, withthe addition of future research we will be able to obtain ahigh-resolution picture of the life during the 7 – 6th millenniaBC in the area.
The Current State of Neolithic Research at Ulucak, İzmir

Categories
Domestication Haplogroups Neolithic

Pig Domestication and Human-Mediated Dispersal in Western Eurasia Revealed through Ancient DNA and Geometric Morphometrics

Zooarcheological evidence demonstrates that wild boar were domesticated independently in the Near East by at least 8,500 BC. By examining pig bones recovered from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic layers at Cayonu Tepesi (10,000–6,300 BC) in southeastern Anatolia identified a disproportionate decrease in molar tooth size over two millennia.

They interpreted this pattern to be the result of a long-term in situ domestication process that led to the emergence of morphologically domestic pigs by 6,800 BC (early Pottery Neolithic). Similar, though contentious, claims for human controlled pig breeding between 8,200 and 7,500 BC have been made at Cafer Höyük and Nevali Çori in southeastern Anatolia.
The introduction of wild boar to Cyprus by at least 9,700–9,400 BC, however, indicates that humans were actively manipulating wild boar populations for millennia before the emergence of domestic pigs.

Though the zooarcheological evidence demonstrates that pigs were first domesticated in Southwest Asia, virtually all modern domestic pigs from western Eurasia possess mitochondrial signatures similar (or identical) to European wild boar. Ancient DNA extracted from early Neolithic domestic pigs in Europe resolved this paradox by demonstrating that early domestic pigs in the Balkans and central Europe shared haplotypes with modern Near Eastern wild boar.

The absence of Near Eastern haplotypes in pre-Neolithic European wild boar suggested that early domestic pigs in Europe must have been introduced from Anatolia by the mid 6th millennium BC before spreading to the Paris basin by the early 4th millennium BC.

Abstract

Zooarcheological evidence suggests that pigs were domesticated in Southwest Asia ∼8,500 BC. They then spread across the Middle and Near East and westward into Europe alongside early agriculturalists. European pigs were either domesticated independently or more likely appeared so as a result of admixture between introduced pigs and European wild boar.

As a result, European wild boar mtDNA lineages replaced Near Eastern/Anatolian mtDNA signatures in Europe and subsequently replaced indigenous domestic pig lineages in Anatolia. The specific details of these processes, however, remain unknown.
To address questions related to early pig domestication, dispersal, and turnover in the Near East, we analyzed ancient mitochondrial DNA and dental geometric morphometric variation in 393 ancient pig specimens representing 48 archeological sites (from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic to the Medieval period) from Armenia, Cyprus, Georgia, Iran, Syria, and Turkey.
Our results reveal the first genetic signatures of early domestic pigs in the Near Eastern Neolithic core zone. We also demonstrate that these early pigs differed genetically from those in western Anatolia that were introduced to Europe during the Neolithic expansion.
In addition, we present a significantly more refined chronology for the introduction of European domestic pigs into Asia Minor that took place during the Bronze Age, at least 900 years earlier than previously detected.
By the 5th century AD, European signatures completely replaced the endemic lineages possibly coinciding with the widespread demographic and societal changes that occurred during the Anatolian Bronze and Iron Ages.

Introduction

The transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture is one of the most important biocultural processes in human history. Though this transition took place in numerous locations across the globe, the earliest stages of animal domestication in western Eurasia are recorded in the northern Fertile Crescent in the 9th millennium BC. Recent evidence suggests that the establishment of food production was followed by rapid population growth and agropastoral economies often spread through demic diffusion. This was certainly the case for Southwest Asia where, following the development of agricultural economies, farmers migrated into Europe during the Neolithic bringing with them domestic crops and livestock.

The increased resolving power of new genetic and morphometric techniques has allowed for the identification of fine-scale population differences across wide temporal and geographic contexts and the capability of tracking these differences through time and space. For example, DNA derived from modern animal and plant domesticates have been used to unravel geographic origins and dispersal patterns. The use of modern data alone, however, can be problematic. Past domestic populations often underwent dramatic bottlenecks, demographic fluctuations (including complete replacement), and admixture with wild relatives, thus obscuring the genetic signatures of earlier populations.

