Episode 11: Germanic Ancestors

We look at the emergence of the Usatovo culture which spoke an Indo-European dialect believed to be the ancient ancestor of the Germanic languages – including English. We also look at the later migrations of the Indo-European tribes throughout Europe and Central Asia.


Map Prepared by Louis Henwood (Click Map for Larger Image)

Map Prepared by Louis Henwood (Click Map for Larger Image)

16 thoughts on “Episode 11: Germanic Ancestors

  1. Pingback: Language history – Lesson 1 | Internet och allt

  2. There’s a small historical error in this episode. The Bell Beaker people did not build Stonhenge. It was Neolithic farmers decended from the population that entered the Balkans from Northwest Anatolia that raised and used Stonehenge long before the arrival of the Beaker folk. Beakers and associated artifacts have been found on the site, but those were left long after the original construction of the circle. Beakers had a habit of burying their dead in the mounds of others – probably as a seal-the-deal take-over statement.

  3. Could the sound shift from PIE to Proto-Germanic be due to interaction with large numbers of non-PIE speaking peoples who had difficulty with some of the sounds in PIE who adopted the language of the Indo-Europeans but spoke a pidgin form of it?

    • Perhaps. Linguists can identify the specific sound changes based on diligent research, but generally speaking, I don’t think they can identify the specific causes that triggered the changes. Perhaps one day they will be able trace those linguistic factors as well.

  4. you’re so ignorant and classically racist it goes from enraging to comical. and what a snowflake you are! you can’t handle a diverse world that changes and evolves! it’s always been that way and it’s beautiful. do us all a favor and die out.

  5. Kevin, would you please delete this person’s comment. The website he links to through his runic name is full of pro-Germanic/anti-other race soundtracks.

  6. At the end of this episode you mention that the Indo-Iranians established the Indus Civilization. This has largely been ruled out. The Indus Valley Civilization sites give no evidence that there were even horses at all, which contrasts with the importance of horses in Indo-Iranian Cultures. In addition, in 2018, (which was long after this episode was made) analysis of the preserved DNA from one of the Indus Valley sites indicated that residents had no steppe-pastoralist (IndoEuropean) ancestry.

    I know this is fairly inconsequential in an episode about IndoEuropean migrations in Europe, but it’s a pretty key fact in Indian history.

  7. These episodes have been very good but I must say that your distinctions between Corded Ware and migrating NW Indo-Euros (saying they interacted between eachother and traded) is quite absurd given Corded Ware skeletons have thorough genetic continuity with the Yamna Steppe populations and material continuities; and are thus clearly an extension of the culture genetically and materially rather than an exonomous trading partner!

    • Hi Martin,

      Keep in mind in that this episode was written and released back in 2012 before the DNA studies you referenced were conducted. Those studies were compiled a few years later, and while they tended to confirm much of the information contained in the early episodes of the podcast, they also provided a stronger link between the Yamnaya herders and the Corded Ware people than I suggested in the episode. I’m not sure if there is a consensus that the two groups are essentially the same, but I do recognize that the relationship has been re-evaluated in light of those subsequent studies. Given that this episode pre-dates those studies, I’m not sure that it’s fair to state that the information provided is “quite absurd.”

  8. Hi – Thank you for this Podcast. I was just given this podcast info by a freind this week. I speak German as a second language and lived in Germany, am also an intermediate Spanish learner. I am only as far as #11 but am finding it very interesting. It is also great that people bring in new info that has come to light since an episode has been made, here in the comments. I really appreciate learning about the history of, as well as the relationships between the languages that I am familiar with. I am excited to keep listening and have this resource. Best Regards,

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