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LRC Blog

July 21, 2010

Jonathan Slocum

Palaeolithic Continuity Paradigm

N.B. The email announcement below may have been edited, e.g. to remove content not essential to the main point(s) or to standardize English spelling/grammar.


Dear LRC,

I am writing to inform [you] that, the official website of the Palaeolithic Continuity Paradigm for the Origins of Indo-European Languages has been recently [updated?].

Since the beginning of comparative philology, the origins of Indo-Europeans and their arrival in their historical locations have been a controversial issue. Two major current theories suggest a late invasion from East Europe in the Bronze Age or a demic dispersion from Anatolia as consequence of early Neolithic civilization. In the Nineties, three archaeologists... and three linguists..., all independently from one another, presented a new theory of Indo-European (IE) origins, claiming uninterrupted continuity from Palaeolithic also for IE people and languages (for the most part of other languages and groups - such as Australian, Northern American, African, Chinese, and Uralic - the continuity from prehistory is a normally accepted fact). At this stage, the obligatory term to designate this reconstruction was "theory." Since the beginning of the last decade, however, more and more scholars have worked on the same line, testing and applying the theory successfully on an increasing number of geographic areas, prehistoric periods and cultural topics, bringing new evidence for the foundation of what seems now more appropriate to call a true "paradigm."

The workgroup engaged with the website ... argues that the appearance of Indo-Europeans coincides with the first regional settlement of Homo Sapiens Sapiens in the Middle/Upper Paleolithic, and proposes a comprehensive, interdisciplinary framework for the Indo-European origins: the Paleolithic Continuity Paradigm (PCP). The website makes available texts, bibliography, debates and news related the PCP. The workgroup includes archaeologists..., linguists..., anthropologists... and historians...

More than 150 academic articles are currently available...

F. B.


The first content page on this website, subtitled "An Introduction in progress," presents a long synopsis of what is presumably the principal idea unifying the numerous scholars whose work is promoted -- in brief, that IE peoples have occupied the mainland of Europe and nearby islands (e.g. the British Isles) since palaeolithic times. This idea is in contrast both to age-old claims by linguists that horse-mounted IE pastoralists invaded the continent from the steppes, beginning ca. 6,000 years ago, and to the counter-claim that IE farmers migrating from/through Anatolia gradually displaced native European populations at a somewhat later time.

We shall not presume to present the case of the PCP proponents, though their claims are fascinating and their arguments appear strong enough to warrant serious attention; they do require that the IE language development time-frame be extended many thousands of years into the remote European past -- i.e., that language evolution is inherently slower than maintained by past IE hypotheses. We recommend this website to our readers; a direct link is available on our Offsite Web Links page, or the URL in the Announcement above can be copied into a browser address pane.

J. S.