Up till now in Part II we have been looking mainly at an expanding wave of human migration into a previously uninhabited sub-point of the human star, Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific ("The Human Star” [A Map]). You saw that progressive improvements in technology allowed the expansion. This led to the evolution of a new race (or subspecies?). Later, as the defence continues to present evidence in favour of the defendant, the jury will see similar, but earlier, movements into uninhabited environments.
Because people of European origin have a relatively long written history and they have done most of the work on genes and languages, we know a fair bit about historical population movements into and around the Northwest European point of the star. This may provide us with evidence about what happens when humans with new technology move into regions others already inhabit. The process should be similar to the movement of Europeans into New Zealand (“Change” [European Migration]) or the microlithic-using people into the region of the Hoabinhian (“Pacific Population” [Mixing]).
Most European people speak languages classified as being part of the Indo-European language family, although other languages survive. We’ll come back to these soon [Mingling]. The distribution and pattern of change in the Indo-European languages suggests an early expansion, followed by a series of secondary expansions of the regional varieties that then evolved locally from the original dialects. Indo-European is in turn often classified along with Finno-Ugric, Altaic and some other language families as part of a widespread Eurasiatic language superfamily (Greenberg and Ruhlen 1992). Presumably Indo-European had evolved through a similar process from an ancient expansion of proto-Eurasiatic. We will reach that expansion and yet more support for the wave theory of evolution in “North to Alaska” [Eurasiatic].
Study of the Indo-European languages indicates most have diversified only since the Bronze Age developed. A great deal of evidence indicates people speaking proto-Indo-European dialects started moving from the region north of the Caucasus Mountains, in the modern Ukraine, perhaps as long ago as 5000 to 6000 years (Mallory 1989). This movement was in turn probably the product of an expansion of Early Bronze Age groups. People in Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus Mountains and round the Caspian Sea had been using copper (a component of bronze) for thousands of years before then. Influences from these regions almost certainly contributed to the development, and possibly language, of the Indo-Europeans in the first place.
As well as the early and later expansions the Indo-European languages are often also divided into separate western, or European, and eastern branches. The eastern branch of Indo-European includes most languages spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India. In ancient times the region in Central Asia between this group and the western group was home to such Indo-European languages as Hittite, Scythian, Sarmatian, Alan, Gothic and Tocharian (Mallory 1989). Have you got all that? There’s a diagram coming up.
These languages from the middle have all been replaced in the last 1500 years by the expansion of a different branch of Eurasiatic, the Altaic, in the form of Turkic and Mongolian-speaking people from the east. Most of the central Indo-European languages have become extinct but descendants of the people who spoke them are still there. A huge number of human mtDNA and Y-chromosome branches are found in such groups as the Kazakhs, Kirghiz and Uighurs (“MtEve” [The Trees]). The people in the region have become a mixture (Olson 2002), not quite yet a stabilised hybrid population (“Hybrid vigour and Inbreeding” [Survival]).
Here is an Indo-European language tree, based loosely on Gray and Atkinson (2003). Within historic times many of the languages have expanded. Others have become extinct. Languages of the eastern branch are in Italics. The jury will see the geographic distribution of the western languages later (map 8) but all these divisions are obviously nowhere near absolute as the speakers of the various languages moved around and influenced each other.
So we can imagine that before the Altaic expansion there was probably a gradation of Indo-European languages right across the middle of the human star from Northwest Europe to Northern India. They almost certainly arose from a single ancestral language that had developed during the Bronze Age. The languages diversified as they lost contact with each other. Neighbouring groups could understand each other but the further away from home you got the less you could understand. This is called a dialect chain (Bellwood 1978) and is a reasonably common phenomenon. As the defence first said in “The Human Star” a similar phenomenon in biology is called a cline. An element of class differentiation in the languages probably existed as well, such as that Barry Cunliffe (1994) suggests existed between the Scythians and Thracians around 500 BC.