Analyses of ancient DNA (aDNA) have overcome this issue by typing (pre)historic populations and allowing for the direct observation of genetic signatures through time. This approach has generated new insights related to past genetic diversity, wild–domestic hybridization, and human migration. Similarly, novel morphometric methods, including geometric morphometrics (GMM), have been successfully applied to document changes between wild and domestic animals and plants and to track the phenotypic evolution of past populations.

Zooarcheological evidence demonstrates that wild boar were domesticated independently in the Near East by at least 8,500 BC. By examining pig bones recovered from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic layers at Cayonu Tepesi (10,000–6,300 BC) in southeastern Anatolia, identified a disproportionate decrease in molar tooth size over two millennia. They interpreted this pattern to be the result of a long-term in situ domestication process that led to the emergence of morphologically domestic pigs by 6,800 BC (early Pottery Neolithic). Similar, though contentious, claims for human controlled pig breeding between 8,200 and 7,500 BC have been made at Cafer Höyük and Nevali Çori in southeastern Anatolia. The introduction of wild boar to Cyprus by at least 9,700–9,400 BC, however, indicates that humans were actively manipulating wild boar populations for millennia before the emergence of domestic pigs.

Though the zooarcheological evidence demonstrates that pigs were first domesticated in Southwest Asia, virtually all modern domestic pigs from western Eurasia possess mitochondrial signatures similar (or identical) to European wild boar. Ancient DNA extracted from early Neolithic domestic pigs in Europe resolved this paradox by demonstrating that early domestic pigs in the Balkans and central Europe shared haplotypes with modern Near Eastern wild boar. The absence of Near Eastern haplotypes in pre-Neolithic European wild boar suggested that early domestic pigs in Europe must have been introduced from Anatolia by the mid 6th millennium BC before spreading to the Paris basin by the early 4th millennium BC.

By 3,900 BC, however, virtually all domestic pigs in Europe possessed haplotypes originally only found in European wild boar. This genetic turnover may have resulted from the accumulated introgression of local female wild boar into imported domestic stocks or from an indigenous European domestication process. After the genetic turnover had taken place in Europe, aDNA from Armenian pigs indicated that European domestic pigs were present in the Near East by the 7th century BC at the end of the Iron Age where they replaced indigenous Near Eastern domestic mtDNA lineages. Crucially, the archeological record attests to rapid demographic and societal changes during the Late Bronze Age (1,600–1,200 BC) and Iron Age (1,200–600 BC), including large-scale migrations and the expansion of trade and exchange networks across the Mediterranean and the Black Sea region.

To establish a more precise geographic and temporal framework of mitochondrial Sus haplotypes in Anatolia and to address questions related to the mitochondrial turnover in Armenia at the end of the Iron Age, we obtained mitochondrial sequences from 39 modern wild boar and 393 archeological wild and domestic pigs from 48 Near Eastern sites spanning the Pottery Neolithic (∼7,000 BC) to the 15th century AD from western Turkey to southwestern Iran. We analyzed our novel data alongside previously published ancient and modern sequences. In addition, we performed a dental morphological assessment of 46 archeological specimens (with known genetic haplotypes) using traditional osteometric and GMM methods to assess the correlation between genetic and morphometric variation.
Pig Domestication and Human-Mediated Dispersal in Western Eurasia Revealed through Ancient DNA and Geometric Morphometrics
The comings and goings of Near Eastern and European domestic pigs (Ottoni et al. 2012)

Categories
Armenia

Armenian origin of Hamshenis

The Hamshenis are an isolated geographic group of Armenians with a strong ethnic identity who, until the early decades of the twentieth century, inhabited the Pontus area on the southern coast of the Black Sea. Scholars hold alternative views on their origin, proposing Eastern Armenia, Western Armenia, and Central Asia, respectively, as their most likely homeland.
To ascertain whether genetic data from the nonrecombining portion of the Y chromosome are supportive of any of these suggestions, we screened 82 Armenian males of Hamsheni descent for 12 biallelic and 6 microsatellite Y-chromosomal markers. These data were compared with the corresponding data set from the representative populations of the three candidate regions.
Genetic difference between the Hamshenis and other groups is significant and backs up the hypothesis of the Armenian origin of the Hamshenis, indicating central historical Armenia as a homeland of the ancestral population. This inference is further strengthened by the results of admixture analysis, which does not support the Central-Asian hypothesis of the Hamshenis’ origin.
Genetic diversity values and patterns of genetic distances suggest a high degree of genetic isolation of the Hamshenis consistent with their retention of a distinct and ancient dialect of the Armenian language.
Armenian origin of Hamshenis

