Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Prehistory by Bayesian phylogenetics? The state of the art on Indo-European origins

  • Paul Heggarty (a1)
Abstract

Bayesian analysis has come to be widely used in archaeological chronologies and has been a regular feature of recent articles in Antiquity. Its application to linguistic prehistory, however, has proved controversial, in particular on the issue of Indo-European origins. Dating and mapping language distributions back into prehistory has an inevitable fascination, but has remained fraught with difficulty. This review of recent studies highlights the potential of increasingly sophisticated Bayesian phylogenetic models, while also identifying areas of concern, and ways in which the models might be refined to address them. Notwithstanding these remaining limitations, in the Indo-European case the results from Bayesian phylogenetics continue to reinforce the argument for an Anatolian rather than a Steppe origin.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Anthony, D. W. 2007. The horse, the wheel, and language: how Bronze-Age riders from the Eurasian Steppes shaped the modern world. Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press.
Atkinson, Q.D., Nicholls, G., Welch, D. &Gray., R.D. 2005. From words to dates: water into wine, mathemagic or phylogenetic inference? Transactions of the Philological Society 103: 193219. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-968X.2005.00151.x
Bouckaert, R., Lemey, P., Dunn, M., Greenhill, S.J., Alekseyenko, A.V., Drummond, A.J., Gray, R.D., Suchard, M.A. &Atkinson., Q.D. 2012. Mapping the origins and expansion of the Indo-European language family. Science 337: 957–60. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1219669
Bouckaert, R., Lemey, P., Dunn, M., Greenhill, S.J., Alekseyenko, A.V., Drummond, A.J., Gray, R.D., Suchard, M.A. &Atkinson., Q.D. 2013. Correction to: Mapping the origins and expansion of the Indo-European language family. Science 342: 1446. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.342.6165.1446-a
Campbell, L. &Poser., W.J. 2008. Language classification: history and method. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Clackson, J. 2007. Indo-European linguistics: an introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Coleman, R. 1988. [Review of Archaeology and language: the puzzle of Indo-European origins by C. Renfrew]. Current Anthropology 29: 449–53.
Currie, T.E., Greenhill, S. J., Gray, R.D., Hasegawa, T. & Mace, R.. 2010. Rise and fall of political complexity in island South-east Asia and the Pacific. Nature 467: 801804. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature09461
Gimbutas, M. 1970. Proto-Indo-European culture: the Kurgan culture during the 5th to the 3rd millennia B. C., in Cardona, G., Koenigswald, H. M. & Senn, A. (ed.) Indo-European and Indo-Europeans: 155–98. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Gray, R.D. &Atkinson., Q.D. 2003. Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin. Nature 426: 435–39. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature02029
Gray, R. D., Drummond, A. J. &Greenhill., S.J. 2009. Language phylogenies reveal expansion pulses and pauses in Pacific settlement. Science 323: 479. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1166858
Heggarty, P. 2006. Interdisciplinary indiscipline? Can phylogenetic methods meaningfully be applied to language data—and to dating language?, in Forster, P. & Renfrew, C. (ed.) Phylogenetic methods and the prehistory of languages: 183–94. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.
Heggarty, P. 2010. Beyond lexicostatistics: how to get more out of ‘word list’ comparisons. Diachronica 27(2): 301–24. http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/dia.27.2.07heg
Heggarty, P. & Renfrew, C.. 2014. Introduction: languages, in Renfrew, C. & Bahn, P. (ed.) The Cambridge world prehistory: 1944. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Heggarty, P., Maguire, W. & Mcmahon, A.M.S.. 2010. Splits or waves? Trees or webs? How divergence measures and network analysis can unravel language histories. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 365: 3829–43. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2010.0099
Holden, C. J. &Gray., R.D. 2006. Rapid radiation, borrowing and dialect continua in the Bantu languages, in Forster, P. & Renfrew, C. (ed.) Phylogenetic methods and the prehistory of languages: 1931. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.
Kitchen, A., Ehret, C., Assefa, S. &Mulligan., C.J. 2009. Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of Semitic languages identifies an Early Bronze Age origin of Semitic in the Near East. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 276: 2703–10. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2009.0408
Krell, K. S. 1998. Gimbutas’ Kurgan-PIE homeland hypothesis: a linguistic critique, in Blench, R. & Spriggs, M. (ed.) Archaeology and language II: archaeological data and linguistic hypotheses: 267–82. London: Routledge.
Lee, S. & Hasegawa, T.. 2011. Bayesian phylogenetic analysis supports an agricultural origin of Japonic languages. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 278: 3662–69. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2011.0518
Mallory, J. P. 1989. In search of the Indo-Europeans. London: Thames & Hudson.
Mallory, J. P. 2013. Twenty-first century clouds over Indo-European homelands. Journal of Language Relationship 9: 145–54.
Pagel, M. & Meade, A.. 2006. Estimating rates of lexical replacement on phylogenetic trees of languages, in Forster, P. & Renfrew, C. (ed.) Phylogenetic methods and the prehistory of languages: 173–82. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.
Renfrew, C. 1987. Archaeology and language: the puzzle of Indo-European origins. London: Jonathan Cape.
Renfrew, C. & Bahn, P. (ed.). 2014. The Cambridge world prehistory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ringe, D.A., Warnow, T. & Taylor, A.. 2002. Indo-European and computational cladistics. Transactions of the Philological Society 100: 59129. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-968X.00091
Sims-Williams, P. 1998. Genetics, linguistics and prehistory: thinking big and thinking straight. Antiquity 72: 505–27.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed