The Inexorable Progress of Science: Archaeology

In 1939, archeologists and prehistorians seem to have thought that agriculture was brought to Europe by a gracile Mediterranean people, and was in large part spread by their expansion.  They thought that the Corded Ware culture was Indo-European and probably originated in South Russia. Here’s an example, from Carleton Coon’s The Races of Europe (1939):

“We shall see, in our survey of prehistoric European racial movements, 8 that the Danubian agriculturalists of the Early Neolithic brought a food producing economy into central Europe from the East. They perpetuated in the new European setting a physical type which was later supplanted in their original home. Several centuries later the Corded people, in the same way, came from southern Russia (i.e.Ukraine) ”

“There has been much discussion over the origin of the Corded people, and many cradle areas have been proposed. Childe, despite several objections which he himself raises, prefers to derive them from southern Russia , where the typical cultural elements of the Corded people are found mixed with other factors. The so-called boat-axe, the typical battleaxe form which they used, has relatives all the way to the Caucasus and beyond. And the horse, their use of which in the domestic form is not fully confirmed, since the grave examples might conceivably have been wild ones, was first tamed in Asia or in southern Russia.”

A lot of this stems from  Gordon Childe’s work – for example The Aryans, published in 1926.  Understand that this was all before carbon dating, and before a tremendous amount of modern archaeological work, including much of the work in the Balkans.

Archaeology took a different path in the 1960s and later. Archaeologists became very uncomfortable with the idea of migration, colonization, conquest, and prehistoric violence. I say this without really understanding its inner nature: I personally am made quite uncomfortable by the thought of dinosaur-killing asteroids or Yellowstone-scale megavolcanoes showing up in my neighborhood, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking that they occurred.  I don’t get it.

The low point in acceptance of the reality of prehistoric violence seems to have occurred in the 1970s, according to Lawrence Keeley (War before Civilization).  In those days, a log palisade with a 9-foot-deep ditch surrounding a frontier Neolithic village was explained as expressing the “symbolism of exclusion.”

Theories that disallowed migration (let alone conquest) became more and more popular with time.  I can find examples of grown human beings suggesting that the Anglo-Saxonization of England need not have required any actual Anglo-Saxon immigrants at all.  Grahame Clark didn’t rule out all migrations, but he and his immediate followers were definitely against the idea of a “vast Kulturkreise covering large portions of the Continent which gave rise to entirely hypothetical‘ethnic groups’ such as the Kurgans and the Beaker People, often identified, on the flimsiest of grounds, with the large ethno-linguistic groups observable a millennium or more later such as the Hellenes or the Celts.”

Pots not people rules OK!

Colin Renfrew seems to have been motivated in part by an aversion to migrationism.  That’s too bad.  I had thought (not knowing much about it) that he was primarily motivated by a realization that agriculture is often spread by a demographic expansion, a most powerful mechanism. And in fact his model would have been perfectly correct for Europe around 4000 BC.  But to the extent that he subscribes to the ideological prejudice against population movements, he’s a loon. I understand that an article in British Archaeology claimed that this prejudice had gotten to the point where some graduate student “would soon come up with a paper ‘proving’ that the first humans in Britain weren’t immigrants at all, but purely indigenous, symbolically transformed reindeer.”

The Indo-European linguists seem to have been immune to this nonsense.  All honor to them – although they really should start making use of the flood of new genetic results. The archaeologists behind the Iron Curtain also successfully resisted this crap – but then, they were pretty far from Harvard!

I was noting something from Mario Alinei (an advocate of a model in which nobody ever invaded Europe, probably including Omaha Beach).  He blames ideology:

” Surprisingly, although the archaeological research of the last few decennnia has
provided more and more evidence that no large-scale invasion took place in
Europe in the Calcholithic, Indoeuropean linguistics has stubbornly held to its
strong invasionist assumption, and has continued to produce more and more
variations on the old theme.

Clearly, the answer is ideological. For the invasion model was first advanced in the nineteenth century, when archaeology and related sciences were dominated by the ideology of colonialism, as recent historical research has shown. The successive generations of linguists and archaeologists have been strongly inspired by the racist views that stemmed out of colonialism. Historians of archaeology (e.g. Daniel 1962, Trigger 1989) have repeatedly shown the importance of ideology in shaping archaeological theories as well as theories of human origins, while, unfortunately, linguistics has not followed the same course, and thus strongly believes in its own innocence.”

You know, he may have a point.

With a very limited set of clues, smart guys managed to get key facts about European prehistory roughly correct almost 90 years ago . With tremendously better tools, better methods, vastly more money, more data, etc, archaeologists (most of them) drifted farther and farther from the truth.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in European Prehistory, Indo-European, Linguistics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

125 Responses to The Inexorable Progress of Science: Archaeology

  1. Perhaps that generation of archaeologists were trying to solve the wrong intellectual question: not the more usual “What makes best sense?” but rather the more refined “Can I think something up which shows that I am on a higher plane than vulgar people who simply go for the most sensible explanation?”. It seems churlish to point it out, but they were probably elitist symbolists of exclusion.

  2. dearieme says:

    I’ve had an amateur interest in archaeology ever since I was a schoolboy. Even as a fourteen year-old I giggled at the madness of archaeologists, first assuming slaughter and rapine, and then ruling it out, all on essentially no evidence at all. My own guess was that analogy would serve well: if historical times had seen the Sea Peoples, and Hellenisation in the wake of Alexander, and the Volkerwanderung, and the Vikings colonising, with variable success, from Russia to North America, and the German drift into Eastern Europe, and the Bantu expansion, and the colonies of Chinese all over South East Asia, and the Arab conquests, and the Conquistadores, et bloody cetera, why not in pre-history too? Australia hadn’t become white because of the trade in pots.

    It’s genetics that coughs up the conclusive evidence; I am impatient to see whether the current conclusions stand up to further improvements in techniques, and the emergence of further bones.

    • doombuggy says:

      whether the current conclusions stand up to further improvements in techniques

      Or maybe like good cultists they will believe even more.

    • Staffan says:

      Archaeologists must hate genetic technology. Social scientists must fear it. I’d feel sorry for them if they weren’t so uppity.

      • Campesino says:

        Actually, most of us archaeologists think genetic technology is a wonderful tool and we are anxious to follow the data wherever it goes.

        You have “archaeologists” confused with “academic archaeologists.” Archaeologists in universities have a PC line they have to keep up to keep their jobs. Most of them, I guess , actually come to even believe it.

        Here in the US you have to remember, most archaeologists don’t work in universities or museums but work in consulting firms and government agencies in what is called cultural resource management. We follow the data.

        We mostly got taught the politically correct “pots not people” and “prehistoric people weren’t violent” stuff in school but we figured it was mostly BS. That’s because it was us and our friends who excavated the sites that had evidence of Anasazi cannibalism in them or in my case the burial of a Mississippian warrior I excavated in Georgia who had a trophy head placed between his feet.

        • Staffan says:

          Thanks for clarifying. I’m glad to hear that. I guess the universities are more visible, perhaps being more publicized. It’s funny to think that governmental agencies can be beyond the clutches of pc establishment.There is certainly no such agency here in Sweden, although for some odd reason a lot of the behavioral genetics research was conducted here. I’m guessing the people in charge didn’t really understand it or its implications.

        • gcochran9 says:

          If you would, tell us a little about your educational experiences with “pots not people” and “prehistoric people weren’t violent”.

          • Campesino says:

            “Pots not people”

            When I was in graduate school in the 1970s, one of the dominant paradigms was Diffusionism. The assumption was that technological innovations such as making ceramics, agriculture, etc. were such good and powerful ideas that as soon as people learned about them and learned how to do them, the innovations would be immediately taken up. Therefore the default position should be that when some innovation appeared in a new area, the people already living there had just found out about it and adopted it. To be fair, many of my professors acknowledged that population migrations had taken place, but they made it plain that the burden of proof was on the researcher who asserted the material culture change was because of a migration. But I do remember one who ridiculed the idea of “Beaker People” migrating around Europe.

            An example that was often used was baseball in Japan. Would a future archaeologist assume that the appearance of baseball stadiums and equipment in Japan in the 20th century meant that millions of Americans had migrated across the Pacific?

            We now know however, from ethnographic study and more archaeology work, that (in prehistoric North America anyway) people always seemed to want to stay hunter-gatherers. The “new ideas” aren’t always so powerful There are numerous examples of peoples who knew all about ceramics and agriculture, but weren’t the least bit interested in adopting them. People don’t seem to have taken agriculture up unless forced to by population pressure or by agricultural people moving into their territory. Evidence shows hunter-gatherer peoples were healthier than Neolithic agriculturalists.