Categories
Caucasus Haplogroups

J1-P58 – Armenian Highland Origin

Y-chromosomal haplogroup J1, one of the most frequent male lineages in the Near East, is believed to have originated around 10-15 kya in Northern Mesopotamia. J1 along with R1b and J2 is generally considered as a genetic marker for the Neolithic expansion, therefore the study of its origin and spread is essential for tracing back ancient human migrations and expansions from the Near-East. In this study, we report a new potential source population and geographic location for the origin of J1-P58, a major sub-clade of haplogroup J1.
Previous studies did not explore the region of Armenian Highland when investigating J1-P58 origin. For this study we have genotyped 453 Armenian samples representing eastern, central and western parts of the highland, 297 Azeri and 102 Qashqai samples from Iran, as well as used already published results of different comparative data sets.
The highest J1-P58 variance was observed in the Armenian population from the central part of the highland (regions of Alashkert and Bayazet). The mean age of J1-P58 in this region based on 8 STR markers, was estimated to be the oldest among the studied populations, dating back to 19.4 ky when using the evolutionary mutation rates.
It is worth mentioning that the obtained result is based on the analysis of one ethnically homogenous territorial group located in a geographically restricted region in the central part of the Armenian plateau. We believe that this approach leads to better time estimates and significantly narrows down the geographic area where J1-P58 could have originated.
 J1-P58 – Armenian Highland Origin

Categories
Armenia Haplogroups

Origin of the Armenians

Over the course of its long history, Armenia has acted as both a source of numerous indigenous cultures and as a recipient of foreign invasions. As a result of this complex history among populations, the gene pool of the Armenian population may contain traces of historically well-documented ancient migrations. Furthermore, the regions within the historical boundaries of Armenia possess unique demographic histories, having hosted both autochthonous and specific exogenous genetic influences.
In the present study, we analyze the Armenian population sub-structure utilizing 17 Y-chromosome short tandem repeat (Y-STR) loci of 412 Armenians from four geographically and anthropologically well-defined groups (Ararat Valley, Gardman, Lake Van and Sasun). To place the genetic composition of Armenia in a regional and historic context, we have compared the Y-STR profiles from these four Armenian collections to 18 current-day Eurasian populations and two ancient DNA collections.
Our results illustrate regional trends in Armenian paternal lineages and locale-specific patterns of affinities with neighboring regions.
Additionally, we observe a phylogenetic relationship between the Northern Caucasus and the group from Sasun, which offers an explanation for the genetic divergence of this group from other three Armenian collections. These findings highlight the importance of analyzing both general populations as well as geographically defined sub-populations when utilizing Y-STRs for forensic analyses and population genetics studies.
The origin of Armenians is a controversial subject for anthropologists, archaeologists, historians and linguists. Among several hypotheses on this point, one prevails. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus described the Armenians as Phrygian colonists because of their speech and the garments they wore.
Here, we tested the Balkan version of the origin of Armenians based on the Y-chromosomal markers. We used the results of high-resolution typing (applying 50-70 SNPs) in 1171 DNA samples representing 10 Armenian geographic groups covering the whole area of the Armenian plateau and the database of the Armenian DNA project at Family Tree DNA comprising a general Armenian population. As possible signals of Greek influence the presence of the E1b1b1a1-M78 haplogroup with its major sub-branches (E1b1b1a1b-V13, E1b1b1a1a-V12 and E1b1b1a1c-V22) were considered.
The frequencies of the E1b1b1a1-M78 clade in Armenians are quite low in nine out of ten geographic groups and in the general dataset, ranging from 0 to 3.8%. The highest rate (8%) of the supposed Balkan lineages is observed in a sample representing the south-eastern part of the Armenian Highland (currently north-west Iran).
The mean age of this haplogroup using 14 STR markers is 14.5 ky based on evolutionary mutation rates. This value is much higher than that shown for the Greek samples which indicates that the E1b1b1a1-M78 haplogroup among south-eastern Armenians is indigenous and clearly was not introduced by back-migration from Balkan region. Thus, the patrilineal genetic structure of modern Armenians groups does not support their Balkan origin.
Origin of the Armenians

Categories
Indo-Iranians

The migration of Indo-Iranians

File:BMAC.png
File:Scythia-Parthia 100 BC.png

Geographical extent of Iranian influence in the 1st century BCE.

