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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Pots were people in Bronze Age southern Central Asia too


New archaeological evidence of potentially significant Bronze Age migrations from the Eurasian steppe into present-day southern Turkmenistan is coming to light thanks to the Archaeological Map of the Murghab Delta (AMMD) project. The new findings are discussed in a paper in Quaternary International available here or here. From the paper:

Adding to the number of questions was the fact that the AMMD project also recorded hundreds of small campsites, particularly in the northern distal reaches of the fan, that bore ceramics [my note: called Incised Coarse Ware or steppe ware] unlike those of other Murghab communities, but with unmistakable affinities to the so-called Andronovo cultural group occupying regions to the north and east during this same period (Cattani, 2008; Cattani et al., 2008; Cerasetti, 2008, 2012). These campsites are interpreted as representing the influx of a new socio-cultural group of mobile pastoralists who began to occupy first more remote areas and gradually move toward more physical and subsistence integration with settled farming groups in the Murghab (Cerasetti et al., in press; see also; Rouse and Cerasetti, 2014). However, the question of whether such encounters upset a careful ecological balance struck by Murghab farming settlements for over a millennium, or whether they were merely coincidental with environmental changes, could not be sufficiently addressed with the coarseness of survey data; targeted research agendas were (and are) still needed to address such questions specifically. Nonetheless, up to this point, it is clear that at the end of the Bronze Age, major social, demographic, and environmental changes were coinciding.

Southern Turkmenistan is, of course, not too far away from South Asia, which was also potentially a target of large scale Bronze Age migrations from the Eurasian steppe that may have brought Indo-European languages to the region. Archaeological evidence of such population movements into South Asia is, for now, apparently minimal or, as some claim, even non-existent. However, ancient DNA evidence in favor of the so called Aryan Invasion or Migration Theory (AIT/AMT) is rapidly building up (see here). By the way, if you're wondering about the title of this post then this might help: "Kossinna's Smile" (Heyd, 2017).

Citation...

Rousea and Cerasetti, Micro-dynamics and macro-patterns: Exploring new archaeological data for the late Holocene human-water relationship in the Murghab alluvial fan, Turkmenistan, Quaternary International, Volume 437, Part B, 5 May 2017, Pages 20-34, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.12.021

See also...

Descendants of ancient European (fair?) maidens in Central Asia's highlands

Swat Valley "early Indo-Aryans" at the lab

Late PIE ground zero now obvious; location of PIE homeland still uncertain, but...

23 comments:

Rob said...

Awesome work.
Really begins to clarify the situation of late BMAC, based on Murghab sector at least.
Some points;

- the presence of pastoral communities has greater confirmation. They appear as temporary campsites, marked by a pastoral economic profile, and "Incised wares" similar to Andronovo ceramics, which begin to appear toward the latter phases of BMAC.

- in other work, the author describes describes this as an infiltration of pastoral communities, which interacted with the 'settled farmers' of BMAC in special circumstances and at special sites (i.e. of a late BMAC - ICW character).

- this seems to correspond with ecological and fluvial changes in the region, although cause and effect are not clear at present.

- a large section discusses about the relationship of various sites to water sources. The major difference is between all BMAC period sites vs the later Iron Age (=Yaz I) sites, but within the BMAC period there is some discernible difference in behaviour between ICW and BMAC site locations

- with the change to Iron Age, a completely new settlement system emerges - more decentralised and dispersed. Both ICW and the classic BMAC settlements disappear, but it seems the new settlement system must have been affected by the impact of these pastoralists, as it introduces new crops (eg Millet) which are more sturdy and allows sites to be located further away from water sources, and overall, social systems are more about controlling territory and production rather than elite display symbols of old.

In essence, this article and others of similar recent, make a strong case for arrival of Andronovo pastoralists into BMAC, the former 'obscure infiltration can now be better described. After initial co-existence, the entire system appears to change, and a new syncretic one emerges. Also, the new sites of the Iron Age are located further south c.f. Bronze Age ones.

That much is clear. But what does this mean for Swat valley / Indus ??

Rami said...

