Indo-European Chronology (IV period)
Comments to the table
            650 BC - 350 BC        Lydian and Carian inscriptions in West Asia Minor

Legends about the Lydian and Carian origin were one of the mysterious secrets of history already in ancient times, and Greek authors wrote several stories about it. Homer was sure that Carians used to live on Crete and only after Achaeans occupied the island they migrated to Asia. There is also a version that Lydians once lived in continental Greece or on the Aegean islands.

However, when Lydian and Carian inscriptions and even texts were found and deciphered, after the Hittite language was transliterated and identified, linguists realized that both Asia Minor languages were Indo-European. Though Carian was maybe the most influenced by the aborigines who inhabited these lands before Indo-Europeans came, still it keeps many common features with Hittite and Luwian. And as for some traces of the language similar to Lydian or Carian, in Greece or Crete, many think they just represent the same substratum language which influenced Carian itself. In other words, these traces in Greece are not Carian in fact, but the remains of the language spoken both in Greece and in Caria before Indo-Europeans occupied these countries.

It is interesting that while Lydian inscriptions are found mainly in Lydia itself, Carians left them mostly in Africa where many of them served as mercenary troops for pharaohs. Of all 200 Carian inscriptions (written in an alphabet close to West Semitic) about 30 were found in Caria (mostly coin legends), other were discovered in Egypt and Sudan, or in Athens. The longest of them makes 14 strings.

More about Carian language
More about Lydian language

            650 BC        Scythian invasion into Europe

It is always hard to tell the exact ethnic origin of the peoples who were generated by the Central Asian steppes and later invaded European civilizations. The process of contacts and assimilations led to the mixture of peoples, so deep that we can even hardly name the language of this or that ethnic group. Most likely such groups, known in the European history as Hunns, Sarmatians, Scythians, Cymmerians, Avars, Alans, were in fact not single nations, but the unions of several peoples, frequently with different ethnic and language origin.

That is why some linguists identify Scythians as an Iranian people, and some say they were probably Turkish or of some other origin. In fact, Scythians could be a mess of Indo-European, Turkish, Uralic tribes synthesizing different cultures.

Scythians crossed the steppes north to the Black Sea, not touching the forest regions north, and reached the Northern Balkans. Much toponymic material from modern South Russia, Ukraine, Romania show Scythian traces in the names of places, rivers, hills. Scythian tribes lived here up to the 3rd century AD, when they were crushed by the Hunns from Asia. Most probably the Scythian language was Iranian, though suffering strong influence of Slavic and Thracian languages. Moreover, Slavic languages were the most influenced by Scythian - the phonetic features of modern South Russian dialects and the Ukrainian language still carries certain Iranian substratum; and the rivers Don, Dnepr and Dnestr are all Iranian in origin, from the stem dn-.

More about Scythian language

            639 BC        Elam loses its independence

The Assyrian army captured and completely destroyed Susae - the capital of Elam, the ancient kingdom of Mesopotamia (modern South-Western Iran). This state which was founded along the rivers Karune and Kerkhe already in the 3rd millennium BC, for centuries struggled for independence with neighbouring countries and powerful empires. Elam was a country rich in soil, minerals, gold, and an important crossroads of the Asian trade.

The first people who managed to capture Elam were Sumerians in 2300 BC. After the independence was regained in 2000 BC, Elam began endless wars with Babylon. In 1100 BC the country again appeared conquered by the Babylonians, and could not become independent until 750 BC. But now another threat appeared - from Assyria in the north, and Persia in the east. Soon after Assyrians pillaged Susae, Elam became a province of the Persian Kingdom.

There is a theory, according to which Elamites were a people of the Indo-European origin, speaking an archaic Indo-European dialect, maybe even more ancient that the Anatolian one. At least the language of Elam cannot be considered as relative to Semitic or Sumerian languages. However, not much is known from the language, few inscriptions were found, and even if it was really Indo-European, it must have been the first to separate from the Proto-IE community.

            600 BC        First Italic inscriptions

First inscriptions written in one of the Italic alphabets (borrowed from Italian Greek and developed) were Latin. The famous inscription from Preneste, the words from the Roman Forum, and several other written documents of the earliest Italics used the Latin language in its very archaic variant.

At that time Latin was still much alike other Italic languages, preserving many features which were later lost in Latin and Faliscan but kept in Oscan and Umbrian languages. Archaic Latin used about 10 diphthongs, many endings were still in wide use, though later were dropped in Classical Latin. Many well-known Latin characteristics, such as the law of rotacism, were unknown. And, what is strange, the Archaic Latin contained progressive traits which then again disappeared in the language, restoring the original, Common Italic, status.

In the 600 BC, Italy was a great mess of peoples and languages, not all of them being Indo-European. But the nucleus of the future unification of the peninsula was already growing on the banks of the Tiber.

More about Latin language
Map of Italic languages

            600 BC        New Celtic invasion to Spain
The Halstadt epoch in the history of Europe meant the wide expansion of Celtic tribes all over the continent. After they landed in Britain and Ireland a century ago, Europe became all Indo-European, and only Spain was still the country of ancient population, represented by Iberians and Vascones (or Basques) whose origins are still unknown. Several Celtic waves of immigration into Spain led to the creation of the Celtiberian ethnic group in the center of the country - the mixture of aborigines and newcomers.

