About this year, as we may believe, first Hellenic tribes who were calling themselves Achaeans reached Greece. At that time the country was inhabited by non-Indo-European peoples which could be relative to the ancient population of Crete and Asia Minor. Greeks called them sometimes Pelasgians, or Lelegs, or Carians (an analogy with later inhabitants of Asia). Hellenes could come to the peninsula via Balkans, but it is more likely that they first appeared on the islands in the Aegean Sea, and then on the continent. This, together with some historical materials (very ancient Greek names and settlements in Asia, like Milet or the name of Ahhiyawa) proves their way led from Asia to Europe across the Aegean Sea.
The peoples who inhabited Greece before Indo-Europeans arrived, now had to be assimilated. However, 1500 years later Herodot mentions Pelasgians who still lived in Thessalia, on some islands and in several small cities in Greece. Hellenic tribes borrowed some religious beliefs from them (the chthonic gods of Earth, like Gé), as well as several words in the language: place names which have -th-, -ss-, -nt- suffixes, and some other words.
The Anatolian branch which included Hittite and Luwian languages must have broken apart from the Proto-Indo-European language much earlier, so we can guess that Anatolians migrated somewhere in Asia before they settled here, conquering the previous population, from which they took their name Hatti, their cities (Hattusa) and much of their religion and language. No doubt that Hittites and Luwians came from the East, maybe from the Caucasus, though there are opinions about their living in Greece earlier.
Soon Hittites will become the most powerful nation in the Middle East, and also the first Indo-Europeans who left rich literature to us. Hittites (or Nesians as they called themselves) occupied lands in the center of Anatolia, Palaic tribes lived northwards around the city of Pala, and Luwians preferred southern and eastern lands.
Among the first Indo-Europeans which penetrated in Central Europe, Celtic and Italic migrants are quite certain to be. It is known that the task to connect exact archaeological cultures with exact tribes at that time is not yet completed, but still according to the most widespread version, Celts were represented by the "cord pottery" culture. In the late 3rd millennium they began to migrate west from the Low Danube (where they lived together with Italics and Illyrians). Soon Celts appeared in France and in South Germany.
The date mentioned above can be regarded as a possible time of separation of Celtic language from Celto-Italo-Veneto-Illyrian language community.
At that time Northern Europe was not yet known by Indo-Europeans. They were just beginning to appear ion the Balkan peninsula and in East Europe. But still, scientists argue where these first Italics came from - the Alps or the Balkans. The immigrants represented the Latino-Faliscan subgroup of Italic languages; they settled mainly in Central and maybe Northern Italy (from where they were pulled later by Etruscans). The culture which was discovered here by archaeologists is called Terramar. In this period Italy looked like a mixture of different peoples and cultures dissimilar to each other. All they were non-Indo-Europeans, but linguistic materials are too scarce to state something more exact. It is known that those peoples could be relative to later Picenes who lived in Italy in historical times, to Ligurians who inhabited the north of the peninsula, to Sicelians who then were found in Sicily.
The second branch of Italic tribes was not in a hurry and will come to its future homeland a thousand years later.
While Achaeans, the first wave of Hellenic migrants, was settling down in Greece, coming from islands and Asia Minor, the other subgroup of Greeks, namely Doric tribes, decided to stay in northern Balkans. Archaeological cultures found here show that Doric (and Aeolian) peoples lived here quite long, not mixing, but yet contacting with other Indo-European peoples. This Doric place of living did not have any chance to contact high civilizations, therefore they did not develop as high as their relatives in Greece did.
Later Doric nation will decide to go southwards, will invade Hellas and destroy the Mycenaean civilization.
Constant influence from higher civilizations from Crete and maybe from Egypt caused to fast progress in development of the first Indo-European state: Hellenes started to build cities, involve into sea trade with other lands of East Mediterranean, among which Troy, Crete, Aegean Islands, Egypt were the most important at that time.
The main region of building cities is called Argolis, the western part of the Peloponnese. Soon there more new cities will appear, all of them being independent states struggling with each other: Tyrinth, Pylos, Argos, Naphplio and others.
Mycenae gave a name to the first Indo-European civilization in Europe. Mycenaean language was an archaic form of Greek.
