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Friday, 20 May 2016

Missing the mountain in the room

How important were the mountains in the culture of Proto-Indo-Europeans? . The straightforward answer is : very ! . I will now post some related researches on the issue . I have plans to edit the post in the future ,with each new data, that I will find .

In a recent research on PIE and Proto-Altaic Landscapes , Russian scholar Anna Dybo makes the following conclusion :

The article is the first part of a larger work that represents an attempt to systematize our ideas on the natural environment and material culture of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. It is based on a more or less complete selection of reconstructed words from the appropriate semantic areas and on their comparison with a similar selection performed for a protolanguage of similar time depth, whose speakers evidently inhabited a territory that was not in contact with the Proto-Indo-European one — Proto-Altaic. In this part, only the words that belong to the semantic field of landscape terms are analyzed. The main conclusion is that the hypothesis of a steppe environment is more applicable for the Proto-Altaic population, whereas for Proto-Indo-Europeans a mountainous region seems more appropriate. As for the water bodies, for Proto-Indo-Europeans we should suppose the existence of a sea (or of a very big lake), and for speakers of Proto-Altaic, the existence of very big rivers with season floods.  
But long before her research as she also refers there,Tamaz Gamkrelidze and Vyacheslav Ivanov in their well known book Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans: A reconstruction and historical analysis of a proto-language and a proto-culturemade the following observations,  from page 575:

The ancient lndo-Europeans' conception of high mountains
An essential distinguishing feature of the ancient Indo-European conception ofmountains and cliffs is the image of mountains of great height reaching to thesky. This is what must have given rise to the Proto-Indo-European image of' stone sky ' . In Indo-European the very word for ' stone ' also means ' sky' ,conceived of as a stone vault: Skt. asman- ' rock, cliff', ' stone tool, stone hammer', ' thunder god's stone' , ' sky'; cf. Avest. asman- ' stone; sky ' . Traces of suchusage are preserved in Greek, where the cognate akman ' stone anvil' is also usedin reference to the sky: akmifn ho ouranos. In Homer, Zeus suspends ' twoanvils' (akmonas dUO, Iliad 1 5 . 1 9), i.e. two huge stones, from Hera's feet as shehangs head down from the sky (see Reichelt 1 9 1 3). Cognates meaning ' stone' inother Indo-European languages are used of the ' stones' of the thunder god, whothrows them down to the earth from the skies: Lith. Perkiino akmuif ' stone ofPerkunas ' , Pol. kamien piorunowy ' stone of Perun' . The Balto-Slavic mythicimage of a thunder god who lives in the sky on a high cliff is a reflex of thesesame Proto-Indo-European concepts of a sky made of stone and stony cliffsreaching to the sky.

The connection of mountains and clouds in the perception of the ancientlndo-Europeans
The image of high mountains is further connected with the ancient IndoEuropean
conception of clouds as mountains (Potebnja 1 9 14 : 1 76) and of rain as
sent by a mountain deity. In the Rigveda the Proto-Indo-European words
meaning 'mountain' and ' cliff' , parvata-, girf- , adri-, also have the meanings
' cloud, storm cloud'. In an Old Latvian rainmaking ritual, prayers are offered
to the mountain god Perkons on hills in thick groves (Ivanov and Toporov
1 974:9).
The combination of meanings 'mountain' and 'cloud' in one word is explained
by properties of the actual topography - high mountains literally
reaching to the level of the clouds. A similar polysemy is displayed by PIE
*nebh. ' sky, fog, cloud' , which also reflects physical reality - the fact that the
sky is often cloudy and foggy. Compare Skt. nabhalJ 'cloud; sky; air, space' ,
Latv. debess ' sky, cloud' .
The original polysemy of *nebh. i s transformed i n most daughter languages,
so that only one of the two meanings is preserved. In some dialects, reflexes of
*nebh. mean ' sky ' , while other words are used of clouds; in other dialects,
reflexes of *nebh- mean ' cloud' while special words for ' sky' are innovated:3
' Sky': Hitt. nepis ' sky' (beside alpa- ' cloud'); Avest. nabah- ' sky ' , 'air, space'
(beside awra- ' cloud; rain'); OCS nebo, gen. nebese ' sky ' , Russ. nebo id.
' Cloud' : Gk. nephos ' cloud; fog; mist' ; nephele ' storm cloud' , ' fog' (beside
ouranos ' sky'); Lat. nebula 'fog, cloud' (beside caelum ' sky'), OIr. nel ' cloud,
fog' , OHG nebul (Ger. Nebel) 'fog' , OE nifol 'fog, mist' (beside OHG himil,
Ger. Himmel ' sky ' , OE heofon, Engl. heaven), Lith. debesis ' cloud' (beside
dangus 'sky').
The polysemy of words with the range of meanings ' mountain' , ' cloud' (and
similarly of words meaning ' sky' , ' cloud') reflects the physical reality of the
ancient Indo-Europeans ' topography: the physical fact of clouds building up at
peaks of mountains has left its traces in the semantic links found among these
words throughout early Indo-European traditions.

