The Vasconic Program

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.

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43 Responses to The Vasconic Program

  1. ursiform says:

    It’s amazing what you can do with depleted uranium …

  2. dearieme says:

    What about river names? I ask from a sound basis of ignorance, but Britain is littered with River Dons, and you also get them in Eastern Europe: Danube, Don, Dnieper, Dniester, Donets, etc. Wos mean? Can we be confident that they are Indo-European? What are the rivers called in the Basque country?

  3. Philip Neal says:

    If Linear A and Etruscan are poorly understood it is not for want of effort but material, and any number of people have tried, unconvincingly, to link them to Basque. There has also been plenty of work on substrates in the branches of Indo-european.

    Middle Eastern archaeology is the way forward. Of available bodies of evidence, proto-Elamite looks the most promising: the experts are still at the stage of internal analysis, determining numeral systems and so on, but it looks decipherable. What we need is many more extensive corpora of unknown languages like that, and there are probably many to be found if Isis does not destroy them.

  4. Glossy says:

    “like finding the Mitanni capital and reading their cuneiform archives.”

    I was surprised and saddened when I first read the following in the Wikipedia a while ago:

    “Between half a million[2] and two million cuneiform tablets are estimated to have been excavated in modern times, of which only approximately 30,000[3] – 100,000 have been read or published. The British Museum holds the largest collection, c. 130,000, followed by the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin, the Louvre, the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, the National Museum of Iraq, the Yale Babylonian Collection (c.40,000) and Penn Museum. Most of these have “lain in these collections for a century without being translated, studied or published,”[2] as there are only a few hundred qualified cuneiformists in the world.[3]”

    • Jim says:

      One of the problems with cuneiform tablets is though they can survive things like fire they break easily and so often only a fragment of the text is available in a particular collection but possibly another collection has the other piece of the tablet. The whole process of translating them is hopelessly slow. Perhaps some kind of computer software could be developed to speed this up.

  5. If we drain the Black Sea there is a treasure trove of preserved goodies lying at the bottom because nothing rots down there. It’s the one place on earth where a ton of stuff is preserved from this time period. It would make a swell holding tank for the next horde of fleeing refugees too. Someone has to make our cheap trinkets after the Chinese get too pricey, we could set up our factories there and ain’t nobody gonna lowball us.

  6. AppSocRes says:

    Just a cautionary note: Some linguists have noticed resemblances between Basque and the Uralic languages, e.g., Hungarian and Finnish. It’s not a foregone conclusion that Basque is a language indigenous to the Pyrenees, even if we go back only to the Iron Age.

    (BTW Windows 10 sucks. Please get the word out.)

    • gcochran9 says:

      Conceivably they rode along with the Indo-europeans, just as the Alans (an Iranian people ) rode with the Vandals. Or like the Kiowa Apache and the Comanche.

      But there’s no genetic sign of this. Looks like EEF + WHG,.

    • kukuduxu says:

      Well, I’m basque and I have being in Finland several times. And while I agree that the general sound is very similar and there’s common elements between both languages (interestingly, Finnish and Basque characters are kinda similar in many ways too), those theories were abandoned last decade. The same happened with theories pointing to links with Georgian language.

      Right now, the most widely accepted theory is that Basque is what remains from the protolanguage in the north of Spain and south of France, before Indo-European migrations. However, what happened before is something nobody has a clue about. We’re talking about 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. And while there’s linguistic similarities with Georgian, genetics doesn’t support. On the other hand, there’s genetic similarities with Bashkir, who live in the Volga area, but here linguistic doesn’t support. Interestingly, Volga is supposed to be the origin of Uralic languages, including Finnish. Many clues, but nothing fits.

      Or, perhaps, in some areas population was replaced, while old languages survived, and in other areas language was replaced and population survived. For example, with the current demographics it could happen than in France, some centuries from now, genetics will be Arabic, while language will be French. By then, somebody not knowing XXIth century history could have a hard time guessing the origin of future French population with genetics pointing to North-Africa while speaking a romance language (Latin based).

      • Justin says:

        There’d have to be some genetic residual though. No one is going to pass up on top females, even in the worst conquest case. In your French example, it’s hard to imagine the native population being completely replaced, rather than hybridizing with the Arab conquerors to a detectable degree. (BTW let’s see to it that doesn’t happen)

  7. Jim says:

    We could begin by moving the existing populations of cities like Athens and Rome out and digging up the entire cities.

  8. epoch2013 says:

    I recall that the idea has been proposed by a German linguist called Theo Venneman. He noted that the Basque counting is vigesimal and connected that to the French and Danish.

