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Prehistoric Human Migrations

lpetrich

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The sequencing of large numbers of genes, including many whole genomes, is something that has made possible a lot of interesting and important biological discoveries, including about ourselves. Most of the populated places of our planet were discovered to already be populated by their first literate visitors, and these people's ancestors must have gotten there long ago. Usually much longer ago than any of them remember in their oral lore.

Turning from initial peopling, there is the question of how technological, stylistic, linguistic, and other cultural features spread. Did a new population come in and outbreed or push out or exterminate the previous population? Did some small but adventurous elite take over? Did people learn stuff from their neighbors without moving anywhere (cultural diffusion)?

Around the turn of the 20th cy., archeologists and paleoanthropologists rather indiscriminately postulated migrations, while in the mid 20th cy., the opposite belief became common, something that may be called "immobilism". But genetic research has made it possible to test these hypotheses, research using not only present-day people's genes, but also genes from the remains of their predecessors.


For Europe and India, there were three waves of migration. First a wave of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers. Then a wave of Neolithic farmers. Then a wave of horse-riding nomads from the steppe (grassland) belt of east Ukraine to central Asia. Then we get recorded history.
 

lpetrich

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 Genetic history of Europe

The first wave of settlers of our species was the Cro-Magnon people, who arrived around 40,000 years ago. I say our species, because the Neanderthals had already been in Europe for some 100,000 years already. Closely related, but not quite present-day humanity.

But around 30,000 - 20,000 years ago, the continental glaciers went farther south in the Last Glacial Maximum, forcing the Cro-Magnon people southward. When the glaciers retreated, they repopulated northern Europe, coming from the southeast.

The second wave started around 11,500 years ago (11,500 BP or 9,500 BCE), when agriculture was invented in the Fertile Crescent Middle East. It enabled much larger population densities, and Neolithic farmers spread out from there, gradually intermixing with the Paleolithic hunter-gatherers that they ran into. They spread through Anatolia, reaching Greece around 6000 BCE, central Europe around 4500 BCE, and the British Isles around 3000 BCE.

The third wave is not quite as obvious, but it is nevertheless well-supported by genetic evidence.

New light shed on prehistoric human migration in Europe -- ScienceDaily
A massive migration from the steppe brought Indo European languages to Europe | Max Planck Society
Steppe migrant thugs pacified by Stone Age farming women -- ScienceDaily
Talking Neolithic: Linguistic and Archaeological Perspectives on How Indo-European Was Implemented in Southern Scandinavia | American Journal of Archaeology

Around 4500 - 3500 BCE in the steppe belt between eastern Ukraine and central Asia, some people domesticated horses and invented wagons. This enabled them to travel long distances, and they spread out over that belt. They had only limited agriculture, and their main wealth was in herds of horses and cattle and the like. These are rather easy to steal, so they became pugnacious and warlike, so they can defend their flocks. Though they were nomadic, they had a few permanent structures, their burial mounds or kurgans.

It is very likely that they spoke early Indo-European dialects. The reconstructed ancestral vocabulary fits: words for dogs, horses, bovines, sheep, goats, and pigs, and also for wagons, wheels, axles, yokes, and various associated parts. There was even a word for transporting by vehicle. Not many words for crop plants can be reconstructed, and there are only a few words for metals. Not surprisingly, they lacked a word for writing -- there are several words for it in the descendant languages, all with different origins.

Among their customs was war bands, groups of teenage boys and young men who would be sent off to fight other people. They would be called "black youths" or dogs or wolves, and Wolf Rites of Winter - Archaeology Magazine describes what is likely a cemetery of dogs and wolves that were sacrificed by some of these young men.

These pesky young men became pioneers of the steppe people, spreading over northern and central Europe, and marrying local women as they went. This resulted in a big genetic contribution from the steppe people, but the local people made some contributions as well. Contributions like agriculture, complete with words for various crop plants.
 

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 Genetics and archaeogenetics of South Asia

It is much like Europe. First, Paleolithic hunter-gatherers arrived, people much like those of the Andaman Islands. Then, Neolithic farmers went eastward from the Middle East through Iran and into south Asia. Then, steppe people went southward from central Asia, first arriving in what is now Pakistan and then spreading onward in the northern part of the subcontinent.

Who was here first? A new study explains the origins of ancient Indians
noting
The Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia | bioRxiv

As with Europe, sequences of genes from long-ago people help us reconstruct what has happened. The authors of that research looked at some people from the Bactria-Margiana archeological complex north of Iran, and among all the people there, they found three with some Indian ancestry. Not quite the Indian subcontinent, but it was good enough.

Looking at the genes of present-day people also has some interesting results, like some upper-caste people having more steppe ancestry than other people at where they live.


India's written record is rather odd. The first writing in the Indian subcontinent was by the Harappans or the Indus Valley Civilization, in what is now Pakistan. Their writing has yet to be deciphered, and it may not even be true written language, but instead something like professional titles. But the Harappans were forgotten by later generations, including their descendants.

The first writings remembered by later generations are the Vedas, big collections of hymns and ritual instructions and other such things that were composed around 1500 BCE - 500 BCE. The earlier ones, especially the Rigveda, describe a society of cattle herders whose main social organization was a king who does lots of religious rituals. A society much like what one would expect of the steppe people. The Vedas' language, Sanskrit, is one of the oldest recorded Indo-European languages, and discovery of it provoked the recognition of the Indo-European language family.

The Vedas ended up becoming the oldest sacred books of Hinduism, though it must be noted that they contain Satanic Verses: descriptions of cow sacrifices.
 

lpetrich

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Now for a word associated with Indo-Europeandom that has very unsavory associations. The composers of the Vedas called themselves Ârya, meaning "noble", a word which we have turned into "Aryan". But how did these associations get started?

In the 19th cy., as the Indo-European language family became evident, it also was concluded that the early Indo-European languages were spread by conquest. There are, however, other ways that language can spread, like by trade or religion or cultural exports, but languages spread in such ways are mostly secondary languages. But what might the conquerors be called? The Vedas seemed to go back farther than most other IE documents, and some early Indo-Europeanists thought that Proto-Indo-European was much like Sanskrit. So "Aryan" would be a good name for these conquerors.

But where did the original Indo-European speakers live? People have come up with numerous hypotheses, from northern Europe to eastern Europe to Anatolia to India, with northern Europe being popular among Germans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Nazis loved this idea, and that's why they called themselves Aryans.

Yet some of their targets, the Roma, had come from northern India, giving them much better claim to the title "Aryan", and the steppe hypothesis places Indo-European origins among people that the Nazis considered untermenschen: "subhumans". When Nazi leaders discovered that most people in Norway were not very enthusiastic about Nazidom, they decided that Norwegians were contaminated with Finns and Lapps and such, and that only Vidkun Quisling and his few followers were Real Aryans. They also decided that the Japanese were Real Aryans, despite their obviously un-German appearance.


The question of Indo-European origins has gotten involved with politics in India also. Some Indian nationalists reject the "Aryan invasion theory" of the origin of the Indic Indo-European languages, preferring an "Out of India" hypothesis. However, Sanskrit has linguistic features that make it an offshoot rather than an ancestor, features like collapsing vowels /e/, /o/, and /a/ into /a/. Also, horses are latecomers to India, arriving only after the Harappans went into decline. For my part, I don't see the "Aryan invasion hypothesis" as any more horrible than the "Anglo-Saxon invasion hypothesis" of how English got to England. Even the most patriotic Britons don't object to it.


