The question Davidski asks is, "What are the linguistic implications of Oldade et al, 2019?"
But first, let me interject and introduce you to some badass re-enactment photos from Jak obléci pračlověka. These are well done. Very well researched and up to date in many details.
Here's their site. I'd like to feature a subsequent post on just these, and of course, a few comments.
|Czech Bell Beaker drawing down for the kill|
I think Beakers spoke a single language or intelligible dialects. I'm confident that that language was Indo-European based on how the child cultures develop in the EMBA in Central Europe, particularly those descending into Bronze Age Italy. Also, the low countries have strong continuity in the Hilversum and Elp Cutures and these are hypothesized to be speaking an IE language that was neither Celtic nor Germanic. That follows to pre-LBA Britain and Ireland.
Rather than try and defend the IE character of Bell Beaker, I think I'd rather make a case that they spoke a single language based on their habits, regardless of what the DNA says.
Why one language?
1. The geographic expanse of Bell Beaker was enormous. Janusz Czebreszuk went so far as to say that in the history of Europe only the EU was of comparable size. Very large inter-regional networks generally communicate in a single language regardless of what is spoken at home.
2. Beaker spreads across Europe shockingly fast. In a short time they are in Ross, Doagh, Man, the Orkneys, little islands in the North Sea and the Baltics. They're all over the Western Mediterranean, sometimes in islands previously uninhabited or seldom visited. They are literally in the Arctic and the Sahara at the same time. If you read Volker Heyd's comments on the early Aegean Bronze Age or Jan Turek's "Echos", it's possible these people were really canoeing waaaay out there.
They moved over long distances quickly because they were horse-riders and boatsmen.
3. It wasn't all style. Most everywhere, Beakers lived by or with other people, maybe even in the same house. Even when they lack Steppe ancestry, their heads are still deformed which means as infants they were raised as Beakers. So their culture is more than hip artifacts and styles, it's their upbringing and their ancestry.
4. Beaker religion and superstition is clearly different from the Neolithic. Their expressions are, as Antonio Valera commented, almost iconoclastic, being always schematic, geometric and skeumorphic. Because they were not literate, traditions and myth were conveyed through storytelling and singing. Beaker religion and Beaker language were almost certainly connected as we should expect for Bronze Age religion and language.
5. Beakers essentially controlled most of the avenues of movement in Western Europe. Lots of peoples lived around Csepel Island. Lots of people lived around the Tagus Estuary. But it is Beakers who impose themselves in these examples as the dominant, intrusive group. This is an important point, because it really doesn't matter what language most people in Portugal or Hungary spoke, the important thing is that if you wanted something, or wanted to go somewhere, you'd be dealing with Beakers. VanderNoort made a somewhat similar observation regarding riverine and island hopping settlements.
6. Beakers seemed to have recognized and sometimes tolerated Beakers from other regions. It's fascinating to see Beakers who plausibly come from different backgrounds in the same locality or even in the same cemetery as other Beakers (consider Southern Britain, or the Mesetas, or Little Poland). This is huge because it tells us about how they viewed themselves as a nation. Beakers from Brittany, the Middle and Lower Rhine, and probably Portugal, can be found within several miles of each other in Southern Britain.
Time, space, money, identity and God, I'll bet there was only one language.
He looks like a botoxed hipster dressed in a costume.ReplyDelete
Don't you think in real life a person would look alot more rugged.
At least a few wrinkles?
I don't know..hemp bowstrings?Delete
Per photos, wasn't the "wristguard" actually a brace counterweight, to keep it from swivelling during fast arm movements? Are the button clasps attested? Ryan North (How To Invent Everything) claims that while sewn buttons are ancient, buttonholes are quite recent, so the clasps are logical precursors, but I didn't know they were attested. Great post!Delete
I agree that the Beaker trade network probably had a lingua franca. Actually, it would be surprising if they didn't have one. I'm not sure it was Indo-European though. It would make sense in the light of the genetic data from Olalde's new paper if Iberian and Aquitanian were descended from such a lingua franca.ReplyDelete
Well, I don't know. The new, new paper on the Western Med is interesting because it says a lot about Iberia in the same way Britain says more about the Low Countries than they say about themselves. I haven't had an opportunity to read the new Olalde paper, but Iberia will take a while to truly understand IMODelete
Agreed. There's a lot to chew on here.Delete
Nice Post, BBBReplyDelete
Just one question- not sure how much direct continuity there is between BB and Elp. ? There’s seems to be cultural differences, chronological gaps, different lineages ..
