History : Jan-Feb 2019
18 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 SOMETHING IN COMMON About 440 living languages around the world share Indo-European roots, and similarities between terms and concepts can be striking. An asterisk before an Indo-European root indicates that these words are reconstructions supported by evidence other than script or writing. CHARIOT (ABOVE) WITH WINGED VICTORY, DEPICTED ON A SILVER DECADRACHM MINTED IN THE CITY OF SYRACUSE. FIFTH CENTURY B.C . Family Father: The Indo-European term is *pǝtē(r). In Sanskrit it is pitr; in German, vater; in Celtic (Old Irish), athair; in Latin, pater; in French, père; and in Spanish, padre. Mother: In Indo-European the term is *mātér. In Sanskrit it is mātār; in Latin, mater; in Old Irish, māthair; in Russian, mati; in German, mutter; in French, mère; and in Spanish, madre. Brother: The Indo-European word *bhráter is the origin of the Sanskrit word bhrátar, the Old Irish brāthair, the Latin frater—from which derives the French word frère, and the English synonym for brotherly, fraternal—the German bruder, and the Russian brat. Sister: The Indo-European word is *swesor. In Sanskrit it is svásar; in Old Irish, siur; in Latin, soror; in Russian, sestrá; in German, schwester; and in French, soeur. MATERNAL GODDESS (RIGHT) ASSOCIATED WITH RAISING CHILDREN. ARCHAIC GREEK ART. NY CARLSBERG GLYPTOTEK, COPENHAGEN PRISMA/ALBUM DEA/ALBUM Steppe, north of the Black and Caspian Seas. Making the most of the domestication of hors- es, the nomadic herders expanded throughout Europe in several different waves of migration starting around 6,000 years ago. As they moved south and east, they subjugated the peoples they encountered while spreading PIE language and culture. Gimbutas expounded the contrast be- tween the warrior nomads, who buried their dead in kurgans (burial mounds), and the more peace- able Neolithic agriculturalists they displaced. In 1987 British archaeologist Colin Ren- frew proposed what became known as the Anatolian hypothesis, which dates the spread of PIE to a much earlier time, roughly 8,000 to 9,500 years ago. Ren- frew also sees different motiva- tions behind the migrations and theorized that farmers were not displaced due to war. Rather they peacefully expanded out of Ana- tolia (modern-day Turkey) west through Europe and east to Central Asia. As they moved outward, they spread ag- riculture and language with them. In recent decades advances in genetics have made it possible to analyze ancient DNA as a way to study human migrations and make deeper as- sessments of these two theories. More recent- ly, Italian geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza examined genetic data from these regions and stated that Renfrew’s and Gimbutas’s theories do not so much contradict as complement each other:“Genetically speaking, peoples of the Kur- gan steppe descended at least in part from people of the Middle Eastern Neolithic who [had] im- migrated there from Turkey.” The question as to which theory is the more likely, however, is a heated debate among scholars. Yet there is, at least, a degree of con- sensus that the root of scores of languages scattered across a swath of the globe originated in Asia between 6,000 and 9,500 years ago, and is closely connected with agriculture in the Neolithic period. STEPPE-ING STONES Some associate the Indo-Europeans with the Yamna culture of the Pontic-Caspian Steppe, located north of the Black and Caspian Seas. These distinctive Yamna statues (below) were carved in the third millennium b.c. Archaeological Museum, Kerch, Crimea PRISMA/ALBUM SANSKRIT SPECIALIST ÓSCAR PUJOL IS A PROFESSOR AT THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES AT THE BANARAS HINDU UNIVERSITY, VARANASI, INDIA.