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Urheimat (a German compound of ur- "primitive, original" and Heimat "home, homeland") is a linguistic term denoting the original homeland of the speakers of a proto-language.

Indo-European homeland

After this manner, scholars have tried to identify the homeland of the Proto-Indo-European language, to which the term Urheimat is most frequently applied. Possibly relevant geographical indicators are common words for "beech" and "salmon" (while there is no common word for "lion", for example—the fact so many European words for "lion" are similar-looking cognates is due to more recent borrowings). Many hypotheses for an Urheimat have been proposed, and said, “One does not ask ‘where is the Indo-European homeland?’ but rather ‘where do they put it now?’”

 states that current discussion of the Indo-European homeland problem is largely confined to four basic models, with variations; these are, in chronological order:

Other, less-widely accepted models include the Armenian hypothesis (suggested by Soviet scholars in the 1980s), the Paleolithic Continuity Theory (suggested by Italian "paleolinguist" Mario Alinei in the 1990s), and the Out of India theory (historically suggested by Friedrich Schlegel).

Indo-Iranian homeland

The Proto-Indo-Iranians are widely identified with the bearers of the Andronovo horizon of the late 3rd and early 2nd millennia BC.

Balto-Slavic homeland

The Balto-Slavic homeland largely corresponds to the historical distribution of Baltic and Slavic, Proto-Baltic likely emerging in the eastern parts of the Corded Ware horizon.

The Slavic homeland likely corresponds to the distribution of the oldest recognisably-Slavic hydronyms, found in northern and western Ukrainemarker and southern Belarusmarker.

Balkans dialects

The history of the Daco-Thracian/Thraco-Illyrian dialects of the Balkans is obscure. The Phrygian, Macedonian, and Greek proto-languages likely also originate in the Balkans. Proto-Armenian may also be Balkans (Greco-Phrygian) derived, or at least strongly influenced by a Phrygian substrate. The Phrygian influence on [pre-]Proto-Armenian would date to about the 7th century BC, in the context of the declining kingdom of Urartu.

Centum dialects

Celtic homeland

The Proto-Celtic homeland is usually located in the Early Iron Age Hallstatt culture of northern Austriamarker. There is a broad consensus that the center of the La Tène culturemarker lay on the northwest edges of the Hallstatt culture. Pre-La Tène (6th to 5th century BC) Celtic expansions reached Great Britainmarker (Insular Celtic) and Gaul. La Tène groups expanded in the 4th century BC to Hispania, the Po Valley, the Balkans, and even as far as Galatia in Asia Minormarker, in the course of several major migrations.

Germanic homeland

Pre-Germanic cultures were the bearers of the Nordic Bronze Age. Proto-Germanic proper likely developed in the Jastorf culture of the Pre-Roman Iron Age .

Italic homeland

Candidates for the first introduction of Proto-Italic speakers to Italy are the Terramare culture (1500 BC) or the Villanovan culture (1100 BC), although the latter is now usually identified with the non-Italic (indeed, non-Indo-European) Etruscan civilisationmarker. Both are derived from or strongly influenced by the Urnfield culture and its predecessor, the Tumulus culture of Central Europe (1600 BC), so that the latter is a likely candidate for the homeland of an Italo-Celtic proto-language or dialect continuum.

Afro-Asiatic homeland

The more limited area part of the Afro-Asiatic Sprachraum has limited the potential areas where the that family's Urheimat could be. Generally speaking, two proposals have been developed: that Afro-Asiatic arose in the Semitic Urheimat (the Middle East/Southwest Asia), or in northeast Africa (generally, either between Darfurmarker and Tibestimarker or in Ethiopiamarker and the other countries of the Horn of Africa). The African hypothesis is considered to be rather more likely at the present time.

Austronesian homeland

The homeland of the Austronesian languages is Taiwanmarker. On this island the deepest divisions in Austronesian are found, among the families of the native Formosan languages. According to , the Formosan languages form nine of the ten primary branches of the Austronesian language family. Comrie (2001:28) noted this when he wrote:

Archaeological evidence (e.g., ) suggests that speakers of pre-Proto-Austronesian spread from the South Chinese mainland to Taiwan at some time around 8,000 years ago. Evidence from historical linguistics suggests that it is from this island that seafaring peoples migrated, perhaps in distinct waves separated by millennia, to the entire region encompassed by the Austronesian languages . It is believed that this migration began around 6,000 years ago . However, evidence from historical linguistics cannot bridge the gap between those two periods.

Dravidian homeland

The Dravidian languages have been found mainly in South India since the start of the Christian era. Speculations regarding the original homeland being a mythical sunken continent called Kumari Kandam, or the Indus Valley Civilization are largely discredited in academic circles. The Indus valley script is yet to be conclusively deciphered.

Harvard Indologist Michael Witzel is critical of an IVC Dravidian homeland. In the essay "Substrate Languages in Old Indo-Aryan", Witzel says "As we can no longer reckon with Dravidian influence on the early RV, this means that the language of the pre-Rigvedic Indus civilization, at least in the Panjab, was of (Para-) Austro-Asiatic nature."

Recent studies of the distribution of alleles on the Y chromosome, microsatellite DNA, and mitochondrial DNA in India have cast overwhelmingly strong doubt for a biological Dravidian "race" distinct from non-Dravidians in the Indian subcontinent. The only distinct ethnic groups present in South Asia, according to genetic analysis, are the Balochi, Brahui, Burusho, Hazara, Kalash, Pathan and Sindhi peoples, the vast majority of whom are found in today's Pakistanmarker.

Finno-Ugric homeland

The Finno-Ugric homeland cannot be located with certainty. A likely locus is the Comb Ceramic Culture of c. 4200 BC–c. 2000 BC. This is suggested by the high intralinguistic family diversity around the middle Volga River where three highly distinct branches of the Uralic family, Mordvinic, Mari, and Permic are located. Also reconstructed plant and animal names (including spruce, Siberian pine, Siberian Fir, Siberian larch, brittle willow, elm, and hedgehog) are consistent with this localization.

See also


  • .
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External links

  1. Human Genome Diversity Project

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