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Language trees with sampled ancestors support a hybrid model for the origin of Indo-European languages


[ 1 ] Wydział Humanistyczny, Akademia im. Jakuba z Paradyża | [ P ] employee

Scientific discipline (Law 2.0)

[1.5] Linguistics

Year of publication


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Journal year: 2023 | Journal volume: 381 | Journal number: 6656

Article type

scientific article

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EN The origins of the Indo-European language family are hotly disputed. Bayesian phylogenetic analyses of core vocabulary have produced conflicting results, with some supporting a farming expansion out of Anatolia ~9000 years before present (yr B.P.), while others support a spread with horse-based pastoralism out of the Pontic-Caspian Steppe ~6000 yr B.P. Here we present an extensive database of Indo-European core vocabulary that eliminates past inconsistencies in cognate coding. Ancestry-enabled phylogenetic analysis of this dataset indicates that few ancient languages are direct ancestors of modern clades and produces a root age of ~8120 yr B.P. for the family. Although this date is not consistent with the Steppe hypothesis, it does not rule out an initial homeland south of the Caucasus, with a subsequent branch northward onto the steppe and then across Europe. We reconcile this hybrid hypothesis with recently published ancient DNA evidence from the steppe and the northern Fertile Crescent.

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