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Indo-European language

  Balto-Slavic (Baltic)
  Balto-Slavic (Slavic)
  Hellenic (Greek)
  Indo-Iranian (Indo-Aryan, Iranian, and Nuristani)
  Italic (Romance)
  Non-Indo-European languages


Kentumski & satemski jezici

Ancient languages of Europe

Indo-European origins

According to Gimbutas' version of the Kurgan hypothesis, Old Europe was invaded and destroyed by horse-riding pastoral nomads from the Pontic-Caspian steppe (the "Kurgan culture") who brought with them violence, patriarchy, and Indo-European languages. More recent proponents of the Kurgan hypothesis agree that the cultures of Old Europe spoke pre-Indo-European languages but include a less dramatic transition, with a prolonged migration of Proto-Indo-European speakers after Old Europe's collapse because of other factors.

Colin Renfrew's competing Anatolian hypothesis suggests that the Indo-European languages were spread across Europe by the first farmers from Anatolia. In the hypothesis' original formulation, the languages of Old Europe belonged to the Indo-European family but played no special role in its transmission. According to Renfrew's most recent revision of the theory however Old Europe was a "secondary urheimat" where the Greek, Armenian, and Balto-Slavic language families diverged around 5000 BCE.

Proto-Indo-European homeland
Kurgan hypothesis
Armenian hypothesis
Anatolian hypothesis
Paleolithic Continuity Theory

Kurgan hipoteza

Kurgan hypothesis

Pontic–Caspian steppe

Tumulus - Kurgan

The Horse, the Wheel and Language ??

Anatolian hypothesis

According to Renfrew (2004), the spread of Indo-European proceeded in the following steps:

  • Around 6500 BC: Pre-Proto-Indo-European, in Anatolia, splits into Anatolian and Archaic Proto-Indo-European, the language of the Pre-Proto-Indo-European farmers who migrate to Europe in the initial farming dispersal. Archaic Proto-Indo-European languages occur in the Balkans (Starčevo-Körös-Cris culture), in the Danube valley (Linear Pottery culture), and possibly in the Bug-Dniestr area (Eastern Linear pottery culture).
  • Around 5000 BC: Archaic Proto-Indo-European splits into Northwestern Indo-European (the ancestor of Italic, Celtic, and Germanic), in the Danube valley, Balkan Proto-Indo-European (corresponding to Gimbutas' Old European culture) and Early Steppe Proto-Indo-European (the ancestor of Tocharian).

The main strength of the farming hypothesis lies in its linking of the spread of Indo-European languages with an archaeologically-known event, the spread of farming, which scholars often assume involved significant population shifts.

A large number of cuneiform writings, discovered mostly on clay tablets in the Middle East, made possible greater accuracy in the research of ancient languages of the region.  Among them the Akkadian language occupies a unique position. C. Renfrew, the founder of the newest theory of the Anatolian origin of Indo-Europeans, compares Semitic languages (Akkadian is one of them) with Indo-European languages.
G. Semerano explained the Akkadian roots of a number of Greek and Latin words, which had no known etymology till now.  At the same time, he drew attention to the ancient connections between the Baltic Sea region and the Middle East, corroborated by archaeological works, and also defined by the uncontested Amber Road.  This road led from the Baltic Sea, through central Europe, and continued by boat on the Adriatic Sea to the Middle East.

Amber Road


The Paleolithic Continuity

The Paleolithic Continuity hypothesis reverses the Kurgan hypothesis and largely identifies the Indo-Europeans with Gimbutas's "Old Europe." PCT reassigns the Kurgan culture (traditionally considered early Indo-European) to a people of predominantly mixed Uralic and Turkic stock. Alinei argues that the use of borrowed Turkic words in horse terminology, such as qaptï ("to grab with hands and teeth"), yabu ("horse"), yam ("nomadic caravan-tent"), yuntă ("horse" (generic)), aygur ("stallion"), homut ("horse collar") and alaša ("pack horse"), in Samoyedic (Northern and Southern), in some Finno-Ugric languages and Slavic languages, "proves the antiquity of Turkic presence in the European area bordering Asia." He suggests that horse domestication originated with Turkic peoples, offering this as an explanation why horse terminology in the European area bordering Asia and in most of Eastern Europe is rooted in Turkic and not Indo-European vocabulary.


The Neolithic Continuity


Indo-European topics

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