Certainly agree that BB mobility and reach fostered language expansions, though I’m sure this could apply to its inception period as well as its successor groups in the Atlantic
To give Britain as an example, classical Beaker culture with the drinking cups and wrist guards fades away as a diagnostic culture, but there really isn't any discernible break until the Late Bronze Age/EIA. The low countries seem to follow the same pattern, developing right out Beaker culture. I mean really, the same could be said for other cultures around Europe, the difference being some seem to have been more conservative and isolated.Delete
This comment has been removed by the author.Delete
Yes you're quite right to point out the obvious continuity with B.B. in much of NW Europe (much of the Low Countries, British Isles, France, etc). And whilst I think you're overstating the continuity (because there certainly was later migration through western Europe which can account for the appearnce of non-theoretical groups like Celtic, Germanic, etc), that wasn't the point of contention.Delete
Rather, I was curious about the Elp-Sogel warriors which you specificially mentioned, in northern Netherlands. From what I have seen so far, they likely represent a new group, which does not directly descend from the B.B. culture, as unlike the rest of NW Europe, they more rapidly lose BB features & instead bare hallmarks of influences from the southeast.
Whatever the case, I think the main importance of BB (and aspects of your proposal) in NW Europe is that they established lasting links with other regions of Europe which might have faciliated their gradual Indo-Europeanization (v.s. their relatively more insular east-Iberian cousins which continued along or moved toward a Vasconic pathway).
You have a romantic vision of the Bb culture that I share and it is true that they probably spoke the same language, but I do not think it was Indo-European. Now the data of the genetic continuity in Iberia are overwhelming. I have always said that it is the same people and a single Pan-European culture, with a surprising mobility for the time. It is also true that they mixed, in the British Isles, Sicily, Sardinia and Morocco with the Neolithic population, in Central Europe with women of the CWC, All this culture soon disappeared, but in Iberia there are still BB burials in the year 1600 BC, more than 1,000 years after its beginning.ReplyDelete
It lasted a long time and finding a terminal end of the Beaker Culture in some areas is subject to interpretation. I think genetic data shows that many of the EMBA cultures were a continuation of the Beakers who had finally assimilated local groups. I don't think it's a continuity situation, but it was certainly scattering immigrants around, at least to Central Europe and the Med. Iberia is a tough nut crack.Delete
In Iberia, burials are progressing from collectives to family members as the centuries progress. There are all types, mothers with their children, two women alone, two men, several members of the same family. But at the same time there are clearly individual burials normally of men, and many of them in previously sealed collective graves. The same happens in Germany in Ireland, France or Sicily. It is strange that these men located these tombs because many of them are in inaccessible mountain areas. They had to travel a lot and know the terrain, and they were opportunists, if they died during the trip they looked for an old grave and there they buried themselves instead of building one. By the way many of them show signs of great physical work and wear on the Achilles tendon that shows long walks. The vast majority did not use horses.Obviously in Spain the cultures of the Bronze Age are heirs of the BB culture, not only in their traditions and way of life. but also genetically. Life changed a bit with the arrival of bronze but not too much. What means "tough nut crack" My translator doesn't understand it
Sorry, i meant "tough nut to crack", meaning it is a difficult problem. I try to re-word things and not get too folksy because I know that a lot of people read the blog through the translator.Delete
I agree that most people didn't ride around on horses, probably just the elite and elite warriors as in later history.
"You have a romantic vision of the Bb culture that I share and it is true that they probably spoke the same language, but I do not think it was Indo-European." I've long advocated this view, although I am less certain of it now in light of recent ancient DNA. Still it certainly isn't ruled out. Either approach has serious problems with it.Delete
I think the genetics does indicate the strong likelihood of Indo-European, since the Y-DNA in particular can be traced to the earlier Corded Ware expansion. Sure, there was a lot of admixture and syncretization, especially as you got further and further from the initial centers of expansion. A lot of wife-taking in regions like the Iberian peninsula, for instance. There's a reason why Basque stands out as so exceptional, though, and the fact that it was a rugged mountain refuge probably has something to do with that.ReplyDelete
By the way, why did so many BB men run off from their original homelands looking for women, as we see with the complete replacement of Y-DNA lineages but fair continuity in mtDNA lineages? Why weren't there any local girls for them? Were the Beaker-folk polygynous and the younger men needed to expand and "rape the Sabine women" so to speak in order to have any access to women at all? Or did they practice it as a deliberate conqueror strategy to take slaves and concubines from local girls in the territories they expanded to after killing their men in addition to their actual wives from their actual culture? Did they practice female infanticide and thus have fewer women? Any of the above? All of the above?
