Ancient DNA and the Origins of the Indo-European Languages

Archaeology is undergoing a revolution caused by rapidly advancing methods for analyzing ancient human DNA. Big changes are coming in how we know and what we know about our shared human past, who we are genetically, and where our ancestors came from. One scientist calls the new combination of archaeology and genetics “molecular archaeology”.  We can track ancient migrations with an exactness unthinkable ten years ago, to determine where geographic populations like ‘the English’ or ‘the Greeks’ actually came from, and to identify the ancient populations that contributed to their genetic ancestry. By comparing the DNA of more than 200 prehistoric people who lived in various eras in places scattered across Europe, we discovered that a massive migration of wagon-dwelling nomads happened about 5000-4500 years ago, moving from the Russian steppes into the agricultural heartland of central and western Europe. It introduced into Europe the genetic ‘recipe’ or combination of traits that remains typical of Europeans (and Euro-Americans) today. The same migration also probably introduced the languages that later evolved into Greek, Latin, Celtic, German, English, and most of the other languages of modern Europe, all members of what is known as the Indo-European language family.

Thursday, 3/3/2016 at 4:00 pm, Reed Hall, room 104

Lecturer: David W. Anthony, Hartwick College

This event is free and open to the public!