            Lacking the DNA tools we have today, most of the migrations we knew about were based on linguistic evidence in the ethnographic populations and were relatively late in prehistory. We knew about Iriquoian migrations in the eastern US, the Numic migration from Southern California across Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming and the Athabascan migration from Western Canada down into the Southwest. Again, these were all pretty late, and most of it was based on linguistic relations and glottochronology.

            Now we can use DNA tools to drive this further back into the past, but here in the US NAGPRA gets in the way. DNA studies are limited by what the tribes will allow you to do. Look at the whole Kinnewick Man controversy.

          • Campesino says:

            “Prehistoric people weren’t violent”

            This is a bit spottier. In the eastern US pretty much everyone knew that the Mississippian people were warlike. Just too much evidence in the art of warfare, trophy heads, stone maces, etc. Also, virtually every major Mississippian site had a palisade and/or a moat, and nobody ever talked about them as anything but defensive fortifications. Similar on the Plains.

            The worst miss was in the Southwest. The historic Pueblo peoples were always described as peaceful agriculturalists, even though they fought the Spanish when they showed up. I guess the assumption was that the Pueblos were peaceful among themselves but were goaded to resistance by the Spanish. This “peaceful” character was projected into the past onto the Anasazi or Ancestral Pueblo cultures. That’s certainly what we were taught.

            In the mid-1970s I was excavating a site in the Four Corners area that was a few hundred yards from a site that was dug the previous year that had contained skeletal remains of 30+ people who had been killed, butchered and cooked. My crew had a lot of the people who had worked on that and we talked about it a lot. I didn’t have any evidence of cannibalism on my site, but did have a triple murder. A man and woman in their 20s had been killed (we weren’t sure how) and were thrown head-first into a kiva ventilator shaft. A child, probably 5-7 years old, had been thrown in with them feet-first, except there were no feet or legs. The child’s body was only from the waist up. Peaceful agriculturalists?

            More and more evidence like this started accumulating and finally Christy Turner pulled it all together in the encyclopedic “Man Corn.” There was just too much data that overwhelmed all the objections. It is the consensus now.

            When we discussed older hunter-gatherer cultures, we were generally told, why would they fight, what would they fight over? Neolithic agricultural people maybe, but why the H-G people. It took physical anthropologists doing large population studies for violence in the older Archaic cultures to come to light. Larry Keeley and Steve LeBlanc use this data in their books on prehistoric warfare.

            And it goes way back. Kennewick Man had a spear point imbedded in his hip. Someone had stabbed him. He or more likely a friend, snapped the point off, and yanked the spear out of his body. He survived and the bone healed over the point.

        • Anonymous says:

          People are judging archaeologists by their public writing. How else could they? The job of academic archaeologists is to write publicly. I don’t know what “cultural resource management” means, but it doesn’t sound like it’s about publicly writing about movements of people. But, again, I don’t know.

          • Campesino says:

            I would suggest you broaden your reading, at least into North American archaeology. Try some of these. And actually all of them are written by academics

            Larry Keeley “War before Civilization”

            Steve LeBlanc “Prehistoric Warfare in the American Southwest”

            Christy Turner “Man Corn”

            All books on prehistoric warfare, violence, and cannibalism.

            Steve Lekson “A History of the Ancient Southwest”

            This book covers migrations, warfare, and reconstructs prehistoric political systems in the American Southwest.

            Tim Pauketat “Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi”

            This book talks about the hugely important site of Cahokia, located across the Mississippi from St. Louis. He documents the migration of people from all over the Midwest into the Cahokia area in the mid AD 1000s, where the population eventually reached ca 200,000. He also documents warfare, violence, and human sacrifice that took place in and around there

    • JayMan says:

      Australia, huh?

      • Fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        You know, I was alive in Australia in the ’60s and lived in the Northern part were there were many full-blood Aborigines (like those in the picture, and that is a technical term, BTW), and never saw anything like that photo above. Admittedly, I turned 5 in 1960 but that would have stood out in my mind.

        Of course, I do realize that it is a real photo, not a staged one, and where there is conflict over resources …

        • dearieme says:

          If not staged, it must presumably be a jail photo. In which case there will presumably be a similar one somewhere of chained whites.

          • ChrisB says:

            I’ve read a discussion about this tweet, which concluded that the claim is complete fiction: aborigines were never classified as animals and never came under the “Flora and Fauna Act”, which perhaps did not exist. The photo is presumably genuine.

          • dearieme says:

            “the claim is complete fiction”: that would not be in the least surprising. Apart from the usual Marxisant reasons to lie about Australian history, there seemed to me when I lived there to be people who longed for Australia to have had a history as exciting, and ferocious, and vivid, and bloody, as that of the Americas. Exploring harsh terrain, and mastering the use of the land for cattle and sheep, was obviously not dramatic enough.

          • Anonymous says:

            The Flora and Fauna Act is fictitious, but it is true that before 1967 were not counted for purposes of allocating seats.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            I read a history of Australia about five years ago. The biggest event in it was getting Saturdays off.

          • John Hostetler says:

            Seems that to obtain real drama, a few Siberman genes on each side are required – Spartans versus Persians, Sioux versus the Garry Owen.

            Victorians versus Dreamtimers doesn’t cut it.

      • Fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        I guess my question is: What was the point of the photo?

        If photography had been invented, say, 200 years earlier we might have photos of, say, black people in Africa put in chains by other black people who were intent on selling them, or white Slavs in chains or Chinese in chains …

        The photo seems to perpetuate the myth that white people (what ever they are) invented slavery.

      • syon says:

        Some estimates for the Aboriginal death toll during the English Conquest of Australia:
        Australia (1788-1921) 240,000 Aboriginal deaths
        Mark Cocker, Rivers of Blood, Rivers of Gold (1998)
        Australian mainland
        Ongoing frontier war: 2,000-2,500 whites and 20,000 Aborigines KIA (“best guess”, probably higher)
        General population decline: from 1M (1788) to 50,000 (ca. 1890) to 30,000 (1920s)
        Jared Diamond, The Third Chimpanzee (1993)
        Decline of the Aborigines
        From 300,000 (in 1788) to 60,000 (in 1921)
        Extermination of the Tasmanians
        From 5,000 (in 1800) to 200 (in 1830) to 3 (in 1869) to none (1877)
        Clodfelter: 2,500 Eur. and 20,000 Aborigines k. in wars, 1840-1901
        Bill Bryson, In a Sunburned Country (2001): 20,000 intentionally killed by whites.
        Joseph Glascott, “600,000 Aborigines Died After 1788, Study Shows”, Sydney Morning Herald, February 25, 1987

        http://necrometrics.com/wars19c.htm

        • syon says:

          RE: the legal status of Aborigines:

          1. The Application of British Law to Aborigines.
            With the colonisation of Australia after 1788, a new legal regime was applied,
            based on the common law. The Colonial Office treated Australia, for the
            purposes of its acquisition and the application of English law, as a settled
            colony, that is, one uninhabited by a recognised sovereign or by a people With
            recognisable institutions and laws.[11]
            Thus there were no treaties concluded with Aboriginal group,[12]
            and no arrangements were made with them to acquire their land, or to regulate
            dealings between them and the colonists.

          http://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/4.%20Aboriginal%20Customary%20Laws%20and%20Anglo-Australian%20Law%20After%201788/australian-law-applied

          • epoch2013 says:

            Did you actually read that law text? Because it meant that, since this was land directly claimed by the British state, that had no previous rule yet had inhabitants, these inhabitants – i.e. the aboriginals – were proper British subject, with exactly the same legal position.

          • syon says:

            epoch2013:”Did you actually read that law text? Because it meant that, since this was land directly claimed by the British state, that had no previous rule yet had inhabitants, these inhabitants – i.e. the aboriginals – were proper British subject, with exactly the same legal position.”

            But, on the other hand, it also meant that lands inhabited by Aboriginals could simply be taken.No need for treaties or negotiations.

          • syon says:

            epoch2013:”Did you actually read that law text? Because it meant that, since this was land directly claimed by the British state, that had no previous rule yet had inhabitants, these inhabitants – i.e. the aboriginals – were proper British subject, with exactly the same legal position.”