This new wave brought another Indo-European element from Gaul. It is known that while the first Celtic immigrants left the place names ending in -briga, this second one mainly named towns and settlements in -dunum. They became the other part of the forming Celtiberian nation, and settled mostly on the banks of the river Duero. The very name of this river is Celtic and derives from the word close to Irish dobor (water) and Welsh dur (water).

The colonization lasted rather long. This can be explained by the fact that the Celts arrived in Spain by tribes. Ancient historians even left some of their names for us - antrigones, caristios, belos.

Iberians and Iberian languages
Map of Celtic languages
More about Celtiberian language

            600 BC        Lydians extrude Greeks from Asia

The century between 650 and 550 BC was the Golden Age of Lydia. Phrygia was destroyed by Cymmerians, Scythians destroyed Cymmerians in their turn and after that left Asia Minor, and there were no countries around Lydia who could prevent its development. Lydia and its capital Sardis were the important knot of the Euro-Asian trade, which made the country rich and prosperous.

After Assyria started to lose its power in the Middle East, Lydia felt it could gain supremacy in the region. In 605 BC king Aliatt decided to increase the Lydian influence in the East Mediterranean, but faced the resistance of the Greek polises in Asia Minor. The strongest of them were Miletus and Smirna, which struggled long for independence. Only in 600 BC Aliatt managed to capture Smirna, and Greeks had to leave Asia.

But the Greek colonization of this region was not stopped, just suspended. Lydia acquired a chance to develop independently its culture and language, but history showed that it had only five decades to enjoy the independence.

More about Lydian language

            590 BC        Scythian Kingdom in Asia destroyed by Medians

Half a century before Medians, Lydians and Babylonians, as legends say, called Scythians from the Northern Caucasus asking for help against Cymmerians, another nomadic power, and against the Assyrian Empire, the most powerful aggressor in the region. But after Cymmerians were eliminated, and Assyria slowly began its decline, Scythians became a bother for Middle Eastern kingdoms. Scythians established their own kingdom in Northern Iran, raiding Median lands and pillaging neighbouring towns and lands.

Media, the strongest kingdom in Iran at that time, after several wars decisively won the victory over Scythians and made them retreat back into Central Asia. Because of the short period of Scythian being in Iran no significant Scythian influence on the languages and peoples of the country was noticed by linguists and archaeologists.

More about Median language
More about Scythian language

            559 BC        Persian Kingdom founded
Persians were a minor Iranian tribe in Southern Iran, one of many tribes conquered by the Median Kingdom. But as Media was losing its power in constant wars with its neighbours Lydians, Assyrians and Scythians, the discontented Persians grew stronger and stronger. Their nation was developing fast influenced by Babylonian and Median scientific and cultural experience, and when the dynasty of Achaemenides came into power, even supported by Medians themselves, Persia could be already considered as a significant power in Iran.

The first king of the small, but independent Persian state was Cyrus II the Great. For three long years he tried to gain victory over Medians, and finally in 550 BC managed to capture Aecbatanes, the Median capital. With the fall of the vast empire, Cyrus acquired an opportunity to widen his domain from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf.

Different from Medians and Assyrians, who traditionally kept their power over peoples by means of terror and repressions, Persians picked up another kind of policy to rule in Asia. Their national policy was rather free, they offered wide autonomy to provinces of the Kingdom (ruled by satraps, royal governors, and therefore called satrapies). All privileges and right of big cities were preserved after they were conquered, and Persians in Cyrus's time did not plunder towns and lands. For example, all nations, which were moved to Mesopotamia from their homelands under compulsion (like Jews) were allowed to return home.

            550 BC        Old Persian Texts and Inscriptions

With the establishment of the Persian Kingdom, Asia steps into the new epoch - the Persian period lasted until 334, when Alexander the Great landed in Troy with his army. The wide spreading of the Persian language throughout Asia allows us now to enjoy the huge corpus of Persian documents, texts and inscriptions.

Among them, the Achaemenid royal inscriptions are one of the most important sources of the Old Persian language. It had much difference from Avestan, and first of all showed the great progress in development made by Iranian language since Avesta was composed. A lot of analytic features, partly loss of declension and many innovations make us think that not only the internal language development influenced it, but also the substratum of Semitic and other non-Indo-European nations living in the Middle East at that time. Moreover, as Persians by the year 500 BC appeared to rule the hugest empire in the world, after conquering Lydia, Egypt, parts of India, Central Asian regions and even Caucasian lands, the language could not help but suffer influence from aboriginal tongues, taking into account that the Persian army was always multinational.

The Old Persian tongue is the ancestor of a great number of modern Iranian languages, including official Persian (or Farsi) of Iran.

More about Old Persian language
More about Old Persian Cuneiform

            550 BC - 250 BC        Thracian inscriptions

After Greeks began their Great Colonization, many colonies were built on the shores of the Aegean, Marmor and Black Seas. Numerous and wide contacts with the high Hellenic civilization sped up the progress of the Thracian tribes, which inhabited lands along the Danube river, territories of modern Romania, Bulgaria, Moldavia, Hungary and partly Serbia. Thracia was famous for its rich gold deposits and fertile soil, and Thracians were known as good and numerous warriors.

In the sixth century Thracians acquire the Greek alphabet, and since that inscriptions begin to appear on burial places, sacral stones and inside kings' tombs. Unfortunately, there are only about 20 inscriptions known nowadays, and they cannot be fully understood yet. Mostly they are found on the territory of Bulgaria and northern Greece, where Thracians got most civilized after the Greek influence. Due to the lack of long and clear inscriptions we cannot by now reconstruct anything from the Thracian syntax.

