Europe before the arrival of the indo-europeans

Discussion in 'History' started by skaught, Apr 6, 2014.

  1. skaught The field its covered in blood Valued Senior Member

    So we know that there were already people in Europe before the arrival of the Indo Europeans. However, I've been having a hard time finding any information on who these people were. Anybody have any info or links on where I can find this information?
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  3. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    'Indo-European' is fundamentally a linguistic idea, indicating a broad family of related languages. It's assumed that these languages were spread by people who spoke ancestor(s) of the related languages, so the 'Indo-European' name is often used as the name of a neolithic ethnic group, especially the ethnic group that they all are hypothetically descended from.

    In Europe, the Indo-European linguistic group includes Greek, Latin and the Romance languages, the Germanic, Slavic and Celtic languages, and some Illyrian stuff like Albanian along with the Balts (Latvians and Lithuanians). In other words, pretty much everyone in present-day Europe speaks an Indo-European language.

    Outside Europe, Indo-European languages include the once widely dispersed Persian family (still prevalent in Iran and Afghanistan) and lots of languages in India including Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, and the ancient canonical languages of Sanskrit and Pali. There's also the now-extinct Tocharian group that was once spoken in what is now western China. The ancient Indo-Europeans got around. The ancient Hittites and Mitanni also spoke Indo-European languages.

    If somebody wants to find non-Indo-European survivals in Europe, the obvious thing to look for would be European groups that speak non-Indo-European languages.

    One group includes the Finns, Estonians and some smaller ethnic groups in northern European Russia. They and the related Sami (Laplanders) seem to be the descendents of an indigenous population that once extended over a larger part of northeastern Europe now populated by Slavs. The related Magyars (Hungarians) are a more recent arrival in central Europe, originating in the Ural mountain area.

    The other surviving non-Indo-European group in Europe is the Basques. They seem to be the descendents of a population that once inhabited much larger areas of western Europe.

    Historically, there are other identifiable non-Indo-European groups whose languages have died out, such as the Etruscans in Italy.

    So that's one way to approach it, look into what's known of the origins and early histories of the ancestors of the Finns and Basques.

    My sense is that all of this neolithic-era ethnic migrations stuff gets really speculative when historians are talking about ancient non-literate populations thousands of years BCE. There's plenty of evidence about stuff like ancient populations' pottery and burial customs, but there's no reliable way to link that kind of evidence to knowledge of what languages the people who left the physical evidence once spoke.

    The bottom line seems to be that nobody really has the final answers about this stuff. Which naturally means that there's a HUGE scholarly literature on it.

    As far as links, my suggestion is to check out the journal 'Antiquity'. This thing is truly phenomenal. They publish more papers on all aspects of ancient populations and cultures all around the world (ranging from the dispersion and lifestyles of ancient hominids to Viking settlements in medieval Iceland) than anyone can possibly ever read in a lifetime. They have many hundreds of papers on all aspects of the early ethnic history of Europe. And all of the journal's articles are available for your reading pleasure and/or free download (pdf format) at their website:
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  5. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    Very informative post, Yazata, thanks.
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  7. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Oops, I lied.

    I've been reading Antiquity by accessing the full-text through the online scholarly periodicals thing belonging to a local library. Unfortunately, I just tried to access the same material directly through the website and discovered that it's only available to subscribers from there.

    Sorry about that.

    So if you want to check this out, and anyone interested in ancient history and pre-history should take a look at it, see if you can get access to it through a local library.
  8. skaught The field its covered in blood Valued Senior Member

    yeah I had a little trouble with it. No biggy. ty for the info!
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The first Homo sapiens tribes to arrive in Europe are called the Cro-Magnon, after the region in southwestern France where the first remains were found. They were a Paleolithic ("Early Stone Age") people, i.e., nomadic hunter-gatherers who had not invented the technologies of farming and animal husbandry, and the earliest evidence of their habitation is around 43,000 years ago. They probably walked up from central Asia, then through what is now Russia, but it's conceivable that they might have built simple boats that could have carried them across the narrow straits of Bosporus from Anatolia into what is now the tiny European part of Turkey.

    As modern humans, they were considerably better adapted to the warming European climate than the Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) who had been living there. Although they were probably not as strong, they could run faster, and the greater range of motion of their arms allowed them to use modern weapons such as the bow and arrow, making them more successful hunters of the smaller, faster prey animals who were displacing the huge, fat-insulated, slow-moving ice age prey of the Neanderthals. They could even swim in the now-liquid rivers, whereas the Neanderthals were not buoyant.