            And here is a passage spelling out the consequences of that policy:

            Non-Recognition in other Contexts: Land Rights and
            Civil Law. As this brief account reveals, most, if not all, of the
            debate was focused on the criminal law (and on problems of Aboriginal evidence
            in criminal cases). This obscured what was perhaps the more fundamental point,
            which was never questioned or debated — that is, the complete absence of
            recognition of Aboriginal rights to land, or of the recognition of Aboriginal
            customary laws in the civil law. Aborigines were not treated as trespassers on
            Crown land, but the Crown freely alienated land to settlers who then displaced
            local Aborigines, often by force.[63]
            Aboriginal marriages were not recognised[64]
            and rights to the custody of children were precarious or non-existent. Although
            Aborigines as British subjects had formal capacity to make contracts, to own
            property, and to sue in the courts,[65]
            in practice these facilities were irrelevant.

        • dearieme says:

          Bit what are the estimates worth? Keith Windschuttle has demonstrated that much of the stuff passed off as history on that subject is wild exaggeration, and some of it downright lies.

          It would be a miracle if their had been no murders of Abos, yet when he looked at particular examples he found the evidence to be feeble or plain fabricated.

          I dare say that much of the decline in the Abo population was by disease, just as it was in the Americas. In Tasmania, in particular, much of it was achieved by Abo males selling their women to the crews of whalers.

          The plight of the Abos is heart-breaking, but God knows what should be done about it.

          • syon says:

            dearime:”Bit what are the estimates worth?”

            Estimates are always problematic.However, 20,000 Aboriginals dead due to violent encounters with British settlers sounds quite plausible to me.

            “Keith Windschuttle has demonstrated that much of the stuff passed off as history on that subject is wild exaggeration, and some of it downright lies”

            Windschuttle is hardy lacking in bias..

            “It would be a miracle if their had been no murders of Abos, yet when he looked at particular examples he found the evidence to be feeble or plain fabricated.”

            Some of Windschutte’s claims are quite debatable. For example, I recall him arguing that it was simply impossible for x number of Britons to kill y number of Aboriginals.Similar claims have been made by Mongol apologists (E.g., “Genghis Khan could never have killed that many people; it’s logistically impossible, etc”). Of course, Rwanda has demonstrated how large death tolls can be attained by men armed with primitive weapons.

            ” I dare say that much of the decline in the Abo population was by disease, just as it was in the Americas.”

            Well, yes.As White’s statistics demonstrate, only a small percentage of the deaths (roughly 20,000) were due to direct violence.The remaining 200,000 deaths were due to disease and famine.

          • syon says:

            While we are on it, here are White’s figures for Maori deaths during the conquest of New Zealand:

            New Zealand (1800s) 200,000
            Mark Cocker, Rivers of Blood, Rivers of Gold (1998)
            Maori pop: 240,000 (pre-contact) to 40,000 (1896)
            Clodfelter, Maori War (1860-72)
            UK, NZ: 700 k.
            Maori: 2,000

            And here are the estimates for Amerind deaths in the USA:

            United States, eradication of the American Indians (1775-1890) 350,000
            Russel Thornton, American Indian Holocaust and Survival (1987)
            Overall decline
            From 600,000 (in 1800) to 250,000 (in 1890s)
            Indian Wars, from a 1894 report by US Census, cited by Thornton. Includes men, woman and children killed, 1775-1890:
            Individual conflicts:
            Whites: 5,000
            Indians: 8,500
            Wars under the gov’t:
            Whites: 14,000
            Indians: 30-45,000
            TOTAL:
            Whites: 19,000
            Indians: 38,500 to 53,500
            TOTAL: 65,000 ± 7,500

          • syon says:

            Ranking the number of deaths by direct violence for the three Anglo Settler nations:

            USA:
            TOTAL:
            Whites: 19,000
            Indians: 38,500 to 53,500
            TOTAL: 65,000 ± 7,500

            Australia:

            Ongoing frontier war: 2,000-2,500 whites and 20,000 Aborigines KIA (“best guess”, probably higher)

            Total:22,500+

            New Zealand:

            UK, NZ: 700 k.
            Maori: 2,000

            Total: 2,700

          • dearieme says:

            I suppose you’d better calculate totals for the Amerindian guilt for the deaths in the Old World from syphilis, and USAian responsibility for the huge death tolls from the so-called “Spanish flu”. Blame the Mongols for introducing the Black Death into Europe. Then blame the Chinese for introducing it into Central Asia. And earlier, who should we blame for The Plague of Justinian?

          • syon says:

            dearieme:”I suppose you’d better calculate totals for the Amerindian guilt for the deaths in the Old World from syphilis, and USAian responsibility for the huge death tolls from the so-called “Spanish flu”. Blame the Mongols for introducing the Black Death into Europe. Then blame the Chinese for introducing it into Central Asia. And earlier, who should we blame for The Plague of Justinian?”

            Actually, White is rather good on this point.Here he is discussing the role of disease in the the conquest of the Americas:

            “In American Holocaust, Stannard estimates the total cost of the near-extermination of the American Indians as 100,000,000.

            The problem here (aside from the question of whether there were even this many people in hemisphere at all) is that Stannard doesn’t differentiate between death by massacre and death by disease. He blames the Europeans for bringing new diseases which spread like wildfire — often faster than than the Europeans themselves — and depopulated the continent. Since no one disputes the fact that most of the native deaths were caused by alien diseases to which they had never developed immunity, the simple question of categorization is vital.

            Traditionally we add death by disease and famine into the total cost of wars and massacres (Anne Frank, after all, died of typhus, not Zyklon-B, but she’s still a victim of the Holocaust) so I don’t see any problem with doing the same with the American genocides, provided that the deaths occurred after their society had already been disrupted by direct European hostility. If a tribe was enslaved or driven off its lands, the associated increase in deaths by disease would definitely count toward the atrocity (The chain of events which reduced the Indian population of California from 85,000 in 1852 to 18,000 in 1890 certainly counts regardless of the exact agent of death, because by this time, the Indians were being hunted down from one end of California to another.); however, if a tribe was merely sneezed on by the wrong person at first contact, it should not count.

            Consider the Powhatans of Virginia. As I mentioned earlier, Stannard cites estimates that the population was 100,000 before contact. In the same paragraph, he states that European depredations and disease had reduced this population to a mere 14,000 by the time the English settled Jamestown in 1607. Now, come on; should we really blame the English for 86,000 deaths that occured before they even arrived? Sure, he hints at pre-Jamestown “depredations”, but he doesn’t actually list any. As far as I can tell, the handful of European ventures into the Chesapeake region before 1607 were too small to do much depredating, and in what conflicts there were, the Europeans often got the worst of it. [see http://www.mariner.org/baylink/span.html and http://www.nps.gov/fora/roanokerev.htm and http://coastalguide.com/packet/lostcolony01.htm%5D

            Think of it this way: if the Europeans had arrived with the most benign intentions and behaved like perfect guests, or for that matter, if Aztec sailors had been the ones to discover Europe instead of vice versa, then the Indians would still have been exposed to unfamiliar diseases and the population would still have been scythed by massive epidemics, but we’d just lump it into the same category as the Black Death, i.e. bad luck. (Curiously, the Black Death was brought to Europe by the Mongols. Should we blame them for it? And while we’re tossing blame around willy-nilly, aren’t the Native Americans responsible for introducing tobacco to the world — and for the 90 million deaths which followed?)”

          • Jim says:

            A. L. Kroeber estimated the number of American Indians north of the present Mexican border as a little over 1 million at the time of Columbus. Now we get estimates of 100,000 for one Algonquin tribe.

          • ChrisB says:

            Syon: “Estimates are always problematic.However, 20,000 Aboriginals dead due to violent encounters with British settlers sounds quite plausible to me.”

            If the same source estimates 2000-2500 dead on the British side, these looks like the kind of casualties you’d expect in conflicts where one side has far more advanced weaponry than the other (as in the 1991 Gulf War, for example), not like a genocidal massacre. Not to say there weren’t any massacres of aboriginals by whites, but some historians may have distorted the picture.

          • epoch2013 says:

            @syon

            “Traditionally we add death by disease and famine into the total cost of wars and massacres (Anne Frank, after all, died of typhus, not Zyklon-B, but she’s still a victim of the Holocaust) so I don’t see any problem with doing the same with the American genocides, provided that the deaths occurred after their society had already been disrupted by direct European hostility.”

            That directly contradicts what you said earlier:

            “He blames the Europeans for bringing new diseases which spread like wildfire — often faster than than the Europeans themselves — and depopulated the continent. ”

            So you debunked yourself.

          • epoch2013 says:

            @syon

            debunked it yourself, that should have stated. But you already made the point, i saw.

          • syon says:

            epoch2013:”Did you actually read that law text? Because it meant that, since this was land directly claimed by the British state, that had no previous rule yet had inhabitants, these inhabitants – i.e. the aboriginals – were proper British subject, with exactly the same legal position.”

