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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Three key late comers in prehistoric Greece: steppe ancestry, horses and millet


A review paper at Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences posits that millet and horses arrived in what is now Greece together during the Bronze Age (see here). The author suggests that they may have been introduced via contacts with cultures to the north/northeast of Greece or directly by migrants from the Eurasian steppe. Considering the recent discovery via ancient human DNA that steppe ancestry also spread into the southern Balkans and Mycenae during the Bronze Age (see links below), I'd say the latter scenario is much more likely. I'd also add that millet and horses were probably part of an economic and cultural package expanding along with early Indo-European speakers throughout Eurasia at the time (note, for instance, how important horses are to the early Indo-European pantheon). Here's the review abstract. Emphasis is mine.

Abstract: Archaebotanical evidence for Panicum miliaceum is reviewed for prehistoric Greece including published and unpublished recent finds, providing a basis for exploring the context of the appearance of millet in Greece, the timing of its introduction and cultivation, and its significance in terms of contacts, movement of people, and cultural identity as expressed through culinary practice and food consumption. To this end, the archaeobotanical record is examined together with human isotopic, archaeozoological, and artefactual evidence. Millet is introduced to the northern part of Greece sometime during the end of the 3rd millennium bc and established as a widely used crop during the Late Bronze Age. Isotopic evidence suggests that millet consumption during the Late Bronze Age was not widespread but confined to certain regions, settlements, or individuals. Millet is suggested to reach Greece from the north after its spread westwards from China through Central Asia and the steppes of Eurasia. The timing of the introduction of millet and the horse in northern Greece coincide; the possibility therefore that they are both introduced through contacts with horse breeding cultures cultivating millet in the north and/or northeast is raised. Intensified contact networks during the Bronze Age, linking prehistoric northern Greece to central Europe and the Pontic Steppes, would have opened the way to the introduction of millet, overland via river valleys leading to the Danube, or via maritime routes, linking the Black Sea to the north Aegean. Alternatively, millet could have been introduced by millet-consuming populations, moving southwards from the Eurasian steppes.

Valamoti, S.M., Millet, the late comer: on the tracks of Panicum miliaceum in prehistoric Greece, Archaeol Anthropol Sci (2016) 8: 51. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-013-0152-5

See also...

Steppe invaders in the Bronze Age Balkans

Steppe admixture in Mycenaeans, lots of Caucasus admixture already in Minoans (Lazaridis et al. 2017)

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

44 comments:

Richard Holtman said...

I believe in the steppe theory. Makes sense to me. What doesn't make sense is the we are "superior" attitude of people in Haplogroups R1a and R1b. It's bullshit. No your not. And if you think you are you are a deluded moron with self esteem problems. I have no problem with the steppe theory but it breeds stupidity in people.

Davidski said...

@Richard Holtman

I have no problem with the steppe theory but it breeds stupidity in people.

Case in point: your comment above. And yes, you clearly do have a problem with it. So perhaps a new hobby not related to the PIE urheimat might do some good?

Richard Holtman said...

@Davidski

No I'm good. I'm just saying no Haplogroup is better than the other. Neolithic, Mesolithic, I.E. etc. :)

Richard Holtman said...

All European's are a mixture of WHG Steppe CHG and EEF. We all have a bit of each.

Richard Holtman said...

So we can all take pride in the Indo European's and their accomplishments. All European's that is.

Richard Holtman said...

That's all I'm trying to get across here Davidski. I don't think in my opinion anyway that Indo European is exclusive to 2 Haplogroups. I don't. I think it was a mixture of 4-5 Haplogroups.

Richard Holtman said...

The only non I. E. Haplogroups for Europe are in my opinion Haplogroups E, J1, N, Q and T.

Vara said...

"Millet is suggested to reach Greece from the north after its spread westwards from China through Central Asia and the steppes of Eurasia."

So PIE spread from China?


"note, for instance, how important horses are to the early Indo-European pantheon"

Also, note for instance that smithing was important to the early Indo-European pantheon and all IE people, including the Hittites, had a smith god and/or smith hero. But you guys claim that PIEs adopted it from Maykop somehow, based on the fact that there are few PIE words related to smithing. Isn't that because PIE is an Eneolithic language?

It's easier to trade horses than it is to share smithing techniques. The Arabs during Pre-Islamic conquests had one place were they could get Arabian forged swords and that was Yemen. Despite Yemen being a vassal of Persia they did not have Persian swords. There has been many accounts of Yemeni swords breaking during battles and skirmishes and not only that, even the legendary sword of Yemen that was wielded by Amru ibn Yakrib was considered awful by Umar when he saw it. In fact most of the proper swords, like Muhammad's of were from Persia, Byzantium or India.