Perhaps looking at the way languages expand may be able to tell us something about the way genes expand. The jury has already seen, in “The Human Star”, the map of the first principal component of genetic variation in Europe (map 2). We’ll look at the second principal component much later in “Culture” (map 18). The map of the third principal component, in Cavalli-Sforza (1995), accounts for about 10% of the genetic variation in Europe (map 7) and probably represents some expansion of Indo-European speaking people. One genetic extreme occurs where the Indo-European languages perhaps originated, although language can spread independently of genes. I’ve used arrows to suggest the movement of the eastern branch. The expansion doesn’t show up in genetic maps available for Asia.
It’s interesting to see that even within Europe the genes spread nowhere near as far as the language family did. You can see that regions even as close to the genetic centre as Germany and Southern Scandinavia lie beyond the boundary between it and the other genetic extreme. Ireland, Britain, Spain, France, Italy and the Western Balkans, all today Indo-European speaking, are well outside the main genetic movement. Cavalli-Sforza’s original map shows these places virtually lack any of the genes. There is also evidence that languages such as Greek, Latin and Celtic contain non-Indo-European words, probably adopted from languages spoken by earlier populations in each area (Mallory 1989).
And some people presently living in Southwest Britain have the same mitochondrial DNA as that of human skeletons in the same region from nearly 10,000 years ago, well before the Bronze Age or the Indo-European languages’ evolution (Jones 2001). This all lends weight to the idea that just small groups of Indo-European speaking people actually migrated into Western Europe. Pre-existing populations found it useful to adopt languages such as Celtic, Latin, Greek and Albanian. The languages spread to the extremities largely under the influence of traders, metalworkers or warriors rather than actual population movements that included women. In other words the languages sort of catapulted past the genetic expansion. Many of the original population remained and they and the languages formed hybrids: another example of the relative independence of genes and culture. In other words “Indo-European” is a linguistic concept rather than genetic or racial.
It appears from the earlier diagram, and map 7, that dialects on the geographic margins of Indo-European had already evolved into separate languages by the time of any original expansion. In fact it’s possible that Hittite descended from a dialect that had developed near the Caucasus Mountains by the time the Indo-European family separated from the Finno-Ugric family, the most closely related of the Eurasiatic languages (“North to Alaska” [Eurasiatic]).
Ancient sacred texts from India show the chariot was a very important part of the early Indo-European culture. It may have been the horse’s domestication about 6000 years ago that allowed the Indo-European expansion, and carried the Tocharians’ ancestors into east Central Asia (Mallory 1989). It was the idea of riding it with stirrups (Burke 1978) and the accumulation of other advances in warfare that led to the more recent expansions back west of the Mongolian and Turkic-speaking people such as Attila the Hun, Timur the Tatar and Genghis Khan. But as I’ve said, we still find many different Y-chromosome and mtDNA lines through the region.
The horse didn’t appear in Mesopotamia (considered by many people to be the centre of urban civilisation’s development) until just before 2000 BC (just over 4000 years ago). Until that time people in Mesopotamia had used cattle or donkeys to pull four-wheeled carts. As well as these animals the Indo-Europeans also used the horse as a draught animal (Gamkrelidze and Ivanov 1990). Later elements of the Indo-European expansion, at least, are almost certainly associated with the invention some time before about 1600 BC of the two-wheeled chariot (Jobling et al 2004). It was probably invented either just north or south of the Caucasus Mountains but the technology rapidly passed through them.
Perhaps the invention was a product of the mixing of Indo-European-speaking people with the Mesopotamian cultures. There certainly seems to have been an Indo-European element involved in the early stages of its spread. However, like the microlithic (“Polynesian Origins” [Japan]), the technology spread much further than the genes, or even the language. We’ll return to the northern expansion soon [Mingling]. But research has shown that the Indo-European element decreased as the chariot moved south from the Caucasus Mountains.
At the time many people in Turkey already spoke Indo-European languages, such as Hittite and the related Luwian, although other languages were also spoken in the region. The Hittites may even have invented the chariot. Just to the east of the Hittites kings with eastern Indo-European names ruled the Mitanni. Their gods were the same as ancient Indian ones (Campbell 1976), but their language was not Indo-European (Leick 2001, and Chahin 2001). The southerly moving Gutians, Hurrians (Horites in the Bible?) and the Kassites (who ruled Babylon for more than 400 years) also probably had some sort of connection to the Indo-Europeans. We’ll also return to these languages soon. Further south though the Semitic-speaking Hyksos people introduced the chariot from Canaan into Egypt, and ruled the northern part of that country for more than a hundred years (Clayton 1994). This is another example of technology, probably transmitted by wandering males, spreading beyond the genes, or even the language. The defence will use the name “Canaan” as a general term for the Mediterranean Sea’s far eastern shore: modern day Israel (including regions claimed as Palestinian), Lebanon and western Syria. We’ll return to the region, and the Hittites and Hyksos, in “The Last Point” [Gene Flow].