The Parthian Empire (mostly Western Iranian) is shown in red, other areas, dominated by Scythia (Eastern Iranian), in orange.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/65/Moderniranianlanguagesmap.jpg

Modern Iranian languages map

The language referred to as Proto-Indo-European (PIE): is ancestral to Diba and the Celtic, Italic (including Romance), Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, Indo-Iranian, Albanian, Armenian, Greek, and Tocharian languages.
There is an agreement that the PIE community split into two major groups from its homeland. One headed west for Europe and became speakers of Indo-European (all the languages of modern Europe save for Basque, Hungarian, Estonian, and Finnish) while others headed east for Eurasia to become Indo-Iranians.
The Iranian languages form a sub-branch of the Indo-Iranian sub-family, which is a branch of the family of Indo-European languages. Having descended from the Proto-Indo-Iranians, the Proto-Iranians separated from the Indo-Aryans early in the 2nd millennium BCE. The Proto-Iranians are traced to the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex, a Bronze Age culture of Central Asia. The area between Afghanistan and the Aral Sea is hypothesized to have been the region in which the Proto-Iranians first emerged, following the separation of Indo-Aryan tribes.
The separation of Indo-Aryans proper from Indo-Iranians is commonly dated, on linguistic grounds, to roughly 1800 BCE. The Nuristani languages probably split in such early times, and are classified as either remote Indo-Aryan dialects or as an independent branch of Indo-Iranian. By the mid 2nd millennium BCE early Indo-Aryans had reached Assyria in the west (the Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni) and the northern Punjab in the east (the Rigvedic tribes).
Some theonyms, proper names and other terminology of the Mitanni exhibit an Indo-Aryan superstrate, suggesting that an Indo-Aryan elite imposed itself over the Hurrian population in the course of the Indo-Aryan expansion.
In a treaty between the Hittites and the Mitanni (between Suppiluliuma and Matiwaza, ca. 1380 BCE), the deities Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and Nasatya (Ashvins) are invoked. Kikkuli’s horse training text (circa 1400 BCE) includes technical terms such as aika (eka, one), tera (tri, three), panza (pancha, five), satta (sapta, seven), na (nava, nine), vartana (vartana, round). The numeral aika “one” is of particular importance because it places the superstrate in the vicinity of Indo-Aryan proper as opposed to Indo-Iranian or early Iranian (which has “aiva”) in general.
Another text has babru(-nnu) (babhru, brown), parita(-nnu) (palita, grey), and pinkara(-nnu) (pingala, red). Their chief festival was the celebration of the solstice (vishuva) which was common in most cultures in the ancient world. The Mitanni warriors were called marya (Hurrian: maria-nnu), the term for (young) warrior in Sanskrit as well; note mišta-nnu (= miẓḍha,~ Sanskrit mīḍha) “payment (for catching a fugitive)” (Mayrhofer II 358).
The spread of Indo-Aryan languages has been connected with the spread of the chariot in the first half of the 2nd millennium BCE. Some scholars trace the Indo-Aryans (both Indo-Aryans and European Aryans) back to the Andronovo culture (2nd millennium BCE). Other scholars[8] have argued that the Andronovo culture proper formed too late to be associated with the Indo-Aryans of India, and that no actual traces of the Andronovo culture (e.g. warrior burials or timber-frame materials) have been found in India and Southern countries like Sri Lanka and the Maldives.[9]
Archaeologist J.P. Mallory (1998) finds it “extraordinarily difficult to make a case for expansions from this northern region to northern India” and remarks that the proposed migration routes “only [get] the Indo-Iranian to Central Asia, but not as far as the seats of the Medes, Persians or Indo-Aryans” (Mallory 1998; Bryant 2001: 216). Therefore he prefers to derive the Indo-Aryans from the intermediate stage of the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) culture, in terms of a “Kulturkugel” model of expansion.
Likewise, Asko Parpola (1988) connects the Indo-Aryans to the BMAC. But although horses were known to the Indo-Aryans, evidence for their presence in the form of horse bones is missing in the BMAC. Parpola (1988) has argued that the Dasas were the “carriers of the Bronze Age culture of Greater Iran” living in the BMAC and that the forts with circular walls destroyed by the Indo-Aryans were actually located in the BMAC.
