Anadolu / Anadolu ve Kurgan Hipotezleri
CKM 2018-19 / Aziz Yardımlı






Anatolian Hypothesis & Kurgan Hypothesis


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The Kurgan theory centres on possible archaeological evidence for an expansion into Europe and the Near East by Kurgan horsemen beginning in the sixth millennium BP. In contrast, the Anatolian theory claims that Indo-European languages expanded with the spread of agriculture from Anatolia around 8,000-9,500 years BP.

Anatolian hypothesis

Anatolian hypothesis (W)

The Anatolian hypothesis, also known as the Anatolian theory or the sedentary farmer theory, first developed by British archaeologist Colin Renfrew in 1987, proposes that the dispersal of Proto-Indo-Europeans originated in Neolithic Anatolia. It is the main competitor to the Kurgan hypothesis, or steppe theory, the more favoured view academically.

The Anatolian hypothesis suggests that the speakers of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) lived in Anatolia during the Neolithic era, and it associates the distribution of historical Indo-European languages with the expansion during the Neolithic revolution of the 7th and the 6th millennia BC.

This hypothesis states that Indo-European languages began to spread peacefully, by demic diffusion, into Europe from Asia Minor from around 7000 BC with the Neolithic advance of farming (wave of advance). Accordingly, most inhabitants of Neolithic Europe would have spoken Indo-European languages, and later migrations would have replaced the Indo-European varieties with other Indo-European varieties.

The expansion of agriculture from the Middle East would have diffused three language families: Indo-European toward Europe, Dravidian toward Pakistan and India, and Afro Asiatic toward Arabia and North Africa. Reacting to criticism, Renfrew revised his proposal to the effect of taking a pronounced Indo-Hittite position. Renfrew's revised views place only Pre-Proto-Indo-European in the 7th millennium BC in Anatolia, proposing as the homeland of Proto-Indo-European proper the Balkans around 5000 BC, which he explicitly identified as the "Old European culture", proposed by Marija Gimbutas. He thus still locates the original source of the Indo-European languages in Anatolia around 7000 BC.

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 (StarčevoKörös 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 ItalicCeltic, 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.


Kurgan hypothesis (Steppe Theory)

Kurgan hypothesis (W)

The earliest Proto-Indo-European speakers were likely nomadic horse riders. Credit: Chris Gash

“The domestication of the horse created a steppe bridge into India and Iran on the one side and Europe on the other side.”

The Kurgan hypothesis (also known as the Kurgan theory or Kurgan model) or steppe theory is the most widely accepted proposal to identify the Proto-Indo-European homeland from which the Indo-European languages spread out throughout Europe, Eurasia and parts of Asia. It postulates that the people of a Kurgan culture in the Pontic steppe north of the Black Sea were the most likely speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). The term is derived from the Russian kurgan (курга́н), meaning tumulus or burial mound.

The Kurgan hypothesis was first formulated in the 1950s by Marija Gimbutas, who used the term to group various cultures, including the Yamnaya, or Pit Grave, culture and its predecessors. David Anthony instead uses the core Yamnaya culture and its relationship with other cultures as a point of reference.

Marija Gimbutas defined the Kurgan culture as composed of four successive periods, with the earliest (Kurgan I) including the Samara and Seroglazovo cultures of the DnieperVolga region in the Copper Age (early 4th millennium BC). The people of these cultures were nomadic pastoralists, who, according to the model, by the early 3rd millennium BC had expanded throughout the Pontic–Caspian steppe and into Eastern Europe.

Three genetic studies in 2015 gave partial support to Gimbutas’s Kurgan theory regarding the Indo-European Urheimat. According to those studies, haplogroups R1b and R1a, now the most common in Europe (R1a is also common in South Asia) would have expanded from the Russian and Ukrainian steppes, along with the Indo-European languages; they also detected an autosomal component present in modern Europeans which was not present in Neolithic Europeans, which would have been introduced with paternal lineages R1b and R1a, as well as Indo-European languages.

When it was first proposed in 1956, in The Prehistory of Eastern Europe, Part 1, Marija Gimbutas’s contribution to the search for Indo-European origins was an interdisciplinary synthesis of archaeology and linguistics. The Kurgan model of Indo-European origins identifies the Pontic-Caspian steppe as the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) urheimat, and a variety of late PIE dialects are assumed to have been spoken across the region. According to this model, the Kurgan culture gradually expanded until it encompassed the entire Pontic-Caspian steppe, Kurgan IV being identified with the Yamnaya culture of around 3000 BC.

