(Chapter VI, section 8)


It is unnecessary to dwell long upon the conclusions reached in this chapter. They may be stated very simply and briefly.

The predominant peoples of the Iron Age in Europe as well as in central Asia, the West-Asiatic highlands, and India were Indo-European speakers. For some mysterious reason as yet incompletely understood, various branches of this linguistic stock underwent periods of rapid expansion during which the human beings who spread these languages migrated in many directions and disseminated their physical type as well as their speech among other peoples. There had, however, been comparable expansions before this. The conquest of the cold brought human beings into parts of the world where only Neanderthal men and lower animals had lived, under equivalent climatic conditions, before them. In the absence of competition and in the abundance of game, they were able to multiply until they were sufficiently numerous to satisfy the requirements of their environment. The retreat of the ice and the shifting of belts of climate had precipitated other movements which may have taken the form of expansions, and the discovery of agriculture and animal husbandry, of course, gave rise to that expansion which Childe calls the Neolithic Revolution.

The Danubian invasion of central Europe from the east may be considered as an isolated wing of this movement, that of the swineherds who entered Europe from the southeast, another. In the same way, we may consider the migration of the megalith-builders by sea; the wanderings of the Bronze Age brachycephals, by land and water; and the rapid movements of the Corded people across the plains of eastern and central Europe, as successive and at the same time parallel expansions. Thus, this business of expansions was not initiated by the Indo-European speakers. If we knew the languages of the peoples who proceded them, we might in each case find parallel linguistic as well as racial circumstances.

The principal point to this chapter is that the Indo-European languages were, at one time, associated with a single, if composite, racial type, and that that racial type was an ancestral Nordic. We have determined this through a study of the skeletal remains of peoples known to have spoken these languages at or near the time of their initial dispersion from their several centers. The sub-variety of Nordic concerned in each case varied, and the variations usually depended upon mixture with other peoples, amalgamated during the process of differentiation and expansion. Nevertheless, the various brands of Nordic so produced were still very much alike.

Another result of the investigation pursued in this chapter is the discovery that the mysterious Urnfields people, who began, toward the end of the Bronze Age, to destroy their skeletal evidence and did not cease this practice until well into the Iron Age, were probably Nordics. Hence the smoke veil has been lifted and we may be reasonably sure of what happened. Under this screen the Nordic-like Early and Middle Bronze Age peoples of central and eastern Europe became Iron Age Indo-Europeans; no important change of race, then, took place in the focus of Urnfields development, that is, in eastern Germany, Poland, and the Ukraine. It is likely that no important change of language occurred there either.

Since, as we have seen, the Early Bronze Age central Europeans were racially a Corded-Danubian blend, a concordance of racial facts with the most recent linguistic deductions would make the following proposition likely:

The Danubians who settled the fertile plains and valleys of eastern and central Europe already spoke basic Indo-European; the Finno-Ugrian-Caucasic blend which produced this linguistic entity took place before their migration westward. The introduction of Altaic words, particularly those concerned with care of the horse, were infused into the previous Indo-European linguistic blend at the time of strongest Corded influence in central Europe, which produced the Aunjetitz culture.

This reconstruction helps to support Nehring's conclusion that the Danubians were the first speakers of Indo-European languages on European soil, and that Indo-European may be divided into two chronological levels without reference to the Centum-Satem division. If the original agricultural and cattle-raising complex was connected with the Danubians, the horse element with its Altaic linguistic connections would belong to the Corded. By this argument, we may construct a reasonably complete concurrence between the three disciplines: physical anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics.

At this point, a word of caution is needed. We must not carry the associations suggested in this chapter too far, and above all we must not form the opinion that the terms Nordic and Indo-European are inseparable. Indo-European speakers, from the moment of their initial dispersion, began mixing with other peoples, and the specific association between language and race found in this instance has by now been largely dissipated. Furthermore, the Nordic race as we have studied it in Europe was formed from the union of two or more widely distributed and essentially related racial types. It is quite possible and even likely that similar combinations of the same elements took place elsewhere, and that other Nordics may have arisen without reference to Indo-European speech. Furthermore, we must remember that, although most Iron Age Nordic groups of which we have literary descriptions were wholly or partially blond, we cannot be sure that all prehistoric skeletal material which seems Nordic in an osteological sense was associated with blond soft parts; we must also remember that the "Nordics" in the living sense have no monopoly on blondism.