White Ethnic Pride: The Indo-European "Aryan" Race (part 2: Homeland and Expansion)
Come, Maghavan, Friend of Man, to aid the singer praying to you in battle for the sunlight. Speed him with help in his inspired invocations: down sink the sorcerer, the prayerless Dasyu….Come to our home resolved to slay the Dasyu….You struck down the dark-skinned fifty thousand, and destroyed forts as age consumes a garment. —from Rig Veda, hymn 4.16, an ancient account, from a hymn to the war god Indra, of the Indo-Aryan invasion and conquest of northwestern India (the Dasyu, incidentally, were the aboriginal inhabitants of the Indus Valley civilization; the term eventually acquired the meaning of “slave.”)
The original homeland of the Indo-European or “Aryan” race is still somewhat controversial. A popular theoretical homeland for them among early white nationalistic theorists was in northern Europe, and it probably is still popular among some white nationalists. Quite a few Hindu scholars have placed the Aryan homeland in northern India. There actually is one bit of evidence which ironically supports both claims: a certain gene, or rather allele, which is indicative of Indo-European ancestry, has its highest concentrations in northern Europe and also in Rajasthan, in northwestern India. However, both claims, the out of India theory and also the the Nordic one, are primarily based on the ethnic pride of those who favor the respective theories. Also, for the Indians, there is the complication of traditional wild exaggerations concerning the antiquity of the Sanskrit language and Vedic culture in India, with many devout Hindus projecting it back for many thousands (if not millions, or even billions) of years. Why the allele could have its highest concentrations in two areas so far apart, and not in the ancestral homeland, will be discussed before I’m finished, as well as the most likely time for the Aryans’ arrival in India.
Two other “unorthodox” theories concerning the origin of the Indo-European race are that it arose in Anatolia (what is now the Asian part of Turkey); and that it arose in the near vicinity of what is now Armenia; but the most widely accepted hypothesis for the original homeland is that they/we arose on the steppes north of the Black and Caspian Seas, north of the Caucasus Mountains, in what is now southwestern Russia and eastern Ukraine. The first Aryans (using “Aryan” loosely as a synonym for “Indo-European”) are identified by the “experts” with the Yamna civilization, identified mainly by styles of pottery and burial customs. This identification with the Yamna civilization is in agreement with an older hypothesis called the Kurgan hypothesis, claiming that the earliest “Aryans” were steppe-living nomadic herdsmen who built burial mounds called kurgans for their deceased chieftains. (Incidentally, the Indian Buddhist pagoda is believed to have evolved from these prehistoric Aryan burial mounds—first as monuments for chieftains, then great kings, and later for renowned saints and sages.)
In appearance the aboriginal Aryans resembled northern Europeans more than anyone else today; they were relatively tall and robust, and fair hair and blue eyes were apparently common. They earned their livelihood primarily by stockbreeding, supplemented by fishing and, no doubt, the spoils of warfare. They had a strongly patriarchal society, unlike many of the civilizations they later conquered.
In addition to archeological evidence, much of the early Indo-Europeans’ lifestyle is deduced from their reconstructed primordial language. Based on words shared by most or all known Indo-European languages, philologists have theorized that the early Aryans were familiar with dogs, cows, horses, sheep, goats, copper, boats, wagons, animals of the Pontic steppes like bears, wolves, geese, snakes, etc., and also that they had taboos concerning certain names, especially those of formidable animals like bears and wolves. (An old-fashioned word for bear, bruin, or “brown one,” is evidently a remnant of this taboo in modern English.)
Their religion can be reconstructed to some degree, based on what is known of the earliest Aryan myths and their resemblance among various Aryan cultures. They were polytheistic, as were the classical Greeks, Romans, and Vedic Indians, etc., with fire sacrifices performed by a class of professional priests, generally for the sake of material prosperity. They appear to have had little notion of an afterlife, or of some higher reality. It appears that, in addition to warlike patron deities of tribes, their chief deity was a patriarchal sky god—with known variants being Zeus among the Greeks, Ju-piter among the Romans and other early Italians, Tiu or Ziu among early Teutonic peoples, and Dyaus Pitri, “Sky Father,” among the early Vedic Indo-Aryans. It has also been hypothesized by some that the Vedic god Varuna is one and the same with the early Greek god Uranus. One interesting similarity between Indian and European polytheism is the legend of a primordial war between two classes of deities, usually referred to among Europeans as the Gods and the Titans. In India this same war was recorded, with the Devas defeating the Asuras, and likewise imprisoning them at the base of the divine mountain, on top of which lived the gods themselves. I interpret this legend to mean that at a very early time there was a great conflict—not between gods and titans, but between two rival pantheons favored by two rival populations of the Indo-European race. Further, it appears that the gods/devas were not absolutely victorious, considering that the ancient Persian Zoroastrians, also Aryans (“Iran” being a corruption of “Aryan”), had as their chief deity Ahura Mazda, the word ahura being etymologically the same as the Vedic asura, a titan, not a god.