"why did so many BB men run off from their original homelands looking for women, as we see with the complete replacement of Y-DNA lineages but fair continuity in mtDNA lineages?"Delete
I think most Beakers were monogamous. Of course that doesn't preclude some bug-eyed war king from having a bunch women. Generally burials are many times male and female and I think the dualistic, idealistic worldview of Beakers probably encouraged monogamy.
Aside from heads spinning off shoulders, disease and stuff like that, European societies have intense top-down pressure, especially from landed classes or citizens or whatever. Peasants are disadvantaged in every way, Spanish Flu 1918, famine, marriage prospects. I guess I'm saying there isn't one reason
Oh, I know. There's no answer that we would be able to divine, but it's a curious question nonetheless.Delete
If I read correctly, young Steppe Yamnaya males are believed to have formed bands and left the homeland to make their own lives. Why drag your own women with you, when you can always take what you find (assuming you're good at raiding)? If community power is already locked up by older men, the young can always benefit from starting anew elsewhere. And chicks dig bold men.Delete
It makes sense that first-born males stayed on the farm working & inheriting it and marrying a local female, while the second- & third-born males would leave to seek their fortune with kindred souls armed and able to adapt to new places & tongues. But why the beakers? Ritual? Did it carry an ember from one's parent's home fire? Did it hold one's ashes, or placenta, or was it a water bottle with a (birch-bark or cork-oak?) lid?Delete
There is hard evidence that non-BB members of BB households got second pick of food and were less healthy than BB members of the same households driving infant and child mortality rates, and BB members had more lactose tolerance than non-BB members. So, conquest and inequality.Delete
The men who are phylogentically the direct ancestors of Western European BB Y-DNA R1b were Steppe Yamnaya males who vanished not far in time in the Southern Steppe from the arrival of the BB in Europe, because they were replaced in the Souther Steppe by CWC clade of Y-DNA R1a men. So there is the pull (which may have just been an imminent threat and not actually genocidal in effect at the time); I think that the likely initial pull was to the mineral resources of Southern Portugal (esp. tin and copper) which they could exploit better than the locals that then was amped up as first wave Western European Neolithic cultures collapses in ways that BB tech from the steppe could manage better in the conditions that first farmers couldn't. Many expedition to new lands with women already in them are male dominated.
continued . . . "I think that the likely initial pull" I mean "push". And in addition to conquest and inequality you have better intrinsic physical selective fitness (possibly LP was key to fertility in women and to disease resistance in times of near famine), and better technology and a culture better adapted to the nasty climates of the Neolithic-Bronze Age transition period. Tech isn't just tech. It is adapting your culture to use tech to its fullest.Delete
Also it may be just me, but I think that the BB package from the steppe brought metallurgy, but less horsemanship than the CWC, more archery, and more cattle husbandry. This may help us to figure out what was distinctive in source and means of arrival between CWC and BB from the steppe.Delete
This doesn't really explain while the more or less untouched descendants of the Bell Beakers don't speak IE.ReplyDelete
Can you rephrase?Delete
Basically if Bell Beakers were uniformly Indo-European speakers, why do their Basque descendants speak Basque?Delete
I think the isolation of Basque country and the surrounds contributed to a regression that was unique to this region. This is just a guess, but I think deep water sailing and bigger boats contributed to a scenario where sea traffic bypassed the bay and for later Empires, the region was too difficult to take, or of little strategic or taxing value for the costs of war, infrastructure.Delete
There are obviously modern IE loan words into Basque, but there are apparently IE loan words that are also very old. If a significant portion are pre-Italic and pre-Celtic, then maybe the situation is not so black and white. The Beaker legacy in Basque will be unique to it, whatever that is.