As to what cultural contributions the steppe people had made, those are rather limited. They had horses and wheeled vehicles and woolen clothing, some of them would memorize lots of stories and hymns and the like, and they likely had an ideology of three functions: priestly or sovereign, military, and ordinary productivity.
 

lpetrich

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Of Indo-European ancestors, the  Sredny Stog culture flourished around 4500 - 3500 BCE, notably at Dereivka. It was at the Dneiper River near the present-day city of Zaporizhia in eastern Ukraine. Dereivka had a lot of horse bones in it, though a horse with bit wear and cheek pieces turned out to be from 700 - 200 BCE.

They were succeeded by the  Yamna culture (Yamnaya, Pit Grave, 3300 - 2600 BCE), which spread into eastern Ukraine and eastward into south European Russia and Central Asia. Their stay-at-home successors were the  Srubna culture (Timber Grave, 18th - 12th cys. BCE), and in historical times, the Scythians and Sarmatians.

The eastern parts were succeeded by the  Poltavka culture (2700 - 2100 BCE), and northeast of the Caspian Sea by the  Sintashta culture (2100 - 1800 BCE). The Sintashta people had the earliest known chariots, light wagons with spoked wheels that were widely used for warfare for several centuries. They were likely speakers of an ancestor of the Indo-Iranian languages.

Nomads from there not only went to India, but also to the Middle East, where they created the short-lived Mitanni kingdom in the northern Fertile Crescent. We know this become of linguistic evidence.  Mitanni-Aryan: several personal and deity names mentioned in a treaty with the Hittites, and  Kikkuli's horse-training treatise with Indic-looking words for 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 turns.

Some of them even reached Canaan, with the  Amarna letters referring to Canaanite leaders with names like Indaruta and Suwarduta.

But unlike in India and Iran, these steppe people became assimilated and culturally absorbed, leaving behind only a little bit of linguistic evidence.
 

lpetrich

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The first Indo-Europeanized North Europeans were the  Corded Ware culture (2900 - 2350 BCE) -- I should have mentioned that name earlier. They got their name from pottery decorated with cords pressed into their clay before it was fired.

As J.P. Mallory pointed out, that was the most culturally unified northern Europe had been at any time before or since. This despite the efforts of Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, and Joseph Stalin in recent centuries.

An offshoot of it was the  Bell Beaker culture, which overran much of western Europe and some neighboring areas. Named after its distinctive pottery, it spread over 2750 - 2500 BCE, with its pottery going out of style over 2200 - 1800 BCE. In Britain, the Bell Beaker people replaced most of the previous population, a population of Neolithic farmers, while in Iberia, they were a conquering elite who assimilated the local population. Ancient Britons 'replaced' by newcomers - BBC News, The Beaker phenomenon and the genomic transformation of northwestern Europe | Nature The authors noted some other cases of population replacement, like the Linearbandkeramik or Linear Pottery Neolithic farmers of central Europe around 5500 BCE, and the Yamna people.

The Beaker people were not the Celts. Instead, the Celts were descendants of the Hallstatt people of southern Germany and western Austria, people who started spreading outward at around 800 BCE. They overran most of western Europe, reaching the British Isles around 500 BCE. However, they did not make much genetic imprint: DNA study shows Celts are not a unique genetic group - BBC News, The fine-scale genetic structure of the British population. The Romans also did not make much genetic imprint over most of their realm. Instead, they assimilated most of their conquered peoples, with remarkable success. In the western half of their empire, most people ended up speaking Latin dialects that became the Romance languages, while in the eastern half, people continued speaking Greek and other local languages. The Byzantine Empire's people even considered themselves Romans, long after they stopped using Latin for official business and used Greek instead.

After the Romans ended their rule of England, the Angles and Saxons and Jutes came in, and they contributed something like 1/4 of the genes of southwest Englanders. The later Danes and Vikings and Normans contributed relatively little, however. But the people of the Orkney Islands, north of Scotland, have about 25% Viking ancestry.

I will conclude by satirizing a certain recent British xenophobe:

1066 CE: Those Normans should go back to where they came from!
800 CE: Those Danes should go back to where they came from!
450 CE: Those Angles and Saxons and Jutes should go back to where they came from!
43 CE: Those Romans should go back to where they came from!
500 BCE: Those Celts should go back to where they came from!
2500 BCE: Those Beaker people should go back to where they came from!
4000 BCE: Those farmers should go back to where they came from!
 

lpetrich

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The Germanic homeland was in southern Scandinavia: Denmark, southern Norway, and southern Sweden. It first had the Nordic Bronze Age, likely an offshoot of the Corded War culture, and then the Jastorf culture of 500 BCE - 1 CE. The Jastorf people gradually spread south from Denmark into what is now northern Germany, and over later centuries out from there over much of Europe. Some places became Germanized, likely due to assimilation at least in part, while in other places, it was the Germanic people who got assimilated. But in France, the Iberian Peninsula, and Italy, these wayward Germanic people left behind some vocabulary, like words for "north", "east", "south" and "west".

The Slavic homeland was in eastern Europe, somewhere around southern Poland, eastern Ukraine, and Belarus. Slavs started spreading outward around 500 CE. I've found Genetic Heritage of the Balto-Slavic Speaking Populations: A Synthesis of Autosomal, Mitochondrial and Y-Chromosomal Data -- it was largely assimilation by a conquering elite, as far as I can tell from the article.

 Urheimat (German: "original home") discusses the homelands of several language families.

The Italic and Celtic Indo-European families are often grouped together as Italo-Celtic, and they likely had a Central European homeland. The Bell Beaker culture, then the  Unetice culture (2300 - 1600 BCE), the  Tumulus culture (1600 - 1200 BCE), and then the  Urnfield culture (1300 - 750 BCE), from their custom of cremating their dead, putting those remains in urns, and then burying those urns in fields. The Celts emerged from them, but an offshoot moved to Italy, forming the  Terramare culture (1700 - 1150 BCE) in northern Italy. Some Terramare people moved southward, and the most successful of them were the founders of Rome.


Of recorded non-Indo-European languages in Europe, the only present-day survivor is Basque. From around 500 BCE were Etruscan, in Italy, and Lemnian, in the Aegean island of Lemnos. From around 1000 BCE is Eteocretan and Eteocypriot, known from very fragmentary inscriptions, and from 1500 BCE and earlier, Minoan. Etruscan and Lemnian are likely related, but beyond that, it is hard to discern any relationships. I've seen Basque and Etruscan connected to Hurrian-Urartian and the northern Caucasian languages, but most linguists remain skeptical.
 

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Of recorded non-Indo-European languages in Western Europe, the only present-day survivor is Basque.
FIFY. Eastern Europe has Finnish, Sami, Estonian, Hungarian, Samoyed, Chechen...
 

lpetrich

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I concede about eastern Europe. However, Hungarian was brought from the Ural Mountains by some wayward tribe that settled down at where Hungary now is.

 Bantu expansion, Bantu expansion shows that habitat alters the route and pace of human dispersals | PNAS (on how early Bantu speakers preferred to spread into grasslands and avoid jungles)

The ancestral Bantu speakers lived at the Nigeria-Cameroon border around 2000 - 3000 years ago, and they spread out first eastward, then southward, reaching South Africa as early as 300 CE. Though this expansion is generally accepted, it is only imperfectly correlated with archeological and genetic evidence.


Another interesting one is Madagascar. The people there speak Malagasy, a language whose closest relatives are spoken near the Barito River in southern Borneo, about 7500 km / 4700 miles away. Along the coastlines of nearby continents is even farther. So the colonists would have gone by settlement after settlement after settlement looking for uninhabited land, before they came across Madagascar.


