John Croft's Master Nostratic Synthesis

John Croft wrote March 1, 2000 in CyBaLiSt:

Personal views regarding Urheimat

Looking at the Nostratic origins of PIE and given the African origins of Nostratic circa 15-18,000 years ago, based upon paleogeographic, archaeological and anthropological data (as well as the linguistic evidence) I suggest the following synthetic pattern.

18,000 - 15,000 BCE - the Upper Paleolithic Big-Game hunter cultural culmination. Magdaleinian culture in the Franco-Cantabrian region brings population densities to the highest they have ever been on Earth. A chain of related Dene-Caucasian cultures across the Eurasian steppe sees on the eastern margin the development of the Dyukhtai culture in North East Eurasia, with cultural features similar to the Folsom Big Game Hunters of North America. Humans spread onto the Berengarian Land Bridge. The opening of the Cordillerra-Laurentide gap between the ice sheets allows Amerind speaking groups into the Great Plains.

15,000 - 12,000 BCE - Nostratic Origins North Eastern Africa (Egypt)

The beginnings of the Nostratic language family with the sickle grain harvesters of late Paleolithic the Helwan culture. They develop the key features of mesolithic microliths, and with grain harvesting proto-argiculture have a population explosion which carries them out of the region

The northward moving group spreads all non-Afro-Asiatic Nostratic languages.

Regarding the Afro-Asiatic spread The southern moving group developed eventually into Omotic and Cushitic groups of Afro-Asiatic The westward moving group developed eventually into the Berber and Chadic group of Afro-Asiatic The people who stayed in north-east Africa later developed as Egyptian-Coptic group of Afro-Asiatic The people who occupy Sinai and NW Arabia later develop as the Semitic group of Afro-Asiatic.

13,000 - 10,000 BCE - Fertile Crescent

Nostratic culture spreads with the late Paleolithic-proto Mesolithic Kebaran culture, north into Syria and Cilicia, and east into the Zagros foothills as the Zarzian culture, carrying Nostratic languages eastward into Iran. Moving northwestward from Cilicia the related Kemaran culture carries Nostratic languages westward into Anatolia. Late-Paleolithic-Early Mesolithic Nostratic speaking cultures also move into Circum-Caucasia. These people circum-navigating the Caucasas are the Nostratics who develop as Glen's "Proto-Indo-Etruscans". Unknown late-Paleolithic-proto-mesolithic Nostratic peoples spread across the Mesopotamian, east Arabian Steppe, acorss the floor of what is later to become the Persian Gulf. One language of these people later become Sumerian. These related groups of Nostratic people domesticate the Eurasian wolf, giving them a hunting advantage over non Nostratic groups.

This is the period in which the Ice Age melting begins dividing up the Fenno-Scandian and melting the Scottish Ice Sheet, leaving the Baltic as a meltwater freshwater lake. The Cordilerran Ice Sheet melts, leading to the first period of rapid sea level rise (from 90metres to 70 metres below present sea level). Forests spread northwards from the Mediterranean into what had previously been the Steppe-Tundra areas, bringing an end to the huge herds of horse, reindeer, and bison, which retreat north-weastwards. A huge population decline sets in amongst what had been the Upper Paleolithic cultures of Eurasia as a result of the loss of the protein source of big game hunting.

World population is about 10 million people, speaking about 15,000 languages (about 600-1,000 people per language). Never again will there be so many tongues, as subsequent cultural changes will increase the number of speakers per language but it will similarly reduce the number of different tongues to the present figure of about 4-5,000.

12,000 - 9,000 Ibero-Maurasian mesolithic Capsian cultures develop out of the Oranian, introducing "Berberish" languages to Spain and Portugal. The remains of the Upper Paleolithic cultures (Swidderian, Maglemosian etc) move morthwards, following the retreating herds of reindeer. Amalgam mesolithic Tardenoisian cultures develop adopting features from Spanish mesolithic cultures within a framework of cultures derived from the Upper Paleolithic of the Franco-Cantabrian region. They successfully specialise in hunting and trapping small forest game and gathering forest products.