    Nonetheless, we really know very little about these people. They were good artists who left some magnificent cave paintings. There were musicians among them: we've found a flute made from a mammoth tusk with the holes placed perfectly for a pentatonic scale. But we don't have a good sample of their DNA and we have no idea what language(s) they spoke.

    When the Indo-European tribes began migrating into Europe around 1500BCE, they brought agriculture with them (which had been invented 8500 years earlier), and with this Neolithic ("Late Stone Age") technology, they rapidly out-competed the Cro-Magnon. Virtually all modern Europeans have Indo-European DNA--except of course for those who arrived even later, such as the Magyars, Turks, Jews, etc. The Celtic tribes arrived first and dominated the continent until the Germanic, Hellenic and Italic peoples started arriving, marginalizing the Celts out onto the British Isles.

    The only Europeans who might be descendants of the Cro-Magnon are the Basques. Both their DNA and their language have no relation to any other modern people.

    Nonetheless, the Cro-Magnon were explorers. Evidence has recently been discovered of villages established on the eastern coast of North America several thousand years before the Paleoindians arrived on the western coast. (Because we're almost at the end of an ice age and sea level has been rising for millennia, these villages are now underwater 25 miles offshore.) The tools and other technology are clearly of European manufacture. However, this beachhead of Cro-Magnon immigration (we call these people the "Solutreans") did not establish a successful community, so neither their DNA nor their culture is represented in the modern Native American population.
  10. skaught The field its covered in blood Valued Senior Member

    As always Fraggle, Thanks you! Most of what you posted is what I have already been able to come up with. Though there were a few good nuggets!

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    What I'm wondering is who was there shortly before the arrival of the Indo-Europeans.
    How much info do we have about these people?

    I wonder, how much of their DNA survives in modern Europeans.
  11. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    Thanks for the journal list! Really helpful!
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I have never seen a suggestion that any H. sapiens other than the Cro-Magnon populated Europe before the various waves of Indo-Europeans arrived: Celtic-->Germanic-->Hellenic-->Italic-->Balto-Slavic (the latter in historical times).

    If you mean the Cro-Magnon, we have about what you'd expect in terms of archeological artifacts. Remember that these were Paleolithic tribes (nomadic hunter-gatherers), so they didn't have true "homes" to furnish and decorate, just caves that they used as base camps. We don't even have any good corpses with intact DNA; that would be very helpful. Since it was, indeed, the "Early Stone Age" (literal meaning of "Paleolithic") with no metallurgy, there was not a plethora of man-made artifacts. Wood and fiber artifacts don't preserve well so all we have is their stone tools and carvings.

    Everyone talks about the Neanderthal DNA in modern Europeans, but nobody talks about Cro-Magnon DNA. But the only way the modern Europeans could have Neanderthal DNA is to have Cro-Magnon DNA, since the Neanderthals didn't interact with the Indo-Europeans (or any other tribes such as the East Asians) in their native land.

    If the DNA of modern Europeans isn't easily distinguishable from the DNA of other Indo-European people (Indic, Armenian, Persian, etc.), that would seem to imply that the Cro-Magnon themselves weren't much different from the other Paleolithic human populations. However, this contradicts the findings of Dr. Cavalli-Sforza, who finds enough genetic diversity among today's populations to map our migratory routes from Africa to where they are today.
  13. skaught The field its covered in blood Valued Senior Member

    This was where I was going to take this next. Was wondering who came in first, second etc.

    So the various waves, obviously happened over a period of time. It wasn't just like one day all the Indo-Europeans picked up and went to Europe. They must have migrated slowly, and in bands. If my information is correct, the Celts really only survive in modern Ireland no? But at one time, they were all over Europe? As far as the rest of the groups, They pretty much went to certain parts and have remained there yes?

    And I didn't know that the Balto-Slavs arrived in historical times.

    Is there any evidence as to why the Indo-Europeans started migrating into Europe? Seems that usually tribes migrate, at least larger distances, due to a need so to speak. I imagine Europe at that time being pretty resource rich. Were they running low on food? Famine? Drought? Boredom? Curiosity?...
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    If you're just looking at high-level groupings, there were only two migrations of Homo sapiens into Europe before historical times: the Cro-Magnon and the Indo-Europeans. If you want lower-level groupings, we ain't got 'em. Since we have no Cro-Magnon DNA, we obviously can't divide the population into tribes and then figure out what order they arrived in.