Thracians had to learn Greek to trade and communicate with Greek colonists, and soon (in the 4th century) Greek became the widely known language in Southern Thracia, where kingdoms were established, and even coins were issued. Thracian fell under the influence of Greek, and was purely preserved only in the northern regions.

More about Thracian language

            550 BC - 50 BC        Messapic and Venetic inscriptions

The history of Venetic, Illyrian, and Messapic tribes began much earlier, when they arrived on the Balkan peninsula and later (Messapics) crossed the Adriatic and appeared in Italy. But while we can judge about this early period of their history only by archaeological materials or by ancient authors, since the 6th century BC these peoples started leaving inscriptions for us to be sure that they existed and played a certain part in the Indo-European Chronology.

Venetic speakers are sometimes identified as Italics or Illyrians, but evidently they were none of them, though closely related to these two groups. Also Venetic has close ties with Celtic, Germanic languages and (only by the name, similar to the name of one Slavic tribes) with Slavic. The Este (Ateste) culture which was flourishing in northern Italy and Slovenia left about 250 texts, mainly epitaphs and dedicatory inscriptions. They were written in a local script variety, a mixture of Etruscan and Greek writing, or in the Latin script. In the 1st century BC Venetic people was assimilated by Romans and took up Latin.

Illyrians did not leave any written examples of their existence, though many glosses were left by Roman writers, as well as the data of onomastics and toponymy. As for Messapic, nearly 350 inscriptions were found in South-Eastern Italy, which are quite short and do not tell much about the grammar or syntax of the language. But still, the cognation of Messapic and Illyrian can be stated.

More about Illyrian language
More about Venetic language
More about Messapic language

            546 BC        Lydia and Asia Minor conquered by Persians

The huge Persian army, consisting of Persian, Median soldiers and various mercenaries, met the army of the Lydian king Croesus on the boundary river Galis. Croesus, a rather poor strategist, was misled by the Delphian Oracle's forecast, and crossed the river, inviting failure for his army and state.

After the main Lydian forces were eliminated in the battle, Persians invaded Lydia and soon occupied its capital Sardis, making Lydia another province of the Persian Empire. Cyrus the Great was more than tolerable to Croesus and allowed him to live by the royal court. Since then all Asia Minor became Persian, and the way to Europe was open for Persians. This also gave Cyrus great treasuries - Croesus was known as the richest person in the world, ruling a country which used to be one of the main trade crossroads of the world and which had rich gold deposits. Now all Croesus's treasuries passed to Cyrus.

The independence of Lydia now was lost forever, and the Lydian language now was gradually losing its weight, being replaced first by Persian, then by Greek. And Persians began to get ready for the attack of Europe.

Lydian Language

            510 BC        Rome gains independence from Etruscans

The last king of the Tarquinii dynasty was exiled from the city after the rebellion caused, according to the tradition, by his immoral behaviour. But the historians suppose that this fact reflects the uprising of Romans against the Etruscan rule. Rome was founded by the three "tribae", which were probably three tribes - Latin, Sabine and Etruscan. Kings of those tribes struggled for power in the city, and in 510 BC Latin and Sabine citizens prevailed over Etruscans.

Since then Rome became a republic, ruled by the Senate and two consuls, elected annually. The Etruscan quarters in the city, densely populated in the 6th century BC, later were gradually assimilated by Italics, and the Etruscan language fell out of use in Rome, remaining only official in religious ceremonies.

This event in 510 BC meant the beginning of the decline of Etruscans and their mysterious culture in Italy.

The Origin of Rome and Romans (essay)
More about Etruscan language
Map of Italic languages

            495 BC        Macedonia under Greek influence

Macedonia was on quite a low level of development for quite a long time. In the 8th - 6th centuries tribes living there still kept the relics of the primitive society. But since the 6th century the progress was hastened by the Greek influence. Numerous Greek colonies on the shores of the Aegean Sea in Macedonia caused the establishment of the state in Lower Macedonia.

In 495 BC the new king named Alexander began his rule. He got a nickname "Phil-hellene" for encouraging, supporting and promoting the Greek culture in his country. He learned Greek, was fond of going to Athens and other Hellenic polises, invited Greek architects and writers to Macedonia. His main objective was to become a Hellene, while Greeks always considered Macedonians to be semi-barbarians.

The state was ruled according to Greek samples, and the Macedonian language disappeared from the official use. Since then, the Macedonian kings and aristocracy spoke only Greek, while ordinary people, especially in northern regions of the country, continued using their native tongue.

More about Macedonian language

            493 BC        Persians capture Miletus

The Persian Kingdom continuously grew, turning into the greatest empire of the world. After Egypt was conquered, Central Asia surrendered, Persians turned their weapons against the Greek polises of Asia Minor. Aephesus was captured at once, but Miletus, the largest city on the Asian shore of the Aegean Sea, required a long siege. Even after it was taken, Greeks raised sporadic rebellions, the widest of them in 500 BC.

Rebellious colonists were supported by continental Greece, and the uprising was a success, spread to Caria and Cyprus. But later Persians moved a great army to Asia Minor, and in 493 Mardonius, the commander of Persians, managed to gain victory over Greeks.

