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Time Line of Indo-European Peoples and Cultures
(after Cyril Babaev with modifications by M.-G. Boutet and David Frawley)

Before the Ice Age ended Central Asia was colder and wetter. After the Ice Age it was wetter for a time until the heat dried up all the melting glaciers.

It seems that the heart of the original Indo-European homeland, the original Arya-Varta at the end of the Ice Age, was in the Himalayas or surrounding valleys. The Indus-Saravati region was a desert in the Ice Age period. Only after the end of the Ice Age did it become fit for agriculture.

There were several Arya-Vartas. Vedic Arya Varta was on the Sarasvati. Afghani Ariana was on the Harirud (Sarayu). Persian Arya-Bija was in the Himalayas. It also seems that we have two groups of the Aryas. A northern Danava group centered in Bactria and Sogdia, and a southern Sudanava group in the Indus-Sarasvati, with Afghanistan/Gandhara as the link region, with naturally much contact between the two.

The original homeland of the Danubian and Pontic cultures of Europe was positioned East and South of the Aral Sea in present day Turkestan between the Syr Darya and Amu Darya (Oxus) rivers and Bactria, Sogdia neighbouring the Indus culture South.

Arya Varta is also called Ila Varta, the land of Ila, the daughter of Manu, connected with Sarasvati as a Goddess of speech and learning.

Manu was said to have come from South India near the end of the Ice Age and took refuge in the Himalayas. That was his first land. This first land of Manu, Arya Varta or Ila Varta was connected to Mount Meru.

After the end of the Ice Age he returned south and founded the new Arya Varta or Ila Varta on the Sarasvati and Drishadvati Rivers of north India. This would have been around 10,000 - 8000 BCE.

As for Uttara Kuru, which was also connected to Manu, I have been able to trace it in Vedic texts to the upper Indus, Gilgit, Baltistan and Ladakh to Mount Kailas in Tibet. I have not been able to trace it further north or west, though this might be possible. It was also a famous land of Soma. Along with Kashmir, Kulu and other Himalayan valleys, it was the spiritual homeland of the Vedic people.

Around 10 000 BCE and earlier, spread of Nostratic into Eurasia from warmer climates of North India

9000 BCE - 8000 BCE domestication of animals, start of agriculture and village life

8000 BCE expansion of early Dravido-Indo-European culture from north-western Indic sub-continent into Central Asia

About 7000 BCE - 6000 BCE Proto-Indo-European unity and common language in Central Asia Individuation of Proto-Dravidic and Proto-Indo-European as separate speeches

About 6000 BCE Development of agriculture and irrigation in the Indus, Mesopotamian and Black Sea Dravidian and Indo-European cultures Early occupation of Pontic steppes and lower Danube, with horses domesticated about 6000 BCE

About 5500 BCE - 5000 BCE Proto-Indo-European culture with village life develops in the Pontic and Danubian areas

Around 5000 BCE - 3800 BCE - Danubian Vinca culture Husbandry, agriculture and horse domestication in Pontic areas

About 4000 BCE Introduction of metallurgy, agriculture and rudimentary writing (Lepensky Vir)

4500 BCE - 4000 BCE Regrouping of large villages into cities in Mesopotamia and Sarasvati|Indus valleys

About 4000 BCE - About 3500 BCE Proto-Indo-European areal dialects

About 3500 BCE Western expansion, Anatolian branch moves apart Emergence of city states: Uruk 3300 BCE, Susa 3000 BCE in Sumer; Harrapa, Mohenjo Daro 2350 BCE in Indus valley Northern Indo-European cities and hill forts: i.e.: Shortugai, on Oxus in Bactriana. India had its seven sacred cities that are mentioned in the Rig Veda at least by number

About 3300 BCE The Indus cities can now be traced back to 3300 BCE. The largest is Rakhigeri in the Kurukshetra region which recent excavations show is four times the size of Mohenjo Daro. These were all Vedic settlements. The Indus Civilization is entirely Vedic. This includes Harappa and Mohenjodaro. Curiously a new site, Rahkhigheri in Kurukshetra, though not well excavated was four times the size of Mohenjodaro. The Vedic Purus were the people of the Sarasvati to the sea and were responsible for the urban phase of that culture which began by 3300 BCE according to more recent evidence.