The Iron Age samples from attested Iberian-speaking sites in southern Spain are very similar to Basques, and also practically straight up genetic descendants of Iberian and even southern French Beakers, with a ~100% frequency of R1b-P312.Delete
Yah it's not just a legacy. The Basques are living Bell Beaker peoples and they don't speak IE. That falsifies your hypothesis.Delete
It is interesting to compare the arrival of Bell Beakers in the British Isles and in Iberia. In the British Isles the transition is brutal around 2500 BC., the replacement of population is major with 90% of the ancestry of the population coming from the continent. In Iberia, there is no real population replacement, but a genetic mix between local population and the Bell Beakers coming from the northeast. For me the most likely explanation for this important difference comes from the large difference in size between the British pre-Bell Beaker population and the Iberian pre-Bell Beaker population . In the British Isles the population was to be small and the newcomers easily replaced the local population. In the Iberian Peninsula the population was to be much larger and it took five centuries for the Bell Beakers to assert themselves and to make the local paternal lineages disappear. This was done by integrating a large part of the local Iberian maternal ancestry. This process has had to be different from one region to another and it is therefore not surprising that some regions of the Iberian Peninsula have kept their pre-Bell Beaker language according to the process of assimilation of the steppe ancestry in the Iberian population.Delete
I don’t think it really matters whether we’re looking at 90% replacement (England) or 50% (Iberia) what matters is the process and big picture- and that’s the same no matter whether one looks at Britain, France or IberiaDelete
Given that El Agar was ruled by R1b males; the argument that they adopted the language of the surviving enslaved females is becoming a little comical
This comment has been removed by the author.Delete
This comment has been removed by the author.Delete
''Northern Beaker'' arrived in Meseta by 2500 BC, and Los Millares had already collapsed by 2200 BC. The overall shift depends on how you approach it, arguably for a more local perspective, with modelling with more proximal sources (e.g. Mesetan Beaker and the Local Chalcolithic), one might get
The problem is that most people think of the Basques because everyone knows that we speak a non-Indo-European language, but it is true that absolutely all cultures of the Iberian Bronze Age are R1b-P312 (EL Argar, Motillas, Cogotas, Atlantic Bronze, Pyrenean Bronze), and that their descendants of the Iron Age also spoke non-Indo-European languages. We no longer enter into speculations but into unquestionable evidence (Iberian and Tartesian were not Indo-European languages). That genetic continuity means that our BB ancestors did not speak IE. The only possibility of speaking the language of the steppes is that only P312 men (hunters, merchants) would enter the Iberian societies and abandon their language (ie forgetting conquests, violence etc).Delete
Many people are wrong about how BB culture entered the large chalcolithic villages of Andalucia and Portugal. It is all much simpler, in the tombs only it is observed that BB pottery and some other object related to the BB package begins to appear, but, there is an evident continuity in the villages, there are no wars, fires or destructions, simply the pottery is incorporates as a commercial novelty. And you know that the descendants of those men of Los Millares was the culture of El Argar 100% R1b. With which, to solve the mystery we must continue analyzing deposits between 3,000-2,500 BC, only in Los Millares there are hundreds of skeletons waiting.
The theory of the Kurgans is becoming more complicated and surreal, not only R1bL51 / p312 do not exist in the steppes, now it turns out that R1bP312 were hidden in the CWC, and in addition not only did they hijack the BBC, but they also hijacked the languages of the regions where they were installed. Everything is surreal. Logic tells me that P312 is Western, that he lived in some French region or in the Alps or Pyrenees (because of the obvious brachycephaly), that he descends from some European Neolithic culture (Baalberge, Michelsberg ...) and that he spoke some kind of Neolithic language related to Anatolia and the Caucasus, of which the Euzkera has remained as testimony.
@Ryan, "The Basques are living Bell Beaker peoples and they don't speak IE"Delete
Maybe, but you could say regionally a number of peoples are largely descended from the migrants.
Diego, I'll give you this, that the situation in the Middle Neolithic may explode a lot of people's heads if Michelsberge elite warriors, not the peasants thrown in pits, but elite start coming back P312. I've speculated many times about this and a number of archaeologists have discussed this intriguing possibility (Volder Heyd concerning intrusive steppe elements in the Western TRB groups and others). It is possible that they had already began expanding within Western Europe in the second half of the 4th millennium, but their origins are likely intrusive anyway, coming ultimately from the Western Black Sea in the area of Romania IMO. So their profile might not be "steppic" per se, but something more along the lines of a hunter/farmer mix. This also matters to the formation of the SGC which is actually a cultural mixture of these groups rather than a purely intrusive groups.Delete
Anyhow, if your point is that the process of P312 overtaking Iberia is more complex than invading Continental Beakers, I suppose that could be debated. But it also seems that P312 is a newcomer to Iberia and superseded all other lineages very quickly. It appears to have happened in the EMBA
Oi, show some respect for the ancestors! It's clear from the Bell Beakers' artifacts that they had style. Bad ass but with class.ReplyDelete
I'm loving how all this is coming together. Obviously lots of questions, but the Bell Beakers are "coming alive" so to speak as a real people, a civilization. Great stuff BBB. Cheers.