            And here is a passage spelling out the consequences of that policy:

            1. Non-Recognition in other Contexts: Land Rights and
              Civil Law. As this brief account reveals, most, if not all, of the
              debate was focused on the criminal law (and on problems of Aboriginal evidence
              in criminal cases). This obscured what was perhaps the more fundamental point,
              which was never questioned or debated — that is, the complete absence of
              recognition of Aboriginal rights to land, or of the recognition of Aboriginal
              customary laws in the civil law. Aborigines were not treated as trespassers on
              Crown land, but the Crown freely alienated land to settlers who then displaced
              local Aborigines, often by force.[63]
              Aboriginal marriages were not recognised[64]
              and rights to the custody of children were precarious or non-existent. Although
              Aborigines as British subjects had formal capacity to make contracts, to own
              property, and to sue in the courts,[65]
              in practice these facilities were irrelevant.
          • syon says:

            epoch2013:”@syon

            “Traditionally we add death by disease and famine into the total cost of wars and massacres (Anne Frank, after all, died of typhus, not Zyklon-B, but she’s still a victim of the Holocaust) so I don’t see any problem with doing the same with the American genocides, provided that the deaths occurred after their society had already been disrupted by direct European hostility.”

            That directly contradicts what you said earlier:

            “He blames the Europeans for bringing new diseases which spread like wildfire — often faster than than the Europeans themselves — and depopulated the continent. ”

            So you debunked it yourself.”

            Well, this is Matthew White’s argument, not mine.As for debunking the arguments of extremists like Stannard, White seems to be trying to navigate a middle course.On the one hand, he does not think that all deaths from disease should be counted in the genocide docket.As he notes in the case of pre-colonial Virginia, Amerinds were dying from Old World diseases well before the English arrived in force.On the other hand, however, he does think that deaths from disease that occurred in the context of war or forced removal should be (cf his citing of Anne Frank).Frankly, I haven’t made up my mind on that part of the equation.

          • syon says:

            jim:”A. L. Kroeber estimated the number of American Indians north of the present Mexican border as a little over 1 million at the time of Columbus. Now we get estimates of 100,000 for one Algonquin tribe.”

            Yeah, White found that figure hard to swallow:

            “I’ve graphed the estimates chronlogically to show that the passage of time and the gathering of more information is still not leading toward a consensus. Over the past 75 years, estimates have bounced around wildly and ended up right back where they started — around 40 million [for the population of the New World in 1492]

            I’ve also graphed the population of Europe in 1500 because this is magic number to which many of the estimates aspire. Native American history is traditionally treated as marginal — a handful of primitive kingdoms that were easily overwhelmed by the most dynamic civilization on Earth — but if it could somehow be proven that the Americas had even more people than Europe, then history would be turned upside down. The European conquest could be treated as the tail wagging the dog, like the Barbarian invasions of Rome, a small fringe of savages decending on the civilized world, wiping out or enslaving the bulk of humanity.

            The advocates of large numbers, however, are often their own worst enemies. On page 33 of American Holocaust, David Stannard declares, “[P]robably about 25,000,000 people, or about seven times the number living in all of England, were residing in and around the great Valley of Mexico at the time of Columbus’s arrival in the New World”.

            Now, I’ve been to England, and I can vouch that the English have left their mark on the land. You can’t throw a brick in England without hitting some relic of the earlier inhabitants — castles, cathedrals, Roman walls and roads, Stonehenge, etc. — not to mention books, tools, coins, weapons and all the little pieces of the past that turn up anytime someone plows a field or cleans their attic.

            Now go back and read what Stannard has written. I’m sure that the point that he’s trying to make is that since there were seven times as many Mexicans as English, truly the Mexicans were seven times more civilized than the English, so if anyone deserved to be called “savages”, it’s the English. Unfortunately, the point that nags at me is “If there were seven times as many people in Mexico, shouldn’t there be seven times as many relics in Mexico?” Yes, I’ve read the archaeological reports that discuss irrigation systems, and I’ve seen the big, colorful picture books showing jungle-encrusted ruins of ancient pyramids, but the fact is that seven times the population of England should have left behind a lot more stuff than that.

            I find the estimates for Virginia even more awkward because I live here. Stannard estimates the population of Powhatan’s Confederation at 100,000, yet there’s not a single site in the Virginia Tidewater that remotely hints at the complex infrastructure necessary to support even half this number. There’s not one ruin of any permanent building. Artifacts of any kind are rare — barely even a single burial mound worth pilfering. And it’s not like there’s some forgotten ghost town deep in the desert or jungle waiting to be discovered. This is Virginia. It’s been settled, plowed and excavated for 400 years.

            I also find it difficult to believe that the Europeans obliterated all traces of the earlier inhabitants. After all, I’ve been to Germany too. I’ve seen that bombed-out cities still have a substantial presence of the past, and I doubt that the conquistadores could be more destructive than a flock of B-17s. [n.3]

            In any case, the median of all the estimates charted above is 40 million. It’s the type of number that half the experts would consider impossibly big, and the other half would consider impossibly low, so it’s probably exactly right.

          • Sam says:

            For some reason, Dearieme seems a bit too sensitive on this subject.

          • epoch2013 says:

            @syon

            Most of these estimates – those who wish to read out of interest in the subject rather than read activist books should avoid books called “American holocaust”, mind you – are simply wrong. Read Josephine Floods book The Original Australians.

            Furthermore read 1491 By Michael Mann for evidence on Indians.

            Both books make very clear that violence did exist, massacres did occur (on both sides, mind you), but that the demise of both the Indians and the Aboriginals can’t be due to genocide.

          • ursiform says:

            1491 is by Charles Mann. It is a good book.

      • MawBTS says:

        If anyone curious, Australian Aborigines weren’t counted in the census until 1967, but the “Aborigines were classed as animals” thing appears to be a legend. Nobody can find a contemporary reference for Aboriginess being considered wildlife, and no such thing as a “Flora And Fauna Act” existed in 1967.

        • The Believer says:

          Yeah, and anyone who brings it up is engaging in an even more moronic version of the ‘blacks were only counted as three fifths of a human being! that’s horrible’ ‘argument’.

          Aborigines were not counted in the census, because giving more power to states on the basis of people who didn’t vote didn’t make a great deal of sense. In the US, those states where slavery was common managed to bargain their ‘free votes’ up to 3/5ths of each non-voting person. The Australian situation is obviously the better one, and I’m not just saying that because it’s hilarious that it is ‘more racist’ to the minds of the morons who harp on these things.

          • MawBTS says:

            I don’t think that was the reason they weren’t counted.

            The aboriginal population has always been tiny. Australia had twelve million people in 1969, with full-blood Aborigines numbering in the tens of thousands to low hundreds of thousands. And most of the Aboriginal population is disinterested politically (although Australia has compulsory voting, many state and local elections don’t). They wouldn’t be creating a powerful new voting block.

      • Toad says:

        He should let them go loose.

        • Toddy Cat says:

          “However, 20,000 Aboriginals dead due to violent encounters with British settlers sounds quite plausible to me.”

          Well, that settles it, then…

          • syon says:

            “However, 20,000 Aboriginals dead due to violent encounters with British settlers sounds quite plausible to me.”

            Toddy Cat:”Well, that settles it, then…”

            Well, if you want more detail as to why it sounds plausible, I’ve read a fair number of primary accounts of British vs Aboriginal encounters in the 18th and 19th centuries.Again and again you come across references to punitive expeditions. A White man gets killed by some Aborigines and a group of Whites ride out, killing a dozen or so Aboriginals in revenge.Rinse and repeat a dozen times per year for a 100 years. That will get you 14,400 Aboriginal deaths right there.

            Things add up over time.

          • syon says:

            epoch23:”Most of these estimates – those who wish to read out of interest in the subject rather than read activist books should avoid books called “American holocaust”, mind you – are simply wrong. Read Josephine Floods book The Original Australians.”

            Or, as Matthew White writes:

            “Pre-Columbian Population:

            Pick a number, any number.

            Sometimes it seems that this is the way historians decide how many Indians lived in the Americas before the European Contact. As The New York Public Library American History Desk Reference puts it, “Estimates of the Native American population of the Americas, all completely unscientific, range from 15 to 60 million.” And even this cynical assessment is wrong. The estimates range from 8 to 145 million.

            If you want to study the question of pre-Columbian population and its subsequent decline in detail, two good books to start with are David Henige, Numbers From Nowhere (1998) and Russell Thornton, American Indian Holocaust and Survival (1987).”

