Sunday, October 11, 2015

Max Planck Institute - Jena Conference Abstract Book 2015

Here's the Abstract Book for the Genetics/Linguistics Conference Oct 11 - 14.  It's organized by Wolfgang Haak and Johannes Krause.  [Webpage]

Here's the [Program] and the [Abstract Book]

There is plenty of ammo here for a four day foodfight.  It's commendable that they have brought in dissenting opinions and skeptics of the recent marriage of linguistics, culture and genetics.

Every one of these speeches has an interesting speaker, I'll cut and paste just a few:

From Yamnaya to Bell Beakers: Mechanisms of Transmission in an Interconnected Europe, 3500–2000 BC Volker Heyd, Universtiy Bristol, Bistol and University of Helsinki, Helsinki 

Yamnaya Peoples in the East and Bell Beakers Users in the West are rightly seen as the apogees in a long-term process of individualisation, gender differentiation, warrior display and internationalisation/unification that fundamentally change the face of the European Continent from the mid fourth and throughout the third millennium BC. We can only approach the reasons why prehistoric peoples and cultures from regions across Europe, which were no more than marginally in touch before, join in the same emblematic pottery, new drinking habits, similar burial customs, anthropomorphic stelae, ostentatious display of weapons and other paraphernalia, and thus common values. However rather than seeing this development as an internal European progress I want to point to the importance of the Pontic-Caspian steppes, and a 2000 years lasting interaction scenario of infiltrating Suvorovo-Novodanilovka, Nizhnemikhailovka-Kvityana and Yamnaya peoples and populations with their more sedentary contemporaries in southeast Europe, the Carpathian basin and northeast of the Carpathian bow. A crucial part of this interaction –besides migrations and the exchange of genes and goods as recently highlighted in several publications not only in Nature and Science– is the forwarding of innovations in the sphere of subsistence economy. We see this archaeologically in a further importance of animal husbandry, with larger herds, specialised breeding and new forms of herd-ing management in particular for cattle. This obviously sets in motion a substantial shift in general mobility patterns and of communication networks. It is easily conceivable that this interaction must also have had a profound impact on the whole settlement organisation and people’s way-of-life, in consequence probably fundamentally affecting the basics of societies and thus challenging the whole system of ideas, imaginations, morale, symbols and terms – a new world-view and ultimately the base for a new language.

Old stories, new failures? Genetics, migration and mobility during third millennium European archaeology Marc Vander Linden, Institute of Archaeology, University College London, London 

Over the past few years, several publications based upon the application of scientific techniques (e.g. Sr isotopes, aDNA) have revived the interest for migration, mobility and demography during the 3rd mill. cal. BC in Europe. These contributions should be welcomed by archaeologists for forcing us to revisit our data from another perspective, as well as for bringing back the spotlight on a period sometimes forgotten between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. Yet, many archaeologists have expressed either doubt or a relative lack of interest for these papers, largely because some of their results worryingly echo interpretations which have been lurking throughout the history of the discipline for more than a century (e.g. steppe influences, Iberian homeland,...) This paper will briefly discuss the scientific and archaeological evidence for the 3rd mill. cal. BC, with a focus on the Corded Ware and Bell Beaker complexes. This review aims at showing the complexity inherent to this period, which cannot be read as a mere suite of migratory events which would have distributed artefacts, genes and languages across Europe. On the contrary, distinct facets of the archaeological record, genetics and linguistics all seem to tell different stories. Rather than proposing a mere cautionary tale rejecting cross-disciplinary dialogue, this paper will explore alternative ways aiming at retuning together these apparently discordant voices.

 The East European Steppe in the Discussion about the Expansion of the IndoEuropean Language Elke Kaiser, Institut für Prähistorische Archäologie, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin
Ever since the late 19th century archaeologists and linguists, using methods specific to their fields, have attempted to identify the region in which the proto-IndoEuropean language was spoken. However, today there is still no consensus in the many conclusions; several areas and time spans have been put forward as the “Indo-European homeland” and are yet a subject of debate. In the past year several scientific papers were published concerning specific features that could be determined, by using population genetic methods, in the skeletal material that had been excavated and analysed from grave mounds dated to the 1st half of the 3rd millennium BCE (Yamnaya culture) in the east European steppe area. The same features were then identified in graves of the Corded Ware culture in Central Germany, moreover in surprisingly high amounts. This population genetic shift has now been associated with processes that have been repeatedly postulated with regard to the spread of the proto-Indo-European language: namely, large population groups migrated from the east European steppe zone into Central Germany, a movement that led to marked demographic as well as cultural changes. Have we come closer to solving the puzzle about the spread of the proto-Indo-European language? In order to better judge this issue, we should be aware of the different levels at which the various conclusions have been made. Therefore, in my contribution I will focus on the Yamnaya culture which in general terms is archaeologically described by a specific grave construction and a specific burial custom. Following this I will present a few sceptical considerations concerning the possibility of correlating archaeological evidence with the linguistic construct of the proto-Indo-European language.
The Genetic History and Structure of Britain Nick Patterson, Broad Institute, Boston and David Reich, Harvard Medical School and Broad Institute, Boston 
The recently published paper on the genetic structure of Britain (Leslie et al. Nature 2015) has shown subtle genetic variation correlating with geography. Here we reexamine the evidence in the light of our understanding of the genetics of Ancient Europe and comment on some implications for how Indo-Europeans spread into Europe.
Indo-European in Atlantic Europe at the proto-historic horizon and before: some recent work and its possible implications John T. Koch, University of Wales, Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Cardiff 
The aim is to introduce briefly a few topics in current research of potential relevance for the workshop’s theme. These include the following: • the Celticity of the South-western (‘Tartessian’) inscriptions and their background in the SW Iberian Late Bronze Age ‘warrior’ stelae, Middle Bronze Age Alentejo stelae, and Copper Age anthropomorphic stelae of the north Pontic region; • the common Palaeohispanic name Arquius ‘bowman’ and the regional survival of archery from the Beaker Copper Age; • the recurring idea (= emerging consensus?) of Celtic as Indo-European on an Iberian and/or Aquitanian/Palaeo-Basque substrate; • Phoenicians (together with literacy and the historical record) reaching the West by 900 BC, catalysing the break-up of the Atlantic Bronze Age and Proto-Celtic.


  1. It's a pity that we only got to know about this conference when it's already ongoing, I'm reasonably sure that some academic acquaintances of mine would have been very interested in attending.

    1. Hopefully, we'll see some powerpoints or papers uploaded soon.

  2. Those are some very exciting papers going to some of the most thorny and important unresolved issues in the field.

    Why do Yamnaya and Beaker people have such cultural similarities despite a lack of clearly documented interactions and as Maju has noted, only having sister clade genetics rather than identical clade genetics?

    Linden's paper suggests that different lines of evidence are pointing in different directions.

    And, "the recurring idea (= emerging consensus?) of Celtic as Indo-European on an Iberian and/or Aquitanian/Palaeo-Basque substrate", which is an emerging consensus that I would be inclined to agree with.

  3. Mallory's abstract it terribly coy about its conclusions:

    "The Neolithic and the Indo-European: Some Issues
    James P. Mallory, Queen’s University, Belfast

    "My paper will briefly examine three issues concerning attempts to associate the expansion of the Indo-Europeans with the beginning of the Neolithic. These will comprise: 1) the ramification of applying a Neolithic time depth to the formation of the Indo-European branches; 2) the quest to recover the language of Europe’s first farmers; and 3) the association of the earliest Neolithic centres in Southwest Asia with the Indo-European language family." I would be inclined to expect that he would oppose a Neolithic Anatolian hypothesis conclusion, but the abstract says nothing.

    1. The first I'm a bit surprised since it would appear that Heyd is suggesting a relationship between the two. I'd like to see his arguments if that is the case.

      Van see Linden appears to be a realization in mainstream archaeology that ethnicity may be a bigger part of Beaker, DNA pending.
      I assume a published paper will follow.

      Mallory... I think I already know what his conclusion will be. A lot of IE-ist are experts at strawman arguments. By showing how defunct and ridiculous the Anatolian hypothesis is, he'll leave only one alternative, which is a guy riding a horse in the middle of nowhere.
      Only part 3 is of interest to me, besides Anatolia which was clearly nonIE, what other areas will he address and will he quickly dismiss them before moving on.
      Keep in mind that the weight of the evidence favors the North Pontic, I just think the arguments have been unsatisfying.

  4. Any news on what was actually presented?

    1. I hope to see some presentations uploaded to Academia or Researchgate soon. I'll post if I find anything.