Armenian hypothesis

The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European homeland, proposed by Georgian (Tamaz V. Gamkrelidze) and Russian linguist Vyacheslav Ivanov in 1985, suggests that Proto-Indo-European was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highlands.


The two presented the hypothesis in two articles in Vestnik drevnej istorii and then in a much larger work.[1]

They claim that the Indo-European languages came from a language in Armenia to the Pontic steppe from which it expanded, according to the Kurgan hypothesis, into Western Europe. The Hittite, Indo-Iranian, Greek and Armenian branches split from the Armenian homeland.[1] The Indo-Hittite model and does not include the Anatolian languages in its scenario, which are identified with the Kura-Araxes culture.[2][3][4][5][6]

The phonological peculiarities proposed in the glottalic theory would be best preserved in Armenian and the Germanic languages. Armenian remained in situ and would be particularly archaic despite of its late attestation. Proto-Greek would be practically equivalent to Mycenaean Greek from the 17th century BC and closely associate Greek migration to Greece with the Indo-Aryan migration to India at about the same time (the Indo-European expansion at the transition to the Late Bronze Age, including the possibility of Indo-European Kassites).

The hypothesis argues for the latest possible date of Proto-Indo-European (without Anatolian), roughly a millennium later than the mainstream Kurgan hypothesis. It opposes the Anatolian hypothesis in spite of the geographical proximity of the respective suggested Urheimaten by diverging from the timeframe suggested there by as much as three millennia.


Robert Drews says that "most of the chronological and historical arguments seem fragile at best, and of those that I am able to judge, some are evidently wrong". However, he argues that it is far more powerful as a linguistic model, providing insights into the relationship between the Indo-European and the Semitic and Kartvelian languages.

He continues, "It is certain that the inhabitants of the forested areas of Armenia very early became accomplished woodworkers, and it now appears that in the second millennium they produced spoked-wheel vehicles that served as models as far away as China. And we have long known that from the second millennium onward, Armenia was important for the breeding of horses. It is thus not surprising to find that what clues we have suggest that chariot warfare was pioneered in eastern Anatolia. Finally, our picture of what the PIE speakers did, and when, owes much to the recently proposed hypothesis that the homeland of the PIE speakers was Armenia."[1]

J. Grepin wrote in a review that the model of linguistic relationships is "the most complex, far reaching and fully supported of this century".[7]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Drews, Robert, The Coming of the Greeks: Indo-European Conquests in the Aegean and the Near East, Princeton University Press, 1994, pp.33ff
  2. Renfrew, A. C., 1987, Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins, London: Pimlico. ISBN 0-7126-6612-5
  3. Tamaz V. Gamkrelidze & V. V. Ivanov (March 1990). "The Early History of Indo-European Languages". Scientific American. Vol. 262 no. 3. pp. 110–116.
  4. Renfrew, Colin (2003). "Time Depth, Convergence Theory, and Innovation in Proto-Indo-European". Languages in Prehistoric Europe. ISBN 3-8253-1449-9.
  5. Gray, Russell D.; Atkinson, Quentin D. (2003). "Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin" (PDF). Nature. 426 (6965): 435. doi:10.1038/nature02029. PMID 14647380.
  6. James P. Mallory, "Kuro-Araxes Culture", Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997.
  7. J. Grepin, Times Literary Supplement, March 14, 1986, p.278.


External links

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