    As for the Indo-European migrations, I've already gone over that. The only people who don't fit into that paradigm are the Basques, whom I've already identified, and the Etruscans, who seem to have arrived in Europe just slightly ahead of the Indo-Europeans and had a civilization going for them to compete with. But we also have no Etruscan DNA, and on top of it, even though they had written language, we have so few samples that we can't decipher it. So we can't figure out where they came from either.

    The Celts came first. Having Neolithic technology (agriculture) they easily out-competed the Cro-Magnon. Having lived in proximity to Asian civilizations, they kinda understood the concept of metallurgy, so they even made halting steps to raise Europe into the Bronze Age. And yes, the Celts populated virtually the entire continent--perhaps excluding Scandinavia, but as you know they populated the British Isles except for what is now Scotland, which was inhabited by the Picts, a people we know almost nothing about and--to repeat myself--we've got no DNA and no samples of their language.

    The original inhabitants of southern Britannia are called the Brythonic people, a Celtic tribe closely related to the people on Ireland, both of whom were less closely related to any of the Celtic tribes inhabiting the continent. We have enough samples of the various tribes' languages (thanks to the Roman monks who diligently transcribed them using the Roman alphabet) to analyze them linguistically.

    When the Roman Empire collapsed and the Roman Legions abandoned Britannia with its overlaid Roman civilization around 400CE, the Germanic tribes sailed over and took charge. We call them the Anglo-Saxons, but there were many other Germanic tribes represented besides the Angles and Saxons. (But the luck of history reminds us of their heritage, in the names of some English counties such as East Anglia and Essex: "East Saxony." Not to mention, the name "England" is just a mosh of "Angle Land.") They marginalized the Brythonic population. The people of Wales and Cornwall managed to hang onto their homelands (Welsh and Cornish are Celtic languages), but the rest of the Celts were either killed, absorbed, or among the refugees who sailed back to the continent and established the region in France which is still called Brittany, and whose people still speak Breton, a Celtic language. Eventually Irish migrants sailed into northern Britannia and although the details are unavailable, when it was all over the Picts were gone and the immigrants became a new people we now call the Scots, whose Celtic Gaelic language is more-or-less intercomprehensible with Irish Gaelic.

    Shortly before 0CE, the Germanic tribes came up from Asia and went straight to Scandinavia. Eventually some of them crossed into the main part of Europe, becoming the Germans, Franks and Goths. The Romans conquered them all, but the Germans at least got to keep their language. Speaking of the Romans, we're not quite sure when they arrived in Europe, and there's some speculation that they were just a lost Celtic tribe, but they seem to have arrived a few hundred years after the Hellenic people came around 1000BCE, who established a great civilization and are now called Greeks by everyone except themselves.

    The Slavic tribes were slowly taking over the region that is now Russia, and by around 300CE the Czechs, Poles and other Slavic people established homelands in western Europe.

    The Finns, Saami (formerly called "Lapps"), Huns and Magyars were also making their way into central Europe, but they were not Indo-European tribes. The same is probably true of the Bulgars, but they "Slavicized" themselves so thoroughly (adopting Old Slavonic as their language) that today they're included in the ranks of the Slavic nations.

    The civilizations of Mesopotamia were thriving and their populations were multiplying. The "barbarians" who still lived a Stone Age lifestyle on the edge of civilization had to go. It was getting pretty crowded down there. However, they didn't all go to Europe. That was only the Western Indo-European tribes. The Eastern tribes went east and south and established the civilizations in India, Persia, Armenia, etc. We still neatly divide the language family into Western Indo-European and Eastern Indo-European. The Balts and Slavs are actually Eastern tribes and their languages are much more closely related to Sanskrit and Farsi than to Latin and English.

    There were a couple of other Indo-European groups that migrated into places like Anatolia, but they died out. We have useful samples of some of their languages.
  15. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    There seem to be two different schools of thought about that. (And countless variants within each school.)

    One variant associates the Indo-European expansion into Europe with the neolithic revolution and the expansion of agriculture and farming villages into that continent. That would place it fairly early, prior to 5000 BCE. That theory accounts pretty neatly for how Indo-European languages ended up swamping pretty much everything that was there earlier, since agriculture can support larger populations than hunting and gathering. So the population of the Indo-European speaking agricultural settlements would have ended up being far larger than the populations surrounding them, and eventually the remnant hunters-and-gatherers would have assimilated into the Indo-European majority.