Malagasy and its stay-at-home relative Ma'anyan are Austronesian languages, and they were spread in the same fashion. The most divergent Austronesian languages are spoken by people in Taiwan, and that's why that island is usually considered the Austronesian homeland. It was settled around 10,000 - 6000 BCE by colonists from the nearby mainland. From there, colonists went southward, reaching the Philippines in 3000 BCE, Indonesia in 2000 BCE, Madagascar in 300 CE, and Melanesia, Micronesia, and Fiji in 1000 BCE. From Fiji, Polynesian colonists continued onward into the central Pacific islands, reaching Easter Island / Rapa Nui in 300 CE, Hawaii in 400 CE, and New Zealand in 1280 CE.
 

James Brown

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Anything on the Australian Aborigines? They've been there for 60,000 years. Further complicating the matters, they had to reach that island by ocean-worthy boats, something that no other groups of people would accomplish for tens of thousands of years. Then, upon arriving there, they had to lose their nautical knowledge and live lives of utter simplicity. When the Aborigines were discovered by English sailors, they had no words for the concepts of "yesterday" or "tomorrow."

I for one find that baffling.
 

rousseau

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Anything on the Australian Aborigines? They've been there for 60,000 years. Further complicating the matters, they had to reach that island by ocean-worthy boats, something that no other groups of people would accomplish for tens of thousands of years. Then, upon arriving there, they had to lose their nautical knowledge and live lives of utter simplicity. When the Aborigines were discovered by English sailors, they had no words for the concepts of "yesterday" or "tomorrow."

I for one find that baffling.

https://theconversation.com/island-...oute-the-first-people-took-to-australia-93120
 

James Brown

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Anything on the Australian Aborigines? They've been there for 60,000 years. Further complicating the matters, they had to reach that island by ocean-worthy boats, something that no other groups of people would accomplish for tens of thousands of years. Then, upon arriving there, they had to lose their nautical knowledge and live lives of utter simplicity. When the Aborigines were discovered by English sailors, they had no words for the concepts of "yesterday" or "tomorrow."

I for one find that baffling.

https://theconversation.com/island-...oute-the-first-people-took-to-australia-93120

That makes sense. Thanks.
 

rousseau

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Anything on the Australian Aborigines? They've been there for 60,000 years. Further complicating the matters, they had to reach that island by ocean-worthy boats, something that no other groups of people would accomplish for tens of thousands of years. Then, upon arriving there, they had to lose their nautical knowledge and live lives of utter simplicity. When the Aborigines were discovered by English sailors, they had no words for the concepts of "yesterday" or "tomorrow."

I for one find that baffling.

https://theconversation.com/island-...oute-the-first-people-took-to-australia-93120

That makes sense. Thanks.

If you're on Twitter give David Christian, historian out of Australia, a follow. He posts a lot of 'big history' like this.
 

lpetrich

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So the original Australians arrived during the last Ice Age, when southeast Asia extended into much of Indonesia as Sunda, and when Australia extended into New Guinea as Sahul. In between were some islands, but it was not very far between them.

Australian aborigines are sometimes described as belonging to an "Australoid" race, and there are some physically similar people in Sri Lanka, the Veddas. Nearby are the "Negrito" populations of the Andaman Islands, mainland southeast Asia, the Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea, and Melanesia. They were the first modern people to settle there, according to the  Two layer hypothesis of mainland Southeast Asia, and similarly in India. However, their genetic history was rather complicated, with Melanesians having a lot of Denisovan ancestry and some other Negritos having rather little such ancestry.

But in the Holocene, populations of farmers then traveled to those places, to India from the Middle East, and to Southeast Asia form South China.

In Australia itself, about 4,000 years ago, some people arrived from nearby Asia or thereabouts, people who brought with them the dingo, a breed of domestic dog that went feral in Australia.

Asian Negritos are not one population - Gene Expression
Unravelling the Genetic History of Negritos and Indigenous Populations of Southeast Asia
Discerning the Origins of the Negritos, First Sundaland People: Deep Divergence and Archaic Admixture | Genome Biology and Evolution | Oxford Academic
Genomes link aboriginal Australians to Indians : Nature News & Comment
 

lpetrich

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 Genetic history of the British Isles is rather confusing, with lots of little details but not much of a statement of an overall picture. But from what I've seen elsewhere, Britain's Neolithic settlers likely came from a southwestern European population.

 Genetic history of the Iberian Peninsula describes how southwestern Europeans have a lot of European Paleolithic ancestry relative to most other Europeans. So Neolithic southeastern Europeans mixed with the local people as they expanded westward.

 Genetic history of Italy -- the largest contributions are southwestern Europeans in the North and Neolithic southeastern Europeans in the South. Later migrations made relatively little genetic difference, with the exception of Greek settlers of southernmost Italy. This included the Germanic tribes that overran much of Europe over 500 - 1000 CE.


 Genetic history of North Africa -- much of North Africans' genetic heritage is Middle Eastern, from Neolithic farmers that spread from there.  DNA history of Egypt -- the ancient population is largely Middle Eastern Neolithic, but modern Egyptians have some additional genetic admixture from south of the Sahara Desert ("sub-Saharan").

 Archaeogenetics of the Near East -- a big mess of an article, but it notes some interesting findings about Jewish ancestry. Y chromosomes reveal that most European, Middle Eastern, and North African Jewish men are paternally descended from a single Middle Eastern founder population. Mitochondrial ancestry is more confused, with one study claiming that many Ashkenazi (North European) Jews are mainly descended from South European mothers, and other one claiming mostly Middle Eastern mothers. But given the Neolithic genetic heritage of southern Europe, that may be ambiguous. Though Jewish tradition states that Jewish ancestry is transmitted maternally, in practice, it has been transmitted more paternally. Interestingly, the Jewish priestly caste of Kohanim, whose identity is transmitted paternally, has remarkable uniformity of Y chromosomes, suggesting a  Y-chromosomal Aaron. It was named after Aaron in the Bible, the Kohanim's legendary ancestor.


 Genetic studies on Turkish people,  Turkic migration The Turkic homeland is rather obscure, but it is in the region of Mongolia, Xinjiang, eastern Central Asia, and southern Siberia. But over the 6th to the 11th centuries CE, Turkic tribes spread over most of central Asia, and starting in the 11th cy. CE, they became established in Anatolia.

Genetically, the Turkic expansion is rather difficult to trace. That suggests that it was mainly a conquering elite, like the Roman Republic and Empire. But they overran much of the early Indo-Europeans' steppe domain, and Turkey's name, language, and cultural identity is derived from them. But present-day Turks have only about 10 - 20% central Asian ancestry, and genetically, they are mostly Middle Eastern.
 

aupmanyav

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Vedas are much older than 1,500 BC. Definitely around 4,000 BC (location Caspian Steppes when the sun rose on the day of vernal equinox in the asterism of Orion), possibly 5,000 BC at least (when the sun rose ... of Castor and Pollux). But many, huge many number of verses indicate that Vedas were written at a place where there was a two-month long Arctic night. We (Hindus) still have a period of two-months which is called (Ati-Ratra, greater night), and personal names such as 'Dirghatamas' (Dirgha - Long, tamas - darkness), probably people who were born during the long night.

What is the problem with cow sacrifice? They were beef eaters like many other people. So, their Gods also liked beef and an accompanying drink of Soma. The Gods and the priests both were huge consumers of Soma. Once Indra got on a high after drinking more than he could manage. That is recorded in RigVeda.