This event did not stop the struggle between the two Indo-European powers - Greeks and Persians. On the contrary, Greeks could not agree to lose important trade poins in Asia, which gave Hellas a half of its merchant income; and Persians could not be content until the Greek colonies in Asia were supplied by Hellenic states. King Xerxes decided to invade Greece.

            483 BC        Indo-Aryans come to Ceylon
Indo-Aryans, who came to India already in the 2nd millennium BC, occupied mainly the northern regions of the country, along the Indus valley and further the Gang valley as well. From time to time strong states appeared in India, which were able to spread their power to Central Asia, populated at that time by Dravidian and Munda tribes. But practically none of the Indo-Aryan kings could penetrate into Southern India, densely populated by numerous and rebellious peoples.

In the beginning of the 5th century one of the North Indian kingdoms, Magadha, became the most powerful state of the Indostan peninsula. One of its expeditions, led, as the tradition tells, by a prince of the royal family, was sent to discover new lands to settle to the south. In 483 it reaches the Ceylon island, and after a severe war with natives Aryans settled on the island.

This event, which happened 1500 years ago, still feels in Sri Lanka. This small country, populated by Aryan Singhalese people in the south, Dravidian Tamil nation in the north and ancient natives in central regions, suffers constant ethnic and religious conflicts, sometimes growing into civil wars. Another example of the fact that any nation likes living separately from other ones, speaking its own language freely and choosing its government itself.

Indic languages

            480 BC        Thracian Kingdom of Odrisses

In 496 Scythians, consolidated after repelling the Persian aggression, begin their invasion west, to the lands inhabited by Thracians. But though first they achieved some success, later the war began too lengthy to deliver a victory to any side, so in 485 BC the treaty was signed between the kings of both nations; since then their boundary came along the Danube.

The strongest tribe which led the war against Scythians and then signed this treaty was that of Odrisses, their king Teres. Soon after the war ended, Odrisses managed in 480 to unify all Thracian tribes into the kingdom, which was ruled by Odrisses' leaders. During the rule of Teres's sons and grandsons, the kingdom became very powerful in the region, and a number of neighbouring nations paid tribute to it. Even Greek polises on the shores of the Black Sea had to admit the supremacy of Odrisses and paid a tribute of 400 talents per year - a huge sum of money really.

This had still another side. Trade, economic and cultural contacts with Greek colonies influenced the kingdom greatly, its political system, its culture and later its language. The Thracian tongue acquired a lot of Greek words and features. In the 4th century, the Kingdom enters the orbit of Greek politics, and different Greek city-states support sometimes different representatives of the royal family in their struggle for power. Finally, in 342, Philip of Macedonia conquered a part of Thrace, and Scythians occupied its northern regions. That was another, but not the last, hit for the Thracian nation and the Thracian language.

More about Thracian language

            474 BC        Etruscan expansion stopped in Italy

Etruscans, the most civilized nation in that-time Italy, were also the most powerful alliance in the region. From the 7th century BC their expansion spread to Umbria (Northern Italy), Latium, where they ruled Rome and Fidenae for some period of time, and Campania, in Central Italy. But here, on the southern edge of their assault, they met the resistance of Greeks, who possessed numerous colonies and broad economic interests here: Cumae, Neapolis in Campania, and Syracuse in Sicily united to fight against the Etruscans.

Syracusae, the most densely populated and the richest city in Sicily, built a huge fleet to fight Etruscans at sea. In the late 6th century BC Etruscan rule in Italy was weakened by the coup d'etat in Rome in 510, where Latins exiled an Etruscan dynasty. Soon all Latin cities gianed independence. But the last defeat of the Etruscan power in Italy was the naval battle at Cumae in 475 BC, where the Syracusan fleet destroyed the Etruscan one.

That was a turning point. Since then, Rome, Syracuse and Carthago were gaining power in Italy and in the Mediterranean, and Etruscans, the last non-Indo-European civilization in Europe, was coming to a decline.

More about Etruscan history: 900 BC    510 BC

            450 BC        Celtic tribes come to Italy

The period covered by La Tène culture follows that of the Hallstatt culture and extends from about 450 BC to the subjugation of Gaul by Julius Caesar in 58 BC. This was the peak of the Celtic civilization.

La Tène culture was initially influenced by the Etruscan and Greek civilizations 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. The period was that of beginning urbanization, new industries, and new artistic traditions.

At this time the Celts cross the Alps and come to Northern Italy, where they soon spread over the Padus (Po) valley. Here they met different nations with whom had to mix or contact: Ligurians, who are believed to have been European aborigines, Etruscans, Venetic and Italic peoples. Since then, Italic languages (and namely Latin) was acquiring many Celtic words and terms, and the Celts themselves borrowed many features from the neighboring languages. Gradually their language here, in Southern Alps region, originally Gaulish, became different from that of Gaulish Celtic and is now called Lepontic.

In 390 BC the Celts resume their expansion over Europe and invade Central Italy, where, allied with Etruscans, they destoryed the Roman army, captured and plundered Rome in 387 BC. But this did not influence the politics and culture of Italy - after receiving a huge tribute from Rome, the Celts retreated back to the north.