The most reliable materials about the Anatolian peoples come from Hittite texts which were recorded on tablets and that is why were saved for the history. When in the beginning of this century Hittite texts were excavated, Czech linguist Bendrich Grozny was amazed to see that the language of them - texts were written in cuneiform similar to Accadian, that is why many thought they were Semitic - is the most archaic Indo-European.
The richest archive of Hittite tablets was found in Bogazkey, all of them can now be read. They talk about the history of Hittites even before the Old Kingdom was founded by Tlabarna, about traditions, religion, wars, culture and neighbouring peoples. But the most valuable for linguistics is the language itself. According to the texts linguists came to a conclusion that the Anatolian branch was the first to become independent from the Indo-European community, as Hittite represents quite a lot of strange and archaic features.
1700 BC Aryans came to
North India and destroyed Mohenjo-Daro
The Mohenjo-Daro (or Harappa) culture which was one of the first developed civilizations in the world, was slowly going to decline. Major floodings, economic crises and maybe more unknown reasons left it defenceless in front of the Indo-European invasion.
Aryans penetrated in India from Iranian and Afghani steppes via the Gindukush mountains. First they settled in Punjab (Five-Rivers, as it is called in Rgveda). Later they went farther to the east, to the Gang valley. Not far before Aryans separated from Indo-Iranian community, which is believed to be the last community of Indo-European language groups. Aryans came to the country where numerous peoples lived at that time. In order to separate somehow aborigines from Indo-European, castes were developed, and the fourth caste specially for the autochthnic population.
In archives of the Mitanni Empire, several texts were found written in the language very close to that of Indo-Aryan Vedas. Moreover, other Mitanni texts show that kings of the state worshipped several Indic deities bsides their own. All this makes us think that Aryans not only migrated east from the Indo-Iranian common homeland, but some of them moved westwards and settled in the Middle East.
All Indic terms found in Mitanni include several names of gods, a list of Mitanni kings, and a rather big text dedicated to horse breeding and horseback riding. Though the vocabulary of this language is not too wide, we can still state that besides Vedic language, other ancient Indic dialects existed. Later it could be seen in Middle Indic languages. Among the divine names of the Mitanni Aryan vocabulary we can name Indara (Vedic Indra), Assura (Vedic Asura, Avestan Ahura), Akni (Vedic Agni), Vruwanassil (Vedic Varuna), Suriiaas (Vedic Surya).
Mitanni Aryans were assimilated by Iranian and Semitic tribes shortly after the Empire was destroyed.
Hittites, who came 3 or 4 centuries before to Asia Minor from the Caspian lowlands, founded three independent states here, being divided in three main tribes: Palaic, Luwian and Hittite (or Nesian). In about 1750 BC Nesian kings start tio unite the nation, and in 1600 BC the united Kingdom was proclaimed by Labarna (or Tlabarna), who declared himself Hattusili the First, the king of all Hittites.
Hittites started quite an aggressive foreign policy, destroyed all Assyrian and Accadian trade colonies in Asia Minor and Syria, soon destroyed Mari, and in 1531 BC crushed Babylon. Hattusili I moved his capital to Hattusa, modern Bogazkey, and the Kingdom at that time was the most powerful and rich state in all Middle East region. Hittites slowly assimilated substratum languages of Asia Minor, borrowing quite a lot of vocabulary and grammar features from them. But the constant threat was going from the east where another aboriginal nation of Hurrites lived. Hurrites could be relative to the Caucasian language family. In 1500 BC the state of Mitanni, ruled by Hurrites, destroyed and partly occupied the Hittite Kingdom, which was suffering from a civil war. But the civilization was not destroyed.
1475 BC Achaeans invade and conquer Eastern Crete
The Minoan civilization, which was prospering on Crete for severla centuries, the first European high and poerful culture, suffered constant natural catastrophes: floodings, earthquakes and maybe vulcanoes caused loss of population and destroyed towns and palaces. This moment Achaean sea fleet crushed Cretans, and the wave of conquerors from continental Greece invaded the island.
