Cultural Continuity in Ancient Eurasia 12:58:00


Hypothesis • Shared feartures of languages across Europe and western asia indicate divergence from a shared common language, which is identified as the speech of waves of invaders on horseback emanating from the Caucasus ca. 5,000 BCE Main Evidence: linguistics • Synchronic (at a given time) and diachronic aspects (through time) o Ex: modern Spanish and Italian share similar vocab, syntax (synchronic)  these “Romance” languages descend from Latin (diachronic) • vocabulary o universals (numbers, animals, etc.) o social terms (kindship, gov’t, etc) • grammar o case structure of ancient Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, German, etc • predictable sound change o ex: Latin centum, Shanskrit satem, “hundred”; major early divergence  Greek phero, Latin fero, English “bear”: f <> b • Beware false positives o Ex: Greek and native American “breath”, pneo – pniw) • Control o Non-IE languages (“hundred” Turkish yuz, Arabic maah) o other evidence

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physical characteristics, DNA analysis social institutions o sacred kingship o significance of horsemanship material culture

timeline: IE migrations • follow in wake of Neolithic technology, encounter established NE & Egypt cultures • c5000 o begin emanating from homeland in Caucasus speaking protoIE language  technological advantage  horsemanship, chariot c4000 o divergence of Celtic, Greek, Italic, Slavo-Germanic families c3000 o divergence of Greek, indic-iranian c2000 o divergence of Greek and Macedonian, Iranian and Indic, Slavic and Germanic when proto-Greek, Latin speakers thought to reach Greece and Italy o

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Indo-European Cultures (IE) • Europe:

o Greece, Rome o Germanic/Celtic tribes • Asia: o Persia, Hittites, India, Tocharian (china) Non indo-European cultures • NE-Asia o Summer, akkadia, Babylon, Phoenicians, Hebrews, Turks, Society • Horse and chariots o Thought to give military superiority to invading IndoEuropeans • Tripartite social structure o King, priest, farmer • Family structure o Conservation of kinship terms

Religion • Assumption o Shared etymologies reflect underlying similarities across IE cultures • Sky god o Greek Zeus, roman Jupiter, indic dyaus, Hittitite d-sius • Horse sacrifice o Parallels in ancient Iran, India, Greece

Sacred poetry o Meter (rhythmic structure of poetry)  Hexameter verse (?)  Ex: metrically equivalent formulas meaning “imperishable fame” o Themes:  cattle raid o Genres:  praise and blame poetry, hymns, epics (specific meters) Conclusion: • Greek and Roman Religion – parallel offshoots of “original” Indo European religion Problems with Indo European Hypothesis baggage: • myth of White Guys with Breads on Horses • racism and imperialism o British empire, early 20th century Germany • Romantic assumptions o “japhetism” after the son of Noah  single group spreads IE culture o “great men”  history as biography

questionable methods, assumptions and conclusions • generalities o tripartite structure in early Japanese society o NE/Egyptian parallels • Archaeology o Little material evidence of underlying cultural unity among IE linguistic groups • Failure to account for recent research o Ex:  Biology  DNA analysis of horse suggest multiple points of domestication  Anthropology  Linguistic groups in Sierra Leone DON’T all share material culture An alternate explanation for language distributions: Language Farming Theory “homeland” = Fertile Crescent (earliest domestication of crops) • Neolithic tech emerges gradually from large, shifting area of successful farmers Spread of language groups related to spread of Neolithic technologies • Peasant farming techniques displace Mesolithic lifestyles gradually • Short migrations; probably not a violent process Result: variety of outcomes • Adoption of language without unifying ethnic, cultural basis • Displacement and/or fusion and/or isolation of linguistic groups

Mosaic of related and unrelated linguistic groups o Isolated non-IE in Europe: Etruscans (Italy), Basques (Spain) The indo European hypothesis: conclusions Greek and Roman religion may be “cognate” cultures • Could explain: similar languages, rituals, gods • Romans readiness to adopt Greek cults and myths On the other hand… • Pre-historic Greek and Italian peoples intermingle for generations • Both influenced by non-IE cultures (Minoans, Etruscans) • Both derive Neolithic (and BA, IA) technology from Fertile Crescent (indirectly) Significance of the shared features of ancient reek and roman religions • Similarities reflect shared worldview (EIA farmers and traders) • Each helps to explain the other (Greek and Latin writers; comparative analysis) • Syncretic nature of religious systems: Greek and roman rites trace back to o Hunter culture (sacrifice, burial) o Neolithic revolutions (sacrifice, dying/reviving god, harvest offerings) o Contact with neighboring cultures (trade, itinerant craftsmen, warriors)

29/08/2007 12:58:00

29/08/2007 12:58:00

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