More about Lepontic language
Map of Celtic languages

            449 BC        Greek decisive victory over Persia

In 490 BC the huge Persian army led by Mardonius, after suppressing the rebellion in Miletus and other polises of Ionia, invaded continental Greece from the sea. Several islands in the Aegean were conquered, including Euboia, a very important island for intruding into Attic. In August 490 the first battle happened between Persians and Greeks in Marathon, and the invaders were defeated. The next period of this war began in 480, with another horde of Persians and their allies invading Greece from the Balkans. King Darius managed to conquer Thrace, Macedonia, Boiotia and some other regions, but again suffered a defeat in a naval battle near the Salamine island and in a cruel fight near Platees.

After that, Greeks gained the initiative in the war. Athens and its allies, members of the Delos Alliance, step by step won back the supremacy in the Aegean Sea and in Ionia. In 449 the treaty was signed between Greece and Persia, and Ionic city-states since then were again Greek.

This peace treaty was a turning point for the whole history of the region. The Persian expansion was stopped, and Athens became the most powerful state in the East Mediterranean. That was the beginning of the Greek expansion to Asia, which will soon change greatly the political, cultural, language map of Asia.

            380 BC        Illyrian Kingdom founded
Illyrians inhabited the eastern shore of the Adriatic shore and all the West Balkans from prehistoric times. They became known to civilized Greeks rather late, when Illyrians already founded the state. Illyria was known as a fertile land with numerous population, rich deposits of minerals, first of all salt. We cannot say anything exact about the social structure of Illyrians, but it seems that in the late 5th century BC the class society was already forming. In about 380 BC Illyria became a single kingdom, and by the time Macedonian forces came to conquer it in 356 BC, Illyria was strong enough to repel the aggression. Illyria, Thrace and Paeonia composed an alliance against king Philip II of Macedonian, and preserved their independence.

Illyria came to the top of its prosperity in the 3rd century BC, with king Agron. Illyrian fleet often disturbed Italian shores, and Illyrian armies plundered Epyrus. When in 223 BC they managed to conquer all Northern Epyrus, Romans had to send an army to push invaders back.

After that, Illyria was gradually declining, broken into several independent principalities, struggling with each other. This struggle weakened the country so much that in 190 BC one of Illyrian kings Plevrat gained the crown directly from Rome. This led to the slow colonization of the country by Roman troops and settlers. Illyrians were influenced by Roman economy, Roman culture, and the Latin language.

More about Illyrian history: 9 BC
More about Illyrian language

            350 BC - 70 BC        Scythian Kingdom in Steppes

In 512 Persian king Darius, after bridging the Danube and going deep into the steppes, was defeated by the Scythian army. Since then, Scythians were developing a consolidated state, and in 350 BC it could be stated that the so called "King Scythians", who lived next to Greek Black Sea colonies, developed monarchy and began expansion in the region. The one who managed to unify all Scythian tribes into the powerful state was Ateus, who also gained power over many other nations in the Black Sea region.

With Ateus Scythians invaded Thrace and occupied a part of it, then conquered shores of modern Bulgaria. Moreover, even Greek towns on the coast had to accept Scythian protectorate. But soon after Ateus' death, Philip of Macedonia eliminated the Scythian army near the Danube, stopping the aggression of the nomads.

In the next two centuries, Scythians penetrated into the Crimea and assimilated the tribes of Taurians who used to live there. Scythians had close contacts with the Slavs and the Baltic peoples who inhabited territories north from Scythia. Even today's Russian, Belorussian and Ukrainian languages possess a considerable number of Scythian (Iranian) words and features in the pronunciation.

More about Scythian language

            330 BC        Greeks spread all over Asia

In 334 BC Alexander, king of Macedonia, landed in Asia Minor, and after four years of war the biggest empire of the ancient times, Persia, was defeated and destroyed. This marked the beginning of the new epoch of the human civilization - hellenism.

Alexander was followed not only by his 40 thousand soldiers. Another "army" of servants, staff, and settlers came with him to Asia seeking a better life. And after Persia, Asia Minor, all Middle East and Egypt were conquered, waves of wanderers and adventurers began to arrive in those new lands and settled there.

After Alexander the Great died in 323 BC, his enormous empire was divided between his commanders, who established kingdoms in Europe, Asia and Africa - a mixture of Greek democracy and Asian despotism. These Hellenistic states, which existed up to the beginning of the new era, combined the advances of both oriental and European civilizations, religion and language. Greek, which was brought to Asia by settlers from Greece, started to suffer great changes which later led to the disappearance of the Ancient Greek language and to the New Greek period. Moreover, many languages of Asia and Africa disappeared replaced by Greek: Lydian, Lycian, Carian, Ancient Egyptian, Phoenician became extinct to the 1 AD.

            322 BC        Armenian Kingdom

In the beginning of the 7th century BC Medians destroyed Urartu Kingdom and conquered lands of Armenia. In the 6th century Medians were replaced by Persians, but Armenia still could not gain independence. However, no Persian army controlled the country, and Armenians could live up to their own kings and only sent tribute to Persia.

In 322, after the Persian kingdom was crushed, in the region called Minor Armenia an independent state was founded, and in the 2nd century BC already four Armenian kingdoms divided the land: Minor Armenia, Great Armenia, Airarat Kingdom, and Sophena. Armenians gradually assimilate aboriginal population and occupy all the land of what we now call Armenia.

In 95 BC Tigran II, the most powerful of Armenian kings, managed to build a diplomatic balance between Rome and Parthia and thus began to expand his lands. In 70s BC his power spread from the Kura river to the Iordan, from the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea. Tigran II managed to unite all Armenian tribes and to create the single Armenian nation. In 64 BC his kingdom was divided between his relatives, suppressed and defeated by the Parthian Kingdom.