            Henige’s book is quite good, as it shows how truly uncertain our population estimates are.

            epoch23:”Furthermore read 1491 By Michael Mann for evidence on Indians.”

            I have; it’s quite good but a tad overly enthusiastic:

            “It must be remembered that Mann is a journalist, and an advocate journalist at that. This leads him to make claims that may be overenthusiastic, for surely the South American forest that we see now (or what remains of it) cannot have been totally managed by humans, nor were Indians of the hemisphere always winners in managing their environment—there are abundant data to show that the Classic Maya greatly overexploited theirs, leading to the great collapse of the 9th century a.d. Mann also has a tendency to believe the last scholar he interviewed. Regarding Mesoamerica, he entirely accepts the downgrading of the Olmec from their status as the earliest civilization and mother culture of Mesoamerica to being just one of a number of “sister cultures.” But few specialists who have actually excavated Olmec sites (including me) would agree with this. Likewise, he uncritically believes that the so-called “epi-Olmec” script of southern Veracruz has been deciphered, a view that most Mesoamerican epigraphers have, in fact, rejected.”

            http://www.americanscientist.org/bookshelf/pub/the-old-new-world

            epoch23:”Both books make very clear that violence did exist, massacres did occur (on both sides, mind you), but that the demise of both the Indians and the Aboriginals can’t be due to genocide.”

            Well, yeah. Activists aside, most people acknowledge the fact that Old World diseases were the real killer.

        • J says:

          The populations mentioned here are imaginary. Steppe nomads are difficult to count, but we have reliable countings in comparable environments. Genghis Khan made a census of the Mongols and related peoples for the purpose of obligatory military service. In 2 million square kilometers of grassland he counted one million individuals so he was able to organize ten tumans (10,000 nominal strength each). It included north Siberian forest peoples and Evenkis.
          Regarding settled populations, we have very reliable census data for the Inca empire, for several centuries, because the Spanish colonial government financed itself by imposing head tax on each adult Indian. The Indians also had the obligation of serve one month per year in the mitas, that is, the Potosi silver mines. The first census gave about one million Andean indians, of which about ten percent paid the tax and served in the mines, but they decreased in each census because of the loss of land and the killer mines, but later in the 1850 it had reached its original strength. Today they are in the tens of millions. Spanish colonialism tried rationally to optimize the degree of explotation to extract maximum taxes and work from the native population. They instituted royal officers called Protectors of the Indians to defend them against overexploitation and the decrease of their numbers.
          Regarding the pampa indians, the Argentine state made two extermination campaigns against them and the number of killed was carefully counted and registered (the soldiers were paid per dead indian). The total of documented Indians killed in one million sq. km. grasslands was less than 2000 – partly because some groups ucceeded in escaping to Chile and then, females and children were enslaved.

      • Anonymous says:

        This is closer to the truth chubs. Nice try.

        • georgesdelatour says:

          “Traditionally we add death by disease and famine into the total cost of wars and massacres (Anne Frank, after all, died of typhus, not Zyklon-B, but she’s still a victim of the Holocaust) so I don’t see any problem with doing the same with the American genocides, provided that the deaths occurred after their society had already been disrupted by direct European hostility.”

          The Anne Frank example doesn’t show that it’s right to classify everyone who died of typhus between 1939 and 1945 as a victim of the Holocaust. She died in Bergen-Belsen: that fact is vital, surely. The deaths from the 1918 flu pandemic were definitely exacerbated by the privations of the First World War, but we don’t just add the 100 million victims of the pandemic to the 16 million war dead.

  3. Matt says:

    Seems like these smart guys had better models than geneticists from 5 years ago thinking about no change since Neolithic “explosion” and replacement as well, who had wrong priors for other reasons. Maybe we’d call them crazy if we wanted to…

  4. Sean says:

    it’s not about what actually happened in history, it’s about seeing through the nastiness to the actual eternal truth of what humans are supposed to be like, which is called hope.

    Science has no more privilege that religion when it comes to asserting history which challenges the settled assumptions of hope in the modern West. Once it becomes clear that they can’t be convinced by arguments, dissident scientists become no different to violent religoius fanatics.

    Hobbs’s Leviathan:- “because the purpose of the commonwealth is peace, and the sovereign has the right to do whatever he thinks necessary for the preserving of peace and security and prevention of discord. Therefore, the sovereign may judge what opinions and doctrines are averse, who shall be allowed to speak to multitudes, and who shall examine the doctrines of all books before they are published.”

  5. dave chamberlin says:

    The zeitgeist, which is the spirit of the times, in the 1970’s was nuts. I was a college student at the time and people did things like hold hands across the nation to make the world a better place. I was invited to partake in this world changing event but i was a rude asshole to keep asking how this was going to work. The dipshittery of the times pervaded a lot of bad science, we had a whole branch of psychology based on I’m OK you’re OK, but the leader of this nonsense killed himself and then it wasn’t OK anymore.

    • Fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      Heh, this is the modern version of holding hands to solve the world’s problems:

      http://www.pressherald.com/2014/10/31/state-files-petition-to-force-nurse-to-follow-cdc-guidelines/

      “I know as a global community, we can end Ebola,” she said.

    • doombuggy says:

      hold hands across the nation… how this was going to work

      Walter Cronkite had some riff about everyone lying down in front of Soviet tanks to stop any attack. “What could they do?” he asked. I think it was Buckley who replied, “about twenty miles an hour in third gear.”

      • gcochran9 says:

        Cronkite was one of the top reporters covering WWII. He landed in a glider with the 101st Airborne in Market-Garden. He flew in B-17 raids over Germany (manning a machine gun). I don’t believe he said that. Someone probably did – but not him.

        • Toddy Cat says:

          Of course, Cronkite fought against right-wingers, and all good lefties know that violence against them is ok…

          • gcochran9 says:

            You’re ‘making a picture’ – and it’s largely incorrect. If someone was a member of the Communist party, or for that matter even a big Henry Wallace supporter, sure, some of them were gung-ho against Hitler while showing no enthusiasm for the Cold War. But there weren’t all that many people like that. Even Henry Wallace wasn’t like that!

        • MawBTS says:

          Aviators come up with awesome quotes. “You’ve never been lost until you’ve been lost at Mach 3” (Paul F Crickmore) and “Yea, though I fly through the valley of the Shadow of Death, I shall fear no evil, for I am at 50,000 feet and climbing” (sign at SR71 Wing Ops) are two good ones.

          • Toddy Cat says:

            “But there weren’t all that many people like that”

            Perhaps not, but I seem to have met an inordinate number of them – I guess that I just hang out in the wrong circles. Even so, I’d say that almost all liberals were more gung-ho for war against Hitler than they were the Cold War, at least by the late 1960’s. And Henry Wallace was either the most naïve man alive, or a total opportunist . Take your pick.

  6. a very knowing American says:

    Gordon Childe’s book “The Aryans” is available online. /archive.org/details/TheAryansAStudyOfIndo-europeanOrigins
    I’ve glanced through it. Given the state of knowledge at the time — for example, people didn’t know that the Myceneans were Greek, or even Indo-European — it seems to be strikingly accurate. It’s worth noting that at the time, one of the major alternatives to a steppe origin of Indo-Europeans was an origin in or near Germany. This was popular with German archeologists, but as GC notes, this just doesn’t work for the whole IE expansion. (GC admits that calling the founding IEs “Aryans” is a misnomer, but thinks it makes a better book title.)

    Gordon Childe was a socialist, close-to-Communist. He largely avoided mentioning this early work later in life (died 1957). Clearly the topic was uncomfortable given international politics from the 30s on.

    • John Hostetler says:

      “GC admits that calling the founding IEs “Aryans” is a misnomer, but thinks it makes a better book title.”

      Not as great a misnomer as the one we must all engage in now – using a term that conflates a language family with an ethnicity. There was nothing Indo about these people.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Back in the 1920s, it was apparently still possible to notice that skeletons (especially the skulls) from the Corded Ware culture looked noticeably different from skeletons from the earlier cultures. Somehow, this fact just evaporated. It sure didn’t bother Renfrew. I don’t know how this happened. I wonder, was this a consequence of Boas’s famous study?

      By the way, what do you think you’re doing, actually discussing the topic of the post?

      • eurogenes says:

        You’re giving too much credit to the 19th/early 20th century pro-Aryan invasion crowd. They did get some things right, but they also wrote a lot of crap. What came after WWII was in large part a reaction to this crap (and to what the Nazis did too).

        Only state-of-the-art ancient genomics can solve this problem, because unlike archeology and some guy with calipers, it’s the only way to come up with accurate data and empirical evidence.

