Monday, September 12, 2022

The Indo-European Languages Did Not Arise In Anatolia

Davidski at Eurogenes rightly pans, in a fifth installment of criticism, the recent Lazaridis, Alpaslan-Roodenberg et al. paper (that has lots of good new ancient DNA evidence from a critical area). The new paper wrongly interprets the data as supporting an Armenian or Anatolian origin of the Indo-European languages, when it is far more plausible that the Indo-European languages originate in Eastern Europe stating:
The debate over the location of the so called Indo-Anatolian homeland won't be decided by the persistence of any type of genetic ancestry in ancient Anatolia.

It'll be decided by a multidisciplinary study on the interactions between the ancient peoples of the North Pontic steppe, the eastern Balkans, and western Anatolia. . . .
the authors should've given us a painstaking account of the spread of different ancient Indo-European speaking groups into Anatolia and explained how, overall, their DNA was rapidly diluted to a trace amount.

However, instead they treated us to a make-believe tale about a so called Indo-Anatolian homeland in what is now Armenia.
Anatolian languages arose in Anatolia on a more elite dominance type model rather than a demic replacement model. 

Also the linguistic based estimates of the Anatolian languages divergence from other Indo-European languages grossly underestimates the role of contact with a different and stronger substrate than in most of the other cases of the spread of the Indo-European languages.


Guy said...

Hum, I think David over criticizes. The aDNA data does not clearly show that IE was brought to Anatolia from the steppes. And A-R&Laz say that in their discussion. We can say it doesn't make sense with any other way, and that was what this paper was supposed to prove, one way or the other. But, unfortunately, the data is just not strong enough. If both theories are possible with about the weight of aDNA data then that's it. Gonna have to wait for "moar" data!

andrew said...


The main and rightful criticism that David makes is a failure to engage in a multidisciplinary analysis when one is needed to make a meaningful conclusion, and for overreach in their interpretation of the genetic data presented in places in the discussion as a conclusion or most likely conclusion, that the data does not really support.

Mark B. said...

So what explains the need for multiple teams doing this work to keep the I-E homeland out of Europe? Is there a single serious person in the world who still makes any sort of Nazi-supporting argument for a western-European/German origin? I get the impression that they think that modern-day Ukraine is too close to a German/Aryan homeland to touch, when virtually all of us were born after that sort of thing burned out in 1945. Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but I can't help thinking that in labs and offices all over the Western world guys in lab coats are telling each other 'I'm not a racist ... you aren't a racist either, right?' The steppe evidence is just so strong that I can't see any other reason to deny it.

Guy said...

Hi @Mark, Yeah, for PIE I think that a steppe or forest-steppe origin is a no brainer. For PPIE it's not so clear. Could have arisen in the EHG component, the CHG component, from elite dominance or whatever happened in Basqueland. And of course the EHG and CHG components might themselves be a complex brocade of similar components. Even if we get the aDNA all sorted out there might never be a consensus, it's a linguistic question and requires a linguistic answer, and maybe there just isn't enough data.

andrew said...


I don't think that is what is driving it.

A big part of the motivation is that the Anatolian IE languages are very divergent from other IE languages which is interpreted as a sign that their most recent common ancestor has to be older than the most recent common shared ancestor of other IE languages except perhaps Tocharian.

But, for that linguistically driven narrative to work, there have to be Indo-European language speakers in Anatolia a thousand or more years earlier than there is any archaeological or historical basis for, and earlier than there is any real ancient DNA basis for, IE communities there.

My explanation for that is that the apparently deep time depth of Anatolian languages is mostly due to contact effects giving rise to greater substrate influences than elsewhere. But the authors of the papers are treating the linguistic time depth estimates as too authoritative and trying to craft a narrative with fits the inconsistent ancient DNA data, even though that narrative is implausible