More about Armenian language

            320 BC - 187 BC        Maurya Kingdom in India

Soon after Alexander's death, in 324 BC a rebellion against the Macedonian rule began in Western India which was conquered by Alexander's army. Rebels soon managed to gain victory and to drive Macedonian garrisons out of the country. Their leader was Chandragupta, an Indian aristocrate who first served to Alexander in his struggle with the king of Magadha.

With this army of rebels, Chandragupta went to the capital of Magadha, overthrew the king there and founded his own dynasty. The epoch of Chandraguptas was the time of wide expansion; he unified all Northern Indian states and principlatities, and later in another successful war with Greeks acquired lands of modern Pakistan and Afghanistan.

His successors Bindusar and Asoka are known also as conquerors, but in their time the expansion was directed at Southern India, where non-Indo-European tribes were either eliminated or assimilated. Asoka made great effort to create the united Indian nation, to give it the only religion (Buddhism) and to unify cultural and social peculiarities. During his rule Aryans successfully migrated south, to the lands inhabited by Dravidians; economy flourished, great construction took place all over the country. After Asoka's death, it appeared that India was still a mixture of tribes of different cultural level, who could not live together. In 236 the country is divided between two successors, and in 187 BC the last representative of the dynasty was killed by his commander.

Ancient Indic languages
More about Vedic language

            280 BC        Celts arrive to the Balkans and Asia Minor

The last wave of Celtic migration led their hordes to the Balkan peninsula. Along the Danube enormous masses of warriors and settlers crossed Illyria, Thracia and appeared in Macedonia. All Macedonian forces were gathered and sent against the Celts, but were defeated, and the country was pillaged. Soon after that, in 279 Celts went further to Greece, where they destoryed several cities, for a short period even captured Sparta, but then were defeated near Delphi and retreated from the country.

After another minor defeat from Antioch I, the king of the Seleucid Kingdom, the Celts decided to cross the Bosphor and to go to Asia Minor, where they in 278 founded their kingdom named Galatia. This region, long before the center of the Phrygian kingdom, became a new homeland of the Celts. By that time they still lived in tribes, and ancient authors gave us names of the three main tribes: Tolistoages, Tectosages, Trokmos, which settled here in Asia.

The circumstances in which Galatia had to survive were not easy: situated just between the Seleucid power and Pergam, the strong state north to Galatia, the Celtic district did not have any sea shores and that is why no possibilities of developing sea trade. In the 2nd century BC Galatia became the protectorate of the Pontic kingdom, and in the next century it was conquered by Rome. Celts in Galatia spoke a language similar to Gaulish, but practically no inscriptions were left so we cannot be sure about their language. However, they left no trace in Asia.

Map of Celtic languages

            267 BC        Italy conquered by Rome

This war was to be the last in the history of independent Italic tribes. In 281 the tribe of Lucanes sieged one of the towns which was allied to Romans. Surely, Rome decided to punish the invaders, but Lucanes turned for help to Tarent, one of the most powerful Greek colonies in Italy. And Tarent, in its turn, referred to Greece, to one of famous commanders, Pyrrhus, king of Epyrus.

It seemed that Rome could not win over the huge army which landed in Southern Italy. But in 279 in three battles in Italy the army of Pyrrhus was completely eliminated, he himself fleed back to Greece.

This was a decisive moment. Now no one could save Italy. In 272 Romans captured Tarent, and in five years all Italic tribes had to admit the Roman rule. This led to two main conclusions: first, Rome became one of the greatest states in the Mediterranean and the greatest in Europe. Second, Italic languages except Latin were quickly disappearing since then, and in two centuries all Italic people spoke one single language.

More about Roman history:    753 BC    510 BC
The Origin of Rome and Romans (essay)
Map of Italic languages

            250 BC        Sarmatians come to Europe

It would be not exactly correct ot say that Sarmatians were of Iranian origin, though the majority of them probably spoke an Iranian tongue. But in fact Sarmatian hordes which arrived in Europe in the 3rd century BC consisted of several tribal unities, of which Roxolanian and Yazygian were the strongest. Their armies included different nations - Turkish, Finno-Ugric, Altaic and Indo-European elements.

Barbarians destroyed everything on their way west. In several years Slavic, Baltic, Scythian towns and settlements situated in Eastern Europe, mainly in the steppe zone, were burned, people fleed north, to the forests. Sarmatians, nomadic tribes, never knew agriculture and even did not settle anywhere, living all the time "horseback", according to Tacitus.

By the end of the 3rd century BC all modern South Russia was pillaged, and the population declined thrice. Scythian peasants moved south and managed to save only in Crimea, where they mixed with Taurians. Slavic and Baltic settlers had to go north, to the region inhabited by Finnish hunters. The horror of Sarmatians was so big, that even nowadays in fairy tales of Eastern Slavs one can find the fear of a "horseback woman" (In Sarmatian army there were special units consisting of women).

            250 BC - 135 BC        Bactrian  Kingdom

This year the governor of Bactria, Diodotus, rebelled and proclaimed independence from the Seleucid Empire. Though at first he admitted the Seleucid supremacy, it was clear that Bactria, the province populated mainly by Greek colonists and Iranian aboriginal peoples, was lost by the Empire for good. Diodotus' son proclaimed himself a king.