  9. Steve Sailer says:

    Any thoughts on Zika?

  10. Romulus says:

    It’s disappointing to see you dismiss the Anatolian Hypothesis. Males can be replaced but children learn language from their mothers.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Mexico is imaginary, then?

    • gcochran9 says:

      Since the mtDNA haplotypes change radically when the Corded Ware replaces the LBK, the women of Old Europe were (in northern Europe) replaced by other women. As were the men. There is no chance that the Anatolian hypothesis is correct.

      • Romulus says:

        The mtDNA haplotypes didn’t change radically, there is only a small minority of Steppe mtDNA in Europe today whereas farmer mtDNA makes up the majority.You think it’s more reasonable that a group of Siberians spoke a language radically different than any other Siberian language? Why aren’t the Sardinians speaking the farmer language when their geographic location provides greater insulation and their DNA shows clear farmer continuity? Why does the Vasconic area overlap with the Bell Beaker area?

        • gcochran9 says:

          You’re simply wrong. In northern Europe, the mtDNA haplotypes are radically different. Get a current reference or shut up.

          • Romulus says:

            mtDNA H1 and H3 make up the majority of both Basque and Danish populations > 50%, H1c, the most common mtDNA lineage in the modern Danish is the mtDNA lineage of Gok 2 a Neolithic Funnelbeaker farmer.

        • Grelsson says:

          Siberians speak languages radically different to each other even today. Yukaghir, Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Tungusic and Nivkh in the eastern parts certainly have no relation. No theoretical linguistic obstacles for I-E or even Basque to originate there.

  11. Toddy Cat says:

    “a few archaeologists who were also mercenary tankers”

    Well, I’d certainly go to see the movie…

  12. ohwilleke says:

    “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.”

    There is lots of merit to a Vasconic substrate, but that language family was almost surely associated with the Bell Beaker people rather than the Sardinian-like famers (Cardial Culture, LBK). The Basque people have all the genetics of ancient DNA from Bell Beaker people such as the recent Irish Bronze Age DNA. The Basque people do not have any of the defining genetics of Sardinian-like farmers and there is no archaeologically supported hypothesis by which they accepted the Cardial Culture/LBK languages via elite dominance, or experienced language shift from a previous IE language.

    (If there is a Cardial Culture/LBK substrate in Europe, it is necessarily a non-Vasconic one).

    Ancient Minoan DNA and modern Cretean DNA likewise have a lot in common with Bell Beakers and modern Basque, and Minoans were also non-Indo-Europeans known to be accomplished sailors, a coastal trip away from Iberia. (The cultural significance of the bull was also shared by Basque and Minoan culture).

    The ancient DNA we have from the Etruscans, in contrast, who are outside the Vasconic substrate region of Europe, looks much more Sardinian-like with, for example, lots of Y-DNA G2a.

    Given Basque (and Bell Beaker and Minoan) genetics, the plausible Urheimat are probably the Caucasus, the Iranian Highlands, and pre-Hittite Anatolia, the Southern fringe of the steppe, and maybe Southeast Europe. A lot of the Caucasian languages, Sumerian, Elamite, and Kassite, for example, were ergative which seems to have been a feature of the entire region and may constitute a litmus test of a language family that can’t be established solely because it can’t be documented.

    Sumerian and North Semitic Akkadian in the Mesopotamian lowlands that followed it are extremely well documented, so we can rule out them as direct sources of a Vasconic substrate.

    The good news is that unlike the Tigris-Eurphrates Valley lowlands that ISIS controls, must of the more plausible Urheimat regions are in highlands that it doesn’t control. Most of the relevant regions in Iraq are in Kurdish control.

  13. early to rise says:

    Wouldn’t your idea of a Nuclear Shroud retaliation for 9/11 have destroyed a lot of unexplored, archeologically important sites?

  14. PermReader says:

    Science gradually clean the supremacists ideas . of Aryans on their horses that conquered half of the world.Here the author write about “trashed” ancient Basques. The same with Anglo-Saxons that “trashed” Brits.Scientists deny this.There were great number of pre-Indo-European peoples in Europe from Iberians to Pelasgians.I think, there were no big language families at the time of small populations and weak connections.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Actually, science is busily establishing that the Aryans did conquer half the world. You’re behind the times.

      The Anatolian-origin farmers that settled almost of Europe were genetically similar, culturally similar, and maintained trade links to their Aegean origin for a long time. Of course they had related languages, all the way from Bulgaria to Ireland and Spain and Sweden.

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