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date: 27 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The essay outlines the Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza wave of advance model for the spread of farming into Europe and the present-day genetic pattern that was taken as evidence for it, noting the way it became linked to arguments about the spread of Indo-European languages. Subsequent developments in the arguments based on the genetics of modern populations are then reviewed and new ancient DNA evidence is outlined which is beginning to clarify some of the issues and broadly indicates the important role of ‘demic diffusion’ as proposed by Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza. The language arguments are then examined, including the results of recent mathematical phylogenetic work which supports the idea that the root of the Indo-European language tree goes back to a time consistent with the hypothesis that the languages spread with farming and not several thousand years later as the traditional model assumes. Other evidence for demographic patterns is discussed and the possibility of reconciling the different models is raised.

Keywords: Demic diffusion, Indo-European language family, cultural diffusion, DNA, phylogenetic analysis, dialect continua, demographic history, mathematical modelling

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