Your obsession is something else lol. Those settlements in Turkmenistan are all Iranic, as they are derived from Sintashta which is clearly Iranic. This is old news in fact, Victor Sarianidi devoted his life on this. This does not really explain the obscure Indo Aryan angle, as those groups seem to be Yamnaya/Afanseivo like. The interactions between the BMAC and Sintashta gives rise to the Yaz culture.

Nirjhar007 said...

That much is clear. But what does this mean for Swat valley / Indus ??

Nothing . I expect aDNA will show good indications . Andronovo were in all likelihood proto-Scythians .

After the aridification around ~2000 BC, people migrated in most parts of Eurasia.

EastPole said...

@Rami
“Those settlements in Turkmenistan are all Iranic, as they are derived from Sintashta which is clearly Iranic.”

Where and when did Indo-Iranians originate if Sintashta was Iranic?

Singh said...

@EastPole

Based on what auDNA pattern in South Asians, it's possible that Proto-Indo-Iranians were probably Steppe EMBA-like, that is Afanseivo/Yamnaya-like.

First Wave : Indo-Aryans split from Indo-Iranians in steppes. Indo-Aryans show affinity towards Yamnaya/Afanseivo-like groups.

Second Wave : Iranics continue to live in the steppes, arriving later, as admixed group between Yamna/Afanse and Sintashta/Androvo. Iranians show genetic affinity towards Sintashta/Andronov-groups unlike Indo-Aryans.

We know that in Eastern Europe, Iranics assimilated with Proto-Slavic, which means Iranics continued to live in steppes for long time unlike Indo-Aryans who left the steppes very early.

Mariusz (2002) "In Eastern Europe, the Iranians were eventually decisively assimilated (e.g. Slavicisation) and absorbed by the Proto-Slavic population of the region"

Rob said...

@ Singh

"We know that in Eastern Europe, Iranics assimilated with Proto-Slavic, which means Iranics continued to live in steppes for long time unlike Indo-Aryans who left the steppes very early. "

Any absorption was rather minimal, probably because iranics had largely disappeared from western steppe and Balkans by the time of (most recent) Slavic expansion.
There aren't any Iranic\ Sarmartian lineages which can be seen to be in the set which expanded with Slavs.

So it seems the 2 groups did live adjacently for a long time, but the absorption / end of Iranics in fhe west and subsequent expansion of Slavs just missed each other ( by a matter of 50-100 years.)

Singh said...

@Rob

I agree

velvetgunther said...

@Rob
"So it seems the 2 groups did live adjacently for a long time, but the absorption / end of Iranics in fhe west and subsequent expansion of Slavs just missed each other ( by a matter of 50-100 years.)"

Any idea what might have caused the absorption/end of the Iranics in the west if the Slavs or proto-Slavs had no role to play in it?

EastPole said...

@Singh

Which language is closer to Slavic: Vedic Sanskrit, Avestan or Indo-Iranian?

velvetgunther said...

I might have mentioned this before but I think the comment couldn't get through. It seems it is now David's turn to be quoted in an Indian magazine:
http://www.caravanmagazine.in/perspectives/vedic-people-new-dna-evidence-india-history

Davidski said...

Well it's nice to have an impact.

Everything's building up to a massive crescendo, so hopefully the new Harvard paper on South Asia isn't delayed. :P

jv said...

MtDNA H6 was found in the Andronovo Culture & H6a1b the Okunev Culture. So maybe she migrated east down the PC Steppe following yDNA R1a. MtDNA lineages in India are indigenous to the area. For my own research, I would like to know just how far.....east & south ( autocorrect ugh!) MtDNA H6a migrated. Certainly seems like MtDNA H6a followed yDNA R1a migrations. Just not to India.

Vara said...

@Singh

"First Wave : Indo-Aryans split from Indo-Iranians in steppes. Indo-Aryans show affinity towards Yamnaya/Afanseivo-like groups."

The split couldn't have happened anywhere north of BMAC according to linguistics. For example, both share the same word for camels which is 'ushtra' and camels did not reach the rest of CA and the steppes till the 11th century BCE.


@Nirjhar007

" Andronovo were in all likelihood proto-Scythians ."

How old is Proto-Indo-Iranian then? 4k BCE as Nichols proposed?

Rob said...

@ VelvetGunther

"Any idea what might have caused the absorption/end of the Iranics in the west if the Slavs or proto-Slavs had no role to play in it?"