The development of a litorial proto-Ainu Jomon ceramic culture in the Japanese-Korean archipelago region based upon an amalgam of east-Asian Upper Paleolithic and sea-faring Taiwanese Austronesian speakers.

11,000 - 8,000 Tardenoisian cultures spread across Europe as far as the Urals. This movement occurs because most of the previous cultures of the area were of the T-group of the Vascon-Caucasian group of the Dene-Caucasian languages.

Meanwhile, more sophisticated mesolithic cultures of Nostratic Speaking proto-Altaio-Uralics spread northward from over the Thraco-Anatolian landbridge, around the freshwater lake that later becomes the Black Sea, developing an intensive fishing-gathering culture in the northward spreading Eurasian forests. In Iran the mesolithic culture at Tepe Hissar, develop a Proto-Elamo-Dravidian culture.

The Younger Dryas "cold snap" brings a rapid return of blizzard-like conditions across Eurasia, further reducing populations, and forcing a rapid cultural evolution of microlithic mesolithic hunter-trapper-fisher-gatherer cultures across Eurasia. This is the period just prior to the second wave of melting of the ice caps.

10,000 - 7,000 BCE. This sees further warming (average temperatures warmer than today) causing forest areas in the southern Mediterranean region to revert to scrub or even semi-arid steppe-grasslands. An essentially north African ecology (gazelles, goats, sheep, grasses) spread widely throughout the Middle East. This is the period in which the Natufian culture of Palestine and Syria and the Jarmo-culture of the Northern Zagros develop as sedentary cultures and begin the mass harvesting of wild grains, that leds eventually to pre-pottery neolithic I.

A rapid melting of Ice Sheets opens the Baltic to Salt Water (previously it had been a freshwater lake). Sea levels rise from 50-30 metres below current value. The North Sea begins retreating leading mesolithic Malgemose cultures in Starr Car (Yorkshire) and elsewhere from Britain to Denmark, to specialise in fishing. The domesticated dog spreads across the Eurasian forest zone with the spread and separation of proto-Uralic from proto-Altaic language groups. Amalgam cultures develop in Siberia between late -Paleolithic mongoliform S-Group Dene-Caucasians and incoming Nostratic mesolithic peoples.

8,000 - 5,000 BCE - a period of climatic oscillation temporarily halts the sea level rise. Then the breakup of the Laurentide Ice Sheet of Canada into two (one in Labrador and one in the North West Territories, leads to a rapid sea-level rise as the meltwaters of the Hudson freshwater lake break through into the North Atlantic, joined by the remaining meltwaters of the Fenno-Scandian Ice Shheet. This is the post-glacial climatic optimum. Sea levels rise to 4 metres above the present values, flooding into the Black Sea, draining into the Khazakh lake linking the Caspian and Aral Seas, flooding the Sunda Shelf (which previously joined Borneo, Java and the South East Asian mainland) the Sahul Shelf (joining Australia and New Guinea), the Japano-Korean archipelago (joining Japan and Sakalin to Korea) and Berengaria. The final flooding of the Persian gulf and southern Mesopotamia is remembered as the Great Deluge, with similar myths being found amongst people who come from all of these areas affected.

Proto-Altaic group spreads across North East Asia, amalgamating with the earlier mongoliform late Upper Paleolithic groups present there, and evolving a shamanic culture. The Proto-Na-Dene fisher folk move from Eastern Siberia and Kamchatka, through the Aleutian islands, and down the Canadian west Coast, splitting into Haida and proto-Athabascan groups.

In the middle east the breakthrough into grain agriculture and animal domestication leads to a chain of libguistically related pre-pottery aceramic but neolithic cultures which spread from Palestine and Syria, and from Armenia westward into Anatolia and thence to the Aegean, at the same time moving down the Zagros and Elberz, through the Caspian Gates and into Margiana and Transoxania. Practicing hoe and digging stick shifting subsistence cultures, they tended to move onto new pastures or cropping land when local soil fertility was depleted.

