Renfrew and IE Overlords

Stanley Friesen sarima at
Mon Dec 20 02:34:47 UTC 1999

[ Moderator's note:
  I have replaced Mr. Friesen's old e-mail address "sarima at" with
  his new address "sarima at".
  --rma ]

At 03:20 AM 11/2/99 -0500, X99Lynx at wrote:
>And where exactly did these IE speaking "overlords" get their supposed
>dominance? It certainly wasn't the horse, which shows no sign of being a
>factor in seige or decisive war before 1000BC.

And where is it said that warfare is the *only* way of establishing
dominance?  What about "buying" it?  In that the horse and wheel could well
give their possessors significant advantage, by allowing long-range trade
with fewer intermediaries, and on shorter time-frames.

> And the chariot was just a
>platform for conveying war leaders around in Homer.

There are very strong arguments that this was a late, and degenerate, state
of affairs.  In particular the evidence from Egypt prior to 1100 BC shows
clearly that the chariot was a mobile combat platform, actively used in
shock warfare.

But that is probably irrelevant anyway, as the true war chariot seems to be
post-PIE unity in date.

><<In many ways, I see the spread of European languages to Polynesia, and the
>spread of Latin into most of Europe, as the best models for the spread of IE
>languages in prehistory.>>

>But Latin's prestige didn't come from a bunch of headbashing riders off the
>steppes.  The advantages of Latin had to do with access to trade, crafts,
>technology and much personal advancement that no profile of a pastoralist IE
>speaking barbarian could appear to offer.

Not by the time of Rome. But in earlier times they would have been the
height of modern technology, and might well have had many of the same
advantages relative to the neolithic cultures they came into contact with.
(By Roman times even barbarians were iron-age).

>In fact that model does work unless the invader has a steady flow of
>technologically advanced resources and/or sheer population numbers shoring
>him up.  That was the case in the new world.  On the other hand,  the French
>don't speak Frankish.  The English do not speak Anglo-Norman or Danish.
>Italians don't speak Odacer's language.  And Slavic has consumed a long list
>of "dominant elite" languages like they were just popcorn at the ballpark.

I suspect a major factor is social.  A language is accepted or ignored for
reasons of group identification.  Size or military dominance is only one
aspect in establishing a desire for identifying with some group.

><< Also, place names based on late borrowings are a trifle unusual.   Even
>here in the USA, most non-English place names are substratal (Amerindian or
>Spanish), and we are notorious polyculturalists.>>

>The "late borrowings" do not refer I believe to place names.  Herodotus
>however does mention Pelagasian placenames - and he says he does not know
>what kind of language Pelagasian is, but that it is not Greek.

But it is the place names that most clearly indicate a non-IE presence in
Greece.  Renfrew needs to explain these.   Even if the other non-IE
elements  are late borrowings, the presence of a non-IE substratum in the
place names pretty much requires that Greek arrived from elsewhere at
*some* point in time.

May the peace of God be with you.         sarima at

More information about the Indo-european mailing list