कुवित्सोमस्यापामिति Kuvitsomasyāpāmiti (Have I not drunk of Soma juice?)
"Aha! this spacious earth will I deposit either here or there. Have I not drunk of Soma juice?
In one short moment will I smite the earth in fury here or there. Have I not drunk of Soma juice?"
http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv10119.htm
 

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aupmanyav

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Proto-Indo-Iranian
The Sanskrit term comes from proto-Indo-Iranian *arya- or *aryo-, the name used by the Indo-Iranians to designate themselves. The Zend airya 'venerable' and Old Persian ariya are also derives of *aryo-, and are also self-designations. In Iranian languages, the original self-identifier lives on in ethnic names like "Alans" and "Iron". Similarly, the name of Iran is the Persian word for land/place of the Aryans.

Pre-Proto-Indo-Iranians
The Proto-Indo-Iranian term is hypothesized to have proto-Indo-European origins, while according to Szemerényi it is probably a Near-Eastern loanword from the Ugaritic ary, kinsmen. It has been postulated the Proto-Indo-European root word is *haerós with the meanings "members of one's own (ethnic) group, peer, freeman" as well as the Indo-Iranian meaning of Aryan. Derived from it were words like:

the Hittite prefix arā- meaning member of one's own group, peer, companion and friend;
Old Irish aire, meaning "freeman" and "noble";
Gaulish personal names with Ario-;
Avestan airya- meaning Aryan, Iranian in the larger sense;
Old Indic ari- meaning attached to, faithful, devoted person and kinsman;
Old Indic aryá- meaning kind, favourable, attached to and devoted;
Old Indic árya- meaning Aryan, faithful to the Vedic religion.

The word *haerós itself is believed to have come from the root *haer- meaning "put together". The original meaning in Proto-Indo-European had a clear emphasis on the "in-group status" as distinguished from that of outsiders, particularly those captured and incorporated into the group as slaves. While in Anatolia, the base word has come to emphasize personal relationship, in Indo-Iranian the word has taken a more ethnic meaning.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aryan#Etymology

I do not know if the word 'hero' also derives from the same root.
 

aupmanyav

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Here, Aryan movements (the oldest culture that I find is centered at Seroglazov, Volga River Valley, near Astrakhan, Russia, 7000 BC):
(For a larger image, open the image in a new tab and click)
I find no proof that IE people crossed Caucasus. The went round Black sea in the West and around Caspian in the East (Hittie and Mittani).

23314_5a07077da43adf353878804cc99d9c62.jpg
 
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starwater

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Anything on the Australian Aborigines? They've been there for 60,000 years. Further complicating the matters, they had to reach that island by ocean-worthy boats, something that no other groups of people would accomplish for tens of thousands of years. Then, upon arriving there, they had to lose their nautical knowledge and live lives of utter simplicity. When the Aborigines were discovered by English sailors, they had no words for the concepts of "yesterday" or "tomorrow."

I for one find that baffling.

There is the land bridge theory - from wiki
The earliest evidence of humans in Australia is at least 65,000 years old.[3]

There is considerable discussion among archeologists as to the route taken by the first migrants to Australia, widely taken to be ancestors of the modern Aborigines.[4] Migration took place during the closing stages of the Pleistocene, when sea levels were much lower than they are today. Repeated episodes of extended glaciation during the Pleistocene epoch resulted in decreases of sea levels by more than 100 metres in Australasia.[5] People appear to have arrived by sea during a period of glaciation, when New Guinea and Tasmania were joined to the continent of Australia.

The continental coastline extended much further out into the Timor Sea, and Australia and New Guinea formed a single landmass (known as Sahul), connected by an extensive land bridge across the Arafura Sea, Gulf of Carpentaria and Torres Strait. Nevertheless, the sea still presented a major obstacle so it is theorised that these ancestral people reached Australia by island hopping.[5] Two routes have been proposed. One follows an island chain between Sulawesi and New Guinea and the other reaches North Western Australia via Timor.[6] Rupert Gerritsen has suggested an alternative theory, involving accidental colonisation as a result of tsunamis.[7] The journey still required sea travel however, making them amongst the world's earlier mariners.[8]

Scott Cane wrote in 2013 that the first wave may have been prompted by the eruption of Toba and if they arrived around 70,000 years ago could have crossed the water from Timor, when the sea level was low - but if they came later, around 50,000 years ago, a more likely route would be through the Moluccas to New Guinea. Given that the likely landfall regions have been under around 50 metres of water for the last 15,000 years, it is unlikely that the timing will ever be established with certainty.[9]
 

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Vedas are much older than 1,500 BC. Definitely around 4,000 BC (location Caspian Steppes when the sun rose on the day of vernal equinox in the asterism of Orion), possibly 5,000 BC at least (when the sun rose ... of Castor and Pollux). But many, huge many number of verses indicate that Vedas were written at a place where there was a two-month long Arctic night. We (Hindus) still have a period of two-months which is called (Ati-Ratra, greater night), and personal names such as 'Dirghatamas' (Dirgha - Long, tamas - darkness), probably people who were born during the long night.
I will concede that there is some support for something like that.

 Sintashta culture
The Sintashta culture, also known as the Sintashta-Petrovka culture[1] or Sintashta-Arkaim culture,[2] is a Bronze Age archaeological culture of the northern Eurasian steppe on the borders of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, dated to the period 2100–1800 BCE.[3] The culture is named after the Sintashta archaeological site, in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia.

The Sintashta culture is widely regarded as the origin of the Indo-Iranian languages. The earliest known chariots have been found in Sintashta burials, and the culture is considered a strong candidate for the origin of the technology, which spread throughout the Old World and played an important role in ancient warfare.[4] Sintashta settlements are also remarkable for the intensity of copper mining and bronze metallurgy carried out there, which is unusual for a steppe culture.[5]

Sintashta was far to the north of the Indian subcontinent, and summer days were much longer. I'll give summer-solstice day lengths for Sun up, civil twilight, and nautical twilight. Civil twilight is where much of the sky is still illuminated by the Sun, and nautical twilight is where the sky is illuminated mostly near the the horizon near the Sun's direction.
  • Sintashta (52d N): 16h 30m, 18h 22m, 20h 59m
  • Islamabad (34d N): 14h 16m, 15h 24m, 16h 36m
  • Karachi (25d N): 13h 33m, 14h 33m, 15h 35m
Shortest-night length:
  • Sintashta: 3h
  • Islamabad: 7.5h
  • Karachi: 8.5h
So the long days in the Vedas seem like a memory of that Central Asian locale.
 

Politesse

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Anything on the Australian Aborigines? They've been there for 60,000 years. Further complicating the matters, they had to reach that island by ocean-worthy boats, something that no other groups of people would accomplish for tens of thousands of years. Then, upon arriving there, they had to lose their nautical knowledge and live lives of utter simplicity. When the Aborigines were discovered by English sailors, they had no words for the concepts of "yesterday" or "tomorrow.".
I realize that this isn't your main point, but this last bit is a common colonialist myth, an urban legend passed around in many different contexts; there were more than 250 languages spoken in pre-colonial Australia, and many of those languages have words for yesterday and tomorrow.
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/004281.html

And I would challenge "utter simplicity" as well. All cultures must be, and are, as complicated as human life and cognition allow for.
 

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Here are the winter-solstice day lengths:
  • Sintashta (52d N): 7h 30m, 9h 6m, 10h 34m
  • Islamabad (34d N): 9h 44m, 10h 49m, 11h 51m
  • Karachi (25d N): 10h 27m, 11h 25m, 12h 22m
Using a bit of civil twilight in the days, the nights have lengths
  • Sintashta: 16h
  • Islamabad: 14h
  • Karachi: 13h
Nights are not as impressive as days, since twilight extends into them rather than extending out of them.