This coup d'etat led to a new Hellenistic kingdom in Central Asia. Though the majority of citizens were Iranians, the king's power's main support was the army consisting of ethnic Greeks. The Iranian (Bactrian and Sogdian) aristocracy preserved its privileges, but lost control over the state affairs, though later Iranians were allowed to join the army and even to command it. As for the language, Greek was the official state tongue, but ordinary people used different Iranian dialects and minor languages. Chinese historians of that epoch say that all peoples from Fergana to Parthia (i.e. all Central Asia) used a single language - we think it must have been Greek.

National hostilities, uprisings on outskirts of the kingdom and unskilled policy of Bactrian rulers led to its dissolution. In 175 BC the first region moved apart from Bactria, later it was Sogdiana and then Margiana. Kings of neighbouring states tried to get as much as possible from the weakening state. The invasion of nomads meant the end of Bactria.

More about Bactrian history:    135 BC
Iranian languages
Map of Central Asia (5th cent. BC)

            247 BC - 225 AD        Parthian Kingdom

This new kingdom was forming in a completely different way from Bactria. A rebellion against the Greek and Macedonian rule headed by one of the Iranian Parthian elite, finally won, and people declared this man, Arshak (or Tiridat) king. Nomadic tribes like Massagetes and others are believed also to have played an important part in this uprising, and so the new regime meant the consolidation of all nations of the country. Soon Greeks were pushed away from Parthia, and it began its fast development as one of the most powerful states of the East.

In the 2nd century BC Parthian kings conquer several small neighbouring countries, which struggled with Seleucids for independence. Media, Hircania, later Mesopotamia. Soon all Near East appeared to be Parthian. And the "Great Silk Road" which was discovered in the 2nd century BC and went from the Mediterranean to China, delivered great profits to Parthians, mediators in the world's trade.

There was no single language in Parthia, and its population used different Iranian dialects. In historical Parthia, the Parthian language was official and was used by royal proclamations. In Mesopotamian cities, populated by Hellenes, Greek was widely used, and Scythian, Bactrian, Sogdian in the north and west. Some regions still used Babylonian cuneiforms for writing, the rest wrote in the Greek alphabet.

Iranian languages
Map of Central Asia (5th cent. BC)

            146 BC        Greece conquered by Rome

In 196 BC, after Macedonia was defeated by Romans, Greece was declared independent. But in fact this meant Roman protectorate. All major Greek towns had to accept Roman military presence in their forts. Romans gradually destroyed all military alliances which existed in Greece - the last was the Achaean league which made a desperate attempt to get free from Roman "democracy". All citizens and even slaves joined the army. All Greeks supported the alliance morally, but none of the rulers could join it - everybody was afraid of Rome. Instead, they betrayed their citizens and declared war against Achaeans.

In 149, Macedonia lost its last war and became a Roman province. In 146 BC the Roman army eliminated the forces of the Achaean alliance, and Greece was proclaimed a part of province Macedonia. Corinth and many other Greek cities were destroyed, many Greeks exiled. In Greek polises oligarchy came into power. In the 1st century BC, Greece turned out to be devastated, depopulated and desolated.

            135 BC        Iranian, Tocharic, Turkish tribes destroy Bactria
While the Bactrian kingdom was losing its power, its territory and cities more and more felt the threat of nomadic tribes who inhabited vast Asian steppes near the boundaries of the country. Massagetian tribes who lived north from Bactria, formed tribal alliances and grew dangerous for the state. Bactrian kings turned for help to Parthians and Seleucids, but none of them gave a hand - everybody waited for the end on Bactria.

In 140 BC a part of Massagetian tribal alliance, headed by Usunes, a tribe of Turkish origin, invaded the country, defeated the Greek Bactrian army and settled on its territory. In five years all Bactria was occupied by different nomadic nations, and cities were plundered and depopulated.

Tocharians are believed to have been the most numerous of those peoples who settled here. Later this country is given the name of Tocharistan, the land of Tocharians. The main part of them settled on the northern banks of the Amudarya river, here the residence of the supreme leader was also situated. Tocharians, who came, as we can guess, from the northeast, spoke an Indo-European language, though distantly related to Iranian and Indic, and closer to Celtic and Italic languages. Tocharians first founded their state, but soon it was divided into several independent principalities, and Chinese sources say there were 5 of them, the most powerful of which was the kingdom of Kuchanes.

More about Tocharic languages
Map of Central Asia (5th cent. BC)

            133 BC        Spain conquered by Rome

After the Third Punic war with Carthago was won, Carthago destroyed and Africa added to the Roman Republic, Spain (Hispania) became the next victim. Carthaginians managed to preserve a kind of balance between their administration and numerous Iberian tribes in Hispania. After Romans came, all Iberia rebelled at once. In 147 BC Viriatus, the leader of Lusitanes, won a war with Rome and was proclaimed king. Romans could not help but admit it - but two years later Viriatus was assassinated. In 143 BC yet another rebellion flamed in northern Iberia, centered in Numantia, a large Celtiberian city. Romans decided to begin a decisive war with Hispania.

In 138 an army was sent to Numantia, but next year it was circled and defeated, and Roman Consul Mantinus had to sign a peace treaty. Only in 133 Scipio Emilianus managed to suppress the rebels and after 15 months of siege Numantia fell. All Hispania was now Roman.