About 3000 BCE Spread of Indo-European languages into Western Europe with the Beaker cultures about 3000 BCE. -Kurgan or Pit Grave culture in the Pontic region that about 3000 BCE. -Corded Ware culture spread over the North European Plain, to southern Scandinavia and to the Baltic region and Russia (Sherrat 1994a & b)

About 2500 BCE Indo-Europeans spread on the Atlantic fringe of North-western Europe

-Bell-beaker culture, a variant of the Corded Ware beakers in the Rhine delta, spread over most of western Europe as far as Scotland, Portugal and Sicily (Sherrat 1994b).

II period: Individuation and differentiation of Indo-European identities (25th BCE - 13th BCE)

2250 BCE Proto-Hellenic Achaeans come to Greece

2100 BCE Hittites and Luwians settle in Central Asia Minor

2100 BCE Italo-Celtic tribes enter Europe

2000 BCE Proto-Italic tribes come to Italy

2000 BCE Doric Greek tribes settle in Illyria

1900 BCE Mycenae founded by Achaeans in Greece

By 1900 BCE when the Sarasvati dried up many peoples migrated mainly to the east of India but some also went west.

1750 BCE - 1250 BCE Ancient Hittite (Nesian) texts from Asia Minor

1700 BCE Rise of the Aryans of Persia and India: development of Mohenjo-Daro North India Aryan culture

1700 BCE - 1350 BCE Aryans identified as one of the nations of the Mitanni Empire

1600 BCE The Old Hittite Kingdom founded

1475 BCE Achaeans invade and conquer Eastern Crete

1450 BCE The New Hittite Kingdom founded

1450 BCE - 1050 BCE The Linear B script used in Greece

1450 BCE Assumed date for the first Veda created in India

1400 BCE Proto-Celts arrive in Spain

1400 BCE Achaeans appear on Cyprus

1400 BCE Slavs - a separate nation

1350 BCE - 750 BCE Luwian and Palaic texts in Asia Minor and North Syria

1300 BCE Illyrians spread from Pannonia to Dalmatia

III period: the Great Unrest (13th BCE - 7th BCE)

1250 BCE Phrygians come from Balkans to Asia Minor - the first Great Movement of Nations begins

1250 BCE First mentioning about Lycians

1250 BCE Baltic peoples move north and east

1230 BCE - 1150 BCE "Sea Peoples" destroy Hittite Kingdom, invade Syria, Palestine, Egypt

1230 BCE Achaeans conquer Troy

1200 BCE Achaeans start migrating to Crete, Cyprus, Asia Minor

1200 BCE Celtic cultures in Gaul (Gallia) and Germany (Germania)

1200 BCE Illyrians arrive at South Italy

1200 BCE Doric tribes invade Greece; soon they replace the Mycenaean civilisation

1100 BCE Thracian peoples come to the Balkans

1100 BCE New wave of Italics comes to Italy

1000 BCE Vedic people were in Sri Lanka by 1000 BCE, if not earlier.

900 BCE Illyro-Dravidian Etruscans in Italy from the Carian coast. Proof of a Dravidian language in Europe with I.E. invasions

800 BCE Avesta created in Iran

753 BCE Rome is founded by Italics

750 BCE - 250 CE Phrygian inscriptions

750 BCE Greeks begin their Great Colonisation effort in the Mediterranean outports

738 BCE Phrygian Kingdom founded in Asia Minor

730 BCE New wave of Proto-Celtic Cymmerians invade Europe and Asia and reach Pannonia and Lydia

720 BCE Armenian Kingdom

700 BCE Lydian Kingdom founded in Asia Minor

700 BCE Median Kingdom founded in Iran

690 BCE Cymmerians overturn the Phrygian Kingdom

675 BCE Scythians push out the main group of Cymmerians from Asia while others merge with the Tokharian Issedones and Sacians to the East

650 BCE Celts settle in Britain and Ireland

IV period: Secondary Migrations (7th BCE - 1st BCE)

