The Steppes, Anatolia, India? Migration, Archaeology, Genomes, and Indo-European

Hans Heinrich Hock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Around 1000 BC, Indo-European languages were distributed over a wide area, from Xinjiang and India to Ireland and Anatolia (Map 1). Historical-comparative linguists generally assume that the original homeland of the languages must have been smaller and that the later distribution must have resulted from migrations. Early hypotheses, placing the original home in Southwest, South or Central Asia, were based on Bible-based historical perspectives that place the post-deluge cradle near the Iranian high plateau, or on preconceived notions such as the idea that Sanskrit was the ancestor of other Indo-European languages. From the mid 19th century, racial considerations led to a shift farther west, which culminated in the ’Nordic’ homeland proposed by people like Penka, Kossinna and Childe. The association of the Nordic homeland hypothesis with Nazi ideology was a factor in anthropologists’ questioning migration accounts in general, and some archaeologists have proposed that languages can spread through stimulus diffusion, just like various artifacts. Historical-comparative linguists and archaeologists with linguistic training, by contrast, have continued to their quest for determining the Indo-European homeland. At present, two major theories compete with each other: The Eurasian Steppe hypothesis and the Anatolian hypothesis. Neither of these hypotheses, however, is acceptable to Indian/Hindu nationalists, who argue for a homeland in India (modern South Asia).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalJournal on Asian Linguistic Anthropology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020


  • Borrowing
  • Himalayan linguistics
  • Temporality
  • Tibeto-Burman
  • Time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Linguistics and Language


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