Roman colonists built towns, forts, roads in the country, and soon the native population began to mix with colonists. Iberians quickly forgot their languages and took up Latin. That is why in the 1st century AD Iberian tongues were completely lost, and only in the north of the country, Vascones preserved their independence and their mother tongue. But still, linguists doubt that modern Basque language is related to Iberian.

Iberians and Iberian languages

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

It is hard to believe nowadays that in ancient times all Central Asia was inhabited by Iranian peoples - both nomads and settlers. They began to settle here in the 2nd millennium BC, during the epoch of great Indo-Iranian migrations, when Indo-Aryans chose the south-eastern direction, and Iranians settled in Persia and Central Asia. There is much evidence of close contacts that used to exist between Proto-Iranian people and Finno-Ugric tribes in Asia: archaeological findings, and wide corpus of Finno-Ugric words borrowed from Iranian (like porsa "pork, swine", sasar "a sister").

Alexander's army came here in the 4th century BC, and soon Greek and Macedonian colonists started settling in cities and towns of Asia, founding trade colonies and villas. After Alexander's death, Greeks still remained the main support of the power in Hellenistic states which were founded here. The population of Bactria, Parthia, Sogdiana, Khwaresm used both Greek and Iranian to communicate.

The regional temperature rising in Central Asian steppes in the 2nd century BC caused a great wave of nomadic tribes who bred cattle near the Caspian and the Aral Seas, to move south seeking for new fertile lands. In a few decades flourishing regions were turned into plundered cities, devastated roads and fields which nomads were making pastures of. Greeks and Iranians went south, to Iran, and the civilization went together with them giving way to terror and poverty.

Map of Central Asia (5th cent. BC)

            50 BC        Gaul conquered by Rome

In 58 BC Julius Caesar arrived to Gaul with a strong army. But at first he acted here as a successful diplomat, maneuvering between different tribes and creating alliances. Allied with tribes of Edues and Sequanes, he managed to defeat strong Helvetes, and soon became well known and infamous in the country. Gaulish tribes constantly fought with each other, and many of the turned to Caesar for help, and that gave him a chance to conquer Gaul without struggling with the population.

In 54 BC Gaul seemed to surrender to Romans. This allowed Caesar to cross the Channel and to go to Britain where he failed to achieve any results but lost a great part of his army. Gauls began a rebellion against the Roman rule. It was led by Vercingetorix, from the tribe of Arvernes. Discontented citizens of Gaul, almost all tribes united to resist Rome, and in 52 Caesar suffered a serious defeat near Gergovia. Vercingetorix was proclaimed king of Gaul, and even issued his own coins.

But in two years Romans managed to gain victory over Gauls. Vercingetorix was captured in the city of Alesia and was taken to Rome. Along with severe repressions, Caesar rewarded many Gaulish nobles and gave them Roman citizenship to gain their loyalty.

Gaulish language spoken in the country was an archaic Celtic tongue, very much alike Latin; Caesar even had to write his secret messages to distant commanders in Greek, in order not to let Gauls read Latin. This similarity of languages was one of the main reasons for the fast assimilation of Gaulish. In 100 years or so Latin replaced Gaulish practically everywhere.

More about Gaulish language

            31 BC        Thrace conquered by Rome

In the 1st century BC Rome begins a new expansion to the Balkans. This was caused mainly by political circumstances in the Black Sea region. The alliance between Greek colonies and Mitridatus, king of Bospore Kingdom, gave Romans an occasion to invade Thracian and Mesian lands. In 72 BC a Roman army defeated the Thracian tribe of Besses.

At that time Thracia was inhabited not only by its aboriginal population, but by numerous migrants from the East: Sarmatians, Scythians, even Celtic and Germanic tribes settled here while Thrace was depopulated by endless wars. This mixture of different nations could not resist Roman offensive efficiently. After the Illyrian War ended in 33 BC, Rome decided to direct additional forces to Thrace, and in two years all Thracian, Sarmatian and Getian leaders surrendered to the Roman Empire. Thrace became a protectorate.

But only in 46 AD Emperor Claudius managed to proclaim Thrace Roman province, and since then plenty of Italic colonists start settling here, assimilating different tribes and nations. The Thracian language was forgotten rather quickly, being replaced by a certain form of Latin, which is now called Romanian.

More about Thracian language

            9 BC        Illyria and Pannonia conquered by Rome

The Illyrian War 35-33 BC, and another war against Pannonian tribes in 12-9 BC marked the end of an important period of the Roman history. Rome acquired vast terrirtories along the Danube, important because of their rich soil, gold and silver deposits, numerous population. The Danube boundary was strategically vital: the river was one of the largest trade roads of Europe, and across the Danube there were lands of peoples hostile to Rome.

The history of the Balkan peoples before the Roman conquest is a chain of variuos migrations and tribal hostilities. The Balkans have always been a melting pot of nations: Celts, Greeks, Thracians, Illyrians, Germanics and many other ethnic groups left their traces here. Long mutual contacts between Balkan languages led to the formation of the so called "Balkan language alliance", for all tongues here acquired the exact set of common features. Several mysteries of the Balkans are not discovered yet: one of them is the origin of the Albanian language. Other relics of the ancient Balkan languages are the Istroromanian, Dalmatian (now extinct) and Aromanian languages, which are in fact a mixture of Latin and native tongues.

Map of Balkan languages

To the 5th period of Indo-European Chronology