        Rumor has it that the new Lazaridis/Reich paper on the steppe expansions will be at bioRxiv by Christmas, and I think it will be real eye opener. So we probably don’t have to wait too long for all of this stuff to get back on the right track.

        But in the end I suspect you’ll be shocked to find out how much ancestry you have from the old Western Europeans who got manhandled during the Copper Age by the invaders from the east.

        • a very knowing American says:

          Gordon Childe is aware, and critical, of a lot of crap floating around regarding Aryans in his day. He particularly singles out Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who is genuinely awful, for criticism.

          Jared Diamond gets it right in “The Third Chimpanzee.” He considers both the First Farmers theory and the steppe theory of IE origins, and concludes that the historical linguists know what they’re doing, so the second theory is probably right.

  7. peter connor says:

    Simple explanation for the rise of feel good archaeology; takeover by cultural marxists and the massive entry of women into the field, which after all required no math skills.

  8. Let it therefore be a cautionary tale, that we are not cut from any finer cloth, and are as easily duped as they. A Greg Cochran 70 years hence will note our blind spots, stunned that such otherwise intelligent folks could have believed such nonsense. In the 1970’s I thought that RD Laing had it right and Virginia Satir was a visionary,; and in the 1980’s I believed that neurolinguistic programming was a good first approximation of how neurosis should be treated. I didn’t start to wake up until it occurred to me that recovered memory and ritual satanic abuse were just plain unlikely, however many experts said they were true.

    By definition we do not see the things we do not see, and don’t have a good platform for self-observation. It is why reading things from other centuries is even more important than reading things from other cultures.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I think we can do better. But let me say this: we would, among other things, need to have a different recruitment system, one that brought in a lot fewer people who were born fools. People vary in their level of silliness and mental independence, just as they vary in height and strength and intelligence, and the softer sciences are a haven for people who shouldn’t be doing research at all.

      For example, a graduate student in anthropology once said (to me) that maybe male dogs really were helping take care of their puppies – secretly, in a way that no one had ever noticed over the past few thousand years. Not Jim Kjelgaard, not Albert Payson Terhune, not Lassie’s Timmy. Probably she should be doing something else.

      I don’t think it’s just a problem of not seeing what we don’t see – we’re talking about people not seeing what people already knew, in some cases not seeing what essentially everybody knew for all of recorded history. Obviously we can do better if we did better in the past – what has been, can be again. I see no reason why we couldn’t reach a ‘permanently high plateau’.

      • Re: the graduate student. People who just wanted to learn cool secret knowledge not known to masses used to go in for the occult. Now, apparently, it’s graduate school. It’s a better gig for them, but I’m not sure it’s a net improvement for us. I’m not sure the Rosicrucians ever did us much harm or asked us for much money for their studies.

        And yes, progress is possible and to be hoped for. We are not locked in seasonal time forever and some things are better.

      • JayMan says:

        Perhaps this might have something to do with it. Far from everything, but still something:

        • Philip Neal says:

          Historical linguists generally have a background in classics or Asian languages: high verbal intelligence and high intellectual standards but without the background in statistics to understand the new genetic results.

        • IC says:

          Health proffessionals in your chart is physicians or non-physicians types like nurses?

  9. andres says:

    Those who deny that invasions placed such a huge part in ancient history are probably the first to decry the invasion of the American continent by European conquerors after 1492

  10. dave chamberlin says:

    The writing in this and many other Cochran pieces is clearly superior to anything that the syndicated newspaper columnists blab on about. But It looks like the art of good writing of the ranks of Mencken or Royko are a thing of the past, back when newspapers were to be taken seriously and the individual talents of newspaper columnists were deservedly highly respected. I took a shot at the craziness of the 1970’s now let me bitch about present day idiocy. Where in the hell have our thoughtful writers gone? The newspapers are a joke and you can’t put enough filters on the junk on the internet to distill the Amazon river of words that pours forth down to the few gems worth reading. Now everyone has a blog and they all suck…OK…one notable exception. We have always had morons at the wheel of the ship, now we don’t even have clever wordsmiths to remind us of this.

    • I would say that Mencken and Royko had easily as many blind spots as a George Will or a Maureen Dowd.

      Okay, may be not Dowd. But you take my point: a lot of fools wrote in earlier eras as well, and even the best of them were flawed.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        Royko had more than blind spots, he was typically drunk on his ass down at the Billy Goat Tavern after work every day. But he man that guy could write, and he didn’t limit himself to the blathering bullshit that invariably belches forth from all political pundits. Now I am very biased and I admit it. To me politics is inherently small minded, depressing, and emotionally foolish. Science and history enlarge me, politics disgusts me. Maybe Dowd and Will are good writers, I wouldn’t know. I always find better things to do than to read them.

        I recently had an epiphany about politics. I’m stuck in my car commuting many hours every week with nothing better to do than listen to bad radio. The political talk radio is far more insulting to anyone that can think than the sports talk radio. There is a liberal talk radio show and a conservative talk radio program. There is no equivalent sports talk radio show of equal stupidity, that would be like one show that praises the Chicago Cubs constantly and forever bashes the White Sox while another down the dial another does the opposite. On sports talk radio average IQ people call in and discuss why the shortstop has slipped below replacement level using multiple mathematical factors. This kind of analysis flies way over the head of our most respected political poobahs like George Will or Maureen Dowd.

  11. Philip Neal says:

    Linguistics believes in its own innocence? Witches always do, as recent research has shown.

    From Languages and History: Japanese, Korean and Altaic by Roy Andrew Miller (1996):

    “On 15 December 1989 I terminated my employment at the University of Washington in Seattle. During most of the ca. two decades that I worked there, several circumstances had made it increasingly difficult for me to conduct research on the history of Japanese and Korean. In particular, studies that, like those which interested me, involved issues of historical linguistics and philological investigation confronted an increasingly hostile reception from both university administration and colleagues, and the resulting atmosphere of distrust and jealousy mitigated against the accomplishment of most scientific work, my own included.”

    Miller took up an appointment in Germany during which he delivered a lecture on his work to an invited, interdisciplinary audience.

    “After the lecture, a German physicist somewhat younger than I, who had been in the audience, took me aside and asked, “Do you mean all that stuff about Grimm’s Law is really true?” When I showed by my expression that his question puzzled me, he went on to explain, ‘Of course we learned about all that sound-law-business when I was a student. But that was during the Third Reich, when most of what we were taught was nonsense; and I’ve always assumed that Grimm’s Law and all that was Nazi nonsense as well.'”

    Assistant Village Idiot has a point. You will not establish who is right just by studying the biases at work. The decipherment of Mayan was held up for years because the clue was buried in Russian language journals and dismissed because it was sandwiched inside Soviet propaganda. I have my own doubts about climate change, because look at all those anti-fracking protesters in their litter-strewn camps. Why, I remember when it was cruise missiles and they nearly lost us the Cold War. I know their opinions are worthless, but that doesn’t mean that mine are true.

    • dearieme says:

      Grimm’s Law survived to be taught in the secondary schools of firmly anti-Nazi Britain in the 50s and 60s. At least, it was taught in mine. Not that a big meal was made of it: it’s just that so much about languages seems utterly arbitrary to the schoolboy that the discovery of a regularity lodges (imperfectly) in the memory. Better than more bloody conjugations and declensions anyway.

      • Seth Long says:

        Grimm’s Law is still taught in U.S. schools and textbooks at the graduate level. A Nazi connection was never mentioned in my program. The comparative method is also still taught, as a flawed though basic tool without which you couldn’t do much reconstructive work at all.

    • Paul Conroy says:

      @Philip Neal,

      Very interesting about Grimm’s Law being discredited due to association with Nazi’s.

      We may be entering an era where another piece of Nazi propaganda, is seen to actually be correct, namely Himmler’s search for the origins of the Aryans in the Himalayas!

      Now if we substitute “Proto-Indo-European speakers” for Aryans and the look in the foothills of the Himalayas, we find the Kalash and Nuristanis, and we also find s sea of Satem languages and one or two odd Centum languages, where they shouldn’t be. The Kalash have the Blue eyes associated with Western Hunter Gatherers (and possibly Eastern Hunter Gatherers also), along with high ANE (Ancient North Eurasian) affinity, but no Lactase Persistence – so probably NOT derived from the Steppe, where either horse or cow milk was consumed in large quantities – but rather one possible source of the Steppe population.