The mobility of the Kurgan culture facilitated its expansion over the entire region, and is attributed to the domestication of the horse and later the use of early chariots. The first strong archaeological evidence for the domestication of the horse comes from the Sredny Stog culture north of the Azov Sea in Ukraine, and would correspond to an early PIE or pre-PIE nucleus of the 5th millennium BC. Subsequent expansion beyond the steppes led to hybrid, or in Gimbutas's terms "kurganized" cultures, such as the Globular Amphora culture to the west. From these kurganized cultures came the immigration of Proto-Greeks to the Balkans and the nomadic Indo-Iranian cultures to the east around 2500 BC.


  • 4500-4000: Early PIE. Sredny Stog, Dnieper–Donets and Samara cultures, domestication of the horse (Wave 1).
  • 4000-3500: The Pit Grave culture (a.k.a. Yamnaya culture), the prototypical kurgan builders, emerges in the steppe, and the Maykop culture in the northern Caucasus. Indo-Hittite models postulate the separation of Proto-Anatolian before this time.
  • 3500-3000: Middle PIE. The Pit Grave culture is at its peak, representing the classical reconstructed Proto-Indo-European society with stone idols, predominantly practicing animal husbandry in permanent settlements protected by hillforts, subsisting on agriculture, and fishing along rivers. Contact of the Pit Grave culture with late Neolithic Europe cultures results in the "kurganized" Globular Amphora and Baden cultures (Wave 2). The Maykop culture shows the earliest evidence of the beginning Bronze Age, and Bronze weapons and artifacts are introduced to Pit Grave territory. Probable early Satemization.
  • 3000-2500: Late PIE. The Pit Grave culture extends over the entire Pontic steppe (Wave 3). The Corded Ware culture extends from the Rhine to the Volga, corresponding to the latest phase of Indo-European unity, the vast "kurganized" area disintegrating into various independent languages and cultures, still in loose contact enabling the spread of technology and early loans between the groups, except for the Anatolian and Tocharian branches, which are already isolated from these processes. The centum–satem break is probably complete, but the phonetic trends of Satemization remain active.

Alignment with Anatolian hypothesis (2000s)

Alberto Piazza and Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza have tried in the 2000s to align the Anatolian hypothesis with the Steppe theory. According to Alberto Piazza, writing in 2000, " [i]t is clear that, genetically speaking, peoples of the Kurgan steppe descended at least in part from people of the Middle Eastern Neolithic who immigrated there from Turkey.” According to Piazza and Cavalli-Sforza (2006), the Yamna-culture may have been derived from Middle Eastern Neolithic farmers who migrated to the Pontic steppe and developed pastoral nomadism. Wells agrees with Cavalli-Sforza that there is "some genetic evidence for migration from the Middle East." Nevertheless, the Anatolian hypothesis is controversial.

Anthony’s revised steppe theory (2007)

David Anthony's The Horse, the Wheel and Language describes his "revised steppe theory". David Anthony considers the term “Kurgan culture” so lacking in precision as to be useless, instead using the core Yamnaya culture and its relationship with other cultures as a point of reference. He points out that

The Kurgan culture was so broadly defined that almost any culture with burial mounds, or even (like the Baden culture) without them could be included.

He does not include the Maykop culture among those that he considers to be IE-speaking, presuming instead that they spoke a Caucasian language.

“In 2015 a series of studies sequenced the DNA of human bones and other remains from many parts of Europe and Asia. The data suggest that around 3500 B.C.—roughly the same time that many linguists place the origin of PIE and that archaeologists date horse domestication—Yamnaya genes replaced about 75 percent of the existing human gene pool in Europe. Together with the archaeological and linguistic evidence, the genetic data tipped the scales heavily in favor of the kurgan hypothesis.”


“Newer findings complicate the story, however. In a study published last June in the Journal of Human Genetics, researchers sequenced the mitochondrial DNA of 12 Yamnaya individuals, along with their immediate predecessors and descendants. The remains were found in burial mounds, or kurgans (from which the theory takes its name), in modern-day Ukraine. They had been buried in layers atop one another from the end of the Stone Age through the Bronze Age, between about 4500 and 1500 B.C. — the same time as the genetic replacement event in Europe. The earliest and midrange specimens' mitochondrial DNA (which is inherited from the mother) was almost entirely local. But the mitochondrial DNA of the most recent specimens included DNA from central Europe, including present-day Poland, Germany and Sweden. This discovery indicates that “there were pendulum migrations back and forth,” says lead author Alexey Nikitin, a professor of archaeology and genetics at Grand Valley State University. In other words, he adds, “it wasn't a one-way trip.” ”



Yamnaya culture

Yamnaya culture (W)

Yamnaya (Yamna) culture, c. 3300-2600 BC

The Yamnaya culture (Russian: Ямная культура, translit. Yamnaya kultura, lit. 'pit culture'), also known as the Yamna culture (Ukrainian: Ямна культура, translit. Yamna kultura), Pit Grave culture, or Ochre Grave culture, was a late Copper Age to early Bronze Age archaeological culture of the region between the Southern Bug, Dniester, and Ural rivers (the Pontic steppe), dating to 3300-2600 BC. Its name refers to its characteristic burial tradition: kurgans containing a simple pit chamber.