I don't know if i am allowed to post links, but if you go to Youtube and look for the Langfocus channel, and search for "Strange Similarities Between Celtic & Semitic Languages!", you will find a video germane to this topic. He just posted it less than an hour ago, and it made me think of this blog post, so I had to share. I will post the link here anyway. Let me know if I am not supposed to post links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAAmwtdP1bEReplyDelete
This comment has been removed by the author.Delete
I'm impressed (in part due to the very polished presentation, I admit, but also on the merits and because it is consistent in every respect it mentions things I know with mainstream thinking on these points and because it acknowledges the conjectural nature of the hypothesis). Basically, he is restating Venneman's Afro-Asiatic substrate in Maritime Europe hypothesis and this hypothesis is even more compelling when the actual history of Punic typonyms and commerce in the region is known. https://dispatchesfromturtleisland.blogspot.com/2016/12/phoenicianpunic-names-in-britain-and.html although the timing isn't a perfect match on that front:Delete
"Several key points emerge from the above summary of burial sites producing oxygen isotope evidence indicative of the presence of people from North Africa and southern Iberia in Britain between c. 1100 BC and c. AD 800 . . . which are highlighted here by way of a conclusion. First and foremost, it is important to note that at least some migrants from these areas appear to have been present in Britain during all periods from the Late Bronze Age onwards. Whilst the presence of people from North Africa in Roman Britain is to a large degree unsurprising, as they are otherwise attested via literary and epigraphic sources, the fact that it can be shown that people from these areas were very probably also present in Bronze Age, Iron Age and early medieval Britain is a point of some considerable interest. "
Thus, the North African presence is post-Bell Beaker, although roughly contemporaneous with Urnfield and/or Celtic based on traditional linguistic and archaeological measures.
A key fact is that deep grammar tends to be less easily borrowed than words and the Celtic-Afro-Asiatic links are more in deep grammar and less in lexical content although a few links a proposed.
A theory could be that EEF was an offshoot of Semitic, which in the right part of Anatolia isn't so implausible, although it begs the question of why this isn't seen elsewhere (could CP Neolithic be Afro-Asiatic and LBK be perhaps proto-Caucasian?) The question of Basque to Afro-Asiatic ties matters too. See http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/2018/04/north-african-neolithic-was-influenced.html and http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/2015/09/vasco-nubian.html
Another theory could be that Afro-Asiatic culture was high prestige and maybe even a key symbiotic culture with Celtic and hence its influence - with the Afro-Asiatic influence being post-Bell Beaker as the archaeology supports.
@Andrew thanks for your reply. You present a lot of information and I feel one of your sentiments is that you find the idea of semitic influence in Celtic languages intriguing, but also see the possibility of other explanations. One thought I had that I don't think is covered much is the potential influence of the cardial ware people's language leaving an influence in the atlantic people's language. I believe they came from anatolia originally and expanded out to include Iberia, so I feel it may be possible they left their influence in the region. Their language might have been a proto- semitic language, or something similar. I do realize that most language histories don't go beyond about 6000 years ago whether using writing or the comparative method. None the less, the cardial ware element still might have been a factor. If you have any thoughts or information on that, I would appreciate it very much.Delete
I think the interaction of Groups East of the Rhine and South of the Low Countries with broader France will throw some light upon the Iberian Issue. "How does the Seine-Oise-Marne Culture relate to this ?" For example.ReplyDelete
How many survivors of Plague, Famine and War reached Southern Europe and especially the Iberian Peninsula prior to Steppe migrations into Central Europe ? How many different Languages did they speak ?
With 3000 years of relative isolation between Farmer groups migrating into Central Europe and their relatives migrating along a Southern Route before the Bronze Age, there must at least have been more than one Neolithic language. Were there any Cucuteni Tripolye survivors who ended up in Italy or Iberia or were all of them to stubborn to acknowledge that the Titanic was sinking ?