Parpola (1999) elaborates the model and has “Proto-Rigvedic” Indo-Aryans intrude the BMAC around 1700 BCE. He assumes early Indo-Aryan presence in the Late Harappan horizon from about 1900 BCE, and “Proto-Rigvedic” (Proto-Dardic) intrusion to the Punjab as corresponding to the Swat culture from about 1700 BCE.
Recently Leo Klejn proposed a hypothesis of linking the earliest stage of Indo-Aryan peoples with the Catacomb culture. The linguistic composition of the Catacomb culture is unclear. Within the context of the Kurgan hypothesis expounded by Marija Gimbutas, an Indo-European component is hard to deny, particularly in the later stages. Placing the ancestors of the Greek, Armenian and Paleo-Balkan dialects here is tempting, as it would neatly explain certain shared features.
More recently, the Ukrainian archaeologist V. Kulbaka has argued that the Late Yamna cultures of ca. 3200–2800 BC, esp. the Budzhak, Starosilsk, and Novotitarovka groups, might represent the Greek-Armenian-“Aryan”(=Indo-Iranian) ancestors (Graeco-Aryan, Graeco-Armenian), and the Catacomb culture that of the “unified” (to ca. 2500 BC) and then “differentiated” Indo-Iranians.
Grigoryev’s (1998) version of the Armenian hypothesis connects Catacomb culture with Indo-Aryans, because catacomb burial ritual had roots in South-Western Turkmenistan from the early 4th millennium (Parkhai cemetery). The same opinion is supported by Leo Klejn in his various publications.
The Indo-Iranians were a community that spoke a common language prior to their branching off into the Iranian and Indo-Aryan languages. Iranian refers to the languages of Iran (Iranian), Pakistan (Balochi and Pashto), Afghanistan (Pashto and Dari), and Tadjikistan (Tajiki) and Indo-Aryan, Sanskrit, Urdu and its many related languages.
By the early 1st millennium, Ancient Iranian peoples such as Medes, Persians, Bactrians, Parthians and Scythians populated the Iranian plateau, and other Scythian tribes, along with Cimmerians, Sarmatians and Alans populated the steppes north of the Black Sea. The Saka, Scythian, tribes spread as far west as the Balkans and as far east as Xinjiang.
Scythians formed the Indo-Scythian Empire, and Bactrians formed a Greco-Bactrian Kingdom founded by Diodotus I, the satrap of Bactria. The Kushan Empire, with Bactrian roots/connections, once controlled much of Pakistan, some of Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The Kushan elite (who the Chinese called the Yuezhi) were either a Tocharian-speaking (another Indo-European branch) people or an Eastern Iranian language-speaking people.
The division into an “Eastern” and a “Western” group by the early 1st millennium is visible in Avestan vs. Old Persian, the two oldest known Iranian languages. The Old Avestan texts known as the Gathas are believed to have been composed by Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism, with the Yaz culture (c. 1500–1100 BCE) as a candidate for the development of Eastern Iranian culture. Old Persian appears to have been established in written form by 519 BCE, following the creation of the Old Persian script, inspired by the cuneiform script of the Assyrians.
The language of the Medes, the Median language (also Medean or Medic), is an Old Iranian language and classified as belonging to the northwestern Iranian subfamily which includes many other languages such as Azari, Zazaki, Laki, Gorani, Gilaki, Mazandarani, Kurdish, and Baluchi.
is only attested by numerous loanwords in Old Persian. Nothing is known of its grammar, “but it shares important phonological isoglosses with Avestan, rather than Old Persian. No documents dating to Median times have been preserved, and it is not known what script these texts might have been in. The Median element is readily identifiable because it did not share in the developments that were particular to Old Persian. Remnants of the Median language and Old Persian show their common Proto-Iranian roots
A distinction from other ethno-linguistic groups (such as the Persians) is evident primarily in foreign sources, for instance from mid-9th century BCE Assyrian cuneiform sources and from Herodotus’ mid-5th century BCE second-hand account of the Perso-Median conflict. It is not known what the native name of the Median language was (this is also true for all other Old Iranian languages), or whether the Medes themselves nominally distinguished it from the languages of other Iranian peoples.
