Late PIE and the Caucasus
The Uruk expansion in Mesopotamia after about 3700 BC intensified during the late Uruk period ca. 3350-3100 BC, and its expansion reached toward the gold, silver, and copper sources in the Caucasus Mountains. The Maykop culture of rich chieftains’ graves with Mesopotamian ornaments developed from this trade network in the North Caucasus Piedmont, and a western and probably also a later eastern southern routes through the shores of the Black and Caspian seas respectively have been proposed[Anthony 2007].
Steppe-Caucasian trade is supported by Maykop imports found in the north Pontic steppe from the Dniester to the lower Volga in the east, but no Caucasian imports have been found in the Volga-Ural region. Late Maykop peoples – most likely speaking languages ancestral to modern Caucasian languages – probably interacted with individuals from Repin and late Khvalynsk cultures, and the contact was most direct on the lower Don. Late Maykop graves incorporated carved stone stelae like those of western Yamna. The trading of drugs, wool, and horses has been proposed as main steppe imports into Maykop[Anthony 2007].
It is probably during these times of expansion that admixture in the Middle East was levelled, showing that western Iran had a wide impact on Levantine populations in the south and north-west Anatolians in the west, and the population of eastern Iran and the Caucasus was composed of the same ancestral components, albeit in slightly different proportions.
A population related to the Chalcolithic of the Zagros Mountains in east Iran contributed around 43% of ancestry of early Bronze Age populations of the Eurasian steppe. EHG ancestry is also found in samples from Chalcolithic Armenia, Iran, and Bronze Age Armenia in a slightly higher proportion than in CHG, which bears witness to the potential southern genetic flow from the steppe[Lazaridis et al. 2016].
Although Maykop has been cited as a likely candidate for the strong influence of CHG ancestry in Yamna[Jones et al. 2015], this ‘Yamna component’ has been found in two samples of the mid-fifth millennium BC from the Balkans (previous to the actual samples that define that ancestry), and later in the mid-fourth millennium in a Trypillian sample[Mathieson et al. 2017]. This suggests a more likely gradual contribution from intermittent contacts with cultures from the Caucasus, joint with western steppe expansions (see below Expansion of Corded Ware culture and Admixture analysis).
Horse trade – including wheels, carts, and the possibility of a quicker transport of metals into Uruk – is proof of an indirect contact between steppe herders and Mesopotamia. The association of exported domesticated horses with experienced breeders and riders of the lower Don offers a solid framework to support the hypothesis of the presence of Late-Indo-European-speaking peoples in Mesopotamia, and thus allow for IE borrowings in Sumerian[Sahala 2009-2013].
The condition of North-West Indo-European as an Euphratic superstratum of Sumerian[Whittaker 2008][Whittaker 2012] would require a more detailed explanation of internal and external influence, and reasons for potential language replacement and expansion in Mesopotamia.
- [Anthony 2007] ^ 1 2 3 Anthony, D. 2007. The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.
- [Jones et al. 2015] ^ Jones, E. R., G. Gonzalez-Fortes, S. Connell, V. Siska, A. Eriksson, R. Martiniano, R. L. McLaughlin, M. Gallego Llorente, L. M. Cassidy, C. Gamba, T. Meshveliani, O. Bar-Yosef, W. Muller, A. Belfer-Cohen, Z. Matskevich, N. Jakeli, T. F. Higham, M. Currat, D. Lordkipanidze, M. Hofreiter, A. Manica, R. Pinhasi, and D. G. Bradley. 2015. Upper Palaeolithic genomes reveal deep roots of modern Eurasians. Nat Commun 6:8912. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms9912