The defence has already pointed out that migration waves are not usually a single movement by a single group of people. They are much more complicated affairs. The Indo-European migration therefore was, once again, not a total displacement of population. It is generally accepted the Hittites for example mixed with the local population of Turkey and adopted elements of the local culture and languages (Mallory 1989, and Chahin 2001). In fact documents discovered in the ancient Hittite capital are written in up to eight languages including several other Indo-European ones. Incidentally, around the time of Akhenaten, and for some time afterwards, the Hittites seem to have had a monopoly on iron working. They may also have invented this technology.
You can see from the distribution of the western Indo-European languages (map 8) that within Europe the languages divide in turn into a southeastern and a widespread northern and western branch. It’s possible the culture known as “Linear Pottery” or “Danubian” brought the Indo-European languages into Europe about 5000 BC. But because bronze was yet to be invented in Danubian times it is more likely the “Corded Ware” or “Battle Axe” people introduced the languages about 2000 years later, in 3000 BC (Mallory 1989). Linear pottery is shown at the centre left of map 8 and corded ware at the top left (Roe 1971). Many pottery styles shown so far will reappear in later maps as we follow our evolution back through time.
Indo-European replaced most pre-existing languages throughout Europe, although earlier inhabitants survived. It is not known what languages were spoken in Europe before Indo-European arrived but some non-Indo-European languages exist, mostly in isolated or mountainous areas. For example people speaking languages grouped into another branch of Eurasiatic, Finno-Ugric, are found in the Arctic far north (the number 1s in the map). Hungarian is also part of this family and was introduced to that country during historic times (Olson 2002). It is not shown on the map. The remaining isolated languages are not classified as even part of the Eurasiatic superfamily. They are totally separate. Basque is spoken in the Pyrenees (number 2) and we know that at least two other non-Indo-European languages survived into ancient Roman times: Ligurian (very much influenced by Indo-European) in the Ligurian Apennines and Western Alps of Italy (number 3) and Etruscan (number 4). Some forms of Pictish may also have had non-Indo-European elements (Davies 2001). Other non-Indo-European languages were probably spoken in parts of Spain.
Tomas Gamkrelidze and Vyachislav Ivanov (1990) suggest there may be a connection between number 2, Basque and, far to the east, number 5, various languages, such as Georgian, spoken in the Caucasus Mountains. Although the Caucasus languages are confined to just a small mountainous region they are extremely varied. Their diversification is presumably very ancient and they are actually divided into several separate families (Cavalli-Sforza 1995). Although they are today confined to the Caucasus Mountains until about 3000 years ago languages related to some of them were found in Turkey (Mallory 1989) and in Western Iran. They had probably been even more widely spread earlier. For example some people believe Sumerian, the first language used for writing in the cities of Mesopotamia, may have been related to one or other branch of Georgian. As more probably were Kassite and the Hurrian languages, such as that of the Mitanni, of Northern Iraq and Northern Syria. If in fact Basque is related to some of these languages it would suggest an earlier language expansion similar to the Indo-European, perhaps associated with the Linear Pottery people (“The Last Point” [Pottery]).
Many people in my home province of Northland trace their ancestry to the region along the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, called Dalmatia when their ancestors left it. It was more recently part of Yugoslavia and is now part of Croatia. The land has not shifted much but, as you can see, the name it is known by has changed periodically. So has the language spoken there. Ancient Greek and Roman sources tell us quite a bit about the region’s history and so we’ll have a look.
