The idea is that there used to be a related set of languages all over Europe, spoken by those early Sardinian-like farmers (Cardial Culture, LBK) before the Indo-Europeans showed up and trashed them. How to study that language family? How to become a succesful Pan-Vasconicist, the analog of an Indo-Europeanist? (some of my best friends are Indo-europeanists)
It’s not gonna be easy. There is today a single living language that seems likely to be a member of that family – Basque.
But there may have been others (in southern Europe) that survived long enough to leave a possibly-useful written record. Etruscan: Minoan: if we could crack them.
The Indo-European languages of Europe must have have picked up a Vasconic substrate – while Tocharian probably did not.
We know quite a bit about the genetics of this expansion – and from that (which means ancient DNA) we can probably definitively locate the Vasconic urheimat, which is one advantage over the early Indo-europeanists. We know that a particular archaeological culture is associated with this expansion (Impressed Ware) – that may help us trace it back in time.
Using the location of the urheimat, and associated gene movements, we may be able to find other languages in this family that stayed in the Middle East, and, again, survived long enough to leave a written record. Hattic, Hurrian, Sumerian, even Semitic are candidates. Check out the Caucasus, the rubble-heap of history.
This is the sort of work in which cracking Linear A and Etruscan would just be a warmup.
We need more aDNA: more archaeology: more work on recovering lost Classical literature (x-ray scanning burnt scrolls at Herculaneum, etc). We need to crush Isis and pacify Iraq, n order to get some serious archaeology done (like finding the Mitanni capital and reading their cuneiform archives.) We need to translate all the stuff from Bogazkoy. Wouldn’t hurt to scour Iran in search of lost Sassanid literature – we could always claim to be nuclear inspectors. Maybe hiring a few archaeologists who were also mercenary tankers would help cure archaeology’s Kumbayah syndrome – we’re not going to get this done without straight thinking.
Linguists, geneticists, archaeologists, and a whiff of depleted uranium. It’s a million to one shot –
but it just might work.