      Then if you factor in the fact the some scholars have pointed out the links between proto-indo-european and ancient Chinese, such as here:

      http://languagehat.com/chinese-and-indo-european-roots-and-analogues/

      Especially this one:
      http://sino-platonic.org/complete/spp007_old_chinese.pdf

      It all points towards the conclusion that groups like the Tocharians and the Kalash are potentially closer to the source population(s) for the Indo-Europeans, rather than far flung outliers.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        Couldn’t you get the same effect with two waves – a centum wave that spread from somewhere on the steppe as far as Orkney and the Himalayas and a second wave that expanded from a similar spot and over-wrote the first wave in many but not all of the places the first wave had reached – hence isolated groups in remote areas on the fringe of the first wave’s expansion.

        ” but no Lactase Persistence – so probably NOT derived from the Steppe”

        If there was a first wave characterized more by ox-drawn wagons and sheep/goats and a second wave characterized more by horses and cattle then maybe that would explain it?

        • Paul Conroy says:

          @Grey,

          Very good points – that would certainly explain a few observations!

          Centum languages are often areas where Y-DNA R1b predominate, while Satem languages are often areas where R1a, especially R1a1a predominate.

          IMO, R1b initially spread from South of the Caspian, whereas R1a initially spread from North of the Caspian, on the Steppes proper.

        • Paul Conroy says:

          Also, Felix Chandrakumar has uploaded more Ancient DNA samples to GEDMatch, this time the samples from the Great Hungarian Plain, see here:

          http://www.y-str.org/p/ancient-dna.html

          Seems that I highly match this Bronze Age sample:
          BR2 Ludas-Varjú-dűlő, Hungary F999933 Male J-M67 K1a1a 1110-1270 cal BC

          Here are the results for myself, my father (Native Irish) and my mother (Anglo-Irish+Native Irish+French Huguenot)

          I use the following criteria:
          Minimum threshold size to be included in total = 100 SNPs
          Mismatch-bunching Limit = 50 SNPs
          Minimum segment cM to be included in total = 1.0 cM

          Comparing Kit M011125 (Paul Conroy) and F999933 (BR2)
          Largest segment = 6.1 cM
          Total of segments > 1 cM = 1221.2 cM

          Comparing Kit M112317 (Michael Conroy) and F999933 (BR2)
          Largest segment = 8.2 cM
          Total of segments > 1 cM = 1209.1 cM

          Comparing Kit M112434 (Margaret Conroy) and F999933 (BR2)
          Largest segment = 10.4 cM
          Total of segments > 1 cM = 1198.9 cM

          It has now been confirmed that this sample is in fact a new Y-DNA subclade under J2a-CTS900*, and shares 42 SNPs with a 1000 Genomes Puerto Rican, HG01402. Both the SNPs and the STRs indicate that BR2 is in a new CTS6804- subclade which includes Georgians, Armenians, a North Italian, and Hispanics.

          So I share more with this Bronze Age warrior from 1110-1270 BC than I share with WHG or Neolithic Europeans?!

      • Philip Neal says:

        @ Paul Conroy

        The word Aryan is undoubtedly a problem. Of course sound laws are taught to linguists but I am thinking of people who studied unrelated subjects.

        It is entirely possible that Chinese is related to Indo-European: the eminent Sinologist Edwin Pulleyblank thought so, and Christopher Beckwith (Empires of the Silk Road) seems to be working on the same lines.

        • Paul Conroy says:

          @Philip,

          Very interesting!

          If you’re a linguist, what do you make of “Dunhuang” in the Gansu corridor?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunhuang

          Dun, seems to be a cognate of the Celtic “Dun”, meaning Fortified Hilltop, from the Iron Age. Is their a similar meaning in Chinese? I see they translate it as “Blazing Beacon”, are they suggesting that Dun=Beacon?

          • Philip Neal says:

            I don’t know and it would take a lot of proving. I studied some Indo-European linguistics at university but my knowledge of Chinese linguistics is purely that of a hobbyist. Pulleyblank had some impressive possible cognates between Chinese and IE, including a series of question words beginning in kw-.

          • IC says:

            Dun = mound. (I am native Han chinese speaker from North).

          • Paul Conroy says:

            @IC,

            Very interesting – so basically the Celtic word Dun, pronounced “DOON”, has the same pronunciation and usage in Gaelic and Chinese, wow!

            The Celts would flatten a small hill, both by removing some of the top and by building up the sides, then they would erect a modest dwelling and a cattle enclosure. The purpose was to prevent cattle being raided at night.

            IMO, the Ayala Mazar-Xiaohe culture, with Indo-European and East Asian influences was situated nearby, and is probably responsible for Dunhuang. They were cattle herding and grew some grain also.

          • Paul Conroy says:

            If anyone has access to this paper, on the Ayala Mazar-Xiaohe Culture, I’d appreciate a PDF:

            http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03068374.2011.539323?journalCode=raaf20#.VFop9_l4qzY

        • Jim says:

          I believe that Greenberg said somewhere that among his super-families he suspected that Amerindian was most closely related to Euro-Asiatic.

  12. amac78 says:

    “Some graduate student ‘would soon come up with a paper ‘proving’ that the first humans in Britain weren’t immigrants at all, but purely indigenous, symbolically transformed reindeer.’”

    Amusing enough to be Google-worthy. Originally penned in an amazon.com review by one S.M. Stirling, a novelist not renowned for the peaceableness of his fantasies.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Stirling and I despise each other, but he’s not wrong in that Amazon review. Violence has always played a big role in human affairs. Lesbian superwarriors. not so much.

      • TWS says:

        I don’t think he buys everything he’s selling with ‘Xena Lesbian Princess’. But that’s his bread and butter. I think it’s also some social signaling that he’s really one of them not those bad conservatives.

  13. mindfuldrone says:

    I can beat the “symbolism of exclusion” story. A local fort with motte and Bailey and a big pile of swords is described as being “to keep wolves at bay”. As if anyone in their right mind used swords on wolves

  14. Tore says:

    A 2-year old Nicholas Wade piece;)http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/24/science/indo-european-languages-originated-in-anatolia-analysis-suggests.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
    The paper from which the piece stems from:http://www.sciencemag.org/content/337/6097/957.abstract
    Razib Khan’s critique:http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2012/08/there-are-more-things-in-prehistory-than-are-dreamt-of-in-our-urheimat/#.VFdD5_mG9S0

  15. Cattle Guard says:

    I know an archaeologist. His wife and a lot of his friends are into reenacting medieval battles and fighting in tournaments, so they apparently know that violence used to exist and even consider it pretty cool. But this is Eastern Europe. Would it be rare for a Western archaeologist to hang out in such circles?

    • Campesino says:

      I don’t know of any fellow archaeologists who have gone the “Society for Creative Anachronism” route, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there were some.

      Once you get outside of the academic community, archaeologists who work in consulting and government agencies in the US can be distressingly normal.

      • there are large numbers of archaeologists (I am one) who are hunters and fishermen
      • I know quite a few who are gun collectors, some could be considered “gun nuts”
      • most archaeologists I know are (American) football fans
      • I know a number of archaeologists who have operated small farms – real farms with tractors and soybeans and corn – not boutique organic things
      • I know one archaeologist (actually an academic) who is an insanely rabid NASCAR fan
      • one archaeologist I went to grad school with helps his family run a sheep ranch in a western state
      • I know a fair number of archaeologists who are ex-military – people who actually enlisted, weren’t drafted – and are proud of their service
      • an archaeologist I know raises bison on a ranch in a western state. the ranch is big enough that there are a number of archaeological sites on it and he lets a friend (who is an academic) hold a field school there. the rancher/archaeologist makes all the students learn to fire one of his AR-15s (on his private shooting range) while there are there
      • Cattle Guard says:

        Yeah, it does seem like a profession which would attract outdoorsy types who think weapons are cool. But I guess academia is academia.

  16. STALIN says:

    For example, a graduate student in anthropology once said (to me) that maybe male dogs really were helping take care of their puppies – secretly, in a way that no one had ever noticed over the past few thousand years.

    Thank you, just too good

  17. Dale says:

    The social sciences are applied to every sphere of human endeavor — other than the social sciences. Margaret Mead was very successful in her career, and there’s every reason to believe that her, er, “buffing” of her research reports was instrumental in that success. What, after all, would you expect a human to do in her position?

  18. Conners says:

    Is there a good book on European (perhaps Eurasian) pre-history which can be recommened? The people-ing of Europe seems like one of those subjects that become out-of-date by the time I read the last page.

  19. Sacred Monkey in the Vatican says:

    “But let me say this: we would, among other things, need to have a different recruitment system, one that brought in a lot fewer people who were born fools.”