Way back in “Change” [European Migration] I refered to the people as South Slavs. They speak a language that is part of the Slavic language group. This group includes Russian and Polish. In Roman times the Western Balkan peninsular was called Illyricum and Pannonia. A variety of Indo-European speaking people occupied it but none from the Slavic branch. The first Indo-European languages there probably belonged to the southeastern, or Greek, branch. But Illyrian itself was probably from the northern and western branch, related to the East Italian languages spoken at the time along the western shore of the Adriatic. Modern Albanian most likely descends from a branch of either Dacian / Thracian or Illyrian spoken in the region during early Roman times (Mallory 1989). Branches of Celtic had also been introduced into parts of the area. We’ll come back to Celtic soon.
The Roman province of Illyricum produced at least two emperors. Diocletian and Constantine were both from there, but from 400 AD the province was again in turmoil. Goths, Huns, Avars and Magyars invaded it. This last group established an empire in Hungary (Jobling et al 2004) and, as the defence has mentioned, the language spoken there today belongs to a northern Asian family, Finno-Ugric. But the language doesn’t reflect the genes. There is no genetic difference between Hungarians and neighbouring people. A great deal of gene flow has obscured any original difference.
Any so-called Huns or Magyars have been totally absorbed (Walker and Shipman 1996). In fact there is abundant evidence the groupings we call Huns, Avars, Goths etc. were themselves made up of a genetic mix of people, including disaffected people from the area they were actually invading. J. P. Mallory (1989) writes “by the time the Huns, for example burst into Central Europe they were an amalgam of Turkic, Iranian and Germanic-speaking peoples”.
Slavic-speaking tribes joined the expansion, coming from somewhere near the original Indo-European homeland. Some of them crossed the Danube River after 500 AD and settled in the Roman province of Illyricum. Again the movement was probably similar to the movement of Europeans into New Zealand 150 years ago, or the microlithic-using people into the Hoabinhian region. The Northwest Balkan people therefore preserve genes of the region’s earlier inhabitants. They simply adopted the incoming Slavic language. The earlier language managed to survive in the southern mountains and more inaccessible regions to become the modern Indo-European language Albanian. But, except for the Arctic far north, there appear to be fewer Indo-European genes there than anywhere else in Europe (map 7).
The modern differences between Slavic-speaking Bosnians, Croats and Serbs are simply differences resulting from more recent introductions of literacy (or civilization). The languages are the same and vary only as much as do the dialects of New Zealand Maori or of Britain and Ireland. They all understand each other fairly easily. It is merely the method of writing that is different. Croatians write in the Roman script and are Roman Catholic, Serbs write in a modified Russian script and are Orthodox Christians and the Bosnians sometimes write in Arabic and are Muslim. Of course the bitterest arguments are usually those between family members. We’ll come back to religion in “Culture” but the differences in the region are manufactured rather than real. The recent years of strife were simply tribal.
The history of Western Europe has many parallels with that of the Balkans.
The northern Indo-European-speaking or Corded Ware people had eventually reached the already fairly densely populated Atlantic coast of Europe. The Atlantic people used huge stones (megaliths, mega - huge) for monuments. They responded to the newcomers by accentuating this difference, possibly through religion, by using even bigger ones (Cunliffe 1994). But the people mixed. And like most religious beliefs Stonehenge may be the product of a hybrid of ideas (“Culture” [Evolution of a Religion]).
Today some people in Western Europe are referred to as Celts. The far western branch of the Indo-European group of languages is usually referred to collectively as being Celtic although speakers of this group of languages moved east as far as Turkey. There they became known as Galatians (Davies 2001). Several Celtic expansions are well dated, as the more recent movements occurred in historic times. These happened between 2500 and 2000 years ago and both Greek and Roman writers recorded them.
Celtic origins probably go back at least a further thousand years though (Davies 2001). Again the languages spread further and faster than the genes and it is impossible to correlate any Celtic expansion with any particular genetic group. On the other hand a Celtic expansion is universally correlated with the Central European “La Tène” and earlier “Hallstatt” Iron Age technologies and cultures. Early elements may go back to the expansion of the Bronze Age “Urnfield” people from about 1300 BC though. Traders, metalworkers or warriors spread the languages. But Celtic genes were actually spread much more widely than the languages. Many Celts became mercenaries in armies throughout the ancient world. Of course their genes may survive as just a very minor modern component in regions where they were stationed.