The people of the Yamnaya culture were the likely result of admixture between Ancient North Eurasians (via whom they also descend from the Mal'ta–Buret' culture or other, closely related people such as Siberians and Native Americans) and Near Eastern people related to Early Neolithic Farmers, with some research identifying the latter as hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus or a similar people also related to Chalcolithic people from what is now Iran. Their material culture is very similar to the Afanasevo culture.

They are also closely connected to later, Final Neolithic cultures which spread throughout Europe and Central Asia, especially the Corded Ware people, but also the Bell Beaker culture as well as the peoples of the Sintashta, Andronovo, and Srubna cultures. In this group, several aspects of the Yamnaya culture (e.g., horse-riding, burial styles, and to some extent the pastoralist economy) are present. Genetic studies have also indicated that these populations derived large parts of their ancestry from the steppes.

The Yamnaya culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans, and is the strongest candidate for the urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language.

R-M269 is one of the most prolific paternal lineages across western Eurasia. R-M269 arose roughly 10,000 years ago, as the people of the Fertile Crescent domesticated plants and animals for the first time. Around 8,000 years ago, the first farmers and herders began to push east into Central Asia and north into the Caucasus Mountains. Some of them eventually reached the steppes above the Black and Caspian Seas. There, they lived as pastoral nomads, herding cattle and sheep across the grasslands, while their neighbors to the south developed yet another crucial technology in human history: bronze smelting. As bronze tools and weaponry spread north, a new steppe culture called the Yamnaya was born.

Around 5,000 years ago, perhaps triggered by a cold spell that made it difficult to feed their herds, Yamnaya men spilled east across Siberia and down into Central Asia. To the west, they pushed down into the Balkans and to central Europe, where they sought new pastures for their herds and metal deposits to support burgeoning Bronze Age commerce. Over time, their descendants spread from central Europe to the Atlantic coast, establishing new trade routes and an unprecedented level of cultural contact and exchange in western Europe.

The men from the steppes also outcompeted the local men as they went; their success is demonstrated in the overwhelming dominance of the R-M269 lineage in Europe. Over 80% of men in Ireland and Wales carry the haplogroup, as do over 60% of men along the Atlantic Coast from Spain to France. The frequency of R-M269 gradually decreases to the east, falling to about 30% in Germany, 20% in Poland, and 10-15% in Greece and Turkey. The haplogroup connects all these men to still others in the Iranian Plateau and Central Asia, where between 5 and 10% of men also bear the lineage.

Approximate culture extent c. 3300-2600 BC.

The w:Corded Ware culture (also Battle-axe culture) is an enormous Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age archaeological grouping, flourishing ca. 3200 - 2300 BC. It encompasses most of continental northern Europe from the Rhine River on the west, to the Volga River in the east, including most of modern-day Germany, Denmark, Poland, the Baltic States, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, northern Ukraine, and western Russia, as well as southern Sweden and Finland, It receives its name from the characteristic pottery of the era; wet clay was decoratively incised with cordage, i.e., string. It is known mostly from its burials. SVG version of a similar map from 2005. Note that this svg version does not reproduce the information from the original map accurately; it loses the depiction of culture areals as overlapping, and the indication of the core territory of Yamna. "Globular amphora" is to be understood as a predecessor and/or subgroup of Corded Ware and not as a distinct "neighboring" culture.



📹 How Indo-European Languages Evolved (VİDEO)

How Indo-European Languages Evolved (LINK)

The origin of Indo-European languages has long been a topic of debate among scholars and scientists. In 2012, a team of evolutionary biologists at the University of Auckland led by Dr. Quentin Atkinson released a study that found all modern IE languages could be traced back to a single root: Anatolian — the language of Anatolia, now modern-day Turkey.

Science Insider tells you all you need to know about science: space, medicine, biotech, physiology, and more. Subscribe to our channel and visit us at:


📹 The Sound of the Proto Indo-European Language (VİDEO)

The Sound of the Proto Indo-European Language (The King & the God) (LINK)

Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the linguistic reconstruction of the hypothetical common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, the most widely spoken language family in the world.

Far more work has gone into reconstructing PIE than any other proto-language, and it is by far the best understood of all proto-languages of its age. The vast majority of linguistic work during the 19th century was devoted to the reconstruction of PIE or its daughter proto-languages (such as Proto-Germanic), and most of the modern techniques of linguistic reconstruction such as the comparative method were developed as a result. These methods supply all current knowledge concerning PIE since there is no written record of the language.

PIE is estimated to have been spoken as a single language from 4500 BCE to 2500 BC during the Neolithic Age, though estimates vary by more than a thousand years. According to the prevailing Kurgan hypothesis, the original homeland of the Proto-Indo-Europeans may have been in the Pontic-Caspian steppe of Eastern Europe. The linguistic reconstruction of PIE has also provided insight into the culture and religion of its speakers.

Music: The Most Relaxing Music Ever! Slow down — by Paul Collier



📹 Proto Indo-Europeans: Linguistics, Migrations, Yamnaya Culture, Horse Domestication 4000-500 BCE (VİDEO)

Proto Indo-Europeans: Linguistics, Migrations, Yamnaya Culture, Horse Domestication 4000-500 BCE (LINK)

An excellent lecture by Dr. Harl about the proto Indo-European steppe nomads.


📘 KURGAN: The three waves of the Kurgan people into Old Europe, 4500-2500 BC

The three waves of the Kurgan people into Old Europe, 4500-2500 BC

Archives suisses d'anthropologie generale, Geneve, 43, 2, 1979, 113-137

The three waves of the Kurgan people into Old Europe, 4500-2500 B.C.
Marija G imbutas
(W) Marija Gimbutas (Lithuanian: Marija Gimbutienė; January 23, 1921 – February 2, 1994) was a Lithuanian-American archaeologist and anthropologist known for her research into the Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures of "Old Europe" and for her Kurgan hypothesis, which located the Proto-Indo-European homeland in the Pontic Steppe.

Prof. Dr. Marija Gimbutas at the Frauenmuseum Wiesbaden, Germany 1993


Mapping the Origins and Expansion of the Indo-European Language Family

Mapping the Origins and Expansion of the Indo-European Language Family (LINK)

There are two competing hypotheses for the origin of the Indo-European language family. The conventional view places the homeland in the Pontic steppes about 6000 years ago. An alternative hypothesis claims that the languages spread from Anatolia with the expansion of farming 8000 to 9500 years ago. We used Bayesian phylogeographic approaches, together with basic vocabulary data from 103 ancient and contemporary Indo-European languages, to explicitly model the expansion of the family and test these hypotheses. We found decisive support for an Anatolian origin over a steppe origin. Both the inferred timing and root location of the Indo-European language trees fit with an agricultural expansion from Anatolia beginning 8000 to 9500 years ago. These results highlight the critical role that phylogeographic inference can play in resolving debates about human prehistory

Fig. 1.
Inferred geographic origin of the Indo-European language family. (A) Map showing the estimated posterior distribution for the location of the root of the Indo-European language tree under the RRW analysis. MCMC sampled locations are plotted in translucent red such that darker areas correspond to increased probability mass. (B) The same distribution under a landscape-based analysis in which movement into water is 100 times less likely than movement into land (see Fig. S5 for results under the other landscape based models). The blue polygons delineate the proposed origin area under the Steppes hypothesis – dark blue shows the initial suggested homeland () and light blue shows a later version of the Steppes hypothesis (). The yellow polygon delineates the proposed origin under the Anatolian hypothesis (). A green star in the Steppe region shows the location of the centroid of the sampled languages.

Fig. 2.
Map and maximum clade credibility tree showing the diversification of the major Indo-European subfamilies. The tree shows the timing of the emergence of the major branches and their subsequent diversification. The inferred location at the root of each subfamily is shown on the map, colored to match the corresponding branches on the tree. For clarity, Albanian, Armenian and Greek subfamilies are shown separately (inset). Contours represent the 95% (largest), 75% and 50% HPD regions, based on kernel density estimates ().

Mapping the Origins and Expansion of the Indo-European Language Family (LINK) (LINK 2)



The future of the Reich Lab’s studies and interpretations of Late Indo-European migrations

The future of the Reich Lab’s studies and interpretations of Late Indo-European migrations (LINK) (LINK2)

The Proto-Indo-European homeland, with migrations outward at about 4200 BCE (1), 3300 BCE (2), and 3000 BCE (3a and 3b). A tree diagram (inset) shows the pre-Germanic split as unresolved. Modified from Anthony (2013).


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