суббота, 15 декабря 2018 г.

Some German guy once said…

If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.
On a totally unrelated note, the Max-Planck-Institut für Menschheitsgeschichte (aka MPI-SHH) is apparently still claiming that its southern Proto-Indo-European (PIE) homeland theory has been corroborated by archaeogenetic data. For instance, check out the Youtube clip here.
Below is a screen cap from the clip showing a map that summarizes what the folks at the MPI-SHH are thinking in regards to the PIE question and the early spread of Indo-European languages.



Unfortunately, this map doesn’t make any sense. Why? Here it is, in point form, as simply as I can put it:



1) There’s no evidence in any archaeogenetic data of migrations during the Neolithic from what is now Armenia and surrounds to Western Europe, the Pontic-Casian steppe, or, indeed, South Asia, that may have brought Indo-European languages to these regions. In fact, the currently available ancient DNA data outright contradict this scenario, because:



A) the Corded Ware and Yamnaya archeological cultures, which are generally considered to have been the main vectors for the spread of Indo-European languages from the Pontic-Caspian steppe into Northern and Central Europe, weren’t founded by migrants from south of the Caucasus (see here)
B) the Neolithic farmer populations that migrated deep into Europe and eventually colonized the western third of the continent were especially poor in Caucasus-related ancestry, and, realistically, could only have come from well to the west of the Caucasus
C) conversely, the Neolithic farmer populations that moved deep into South Asia are inferred to have been especially poor in Anatolian-related ancestry, and, realistically, could only have come from well to the east of the Caucasus (see here)
D) Caucasus-related ancestry, of basically the same type that is being associated by the MPI-SHH with the PIE expansion, did move into Western Europe across the Mediterranean, but this happened during the Bronze Age and it impacted the island of Sardinia, which is generally regarded to have been inhabited by non-Indo-European speakers until the Romans got there (see here). Oops.



2) There’s now overwhelming evidence both in ancient and modern DNA data that Eastern Europeans and Indians, especially Indo-European-speaking Indians, share significant ancestry, in particular paternal ancestry, from essentially the same Bronze Age populations living on the Pontic-Caspian steppe (not south of it!), and this is the only obvious, important genetic link between these two linguistically closely related but geographically far flung groups within the last…tens of thousands of years?
3) Ancient samples from Mycenaean, and thus Indo-European-speaking, Greece and parts of Iron Age Iberia where Indo-European languages were attested at the time also show steppe-derived ancestry, and, in fact, of a very similar character to that shared by Eastern Europeans and Indo-European-speaking Indians (see here and here, respectively).
4) However, Pre-Mycenaean and likely non-Indo-European-speaking Minoan samples, also from the Aegean region, don’t show any steppe ancestry, but they do show Caucasus-related ancestry, of basically the same type that is being associated by the MPI-SHH with the PIE expansion. Oops again.


Thus, at the very least, these undeniable and, surely, easy to grasp facts that I’ve just set out should give pause to anyone who still claims that the Near East, rather than the Pontic-Caspian steppe, was the main staging point for the expansions of the early Indo-Europeans. Indeed, methinks it’s now time to admit by all those concerned that the most likely homeland of all surviving branches of the Indo-European language family, and thus of late PIE, was the Pontic-Caspian steppe.
Honestly, I’m shocked, and even disturbed, that none of this seems to have filtered down to the linguists at the MPI-SHH, especially since the MPI-SHH is also heavily populated by scientists who apparently know a thing or two about archaeogenetics.
Now, it’s true that archaeogenetic data are yet to reveal an unambiguous signal of steppe ancestry in samples from Hittite era Anatolia (five have been published to date), which may perhaps suggest that the people who brought Hittite and the other Anatolian languages to Anatolia didn’t come from the steppe. Of course, Anatolian languages represent the earliest, most basal split in the Indo-European phylogeny, and thus aren’t part of the late PIE node. So if the Indo-European-speaking ancestors of the Hittites didn’t come from the steppe, then it stands to reason that early PIE didn’t either.
But this isn’t relevant to my criticism of the MPI-SHH, because even if early PIE didn’t come from the steppe, then like I said, there’s very solid evidence now that late PIE did, and the problem is that the linguists and geneticists at the MPI-SHH appear to be missing this fact, or they’re unwilling to accept it.
Moreover, please note that I’m not arguing that the linguists at the MPI-SHH are getting things wrong when it comes to actual linguistics. For all I know, their approach in this area might well be perfect, and perhaps it has indeed revealed insights that have been missed by others using more traditional methods?
For instance, it’s possible that the phylogenetic relationships of Indo-European languages as shown in the screen cap below (from the video linked to above) reflects the truth better than anything else offered to date. I don’t know, so I’m keeping an open mind about that. But admittedly, I’m skeptical, considering how lousy the MPI-SHH’s interpretation of the archaeogenetic data has been to date in this context, even at the most basic level.



See also…
Late PIE ground zero now obvious; location of PIE homeland still uncertain, but…

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