In the Indian subcontinent, the Indo-Aryans first reached what is now Pakistan, and then spread out eastward, so I've used Islamabad and Karachi as markers of the northern and southern bounds of their territory.


There is similar evidence of reaching far northern latitudes in Greek mythology. The Laestrygonians of Homer's Odyssey lived in a land of perpetual daylight, as did the Hyperboreans (roughly "beyond the north wind"). I'll use Athens as a reference for Greece and Oslo, Norway as a reference for the Scandinavian fjords.
  • Athens (38d N): 14h 38m, 15h 51m, 17h 10m
  • Oslo (60d N): 18h 30m, 22h 26m, 24h
Since traveling to the far north is easiest in summer, travelers would notice the long summer days rather than the long winter nights.
 

rousseau

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Anything on the Australian Aborigines? They've been there for 60,000 years. Further complicating the matters, they had to reach that island by ocean-worthy boats, something that no other groups of people would accomplish for tens of thousands of years. Then, upon arriving there, they had to lose their nautical knowledge and live lives of utter simplicity. When the Aborigines were discovered by English sailors, they had no words for the concepts of "yesterday" or "tomorrow.".
I realize that this isn't your main point, but this last bit is a common colonialist myth, an urban legend passed around in many different contexts; there were more than 250 languages spoken in pre-colonial Australia, and many of those languages have words for yesterday and tomorrow.
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/004281.html

And I would challenge "utter simplicity" as well. All cultures must be, and are, as complicated as human life and cognition allow for.

Historical thought has a bit of civilizational bias these days.

Even when modern historians choose what to write about the central focus is often on the origins of civilizations. These days this probably has something to do with the inclination of history to follow things with material relevance, but the historical trend was definitely to minimize the significance of hunter-gatherer life.

I would add though that you could call aborigine life simple in the real sense that their societies were literally less complex than some others, you'd just want to avoid using it in a derogatory way.

In the future I think history will start opening itself up to the realization that civilization was basically the result of ecological circumstances in very specific regions, and that there is nothing inherently superior about people who lived in those regions. You could break it down to chemistry, but I won't go there :D.
 

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This is a topic which interests me and about which I have read much, especially as it applies to Europe. Two books I'd recommend are Barry Cunliffe's Europe Between the Oceans and Jean Manco's Ancestral Journeys: The Peopling of Europe. (You'll also want a good book on the Indo-European languages, but I'm so cheap I've never replaced Mallory's 1989 book. Anyway, most of the best information comes from the 'Web.) What is especially intriguing is how the recent boom in DNA testing (especially Y-haplogroups) is advancing knowledge of prehistory so rapidly.

lpetrich makes a good summary, but any brief summary will have over-simplifications. I'll call attention to a few.

While it's generally agreed that proto-Celtic was an Iron Age language, it probably descended from an Indo-European language (call it pre-Celtic) which was dominant in the Bell Beaker phenomenon. There's no proof of this, of course, but I think it's most plausible.

(I don't like to nitpick but languages like Hungarian and Estonian survive in Europe.)
Of recorded non-Indo-European languages in Europe, the only present-day survivor is Basque. From around 500 BCE were Etruscan, in Italy, and Lemnian, in the Aegean island of Lemnos. From around 1000 BCE is Eteocretan and Eteocypriot, known from very fragmentary inscriptions, and from 1500 BCE and earlier, Minoan. Etruscan and Lemnian are likely related, but beyond that, it is hard to discern any relationships. I've seen Basque and Etruscan connected to Hurrian-Urartian and the northern Caucasian languages, but most linguists remain skeptical.

I'm unaware of serious present-day work postulating connections between Etruscan-Lemnian and Basque. (Of course you can find hundreds of unlikely hypotheses in old or non-serious work.) The connections among Basque, Northern Caucasian, along with Burushaski(!) are on much firmer ground. (Hurrian is poorly attested but may be related to Northern Caucasian.) Yes, "most linguists remain skeptical" but most linguists are skeptical of most "lumping" and IMO are usually wrong. These same skeptical linguists also deny the Amerindian hypothesis and Afroasiatic hypothesis. The splitter-vs-lumper debate in historical linguistics would be a topic for another thread.

If you accept the Basque-Caucasian-Burushaski hypothesis, you see a phylum of early farmers' languages now confined to relatively isolated areas. Caucasian remains near the center of the early Neolithic; Basque moved from the Eastern Mediterranean westward with Impressed/Cardial Ware; and Burushaski might be descended from the language of the Indus/Harrapa civilization. (Other, more obvious candidates for the Harappan language fail to fit the clues.)

Etruscan probably arose from a different language phylum in the Eastern Mediterranean, possibly moving to Italy during the "Sea People" era.

The first wave of settlers of our species was the Cro-Magnon people, who arrived around 40,000 years ago. I say our species, because the Neanderthals had already been in Europe for some 100,000 years already. Closely related, but not quite present-day humanity.

But around 30,000 - 20,000 years ago, the continental glaciers went farther south in the Last Glacial Maximum, forcing the Cro-Magnon people southward. When the glaciers retreated, they repopulated northern Europe, coming from the southeast.

The second wave started around 11,500 years ago (11,500 BP or 9,500 BCE), when agriculture was invented in the Fertile Crescent Middle East.

It's misleading to imply that there was a single Paleolithic peopling of Europe. Just looking at the Y-haplogroups found in ancient skeletons, the Aurignacians (Cro-Magnon) were mostly in group C, while the Solutreans were mostly Group I. (And no, I don't intend to imply that there were just two Paleolithic peoplings!)

There's much of interest to say, but let's start here.
 

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Anything on the Australian Aborigines? They've been there for 60,000 years. Further complicating the matters, they had to reach that island by ocean-worthy boats, something that no other groups of people would accomplish for tens of thousands of years. Then, upon arriving there, they had to lose their nautical knowledge and live lives of utter simplicity. When the Aborigines were discovered by English sailors, they had no words for the concepts of "yesterday" or "tomorrow.".
I realize that this isn't your main point, but this last bit is a common colonialist myth, an urban legend passed around in many different contexts; there were more than 250 languages spoken in pre-colonial Australia, and many of those languages have words for yesterday and tomorrow.
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/004281.html

And I would challenge "utter simplicity" as well. All cultures must be, and are, as complicated as human life and cognition allow for.

I didn't intend to dismiss the Aborgines.

there were more than 250 languages spoken in pre-colonial Australia, and many of those languages have words for yesterday and tomorrow.

Would that mean that "some" of their languages had no words for yesterday or tomorrow?

I only got that factoid from Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country. He wrote:

From the first moment of contact the natives were a source of the deepest wonder to the Europeans. When James Cook and his men sailed into Botany Bay they were astonished that most of the Aborigines they saw sitting on the shore or fishing in the shallows from frail bark canoes seemed hardly to notice them...The creaking Endeavour was clearly the largest and most extraordinary structure that could ever have come before them, yet most of the natives merely glanced up and looked at it as if at a passing cloud and returned to their tasks.

They seemed not to perceive the world in the way of other people....They had no chiefs or governing councils, wore no clothes, built no houses or other permanent structures, sowed no crops, herded no animals, made no pottery, possessed almost no sense of property.

Bryson does mention, however, the Aborigines mastery of the continent. "No people on earth have lived in more environments with greater success for longer. It is generally accepted that the Aborigines have the oldest continuously maintained culture in the world. It it thought by some...that the Australian language family may be the world's oldest. Their art and stories and systems of beliefs are indubitably among the oldest on earth.

