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Origins of the Indo-Europeans: genetic evidence.

Publication Date
  • Research Article
  • Agricultural Science
  • Medicine


Two theories of the origins of the Indo-Europeans currently compete. M. Gimbutas believes that early Indo-Europeans entered southeastern Europe from the Pontic Steppes starting ca. 4500 B.C. and spread from there. C. Renfrew equates early Indo-Europeans with early farmers who entered southeastern Europe from Asia Minor ca. 7000 BC and spread through the continent. We tested genetic distance matrices for each of 25 systems in numerous Indo-European-speaking samples from Europe. To match each of these matrices, we created other distance matrices representing geography, language, time since origin of agriculture, Gimbutas' model, and Renfrew's model. The correlation between genetics and language is significant. Geography, when held constant, produces a markedly lower, yet still highly significant partial correlation between genetics and language, showing that more remains to be explained. However, none of the remaining three distances--time since origin of agriculture, Gimbutas' model, or Renfrew's model--reduces the partial correlation further. Thus, neither of the two theories appears able to explain the origin of the Indo-Europeans as gauged by the genetics-language correlation.

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