Just from top of my head, the Sarmatian Era is the last phase of autonomous Iranic presence in E.E. It lasted will into the late 5th century. They had become the pre-eminent group in the western steppe after the demise of Scythians c. 3rd century BC, and by turn of Era, the Iazygi had settled the Pannonian plain. But they were rather cut off from the bulk of their kin back in Ukraine, often unfairly treated by the Romans, warred upon by Constantius, used as cannon fodder, and some eventualy settled within the Empire. etc but persisted in settlements near the Banat till 5th century.

The main Bulk in Ukraine were attenuated by the arrival of Goths, who converted the Ukraine steppe from a zone of nomadic tumuli to one one of numerous agricultural villages, although it seems they did not kick out the Sarmatians, but incorporated many. The second and more significant event was the arrival of the Huns, which led to a lot of translocation and disturbances, and the western-most Sarmatians were getting squeezed out by Goths fleeing Huns, making many Sarmatians to seek further reception inside the Empire. The Alans on the Don became the major auxiliaries of the Huns.
After the death of Attila, and civil war within his former realm, the new groups like Goths and Gepids became supreme in West Balkans/ Pannonia, whilst the steppe now became the domain of Hunno-Bulgar tribes. Some Alans obviously moved west to Iberia with vandals and Sueves, whilst other remained east of the Don, and moved to the Caucasus. The last names Sarmatian-sounding tribelets and rulers around the Balkans is also c. late 5th century, after which the entire middle -lower Danube frontier was the domain of Germanic merceneries (Rugii, Gepids, Goths,).
The SLavs really began to expand into Balkans and further west toward central Europe after 550 AD, so their role in the final tumults of Sarmatians was rather minimal.

postneo said...

@ east pole

There is no language called indo-Iranian

There is Vedic and avestan ( less preserved and small samples) co-eval with late Vedic. Pre Avestan is not preserved. Slavic is recent so I doubt its relationship with Iranian vs Indic can be reliably discerned.

@David if pots are people then there should be a massive trail of incised ware from Turkmenistan to India rather than NBP, OCP or B&R ware post BMAC.

AtriĆ°r said...

@EastPole
Which language is closer to Slavic: Vedic Sanskrit, Avestan or Indo-Iranian?

Sanskrit is closer (to the Slavic). Sanskrit is particularly close to Russian and Lithuanian (Baltic)... but particularly to Russian, more than is published.

velvetgunther said...

@Rob
Thanks for the detailed explanation.

kony1_1 said...

@Rob
According to Eupedia maps, there is Z93 in Moldova and Crimea. Not extreme but noticeable.

Rob said...

@ Kony

Yes, there's some Z93 throughout east Europe, even apparently some rather basal clades.
It would be the task of future work - if feasible - to place it into stratigraphy.
Eg that in mainland Ukraine might truly represent some Andronovan ancestors. That in Crimea might be a younger, Turkic clade. Then you have Ashkenazi clusters, Roma clusters, etc, etc

aniasi said...

@EastPole

In terms of vocabulary choice: Classical Sanskrit and New Indo-Aryan languages are closer to Russian, but Vedic looks closer to Lithuanian.

In terms of Grammar: Sanskrit and Russian are close.

In terms of phonology: Vedic & Sanskrit with Lithuanian

In terms of phonological correspondences: Vedic & Sanskrit with Russian.

aniasi said...

Also, any MtDna from this? I am beginning to wonder if due to lack of resolution, some 'indigenous SA' mtdna clades were actually BMAC ones. With the Rakhigarhi leak as well, I am inclined to believe the same about Ydna clades.

Ryan said...

Pottery started in Japan therefor Indo-European languages are really dialects of Japanese.

QED.

:3

batman said...

Ryan,

The basic skills and tools required to burn ceramics, such as pottery, have been found in northern Europe - dated 27.000+ years BP.

What's more - the oldest potshreds found are now from China, dated 20.000 years BP.

So being at it, we better re-define the IE language to include both chineese and japaneese - promting that the IE languages spread during the late Paleolithic, alerady - as a reaction to the prevailing climate-change of the LGM.

I'm sure there's some armchaired logic in that, too. ;-)