650 BCE - 350 BCE Lydian and Carian inscriptions in West Asia Minor

650 BCE Scythians move into Europe filling in the void left by the Celtic western migrations

639 BCE Elam loses its independence

600 BCE First Italic inscriptions

600 BCE New Celtic invasion to Spain

600 BCE Lydians extrude Greeks from Asia

590 BCE Scythian Kingdom in Asia destroyed by Medians

559 BCE Persian Kingdom founded

550 BCE - 330 BCE Old Persian Texts and Inscriptions

550 BCE - 250 BCE Thracian inscriptions

550 BCE - 50 BCE Messapic and Venetic inscriptions

546 BCE Lydia and Asia Minor conquered by Persians

510 BCE Rome gains independence from Etruscans

495 BCE Macedonia under Greek influence

493 BCE Persians capture Miletus

483 BCE Indo-Aryan expansion into Ceylon

480 BCE Thracian Kingdom of Odrisses

474 BCE Etruscan expansion stopped in Italy

450 BCE Celtic tribes move into Italy

449 BCE Greek decisive victory over Persia

380 BCE Illyrian Kingdom founded

350 BCE - 70 BCE Restoration of Scythian Kingdom in Steppes

330 BCE - 250 BCE Greeks spread all over Asia

322 BCE - 64 BCE Armenian Kingdom

320 BCE - 187 BCE Maurya Kingdom in India

280 BCE Celts arrive to the Balkans and Asia Minor

267 BCE All of Italy conquered by Rome

250 BCE Sarmatians come to Europe

250 BCE - 135 BCE Bactrian Kingdom

247 BCE - 225 CE Parthian Kingdom

146 BCE Greece conquered by Rome

135 BCE Iranian, Tokharic, and Turkish tribes plunder Bactria

133 BC Spain conquered by Rome

100 BCE - 20 BCE Hellenic and Iranian people leave Bactria and Sogdiana

50 BCE Gaul conquered by Rome

31 BCE Thrace conquered by Rome

9 BCE Illyria and Pannonia conquered by Rome

(The Final Expansions)
after Cyril Babaev

650 BCE Scythian expansion into Europe

As with any other ethnogenesis, it is always hard to tell what was the exact ethnic origin of the Central Asian steppes or European peoples, but one thing sure, these people were to play a very important role in the creation of European identity thus laying down the founding stone of European civilisation. Unfortunately, the picture however defined, gets more blurry as the time periods overlap.
This because of a process of contacts and assimilation which inevitably led to a mixing of peoples to the point that it makes it difficult to trace the language of this or that ethnic group. Such groups, recorded in the European history as Huns, Sarmatians, Scythians, Cymmerians, Avars, Alans, were in fact not single nations, but groupings of several peoples, frequently with different ethnic and language origins. That is, other Nostrasic groups came under the frame work of the aryanic tripartite structuralising process.

This is why, certain linguists identify Scythians with Iranians, while some others, confuse them with the Turkish group, or even of some other group. Scythians, in fact, were Indo-Europeans with Turkish, Uralic or Slavic captives, thus synthesising, at the basic level, non-Indo-European heterogeneous cultures as it was the case with other ethnic groups.

The Scythians criss-crossed the steppes from east to west and back many times. They went north to the Black Sea, rarely venturing into the forest regions north, and penetrated the Northern Balkans. There is abundant toponymic material from modern South Russia, Ukraine, Romania showing traces of the Scythians in place names of rivers and hills. This shows an occupation of the region by Scythian tribes from up to the 3rd century CE. This was before the area was overwhelmed by Huns from Asia. The Scythian language belonged to the Iranian group although showing strong influences from Slavic and Thracian. On the other hand, Slavic borrowed heavily from Scythian. This shows that both languages belonged to the same bilingual zone. Phonetic features of modern South Russian dialects and Ukrainian language betray an Iranian substratum. The names of the rivers Don, Dnepr and Dnestr are all Iranian in origin, from dn- the stem.

600 BCE Lydians push Greeks out of Asia

The century between 650 and 550 BCE was Lydia's Golden Age. Phrygia was overran by Cymmerians. In turn, Scythians took on the Cymmerians and then left Asia Minor. There were no countries around Lydia to contain it and prevent its development. Lydia, and its capital Sardis, was the important centre of Euro-Asian trade, in which the country found its prosperity.
Lydia felt it could gain supremacy in the region after Assyria started to lose power in the Middle East. In 605 BCE king Aliatt faced the resistance of the Greek polises of Asia Minor. when he decided to increase the Lydian influence in the East Mediterranean. Miletus and Smirna, which had struggled long for independence, were the strongest Greek cities. It was only in 600 BCE that Aliatt managed to capture Smirna thus forcing the Greeks out of Asia.
However, this didn't stop the Greek colonisation of the region but just suspended it for a while. Therefore, Lydia developed independently by culture and language. History was to show that it had only five decades to enjoy the independence.