'Mountain' as 'high' 
Words with the meaning 'mountain' in the ancient Indo-European languages
often combine with attributives derived from *bh(e)q􀄽h. 'high ' , forming a
single lexical phrase. This usage is still well preserved in the Anatolian languages:
Hitt. parku- 'high' in parga(m)us IjUR .SAGMES-u! (acc. pI.) 'high
mountains ' , KUB XXXIII 9 Vs. 11.7, Luw. parrai- 'high' in the collocation
parrayanza IjUR.SAGMES 'high mountains ' , KUB XXXV 45 IT 5 (see Laroche
1 963). In the Rigveda the phrase is constructed with a derivative of the same
Indo-European root, brh-ant- 'high', together with parvata- ' mountain' : brhatas
parvattit (abI. sg.) 'from the high mountain', brhatas parvattin (acc. pI.) 'high
mountains ' , etc.;4 Arm. lerna-berj 'high as a mountain' (beside erkna-berj 'high
as the sky').
This archaic usage of *bhergh. in attributive function 'high ' S in combination
with ' mountain ' frequently leads to substantivation of derivatives of this stem with the specific meaning 'mountain' : 'high mountain' > 'high' > 'height' >
'mountain' . Examples include: Avest. barazant- 'high' (Pers. buland), baraz'
high; height; mountain' (Pers. burz 'mountain'), barazah- 'height' , barasnu'
height; high place; sky ' , Oss. brerzond 'high, heights, mountain' ; Arm. -berj
'height ' , cf. barjr 'high'. Gaul. Brigantes (ethnonym), lit. 'mountaineers' , OIr.
bri 'mountain' , Brigit, female deity (Vendryes 1 948:27 1 , de Vries 1 96 1 :80).
Goth. bairgahei 'mountainous area' , OIcel. bjarg, OHG berg 'mountain' (Ger.
Berg), OE beorh, beorg 'mountain' ; in Germanic these new terms for 'mountain'
displace the lost original term.
The term for 'mountain' , 'heights'
For Indo-European we can postulate an additional word meaning 'mountain' ,
'heights, high place ' , formed from the root *khel-: Hitt. kalmara- 'mountain'6
( * k h \- m o r - o - ), Lat. culmen, co lumen 'peak, top ' , columna 'column'
(* k h ! - m e n - ), collis 'hill' (*khJ- n i - or * kh o l - n i - ) , Mlr. colI 'head'
(*khol-n-), cf. OCS celo 'forehead '; OE hyll, Engl. hill (* kh!-ni-), OIcel.
holmr ' small island' (*khol-m-); Lith. kalnas 'mountain' , Latv. kaTns; Gk.
(Hom.) koldne 'hillock, hill' , kolophdn 'top, peak ' . These cognates include
words from Hittite, Greek, and the Ancient European language group, which
confirms the Proto-Indo-European nature of the derivatives of * khel- 'mountain,
high place' .
The elaborateness of the terminology for mountains in Indo-European
 We have seen that a number of words referring to mountains, rocky cliffs, and
high places can be distinguished in the Proto-Indo-European lexicon. The first
is *pher(kho )u- 'mountain' , 'mountain oak forest' , 'cliff, rock' (see II.4. 1 . 1 .4
above), which appears in a fixed collocation with other terms for 'mountain,
cliff' as an attributive with the meaning 'high, mighty' Gust as the phonetically
related *bhergh- functions as an attributive in the sense 'big, high'). Another
is * H k ' o(e/o)r-, with reflexes in all the main daughter stocks. * k hel- is
preserved in the Ancient European languages, Anatolian, and Greek. Finally,
*(o)nt'- and *mqth- are preserved only in languages of the extreme periphery.
Furthermore, we have seen that mountains were conceived of as a stony mass
reaching to the skies and having a cloud-covered peak.The natural assumption is that such a lexical subsystem could have developed only in a language spoken in a mountainous area.