In ten or fifteen years all eastern Crete was conquered by Indo-European Achaeans which not only destroyed all achievements of Minoans, but also acquired much knowledge from their rich culture. The most valuable thing which was borrowed from Cretans was writing, the alphabet called Linear B script (see below). In 1425 BC the Cretan capital Knossos was completely destroyed by a major earthquake together with its famous palace. Neat this time other palaces in Phest, Kato-Zakro and Mallia became also deserted.
This invasion meant the beginning of wide Hellenic expansion in the Mediterranean. They gradually occupied the majority of Cyclades islands, colonized the Asia Minor shores, where the main city of Miletus was founded in the 16th century, and broadened their sea trade up to Italian and Iberian coasts.
This year, after about a century of unstability, Hittites united vast Anatolian lands into the New Kingdom, with Hattusa as a capial again. Hittites conquered lands of their relatives Luwians and Palaics, and also neighbouring areas with aboriginal population. Besides, numerous waves of Hittite migrants now went farther and farther to the west, occupying lands of West Asia Minor, where later Lycians, Lydians (Maeonians) and Carians will live (see below).
The most magnificent epoch in the New Kingdom began in 1375-1335 BC with the king Suppiluliuma the First, who managed to crush and conquer the Mitanni Empire, occupy all Syria and gain victory over Egyptians. Suppiluliuma had a chance of becoming the Pharaoh: Tutankhamon's widow Anhesenpaaton was looking for his support and promised to marry his son. But the possible Pharaoh was killed in Egypt.
Anyway, Hittites created once more the strongest power in the Middle East, which existed up to its sudden end in about 1200 BC.
1450 BC - 1050 BC The
Linear B script is used in Greece
On coming to Crete Achaeans discovered the complicated system of Cretan writing. The Linear A script which was invented on Crete and still is not deciphered is believed to have been used by some non-Indo-European languages spoken there. The number of characters in Linear A is estimated from 77 to 100. The script was syllabic, all syllables ended in a vowel. Another variety of it, called the Linear B, was successfully deciphered by Ventris and Chadwick, who stated that the script denoted an old form of Greek.
Linear B is also syllabic, that is why not quite suitable for the Greek language. First it was picked up by those Achaeans who came to settle to Crete, later spread to the continent: in the 13th century it is found in Pylos and Mycenae. At all Linear B had 88 symbols, each of them denoted a syllable, combination of a consonant and a vowel. Several logogrammes denoted determinatives. The script did not make a distinction between long and short, voiced and unvoiced sounds, double consonants, liquids r, l. Linear B was written in the Mycenaean Greek dialect.
It was forgotten shortly after the Doric invasion. Doric tribes did not know writing, and obviously were afraid of it, because Greek myths reflect some strange unpleasant attitude towards the Mycenaean writing.
Simultaneously with the first written documents of Hellenes Indic people begin to create the first epic in India, called Veda. The four Vedas were composed in Vedic, an early form of the Old Indic language, the predecessor of Sanskrit. The oldest portions are believed by scholars to have originated largely with the Aryan invaders of India some time between 1450 and 1000 BC; however, the Vedas in their present form are believed to date only from the close of the 3rd century BC, when the Brahmi script was invented.
Before the writing down of the present texts, sages called rishis transmitted the Vedic matter orally, changing and elaborating it in the process. Large masses of material probably taken from the original Aryan milieu or from the Dravidian culture of India were preserved, however, and are distinguishable in the texts. While the first Veda, Rigveda, contains practically no loanwords from other languages, later Vedas show more and more borrowings.
This date is the earliest in archaeology to mark the event, and usually scientists tend to think Celts appeared in Spain later. It depends on the exact archaeological culture which we connect with Celtic expansion. The most widespread opinion is to link Celts with the "urn culture" (German "Urnenfelderkultur", Spanish "campos de urnas") which spread from the Danube region to the west, to all Central Europe and later to Gaul and Iberia (Spain).
But many believe than this culture unified all "Ancient European" ethnic groups of Indo-Europeans who came from Asia to Europe within one big migration wave. It probably included Celts, Italics, Illyrians and Venetic tribes, whose languages have much in common. But while Illyrians and Venetians remained on the Balkans, Italics penetrated into Italy, Celts were the only people who went farther to Gaul and Spain.
