Indo-Europeans Re-Defined

The Indo-Europeans were a patriarchal people from the steppes, said Marija Gimbutas. Not so, said Colin Renfrew. They came up from the Middle East with the spread of agriculture.

This debate was famous. I don’t remember the world before.

Renfrew had the mojo. The science types sided with him. Gimbutas was a whack-job. She was a favorite of modern neo-pagans and goddess worshippers.

Now Renfrew has said: “Marija [Gimbutas]’s Kurgan hypothesis has been magnificently vindicated.” Big news. Earth-shaking news.

That doesn’t mean academia will be embracing Gimbutas’ cultural theories. She posited a pre-invasion world of matriarchy, peace, and equality. That world of Old Europe was, she thought, destroyed by war-like patriarchal invaders from the steppes beginning about 4400 BCE. That is, it wasn’t just a new population but also a cultural revolution.

Renfrew isn’t accepting any of that. Just the origin of the language and culture we call the Indo-Europeans.

This dispute matters for the Hauri DNA Project because the Hauris belong to a branch of Haplogroup G that is thought to have migrated into Europe from the Middle East with the spread of agriculture in the Neolithic, about 7000 BCE. That is, they would be among Colin Renfrew’s Indo-Europeans. Now that he’s shifted, the Hauri’s place in history is now pre-Indo-European.

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Revised Apr. 19, 2020 to add links.