The original population area of the Median people was western Iran and named after them as “Media”. At the end of the 2nd millennium BCE the Median tribes emerged in the region (one of several Iranian tribes to do so) which they later called Media. These tribes expanded their control over larger areas subsequently, and, over a period of several hundred years, the boundaries of Media moved.
An early description of the territory of Media by the Assyrians dates from the end of the 9th century BCE until the beginning of the 7th century BCE. The southern border of Media, in that period, is named as the Elamite region of Simaški in present day Lorestan. From the west and northwest it was bounded by the Zagros mountains and from the east by Dasht-e Kavir. The region of Media was ruled by the Assyrians and for them the region “extended along the Great Khorasan Road from just east of Harhar to Alwand, and probably beyond. It was limited on the north by the non Iranian state of Mannea, on the south by Ellipi.” The location of Harhar is suggested to be “the central or eastern” Mahidasht in Kermanshah province.
The materials found at Tepe Nush-i Jan, Godin Tepe, and other sites located in Media together with the Assyrian reliefs show the existence of urban settlements in Media in the first half of the 1st millennium BCE which had functioned as centres for production of handicraft and also of an agricultural and cattle-breeding economy of a secondary type.
For other historical documentation, the archaeological evidence, though rare, together with cuneiform records by Assyrian make it possible, regardless of Herodotus accounts, to establish some of the early history of Medians.
Iranian tribes were present in western and northwestern Iran at least from 12th or 11th century BCE. The significance of Iranian elements in these regions were established from beginning of the second half of the 8th century BCE. By this time the Iranian tribes were the majority in what later become the territory of Median kingdom and also the west of Media proper.
A study of textual sources from the region show that in Neo-Assyrian period, the regions of Media and further west and northwest had a population with Iranian speaking people as majority.
In western and northwestern Iran and in areas west to these and prior to the Median rule there were previously political activities of powerful societies of Elam, Mannaea, Assyria and Urartu (Armenia).
There are various and up-dated opinions on the positions and activities of Iranian tribes in these societies and prior to the “major Iranian state formations” in the late 7th century BCE.
During the 1st centuries of the first millennium BCE, the ancient Persians established themselves in the western portion of the Iranian plateau and appear to have interacted considerably with the Elamites and Babylonians, while the Medes also entered in contact with the Assyrians.
During the period of the Neo Assyrian Empire (911-612 BC) the Medes, Persians and other Iranian peoples of northern and western Iran were subject to Assyria. This changed during the reign of Cyaxares, who in alliance with Nabopolassar of Babylon and the Scythians attacked and destroyed the strife riven empire between 616 and 605 BC.
Following the establishment of the Achaemenid Empire, the Persian language (referred to as “Farsi” in Persian) spread from Pars or Fars Province to various regions of the Empire, with the modern dialects of Iran, Afghanistan (also known as Dari) and Central-Asia (known as Tajiki) descending from Old Persian.
Old Persian is attested in the Behistun Inscription (c. 519 BCE), recording a proclamation by Darius the Great. In southwestern Iran, the Achaemenid kings usually wrote their inscriptions in trilingual form (Elamite, Babylonian and Old Persian) while elsewhere other languages were used. The administrative languages were Elamite in the early period, and later Imperial Aramaic.
The early inhabitants of the Achaemenid Empire appear to have adopted the religion of Zoroastrianism. The Baloch who speak a west Iranian language relate an oral tradition regarding their migration from Aleppo, Syria around the year 1000 CE, whereas linguistic evidence links Balochi to Kurmanji, Soranî, Gorani and Zazaki.
Indo-Aryans
Indo-Iranians
Iranian peoples
Iranian plateau
List of Ancient Iranian peoples
Indo-Aryan migration