590 BCE Scythian Kingdom in Asia is occupied by Medians

According to Herodotus, half a century before Medians, Lydians and Babylonians called the Scythians from the Northern Caucasus to their aid against the Cymmerians and Assyrian Empire. The Cymmerian cavaliers' nomadic power was the most powerful striking force in the region. Ironically, after the Cymmerians were eliminated, and after Assyria slowly began its decline, Scythians became the new threat of the Middle Eastern kingdoms. Scythians then established their own kingdom in Northern Iran, raiding Median lands and pillaging neighbouring towns and lands.
At that time after several wars, Media, the strongest kingdom in Iran, decisively won the victory over Scythians and made them retreat back into Central Asia. Because of the short period of the Scythian presence in Iran, made no significant impact on the languages and peoples of the country. That is, nothing that was detected by linguists and archaeologists.

550 BCE - 50 BCE Messapic and Venetic inscriptions

The history of Venetic, Illyrian, and Messapic tribes begins much earlier than the dates given here. In fact, it was around 1300 BCE that the Illyrians arrived in the Balkan peninsula. Later the Messapians crossed the Adriatic and appeared in Italy. Details about this early period of their history is gained only through archaeological material or by early Greek sources, since these peoples only started leaving inscriptions by the 6th century BCE. So, we are not sure when they started to exist and what role they played in the Indo-European scheme.

Venetic speakers are often confused with Italics, or Illyrians, but even though closely related to these groups, they evidently formed a family of their own. Venetic has closer ties with the Celtic, Germanic languages, and possibly, with Slavic. This is inferred because of the similarity of one tribal name. The Este (Ateste) culture, which was flourishing in northern Italy and Slovenia, left much epigraphic evidence (about 250 texts, mainly dedications and epitaph inscriptions). The texts were written in a local script, possibly a variety mixture of Etruscan and Greek writing, or in a modified Latin script. The Venetics were assimilated in the 1st century BCE by the Romans and took up Latin. On the Atlantic coast, Venetics were also assimilated to Celtic, to the point that when Caesar fought their navy in 56 BCE, they had totally merged with the Gauls.

The Illyrians left little written records of their existence, although Roman writers left many glosses.
There is data of onomastics and toponymy as well.

As for Messapic, nearly 350 short inscriptions were found in south-eastern Italy. Being too short, they don't tell much about the grammar or syntax of the language. But then again, they are stated proof of the existence of Messapic and Illyrian.

450 BCE Celtic tribes move into Italy

The period covered by La Tène culture follows that of the Hallstatt culture and extends from about 450 BCE to the subjugation of Gaul by Julius Caesar in 58 BCE. This was at the peak of the Celtic civilisation.
La Tène culture was initially influenced by the Etruscan and Greek civilisations but developed regional variations through the centuries as the Celts spread through most of central and western Europe, over to Britain, north to Jutland, and elsewhere.
Some common features may be noted throughout, however, such as curvilinear ornamentation (S shapes and spirals) and animal art forms. Burials were by inhumation or by covering with cairns of stones. This was the period of the beginning of urbanisation, of new industries, and of new artistic traditions.
By this time, the Celts had crossed the Alps and passed into Northern Italy, where they soon spread over the Padus (Po) valley. In the Po, they met different nations with whom they mingled and dominated. These were the Ligurians, who are believed to have been Indo-Europeanised aborigines, Etruscans, Venetic and Italic peoples. True that the Italic and Celtic languages were still close enough to be understood by one another. From then on, the Italic languages (and namely Latin) were acquiring many Celtic words and terms. The Celts themselves borrowed many features from the neighbouring languages. Gradually the Celtic of the Southern Alps region, originally a primitive Gaulish, became different from that of contemporary Gaulish Celtic into a language now called Lepontic.
In 390 BCE the Celts resume their expansion over Europe by invading Central Italy, where in 387 BCE, allied with Etruscans, they destroy the Roman army, capture and plunder Rome. Surprisingly, this incursion had very little influence on the politics and culture of Italy. Satisfied with receiving a huge tribute from Rome, the Celts retreat back to the north.

350 BCE - 70 BCE Scythian Steppes Kingdom

In 512, the Persian king Darius was defeated by the Scythian army, after having crossed the Danube and venturing too far into the steppes. After this, the Scythians consolidated their state to the point that in 350 BCE, Scythia, next to Greek Black Sea colonies, became a true kingdom. It therefore could be said that the "King Scythians", developed one of Europe's first monarchies. The kingdom, under the rule of Ateus, began to expand in the region. King Ateus managed to unify the Scythian tribes into a powerful state. Ateus also vassalised many other nations in the Black Sea region, including Crimea's Cymmerians.
Under Ateus, the Scythians invaded and occupied part of Thrace. He then conquered the shores of modern Bulgaria, and the Greek city states on the coast were also forced into accepting Scythian protection. After Ateus' death, Philip of Macedonia, by the Danube, defeated the Scythian army, thus putting an end to the Scythian expansion.
During the following two centuries, the Scythians took Crimea and assimilated Taurian tribes.
The Scythians had also close contacts with Slavs and Baltic peoples who inhabited territories north of Scythia. To a point that today's Russian, Belorussian and Ukrainian languages bear the Scythic Indo-Iranian imprint, both in vocabulary and pronunciation.