Dating is controversial and uncertain, but it is theorized that the Indo-European race existed as a distinct ethnicity by around six thousand years ago; and for various reasons that will be discussed later, they were very successful, and began expanding their territory to the west, north, and east (the south being blocked by two seas and the Caucasus Mountain range). The first major migration of populations of early Indo-Europeans was into the lower Danube valley; and it was here that many modern ethnic groups arose, including the ancestors of the Celts, the Italic-speaking peoples, and now-extinct groups like the Dacians. Some time after this, possibly in successive waves, Aryans began migrating eastward through the Balkans, where the ancestors of the Greeks settled, and further into Anatolia and Armenia. The earliest recorded Indo-European language is Hittite, which was produced by a civilization originally of non-Indo-European people called the Hatti, living in central Anatolia, being conquered by these Aryan invaders/migrants. Scholars argue over whether Aryan expansion was peaceful or not, but considering the times, and the martial nature of the Indo-Europeans, I would assume that, especially with large waves of expansion into distant territories, the more correct answer is “not.”
Meanwhile, another early group of Indo-Europeans made a long migration eastward into what is now southern Siberia and western China, possibly around five thousand years ago. Some of these people later became known as Tocharians, who established an urban culture in the Tarim Basin of western China, and who may have made significant contributions to classical Chinese culture, not the least of which being the introduction of cavalry and chariots into Chinese warfare. Eventually some of these far eastern Aryans migrated back towards the west and then southwards into what is now Afghanistan, mixing with the urban culture already established there and developing into the Indo-Iranian peoples. The Indian peoples, speakers of Indic languages resembling Sanskrit, established themselves widely, in western Asia as well as in northwestern India; and a few scholars think Indic-speaking people actually migrated as far east as China. One group moved westwards as far as Syria around 3,500 years ago, about the same time as their cousins invaded India, and conquered a people called Hurrians, establishing a kingdom of “Indians” worshiping Vedic gods like Indra—the Kingdom of Mitanni, which flourished for a few centuries before itself being conquered by Hittites and Assyrians. The Indic peoples who inhabited the plains between India and Syria were eventually conquered or outcompeted by later incursions of their near relations, Iranian tribes. As the Wikipedia article on Indo-European migrations states:
By the end of the 2nd millennium BCE, the dominant people as far east as the Altai Mountains southward to the northern outlets of the Tibetan Plateau were anthropologically Caucasian, with the northern part speaking Iranian-Scythian languages and the southern parts Tocharian languages, having Mongoloid populations as their northeastern neighbors.
But I’m getting ahead of myself by a few thousand years.
After the initial migration into the lower Danube and into central Asia, a third great migration of Indo-European populations took place from the west towards the northwest, these becoming the ancestors of the Germanic, Baltic, and Slavic peoples. The Slavs, living on the open plains of what is now western Russia, were in a much more exposed position with regard to tribal borders, and were constantly coming into interactions, many of them violent and unsuccessful, with other populations, including Asiatic tribes. Two groups of Iranians also, known to the ancients as Scythians and Sarmatians, migrated back from the east to their ancestral homeland on the Pontic steppes, with a great deal of subsequent mixing with the Baltic and Slavic peoples there and north of there. This explains why Lithuanian, a Baltic language, so closely resembles Persian and Sanskrit. The Slavic mixture with Asiatic tribes, including Turks and Mongols, helped the Nazi Germans decide that Slavs were “subhuman” and not Aryan at all. But this was mainly a political expedient, as the Germans needed their Lebensraum in the east.
This very sketchy narrative accounts for the early origins of the major groups of Indo-Europeans; further migrations of course have occurred well into historic times. Even the Germanic tribes didn’t move away from the Baltic coast until the Romans were expanding northwards as a result of their own successes. And of course the movement of Aryans into the Americas, Australia, and South Africa, for example, are modern.