    With some exceptions... like the Basques and the Etruscans perhaps, who may represent non-Indo-European groups that ended up adopting agriculture themselves and growing in numbers enough that their languages and cultures survived.

    The other theory variant places the origin of the Indo-Europeans in what is now the eastern Ukrainian steppe, sometime prior to 2000 BCE. Then they expanded all over Europe (and much of Asia) from there. That creates problems in my view, because by that later time, farming and farming villages were found all over Europe. The rise in population density associated with the advent of agriculture had already happened. So this theory variant speculates that the Indo-Europeans must have been incredibly warlike, or perhaps were superior in some other way, and conquered (or otherwise absorbed) everyone and everything in their path, except the Basques perhaps.

    That scenario just seems unlikely to me.

    I'm not sure how consistent it is with the archaeological evidence either. In some places, there do seem to be cultural discontinuities around the time the Indo-Europeans would have arrived in this late-arrival theory. Of course, there are other cultural discontinuities earlier and later as well. And in other places, the material cultures associated with what are reasonably assumed to have been Indo-European times do seem to be continuous with much older cultures that would have existed in the same areas before the hypothetical Indo-European conquest. So some historians twist themselves into knots, trying to argue that the Indo-Europeans might have replaced the ruling elites in preexisting populations, and introduced new languages that for some reason ended up replacing the older languages in those regions, while stuff like pottery styles continued on more or less unchanged.

    My own opinion is that historically, things usually work the other way around, with new outside ruling elites gradually converting to speaking the languages of the more numerous people that they've conquered, not the other way around. Examples include the Greco-Bactrians (the Greeks who ruled ancient Afghanistan) gradually going native through intermarriage and in order to communicate with those around them, and the Rus (Swedish Vikings who conquered large areas of eastern Europe) gradually starting to speak a version of Slavic in order to communicate with their subjects, and in so doing becoming the Russians.
  16. cornel Registered Senior Member

    Possibly trade

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    Farmers are mainly interacting with their own little community, the trade-community interacts with itself in a bigger scale, so it is harder to replace.
    The language of smaller communities can be replaced, well, whenever it is convenient/desirable to do so for any reason
    (off course, community means something much more vague for the traders then it does for farmers)
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    War is a phenomenon of the Bronze Age. Of course Stone Age people fought, but their weapons of wood and stone were most effective in one-on-one combat.

    Fighting was not constant, and tribes generally coexisted peacefully, each within its own hunting and gathering territory. Anthropologists suggest that fighting was only performed during a year of poor rainfall, when there wasn't enough food for everybody. In order to survive, a tribe had to expand its food supply, which could only be done by invading the territory of its neighbor.

    And indeed, by using new technology to study old fossils, archeologists have made the sad discovery that in the Paleolithic Era (the Early Stone Age, before the invention of agriculture, which created the Earth's first food surplus) most adult deaths were indeed the result of violence. More humans were killed by other humans than by all other causes combined! This surely happened during a drought. It's quite reasonable to hypothesize that each tribe would have concentrated on the other tribe's elders, because they were less able to defend themselves.

    I can imagine a warrior on one side or the other blowing a whistle and saying, "How about a truce for a few minutes while we count our dead? Yeah right, with all the old people gone, I think there's enough food for everybody now. So pray for rain, and we'll see you guys at next year's summer festival!"
  18. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Who were the people of the solutrean stone culture?
    Who are their descendants?
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    They were the Cro-Magnon. Those were the only Homo sapiens in Europe that long ago.

    As I explained, they have none. Their communities failed and the population eventually died out. This happened several thousand years before the Paleoindians arrived on the other side of the continent, so their DNA is not found in any of the surviving New World gene pools.

    Shit happens. The Solutreans were hardly the only colony of explorers on this planet who didn't make a go of it. There are campsites in South America dated thousands of years before the arrival of the Paleoindians. Those people also vanished into prehistory.
  20. R1D2 many leagues under the sea. Valued Senior Member

    Intersting topic...
  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    No, because the purpose of school is to learn, and by hiring someone to do work that is assigned to you, you don't learn anything.

    When these children graduate and apply for jobs in the real world, they won't have any job skills. Their only option will be to work for the government.

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  22. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Hey Fraggle, there's a link in Johnrichards' post that appears to lead to a pre-written papers for sale cheating service. The moderators really should remove the link.
  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Thanks. I notified the moderator of this subforum. In fact, I notified all of them, since these spammers usually post all over the forum.

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