320 BCE - 187 BCE Maurya Kingdom in India

In 324 BCE, not long after Alexander's death, in Greek dominated Western India, began the rebellion against the Macedonian rule. Rebels led by Chandragupta managed to gain victory over the Macedonian garrisons and drove them out of India. Chandragupta, an Indian kshatrya, first served Alexander during his struggle against the king of Magadha.

At the head of his rebel army, Chandragupta head for the Magadha capital, overthrew the king and founded his own dynasty.
Chandragupta's reign was one of a time of great expansion for India. He thus unified all of North India's states and principalities. Then, in other successful wars against the Greeks, he acquired the territories of what is now Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Better known are his successors Bindusar and Asoka, during whose reign the kingdom's expansion was directed at South India. Thus began the assimilation process of many non-Indo-European tribes. Asoka unified India as one nation giving it Buddhism, his religion.
During this rule, the Aryans moved to the Dravidian south; where the economy flourished and great constructions were undertaken throughout the country. With Asoka's death, this great unity was lost because India was still a mosaic of conflicting tribes with different cultural levels. The country was divided in 236 between his two successors. And in 187 BCE, the last heir of the Asokan dynasty was killed by one of his commanders.

280 BCE Celts move West to the Balkans and Asia Minor

Gallo-Celtic warlords lead their tribes into the Balkan peninsula.
Great numbers of warrior bands and their people descend the Danube and cross into Illyria, Thracia and on into Macedonia. All of Macedonia's forces are engaged into the conflict against the Celts.
Macedonia falls and the country is pillaged. In 279, the Celts move on to Greece, and destroy several cities. Sparta is captured for a short period, but the Celts are defeated near Delphi and are forced to retreat out of Greece.
Following another minor defeat to the hands of Antioch I, the king of the Seleucid Kingdom, the Celts in their retreat South, cross the Bosphorus into Asia Minor, where in 278, they founded the Galatian kingdom. Anatolia, once before the centre of the Phrygian kingdom, had also been the homeland of their Cymmerian cousins. The Celts remembered that it had once been an ancestral possession. Through Classical sources, we have the names of the three main tribes of Asian Celts: the Tolistoages, Tectosages, and Trokmoi.
Galatia survived for a while under difficult conditions: wedged between the Seleucid Kingdom and Pergam, the power to the north; the Celtic district was left without access to the sea and with no possibility to develop sea trade. Weakened by its isolation, Galatia became in the 2nd century BCE, the protectorate of the Pontic kingdom, and by the next century, became a province of Rome.
The Celts of Galatia spoke a Gaulish dialect. Unfortunately, little records of their language were found, so we are left ignorant of its evolution. We can infer that they had Druid priests also because of toponomy. A place name called Drunemeton, "True or Firm Sanctuary" betrays their presence.

135 BCE Iranian, Tokharic, Turkish tribes plunder Bactria

At the time the Bactrian kingdom was losing in power and the integrity of its territory and cities became more and more threatened by nomadic tribes who moved in the Asian steppes at its border. Tribal alliances formed by Massagetian tribes from north of Bactria, were the state's main menace. The Kings of Bactria called for help to the Parthians and Seleucids, but none answered the call. Most of the surrounding states longed for the fall of Bactria.
A great number of Tokharians are believed to have settled there in great numbers since later, Bactria was renamed Tokharistan, for land of the Tokhars. The main body of Tokhars settled on the northern banks of the Amudarya river where the high king's residence was situated.
The Tokharians, had come from the Tarim basin from the Northeast. The Tokharian languages belonged to the Centum Indo-European language group. Although distantly related to Iranian and Indic, they were closer related to the Celtic and Italic languages with with they form a branch of their own.
These languages were once united at the Proto-Celtic level, that is, before Celtic.
The Tokharian state, that was very extensive, was divided into several independent principalities. The Chinese sources mention five, and the most powerful of these was the kingdom of Kuchanes.