    A big part of the issue is that the elementary and secondary education system still gives everyone who goes through it a pretty strong dose of Whig/Hegelian/Marxist history. Bad approaches to recorded history undoubtedly contribute to bad theories of prehistory.

    If tribes that are better at warfare ever prospered (in the Darwinian sense) at the expense of tribes who were worse at it, that might imply that History may not point inevitably toward Niceness and Enlightenment- but we all know that the future is ALWAYS better than the past. That’s what “Progress” means, and all good thinkers are Progressives! Ergo, it’s impossible that the progeny of deadly warriors ever replaced the progeny of civilized peace-lovers, except to a small degree in a few isolated cases.

    Of course, we don’t need prehistoric genetics to tell us that this is obviously hogwash- relatively law-abiding Western cultures didn’t subjugate violent and vengeful hunter-gatherer tribes by impressing them with their refined moral superiority and ideas of abstract justice, they did it by having more soldiers and superior killing-machines. Then again, in the introductory textbooks, America expanded because of its noble ideals of Freedom, Equality, and Democracy, and not because of the Winchester 1873, the California state militia, and the US Cavalry (which were Bad Things that actually held America back). Purging quasi-Marxist analysis from history departments would go a long way toward fixing archaeology.

    Mr. Cochran’s old post on Robert E. Howard reminded me of one of G.K. Chesterton’s sharp observations regarding the pre-literate past (about which he generally maintained a sensible agnosticism):

    “In one sense it is a true paradox that there was history before history. But it is not the irrational paradox implied in prehistoric history; for it is a history we do not know. Very probably it was exceedingly like the history we do know, except in the one detail that we do not know it… The most ancient records we have not only mention but take for granted things like kings and priests and princes and assemblies of the people; they describe communities that are roughly recognisable as communities in our own sense. Some of them are despotic; but we cannot tell that they have always been despotic. Some of them may be already decadent and nearly all are mentioned as if they were old. We do not know what really happened in the world before those records; but the little we do know would leave us anything but astonished if we learnt that it was very much like what happens in this world now. There would be nothing inconsistent or confounding about the discovery that those unknown ages were full of republics collapsing under monarchies and rising again as republics, empires expanding and finding colonies and then losing colonies. Kingdoms combining again into world states and breaking up again into small nationalities, classes selling themselves into slavery and marching out once more into liberty; all that procession of humanity which may or may not be a progress but is most assuredly a romance. But the first chapters of the romance have been torn out of the book; and we shall never read them.”

    We may never be able to read those first chapters in full, but modern genetic research is at least giving us a rough plot synopsis. So far, it looks like they were about as exciting and action-packed as Howard and Chesterton would have guessed.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I guess we’re lucky that Gordon Childe wasn’t a deep-fried Marxist. Except that he was, of course.

      • Sacred Monkey in the Vatican says:

        Yes, I knew he was, but I see your point.

        The old-fashioned Marxists generally were a more hard-headed bunch than the post-60’s New Left types. You can’t take over a serious country like Russia without a certain willingness to confront grim reality. Taking over a liberal university’s English or Archaeology department is a much easier business.

      • Childe also hypothesized that the first conquest in history took place in Mesopotamia at the interface of the Halafian and Ubaidian cultural artefacts. See his What Happened in History. Marxism for him as an archeologist, I think, meant that he agreed with Marx’s materialist interpretation of history: the importance of changing technology, the nature of the economy, the domination of one class by another. Whatever his politics were they do not intrude into his scholarly writings.

        • Dale says:

          There’s a lot of flavors of “Marxist”, also. After all, Marx made some of the shrewdest observations about market systems. But the middle of the 1900’s produced “Marxists” who thought humans were truly wonderful except when they were corrupted by capitalism. Really, they were disciples of Rousseau, not Marx.

  20. Cplusx says:

    On the other hand computer scientists with tremendously better tools, better methods, vastly more money and data compared to Amish and Haredi may destroy all of us by creating AI.

    • melendwyr says:

      We can only hope.
      What I find tragic about our lack of knowledge about early human civilizations is the possibility that they actually did do things differently, even if only perhaps because they lacked things we possess. Looking back at historical civilization, I’ve noticed that people tend to project ‘modern’ attitudes and ideas onto the ancients in ways that we know are wrong. When there’s no historical record to correct such tendencies, attempts to understand how people lived and thought seem to turn into mirror-gazing.

  21. FWIW, the word “conquest” does not even rate an entry in most encyclopedias. Why not? My guess is that it was the “original” sin that dare not speak its name. The lower classes were to understand that they were where they were not by force but by . . . (fill in the blank).

  22. Incidentally, it would be helpful to distinguish between invasions in which one people replaces (by killing and/or pushing out) another, which is a form of migration, and conquest proper in which a group subdues another by physical force and reduces them to servitude. E.g., Europeans replaced the native Americans, Romans conquered the surrounding peoples.

  23. Clarification: Europeans replaced the native peoples in North America. They conquered them in South America.

  24. Greg, I wonder if you could clarify in what way genetics could contribute to Indo-European linguistics? From my experience in the field, there just isn’t a whole lot of interest in the archeological stuff, at least not among the hardcore linguists, i.e. those who just want to reconstruct PIE grammar and vocabulary. I’m not sure what kind of specifically linguistic questions could even be answered by new findings in genetics. I have the feeling that you’re thinking more of archeologists like David Anthony who are interested in the whole Urheimat question, to an understanding of which both linguistics and genetics can contribute along with archeology. It’s kind of a one-way street, though, to my mind at any rate: the linguistic evidence can give us some clue as to where the original PIE speakers lived, i.e. words for flora and fauna and landscape suggest a horse-riding culture that lives by rivers but not by large bodies of water. But nothing in the genes themselves is going to tell us anything interesting about the PIE language.

    • gcochran9 says:

      First, it looks as if the Yamnaya culture, or maybe something a little earlier, was the source of the Centum languages. This population was a mix of a WHG-like population, ANE, and an Armenian-like population. Whereas the Indo-Aryan expansion (best current guess) looks like a mix of ANE and another middle-easternish population, probably from the BMAC culture: no WHG in this mix. This suggests that true original, often-imitated but never-duplicated Indo-Europeans were ANE, and that the Centum and Satem populations picked up different substrates, very early. In both cases, it looks as if the ANE component was socially dominant: they are way over-represented in Y chromosomes – in particular, R1A and R1B. This (maybe) relates to Dumezil’s war of the functions. And patriarchy! As we get a better picture of old ANE dna, we will know more about the location of the urheimat and the way of life of the people in it – we’ll know which archaeological sites are key to the story.

      Next: given a fair number of high-quality ancient DNA samples, we should be able to make useful estimates of average IQ in these groups. That again might give us a hint or two about the way things worked in the old days. It may be harder, but we should also be able to predict personality distributions. Likely, the transition to a raiding culture selected for different personality types: maybe we’ll be able to see that. Maybe Old Europe never generated a state for reasons of physical geography (rain-fed agriculture & village anarchy vs water-monopoly empires), or maybe they were just naturally contrary, like Sardinian highlanders.

      Harder, but possible: people must have built-in, genetically determined predispositions that incline them towards certain approaches to producing and interpreting language: we can estimate what those predispositions were from ancient genomes, and see if it tells us anything about the likely directions of language evolution, how admixture might genetically change the trajectory of that evolution, etc.

      Think of it this way:

      A. if a trait is heritable, we can learn something about that trait in long-dead individuals if we have high-quality ancient DNA. Especially if they aren’t wildly different from modern populations (i.e. not homo erectus)

      B. Practically everything is heritable.

      And that’s just for starters. I think the next few steps are obvious.

      • When it comes to the Centum/Satem distinction, the linguistics only tells us that the Satem languages share the particular sound change k > s. The Centum languages, on the other hand, are grouped together only by their lack of this shared innovation, but otherwise they don’t form a distinctive subgroup. So we wouldn’t really expect to see archeological evidence for a specifically Centum culture, though we might very well expect to see shared cultural traits of the Satem languages corresponding to their shared linguistic traits. So I’m kind of skeptical of the idea that the Yamnaya culture can correspond to the supposed ancestor of Centum languages because I don’t have any reason to believe in the existence of an alleged Proto-Centum language or culture, at least going by the linguistic evidence.

      • Cpluskx says:

        “Next: given a fair number of high-quality ancient DNA samples, we should be able to make useful estimates of average IQ in these groups”
        Can we do same thing with Ancient Greeks?

  25. Cloning him would be easier than keeping a long line of civilizing educators off him.

  26. Pingback: linkfest – 11/16/14 | hbd chick

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s