New research shows over 400 languages originated in Turkey

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The ancient land of Anatolia is now in the west of modern Turkey.
Image: NASA.

Academic journal Science published research this week claiming that modern Indo-European languages originated in Turkey, around 9,000 years ago. Over 400 languages, spoken by in excess of 3 billion people, are traced back to Anatolia, now part of modern-day Turkey.

The paper, "Mapping the Origins and Expansion of the Indo-European Language Family", contradicts the established view that the Indo-European group of languages originated in the Pontic steppes of south-west Russia around 6,000 years ago. Researchers used techniques originally developed to track the spread of viral epidemics to give new insights into the development of languages. They say that "Both the inferred timing and root location of the Indo-European language trees fit with an agricultural expansion from Anatolia beginning 8,000 to 9,500 years ago."

The hypothesis that Indo-European languages came from Anatolia was first proposed in the 1980s by archaeologist Colin Renfew, Baron Renfew of Kaimsthorn.

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