The Max Planck Institute is holding a conference in a few days dedicated to the latest developments in the search for the Indo-European homeland.
Linguistics, Archeology and Genetics: Integrating new evidence for the origin and spread of Indo-European languagesA draft book of presentation abstracts is available here. This one from Danish linguist Guus Kroonen looks very promising.
Pre-Indo-European speech carrying a Neolithic signature emanating from the Aegean
Guus Kroonen, Institute for Nordic Studies and Linguistics, Copenhagen University, Copenhagen
When different Indo-European speaking groups settled Europe, they did not arrive in terra nullius. Both from the perspective of the Anatolian hypothesis and the Steppe hypothesis the carriers of Indo-European speech likely encountered existing populations that spoke dissimilar, unrelated languages. Relatively little is known about the Pre-Indo-European linguistic landscape of Europe, as the Indo-Europeanization of the continent caused a largely unrecorded, massive linguistic extinction event. However, when the different Indo-European groups entered Europe, they incorporated lexical material from Europe’s original languages into their own vocabularies. By integrating these “natural samples” of Pre-Indo-European speech, the original European linguistic and cultural landscape can partly be reconstructed and matched against the Anatolia and the Steppe hypotheses. My results reveal that Pre-Indo-European speech contains a clear Neolithic signature emanating from the Aegean, and thus patterns with the prehistoric migration of Europe’s first farming populations. These results also imply that Indo-European speech came to Europe following a later migration wave, and therefore favor the Steppe Hypothesis as a likely scenario for the spread of the Proto-Indo-Europeans.
Also, we've known for a while now that the good people at Broad MIT/Harvard have analyzed remains from Neolithic Anatolia, but it's nice to see this framed in the context of the Indo-European homeland debate.
Close genetic relationship of Neolithic Anatolians to early European farmers
Iosif Lazaridis et al.
We study 1.2 million genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms on a sample of 26 Neolithic individuals (~6,300 years BCE) from northwestern Anatolia. Our analysis reveals a homogeneous population that was genetically similar to early farmers from Europe (FST=0.004±0.0003 and frequency of 60% of Y-chromosome haplogroup G2a). We model Early Neolithic farmers from central Europe and Iberia as a genetic mixture of ~90% Anatolians and ~10% European hunter-gatherers, suggesting little influence by Mesolithic Europeans prior to the dispersal of European farmers into the interior of the continent. Neolithic Anatolians differ from all present-day populations of western Asia, suggesting genetic changes have occurred in parts of this region since the Neolithic period. We suggest that the language spoken by the homogeneous Anatolian-European Neolithic farmers is unlikely to have been the same as that spoken by the Yamnaya steppe pastoralists whose ancestry was derived from eastern Europe and a different population from the Caucasus/Near East [Haak et al. 2015], and discuss implications for alternative models of Indo-European dispersals.
Indeed, my view is that the implications of this data for the Anatolian hypothesis are fatal (see here). It might also have dire implications for the Armenian Plateau hypothesis, although for the time being this hypothesis limps on.
Feel free to post and discuss your favorite abstracts in the comments below. If anyone reading is going to this thing, I'd love to hear more about the Y-haplogroups of the Anatolian farmers.