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Hallo conlagers!

(My apologies to those who get this twice - I am crossposting this to
CONLANG and lostlangs.)

Let me try a preliminary overview of what *may* have happened
linguistically in prehistoric Europe. *Nothing* of what follows can be
considered certain, of course; all of this is just *material for
discussion*, and may be falsified by things I do not know yet. At least,
it may be a useful frmework for lostlangs. Comments and critiques are
welcome.

0. It is unknown when the first languages were spoken in Europe,
depending on to which degree _Homo heidelbergensis_ or _Homo
neanderthalensis_ had language (they probably did have *some* kind of
language, but perhaps less sophisticated than ours). Most likely, these
languages were wiped out after the arrival of _Homo sapiens_, when their
speakers died out. There is only a remote possibility that some words
pertaining to European nature and wildlife were borrowed by _Homo sapiens_.

1. For our purposes, then, the linguistic prehistory of Europe began
with the arrival of _Homo sapiens_ in the Upper Paleolithic, c. 45,000
BC. _Homo sapiens_ came from the east, on two routes, one along the
Mediterranean coast, one north of the Black Sea and the Alps. So we get
two great families, let's call them _Paleo-Mediterranean_and
_Paleo-Transalpine_, which may in turn have been branches of a single
large family rooted in the Near East, but could just as well have been
utterly different.

2. During the Upper Paleolithic, Paleo-Mediterranean diversifies more
and more; perhaps, later immigrations from the Near East or North
Africa, add even more languages. Paleo-Transalpine also diversifies, but
as the climate worsens, most of Europe north of the Alps is more and
more depopulated, and most branches of Paleo-Transalpine vanish.

3. At the Last Glacial Maximum, ca. 20,000 to 16,000 BC, only two
branches of Paleo-Transalpine are left, one in southern France, and one
north of the Black Sea; we may call them _Paleo-Atlantic_ and
_Paleo-Pontic_, respectively. These two may have descendants even today,
namely Basque of Paleo-Atlantic, and Abkhaz-Adyghean (Northwest
Causasian) and Nakh-Daghestanina (Northeast Caucasian) of Paleo-Pontic.
(Alternatively, these could be Mediterranean languages that went north
in the Mesolithic, see point 5.) Of course, after all those millennia
after separation, these are now utterly different language families, to
the point that a time-travelling linguist would no longer be able to
find clear evidence of relationship. Meanwhile, Mediterranean Europe
holds perhaps up to a dozen different families, their common descent
from Paleo-Mediterranean no longer discernible.

4. After the Glacial Maximum, Europe north of the Alps is gradually
repopulated by Paleo-Atlantic and Paleo-Pontic speakers. It is hard to
say where they meet, but probably somewhere in Central Europe.
Meanwhile, linguistic diversity in Mediterranean Europe remains quite
high, at 5 to 10 families that would be discernible to a time-travelling
linguist.

5. The ice age ends about 9600 BC, and Europe enters the Mesolithic.
Paleo-Atlantic speakers settle in the British Isles (then not yet
islands) and in western Scandinavia, while Paleo-Pontic speakers settle
around the Baltic Sea. Some Mediterranean groups probably venture
northwards; maybe Basque and one or both of the North Caucasian families
are carried northward by them, if they are not survivors of
Paleo-Atlantic and Paleo-Pontic, respectively. Meanwhile, another
family, _Mitian_, spreads from a centre in Central Asia, and reaches the
easternmost recesses of Europe.

6. The European Neolithic begins about 7000 BC, with the arrival of the
first European farmers from Anatolia. In the following 2000 years, a
demic expansion of agriculture into the Balkan Peninsula, Central Europe
and the Mediterranean coasts takes place. This results in the spread of
two large Neolithic language families, one north, one south of the Alps.
We could call these _Danubian_ and _Cardial-Impresso_, respectively. The
Iberian language of pre-Roman eastern Spain could be a part of the
Cardial-Impresso family. These two families could be branches of one
larger unit, but this is uncertain. The westernmost branch of Mitian
diversifies in the Pontic-Caspian steppe, giving birth to
_Macro-Indo-European_ and _Macro-Uralic_.

7. Around 4500 BC, the first "Kurgan wave" of Macro-Indo-European
speakers spreads westward through the Lower Danube region into Central
Europe, eclipsing most of the Danubian family. Their language becomes
_Aquan_, the language of the Old European Hydronymy. At about the same
time, Macro-Uralic spreads across northeastern Europe in the framework
of the Pit-Comb Ware culture.

8. Around 3500 BC, the second "Kurgan wave" carries Proto-Anatolian to
the eastern parts of the Balkan Peninsula, from whence it later enters
Anatolia.

9. Around 3000 BC, the third "Kurgan wave" spreads Indo-European
languages into the Balkan Peninsula and Central Europe, and also
eastward into Central Asia. Aquan speakers are pushed westward into
France, the British Isles, the Iberian Peninsula and northern Italy. At
the same time, Uralic proper spreads in the northeast, eclipsing the
other Macro-Uralic languages.

10. In the Bronze Age, Indo-European and Uralic displace most other
European languages. The Aquan family perhaps holds out longest in the
British Isles, where it may become the language of a civilization that
underlies the Celtic and Germanic traditions of Elves, the Greek
traditions of Hyperborea and the Homeric Phaeacians, and perhaps Plato's
Atlantis. The Germanic nautic terminology may be from this language, and
it may have exerted a substratum influence on Insular Celtic. Alas, no
clear archaeological evidence of such a civilization has been found yet.
Basque holds out in southwestern France and the western Pyrenees,
Iberian in the east and Tartassian in the southwest of the Iberian
Peninsula. Etruscan seems to be a *younger* stratum than Aquan in Italy;
it perhaps arrived from northwestern Anatolia around 1200 BC (the Roman
foundation myth may actually relate the arrival of the Etruscans
(pre-republican Rome was ruled by an Etruscan nobility) from Troy).
There are also non-IE languages on Crete (Minoan, Eteocretan) and Cyprus
(Cypro-Minoan, Eteocypriot). In the Caucasus, we have the three
Caucasian families. The rest is (literally!) history.

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