Then again in p.763 :
The Indo-European proto-homeland as a geographical region with a
mountainous topography
The original territory of the Proto-Indo-European speakers must have been a
geographical region whose ecological, geographical, and culture-historical
characteristics corresponded to the picture of the environment that emerges
from the reconstructed lexicon of the proto  languages.9 The first thing that can
be claimed about the homeland with any reasonable certainty is that it was a
region with a mountainous topography. The most obvious evidence for this is
the great number of lndo-European words denoting high mountains and heights:
see the preceding chapters for *H(e/o)k'o(e/o)r- 'mountaintop' , * on t ' -/ *nt ' '
mountain, cliff, stone', * m(e)n-th- 'mountain, heights ' , * khol- 'heights ',
*bhergh- 'high' (of mountains). This is a landscape where the mountain oak
(* pher-kho-u- 'oak; cliff' , *aik '- 'mountain oak') and other trees and plants
found in regions with high mountains are widespread.
In agreement with this picture is the evidence concerning mountain lakes
(*or-u-o- 'large lake, sea' , cf. *sal- ' sea or lake as salty') and fast, rushing
streams (*Haph- 'river, mountain stream' , *thekho- 'flow swiftly'), and the evidence for a mountain climate with cloudy skies and frequent thunderstorms:
*nebhes- 'cloud, thundercloud, sky' , *Hwenth- 'wind', *Hk'oor- 'mountain
or north wind' , * seu-' * s u - 'rain' , *sneigho- ' snow ' , * gheim- ' winter',
* (y)ek'- and * eis-' *is- 'cold, ice'.
Another set of words connected with climatic phenomena precludes locating
the Indo-European proto-homeland in the northern regions of Eurasia:
*ghoer-m- and *theph- 'heat, warmth' .
This picture of the Proto-Indo-European landscape naturally excludes the plains areas of Europe which lack significant mountain ranges, i.e. the northern part of central Europe and all of eastern Europe, including the northern Black Sea area.

Also Italian Indologist Giacomo Benedetti , in his article on Indo-Iranians made the following observations citing Avesta :

If the Aryans were the nomads from the steppe, the situation in the Avesta and Firdusi should be completely opposite. Not only, in the hymns of the Avesta (e.g. Yt. 5) the ancient Iranian heroes are often associated with mountains, including the progenitor Yima, who is described as offering a sacrifice on the Hukairya mountain, which is probably in Pamir. Whence came these traditions if they came from the northern flatlands?
The Conclusion is obvious , mountains were integral part of the Proto-Indo-European tradition. This tradition can't originate in the hypothetical steppe homeland , the hypothetical homeland must be located in a mountainous area .

There is of course the case of Sea and even Seafaring! , but I will point on that intriguing issue in a next post.


Davidski said...

The Caucasus Mountain range is huge and visible from the Pontic-Caspian Steppe. And it's right next door to that massive lake called the Black Sea.

That's enough. We don't actually need a PIE homeland in the mountains.

Daniel de França MTd2 said...

This fits with the armenian urheimat.
It has a good date for origin of PIE and it is small enough for an homogeneous origin. It might be this culture.

It preceeded the kura axis but it doesn't show easily continuity. So, they probably left.
I read this article, they do show continuity, but is like more restricted. Like it shrank the territory. It is also related to Sumerians, or at least what preceeded them, the Uruk culture
Ararat is in the of t his system. This is the river where Noah's ark stoped after the flood. It's far off the usual domains of semitic stuff on the bible, perhaps it has its signifcance for the people around this region.

It's interesting that the SS culture people looked for specific types of stones. Obsidian is special in that it is used as a blades of wooden swords capable of decapitate the head of a horse with one or two strikes.

andrew said...

The Caucasus Mountain range is huge and visible from the Pontic-Caspian Steppe. And it's right next door to that massive lake called the Black Sea.

That's enough. We don't actually need a PIE homeland in the mountains.

A lot of the technological package of the PIE people has origins in the Caucasus Mountains, why shouldn't there be linguistic components to that package.

One plausible scenario is that PIE is a result of a blending of a Caucasian language with a Steppe language (or an EEF language) possibly as a creole.