Olives/was: Lactose Intolerance/Renfrew

JoatSimeon at aol.com JoatSimeon at aol.com
Fri Apr 27 06:39:23 UTC 2001

In a message dated 4/26/01 11:20:03 PM Mountain Daylight Time,
rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu writes:

[ Moderator's note:
  Mr. Mc Callister was quoting Geoff Summers (and mistakenly attributing the
  quote to JoatSimeon, to whom it was a rejoinder).
  --rma ]

>> There are no olives on the Central Anatolian Plateau, nor in are there
>> in Eastern Anatolia.

-- the Hittite archives clearly show widespread olive cultivation in the
Bronze Age; according to Macqueen (THE HITTITES, revised edition, 1986, p.
96) "... peas, beans, onions, flax, figs, olives, grapes, apples and
possibly pears and pomegranates also were grown."  Olive groves and olive
oil are mentioned in Hittite contracts, wills, tax-registers, etc.

Note that while the cultivation of flax is very old in Anatolia, the Near
East, and the adjacent portions of the Balkans, the Greek word for linen is a
cognate of a form found in a group of West-Central European IE languages,
rather than from Anatolian.

(*linom: from which Old Irish (Lin), Welsh (Llin), Latin (linum), Old
Prussian (lynno), Lithuanian (linas), Old Church Slavonic (linenu), etc.  The
Germanic form could be a Latin loanword or just as easily from western PIE
via Proto-Germanic).

Incidentally, the wild biota know to the Hitties included lions, leopards
and gazelles; and elephants as close as northern Syria.  Lion were present
in Greece, the Balkans and some other parts of southern Europe well into
Bronze Age times.

PIE, one should note, does not have a securely attested word for lion, leopard,
tiger (present as far west as the Caucasus in the Neolithic-Bronze Age period),
or elephant.  The Greek term for lion may or may not be a semitic loan;
traditionally it's attributed to a Hebrew form, 'layis'.  There's a similar one
in Slavic.

If PIE derived from Anatolia, it would be extremely odd that Anatolian IE,
Armenian, Greek and Indic would all come up with different words for common
animals like this.  The Tocharian word for lion derives from a descriptive term
("bristly hair")

Likewise, PIE lacks a word for the fallow deer, common throughout southern
Europe, but has terms for 'elk' and 'red deer'.

And there are solidly PIE words for "fox", "bear", "lynx" and "wolf"

The logical conclusion would be that the IE languages were intrusive in
areas which had chamois, leopards, lions, tigers, elephants, fallow deer,
etc; and native to an area with bears, foxes, roe deer, lynx, and wolves.

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