Sadly, this extraordinary achievement has been largely ignored, even today.
 

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Would that mean that "some" of their languages had no words for yesterday or tomorrow?
No, it means that I don't know 250 languages. The idea that this is actually true is, however, next to inconceivable. And especially since the trope of a native people who "have no concept of time" in one fashion or another is a rumor that has been incorrectly applied to every continent Europe colonized, and it always turns out to be untrue when examined, I'm going to bank on this being one more urban legend even if I don't personally know every language involved.

I love Bill Bryson too, but he is a travel writer, not a researcher. The peoples of Australia had housing and clothing, too, they didn't just freeze in the winter.

Queensland-aboriginal-architecture-walater-roth.jpg
Various models of traditional brush housing

image-20150311-20556-1x1m9dw.jpg
Woman and child in a roo-skin cloak, 1872

If it's true that the locals were uninterested in Cook's ship, maybe it's because they'd seen a freaking boat before. He's also wrong that there is an "Australian language family", of any age. In fact, there are twenty-seven, and their relationship is not known, especially a few mysterious isolates that seem unrelated to the others altogether.
 

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I didn't intend to dismiss the Aborgines.

there were more than 250 languages spoken in pre-colonial Australia, and many of those languages have words for yesterday and tomorrow.

Would that mean that "some" of their languages had no words for yesterday or tomorrow?

I only got that factoid from Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country. He wrote:

From the first moment of contact the natives were a source of the deepest wonder to the Europeans. When James Cook and his men sailed into Botany Bay they were astonished that most of the Aborigines they saw sitting on the shore or fishing in the shallows from frail bark canoes seemed hardly to notice them...The creaking Endeavour was clearly the largest and most extraordinary structure that could ever have come before them, yet most of the natives merely glanced up and looked at it as if at a passing cloud and returned to their tasks.

They seemed not to perceive the world in the way of other people....They had no chiefs or governing councils, wore no clothes, built no houses or other permanent structures, sowed no crops, herded no animals, made no pottery, possessed almost no sense of property.

Bryson does mention, however, the Aborigines mastery of the continent. "No people on earth have lived in more environments with greater success for longer. It is generally accepted that the Aborigines have the oldest continuously maintained culture in the world. It it thought by some...that the Australian language family may be the world's oldest. Their art and stories and systems of beliefs are indubitably among the oldest on earth.

Sadly, this extraordinary achievement has been largely ignored, even today.

That's largely because it isn't there any more. The best and most densely populated parts of the continent are almost entirely devoid of Aborigines; They make up around 3% of the population overall, but are overwhelmingly over-represented in the poorest and least developed places. The biggest populations of Aborigines before the Europeans arrived were in the places the Europeans took over first - Tasmania, and the areas around Port Jackson and Port Phillip (modern day Sydney and Melbourne, respectively). The vast majority of Aboriginal culture as it was at the time of European arrival was destroyed by genocide within a few decades; and much of the rest by forced resettlements, deliberate attempts to eliminate Aboriginal culture and tribal structure (such as the infamous 'Stolen Generations' whereby aboriginal children were taken from their parents to be raised in institutions), and further genocides in the following couple of centuries.

What remains is patchy and broken. A people whose culture was defined by the land to which they belonged, in a continent of hundreds of unique tribes and languages, cannot easily withstand being relocated. Nor can a nomadic lifestyle, in which property is largely meaningless, cope with having a system of universal property ownership imposed, where everything, including the very land itself, is defined by who it belongs to.

It's difficult not to ignore it; The majority of the 'records' existed only in the heads of people who died fighting for their way of life, and what little remains is at the fringes of modern Australian society. The few surviving tribal structures in the red centre likely have little more to tell us about their former coastal relatives than do the suburbanites - most of whom couldn't even tell you which tribe previously occupied the area they now live in - whose neat houses stand on the land they once called home.
 

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There is similar evidence of reaching far northern latitudes in Greek mythology. The Laestrygonians of Homer's Odyssey lived in a land of perpetual daylight, as did the Hyperboreans (roughly "beyond the north wind").

वि सूर्यो मध्ये अमुचद रथं दिवो विदद दासय परतिमानमार्यः l
दर्ळानि पिप्रोरसुरस्य मायिन इन्द्रो व्यास्यच्चक्रवान रजिश्वना ll
vi sūryo madhye amucada rathaṃ divo vidada dāsaya pratimānamāryaḥ l
dṛḷāni piprorasurasya māyina indro vyāsyaccakṛvāna ṛjiśvanā ll

In the mid-way of heaven the Sun unyoked his car, the Ārya found a match to meet his damn foe.
Associating with Ṛjiśvan (the sun), Indra overthrew the solid forts of Pipru, conjuring Asura*.
http://sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv10138.htm

The Asuras abducted the sun and keet it in a dungeon, so the night is extended and spring is delayed. It is Indra and his associates who will deliver the sun from captivity.

"The sun unyoked his chariot in the middle of the sky". Remained in the sky for days together. If it is not a description of Arctic regions (Asia or Europe, whatever), then what is it?

Hindus are fortunate as the history of one merged section of the population still survives in RigVeda and other such books.
 

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Now for a bit about genetics. Human genetic material is packaged in 23 pairs of chromosomes. All but one pair are "autosomes", inherited from both sexes. Chromosomes can exchange genetic material, thus doing recombination. This can make autosomes difficult to use for tracking ancestry, since autosomes become very mixed over the generations.

However, only part of the Y chromosomes recombines with X chromosomes, and those non-recombining parts are useful for tracking male ancestry.

Our cells have lots of internal structures or "organelles", and among them are mitochondria, with their own genomes, though very vestigial ones. But it is enough to track their ancestry, and since mitochondria are inherited almost exclusively in the female line, their genomes are useful for tracking female ancestry.

 Mitochondrial Eve was a woman whose mitochondria were the ancestors of all present-day human ones, and whose daughters formed the earliest branches in the mitochondrion family tree. She likely lived in East Africa.

 Y-chromosomal Adam was a man whose Y chromosomes were the ancestrors of all present-day human ones, and whose sons formed the earliest branches in the Y-chromosome family tree. He likely lived in West Africa.

Their dating is a very hazy subject, with estimates jumping around quite a bit. But 100,000 - 300,000 years ago is a good consensus estimate.

Mitochondrial Eve was almost certainly not the only woman in her time, and Y-chromosomal Adam not the only man. They may never have met, and they may have lived several thousand years apart. Research into possible human genetic bottlenecks suggests that some early-modern-human populations may have dropped as low as a few thousand over several thousand years. This could have happened around 70,000 years ago as a result of a very big volcanic eruption, but that is something that is argued over a lot ( Toba catastrophe theory).
 

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Here are Wikpedia's diagrams of early human migrations:
File:Map-of-human-migrations.jpg - Wikipedia
File:Human migration out of Africa.png - Wikipedia
File:Human migrations and mitochondrial haplogroups.PNG - Wikipedia
File:Migraciones humanas en haplogrupos de ADN-Y.PNG - Wikipedia
File:World Map of Y-DNA Haplogroups.png - Wikipedia
File:peopling of eurasia.jpg - Wikipedia
File:Spread and evolution of Denisovans.jpg - Wikipedia

Here's an overall picture. The present human species originated in Africa, likely central Africa. The first group to split off was the Khoisan people of southern and eastern Africa, and the second group the Pygmies, the short people of the central African forests. These splits happened some 200,000 - 100,000 years ago.

Then around 100,000 years ago, some population split off and departed from Africa. They went on either the north coast or the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula, arriving in what is now Iran. When they got there, they interbred with some Neanderthals.