TLDR version: So if PIEs could adopt the same smithing techniques and burials from Maykop by trading and making it a part of their pantheon, couldn't they also do the same with horses?

Davidski said...

@Vara

So PIE spread from China?

Very funny.

Just in case anyone actually takes you seriously, here's what was happening on the steppe at the time...

Mobile and then some

But you guys claim that PIEs adopted it from Maykop somehow, based on the fact that there are few PIE words related to smithing. Isn't that because PIE is an Eneolithic language?

Metallurgy precedes the formation of the Indo-Europeans, so no wonder the Indo-Europeans were aware of it and used it, but it wasn't a specifically Indo-European trait at the time, like horse worshiping was. So it can't be used to track the early Indo-European expansion, and I don't know what your point is?

Richard Holtman said...

@Vara

PIE spreading from China. LMAO!!!

Richard Holtman said...

@Vara

More like Southern Russia.

AWood said...

Who said they were superior? We just know they were larger framed, more robust people, probably more suitable to basal things like war and fighting. Now if you want superiority complexes, look no further than the people credited for writing, farming, cities, and other civilized things...

Rob said...

The horses arrived to Greece most likely via trade with the Carpathian basin. There's been several works on it

Davidski said...

@Rob

The horses arrived to Greece most likely via trade with the Carpathian basin. There's been several works on it

Was this based on archeology, and assumptions like immobility, or did they actually test aDNA and found these horses not to be from the steppe?

Remember, Corded Ware people were thought to be native to Central Europe according to the most progressive archaeologists before their aDNA was tested.

Rob said...

@ Dave

It was by Kristiansen. I don;t think he was ever an immobilist

But as Vara pointed out, if we're going to cherry pick evidence to prove simplistic scenarios, then PIEs came from Uzbekistan and China.

EastPole said...

“Isotopic evidence suggests that millet consumption during the Late Bronze Age was not widespread but confined to certain regions, settlements, or individuals.”

I don’t have this paper. What regions and settlements are they talking about? Was is Thessaly?



“The Thessalian plains were ideally suited for cultivating grains and cereals, and were known in antiquity for horse-rearing. Alexander the Great's horse, Bucephalus, was originally from Pharsalos. The surrounding mountainous regions, however, were less suitable for agriculture and relied more heavily on pastoralism.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Thessaly

EastPole said...

@Rob
Thank you

This is also interesting:
“Further to the north and northeast of Greece millet appears in earlier archaeological contexts dating to the 5th millennium BC in eastern Germany, Slovakia (Baden culture), Poland (TRB culture), Ukraine (Tripolye culture), Rumania (Vinca culture), and Moldova
[…]
Further to the south, in Bulgaria, the evidence as regards millet points to a situation similar to that of Greece:
millet is encountered as a crop at Late Bronze Age sites dated to the period between 2200–1200 BC such as Kamenska Chuka, Nebet Tepe, Adata, Okrazna Bolnitza, and Goljama Detelina (Popova 2009, 2010). Early Neolithic finds of millet in Bulgaria seem to be intrusive”

Alberto said...

The origin and spread of Millet seems a bit controversial, since some papers report it already since early neolithic sites in West Eurasia (from the South Caucasus to Central Europe) and others propose a later spread from China.

Whatever the case, there doesn't seem to be a case for the spread through the steppe itself. The paper linked above states:

"Between northern China and southeastern Europe lie the Eurasian steppes and millet in all likelihood spread westwards,travelling across space and through time, being handed down
from community to community until it reached the mountains and narrow river plains of northern Greece.
"

Which is rather vague. From this other paper (Miller et al. 2016)*, this possible spread looks better investigated and proposes a southern route:

"Following up on this study, Motuzaite-Matuzeviciute et al. (2015) analyzed bone collagen from 25 archaeological sites, including 127 human and 109 animal bones, spanning all of Kazakhstan and temporally stretching from roughly 2920 BC to AD 1155. Ultimately, their results illustrate that starting in the early second millennium BC, higher δ13C values appear in the mountains of Central Asia and spread along southerly routes, not taking root on the steppe proper (i.e. northern Kazakhstan)."

I don't know if there's any evidence of Millet cultivation in the western steppe (Yamnaya, Catacomb cultures), but I've never heard about it.

*https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~nmiller0/papers/Miller%20&%20al.%202016%20millet.pdf

Davidski said...

@Rob

I recall a presentation from a few years ago in which Kristiansen said that Mycenaean horses came from the steppe, and this was based on aDNA evidence.

Davidski said...

@Alberto

Millet is indeed from Asia, and probably made its way to Europe after Yamnaya, via exchange routes opened up by later steppe groups like Sintashta and Andronovo. Obviously, we have Sintashta and Andronovo genomes, so we know where they originated.

Ric Hern said...

I wonder if they were referring to Foxtail Millet instead of Proso Millet ?

Because Proso Millet seems to have reached Europe much earlier during the Neolithic while Foxtail Millet seems to have been a Bronze Age arrival...

Rob said...

Dave
Yes they came from the steppe. And the Carpathian basin seems to have then distributed around Europe, which wa engaged in a exhnage network including Mycenae, Scandinavi, etc

Richard Holtman said...

@AWood

Thanks man. I appreciate the response. Perhaps I should look at it differently.

Grey said...

if millet appeared earliest in regions good for cattle/horses that might reinforce the idea of infiltration type partial migration hopping from suitable region to suitable region

Ric Hern said...

I wonder which species of Millet are they referring to ? I see that the synonym for Foxtail Millet can also be Panicum miliaceum...Are they talking about the most recent classification which will then exclude Foxtail Millet ?

Ryan said...

@David - Don't discount Richard's point. I'm not sure you're aware of how often your work gets (erroneously) cited by white nationalists, but it happens a lot. There's no shortage of people trying to build narratives out of stuff like this to aggrandize themselves and marginalize others.

Richard Holtman said...

@Ryan

That's exactly what I'm trying to say. I'm not blaming Davidski here. I'm blaming people that take his work out of conte tense. And like you say Ryan they build narratives. It's very annoying when trying to handle and understand science. There's no place for it. Yes it's white nationalist mostly.

Richard Holtman said...

Like I said I really believe in the steppe theory. Unfortunately with it comes a huge " superiority complex " in some people. It's a shame. We can discover ancient history without that stuff.

Richard Holtman said...

This is also why you get people coming up with alternative theories about the Indo European homeland. No one wants to be labeled as "inferior" and everyone wants to be Indo European. So they make up theories or use existing ones to fit there wants and situation ( Haplogroup) No matter how ridiculous they are. Davidski I'm sure you've seen it.

Ryan said...

It's interesting the different reactions to the Steppe origin of IE in India and Europe though. Europeans seem to be a lot more comfortable with the idea of their ancestors as conquering invaders than people in India, but it makes sense given that they were on opposite sides of Europe's colonialism.

Richard Holtman said...

@Ryan

Yes it is. In Russia it's a problem for them as well. It's all how you view it. Some people are proud of it while others are not. Personally I'm pretty neutral to it. They were what they were. And also if you take it that I.E.= Haplogroups R1b and R1a only that leaves a lot of European's without the notion of having conquering invaders as ancestors. I've said it before though I don't believe that was the case. I believe it took a variety of Haplogroups ( R1b, R1a, J2, G2, I2) to form Indo European's.

Richard Holtman said...

It's not like back then if you were in a minority Haplogroup they would say woah your J2 Haplogroup you can't join us lol. I do believe that Indo European's were PRIMARILY R1a and R1b. With a minority of J2, G2 and I2.

Ric Hern said...

How about some Millet and Horsemeat ?

Ric Hern said...

@Rob

From which Culture in the Carpathian Basin did this horse distribution take place do you think ?

Ric Hern said...

I wonder how many explorers, record breakers, world champions and Empire builders had inferiority complexes ?

At some point in time somebody decided to be better, go faster and longer than the rest. At some point in time others joined him. The more people joined the more threatening and less productive the Superiority Complex started to look....Unfortunately Pride and Superiority looks very much the same....

At the end of the day almost anything can be used for good or bad....so should everyone say nothing about anything because it has that potential ?

Richard Holtman said...

@ Ric Hern
You completely misunderstood what I wrote. Completely....

Richard Holtman said...

Like what you wrote doesn't even come close to the point I was trying to make. Epic fail.

Richard Holtman said...

Pride needs based on something you achieved. Not something your ancestors supposedly did fuckin ages ago. Especially the atrocities committed by Indo European's. Only a phycopath would be proud of genocide.

Richard Holtman said...

Pride and superiority are not the same. Superiority is what caused the holocaust. That cost the lives of countless people because of a " superior racial ideal" that the Nazis implemented.

Ric Hern said...

Millet and Horses !!!

Ryan said...

@Ric - Pride and superiority are different. You can celebrate your own accomplishments without belittling others. That being said, taking pride in a haplogroup is asinine. That's just one line of ancestry among many, and it's not like the Y-DNA accomplished anything. Every person with haplogroup T doesn't get to claim credit for Thomas Jefferson's accomplishments or get crapped on for his failures.

Ric Hern said...

@Ryan

I know this however I fail to see what this had to do with Horses and Millet....

Salden said...

>Especially the atrocities committed by Indo European's.

I didn't realize the Geneva Conventions were invented back then.

Ric Hern said...

I wonder when the focus will shift to the more recent Non-Indo-European Tutsi Genocide committed by Hutu....?