As the highly successful ancient Aryan tribes spread over the Eurasian supercontinent, they invaded areas already inhabited by other peoples. In some of the more aggressive invasions the Indo-Europeans may have been pretty much of an army and have brought few women with them; whereas in large-scale migrations they would have amounted to entire tribes moving from one place to another; but in either case, after they became dominant in the new area they intermarried to some degree with the aborigines. It is doubtful that the former inhabitants were totally extinguished or driven out completely in any large territory. Some scholars hypothesize that much of the “conquest” was peaceful, as non-Aryans adopted Aryan languages and customs because of their usefulness and high social status. At any rate, it is very unlikely that there are very many, possibly any, pure-blooded Aryans left in this world. Some would argue that, since Indo-European is more an ethnic and linguistic term than a racial one, the very idea of “pure-blooded” Aryans is nonsensical. But the Aryans did have distinct racial characteristics, and presumably most of the deniers are motivated in part by concerns of political correctness.
When the Indo-European conquerors or immigrants entered a non-Indo-European territory they tended to adopt some of the indigenous language and customs also. For example they would call plants, animals, and cultural artifacts unknown to their homeland by the native names, much as early American settlers adopted many American Indian words into English. Also they adopted some of the native deities, especially the local territorial gods, or those which simply held great devotional appeal. The early Greeks, who invaded the Aegean and Minoan civilizations of what is now Greece, a people they called Pelasgians, adopted several of the local deities, apparently including Poseidon, Apollo, and Athena. It is the different cultures absorbed by different Aryan tribes as they expanded outwards, as well as random drift due simply to geographical isolation from other Aryan tribes, that mainly accounts for the great variety of Indo-European languages that evolved over a relatively short time.
The most culturally advanced Aryan civilizations tended to be those which had taken over an already advanced non-Aryan culture. With the Hittites it was the Hatti; with the Greeks it was the “Pelasgians”; with the Romans, mainly Etruscans and Greeks; with the Indo-Aryans it was the Indus Valley Civilization; with the early Persians various Semitic societies in the region; and so on. Other tribes, such as the Germans and Slavs, took longer to develop urban societies, as they had moved into land still much closer to primeval wildernesses.
The Indo-European invasion of almost all of Europe in the few thousand years preceding the Common Era resulted in the aboriginal languages there undergoing a “massive linguistic extinction event,” the only pre-Aryan survivor in western Europe being Basque—and even Basque has been strongly influenced by Indo-European vocabulary and grammar. As tribes came into conflict with each other many Indo-European languages also became extinct, including Thracian, Dacian, the Tocharian languages of China, etc.—the latter being wiped out by Turkic nomadic tribes, and the former two by fellow Aryans.
Before concluding this little sketch of the migrations of our forefathers, I return to the statement that the two places on earth with, apparently, the purest Aryan blood, or rather DNA, are in northern Europe and in northwestern India, and not in the ancestral homeland of the Russian steppes. With regard to India, I suspect that the relative purity of Aryan ancestry, at least among the higher classes, is derived from the fact that, when the Aryans invaded India around 3500 years ago, they set themselves up as overlords over the smaller, darker, supposedly inferior Dravidians already living there. The proto-Hindus notoriously set up a caste system with the highest three castes, or varnas (brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya) being mostly Aryan, and most of the conquered Dravidians being relegated to a class of serfs or peasants (shudra). In fact the Sanskrit word Arya (in Pali, Ariya) came to mean “noble,” originally because it designated the ruling nobility, but eventually became noble in a more general sense, as in the Four Ariyan/Noble Truths of Buddhism. Even now in Buddhism an enlightened sage is called an Ariya. So in India, the purity of lineage was due to concerns for racial purity among the higher classes, reinforced by Brahmanistic and later Hindu tradition.
In northern Europe it may simply be that the aboriginal inhabitants were closely related to the Indo-Europeans genetically anyway; or it may be that, for reasons of their own, the proto-Germanic migrants into the Baltic region largely exterminated the locals. But I suspect that the main reason why Aryan DNA is relatively highly concentrated there is that, unlike most of the places the Aryans invaded, northern Europe was sparsely populated, so there wasn’t much of a population, with few alluring non-Aryan girls to breed with, to dilute the ancestral blood.
Meanwhile, the ancestral homeland of the steppes became the scene of many, many migrations of various peoples, generally nomadic and warlike, so that over time the Aryans who stayed were submerged in a sea of Huns, Avars, Magyars, Mongols, Turks, and also Indo-European tribes re-migrating from other areas. Some groups of Indo-Europeans such as the Tocharians of Asia were completely wiped out, although even far to the east one may encounter a fair-haired, blue-eyed Asian whose ancestors may have called themselves Arya.
The most interesting question for me is why or how were these big, robust, fair-haired nomadic herdsmen and warriors so phenomenally successful, overwhelming so much of the world with their languages and customs and blood. That will be the subject of the next installment.