An offshoot population moved west into Europe some 40,000 years ago, and another offshoot population moved southeast into the Indian subcontinent, and then into southeast Asia, and then into Australia and New Guinea around 60,000 years ago after interbreeding with some Denisovans. An offshoot of southeast Asia moved north into east Asia. Yet another Iranian offshoot moved into central Asia.

From east Asia and central Asia, some populations moved into Beringia and then into the Americas, going southward along the west coast and also spreading eastward as they went.

 Archaic human admixture with modern humans, like Neanderthals and Denisovans
 

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Now for a bit about genetics. Human genetic material is packaged in 23 pairs of chromosomes. All but one pair are "autosomes", inherited from both sexes. Chromosomes can exchange genetic material, thus doing recombination. This can make autosomes difficult to use for tracking ancestry, since autosomes become very mixed over the generations.

However, only part of the Y chromosomes recombines with X chromosomes, and those non-recombining parts are useful for tracking male ancestry.

Our cells have lots of internal structures or "organelles", and among them are mitochondria, with their own genomes, though very vestigial ones. But it is enough to track their ancestry, and since mitochondria are inherited almost exclusively in the female line, their genomes are useful for tracking female ancestry.

 Mitochondrial Eve was a woman whose mitochondria were the ancestors of all present-day human ones, and whose daughters formed the earliest branches in the mitochondrion family tree. She likely lived in East Africa.

 Y-chromosomal Adam was a man whose Y chromosomes were the ancestrors of all present-day human ones, and whose sons formed the earliest branches in the Y-chromosome family tree. He likely lived in West Africa.

Their dating is a very hazy subject, with estimates jumping around quite a bit. But 100,000 - 300,000 years ago is a good consensus estimate.

Mitochondrial Eve was almost certainly not the only woman in her time, and Y-chromosomal Adam not the only man. They may never have met, and they may have lived several thousand years apart. Research into possible human genetic bottlenecks suggests that some early-modern-human populations may have dropped as low as a few thousand over several thousand years. This could have happened around 70,000 years ago as a result of a very big volcanic eruption, but that is something that is argued over a lot ( Toba catastrophe theory).
This is some fuzzy language. The media have hyped the whole idea of a mitochondrial eve, personifying them with religious overtones. There's nothing special about Eve, except that she happens to be the theoretical oldest relative still related to the lot of us by the particular measure of MtDNA. There have been a nmumber of different Eves, depending on what point you wanted to figure from.
 

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Some quick corrections:

Autosomal DNA is more useful than sex-linked DNA for tracking ancestry: it can point to all 32 of your gt-gt-gt grandparents, not just two of them. Rather than matching SNP's, cousin-finding software looks for long matching chains. The parameters of chromosome crossover (remember discussion of meiosis in another recent thread :) ) are consistent enough to map total length of matching chains directly to consanguinity.

Calibration of the Y-chromosome mutation rate has become rather accurate. We can now now see a rapid fan-out of the Amerindian haplogroup coinciding in time precisely with the archaeological fan-out of Amerinds; R-P312 had a spectacularly rapid fan-out coinciding in time with the rapid fan-out of the Bell Beaker culture; and so on. DNA from ancient skeletons is helping to verify and fine-tune this timing.

There is one sense in which the date of "Y-chromosomal Adam" is unclear. The split between BT (Y-ancestral to 98+% of living males) and the second largest group (A1b1, Khoisan etc.) can be dated to about 130,000 years ago, but there were much earlier split-offs of groups that are now rare. And only recently it was found that some of the Mbo men in the Cameroons have the A00 haplogroup, which may have split off 100,000 years before the 2nd-earliest known splitoff! Dating is less reliable when there is much disparity and, anyway, an even earlier A000 might turn up!

However, the dating of the Y-chromosome tree relevant to migrations outside of Africa is becoming surprisingly well calibrated.
 

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DNA sequences suggest 250 people made up original Native American founding population
The researchers examined nine noncoding regions of the DNA samples collected from populations that trace the path of the migration. This included samples of individuals from China, 10 Siberian groups and from 10 Native American populations scattered across Central and South America representing several different tribal affiliations.

...
In this new study, the researchers sequenced DNA from the nine independent, noncoding regions of the genomes from indigenous peoples distributed from China to South America spanning over 15,000 years. They determined the breeding size or founding populations by isolation-with-migration computer simulation models based on 100 million generations. Each analysis revealed founding groups were between about 229 to 300 people. This led the group to estimate the parameter for the original founding population of Native Americans of about 250 people.

As to how these people spread over the Americas,
"It wasn't a matter of a group that announced, 'Let's go follow this one,'" he said. "It was a matter of population fission among hunters and gatherers. There would be about 50 people, and when the population's fertility gets higher and higher, the population splits into the next so-called 'county' and then the next. After 15,000 years, you can put them all the way down in Argentina."
That's Michael Crawford, University of Kansas professor of anthropology.
 

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Alaska to Tierra del Fuego is 15,000km, so the rate of 'migration' is 1km (0.6 miles) per annum, or 20 yards a week.

There's no real need to explain that. It's easily explained by people wandering a little bit further afield on each hunting/gathering trip. In fact, when you consider how naturally curious humans are, expansion at 3 yards a day seems rather slow - if anything we need to explain why populating the Americas took so long. A mere thousand years is very easily enough time to travel 15,00km on foot.
 

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Alaska to Tierra del Fuego is 15,000km, so the rate of 'migration' is 1km (0.6 miles) per annum, or 20 yards a week.

There's no real need to explain that. It's easily explained by people wandering a little bit further afield on each hunting/gathering trip. In fact, when you consider how naturally curious humans are, expansion at 3 yards a day seems rather slow - if anything we need to explain why populating the Americas took so long. A mere thousand years is very easily enough time to travel 15,00km on foot.

There are some fairly severe geographical barriers involved.
 

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Alaska to Tierra del Fuego is 15,000km, so the rate of 'migration' is 1km (0.6 miles) per annum, or 20 yards a week.

There's no real need to explain that. It's easily explained by people wandering a little bit further afield on each hunting/gathering trip. In fact, when you consider how naturally curious humans are, expansion at 3 yards a day seems rather slow - if anything we need to explain why populating the Americas took so long. A mere thousand years is very easily enough time to travel 15,00km on foot.

There are some fairly severe geographical barriers involved.

Ten metres per day is not exactly a blistering pace even for finding and climbing a suitable pass through (for example) the Rocky Mountains. I still think it's surprising that it took so long.

Of course the reason for that is likely that there's not much reason to move, until the local area has become to crowded, or too depleted of easy game, to remain as viable as the untouched lands to the south.
 

rousseau

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Alaska to Tierra del Fuego is 15,000km, so the rate of 'migration' is 1km (0.6 miles) per annum, or 20 yards a week.

There's no real need to explain that. It's easily explained by people wandering a little bit further afield on each hunting/gathering trip. In fact, when you consider how naturally curious humans are, expansion at 3 yards a day seems rather slow - if anything we need to explain why populating the Americas took so long. A mere thousand years is very easily enough time to travel 15,00km on foot.

Their movement would likely have been non-linear, and it's likely that migratory patterns were tied to a) environmental cycles and b) climate niches. It wasn't their goal to populate the Americas, it was their goal to find food.

What probably caused them to actually populate the Americas was increasing population density and pressures, which forced communities to expand into new territory where new food sources were available.

At least that's what I'd guess.
 

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Alaska to Tierra del Fuego is 15,000km, so the rate of 'migration' is 1km (0.6 miles) per annum, or 20 yards a week.