In Spain first Indo-Europeans occupied mainly the northern regions. They did not mix with the aboriginal population, though their language was somehow transforming in phonetics and syntax. This first Celtic wave (first Celts were called beribraces in ancient sources) put the beginning to the Celtiberian language.
More about Celtic history: 2100 BC
1200 BC 650
More about ancient peoples and languages of Iberia
More about Celtiberian language
1400 BC Achaeans appear
After Crete was conquered by Achaean tribes, who borrowed cultural and scientific achievements of Cretans, now Cyprus was subject to a similar invasion. The population in continental Greece was growing rapidly, and the lack of fertile lands made Greeks migrate in search for better homes. Cyprus was partly populated by aboriginal nations, who are believed to belong to the same ethnic groups as Cretans ("Eteo-Cretans and Eteo-Cypriots"), partly by Phoenician merchant colonists. For a long time the island was used as an important trading post of peoples of the Mediterranean, so it was rich and prosperous enough to be a dream of aggressors.
Cypriot writing system, the famous "Cypriot Syllabary", was also taken up by Achaeans, but was not used too widely for its complicated structure. Its structure was syllabic, syllables end in a vowel, no distinction was made between voiced, voiceless and aspirated consonants. Nevertheless, on the island documents written in it existed up to the 4th century BC.
The autochthonic population of Cyprus was made slaves, which were called the same as on Crete - mnoitoi. This word probably derives from the name of Minos, a legendary king of Crete.
1400 BC Slavs - a separate
When starting to write the present Chronology, I had to choose from several main theories which almost everywhere contradict with each other. Gimbutas, for example, suggests that Indo-Europeans appeared in northern Europe already in 3500 BC. But as the evidence of Hellenic, Indic and Anatolian history and archaeology contradicts with it, we prefer to follow another version: Indo-Europeans came here 1000 years later.
According to one of the most detailed theory of the Slavic proto-history, first suggested by Gornung and then restructured by Rybakov, states that Slavs became an independent ethnic group in the 15th century BC, and were represented by the Trzinec-Komarow archaeological culture between the Oder and the Dnepr. All hydronymic and toponymic material of this region witnesses that it was the "homeland" of the Slavic group. It is uncertain whether the Common Balto-Slavic language was a community or just two contacting languages, but still we can tell about the independence of the Common Slavic language only after 1400 BC.
In this period Slavs did not migrate and occupied that narrow and lengthy region for several centuries, while archaeological cultures were changing constantly. Here Common Slavic acquired many Iranian, Celtic, Illyrian and Germanic loanwords.
On coming to Asia Minor, Anatolians first founded three separate kingdoms, all consisting of relative tribes: Hittites, Luwians, Palaics. And though Hittite kings managed to unify all Anatolian tribes, their languages still preserved their independence, and their own peculiarities.
Palaic borrowed quite a lot of features in its grammar from aboriginal Caucasian languages of Northern Anatolia. Texts written in it are not numerous, which makes the grammar uncertain.
The Luwian language spread in southern and south-western regions of the Hittite Empire. In the described period the political and cultural center of the Kingdom was gradually moving to the south, and that explains the increasing importance of Luwian in texts and inscriptions. Moreover, it was the Luwian nation that began to migrate west, to the lands of future Caria and Lycia.
It looks as if many European groups of the Indo-European family came to Europe, their future homeland, together. Celtic, Italic, Illyrian, Thracian, Venetic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic peoples, after crossing South Russians Steppes, achieved Europe about 2500 BC and settled in the Middle Danube valley. Then their population was not numerous, so they did not need to migrate. Later Italic tribes began moving to the south, then Celtic - to the west, Germanic - to the north. In about 1300 BC Illyrian and Venetic groups (or one group which was later divided into two) started migrating to the south, from Pannonia (modern Hungary) to Dalmatia (modern Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia).
Probably one more tribe joined Illyrians in their move - they were Italics, a part of them who later went west to Italy, where they united with their relatives who already lived there.
The intrusion of Illyrians to Dalmatia seems to cause the first "Great Movement of Peoples" which will be described later: it started in Central Europe, and via the Balkans and Greece spread to the Mediterranean, causing other great changes in the ethnic and linguistic map of the Indo-European world.