The Celts developed near the headwaters of the Danube, the Rhône, the Rhine and other North European rivers. These rivers provided the main trade routes between the Mediterranean and Northern Europe. As a result people in the region where the rivers nearly meet were among the first in Europe to develop efficient metalworking, especially iron (Clark 1969). Efficient metalworking promoted more efficient farming and land clearance. This led to a population or at least cultural expansion. The expanding Celtic languages replaced earlier ones, but genetic studies show large elements of the original population remained.
Ireland and Spain, at a geographic margin of the Celtic world, preserved older forms of the Celtic language and so it is assumed later language innovations in the central area failed to reach them (Davies 2001). We have seen that something similar happened in “Eastern Polynesia” [Marginal Polynesia]. It also seems that the Celtic languages as a whole are more closely related to Tocharian, Hittite, and several Italian languages (including Latin) than they are to other Indo-European languages (Mallory 1989, and Gamkrelidze and Ivanov 1990). Celtic may be partly the product of an early expansion of Indo-European, perhaps the Corded Ware people.
Immigration always leads to problems, though, even today.
But the violence of the Celtic migrations may have been exaggerated because the Romans and Greeks, who were trying to stop them, wrote all the surviving accounts. Celtic tribes defeated a Roman army and attacked Rome in 390 BC. In 280 BC they invaded Delphi in Greece (Davies 2001) and all this, naturally enough, influenced Roman and Greek attitudes. But we know from modern history that receivers always emphasize the violence of a movement and the migrators accentuate their innocent, peaceful intentions and the advantages brought to the original inhabitants. History always depends on whose side of the story you hear.
The Celts and Germans are basically part of the same development. I have a great deal of difficulty distinguishing between Saxon, Celtic or even early Viking artifacts and John Davies (2001) admits the Germans as described in “the first century BC were remarkably similar to the Celts as described by authors two centuries earlier”. The Celtic and German languages were probably originally simply opposite ends of a dialect chain [Indo-European Languages]. Some people believe the only difference between Celt and German is the River Rhine (see for example Cunliffe 1994).
The Roman Empire’s expansion north to the Rhine led to greater contact within and between different regions of the Empire. This eliminated many differences between the languages spoken within the Celtic parts of it. In fact some people regard Latin itself as being closely related to the Celtic languages (Gamkrelidze and Ivanov 1990).
Latin had already expanded and replaced all the other languages on the Italian peninsular including other Indo-European ones. Ultimately it replaced Celtic within most continental parts of the empire. Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian are all descended from regional varieties of Latin. The Latin and Celtic languages were lost in Britain because Anglo-Saxons brought their branch of German into the country about 1600 years ago.
Their language gave rise to Modern English, which has since spread widely around the world and also replaced many other languages. Spanish, Portuguese, French and Russian are other Indo-European languages that have spread far from their original homeland and replaced other languages. As in the example of the Roman Empire interactions within political boundaries (usually also geographic) and the use of writing has narrowed the original regional variation in each of these languages. The languages often still form clines of dialect within each political region though.
Before we leave the Indo-Europeans we’ll explore the Irish element of my pedigree. Like Maori the Irish preserve stories of earlier inhabitants of their land. The list varies but usually has the first inhabitants as the Partholon who are attacked by the Fomorians. Survivors of this suffer the attack of the Nemidians with the result every one is killed. How they got their story through is a mystery. Some claim that in fact one survivor, Tuan mac Caraill, lived for hundreds of years and was eventually able to tell the Christian Saint Finnen the story (Campbell 1976). Meanwhile the next group, the Fir Bolg, had been followed by the Tuath de Danaan (my surname in Irish is spelled Tuathail). The Milesians next pushed these last two groups into the hills and deep forest. The stories say they became the “Little People”, leprechauns and fairies. There may be a kernel of truth in these stories but are they history, as we know it? The stories are similar to Maori stories of Patupaiarehe, Turehu, Maruiwi etc. Most populations have myths of people before themselves. Families tend to get pushed around over time. Of course to justify replacing them the newcomers usually portray the original inhabitants as being much more primitive than themselves.