- [Lazaridis et al. 2016] ^ Lazaridis, I., D. Nadel, G. Rollefson, D. C. Merrett, N. Rohland, S. Mallick, D. Fernandes, M. Novak, B. Gamarra, K. Sirak, S. Connell, K. Stewardson, E. Harney, Q. Fu, G. Gonzalez-Fortes, E. R. Jones, S. A. Roodenberg, G. Lengyel, F. Bocquentin, B. Gasparian, J. M. Monge, M. Gregg, V. Eshed, A. S. Mizrahi, C. Meiklejohn, F. Gerritsen, L. Bejenaru, M. Bluher, A. Campbell, G. Cavalleri, D. Comas, P. Froguel, E. Gilbert, S. M. Kerr, P. Kovacs, J. Krause, D. McGettigan, M. Merrigan, D. A. Merriwether, S. O'Reilly, M. B. Richards, O. Semino, M. Shamoon-Pour, G. Stefanescu, M. Stumvoll, A. Tonjes, A. Torroni, J. F. Wilson, L. Yengo, N. A. Hovhannisyan, N. Patterson, R. Pinhasi, and D. Reich. 2016. Genomic insights into the origin of farming in the ancient Near East. Nature 536 (7617):419-24. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature19310
- [Mathieson et al. 2017] ^ Mathieson, Iain, Songül Alpaslan Roodenberg, Cosimo Posth, Anna Szécsényi-Nagy, Nadin Rohland, Swapan Mallick, Iñigo Olade, Nasreen Broomandkhoshbacht, Olivia Cheronet, Daniel Fernandes, Matthew Ferry, Beatriz Gamarra, Gloria González Fortes, Wolfgang Haak, Eadaoin Harney, Ben Krause-Kyora, Isil Kucukkalipci, Megan Michel, Alissa Mittnik, Kathrin Nägele, Mario Novak, Jonas Oppenheimer, Nick Patterson, Saskia Pfrengle, Kendra Sirak, Kristin Stewardson, Stefania Vai, Stefan Alexandrov, Kurt W. Alt, Radian Andreescu, Dragana Antonović, Abigail Ash, Nadezhda Atanassova, Krum Bacvarov, Mende Balázs Gusztáv, Hervé Bocherens, Michael Bolus, Adina Boroneanţ, Yavor Boyadzhiev, Alicja Budnik, Josip Burmaz, Stefan Chohadzhiev, Nicholas J. Conard, Richard Cottiaux, Maja Čuka, Christophe Cupillard, Dorothée G. Drucker, Nedko Elenski, Michael Francken, Borislava Galabova, Georgi Ganetovski, Bernard Gely, Tamás Hajdu, Veneta Handzhyiska, Katerina Harvati, Thomas Higham, Stanislav Iliev, Ivor Janković, Ivor Karavanić, Douglas J. Kennett, Darko Komšo, Alexandra Kozak, Damian Labuda, Martina Lari, Catalin Lazar, Maleen Leppek, Krassimir Leshtakov, Domenico Lo Vetro, Dženi Los, Ivaylo Lozanov, Maria Malina, Fabio Martini, Kath McSweeney, Harald Meller, Marko Menđušić, Pavel Mirea, Vyacheslav Moiseyev, Vanya Petrova, T. Douglas Price, Angela Simalcsik, Luca Sineo, Mario Šlaus, Vladimir Slavchev, Petar Stanev, Andrej Starović, Tamás Szeniczey, Sahra Talamo, Maria Teschler-Nicola, Corinne Thevenet, Ivan Valchev, Frédérique Valentin, Sergey Vasilyev, Fanica Veljanovska, Svetlana Venelinova, Elizaveta Veselovskaya, Bence Viola, Cristian Virag, Joško Zaninović, Steve Zäuner, Philipp W. Stockhammer, Giulio Catalano, Raiko Krauß, David Caramelli, Gunita Zariņa, Bisserka Gaydarska, Malcolm Lillie, Alexey G. Nikitin, Inna Potekhina, Anastasia Papathanasiou, Dušan Borić, Clive Bonsall, Johannes Krause, Ron Pinhasi, and David Reich. 2017. The Genomic History Of Southeastern Europe. bioRxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/135616
- [Piezonka 2015] ^ Piezonka, Henny. 2015. Older than the farmers' pots? Hunter-gatherer ceramics east of the Baltic Sea. In The Dąbki Site in Pomerania and the Neolithisation of the North European Lowlands (c. 5000-3000 calBC), edited by J. Kabaciński, S. Hatz, R. D. C. M. and T. Terberger. Rahden/Westf.: Marie Leidorf.
- [Sahala 2009-2013] ^ Sahala, Aleksi. 2009-2013. Sumero-Indo-European language contacts. University of Helsinki.
- [Szmyt 2013] ^ Szmyt, Marzena. 2013. The circulation of People and Ideas in the Baltic and Pontic Areas during 3rd millennium BC.
- [Whittaker 2008] ^ Whittaker, Gordon. 2008. The Case for Euphratic. Bull. Georg. Natl. Acad. Sci. 2 (3):156-168.
- [Whittaker 2012] ^ Whittaker, Gordon. 2012. Euphratic: A phonological sketch. In The Sound of Indo-European: Phonetics, Phonemics, and Morphophonemics, edited by B. N. Whitehead, T. Olander, B. A. Olsen and J. E. Rasmussen. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press.