On the edges of this region - in North West Arabia (proto-Semites), Elam, Northern Iran, in Thrace, and the Caucasas, these ealy farming cultures came in contact with hunter gatherer mesolithic peoples speaking different languages of the Nostratic family. A slow acculturation to neolithic technologies leads in these regions to mixed-hunter-gatherer-farmer-herder cultures which spread the new neolithic technologies further, north of the Caucasas (into PIE), into the Balkans and Danubian basin (unknown languages, possibly containing an amalgam of Tardenosian T-group, and Nostratic Pre-Uralo-Altaic features), north east into Transoxania with a group of unknown Nostratic languages long extinct, south east with the Elamo-Dravidian language family, and south west down the Red Sea (Semites) and from Egypt (Coptic) west into Libya (Berber).

6,000 - 3,000 BCE - Increasing aridity in the Nile to Oxus region, in part caused by overgrazing and depletion of soil fertility sees the secondary products revolution, leading to

(a) the appearance of long-distance trade (the Halafian obsidian network from Melos to Lake Van amongst related (Caucasian?/Nostratic?) languages; the Badakhi lapis lazuli routes from Afghanistan to Egypt, the eventual Salt-Trade route from Haalstaat throughout Central Europe, the copper and beer routes (of the Bell Beaker folk) and the amber routes from the Baltic and North Seas to the Mediterranean, all formed part of the developing inter-regional "world system". The Minoan trading world at the Western end, and the Mohenjo-Daro and Harrappan Indus trading world at the eastern end of this system were the inevitable consequences.

(b) the appearance of nomadic pastoralist cultures (the successors to Pre-Pottery Neolithic II in Palestine (first Semitics), the Pit-Grave cultures of the Pontic Steppe horse and cart cultures (first Indo-Europeans), built dependent relationships with nearby groups of sedentary agriculturists. The intense comptetion for limited grazinglands and water resources, sees the rise of endemic warfare, and the appearance of warrior aristocracies, with a growth of fortresses and defensive works to protect key water resources and trade routes (eg Jericho spring, Mersin and the Cilician gates, Tepe Hissar and the Caspian gates, the quanats of Margiana and Trans Oxania)

(c) with the intensification of production using animal manures to improve and maintain soil fertility, irrigation from the Nile to Oxus region, animal traction, milk and wool, there is a rapid spread of pandemic diseases which weaken the populations in the core regions. Populations are only maintained by constant influx of frontier nomadic-pastroalist barbarians, who with organisations of tribal solidarity amongst warrior groups either let themselves out as mercenaries, or achieve political pre-eminence over thnically destinct groups of peasant agriculturists. In this way, first Sumerian, then Akkadian, Gutian, Amorite, Hurrian, Hittite, Tocharian, Kassite, Mycenaean Greek, Indo-Iranian, Peleset, Etruscan, Hebrew, Aramean, Phrygian, Cimmerian, Scythian, Persian, Parthian, Saka, Hun, Arab and Turk groups come to successively dominate, assimilate and be replaced.

By 3,000 BCE world population has risen to 100 million. The average size of a neolithic population group is between 1-10,000 speakers, with a few language groups numbering in the 100,000 range.

We have here arrived at the beginning of history.

From this I see the Urheimat of Indo-European as being the cis-Caucasian Pontic Steppe, with the related trans-Caucasian area to the south as being the area of the Etruscan Urheimat. Whereas both languages were related, and both adopted features from the neolithic substrate cultures to the south, Etruscan came to have many features similar to the Asianic neolithic substrate, whereas Proto-Indo-European had fewer such features, but a greater degree of cross borrowing with the Uralic languages immediately to their north. It was from the neolitic obsidian substrate that the Semitish features of I-E came, not from contact with Semite speakers, but from contact with the neolithic substrate that underlies the area in which Semitic languages eventually came to predominate.

That these borrowings are found from I-E in Uralic from Finland to the Samoyeddic region shows that they were early. That they are not found in Yukaghir or Altaic languages suggests that the common features are not genetic (from a common Nostratic core) but are the result of long close contact and linguistic borrowing. The funnelbeaker battleaxe culture at Fatyanova was probably I-E over a Uralic substrate, in which the substrate linguistic group won out over against their I-E upper class.

This I feel is getting close to the master synthesis of all of the data discussed here on CyBaLiSt recently.




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