There's no real need to explain that. It's easily explained by people wandering a little bit further afield on each hunting/gathering trip. In fact, when you consider how naturally curious humans are, expansion at 3 yards a day seems rather slow - if anything we need to explain why populating the Americas took so long. A mere thousand years is very easily enough time to travel 15,00km on foot.

There are some fairly severe geographical barriers involved.
There is a theory that the first migration into the Americas was by boat, following the shorelines, collecting shellfish, fishing, and killing seals, otters, etc. for food while camping on the shoreline. If this theory has any validity then there would have been no geographical barriers. Collecting food along a shoreline is certainly a much easier task than hunting big game and paddling a small skin covered boat much easier than walking while carrying belongings on your back.
 

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Alaska to Tierra del Fuego is 15,000km, so the rate of 'migration' is 1km (0.6 miles) per annum, or 20 yards a week.

There's no real need to explain that. It's easily explained by people wandering a little bit further afield on each hunting/gathering trip. In fact, when you consider how naturally curious humans are, expansion at 3 yards a day seems rather slow - if anything we need to explain why populating the Americas took so long. A mere thousand years is very easily enough time to travel 15,00km on foot.

There are some fairly severe geographical barriers involved.
There is a theory that the first migration into the Americas was by boat, following the shorelines, collecting shellfish, fishing, and killing seals, otters, etc. for food while camping on the shoreline. If this theory has any validity then there would have been no geographical barriers. Collecting food along a shoreline is certainly a much easier task than hunting big game and paddling a small skin covered boat much easier than walking while carrying belongings on your back.

I feel like you are imagining a bunch of explorers going on an "adventure", rather than a large extended family more or less just trying to survive on a landscape.

How keen would you be - particularly without the advantages of post 10th century BCE technology - to make the move from tundra to rainforest? Or rainforest to desert? Adapting to an environment takes time and investment, not just physical ability to move from place to place but a motivation to migrate and the demands of learning to survive once in a new location.

Many of the regions our ancestors would have had to travel though are relatively forbidding and quite lightly populated today, even with electricity and backhoes and so forth. Especially at the time, many were the kinds of places modern Europeans call "undiscovered" or "uninhabited" or "lost" in their newspapers and adventure novels. Usually home to someone, in fact, but some homes are harder won than others and may require a complex negotiation with nature if one wishes to settle over the long term.
 

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There is a theory that the first migration into the Americas was by boat, following the shorelines, collecting shellfish, fishing, and killing seals, otters, etc. for food while camping on the shoreline. If this theory has any validity then there would have been no geographical barriers. Collecting food along a shoreline is certainly a much easier task than hunting big game and paddling a small skin covered boat much easier than walking while carrying belongings on your back.

I feel like you are imagining a bunch of explorers going on an "adventure", rather than a large extended family more or less just trying to survive on a landscape.

How keen would you be - particularly without the advantages of post 10th century BCE technology - to make the move from tundra to rainforest? Or rainforest to desert? Adapting to an environment takes time and investment, not just physical ability to move from place to place but a motivation to migrate and the demands of learning to survive once in a new location.

Many of the regions our ancestors would have had to travel though are relatively forbidding and quite lightly populated today, even with electricity and backhoes and so forth. Especially at the time, many were the kinds of places modern Europeans call "undiscovered" or "uninhabited" or "lost" in their newspapers and adventure novels. Usually home to someone, in fact, but some homes are harder won than others and may require a complex negotiation with nature if one wishes to settle over the long term.

There are no sharp dividing lines between tundra and rainforest, or rainforest and desert. Landscapes change very gradually, particularly if you only move through them at one kilometre per annum.

Sharp boundaries, for example between forests and open land, are an artefact of long human occupation, large scale agriculture, and our obsession with property and real estate ownership. They were not a feature of the pre-human Americas.

Nobody had to learn to survive in a completely novel environment; each generation lived within 50km of their birthplace, and more likely within 20km. It's an evolution, not a revolution.
 

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There is a theory that the first migration into the Americas was by boat, following the shorelines, collecting shellfish, fishing, and killing seals, otters, etc. for food while camping on the shoreline. If this theory has any validity then there would have been no geographical barriers. Collecting food along a shoreline is certainly a much easier task than hunting big game and paddling a small skin covered boat much easier than walking while carrying belongings on your back.

I feel like you are imagining a bunch of explorers going on an "adventure", rather than a large extended family more or less just trying to survive on a landscape.
Not at all. The theory pretty much describes the same lifestyle as how eskimos survived until very recently. The difference being that the proposed group followed the shoreline south rather than like the eskimos that followed the edge of the ice sheet to Greenland. Use of a boat makes moving a family and all the necessary domestic tools much easier than a trek through thick forests, across rivers, and over mountains.

You may also note that the Australian aborigines had to have used boats to get to Australia at least 40,000 (and possibly 60,000) years ago.
 

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Nobody had to learn to survive in a completely novel environment; each generation lived within 50km of their birthplace, and more likely within 20km. It's an evolution, not a revolution.

And that is why it didn't happen especially quickly. No great mystery.

Though the first part of your post, I'm not as sure I agree with; while it is true that the Western mindset assumes (and through land management creates) many artificial "natural" boundaries, I have spent enough time in the American wild to know that not all sharp distinctions are human in origin.
 

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Nobody had to learn to survive in a completely novel environment; each generation lived within 50km of their birthplace, and more likely within 20km. It's an evolution, not a revolution.

And that is why it didn't happen especially quickly. No great mystery.

Though the first part of your post, I'm not as sure I agree with; while it is true that the Western mindset assumes (and through land management creates) many artificial "natural" boundaries, I have spent enough time in the American wild to know that not all sharp distinctions are human in origin.

Well, of course; as we both know, generalistions are always wrong. ;)

But sharp distinctions were certainly very rare in landscapes untouched by human intervention.
 

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DNA clue to origins of early Greek civilization - BBC News
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Genetic origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans | Nature
Dr Lazaridis explained that most of the people who created these civilizations appear to be local - deriving between 62% and 86% of their ancestry from people who introduced agriculture to Europe from Anatolia (modern Turkey) in Neolithic times, starting from about 7,000 years ago.

But the Bronze Age Mycenaean and Minoan skeletons revealed ancestry from populations originating in either the Caucasus mountains or Iran. Between 9% and 17% of their genetic make-up came from this source.

In addition, the team's paper in Nature journal reports, the Mycenaeans - but not the Minoans - show evidence of genetic input from people who lived further north, on the flat grasslands that stretch from eastern Europe to Central Asia. Between 4% and 16% of their ancestry came from this northern source.
Those flat grasslands are the steppe zone, very likely the Indo-European homeland. So that genetic contribution was from the people who brought Greek to Greece. Minoan is almost certainly not Greek and is unlikely to be Indo-European, and that fits the genetic evidence.
 

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I also need to point out, again, that it does not require having experienced an arctic summer or winter to imagine a day or night that lasts extra long. This is one reason that legendary evidence must always be given lower precedence than physical evidence.
 

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That's certainly correct, but it is not necessarily either-or, not necessarily all-fact or all-fiction.

Consider the case of the Hyperboreans of Greek mythology. They lived far to the north, in a place where the Sun shines 24 hours a day. That fits in well with far northern latitudes during the summer, the time when it is easiest to travel there. So that place was misunderstood as a place with 24-hour daytime all year.
 

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The stories told by travelers are not evidence of a migration. A story can be transmitted by a single person. If you want to talk about evidence of migration, you will have to provide other evidence.
 
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