Humans actually first arrived in Ireland near the end of the ice age, about 10,000 years ago. The defence mentioned Daniel Bradley’s (1996) mitochondrial DNA research on African, Indian and European cattle in “Pedigrees” [Selection]. He and some colleagues have also looked at human Y-chromosomes in Ireland (Hill et al 2000). They found that the vast majority of men on the west coast carry Y-chromosomes closest to just one of the many European Y-chromosome lines. This Y-chromosome (a version of R, see “MtEve” [The Trees]) actually forms a cline across Europe, dropping to just a few in the Middle East. As we would expect, the extreme margin of the human star’s Northwest European point has less genetic variety than does the middle of the human star. This Irish Y-chromosome is closely related to a very common one amoung Basques in the Pyrenees region, people whose language is not even Indo-European. The Y-chromosome type had probably spread along Europe’s western geographic margin long before the Indo-European languages reached the region. And even before rising sea level at the end of the ice age opened the English Channel (“The Last Point” [Islands Again]).
The jury can see from all this that, even though they come from just a single point of the human star, the European side of the New Zealand family is the product of a complex set of expanding and contracting genetic and linguistic migration waves. These waves have given rise within Europe to a complex of different races, religions and language groups. You will meet the very first people into the human star’s Northwest European point in Part IV (see “Contents”).
My great grandfather left Cork in Southwest Ireland and came to New Zealand in 1861 (“Pedigrees” [Ancestry]). He was simply just one more individual in the wave of European migration around the outside of the star over the last few hundred years. This was made possible by technological and scientific advances in Europe. An especially useful advance was the development of ships capable of carrying large cargoes of humans and livestock.
Europeans colonised especially the Americas, South and East Africa, Australia and New Zealand. They usually relied on their gods and mythconceptions to justify their expansion, and to claim large tracts of land. Any resistance from the original inhabitants provoked indignant retaliation and yet more land confiscation. In spite of this the original inhabitants have survived and influenced the European immigrants culturally, technologically and even genetically. Populations of European origin in each region have become different from each other. On the other hand the original populations have also adopted the invaders’ technology, and usually language and other elements of culture.
The development or introduction of new technology leads to times of plenty, an increase in population and alters the environment. At such times hybrids are most likely to form (“Change” [Galapagos Finches]). As the new technology expanded the boundaries became porous. As we would expect, any hybrids between Europeans and the indigenous inhabitants have a mix of characteristics from each kind. Many characteristics are halfway between the two (“Hybrid Vigour and Inbreeding” [Survival]). And of course the new technology and culture introduced to each region caused massive change in the environment. This in turn caused a new round of extinctions. In many cases environmental change has been so great we cannot even begin to imagine what the regions were like before any Europeans, let alone earlier humans, arrived.
However in order really to understand the defence case the jury must try. The defence will attempt to give you some idea in “Extinctions” [How Did We Do It?]. And of course climate change had altered all regions hugely many times before anything like humans appeared.
In Part I the jury saw how genes work and we looked at the overall distribution of modern human kinds around the world. You saw how, within any group of humans, languages, and even of species, the points or margins of distribution become the most different from the overall average.
In Part II we have looked in some detail at several geographic margins of the human distribution. Our examination of both the Polynesian and Indo-European ancestors of the New Zealand population showed that human migration, language replacement and gene flow has been virtually continuous for at least the last five to ten thousand years. This process has led to the patterns we see for the development of races and diversification into tribes, sometimes speaking different languages.
The jury has seen that human expansions are always limited by the technology the particular human group possesses at the time. On the other hand technology allows the expansion of any culture that possesses it but the technology, and often the culture and language, spread further than the genes. The defence asks the jury to remember all this. Of course geography has had a major influence on the direction and extent of the waves of expansion (“The Human Star” [Geography]).
In Part III we will widen our perspective and move rapidly back through the past. The defence will show that the processes and patterns covered so far have been active during the evolution of all species.
In Part IV the jury will be able to see how we can use this evidence to help us understand all the stages in the evolution of the modern human species, Homo sapiens.
By the time we reach the end of Part V we will have followed this evolution right back to where we are now. The jury will have seen all the waves of technology, culture and genes from apes until today.
See next :: Human Evolution On Trial - 'Time'
Aldamiz, Luis Expansion of Indo-European Peoples
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